Monday, August 10, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: The Obituary I Was Sure Wouldn't Contain Any Surprises

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Obituaries are a wonderful resource, but when one's library research time is restricted one focuses on documents where one expects to find new information. That new information can sometimes lurk in unexpected places.

I had some time to visit the library last week, and I looked up several obituaries that had been on my to do list for quite awhile. One was the obituary for my second great grandmother, Minnie Mojsabovski Cruvant. [Like many of the surnames in my database, the exact spelling of her maiden name is a bit uncertain.]

I have a cousin who has researched the Cruvant lines for several decades, and I have a rather extensive database covering the Cruvant/Kruvant/Cruvand/Kruvand descendants and cousins of my second great grandparents. But being completist, I knew I should look up her obituary, even though I knew there wouldn't be any surprises.

St. Louis Post Dispatch - Feb 14, 1924, p.30

CRUVANT - On Wednesday, Feb 13, 1924, Minnie Cruvant, widow of Morris Cruvant, fond mother of Mrs. Bertha Newmark, Mrs. Stella Stern, Mrs. Flora Altman, Benjamin, David and Sol Cruvant. Dear sister of Mrs. Blanche Rubin, and our dear grandmother. 
Funeral from Berger Chapel, 4715 Mcpherson avenue on Friday Feb 15 at 10 a.m.

Reading the obituary, I was stunned. Minnie had a sister?

Siblings of immigrant ancestors  have been the source of several surprises during my years of research. When one can trace their lines back several generations on American soil, the US Census will usually record most siblings. There is the 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900, due to the destruction of the 1890 census, but otherwise it is difficult for someone to be born, grow up, and leave the household in the usual 10-year census gaps.

However, since I don't have access to pre-immigration records, siblings or adult children of immigrants can escape notice.

When an obituary doesn't indicate where a relative lives, that often means they live in town. So I looked up Blanche Rubin in the Online Missouri Death Certificates. Her death certificate lists her parents as Mendel Majabovsky and Sarah Greenberg. Minnie's parents are thought to be Mendel and Sarah Goldstein. It's possibly the same mother, with at least one improperly recorded maiden name. However, the dates of birth for the two sisters are twenty years apart, Minnie being the elder, suggesting they are actually half-sisters.

In 1920, Blanche and her husband, Ben Rubin were living next door to Philip and Leah Rubin. Philip and Leah's daughter, Anna, would marry David Cruvant, the son of Morris and Minnie. Were Ben and Philip related? It seems a strong possibility. However, complete strangers live next door to one another all the time, and it is possible for them to share a surname.  Ben and Blanche's nephew marrying Philip and Leah's daughter isn't proof of anything. I've now looked up the death certificates and obituaries for Ben and Phil without confirmation one way or another.

I've managed to trace two children of Ben and Blanche who each had one child, and these two grandchildren are still living. I will likely write to them to see if they can provide further information. However, I'm glad I finally found the time to look up the obituary for my second great grandmother.

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