Thursday, December 2, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

In the process of transcribing several family audiotapes, there have been several times I've rewound the tape and questioned what I had heard.

The first time it happened, my great uncle Ted was talking about an experience in Transylvania in the early 1900s. He was mentioning how his father stored bread and cookies when he left the house. I didn't understand the word he used to describe the container. English teachers always say if you can't spell a word, look it up. But this advice is difficult enough when you *think* you understand how to pronounce the word. I was completely at a loss except for the vague sense of the word from the audiotape. (I thought it sounded like souvenir, which didn't make any sense.)

What did I do? I asked Roget for help. Roget's Thesaurus, that is. I went to the section on Containers, and just started reading through the list, until I found a word that looked like it could sound like the word on the tape. It turned out to be Chiffonier. It was a completely new word to me, but now I knew what one was.

I also struggled with the Hungarian and Romanian words they used for place names, foods, and other things.  Those were harder to look up, but I figured many of them out.

You'd think it would have occurred to me that when my grandfather, and his siblings began talking about their aunts, uncles, and cousins that the names I was writing down might be incorrect, not just because their memories were getting foggy, but because I was writing the names down wrong.

So when my great Aunt Bert mentioned the "Goodman boys" and "Honie Goodman" as the daughter of an uncle, David Deutsch, that's the surname I searched for them under, without success. Several months ago, my mother in a conversation with one of her older cousins learned the last name was Guttman. Finding Hani Guttman, with five sons in the Chicago census took seconds, and finding her death certificate at the Cook County Genealogy website didn't take much longer, and her father is recorded as Leopold Deitch. (David Deutsch had the middle name Leib. I suspect Leopold could be an Americanization. However, he could be a different brother. Theoretically it could be a coincidence of names, though the odds are against it.)

I've also learned that another daughter of David Leib, who I had recorded as Celia Palmer, may really be Celia Pomerantz. My initial online searches have found some possibilities, but nothing certain. I'd like to find a descendant of Hani or Celia and share information.  I know very little about my great grandfather's siblings.


Footnote had a 50%-off CyberMonday sale, so I took the initiative and re-upped my subscription.  One of the things I wanted to do was search their collection of City Directories, especially those for St. Louis and Chicago.  They don't have any Chicago directories past 1923,  but a few Guttmans appear in that year.

One thing this city directory clipping does is confirm the 1930 census in that Samuel Guttman's eldest son was named Samuel Jr.  I had wondered if the census taker misheard, as this is an uncommon naming practice in European Jewish families, but it's clear Samuel and Samuel Jr. are both living at 1415 North Maplewood Avenue, along with Edward.  Samuel and Edward are the two eldest children listed in the 1930 census for Samuel and Hani, so I am fairly certain this is the same family.

I have no clue if any of the other Guttmans on the page are related.

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