The power of persistence: a success story #belarus


David Gordon
 

I have been involved in one way or another with JewishGen since the
mid-1990s. And one of the things that has always been the hardest to
read about was others' success stories. All my persistence somehow
never seemed to pay off. The more leads I chased, the more dead ends
I reached. Occasionally, I would have successes, but they were,
almost without exception, one my mother's side of the family. I have
worked on my family history since the mid-1980s and have been at a
standstill for longer than I care to think about with my father's
family, the Gordons. The fact that it is a common last name in
Lithuania when combined with the fact that no one knew where in
Lithuania the family came >from have stymied my efforts
for--literally--decades.

About four years ago, I had one of those hundreds of short e-mail
correspondences that most of us have--asking someone who is
researching the same last name whether there might be any connection.=20
Nothing came of that correspondence and I forgot about it. Then, this
summer I saw a posting on LitvakSIG that mentioned that Jewish
migration to Springfield, Massachusetts, was largely >from one town in
Lithuania: Butrimantz (Butrimonys). My Gordon family had settled in
Chicopee Falls, close to Springfield, and I thought this might be a
lead I could pursue. Still, life interferes and given the substantial
number of dead end leads I've chased, I put off writing. Finally,
just last week I wrote to Jerry Zeisler who had posted that
information and asked whether he could tell me more.

In fact, Jerry and I had had that very brief correspondence in 2001,
as he later reminded me. But we hadn't pursued things far enough to
find any connection. This time, however, we found the connection
quickly. Jerry quickly involved his sister, Bonnie Frederics, who
brought more information to bear and posted on LitvakSIG with a
question about the names Nochum/Naftali/Nathan. Thanks to the
generosity of others, she was able to confirm that my
great-great-grandfather and theirs were brothers. Just in time for
Thanksgiving!

Jerry lives in Virginia; I live in Chicago, and Bonnie, in Tucson.=20
Would we ever have made the connection without LitvakSIG? Maybe, but
highly unlikely I think.

So I draw two morals >from my little story: your own success story is
out there too--never give up on being persistent and chasing leads.=20
Second, be careful when responding to that unsolicited query from
someone you don't know. Make sure you list all the names that might
help. I no longer have our 2001 correspondence so I don't know how we
missed connecting the first time--but perhaps it was simply my failure
to go back far enough with the names.

In any case, although this is a success story and a happy beginning
for all of us, I am writing to encourage everyone else who has yet to
have that success. Persistence will pay off. It may not be this year
or even soon. But these boards are, perhaps, the most valuable
resource we have: we need to support them to make success stories
possible. Maybe your success will come through correspondence;
perhaps it will come through finding a name in newly translated
records posted here. Although none of us has enough money to
contribute to all the worthy causes in our lives, and few of us have
enough to contribute to all the worthy causes within JewishGen itself,
every little bit helps--and I encourage anyone reading this far to
make that contribution. It paid off for us. It can help make
possible your success story too.

Good luck!

David Gordon
Chicago, IL
MODERATOR NOTE: JewishGen collects "success stories". Scroll down to the bottom
of the JG home page and click on "Success Stories" to add your own.
Searching: GORDON (Butrimantz!); LEVINE (Butrimantz); BLOCH (not
sure); HORWITZ (Lapichi, Smolevichi); GIBALOVITCH (Borisov); DRAZIN
(Bobruisk); BENENSON (Borisov); HURWITZ (Gomel).

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