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A brief interlude on methodology. I found something mildly interesting last night; this post is about how I tracked it down. It was a chance to combine tools from four different websites and is a great example of how this sort of genealogical research is a lot like solving a puzzle.

I was sifting through my document scans, selecting which ones to use to illustrate my blog post and editing them to crop and highlight them to emphasize the relevant points. I got to the probate document for Ida Green; specifically, the page that listed her surviving children:

At the time, I added a surprised note to my blog entry: This is another source of addresses, and it has some new information: Jennie apparently was married and her last name was Perkoff!

This is the "Oh, my!" moment that starts the ball rolling. I have one new datum: So now what do I do with that information?

First, I went to Ancestry.com and added a spouse to Jennie's record. I didn't have a first name, so I just entered "Perkoff" and hoped for one of their little animated leaf icons to appear. No such luck.

Next, I reviewed my census data, and saw that in 1910 Jennie was still living at home. So I had a bracket on when she was married.

I went to the Italian Genealogical Group site, and searched for grooms with the last name Perkoff, between 1910 and 1920:

There was only one match:

and clicking through to the bride's record confirmed that this was the right one:

Now I had his first name, Morris, and a date of the marriage, 3 Jan 1912. I added those to Ancestry.com.

Now, Ancestry.com had enough to work with. It got me the census records from 1915 for Morris and Jennie, living in the same neighborhood as in the address listed in Ida's probate paperwork. (I'm always looking for confirmation in the details that I have the right records.) Ancestry also found a World War I draft registration card for Morris, which again had the address and Jennie listed as his wife.

And Ancestry.com found Morris's naturalization petition, from 4 Nov 1916. A few interesting details came out from this, besides more addresses.

First, here's the section of the form with the character witnesses:

Oh, my! There's my great-uncle, Gerson Greene, with profession listed as Contractor and an address on Bedford Ave. Gerson, of course, was Jennie's brother and therefore Morris's brother-in-law.

And the second witness is Isidore Ginsberg, which is suggestive of the Isaac Ginsberg that I discussed in my last post.

I'm also amused by the following detail. Pay close attention to the dates when the form was originally filled out and when it was approved, and the struck-out reference and what replaces it:

Here's Russian history, documented in my great-aunt's husband's naturalization paperwork in Brooklyn.

So what happened to Morris? Why didn't we know about him?

A search for a death record in the Italian Genealogical Group site came up empty; so did FamilySearch.org.

But I know that Jennie is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, so I decided to search for Morris's grave there:

And that gives me a date of death, which completes the narrative. It doesn't explain why Jennie isn't buried in the same section of the cemetery, or why she didn't keep the name Perkoff.

So I thought I was done telling this story, but then I searched for their record in the 1920 census to fill in the details:

There are Morris and Jennie Perkoff, but -- oh, my! -- they're listed as boarders living in the home of David and Pearl Sundel. Jennie's sister Rachel married a David Sundel (a fact which I was planning to get to in the next installment), but I never knew of her as a "Pearl" before. In fact, based on Ancestry's transcription of the 1925 census, I had listed her in my database as "Rachel R. Greene."

But when I zoom way in on that 1925 New York census,

I think it's actually a P, conjoined with the descender of the J from the line above. Which would make her "Rachel Pearl", perhaps.

"I would love to have a copy of her birth record," I thought, "but I keep coming up with either too many possibilities or none." But now I had a better fix on the year and I knew the Greens lived in Manhattan when she was born, so I went back to the IGG site and searched for all births in Manhattan named Green with a first initial R in 1892. And I saw something completely unexpected:

Oh, my! Now that is an inspired spelling for "Rachel." Could I confirm it?

I went back to FamilySearch.org and simply searched for all records with the name Reitshell Green. And I found this: it's the same record, Reitshell Green born 19 Jul 1892 in Manhattan, with parents listed as Barnatt Green and Ida Smith.

Not only is "Reitshell" an original spelling for "Rachel," but in all the variations of "Barnett" that I've seen, "Barnatt" is a new one, and "Ida Smith" is neither "Ida Green" nor "Ida Levin" nor "Ida Levine". My guess is someone filling out the form had no idea what her maiden name is and didn't want to leave it blank.

So that's where I called it a night. In about 15 minutes I had learned that my "spinster" great-aunt had actually been married and was widowed on her eleventh wedding anniversary. I corrected the middle name and found the birthdate of another of my great-aunts. I got amused by the first Russian Revolution.

But, really, "Reitshell"?
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Andrew M. Greene

January 2013


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