Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Best Genealogy Day Ever

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver asked people to write about their best genealogy day ever:

1) What was you very "Best Genealogy Day Ever?"  It might be the day you solved a thorny research problem, or spent the day at a repository and came away with more records than you could imagine, or the day you met a cousin or visited an ancestral home.

2)  Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.  Be sure to drop a comment to this post if you write your own blog post and link to it.

I agree with Randy, it's hard to pick only one day, especially since I've been researching for 40 years.  What was probably the very best day combined talking to a relative for the first time with solving a difficult research problem.  I learned that my great-great-grandmother's name was not Moore, as I had been led to believe when I started researching my family history, and that led to a lot more information.  But I actually wrote about that last year!

Rather than write about the same story, I thought about what might be my second-best genealogy day ever.  There were still a lot of contenders, but I decided on when I was contacted by a cousin I had never heard of, which led to meeting a whole new branch of my family.

My mother's family is Jewish, and to help try to make contact with possible cousins, I have posted all of the surnames in my family on in the Family Finder database.  Every now and then I get a nibble, but rarely anything significant.

Then one day I received a message from a woman who thought she might be related to me on my Meckler line, because both of our families came from Kamenets Litovsk, Russia (now Kamyenyets, Belarus).  We went back and forth a few times with "Do you recognize this name?" before we discovered that we both had the same woman with an extremely unusual married name, then living in Israel, in our trees.  We figured the odds were in our favor at that point and that we had to be cousins.  And then she invited me to her 50th wedding anniversary in Winnipeg!

So off I went to Winnipeg that summer, and I think I met about a hundred cousins.  One of the cousins, who was actually born in Kamenets Litovsk, sat down with me and we figured out the most likely place where the connection between our two branches comes in the family tree.  I was particularly impressed when she was able to go back and forth between the Hebrew, Yiddish, and English sections of the yizkor book for Kamenets Litovsk and read all the information about family members that was there.

After I updated all of my information in Family Tree Maker, I shared the new version of the family tree with many of the cousins I had met.  I'm still in touch with most of them even now, eight years later.

Something that made this discovery very special is that the province Kamenets Litovsk was in, Grodno, has very few archival records remaining for the Jewish community (the Nazis were particularly thorough in that area in destroying historical records), so I had never expected to be able to find relatives on that side of my family.  To not only meet family members, but also to learn about earlier generations of my family, was a wonderful gift.  And all of it started with that first message.


  1. It sounds like a wonderful experience - especially to meet all of those cousins! And, to fly to Winnipeg for the 50th anniversary. Great!

    1. It was a lot of fun, and I'm so happy I took the opportunity to go, because many of those cousins have since passed away. I would have missed my chance forever.


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