Thursday, October 12, 2023

Taking a Few Steps Backwards


Ever so gradually, we take a few steps backwards in time, trying to coax history into revealing the story of our ancestors. In the case of Aunt Rose, my paternal grandfather's sister, I'd like to follow her immigrant story from the end of her life in the metropolitan New York City area to the beginning of her days, somewhere across the ocean in central Europe.

Once I found resources to look up articles mentioning her name in the lesser-known newspapers of the city, it was fairly easy to trace Aunt Rose's life from her marriage to post office supervisor George Kober, to his death and her subsequent—albeit brief—marriage to Julius Hassinger. But what about taking that life story's journey backwards? That was my next step. I wanted to see how far back I could go, while gleaning information I might have missed in previous visits to her saga.

There are a few reasons I need to retrace those research steps once again. For one thing, I have yet to locate any document of Rose's first marriage. Then, more importantly, I am lacking any record of her arrival in this country—an event which she, supposedly, shared with her mother and, hopefully, my grandfather. Furthermore, Rose's mother's own story is hidden behind a series of married surnames which come with little to no documentation of their own. Any clues I can find to point me in the right direction to find confirmation of those details would be so appreciated.

In review before launching out to discover the missing information, here's what I've already found. From Rose's appearance in the 1920 census along with her second husband George Kober and her ever-present mother Anna "Krouse," their date of arrival was reported to be 1883. This was the census which included the gift of an enumerator error showing Rose's origin in "Schwartzwald"—a designation which, interpreted, seemed to be "Black Forest," but turned out, to my delight, to actually refer to a place in Poland known also as Czarnylas

Moving backwards in time, I could also find Rose and her mother in the 1915 New York State census in neighboring Brooklyn. At that time, Rose was listed by her previous married name, Miller, though no husband was present in the household. Instead, there she was with her mother, this time listed as Anna Krausse. At that point, the mother and daughter had declared they had been in the country for the past thirty years—in other words, since 1885.

At long last, I finally was able to push back to the 1910 federal census and find Rose and Anna one last time. In this enumeration, the mother and daughter stated their arrival in New York was in 1884—yet another close but different year. Then, too, Rose, listing this as her first marriage—and yet with no husband present in the household—had her name given as Rose Muller, not Miller.

That, however, was not what concerned me. It was fairly easy to shift that one letter in subsequent searches to find Rose in previous records—though to no avail. It was the listing for her mother which totally threw me off. Gone was the surname Krausse, or Krouse, or any other of multiple spelling permutations. Surely a case of enumerator misspelling, rather than transcription error, this one bid me try searching once again for Anna—this time, using a wildcard approach. If I couldn't find either Rose or Anna in immigration documentation or passenger records with the more common names of Miller or Krauss, perhaps this new search option for a very different surname would lead me to a connection.

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