Monday, February 27, 2012

Marriage Certificate!

Got my great-grandparents' marriage certificate in the mail!  Here's a link to the PDF.

From the marriage certificate, I (supposedly) now have the names of all four great-great grandparents, but the handwriting is really tough.  Here are all the details from this doc, according to my initial attempt to figure it out:

    Name:  Charles Gordon
    Address:  137 Suffolk St, NY, NY
    Occupation: Painter
    Birthplace: Russia (Was hoping for a town, but no such luck)
    Father's name:  Israel (no last name given, so do I assume "Gordon" is original?
    Mother's maiden name:  Esther Ossofsky ? Or something like that...

    Name:  Annie Cohn
    Address:  127 hindlow st. (almost certain I'm reading that wrong)
    Birthplace: Russia
    Father's name:  Tevew (Probably reading that wrong, too)
    Mother's maiden name:  Chaie Clursky ???

Ceremony performed by:  Mendel Sampro??
Horodisclie??? Bros Ben??? As???
109 Cudlow St??

Witnesses:  Mosel Kaplan and Sam Meir?

The next thing I'll do is focus on trying to track down Israel Gordon.  If the family stuck with Jewish tradition, my grandfather would have been named Israel, too, rather than Isadore.  And I did find a NYC birth certificate for an Israel Gordon for his correct birthdate.  Nothing for Isadore.  Would they have named hims Israel and then changed it for some reason?  Not sure.

The name "Gordon" is original to parts of Russia, especially an area called Grodno in what is or was Belarus.  So I'll start focusing there.

Also ordered Charles Gordon's death certificate, which hasn't arrived yet.  But comparing the handwriting on his parents' names may help figure out some of the spelling.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Norway Branch

So while waiting for death certificates to arrive in the mail, I've been spending time focusing on the Norway branch of the family. has not been terribly helpful with that, although they do have some birth and death databases from Norway available.  But the best resources have been from a few great sites in Norway.  The Norwegian Historical Data Centre has searchable census records from 1865, 1875, 1900 and 1910.  These census records are also available from the National Archives of Norway.  Both searches are a little clunky - I'd love to be able to combine terms differently.  And the National Archives site has a habit of flipping you from the English to the Norwegian in the middle of your search.  So I've also been employing Google Translation a lot. Both these resources also have parish records available, including baptism, marriage and death records and more. 

Interesting tidbits about genealogical searching in Norway:
  • The "farm" name is important.  Families tended to stay put, I guess.  If the census record includes a farm name, you can use that to search older census records.
  • Once you get past a certain time period, surnames are based on your gender and your father's first name.  So you don't have the same last name within families, which can be confusing but the rules are understandable.  E.g., we have a Peder Hansen in our family and his son Hans is not Hans Hansen but Hans Pedersen. And his daughter is Inger Pedersdatter.  
I was getting pretty confused about place names, since I don't have the same understanding of towns, counties, "states" and equivalents in Norway, so I set up a Google Map to see where people were born, hoping that would help know things like which parish record collection might be relevant to someone. I've added a few family members even outside Norway, just because it's cool.  So zoom out to see those.  If you click on a pin, you'll see some limited info about the relatives, including a few links to census records and other things. 

View Beth's Genealogy Test Map in a larger map

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Charles Gordon

So one of the goals of my genealogy research is to try to find out what my Great Grandfather's last name was.  He was born in Russia in the late 1800s and emigrated to New York City.  We don't know if "Gordon" is an Americanized version of his last name or original.  Also don't know if Charles was his real first name, actually.  From family oral history, we know he married another Russian emigre named "Anna Cohen" and died fairly young in an accident.  He had 4 kids: Isadore (my grandfather), Lee, Henrietta and George.

So I've been working on this for a while now, and one thing I've found is that my grandmother's last name was actually Cohn and she usually went by Annie rather than Anna.  Using the wonderful Italian Genealogy group website, I've searched for death and marriage records.  I ordered what I thought was Charles Gordon's death record, but when I received it I realized it was definitely not him based on all the other information on the document.  So that was a learning experience.  But now I've found (and ordered) both a marriage record and a death record that I believe are correct!  Here's the marriage info from the Italian Gen site:

Cohn Annie Dec 21 1907 Manhattan 32926 C500
Gordon Charles Dec 21 1907 Manhattan 32926 G635

And the death info:

Gordon Charles 29 y May 9 1918 15819 Manhattan G635 

I'm more confident this time because of a lot of little bits of information.  But one big bit is that I think I found a couple of newspaper articles about the accident.  Here's a link to the main one from the Chronicling America site.  The article is in the upper right of the page:    

Here's a bit of the OCR'd text from the article, describing the death of Charles Gordon:

Just before it reached Convent A**
nue an automobile owned and drhrei
by Charles Gordon, of 2641 Jeromi
Avenue, turned into 145th Street
ahead of it. Nolan'3 wild clang*?uj of
the gong and the shrieks of the pas
sengers did not reach him in time for
him to pull out of the tracks.
Autoist Is Killed
The car crashed into the auto, de?
molishing it and continued on its way,
pushing a part of the wrecked machine
along ahead of it. The impact threw
Gordon backward from his seat He
burst through the glass of the for?
ward platform of the car, narrowly
missing Nolan, and his body finally
came to rest halfway down the aisle.
He died fifteen minutes after at
reached Harlem Hospital.

The date on the article matches the date on the death certificate, and the address is in the Bronx where I know they lived.  So I'm pretty anxious to get the death certificate in the mail, because it should include his parents names and may include more information about where exactly in Russia he was from.  These docs should arrive in the next couple of weeks.