Friday, October 14, 2016

Taking Stock

Part 3 of a genealogy story, please read two prior posts first...

It was time to gather my findings and take stock. My original mission was to find the married names of Sara and Szajndla Ruchla, their husbands and their children.  I also needed to link them to Chaia, the mother of Sara and grandmother of Szajndla.  I had indeed found the married names of both Sara and Szajndla as well as the names of their husbands. I had also found Sara's two other children, and the two children of Szajndla. One of the challenges is to be able to say with some certainty that the records that were discovered apply to the right people.  There were lots of Saras and Szajndlas in the Lodz community.

Testing Validity
To test the connections I decided to try some mind mapping.  I wrote about this in a blog entry after the IAJGS Conference (the international Jewish genealogy conference) where I attended a session on it.  Mindmapping is a visual way of looking at data from multiple sources. For each key person, I noted data sources and the data that each provided. I look for at least two data points to validate my conclusions and ideally they fit into a web of data. The mind map is a way to visually see those connections and the mere act of laying out the data is a part of the thought process.

There were three women who I was trying to validate; Chaia, Sara and Szajndla Ruchla.  It is the women who are often the hardest to anchor in genealogical records even as they play such a central role in their family.

In the first records of Chaia from the early 1916-21 registration cards, she tied out to her town of origin, her husband and her father's given name. Her year of birth fell in the expected time period based on family story and was consistent through multiple records. Chaia's death record also tied out to her father's name and his name was also found in relationship to Chaia in the Lodz cemetery.  Her granddaughter, named after Chaia's mother, was with her at her death validating the family relationship. 

I also felt quite confident that I had Sara's marriage record because it referenced her parents and maiden name correctly. Her husband was also found at the same address with her in the prewar period as well as during wartime and also reflected in the marriage record. Her anecdotal death in the ghetto was also validated by the Holocaust Museum records.

Szajndla Ruchla was found in the 1916-1921 registration cards, together with her parents. Later when she was grown her linkage was to her grandmother at the time of her death. A further linkage was the fact that her siblings moved to the next door address. We also have a naming pattern connection with her great-grandmother.  Not only do multiple data points exist, but there is truly a web of connection.

Based on their married names, I searched for  individuals of the same surname and address.  Thus children and husbands were linked to the family member with whom they lived and whom multiple sources had validated.

We still have a multiplicity of maiden names, but my previously outlined theory that Galinski and Walinski are one and the same seems sound. Cyralnik or Soralnik arose several times and in fact there is another individual named Sonia Cyralnik at the same address where Chaia was at the time of her death. Both of them are also listed at the same address outside of the ghetto before it was formed. A Yad Vashem record indicates this new Cyralnik has the married name of Lapin, perhaps a version of Lape and another possible point of connection.  Sometimes names derived from the mother so perhaps Soralnik refers to a long-ago ancestor named Sora. Given the fact that Chaia's daughter was named Sara, it is quite possible it was a family name that dates back in time.   Galinski, Walinski and Soralnik all appear to have originated as patronymics or matronymics, taking a parent's name and adding an ending signifying "son of" or "related to". Silversztajn remains a puzzle. It appears only once and after some preliminary searching presents no corroborating evidence or thread to pursue at this time.

The other puzzle is when the relationship between Sara and Kalma began. The timeline indicates that Kalma's first wife was alive through 1913 when it appears her last child was born based on the early registration cards.  Here it shows Kalma as a widower with four children and we know from another source the year one son was born so can date this card to 1916.  Szajndla was born in 1913/1914. Sara moved to Lodz in 1918 and Sara and Kalma married in 1924. Is Szajndla the child of an earlier marriage or did this relationship develop as Kalma struggled with loss and if so where did Sara and Kalma first connect? It helps to remember the human dimension as we consider how events unfolded.  And while we know something of Isser's future (Kalma's son from his prior marriage) what about those other children? Perhaps a third puzzle, albeit off the track of our inquiry.

Next Steps

I never wind up a search without suggested next steps.  Seldom is this work completely ended and tied with a bow. If there are mysteries, I consider how to tackle them.

Some record indexes were found with the organization CRARG. One was the military record of Kalma's son from his first marriage. The second was the marriage record between Sara and Kalma. A full translation of the marriage record could provide Chaia's maiden name. It's possible that they also hold other Gliksztajn records that I had not yet discovered that might help us gather more information on the timeline of Kalma's life.

A number of Cyralnik names are found in Yad Vashem from Narewka submitted by a survivor in 1999.  While I did not see anyone who shared a father with Chaia, it may be worth mapping out relationships and seeing if naming patterns reveal anything.  I would pay particular attention to Sonie Cyralnik who shared a maiden name, ancestral town and two addresses with Chaia. Sonie was a student in Lodz and was born in Narewka in 1919. There are records of testimony submitted by her sister who survived. It is likely that she is related and if so, we know that her sister who provided testimony survived.

When I started this search I had no idea where it would take me. I hit dead ends at the beginning as I searched their towns of origin unsuccessfully.  Records may not exist and even if they do, they may be buried in archives with no on-line index or hidden behind privacy laws.  Most archives do not do research for you so you need to be able to identify what you are seeking.  Keep in mind that everything I uncovered was solely from my computer and existing indices.  It was when I turned my attention to the registration cards and the Holocaust records that I began to find a way in.

Even when you identify a database, you still need to explore how best to mine it. That is where that art of genealogy comes in, finding connections between disparate pieces of data, always asking the next question. The person for whom I did this research described this work as a mosaic and spoke of weaving elements together.  I think that describes the process well. With each new piece of data or each new hypothesis, I had to go back to earlier sources to see how it fit against existing threads.

As I've noted,a genealogy search requires the ability to hold conflicting information in your head, always weighing it against a burden of proof and allowing for the possibility that transcription and translation errors may corrupt or alter the data.  You also need to consider the practices of the time.  Is a different given name from a double name or possibly an altered version of the original name (Chaim, Kalma) Could a religious marriage occur separately from a later civil marriage? Each piece of data opens up a new door to potential linkages, some of which will be dead ends and some which may just solve a mystery.

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