Monday, May 11, 2015

Deconstructing Data

Despite not being able to find my father’s Aunt Rose after her marriage to Julius Hesinger—or, depending on which editor’s prowess you trust more, possibly Julius Hassinger—it was not merely that absence which disturbed me, but a totality of data that didn’t seem to add up.

True, there were several facts scattered throughout the various newspaper reports that seemed to add up right. For one thing, the December 13, 1933, wedding announcement in the Long Island Daily Press gave the widow’s age as fifty eight, which would have placed her year of birth around 1875, quite consistent with other reports listing her birth year as 1876.

In addition, her new husband—whether Julius Hassinger or Hesinger—was someone who worked in the Garden City, Long Island, post office. Rose’s recently deceased husband had also worked for the post office, making me wonder whether widow Rose Kober had met Julius through mutual acquaintances from the now-deceased George Kober’s former workplace.

Digitization of genealogically significant documents being what it currently is, I can be fairly certain—though I can’t locate now what I need to verify what became of Rose—that in the near future, some record will surely surface to settle my questions. I have no doubt I will find a report of Rose’s later years at some point.

As for the earlier years, those are the times which prompt the more pressing questions. Since Rose had been presented to my father’s family as an aunt—sister to my paternal grandfather—that would mean she and John T. McCann shared parents.

However, on the records I have for my grandfather, he had declared that he was born in Brooklyn in 1876. Similarly, as an adult, he had shown up in both New York State census records and federal census records as a United States citizen—at least since 1915.

Rose, on the other hand, we have found declaring herself to be born in Germany. Sure, some families include children born in foreign countries and younger siblings born in the United States. But John’s census records report his father to be born in New York, while German immigrant Rose’s father would by necessity have been born abroad. There seems to be a discrepancy here.

To further complicate matters, according to one report by Rose, she did not immigrate to the United States until 1883. If her brother was born in the United States in 1876, did that mean her family then returned to Germany until 1883? Unless her father was in the diplomatic corps, I rather doubt it.

Another clue that things were not kosher in these self-reported dates: Rose’s mother Anna. If, at the time, marriage to a United States citizen converted a woman’s immigration status from alien to naturalized citizen, why didn’t Anna’s marriage to John’s father make her a citizen? We see that dynamic following the record of her daughter Rose’s marriage to George Kober. Why not the same for the relationship between Anna and John’s father—if  his father was, indeed, an American citizen?

Of course, the most blatant indicator that Rose’s mother wasn’t adding up to be John’s mother was the fact that Anna’s name as widow wasn’t McCann. It was Kraus.

Of course, even the surname Kraus created problems. It certainly wasn’t the same surname as Rose’s, prior to her marriage to George Kober in 1915. Whether it was her name prior to a presumed earlier marriage to a Mr. Miller, I can’t tell, for there is no document matching that couple of surnames which can be located in the New York City area. Even the possibility of the surname being Kusharvska, rather than Kraus—despite a search using each of several spelling permutations for that latter surname—doesn’t yield any results in searches through New York City records.

This is starting to take on the aspect of what might be called a thoroughly exhaustive search. I know I am beginning to feel exhausted!

Setting that aside, though (at least until I can procure additional documentation), there is one further aspect which is puzzling: that of immigration records. Though one census reports Rose’s arrival in 1883—and her mother’s, as well—there are other dates claimed in other records. Not one of those dates, however, yields any confirmation when cross checked with other reports of immigration papers or passenger lists. Rose and Anna—no matter what surname they may have traveled under—remain consistently invisible.


  1. My college roommate's example might be something like what happened here. His adopting parents adopted him and his "sister" - but he and his sister are not related by blood. Perhaps John and Rose are both adopted but not "related"?

    1. That is actually a common adoption scenario nowadays, and something to keep in mind. Thanks for the reminder, Iggy. There are so many tangled ways these two could connect--or, worse, Aunt Rose could simply carry that as an honorary title by virtue of mere friendship with the family.

      Though I may be barking up the wrong family tree, I still think I will pursue least until I find some documentation that shows conclusively that I'm headed in the wrong direction.

  2. I was thinking Aunt Rose is a cousin. I have a close cousin and our girls know them as Auntie and Uncle but they are not.
    Have you put in on paper drawing a crime board ! :)

    1. Now, there's another possibility! And with those big families where one sibling might be twenty years older than the other, the next generation might produce enough of an age disparity to warrant calling those cousins "aunt," just as you mentioned, Far Side. Good point!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...