I've made immense progress since I started 5-6 years ago, largely through the generosity of JewishGen members, but I seem to have hit a brick wall. Here briefly is where I am:
- I have found my paternal GGFather, and likely his father too but in the latter case, no surname
- I have found my GGFather's grave, and that and my GGMother's stones have been translated for me.
- I have found my GFather's naturalization petition.
- I have traced the family through every available census from 1895 on, with much help from members.
- I have identified two siblings of my grandfather I knew nothing about, and in fact have communicated with a cousin from one of the branches, but she unfortunately is even further behind her search than I am.
- The family consistently lists themselves as 'Austrian', except for pre-marriage when my GFather lists himself as Galician. However, my GMother Stein was from Koenigsburg and was echt German, and it is likely post-marriage that she influenced the description of country of origin, given the disregard many German Jews had for their Galitsianer co-religionists. There are family stories to that effect.
- The spelling of the family name appears unique for Jews. I haven't found other Jewish families with that spelling although it is not uncommon with non-Jewish Germans. There are of course many Jewish names that are variants, such as 'Reich'.
- The name suggests some ties to Rzeszow on my GGFather's part, and in Yiddish the city name appears as 'Reischa' and residents as 'Reischers'. Rzeszow's Jews were significantly German-speaking. The surname, as poointed out, does not mean he currently lived in Rzeszow, it describes where he originated from when he lived in a different area.
- My GGMother apparently came from Przeclaw,(from her stone) which is @ 25 miles from Rzeszow. So, all indications are the paternal family and my GGFather came from somewhere in that area, and the likelihood that my GFather, a Galitsianer, could meet with approval from the German Steins would have been marginally better as he was likely German speaking and fit more comfortably into the Stein family.
- But that's speculation, and I can't get beyond that. My GFather's naturalization papers indicated he arrived very specifically on June 15 1879, except Steve Morse tells me no ships arrived in NY on that date, or at least have manifests, and on various occasions family members stated they arrived in 1880 or 1881.
- My GFather states a very specific birth date of March 3, 1874, but no manifest for anything close to that date lists him. I've conducted searches with a wide variety of different data, ranging from GGmother to siblings and nothing close turns up. Specifically, the name 'Reische' as I've spelled it does not appear as such in any of the European records I've searched so far, and I have never found a Jewish family with that spelling from 1879 going forward.
- That generation is of course long gone. There's one surviving cousin that I'm close with but he doesn't know much more. Cousin from the newly discovered branches is helpful with what she has, which isn't much. So, where else can I go?
I think I've developed snow blindness, if you will and would welcome any suggestions. I've been through the idea of burial societies and have more work to do there, but can't think of other resources I should look at. Perhaps its just one of those eternal mysteries you can't solve at this late date.
One brief digression: my cousin from the newly discovered branch sent me a photo of her GGMother and GGFather; my father would have been their nephew. Her GGFather is looking straight into the camera. It is as if my long dead father's eyes were staring back at me.It gives me a frisson just to think about it.