Sunday, February 20, 2011

Prior Research Solves the Mystery: More Scottish Discoveries

Yesterday I wrote about my discovery of a branch of my Belarussian family that settled in London and Glasgow.  That discovery sent me back to my files to see what I may have gathered previously that might now make sense in light of this new information.

A year ago I had access to the records of the Jewish Chronicle.  This UK publication documents many of the important life events within the Jewish community.  When I went through it, I recorded any record that noted a Kodish as well as articles on family ancestral towns.  Now I had some new names to search, Sarah and Barnet, Max and Jack.  My searching proved fruitful as I discovered an obituary for Barnet in 1916 which told me that he had come to the U.K.  It named his three children, Max, Solomon and Jack, but didn't mention his wife who presumably predeceased him.  Then in 1974 I stumbled across the obituary for Max's second wife that names all their children, spouses and grandchildren.

I find that much of the time I put into genealogy research is prospective.  I record all the records for family names in a region or time period where I knew they lived, trusting that at some future point it will all make sense.  It is like laying out all the pieces for the center of a puzzle which just look like a jumble until I get the straight edges into place to anchor them.

In reviewing information I had collected on the Kodish family I found one piece of information that looked intriguing.  In 1938 Jacob Kodish, presumably the brother of Max, immigrated from Glasgow to the US. He noted he was born in Vilna, the district that branch of the family came from and which was the larger area around Dunilowitz.  He was 47 at the time so would have been born in 1891.  He was going to his wife Bloome in Chicago and noted that he had been in the US in 1923 and 1925.  An immigration record for Bloome shows up in 1923 with their children Joe, Sid and Anna going to her brother in Chicago.  So what causes me to think this is the correct record?  Three things aside from the Glasgow linkage...He gives his nearest relative in Glasgow as his brother Solomon. At this point his other brother Max has died as has his father so Solomon would have been the only one left.  The other detail that causes me to think this is a family member is the way he came over.  He worked on the ship as a waiter in exchange for passage, exactly the same way that his nephew Lewis Kodish came over.  The fact that he went to Chicago where Lewis also went seems to indicate family members that both may have accessed. As the 1940 census isn't out yet, I can't check to see if they were still in the US at that date, but I do have a plan of attack to secure more information.

In 1938 he would have needed to have obtained a visa to come to the United States.  In fact he would have needed one in 1925 also.  A visa file can be ordered from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service which will typically include a birth record and other identifying information.  As Jacob was born in Eastern Europe it would provide the link I've been seeking to the original ancestral town.  It may also provide more information on the original name of his mother who is where the relationship to my family resides. 

So one death record opens up the door to 25 new members on a family tree and a likely linkage to the Eastern European community from which they originally came.

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