Things I have learned (from doing family history)

These are some of my rules for doing genealogy:

  • You double check your source material.
  • You do not jump to conclusions
  • You do not add a whole list of people to your tree unless you are very sure.

But it’s very hard not to get excited when you are on the brink of solving a huge mystery. I mean, I have been working at this stuff for nearly twenty years and you need to understand–I don’t have the most exciting family to be researching. I have friends who can go back centuries and connect themselves to royalty.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family, but they were poor people. In some cases poor and hardworking and in other cases poor and somewhat dishonest (some day I’ll post all the many many news articles about my paternal grandfather’s gin-running past that I turned up).

The point is that when I can find information–any information–I tend to get very excited about it.

Well, I went back on Ancestry and consulted the trees of the people I had contacted and saw a whole bunch of things that made me very hopeful:

mom's notes on bennett and abe schwartzIgnore the stuff about Celia and her children. Right now she’s a brick wall person. I have no clue what her married name was and I may never know.

The important part is this Albert guy (elsewhere in other places in the aforementioned notes as “Abraham” — Grandma Jennie was up there in years when Mom was asking all these questions).

So I found a bunch of stuff.

Ancestry.com researcher #1 – sent me back a thank you on the Nathan Schwartz info and then promptly went offline and has never contacted me again had this information (stuff in bold matches with my info):

Bennett Schwartz (aka as Barny Schwartz and with a possible name change from Schwartzbodd to Schwartz) married Rose Feldman and with her had:

Ethel, David, Nathan, Goldie, Dorothy, Samuel, and Herman.

With an unnamed second wife, he had Dora.

I consulted with my mom who said “Well, your grandmother would get very confused and then your father and your aunt would start arguing and it was very hard to understand what they were saying. But you know, I think I have in those notes that his real name may have been ‘Barney.’ Your father always called him Uncle Bonnet.”

Ancestry.com Researcher #2 – was much more satisfactory. He got very excited by the possibility of there being a connection.

This researcher listed Bennett as being married to a Pearl Essrow and having the following children:

Ethel, David, Nathan, Goldie, Dorothy, Samuel, and Herman

But he also had Bennett having a brother named Abe (the researcher’s ancestor):  with children named David, Dora, Hattie, and Harry. Hattie married a man named Benjamin Rosenblum.

And they lived in North Tonawanda.

Armed with all of this I began my own research. While Bennett Schwartz never worked for City Hall as my mom had in her notes, he did, in fact, live in Black Rock. Pearl Essrow was his second wife.

Ancestry.com Researcher #2 looked over my photos and identified the location and also the people in the photo as Goldie and Hattie Schwartz.

We both did a lot of research–and then I found two last pieces of information that I considered to be the clinchers.

1. I found Bennett and Pearl Schwartz’s tombstones and had the Hebrew translated. His father is listed as being Moses or Moshe. Same as on  Ida Schwartz’s tombstone.

2. a clue 2A cousin from another branch of my family with access to one of the newspaper sites was able to help me out and sent me this article about the out-of-town attendees for Meyer Zafron’s funeral. Meyer being Grandma Jennie’s husband (the one with the somewhat dodgy past from Prohibition).

Given that Meyer Zafron died in Salamanca, NY and was buried in Olean, NY, both a haul in those days from Buffalo/North Tonawanda. I am inclined to believe that Bennett and Pearl Schwartz making it all the way there for the funeral was significant.

And that, dear reader, is how I cleared up a whole mess of brick wall ancestors.

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