Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Research All Names

When a family historian is looking at ancestral documents it is important to give consideration to the other names one finds in the document. Friends, Business Associates, Witnesses - conducting at least minimal research on these individuals is advisable. Not doing so may lead to missing out on some major discoveries.

Examples from my own research:
(Links are to past entries where I discuss these instances in greater detail)

1) Max Wieselman - Selig Feinstein's business partner

My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, set up a business with Max Wieselman as horse shoers during the 1890s in St. Louis. (They also filed a patent together.) It wasn't until I conducted some research on Max and his wife that I realized Max was likely born in the same Ukranian town as Selig. This **could** be a coincidence. Coincidences happen. But there could also be a relationship. Unfortunately, the records I need aren't online. Barring localized research in the Ukraine, which may be beyond my abilities, my best shot is to find a descendant of Max and ask them to take a DNA test. If they're related, that wouldn't tell me *how*, but a DNA test should tell me one way or another whether more research is necessary.

2) Michael Flynn, County Clerk for Clifford Cruvant's name correction

The digital copy of Clifford Cruvant's name correction doesn't have a date. (Whoever did the scanning didn't get the whole document.) However, by researching the County Clerk's name, I was able to narrow down the possible years. I could order the document from the current County Clerk, but for now knowing that it was after 1930 is enough information. I haven't been able to find either Clifford or his mother in the 1920 or 1930 census, but I know they were alive, somewhere.

3) Marcus Hast, cantor at the marriage of Sol Newmark and Sarah Nathan

If I hadn't conducted research on Marcus Hast, the cantor who performed the wedding for my great grandfather's brother, Sol Newmark, and his wife Sarah Nathan, I would never have realized he was from Warsaw, Poland, not far from where the Newmark family was living before immigrating to England. I also wouldn't have discovered the scores for the wedding music that he had composed. It's not definite that it is the same music that was played at the Newmark-Nathan wedding, but there is a strong likelihood.

4) Bessie and Iva, friends of Mabel Fulkerson, and fellow heroines

When I discovered the news story about my wife's great grandmother's efforts as a girl of 14 to prevent a train wreck, I was amazed at the presence of mind and the physical effort put forth by her and her two friends. However, if I hadn't researched the names of the other two, I wouldn't have realized they were her nieces. (Due to the age difference between her and her two oldest sisters, she was actually younger than her two nieces.)

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