Roni S. Liebowitz
My very first post to the JewishGen listserv was soon after I got bitten by
the genealogy bug in 1997. I had managed to get a copy of my gp's (Morris
SEIBEL's) naturalization papers which stated his date of arrival in New York (March 19, 1906), and the name of the ship (Giulia). I thought it would be a no-brainer to find his manifest. According to Morton-Allen Directory, the ship did indeed arrive in NY on the date he stated. I spent many hours at NARA looking at that manifest, but no gp. Every time I went to the archives, I checked the manifest again, thinking he would magically appear. When I was in Washington a year later, a volunteer at NARA took the microfilm >from me and claimed he would find gp. Didn't happen. So how did I finally find him?
Once the Ellis Island database was on-line, I continued my quest >from the
comfort of my home. Using Stephen Morse's search tools, I manipulated the
searches in every possible way. Months passed. Finally, frustrated, I put
only "S" in the surname space and "M" in the given name. I listed only
1906, male, and limited the age range. Still, a very long list of men
appeared. I decided to look at the manifests for ALL the Morris, Moses,
Max and Moische given names. I scrolled through several manifests and paid closer attention to March, the month he claimed he arrived. Then I came across the index for Moses SCHARFF. Why even bother to look? I was
desperate. When I saw the actual manifest, I noticed the name SCHARFF
looked more like SCHAFIR. That was gp's mother's maiden name!!!
Although many family members lived in Galicia, grandpa was >from the Klimontow area, in nearby Poland. I remembered Mark Halpern explained that many children in Galicia took their mothers' surnames since only civil marriages (not religious ones) were recognized by the state. Could this really be my gp---at last!? The person who indexed the manifest listed "Runari" as his place of residence. Comparing the scribe's handwriting of the letters "K" and "R", I realized this actually said "Konary," a nearby town where gp's late mother's sister lived. Then I scrolled across the page and saw that he was going to his father (drum roll) Mendel SEIBEL at 218 Delancey Street in New York! BINGO! How many times had I looked at the manifest on the microfilm readers and passed by the listing for "Moses SCHARFF," never scrolling to the right and discovering this is really gp Morris SEIBEL!
I know I wasn't alone in my search for a lost gp. I hope this helps some of you find your ancestors too. Good luck.
Regards and Happy Chanukah,
Roni Seibel Liebowitz
SEIBEL and SZAEFER ---Klimontow, Nadbrzezie, Konary, Grebow, Krakow, Baronow
Sandomierski, Rozwadow, Tarnobrzeg, Zukow in Poland; Lviv in Ukraine
KLOSS and OSER ---Klimontow, Konary, Radom, Tarnobrzeg, Ozarow in Poland
PRZYBYLSKI (later BILSKY) and PIASKOWSKI ---Belchatow, Lodz in Poland
URBACH, RUKALSKI, ROZICKA, MANDELBAUM, ZYLBERSTEJN --- Wegrow, Czerwonka,
Warsaw, Minsk Mazowiecki, Radom in Poland
MODERATOR'S NOTE: Although Ellis Island research methodology per se is beyond the scope of this list, Roni's message highlights information about understanding Polish and Galician records, which is clearly "on topic" for our readers.