Do you ever leave someone off your tree? #general


Subject: Re: Adopted children and other "sticky, family problems" on your
Family Tree?

Shalom to all Jewishgeners

My wife Ita and I solved "sticky family problems," on our family tree a
long time ago in the following simple manner:

All "blood," relatives, have an asterisk after their given name. My name
for instance Aizic * Sechter. Adopted children, people that marry into our
family do not have an asterisk. The same holds true to children of modern
day families (gay, single parents etc. if there is a bloodline they receive
an asterisk if not, they still appear on our tree but without an asterisk.

Another modern day "sticky family problem," in our Family Tree concerns our
Jewish religion. I emphasize Jewish religion and in no way are we trying to
degrade anyone who is not a meber of our religion. When someone in our
family marries someone who is not of our faith he will appear in our tree,
without an asterisk and the first two letters of his given name will be
capitalized, if his given name is Joseph for instance he will appear in our
tree as JOseph the same if it is a lady whose name is JOshephina, and keeps
her faith and does not convert and their children will receive an asterisk
through the bloodline of their father. But will have the first two letters
of their given name capitalized because of the faith of their mother.

This simple solution enables us to keep everyone in our tree.

Aizic Sechter

Barbara Mannlein <bsmannlein@...>

Daniel asked: Maybe I am just heartless?

No, you are being truthful! Jews have been the subject of revisionist
historians - we should know better than to try to alter history. And that's
what genealogy is --- family history. One cannot change facts by ignoring them.

When I first started in genealogy, someone wrote, "If you come across the
name of Meyer London, just ignore it. He was a Communist and no one in the
family had anything to do with him." Later I, too, was told by someone not
to include her family's details even though all the info I had was public
domain and I had no intention of publishing anything during her lifetime.

Removing relatives one does not like or because of political, racial, or
religious affiliation is not history, is not genealogy -- It is fiction!

Barbara Mannlein
Tucson, AZ

Israel P

I have two instances in this category.

One is a third cousin with a list of wives and one daughter and has gone
LDS. I try not lo look at his data, but I seem to recall that I listed the
wives up to the birth of the daughter, but any after that are just in my notes.

The other is a cousin who had a daughter >from a bad marriage, then
remarried and had two more. She doesn't want the first husband listed, with
the daughter listed with the second husband who in fact raised her. My
private database reflects the truth. Anything published does it her way.

Israel Pickholtz, Jerusalem
(blogging weekly at )

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

Your family is your family, larcenous, adulterous, felonious. You may not
want to invite Jack the Ripper to your next family reunion - that is a
different matter - but his family did nothing to be left out (at least
some of them are presumably innocent, or at least less guilty). Divorced
spouses with no kids are another matter, as they only include or exclude
themselves, but I would include them because it gives a fuller picture of
your relative's life. The big question is publishing information to all.

I agree that, with the 100 year rule, the living should be safe, but it can
be difficult to tell, sometimes, if a person is living at 98 yo or at 102
or dead. Say the person was born in someplace like PA which had no civil
registration until late, like my Grandmother. She was born 17 Feb 1881,
supposedly, but was she? If she were alive and close to 100, I wouldn't
know for sure what her age is.

The Big A makes you decide whether people are living or dead when you
don't know. There are lots of times when I find that someone was 5 in the
1930 census, little Sammy Cohen, and that is the end of it. I can't figure
out where he went or who he married or anything, which Sam Cohen is the
right one? Sometimes it defaults to dead and sometimes to living; if it
didn't default, the people would all have to be in limbo. It should default
to living, so it protects the information of the possibly living, but it
doesn't. Do you publish information about the questionable? You get more
information if you say the person is dead, and if he is alive and 98, and you
can't find him, does it matter?

Sally Bruckheimer
Piscataway, NJ


Just to play the devil's advocate...

Most of us here are seriously committed to researching and documenting our
families. We feel that it's important, and that it may even be appreciated
by future generations, even if our own families often view us as harmless
eccentrics bitten by a strange bug.

But we need to keep in mind that not everybody shares our passion. (Just
think back to the last time someone asked you about the family tree and
inadvertently triggered a flood of names and dates. The eyes usually glaze
over by about the second or third minute, right?)

Outside of this "hobby" (obsession?), personal information including their
name, date of birth, and relationships are not things that normal people
want published. Often stuffed under the heading of "privacy", it also has
to do with precautions against identity theft and other criminal activity,
as well as genuine privacy.

When a person asks for themselves not to be listed, I can understand the
disappointment of the family genealogy addict, but I can't see any
reasonable way to refuse. (It's okay to argue and try to convince, but
the decision is ultimately theirs.) To do otherwise is a gross violation
of their wishes and their right to privacy, which trumps any hobby, no
matter how passionate.

tom klein, Toronto

Debby Gincig Painter

I agree that we are products of our family no matter the circumstances of these
relationships. There will always be people or situations that families are not
too proud of "acknowledging" but they are family nevertheless. For example, my
extended family trees include a sprinkling of mobsters, criminals, and very public
scandals. In addition, one family member had a child at a young age and her
daughter was placed for adoption. This was "not talked about" and those of us
of the younger generation knew nothing about it. A few years ago,they reconnected
and and she and her family are now included in family functions. We felt it
would have been wrong to leave them off the family tree and I have the "marital"
relationship listed as "other" with no other details. And finally, in the matter
of someone not wanted to be included on the trees,I simply indicate them as "Son"
married "Daughter" with the last names. That way in the future someone will know
there was another child in the family and, in the present, everyone is satisfied.
And as always, living persons' birth or marriage information is always listed as
private or unknown on my public website pages.

Debby Painter

David Schreiber

One remark that I'd like to make is that one may draw more than one conclusion
or interpretation >from the apparent sins or indiscretions of our ancestors,
even given the existence of official records of the time. I found a death
record for a great aunt that stated that she had committed suicide having
been asphyxiated by illuminating gas. Since both my mother and aunt had
Alzheimer's in later life, it would seem reasonable that some tendency to
dementia runs in the family. Given this information, I can easily imagine
someone with this condition lighting the illuminating gas in their apartment
and forgetting to shut it off correctly before bed. Similarly, I imagine that
some instances of carbon monoxide poisoning must have occurred using illuminating
gas for lighting.

David Schreiber
Melbourne, Fl

Joan S. Gross

I have never knowingly left someone off a family tree or out of a family
history. That is like telling a lie. Maybe I can be this cavalier about
the subject because only my children and a few very close cousins have a
copy. Also, I don't know of any 'bad' stories but, who knows, there may
have been. For years (and generations) no family member knew that one of
our relatives took her own life in the early 1920's. I revealed the story
because it was very interesting and would not likely upset of her
distantly-related survivors who do not live in the USA. I feel strongly
that all facts and figures and bubbemeinsas that you've gathered should go
into a family's history/genealogy report. If the tale is not on public
record, you should still let the existing family in on their history.

Joan S. Gross

From: "Debby Painter" <gincig@...>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 12:18 PM

I agree that we are products of our family no matter the circumstances of
these relationships. There will always be people or situations that families
are not too proud of "acknowledging" but they are family nevertheless...

Kenneth Packer

I agree, and always include all on the tree with appropriate notes. Over
the years I have had very few objections, but yes some. Even with the few
objections, I do what I believe is right, the complete recording of family
history. And I have lots of family that back me up and have helped on this

I believe that several years ago, I did post my genealogy philosophy which
comes with a copy of the tree when family members order the tree, which now
has 2140 names. The tree stated with 125 names. It Only goes to family; it
is not a public document! It is not on the Internet. You will find my
philosophy paper below. It helps others know what and why I have been doing
this for the past 20 years. Hope my ideas help you and others communicate
what we do with family who may have some resistance.

I believe my paper on genealogy is relevant to this discussion that has had
some wonderful responses. Discussions such as these help us all to be
better at what we do. I hope we continue to share our ideas on this forum.
Why Genealogy and Why a Family Database?
By: Ken Packer (#30)

When our children and grandchildren ask the questions: "Where did we come
from?" "Who were our ancestors?" "Did any of our family perish in the
Holocaust?" "Am I related to anyone famous?" "Has anyone in our family
ever been in jail?" "Is there a history of disease in our family that I
should know about?" "Where did I get my music and artistic talents?" "How
has religion affected our lives?" How will you answer these and other

As we grow, family traditions and history offer security and a sense of
uniqueness. Recounting the origins of our cherished traditions and history
gives a deeper understanding of why traditions are so special. In the past,
families often sat around and told stories for others to remember. With TV
and new forms of entertainment, story-telling has become a lost art and a
lost past-time. Just as we enjoy taking pictures and videos and re-looking
at the events we attended, a family genealogical history and database is
another way of looking at and remembering our history. Genealogy is more
than names and dates. It is the stories of our lives.

Our treasures lie in our knowledge. We are wealthier by gathering the rich
history that makes us who we are. Your family history is about who you are
and where you come from. We are all connected. We are family.

Family Historians want to know about the places where our ancestors lived,
their occupations and interests, what they ate and wore, how they traveled,
and many other aspects of their lives. The records, which throw light on
these things, are rich in information about our ancestors' lives. With this
material, the past - your past - begins to come to life. Family history,
however, is more than this, we discover the truth about old family legends,
stories, or mysteries. It is a record of our successes and failures, of our
joys and disappointments, and the forces that made us who we are. Nothing
is good or bad. It is not about secrets. It is history. It is what we
did. And keeping your family history alive, is very important.

If we don't record that history now, it may be lost forever. If you don't
do it, who will?

This database of family history is for our family. It is not a movie or a
TV script. It is not a book for others to read. It is meant for us and our
children. Since 1991, when the research began, it has grown >from 125 names
and their stories to a family tree of more than 2100 family members. It is
an amazing family that can be traced back to two brothers, Abraham and Chaim
Peker, who lived in Russia in the early 1800's. And the tree continues to
grow because of the efforts of family members who understand the importance
of history and staying connected. Hopefully someday our research will take
us back even farther.

We thank all for sharing and hope you will join us in this important
activity of recording living family history.
--------------End of Reprint-----------

Kenneth L. Packer
Washingtonville, NY 10992
(E-mail) packer18@...

-----Original Message-----
From: Debby Painter [mailto:gincig@...]
sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 12:19 PM
To: JewishGen Discussion Group
Subject: Re: Do you ever leave someone off your tree?

I agree that we are products of our family no matter the circumstances of
these relationships. There will always be people or situations that
families are not too proud of "acknowledging" but they are family
nevertheless. ...

Anne Brest Photographics <digitalphoto@...>

I couldn't agree more with Ken PACKER and his views on Family Trees/Family
History, and found his philosophy quite fascinating and it made perfect
sense to me. Our Family History is indeed about us, who we are, and where
we come from. That is the "untested shurer" of everything we have been
writing about this topic over the last week or so. In fact Ken PACKER has
given me an idea, and that is to concentrate more on the details.
Personally, I find my own tree one big bore because it has names and dates
and only notes when it comes to my immediate family, which is what I would
now like to do for as many family members as possible. I also want to add
photographs for as many people on the Tree as I possibly can. A family
Tree/History is a life's work, I wish I had started this project when I was
about 13 years of age . I know people who started at 13, and 17 years of
age respectively , and they have the most unbelievable information.

Anne Lapedus BREST (ex Dublin, Ireland) Sandton, South Africa

Ackmene, Lithuania. KLOPMAN/KLAPMAN,Silmalas, Latvia). SHILLMAN, BENSON,
SEIDER Krustpils/Kreutzberg)Latvia. MIRRELSON Kurshan, Courland, Latvia.
BREST Bauska, Latvia. ORKIN Zagere Lithuania. CHAVKIN and CHEIN Zagare,
Lithuania. GILINSKY Daugavpils/Dvinsk, Latvia. GAYER/GAER near Chelm,
Poland. NASATIR (Lithuania)