Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Discovery in Scotland

This morning when I checked my e-mails, I had an exciting surprise.   As I’ve been preparing for our upcoming trip to the Ukraine and Poland, I had placed a message on the Ukraine Special Interest Group of  In that I had asked if anyone had been to Kamenetz-Podolsk or Chotin and if so if they could share any information.  One of my responses was from a name that was familiar to me.  Harvey Kaplan, the director of the Scottish Jewish archives, was on my list of people to contact to pursue my British/Scottish roots.  An e-mail exchange followed and this morning I was greeted with an e-mail from Harvey with the death record of a relative who links back to my Belarussian shtetl of Dunilowitz.

A little back story follows, but you can also find more detail in the following blog entries: Finding my British Family and Finding my British Family Take2.  A cousin of my father remembered family in England and receiving a gift of boxing gloves from them.  He remembered their name as Kodish.  Upon his death I found in his photos one signed “from your cousin Louis Kodish” and the search ensued.  Since then I have found immigration records to and from the U.S. of Louis and his wife Katherine.  In 1929 he came to a relative in NY and then moved to Chicago.  In 1934 he returned to Glasgow which was the home of his father Marks Kodish.  I obtained his visa file as a visa was required for immigration in 1929.  Within that was his birth record which gave his mother’s name.  I traced him back to Glasgow in 1934 at which point I lost the trail.

I shared this information with Harvey who checked several sources and while not finding Lewis discovered a death record for Marks/Max Kodish, his father.  The first thing I do when I receive such a record is try to confirm that it is the correct person.  A few things lead me to believe that it is.  Listed by his name is the name of both his first wife and his second.  The first wife’s name is Kate which corresponds with the birth certificate for Lewis Kodish.  The person who submitted the record is Jack Kodish.  When I went back to my notes from almost ten years ago, I discovered that my father’s cousin also had remembered a Jack or Jacob Kodish.  According to the death record this is the brother of Max.  After confirming these details I noted something unusual.  The record gave the names of Max Kodish’s parents.  They were listed as Barnet Kodish and Sarah Kodish with a maiden surname of Rothschild.

My great-grandfather’s original name was Raichel, but upon coming to the United States he followed the lead of another cousin and changed it to Rothschild.  Did this happen in England as well?  It is quite possible that Barnet and Sarah did not immigrate, but their names were Anglicized by the person providing information in the death record.  My great-great grandfather Pesach Mordechai, who never left Dunilowicz,was listed as Peter and Max in the death records of his children.  As there was contact between the family in Great Britain and the US they would have known of the name change to Rothschild and may have updated the maiden name in their family retrospectively.

The record contains additional information which may prove useful in the future.  It tells me that Max Kodish was a furniture manufacturer and his father was a “restauratent”.  At first I assumed that he ran a restaurant, but in combination with his son’s profession, I wonder if he might have restored furniture.  While Max died in Glasgow it lists both his address in Glasgow as well as his usual residence which is an address in London.  Given that his son was born in London, he appears to have lived in both Glasgow and London at different times.  It also provides the address that he died at in Glasgow which could well be that of his brother Jack.  He died at age 58 in 1936 so would have been born in 1878.

So now I turn to the question of how I’m related.  To figure that out I had to map out the relationships and group them by age, not always foolproof in a time when families were large and childbearing often an extended period.  To counter that I listed ages of siblings when possible to capture the broad range for comparison.  By working my way backwards I concluded that Sarah Rothschild Kodish was a sibling to my great-great grandfather, Pesach Mordechai.  Max was a cousin to my great-grandfather and Louis a cousin to my grandmother.  And so a mystery is solved about that mysterious British connection.  Still many puzzles to explore, but the relationships are now explained.

In 1997 my parents went to London for their 50th wedding anniversary and copied down Kodishes from the phone book.  Fourteen years later we've identified relationships.  Answers unfold over many years.

Puzzles that I will continue to explore are whether Barnet and Sarah immigrated to the UK.  With their names identifed, I can now begin to explore that question. I also can explore the history of Max's brother Jack and any family he may have had in the UK.  The puzzle of what happened to Louis and Katherine also remains an open question.  New answers raise new questions and no dearth of puzzles to explore.

No comments:

Post a Comment