Sunday, June 16, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Things for Father's Day

Since it was for Father's Day, I waited until today to do this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  It's Father's Day on Sunday.  Tell us three things about your father, or one of your grandfathers (or another male ancestor), that have influenced you in your life.

2.  Share your response on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please share a link in Comments on this post if you write your own post.

I've been thinking a lot recently about my father and racing, so that's my focus today.  And yes, his interest in racing has influenced me.

1.  The fact that I grew up watching a lot of racing in person and on TV meant that I ended up seeing a fair number of car crashes.  I grew up with a healthy respect for the damage that cars can do when they go fast.  It has influenced me to drive the speed limit perhaps a little more than the average person does.

2.  I cannot think of Memorial Day weekend without thinking of the Indianapolis 500.  We knew every year when Memorial Day came around what my father, and by extension we kids, would be doing:  The TV would be showing the Indy 500, and we would often watch it with Daddy, or at least I would.  I don't really remember the specifics of the races, but I remember watching them with him.

3.  I have an unusual recognition of certain landmarks.  Once I was driving east on I-10, and to the north was a huge empty lot with a big pile of dirt in the middle.  I kept looking at it as I was driving past because it seemed oddly familiar.  I realized it was the former Ontario Raceway, which I must have gone to with Daddy to watch some races.  Even stripped down to nothing, it rang a bell.

The same kind of thing happened to me when I drove from the San Francisco Bay area to Milwaukee in the summer of 1993 for a convention.  Heading east on I-80 this time, as the highway transitioned from Nevada to Utah, I saw a sign with Bonneville on it.  I was trying to remember why I recognized that name, and then I saw the vast expanse of white that is the salt.  I suddenly shouted out, "It's the Bonneville Salt Flats!" (which kind of surprised my traveling companions).  Daddy used to watch when people raced and did speed trials on the salt flats, and I watched right alongside him.

Lynn Sellers


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Loving Day 2024

Yesterday, June 12, was Loving Day, when we commemorate and celebrate the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision that struck down the antimiscegenation laws in the United States, at that time still clung to in sixteen states in the South, which held that just because one person was black and another white that it was not legal for them to marry, no matter how much they loved each other.  And I am thrilled to add another happy couple's marriage to my family tree.

Ally and Adrien, May 25, 2024

Monday, June 3, 2024

But That Doesn't Add Up Right

I posted last month about finding my great-great-grandparents' marriage record and several other family records in a recent data upload by the Ukraine Research Group on  But now I have to worry about how accurate the years are on those records as they are indexed.

I found a Russian birth record for one of my cousins, Dvorah Kardish, the daughter of Moishe Kardish and Rivka Polatnick.  The index entry shows Dvorya Kardish, daughter of Moshe, son of Chaim Duvid, and Rivka, daughter of Leyb.  This certainly sounds like my family member!  The entry indicates she was born January 21, 1899.  I clicked on the image link.

Record #9
Birth record for Dvorya Kardish
January 21 / 12 Shevat
Father Moshe Chaim-Duvid, mother Rivka daughter of Leyb
Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia, Russian Empire
(image has been edited to crop out some of the other records on the page)

But when I went to enter this information in my family tree, I noted a few inconsistencies.

There is a note on the page for the record above Dvorya's that refers to 1897.  How could there be a note about something that happened to a child in 1897 if the child wasn't born until 1899?

Second, I have found Dvorya enumerated with the Kardish family in an 1895 Russian revision list (kind of like a census).  If she wasn't born until 1899, that just couldn't happen (that's a really big twinkle in someone's eye).

Third, Dvorya's first child (at least the first I know about) was born in 1915 (I found her birth record in this upload), which would make Dvorya only 16 years old at the time.  Not a deal-breaker, but not likely.  (Yes, I realize the year could be wrong on her daughter's record.)

And not as definitive, but still important to take into account, an 1899 birth would change Dvorya's position in the accepted birth order of the children in that family.  I often tell people that before knowing your exact birth date was an important fact in everyday life, most people didn't know precisely when they were born, but they did usually know who was the oldest child, who was second, etc., down to the youngest.  And the birth order that I was told matches that in the revision list.

So now I had four data points pointing to the possible inaccuracy of the birth year quoted in the JewishGen index.

Obviously, this required further investigation.

The page with Dvorya's birth record does not have a year written on it anywhere I could see to indicate when these births had taken place or were recorded.  I looked several pages before and after but none of them has a year written on it to indicate when the births occurred.  The only one that has a year on it, a few pages before the page in question, has a big block of text in the middle of the page and the year 1898 at the end of the text.  It looks to be some kind of "this is wrapping up the end of the year" note.  I considered that maybe the indexers had used it as an indication that the pages following were for 1899.

Working on the hypothesis that the page with Dvorya's birth had somehow fallen out and been [re]placed out of order in the record book, I looked at the information on the sheet that I probably could rely on:  that she had been born on January 21 on the Christian calendar, which equaled 12 Shevat on the Jewish calendar.  The months were abbreviated at the top of the page, and while I don't know the names of the months in the Jewish calendar well enough to recall them, I could see that the month started with "sh", so I Googled "Jewish months", and only Shevat starts with that.

To try to resolve the problem, I went to, clicked on Steve's handy Jewish Calendar Conversions in One Step page, changed the readout to the 57th century in the Jewish era so I could see years for the 19th century, changed the Christian date to January 21, and started going year by year through the Jewish years until I got January 21 and 12 Shevat in the same year.  Yay, it's 1891 (5651 on the Jewish calendar)!

Except I then remembered that the Russians were still on the Julian calendar in the 19th century, but the Jewish calendar was going by the Gregorian dates and Steve's page shows Gregorian by default.  Oops.

So I went back, changed the readout to Julian, set my date as 12 Shevat, and scrolled through years on the Christian calendar line.

Aha!  The year in which 12 Shevat and January 21 were the same day in the Julian calendar then became 1890 (5650 on the Jewish calendar).  That resolved the three concrete inconsistencies and kept Dvorya's birth order in the family the same.


It appears that the pages in the birth registration book are out of order, but that's how they are now and how they were filmed.

I fixed my date question, but how do we correct that problem?  How many more pages in this book are out of order?  How many people will have enough information beforehand, as I did, to realize that there's a problem?  And how many more of the digitized record books might have the same problem?

And what does the note from 1905 on the left side of Dvorya's birth record say?

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Most Frustrating Research Challenge

This week's challenge from Randy Seaver is one of those Saturday Night Genealogy Fun questions when I know right away what my answer is.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  One of the goals of every genealogy researcher is to solve difficult name and relationship problems.  What is one of your most frustrating research challenges that you have not yet solved? 

2.  Share your challenging problem on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please share a link in Comments on this post if you write your own post.

Yup, didn't even have to think twice.

Definitely, my most frustrating research challenge that I have not yet solved is determining who my paternal grandfather's biological father was.

I have been writing since 2016 (is it really eight years already?!), when I showed with Y-DNA testing that my father (and by extension my grandfather) was not biologically a Sellers, about my search for my grandfather's biological father.

"I'm Apparently a Sellers by Informal Adoption" was when I announced the results of the Y-DNA testing, way back on February 6, 2016.  I compared my father's Y-DNA to his male cousin's and easily determined that they did not descend from the same man in a genealogically relevant timeframe and that my family branch are not biologically Sellerses.  And so began the hunt for my grandfather's biological father.

I wrote about the initial research on December 3, 2016, coincidentally for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:  "Who Is Your MRUA?" (MRUA means "most recent unknown ancestor.")  My MRUA is my great-grandfather.  My father matched two men named Mundy at 111 – 4 markers, so I focused my search for a viable Mundy.  Suzanne McClendon, one of my readers, went to town on finding newspaper articles, and we identified a likely candidate as a man named Bertram Mundy.

Another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic encouraged me to write about my continuing research.  I posted "Research Grief" on September 9, 2017 (a mere eight days after having moved to Gresham, Oregon).  At that time I had researched back two generations of the Mundy family and found no living descendants after following them forward in time.  I was planning to go back another generation in my search.

About a year and a half after my December 2016 post, Randy used the same topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  For the May 26, 2018 version of "Who Is Your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor (MRUA)?", I wrote an update of where I was on my research.  I had not researched further back on Bertram Mundy's family tree, but I had come up with some other things I could do, such as get a copy of Mundy's divorce file and try to find anyone who was related to him to inquire about family stories.

Since that post, I have done some additional research.  After researching back four generations and finding no living descendants, I have abandoned the idea of tracking a Mundy cousin down and paying for an autosomal test.  Anyone I could find at this point will be so distantly related that the likelihood of sharing enough DNA to be relevant is very small.

My new goal is trying to find a photograph of good old Bert Mundy and comparing that to my grandfather and father's looks.  Not as scientific, but yes, I am grasping at straws.  I also still need to obtain Bert's divorce file to see if anything is mentioned about philandering.  Finding my great-grandmother's name in the file would be a smoking gun, but I'm not holding my breath on that.  And there is still the off-chance I might find some documentation of Bert having traveled to the Philadelphia area around July or August 1902.

One other thing I have done is ask a couple of friends who do search angel work for adoptees if they can help.  One said yes but then had a baby shortly afterward and is kind of busy with other things still.  It's possible that someone with more experience with DNA might be able to gain more information from what I have, which is not only my father's DNA but also that of two of his half-sisters, all of them children of my grandfather and each from a different mother.  So that's still on my list.