Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ellen's Questions, Part 3

In this week's challenge for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, we continue to follow up on a previous one.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Ellen Thompson-Jennings posted 20 questions on her Hound on the Hunt blog two weeks ago — see 
Even More Questions about Your Ancestors and Maybe a Few about You (posted 27 June). 

(2) We will do these five at a time, with
Questions 11 to 15 tonight (we did 1 through 5 two weeks ago and questions 6 through 10 last week).

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.

Okay, these are my answers.

11.  If money weren’t an issue, where would you go to do genealogy research?

All over the world!  I would go to Ukrainian archives and hire interpreters to find information about my Gorodetsky and Schneiderman (and maybe Kagan) family lines.  I would try doing research in Moldova with more interpreters, looking for my Gorodetskys.  I would visit the Latvian archives with yet more interpreters, desperately trying to find even one measly document about my Brainins and Jaffes.  I would go to archives in Belarus (yes, more interpreters) to see if any of the record sets listed on the Routes to Roots site include any of my Mekler, Nowicki, Yelsky, or related relatives.  If I found addresses in any of those records, I would look to see if those buildings had survived.  In Belarus I would also search for records and information about the families of my many Mekler cousins with whom I am now in contact.

It would be ineresting to go back to Cuba, now that I have a little more information about my Cuban cousins, to try researching in person, instead of having to rely on e-mail communications with my researcher there.  At least I can read Spanish fluently and understand spoken Spanish fairly well.

And that's just my mother's side of the family!

For my father's side, I'd like to go to Manchester, England (where my brother has been able to go, once) and research the Dunstans and Winns (and I wouldn't need an interpreter there).  If I could trace the Dunstans back to Cornwall, that would be my next stop.  I should also go to New Jersey to do archives research on all of his other lines, because they were all in New Jersey for such a long time.

And after all that I would probably take a break to determine my next destination.

12.  Do you ever feel as though you’re the only person researching your family?

At this point, yes.  A cousin in Ottawa, Canada was doing research for a while, even going to the point of creating a legal-sized two-page questionnaire that she sent around to all the relatives there (I am very fortunate that she made photocopies of all of the pages for me).  I don't think she is pursuing that anymore.  Other than the occasional random forays my brother makes online (which almost always produce something substantive and useful), I'm it.

13.  Why do you think you’re interested in your family history and other family members might not be?

I used to actually listen to the stories that my mother and grandmother told about family when I was a little girl.  For whatever reason, my brother and sister were apparently not as interested.  So I was already primed when, at the age of 13, I had a junior high school assignment to trace my family back four generations.  I still have that purple mimeographed piece of paper and the notes I took at the time while interviewing family members.  That assignment is what got me hooked.  I think being open to the stories and then starting so young, when I had so many older relatives who were still alive and could tell me information themselves, was a rare combination.

14.  Do you intend to write about your genealogy/family history findings?

You mean like a book?  Oh, heavens, no!  I hate writing.  But I do manage to post to my blog on a (semi)regular basis and share a lot of the family stories and discoveries that way.  And I have shared family trees with so many cousins I lost count.  If I could find someone who wanted to do the writing after I did all the research, that would work much better for me.  And then I could edit the manuscript, because I love editing.

15.  Did you ever make a genealogy mistake that caused you to have to prune your family tree?

One mistake, and one discovery via DNA.  The mistake was relying on the information in the IGI to identify my great-great-grandmother Lippincott's parents.  I happily researched the parents that were listed and went back quite a ways.  But as more records became readily available and I did more research, I discovered that there were two girls of almost the same age with almost the same name, my great-great-grandmother and another one.  That, of course, meant that I had to fully research both women.  I was finally able to determine through church records that the parents listed in that IGI record were those of the other Lippincott, not mine, even though the marriage date and husband were correct for mine.  Someone accidentally combined info from two records!  So out went the one line of Lippincotts and I began work on the correct one, which I have not been able to document as extensively, but at least I'm pretty sure they're actually mine.  The two lines will probably end up connecting some generations back, because you can't go anywhere in New Jersey without tripping over a Lippincott because they've been there so long and are interrelated, but I'm not worried about that yet.

The other "pruning" came when I demonsrated through DNA testing that my grandfather's biological father was not the man his mother married.  I actually haven't taken those people out of my family tree, because Elmer Sellers was the only father my grandfather knew, and I put years and years of work into that research.  But I have discontinued further research in that direction and now focus on determining just who my grandfather's biological father was.


  1. Wow, you have lots of places to visit. I forgot all about the archives and hiring translators. Good idea.

    1. I can think of more places to visit, too! These are just the major ones. :)


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