Category Archives: Research Trips

Europe 2012 – Day 27 – End Game

I don’t know if I missed a day in my numbering or missed double numbers in an entry that covered two days or what, but my trip was 28 days. It’s a little fishy.

I thought I was heading out early to the airport, but I had just the right timing. The lines to check my bag and then get through customs were insane. And at customs, I didn’t even get a stamp; the guy just sent me through when he saw my passport cover. Why did I have to wait there? And people were really rude, trying to cut into both lines.

I arrived at my gate on time and there was a huge crowd. We boarded late. The flight was fine. I watched three relatively new movies, all free, on Air France. Those foreign airlines really are better than the US ones, in terms of number of meals given (two), entertainment options (on a US airline, those movies would never be free), and leg room. We arrived at JFK and were not given a gate for over an hour. I was supposed to have a three hour layover, but I just barely made it on time to my connection. And it wasn’t even boarding five minutes before departure time. Then we sat on the plane for possibly another hour because other planes were in the way and we couldn’t taxi. JFK really didn’t have their act together.

I did find a pleasant surprise on the last flight: Todd Knowles and his wife were sitting next to me. We chatted a bit, but I think we were all too tired. It was late at night in France by then. They were just a few rows behind me on the previous flight too, but we didn’t know.

The airport shuttle couldn’t find my address on his GPS, and then found roads under construction from every direction going to my house. I don’t see a lot of progress in the last month around here.

And now I’m home. My weeds didn’t grow insane while I was gone; I guess it was too hot for most of them. My leaky water line was leaking much more, but the clamp had just spun around; I don’t know how it moved, but I hope it wasn’t for too long. My indoor plant was desperately thirsty, but he’s a high light plant (as opposed to high water) and is already doing better. My swamp cooler is running as well as ever. The ants were waiting for me to leave food in the kitchen. And a delivery from Winder Farms was rotting on the front stoop — it was good of them to cancel my deliveries when I asked; I’m sure there was nothing obvious about the huge bag sitting on my front stoop for the past two weeks.

So now I have a lot of work to do. Besides working on my yard and my house, I have gobs of pictures to sort through, many of them genealogy records, plenty of bills were waiting for me, my web site needs some updating to expand my business to European research trips, and I have to get back to regular work too.

Of course, there’s still more to come about this trip. With the Androids refusing to post the pictures for a while, some of those will definitely have to be shared. And I’m sure I will have lots of interesting things to share from the records, now that I’ll have the time to analyze them and add the data to my family tree.

Europe 2012 – Day 26 – Paris

I ventured out slightly a couple days ago, visiting the Jardins De Luxembourg and finally seeing the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but this one day was my only chance to see the city.

After waking up disgustingly early, I goofed off a little until I was finally ready to leave the hotel. The board meeting had already finished by then and I saw some of them in the lobby, saying goodbye again to some.

I took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower where I took a ton of photos until my SD card was full and swapped it. Right about that moment, someone saw me and called my name and I saw that it was my cousin, in line. He was easy to convince to get out of the long line, then came along with me for the rest of the day. It was really nice having the company.

My camera battery immediately died and I had a replacement for it, but the replacement turned out to be completely dead also. I had left it charging, I don’t know what happened, but I had to use my phone as my camera for the rest of the day. (Note: upon arriving back to the hotel, I plugged in the charger to the same outlet and it didn’t light up. I could have sworn it did before. Good thing for the cell phone.)

I had some places marked on my map and we went to everything except for one museum, but we didn’t go into any of the museums anyhow. We saw the most important monuments, the memorial sites for the Jews, and ended up in the Marais, the Jewish quarter, for dinner: falafel. There were a few falafel places, but only one had a long line, so we went there.

We took the train back to our hotel stop and went to the restaurant next door for dessert: chocolate mousse. It tasted a lot like the inside of a 3 Musketeers bar; it was really good.

Tomorrow I fly home. I have a serious sleep deficit to catch up on.

Europe 2012 – Day 25 – IAJGS Day 4

I took my time getting to the conference with only a late morning session planned. Alla Chastina spoke about records in the Moldova archives. She showed a lot of interesting examples of documents in her slides, but her accent was thick and she read her comments quickly, and I couldn’t concentrate enough to understand much of what she said. But it definitely looked like she had found a lot.

The annual meeting was scheduled for most of the afternoon. The meeting didn’t go the entire scheduled time, but the session I missed because of it was at the beginning.

With trouble finding a dinner companion, I wandered a bit, ending up in the hotel and eating with new friends – I had just met one and the other two I only met then.

This conference was quite short and fell somewhat short of expectations. I was lead to believe that at least one reason it was shorter was because of the translations. All sessions were supposed to be bilingual, but translations only happened in a few rooms. There were some other screwy things they did, like ultra short sessions and no breaks between them.

But I still had fun, saw old friends, made new ones, lost plenty of sleep, and maybe learned a little more about genealogy.

Europe 2012 – Day 24 – IAJGS Day 3

I didn’t see much of interest in the morning, so I went for a walk in a large garden nearby. I saw the Eiffel Tower from a distance, but there it was.

I returned to the conference for the Sub-Carpathia SIG meeting and had an extended conversation with the organizer. He’d been wanting to meet me since hearing about my success in Uzhgorod, without realizing he’d already met me. I learned some secret information from him.

I missed a lecture I thought I’d go to and almost forgot about the Professional Genealogists’ group, which was about as expected.

That was followed by the banquet. I arrived late and hadn’t specifically told someone to save me a seat. How was I to know I’d be so late? It’s not like I planned that. I had to start the last table in the room, but my cousin soon rescued me when someone left and made room at his table. Many interesting conversations ensued.

Europe 2012 – Day 23 – IAJGS Day 2

I went to an interesting lecture about Halacha and Ethics presented by Rony Golan. It was interesting to hear a different perspective about keeping unsavory information from clients, not because you think they might not want to know about the scandal, but because the wrong kind of scandal can essentially curse a Jewish family for generations because of one person’s actions. Although he presented a couple of cases, he didn’t give answers.

The Poland track was in the afternoon. Yale Reisner spoke about the Applied Science, which he described (I’m paraphrasing here) as the part of the research that affects the living. He told stories of people contacting the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw thinking they were the only survivors, and discovering they weren’t.

Other sessions were very beginner level, so my interest waned.

The Bessarabia SIG meeting was later and listening to a long lecture about all the projects didn’t interest me, so I left early. I was practically greeted outside the door by a DNA cousinĀ  – he wasn’t going anywhere, just randomly wandering. He is one of my two close matches, second or third cousin (we can’t find the connection) and we hung out the rest of the night.

Heading to dinner, we picked up a couple more people and had good company for dinner, the klezmer music, and “drinks” until the morning.

Europe 2012 – Day 22 – IAJGS Day 1

Welcome to the IAJGS 2012 conference from Paris, France.

I don’t have much to say about the first day since I didn’t go to any sessions except the opening one. I’ve seen a lot of people I know and met some new ones already.

I found out that I was on the same flights as Alex Dunai and his wife. I thought it might have been him, but my distance vision is getting worse and I wasn’t about to approach strangers in Ukraine if I was wrong – how could I explain it to them?

French is definitely easier to deal with than Ukrainian, so that’s a nice change.

Europe 2012 – Day 21 – Travel

A train ride to L’viv, a flight to Warsaw, another flight to Paris.

The airport in L’viv was built for the Euro games, though the front of the old building had a lot more character as my taxi went by it. It’s mostly a big, modern building with very few people around, except as a flight is boarding. I arrived far earlier than I needed to and had to surrender my water bottles at security. Here too? One was still sealed. I’m sure they will cost more in Paris.

I took the train from the Paris airport to the conference hotel, saw a few people I know, and went out to see the Bastille Day fireworks with new people I met. Well, I did spend the Fourth of July on the train from Poland to Ukraine…

Europe 2012 – Day 20 – Mighty Genealogy Browncoat

I have done the impossible and that makes me mighty.

I’ve decided to award myself with a new title, as stated in the title of this blog post.

Ask any genealogist with family from Trans-Carpathia and they’ll tell you no one gets records from the Uzhgorod archive. There is a system in place to order specific records, forms at the archive are in Ukrainian, with a huge back-log.

I don’t even know what was said, but my translator was just as determined as I was. I explained to her how proper research works, how you can’t just order specific records because there are other events you didn’t even know about and can’t know without searching for yourself, among other things.

And today, I saw the old record books and took at least 100 photos of the pages. Among them, I saw the record for my grandfather’s birth, Abraham Rosenthal – that’s the first grandparent birth record I’ve ever seen. I found my great-grandfather’s birth, David Alter, as well as that of a sister who died young that no one knew about. That kind of record would be impossible to find without just flipping through the pages of the books – everyone insisted he was an only child. I always found that hard to believe, that other children just didn’t survive, and I was right.

I only wish we’d called back sooner. They only brought out the books of births this time, and I really only had time for them with just one day. So again I’m planning ahead for my next trip to Europe, which will undoubtedly include Uzhgorod to continue my research there.

Europe 2012 – Days 18 and 19 – More Uzhgorod

It’s already been going pretty slowly since I got to Uzhgorod, but now it’s even more so, just waiting to hear from the archive.

I ventured into a cafe with no English, not on the menu or spoken, and I did all right. And I finally had golubtsy, aka stuffed cabbage in America. Except here it was with sour cream. I eventually found the botanical garden and Uzhgorod Castle right down the street. I tried some other foods; they were each hit and miss.

I spent considerable time one morning trying to find a reasonably priced way to Paris. The trains just wouldn’t get me to the airports on time, assuming/hoping I was at the archive Friday. Trying again in the evening, something popped up and I grabbed it – only a six hour train ride to L’viv.

I have considered skipping the conference to go to Moldova, but I finally registered after they extended online registration. Anyone still need a roommate?

Europe 2012 – Day 17 – Mukachevo

I was up early enough for breakfast for only the second time in Uzhgorod. I’ve been catching up on my sleep a bit. My ride arrived just after breakfast and we were off to Mukachevo.

Everyone in genealogy says that no one gets records out of the Uzhgorod archive but instead you go to the Mukachevo synagogue. But who am I to do what everyone else does? At the synagogue, I was told they have no records and to go to the archive. So much for that idea.

We visited both the new and old Jewish cemeteries. I had checked online again to be sure, and none of my known family were buried at either, as far as the online records say. There should be a few, so I don’t really know what that’s about. Still, the caretaker pointed me to the Schwimmers and the one Rosenthal in the new cemetery. I saw other names that are also in my family and photographed them too. The old cemetery is just a large field with piles of a few remaining stones, some intact, some in pieces, and some embedded into the walls.

In the center of the city, my driver pointed out another synagogue that was just rebuilt. Is that the one with the old records? Maybe, but it was closed.

A visit to Palanok Castle ended the tour for the day.

And now, I wait in Uzhgorod for the archive to call, which hopefully they will do before I leave for the Paris conference.