Jerry Zeisler <jzeisler@...>
I have a somewhat similar tale to Scott Noar's regarding the benefit of
probate records, and one additional source that led me to nirvana.
In my case, I did not know whether or not my ancestors has made out a
will. I just wrote to the appropriate jurisdiction in Chicago and asked
for it. In some cases, as for my gg-grandfather, Eduard ZEISLER, his
will, if one existed, did not go through probate. On the other hand, I
hit paydirt with several of his children, as one will mentioned siblings
that I was unaware of at the time, and another mentioned that one
sibling had stayed behind in the old country, and had two children that
were killed in the Holocaust. We knew nothing of them.
That information is contained in a part of the will called the "Proof of
Heirship." During the probate process, one or more family members gives
testimony about the family members (parents, siblings, children,
cousins, etc) that they are aware of, whether dead or alive. This allows
the court to determine whether other family members exist that might
have a claim to the estate. Additionally, several of the wills left
money and family trinkets to a close family friend whom I did not know.
I contacted this person and he sent me several priceless photos that he
had kept of the family that had been taken at the turn of the century.
My family had no photos of any of them.
Another excellent source of information that I only recently came
across, provided me with what I had been searching for for my three+
years of research - the ships the family came in on and exactly when
they arrived. In my case, my family members who immegrated were
reasonably well-off financially and traveled frequently. Once they had
become Naturalized, they could request a passport. I couldn't belive the
information that was provided on the passport applications that I found
in the National Archives in Washington, DC. Birth town and date, arrival
date into the US, ship's name, departure point, how long they expected
to be out of the country on this trip, occupation, if they were bringing
family members and how many, the city the application was made in,
current address, where Naturalized and when, and most interesting, a
physical decription. I was lucky enough that my g-grandfather and his 2
brothers traveled several times to Europe, and therefore I have 6
passport applications over a period of about 21 years (>from 1890 to
1911). It was a most fantastic find and one that connected many parts of
Researching: PERCZYK, ADELSON, GORDON, KRIVIRUCHKY and MEYEROWITZ
Locations: Butrimantz, Meretz (Merkine), Oran (Varena) and Nemajuni