Saturday, November 18, 2023

Solving the Blatyta Wajman (Blatt Wyman) Conundrum

I’ve written before about a conundrum between records uncovered and family lore in my Blatyta/Blatt line. I’ve uncovered a possible explanation behind the conundrum.

Family lore:

  • Morris Blatt (Moshe son of Jacob) and Belle Wyman were married in Łosice, Poland.  
  • They had two daughters: Blanche and Annie. 
  • Belle died of a bee sting in Poland, but likely after Morris and Belle had separated/divorced. 
  • Morris, Blanche, and Annie immigrated to America (St. Louis, Missouri). 
  • Morris married Mollie Kellner in St. Louis, and they had two more children. 
  • Blanche married Joe Wyman, and there were family jokes about whether she married a cousin.

Earlier Research:

Early in my research, I received well-cited research done by a cousin stating a Moshe (son of Yankiel) Blatyta married Chaia Beila Boksern in Losice. Yankiel is a common nickname for Jacob. When I uncovered the actual marriage record, it confirmed that this was the first marriage for both individuals.

How could Chaia Beila’s daughters be confused about their mother’s maiden name to the point that a family joke developed? Perhaps there were Wymans in her family tree, but there seemed to be some certainty that Belle was a Wyman herself. Could there be two Moshe sons of Jacob? We did not have birth records for Blanche or Anna. The records for their years of assumed birth do not appear to have survived. Even for years that records survived, the records are likely not complete.

Morris arrived in America in September 1889. In 1900 he, Blanche, Anna, his second wife, and their one son, are all living in St. Louis. (Morris and Mollie’s second child, a daughter, would be born in 1903.) Additional records uncovered there was a son of Morris and Molile who died as an infant in the intervening years.

Of course, there's an 11-year gap between 1889 and 1900. The missing 1890 census rears its ugly head.

Recent Research:

Recently I uncovered the immigration records for Blanche and Annie – in 1899. Ten years after their father. They were traveling under the Hebrew names of Breine and Chana, with Esther Winterman and her children, Yankel (Jacob), Abram, and Masche (Mary).

The manifest records them all as meeting a B. Winterman in St. Louis, with him identified as Esther’s husband, and the father of both the Winterman and Blatt children. In 1900 Esther and her children are living in St. Louis with Henry/Harry Winterman. (Confusion of first names isn’t impossible. Multiple names are common.)

We were familiar with the Winterman family. We knew them as some sort of Wyman cousins. We hadn’t yet identified how.

It’s possible if Morris and Belle really did separate as family lore suggests, the children remained with the mother. After Chaiia Bella died, it appears Blanche and Annie were raised by the Wintermans. So they could easily have viewed Esther as sort of a mother figure, even if they knew it wasn’t biological. 

According to her death certificate, Esther’s maiden name was Wyman. 

With the assistance of the cousin I mentioned in the first paragraph, we have uncovered Esther Wajman’s birth record in Polish archives, along with the birth records for two of her three children on the manifest. 

It isn’t difficult to hypothesize confusion – not on the maiden name of their mother – but a confusion of details between biological and adoptive mothers.

I still need to figure out how Esther Wyman Winterman and Chaia Beila Boksern Blatyta were related, if they were. But absent birth records for Blanche and Annie, I am more confident Chaia Beila was their mother. We may never be able to find those records, so we need to do the best we can with the records that have survived.

No comments: