Category Archives: Genealogy

IAJGS 2013 – Wednesday

Wednesday was my big day. I moved up in the world this year. My lecture was not only put in the big room, but it was broadcast live for the inaugural IAJGS Conference LIVE. I skipped the morning sessions I had marked.

I was early and killing the last half hour or so before my session when I ran into Michael Goldstein. He was still trying to reach my cousins in Israel and suggested we try calling again. He finally got through. I spoke briefly to my cousin, but we were both in bad locations on cell phones. I got her email address and happily went to my lecture.

Rehearsing several times in advance, trying to find bits to cut, every practice run of my lecture went for an hour and 20 minutes. I warned people. Not the audience, but the facilitators. I did not have a clock to watch while I spoke. I sped through a few things faster than usual because I knew I would go over time. I started the stopwatch on my phone, set it down, and couldn’t figure out where it was during he session. When I got to the last slide, I finally spotted it on the podium and noticed that it said… 46 minutes. What the heck happened to the other half hour of stuff I had to say?

I heard from plenty of people after that I did a good job, I just wonder what I did so differently. I quickly figured out something I meant to say and forgot, but that would only add a couple minutes. I must speak even faster when I have a large audience. I guess I need to practice at lightning speeds from now on to make the lectures longer.

The twitterers were trying plan a tweet-up after. Several of them were there and commented. Eventually I ended up in an informal Tech BOF apparently, so not quite the group I thought it was going to be.

I was later told that one guy stood up within the first ten minutes to ask a question. At least one person was silently cheering me on to ignore him. I didn’t even see him. I felt a little bad about it after, but he did have kind of a rude question. Did he really stand there for that long? I look out on a sea of faces and don’t notice much of anything specific. In a smaller room another year, I remember noticing some people come in late and being told a few left early that I hadn’t even noticed.

The ever-exciting Annual Meeting followed. Unfortunately, my joke during roll call fell completely flat. Coming from Utah, by the time it gets to me, it’s already stale. We elected some new officers, there was some interesting debate over a bylaw change.

Daniel Horowitz then did Conducting Webinars, which he required me to be at, as one of the webinar masters. He passed me the room’s computer (using his own to present), but had two attendees online in the webinar to do what he wanted from me. I actually learned more about the webinars. I had missed the entire section about sending reminder and follow-up emails.

The first evening session was Zvi Gittelman talking about The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars. I was late and sat in the back where I couldn’t see the map he had on screen. He did a lot of talking and didn’t change the slide very often when I was there. I stayed for a little while, but not very long. I did learn, interestingly enough, that I am, in fact, a Litvak, since he said that encompassed the Lomza area of Poland. Who knew? I figured someday I might find I’m a Galitsianer, since Trans-Carpathian Jews usually came from that region. Maybe I’m both.

The later entertainment, I had requested even before there was a committee for this conference. Safam was awesome. I had seen them a couple times as a kid at our synagogue. I was a little worried since the guys are getting older, but they all sounded great. They infused some great humor into the show. They started with two favorites of mine, Just Another Foreigner and World of our Fathers. I was disappointed that they didn’t do Jerusalem, but instead a newer song, Home to Jerusalem. I think the highlight was their top ten worst melodies for Adon Olam. The melodies included Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, a Christmas song (I can’t remember now which one), a couple songs from the 50s including Breaking Up is Hard To Do, and the Macarena. They even did the dance.

IAJGS 2013 – Tuesday

Tuesday began exceedingly early for me with a meeting at 7am of the committee for SLC 2014. We discussed a few things, but it was mostly just to see who else was on the committee and to be introduced to anyone we didn’t know. The only other person from Utah besides me turned out to be the only attendee who will be helping but isn’t yet assigned to a committee position.

From there, I had an important session to attend, Michael Goldstein and Find Your Israeli Family. He’s been telling me about his plans for that one for a little while now. I sent him some information about my long lost Israeli Halpert cousins two years ago for the same session. More recently, I sent him a new document and he found my cousins. He was hoping to Skype with them live, but he hadn’t gotten through to them yet on the phone. Instead, it seems he kind of glanced over what he actually did for my research. He wasn’t even very specific about what I had sent him, except to specify that though I had sent information before and he couldn’t find the family, that I continued to do the research and found more. So he didn’t reveal anything new to me during the session.

Hanging around for Ron Arons again, I finally got to see his Mapping Madness. There were some interesting things in there that I will need to check out.

The Next Generation Jewish Genealogists BOF was next. It was probably better in the past when we put the chairs around a circle to just talk to each other. I didn’t mention it in the blog post, but Newsletter Editors the day before actually did that. I got some interesting ideas, sometimes about the tech stuff, from this group.

I volunteered for the SLC 2014 table again after lunch, but that turned into a meeting with my co-chairs where we really began preparations for next year’s conference.

I basically missed the rest of the day. Writing this days later, I can’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it involved eating with friends at some point.

IAJGS 2013 – Monday

Monday was kind of a short day for me at the conference. I started the morning at Ron Arons’ Finding Living People on the Internet. He showed a lot of web sites where he looked for specific information about several people, often in professional fields. I think lectures where he tells more stories are better.

That was followed by the Newsletter Editors BOF (Birds of a Feather). I’m not a newsletter editor anymore, but I’m at least partly responsible for making this group happen. It was an informal gathering of editors and other folks that evolved into a conversation about communication methods, not just newsletters.

I volunteered to sit at the table for SLC 2014 for just about the rest of the day. Since I didn’t keep up with my blogging during the week, I can’t recall anything specific that happened. Much of these conferences turn into long blurs of everything that happened.

The evening had a different plan, as I have a cousin who lives in a suburb. I took the train out to meet a Rosenthal cousin and his wife. We had dinner and sat talking about the family. I brought along a lot of photos and showed many to them. I have to get to emailing those now.

IAJGS 2013 – Sunday

I arrived at the hotel two days before the conference began, but that is pretty typical for me. I like to get out and see a bit of the city I’m visiting. I also went to the IAJGS board meeting Saturday morning for the part about next year’s conference, which I’m co-chairing. I also spent a few hours on Saturday walking the Freedom Trail, so I’ve got a bit of my touristing in (and my feet are already aching). And of course, I have spent quite a bit of time socializing with the people I have encountered.

According to my schedule, I could have slept in on Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to be in my repertoire for at least a month now. But I suppose that’s good for this week, since I’ll wake up (unwillingly) early every day and have more conference time to spend. (I’m currently using this early morning time for this blog post.) I found that we had a table set up for IAJGS and SLC 2014, so I grabbed our boxes and set us up. I still had to get other materials from a couple people, but that would happen soon enough.

I went to the IAJGS-sponsored session about managing a society and got a few more ideas to try for UJGS. I go to this session every year. Do I forget to try things or do they have new ideas each year? I think it’s a combination of both.

That was really the only regular session on my schedule for the day. Soon after, I was at the Presidents’ reception. Hal and I handed out SLC2014 pins to the other attendees, then we had a break before the opening session.

The keynote was given by Aaron Lansky. In typical fashion, I didn’t even try to find out who he was in advance and was pleasantly surprised to hear his stories of the Yiddish Book Center and how he saved a million books describing so much about Jewish culture beginning around the 1850s.

And that brings me to Monday morning, and it’s about time for me to start getting ready for Monday at IAJGS.

Packing for IAJGS 2013

I am currently midway into packing for the IAJGS conference in Boston. The past month has been hectic with client work and preparing for my lecture, which will be Wednesday morning and broadcast as part of IAJGS Conference LIVE!

But all this means that I have fallen quite a bit behind with my client research and my blogging. Sadly, WDYTYA has just started up a new season. I desperately wanted to finish all the previous season Nitpicker’s Versions, but had no time. I wrote the blog post for the Kelly Clarkson episode, but broke a rule and must edit. (I did research. That can put me into a vicious cycle of researching what did not air on the show and keep me busy for weeks.) Perhaps I will get that edited and posted while I am in Boston, but other episodes will not get done until I return home from the conference. This means I am already falling behind this season.

I do plan to blog from the conference, so my readers can look forward to that. As I did in Europe, I will only be bringing my Androids. Unlike Europe, I should have a working keyboard so typing is easier.

My ride will be here in three hours to take me exceedingly early to the airport, so I must get back to packing. I haven’t been in Massachusetts since Camp Ramah in 1984. Almost time to go!

It’s All Greek To Me

A client recently asked me to do some work in Greek.

I’m pretty good with languages. I taught myself to read Polish vital records entirely on my own, Russian records with just a little help at the FHL. And since becoming a professional genealogist, I have been asked for Hungarian, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. After Polish and Russian, I found all of those to be pretty easy. Except for the German, that is. That Gothic script is like learning a new alphabet and I’ve just never put in the effort.

But Greek has its own alphabet too and new ways of writing cursive letters. It’s got a lot of overlap with Latin and Cyrillic, so I only needed to learn a few brand new letters. It’s the handwriting that gets tricky. Thankfully — and the main reason I accepted the challenge — the records I’m searching through are indexed and the index is written pretty neatly.

Here’s one of the names I’m looking for.

Can you figure that one out? It’s a very common Jewish surname (with many spelling variations) and the first two letters are the same in Greek as in Latin and Cyrillic. You can guess the third letter correctly. Only the last one is tricky.

The names that tripped me up were the ones I’m wasn’t even sure how to spell in Greek. There is no B in Greek, so I resorted to V, like you do in Russian. I finally found a book at the FHL about Greek names, published by the CIA (no kidding), which had some interesting information in it. Instead of B, they use MP. Who would have seen that coming? Several other sounds I needed were missing too. I did eventually find all the names I needed, but some of them were spelled in such convoluted ways that I had them for a while and didn’t realize they were actually correct.

At a Greek restaurant some years ago, the names of the dishes were written in Greek letters. I found those easier to pronounce than their English counterparts, because they only used Latin and Cyrllic crossed-over letters.

But if you ask me to research in Armenian or Ottoman Turkish (I was asked once), well, I’ll say that’s all Chinese to me.

And the answer to the earlier question: the image says Koen, or Kohn, or Cohen, etc.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2013/07/11/its-all-greek-to-me/.

Unfinished with Uzhgorod

My last archive visit was in Uzhgorod, the impenetrable archive. That’s what everyone says about it. I didn’t find it so difficult, besides the huge language barrier. My translator did all the talking for me. We waited for the director to call about when I could do my research, but he didn’t. On my last day in the city, we got proactive and I finally hit the jackpot.

The director stopped in a couple of times but one archivist was in the room with us the whole time. I was presented with five books of Jewish and civil births. I was cautious at first, not knowing how much they would let me photograph. But she didn’t seem to mind and I ended up with over 200 pages. If I’d been asked, I would have requested marriages first, but I was just happy to have the access.

I haven’t been including a lot of images of the records in these posts because they’ve been in Russian. I doubt many of my readers could make them out. But these records were in Hungarian and Czech, so they’re easier to deal with.

I was particularly excited over a few of the records I found for my Rosenthal family. The handwriting was a bit messy, but I found my grandfather’s birth record. It occurred to me as I looked at it that it was the first time I had seen the record of a birth for a grandparent. Earlier in the trip, I tried to find the record for my other grandmother, but she was not registered. I didn’t have the chance to look for the other two.

Abraham Rosenthal Birth

Three siblings were registered together. There was another brother in this group that died as a child, so years later, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to record his birth. Between these two records, they switched from Hungarian to Czech.

Rosenthal Group

Interestingly, these were all delayed registrations and the second page refers back to another book where they were taken from. So maybe the missing Moshe is in those books? Something to look for on my next visit.

And finally, I found Hana’s birth. A cousin once asked me what her “real” name was. Well, in Hungarian, it was Hana. She went by Honka most of her life.

Hana "Honka" Rosenthal

Another thing that was interesting to see was David’s signature on several records. There are no pictures of him and his wife, but now I’ve seen his handwriting. This sample is one of the neater ones.

David Rozenthal

Years ago, someone searched these records for me and found some information, but only provided extracts of the data. They found my great-grandmother, Eszter Schwimmer, the mother of all these Rosenthals, but not their father. I was able to find David Alter in the records. (Eszter’s record is a Hungarian civil registration, a completely different format and not as easily shown here.)

David Alter Rosenthal

But the biggest surprise was some pages after David. He was an only child, as everyone agreed. I found that hard to believe and assumed he probably had siblings who died young, or maybe there were stillbirths or miscarriages.

And then I found one sister, born in 1878, Ester Gitel. She died in 1880, less than two years old.

Ester Gitel Rosenthal

Although I did not digitize any book in its entirety, I did take a lot of pictures. Two of the books had 15-20 records per page. I have already indexed them and need to get them onto my web site. But I did not get to see every book of birth registrations, and of course I have to go back again for marriages and deaths.

But at least now, I’ve finally finished sorting through the records that I brought back from Europe. Planning my next trip won’t feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, where can I find a few weeks open in my calendar before the end of the year?

Curiosities from Konin

My Halpert and Szleper families come from Kalisz. Or at least, that’s what I’ve always known. Just before I left for my trip, I double checked the records that I wanted from the PSA in JRI-Poland and discovered that some Halpert records I wanted were actually in the Konin Archive and not the Kalisz Archive. Unfortunately, this meant trying to squeeze both of those cities into one day, which was a failure. I had trouble with transportation from Konin to Kalisz and never made it to Kalisz this trip.

But I learned something interesting in Konin.

My great-grandparents were Henry Halpert and Bertha Szleper, just to establish the connection between these families. I already had tons of records from Kalisz for the Szleper family from microfilm, and probably some ordered from the PSA years ago. I can go back into the late 1700s with them, and sideways to many other cousins. In my great-grandmother’s generation, they all Anglicized their surname, to Smith, Sheppard, Levy, Burnstein, or Bornstein. I assume that Smith and Sheppard were to be similar to the original. Levy is a maiden name in the family. I still haven’t figured out the reason for Burnstein yet, but the multiple spellings don’t concern me; they’re probably all for the same reason or copying each other.

Halpert is another problem. I have barely found them indexed by JRI, except for two births that were in the Konin Archive (and one death in the Kalisz Archive). Upon arrival in Konin, I ordered up a few books, two for the indexed records, and the following years to look for more. I soon confused the archivist when I didn’t want to look through the other books, though I eventually did.

The two records that were indexed, I was certain, were Henry’s siblings, Benjamin and Fajga. I already knew their parents’ names, Itzik and Rachel Leah (or, more correctly, Ruchla Laia in Polish). My family had been within about five years of their correct birth years, upon interviews with another cousin before I was born. Benjamin was born in 1891 and Fajga in 1894.

But it was Fajga’s birth certificate that surprised me. Even though I had the information in my database already (though a few years off), I just hadn’t noticed. Her mother was listed as a widow.

widow Ruchla Laia

I even had Itzik’s death year, and the listing from JRI-Poland to retrieve the record in the Kalisz Archive. But since my information was more like estimations, and I didn’t realize that he died while his children were so young, finding that he died six months before one of them was born was a shock. The month and year of his death are listed on his daughter’s birth, but I still need to get the death certificate for the exact date.

We also have some surname issues in this family. Both birth certificates listed Ruchla Laia’s surname as Bruks. I had been given that surname before, but it was not yet attached to her in my database. I don’t know if the person who told me that said it was her surname or just that it was in the family. (I’ll have to search for that note.) I was also told by two people that the name was changed to Halpert, but I don’t know what from. I think my grandmother told me when I was 11, but I didn’t write down every word she said. Her sister told me it was Moshkowitz, but I’ve found that as a maiden name in the family; she mixed up quite a few names, so it’s less likely she got it right.

I’ve tried searching for Itzik and Ruchla Laia’s marriage by their given names, but haven’t yet been successful.

Once again, I have more work to do on this. The Halperts are tricky.

Vexations from Wizna

All of the Kurlenders in the town of Wizna are related. I know this because I collected everything indexed by JRI-Poland, including the records that had to be ordered from Poland, and they all fit together into one large family. Also, Wizna is a small town, that I have now witnessed first-hand.

All of the people in the records fit together except for one family, which I refer to as the “floating family”. I have the birth certificates of two twin sisters, but their father’s patronymic is not included. I have no other records for him, birth or marriage, so I don’t know where he fits into the family. But I’m sure that he does because he carries a family name that I’ve rarely, if ever, seen elsewhere.

Thus, the family of Azriel Srol Kurlender, his wife Rochla Glodsztein, and their daughters Marim Sora and Ryvka, had nowhere to go until I found more information.

I hoped to find more when I went to Poland.

I was able to find more Kurlender records in addition to what was already indexed. Among them, a few that caused problems.

First, there’s the birth of Freida Leya, daughter of Joszk Gerszkowicz Kurlender and Ryvka. The problem? No Joszk Gerszkowicz in the family. There were a couple of first cousins named Joszk. Could there have been a third brother named Gerszk who also has a son named Joszk and this is the first I’ve seen of him? Totally possible. The two brothers I know about, Srol and Zorach, are born about 15 years apart; plenty of room in between for more kids. I still need to go through the earliest Wizna records (the unindexed ones, including the Catholic records), so maybe I’ll find a clue.

I then have a marriage record for Leya, though not Freida Leya, who is probably the same person. Her age is a few years off, but it’s still possible. At least those two records work together.

A marriage record for Mariem Sora Kurlender stumped me next, as her parents were not listed anywhere. However, her date of birth was unusually listed and matches exactly to the Marim Sora of the earlier “floating family”. So again, a record I’m not sure where to add into the family, but at least it matches something else I have.

The next stumper was a birth record for Mortek Berek, son of Abram Itzyk Kurlender and Rywka Spektor. I have Abram Itzyk and Rywka in my tree already, with three kids. Mortek is not one of them. However, their son Dov is born the same year. Was Mortek another son that my cousin didn’t know about when he told me about this family? Did Mortek become Dov? Dov Ber is a typical double name, so that’s entirely possible. So I’m not sure what to do about this one yet either.

I did find a few Kurlender records that were not problematic. Still I have some more work to do on this family, in earlier records and later ones. A lot of Kurlenders came to America. I still have to match them all up to the Polish families.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2013/05/23/vexations-from-wizna/.

Revelations from Rutki, Part 2

I am fairly certain that everyone named Mularzewicz is related. The name only exists in a certain part of Poland, and the earliest generation I’ve found are all born just after 1800 and their father’s name is Moszko. I’ve been in this situation before, and each time, when I’m able to find more evidence, I’ve proved my suspicions correct. But for this, I still want more proof.

My earliest Mularzewicz record was from 1839 in the town of Wizna. This was unexpected, as my branch of Mularzewiczes were from Rutki. The marriage was that of Moszko Szlomowicz Mularzewicz to Peszka Marchowicz. For those who aren’t familiar with Polish patronymics, the second name of the groom indicates his father’s name, Szlomo. Before this record, Szlomo was the furthest back I could go in the Mularzewicz line. The bonus information came in the parents’ names, which listed Szlomo and Malka, Moszkowicz Mularzewicz, indicating that Szlomo’s father was named Moszko. Szlomo’s wife was also new information. With this, I finally had more to match besides just Szlomo. I just needed some records of those alleged brothers.

I went to Poland hoping to find a couple of those. I found one.

Kalman Mularzewicz was one of the people I was hoping to find. His death was indexed by JRI-Poland but it was only in the Polish State Archive. Even though he died at the age of 80, his parents were wonderfully listed on his death certificate. Finding Szlomo and Malka listed, I finally had enough proof that this Kalman belonged to my family. His wife, Odes, was also listed, further reinforcing his family. I had previously collected information about his family from JRI. I have to go through them again, but now I can confidently add them into my database. And as I recall, he had a good sized family.

I thought that I was also trying to retrieve more evidence for another brother in that generation, but alas, I cannot find such a record now. Any others may have to eventually be assumed, unless I can find something in the older Catholic records. The Jewish records in those are usually few and far between, but it may be the only way I can definitively prove any more.

I had some more trouble with another member of the family, Chaim. I previously had the information about his family based on his birth record, the 1897 district census, and the marriage record for his oldest son, all of which fit easily into my known family. In Poland, I was able to find Chaim’s marriage record, but I have some trouble with it. Many of the names don’t match the records I already had. His mother was listed as Pesa daughter of Abram, but I had that her father was Zyskind, which is a family name and seen a few times. His wife’s name was also an issue. Listed as Pesa Rozen on the marriage, I previously had Leya Royza Rozenowicz. While I can easily assimilate Rozen and Rozenowicz, Leya Royza and Pesa are trickier. Her father, Wigdor, is listed the same on all records, so it doesn’t look like two different wives, as that name didn’t seem very common in this part of Poland. I will have to re-examine everything to see if there might be more clues that I hadn’t found. Maybe I’ll try searching under her maiden name.

I have quite a bit more work to do in the Mularzewicz family now, sorting through all of those records from Kalman’s branch of the family, and climbing over to the Sokol family (from Part 1). If I recall correctly, Kalman had some descendents who immigrated to America and I communicated with one many years ago. I looked him up recently and unfortunately will have to find his descendents to get back in touch again. Fortunately, he is connected via a female line and wasn’t a Miller in America.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2013/05/02/revelations-from-rutki-part-2/.