Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review - Documents

The month of December is one of reflection and as part of the final days, and as an extension of my thoughts back in October, I have considered what I have spent on documents over the past 9 months, and what I have learned. (I started my research back in April)

UK General Register Office
1 Marriage Certificate
4 Birth Certificates
Total: $72 (The cost is 7 pounds with a small shipping charge. If the rate of exchange improves from the current 2-1 the $US cost will decrease.)

The certificates give a snapshot of where the Newmark family was on each date, and the earlier certificates show my great-great-grandfather’s progression from Journeyman Tailor to Master Tailor. I learned the dates of birth for the youngest three of my great-grandfather’s siblings – the ones not born in Poland. There was a sibling, who went by the name Max, who could have been born in either location. The given name, Morris, on the fourth certificate was pretty close, so I had to order it to see the parents’ names. I now have a certificate for a likely non-relative, but if it had turned out to be Max, it would have been worth it. The most important thing I learned from the birth certificates was my great-great-grandmother’s maiden name, or at least I now have a fair sense of how it was likely pronounced, even if I don’t know its proper spelling. Since we had her in our records as Rose Garten, with no supporting documents, and now she is Rose Cantkert, with some supporting documentation, I consider that major progress. I also like what I learned about London’s Great Synagogue as a result of the research I did from the marriage certificate. The couple had four children in London between 1902 and 1909, but neither parents nor children are direct ancestors, so I am going to see if I can convince some of my cousins to order the certificates.

UK National Archives
1 will - $7 (3.5 pounds)

The will was for a William Denyer of Hampshire - d. 1732. I have traced my ancestry back to a William Denyer of Hampshire born in 1770. How the two connect, if the two connect is unknown.

State of Missouri

Thanks to Missouri scanning in death certificates, I downloaded about a dozen for free, learning dates, addresses, burial locations, and more.

St. Louis City, Missouri
1 marriage license & application for license - $3

So far this is the only certificate I had to get up off my posterior to get. (Without counting the activity it takes to mail a letter.) I could have paid the county clerk to do the research, but walking into the courthouse and just paying the cost of the copy made more sense. The one inconvenience is that the office hours are 8-5 Monday to Friday. So I actually took a vacation day to do this. I had hoped to find two marriage certificates, and several birth certificates. However, I learned the birth records are all in Jefferson City, and one set of paternal great-grandparents, Barney Newmark and Bertha Cruvant, were married elsewhere. Probably in St. Louis County or St. Clair, IL. (St. Louis City is a separate county from the neighboring St. Louis County, and East St. Louis, IL, is in St. Clair County, which can confuse some researchers.) I retrieved the marriage certificate of my great-grandparents Herman Feinstein and Annie Blatt. The most interesting thing perhaps learned was the name of the Rabbi who married them, and thus possibly the congregation to which at least one of them belonged. Unfortunately, the congregation disbanded in the 1940s, and its records have been lost.

State of Texas
1 Death Certificate - $20

I learned the date, burial location, and cause of death for Margaret Denyer Van Every, my maternal great-grandmother. I later discovered an aunt had taken photographs of two Margaret Van Every tombstones on a trip she made to visit relatives in Texas several years ago. She hadn’t been sure who was who, but I was able to match up the dates. The other was a step-mother-in-law. (my most prolific ancestor's third wife)

Gonzales County Texas
1 Marriage Certificate - $1

I learned the date of marriage (May 14, 1854) for great-great grandparents Ebenezer Denyer and Sarah Ann Hartley. (The date of marriage is actually online at the Gonzales County website, so I didn’t really learn it from the certificate, but I have the documentation to back it up, and it was only $1.) It’s not a great photocopy. I’d be willing to pay more for a better reproduction, but it’s not exactly common that county records go that far back, so that I have anything is a miracle.

US Govt
1 SS-5 - $27

I learned a little about my great-grandfather, Herman Feinstein. However, I was hoping to find out where he was born. Both of his parents had died by 1936 when Social Security began, and all he knew was that he was born in Russia.

Total: $130 spent over a nine-month period. I feel it is worth the information I learned. I suspect the number of documents will ultimately go down, as there is a finite number of individuals I am currently interested in documenting, but the cost may go up if I start looking for the Polish and Russian records.

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