Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Have Never Seen A Record Like This

A few days ago, a girl from my high school class came to visit. Well, not just visit. She is going to see her brother and cousin in the US next week and wanted to bring them new information on her parents' families. This was my third inquiry from a high school classmate in the past month.

Her parents were older Holocaust survivors, with all that implies. Her father and his first wife were born in Pohorylce, in the Glinyani district of east Galicia (Tarnopol Province). Her mother was from a small village near Peremyshlyany, only a few miles away. We spent most of our time on her father's family and we found many documents in JRI-Poland, showing a large and heavily endogamous family.

Her father was born in 1900 and most of our searches were concentrated on the late 1890s and the following decade. (The Social Security Death Index has his birth nearly a full year later than the birth record that we found.)

As Galicia researchers know all too well, post-1876 birth records name the mother and her parents and usually the father, but never the father's parents. This makes it much more difficult to determine if, for instance, two males with the same surname are father-son, brothers, or perhaps cousins, uncle-nephew or something else. We do not have this problem with women, at least not to this degree.

In most of the records I have seen, the mother's parents are listed but with only the dominant surname. I have seen exceptions to that in Lwow, where the mother's parents are named, each by full birth name.

Peretz (aka Piotr) was born on 1891 to Blime Pikholz and Abraham Brandes. Blime's parents are identified as Perec Pikholz and Perl Nagler of Skalat. This is the only record we have which shows Perl's birth surname. Peretz is the only one born in Lwow.

But this is old news.

This week I saw something new.

In going through the JRI-Poland search results, we found the 1901 birth of her father's first cousin Chajm Moshe Baum, a name she knew. His father is Samuel Baum, the brother of her paternal grandmother after whom she herself is named. (Her own father is also Chaim Moshe.) The birth record names young Chajm Moshe's mother as Lea Weiz.

The record names the mother Lea Weiz and the father as Samuel Baum and adds the grandparents Chajm Moses and Fraide Baum. Not Weiz, the mother, but Baum, the father. And this is not an error, for my friend knows her grandmother to be the sister of Samuel Baum and knows her grandmother's parents to be Chaim Moshe and Fraide.

I have no idea why this was recorded like this. It was not like this on the other records we looked at from the same town in the same period. I am not inclined to examine additional records to see whether this is a unique record in that respect - I expect it is not. Why should it be? But then, why should it be at all?

In any case, it is a reminder to all of us to check all the family records, not just the index entries and not just a few representative family records. You never know until you look, what new information appears someplace where it shouldn't be.

Housekeeping notes
Friday morning I posted the following on Facebook.
I awoke this morning to find a notice from Mark Halpern that it is time to do more fundraising for indexing of AGAD records for JRI-Poland.
Even with all my DNA work and blogging, nothing energizes me more than new records from my main towns of interest.
The towns for which I am responsible which have new records are Rozdol, Skalat, Komarno, Skole, Zbarazh and Zalosce. The records include deaths, births and many more marriages than we are used to seeing. The Rozdol records include deaths for 1898-1914, some of which I have been looking forward to for at least fifteen years.

As more modern records become available, the fundraising becomes more difficult because people are less interested in what happened after their own (great-)grandparents left for greener pastures. On the other hand, I have found that the Excel files that donors receive are more important as married daughters bring new surnames into our families.

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