Friday, October 4, 2019
The Joyride of "Creative" Spelling
What a joyride creative spelling can be for the desperate genealogist. The suspect linking me with several recently-acquired DNA matches on my beleaguered paternal side could have spelled her surname Krauss. Or Krouse. Or Krause. Or...well, you get the idea. There are several choices I could pursue.
All I know for sure about this woman was that the given name she went by was Anna. And that she once lived with a woman who was known to my father and his sister as "Aunt Rose." And that she killed herself one night, late in September, ninety eight years ago.
Anna, I suspect, was Aunt Rose's mother. It says as much in the 1915 state census for New York, and again in the 1920 U.S. census. But finding Krauss—or Krause, or Krouse, or any of several other spellings—made it impossible to locate any other record of Anna, especially in a place as large as New York City.
I had a worse time of it when I tried to figure out what her maiden name might have been. Her son's death certificate listed Anna's maiden name as Zegar. But then, a much later discovery popped up in which I discovered Anna's current name, at least on her own death certificate, was Kusharvska, and that her own parents were unknown—at least by her daughter Rose, the reporting party at the time she discovered Anna's horrible death.
I sometimes feel like I have circled the drain on this search, the many times I've attempted finding the truth about Anna's origins before. But this past summer's revelation of several new DNA matches at the several companies where I've tested has been encouraging. The best part of this situation seems to be the joy of being able to ditch this impossible task of finding Anna affixed to a married name of Krauss—or however it is spelled. Thanks to DNA, I may be able to zoom past "Go" and get to that unknown maiden name, based on hints in the trees of at least six already-researched families.
On Monday, we'll begin by looking at the nexus in those DNA matches' trees, a surname of Michalski, and the tiny hometown all these families left to immigrate to a settlement near Milwaukee, Wisconsin—far from both that hometown in Poland and the adopted home of my Anna and her daughter Rose in New York City. It seems a stretch, yet everywhere I look, I see anything but Krausses. But I do see possibilities. And that's just what I need right now in this latest attempt to solve a longstanding family mystery.