Saturday, January 5, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Best Find of 2018, and Research Challenge for 2019

It's Saturday, and that means it's time for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) What was your best research achievement in 2018?  Tell us — show us a document, tell us a story, or display a photograph.  Brag a bit!  You've earned it!

(2) We all have elusive ancestors.  What research problem do you want to work on in 2019?  Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.

(3) Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook post.

1.  I wasn't able to concentrate on research very much in 2018 due to ongoing health problems, so I had no huge achievements.  There were two significant finds, however, one positive and one not so much.

The positive discovery came when I was on the East Coast to give genealogy presentations in May and June.  I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum library and learned from librarian Megan Lewis that the library had microfilmed and then digitized records from the former Grodno gubernia region of the Russian Empire, now the Hrodna area of Belarus.  Among the records are many, many documents relating to Jews in the area during World War II.  The digital records are all freely downloadable if you visit the library.  I loaded everything I could fit onto one flash drive, and a friend has volunteered to copy more for me when I send her a list.  I'm hoping to find information about family members who are said to have died during the Holocaust in this area.

The sad discovery, coincidentally also related to the Holocaust, was of another family related to me where almost all individuals were killed.  I have had the Goldsztern family names in my database for a while but only recently realized that they were Holocaust victims.  I added their names to my annual Yom HaShoah post so that they will always be remembered.

2.  I looked at last year's post on this subject, and my research challenges for 2019 haven't changed.  I am still trying to determine who my paternal grandfather's biological father was.  I have an excellent candidate, Bertram Mundy, who was a salesman from northern New Jersey.  He apparently was a philanderer whose first wife divorced him shortly after my grandfather was born.  My father has two excellent Y-DNA matches with men named Mundy, but they're roughly 6th cousins, so I have a lot more work to do on tracing back the two men's family trees and then bringing them forward to look for living relatives with whom I can try to talk.

The second challenge is looking for the son my 93-year-old aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  This occurred in New Jersey, where adoptions after 1940 are tightly locked up and no information is given out.  Between my aunt and two of her children, I have every major consumer DNA database covered, but still no hits.  I don't know if Raymond Lawrence Sellers (his birth name) is alive or dead.  I don't know if he married or ever had children.  I just know that the only close matches showing up for my aunt and cousins are people we already know.  I think the most challenging part about this research quest is that I can't think of anything else I can do to help find Raymond.  I have to sit and wait, and I'm so bad at doing that.


  1. Congratulations on both your positive and not so positive finds. Both are important in telling each family's story. Good luck on your DNA challenges in 2019.

    1. Thanks, Linda. You're right, they are both important parts of my family's story. And I'll need that luck with my chosen challenges!

  2. Good luck this year and hope you get closer to solving your problems.


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