The mystery of the missing sister
The last post (#14 Dora and Ockham's Razor) left us wondering whether we should be looking for a sister for Dora Zaturensky. We need to find a mother for Benjamin Gitelman, and she needs to be sufficiently closely related to Dora such that:
a) Benjamin can say on his passenger manifest in 1922 that he was going to his 'half-brother", Dora's son Sam Kawin
b) my tentative analysis of my DNA matches with Cousins David (descended from Benjamin) and Paul (descended from Dora) still makes sense
So a sister would fit the bill on both counts. It wouldn't fully account for the 'half-brother' designation on Benjamin's manifest, as if their mothers are sisters, Sam and Benjamin would be first cousins. But I think I've exhausted the possibility of a half-sibling relationship - I just can't see it. So I'm going for sisters, and consequently, cousins.
Then I recalled this snippet from Cousin Jennifer's Tree on Ancestry, which I referred to in an earlier post, but we weren't looking at Gitelmans at that point.
In this Tree, Benjamin's father is a Gitelman, but his mother is shown as Beylya Terensky. Not Dora. At the moment we have no idea who this Beylya Terensky is. There is no mention of a Lipschitz; nor, by the way, does the name seem to appear anywhere else in relation to this family.
This looks to me very much like one of those half-recalled family stories, passed on to later generations by someone who is pretty certain of some details but a bit woolly on the rest. Which is not surprising, because the whole story is getting *very* complicated, and it's several generations back, pretty much lost in the mists of time. And Beylya's birth date of 1888 must be a typo - Benjamin was born in 1885 or 86, so if she's his mother she must have been born some time in the 1860s.
And then I remembered seeing that Jennifer has another version of this Tree, which uses the name Turansky.
This version introduces a whole crowd of new people that don't seem to appear anywhere else in either family knowledge or records. The father of the family is Morris (not shown here) - though Jennifer may have taken that name from the discussion she and I had a few weeks ago - and the name of his wife is unknown. They have 9 children, all shown with Yiddish names, all born in Pinsk.
These are the first 3 children:
Is this our Dora? And is this the Beylya that appears as the mother of Benjamin in Jennifer's other Tree? It's certainly looking promising.
No source is given for this family group. The fact that they all have Yiddish names suggests that this family did not emigrate; if they had, Jennifer would probably have known some at least of them by Americanised names. It looks to me very much as though the list has been provided by a Belarussian researcher, transcribed from one of the 'Revision Lists' compiled periodically throughout the 19C by the Russian authorities to keep track of citizens for tax and conscription purposes.
This immediately poses a problem, as we know that our family were using 'Zaturensky' in Russia, at least until they arrived in the USA. All the members of the family whose emigration I have been able to trace use some form of the name Zaturensky on their passenger documents. So how come they're using Turansky here? If it is the same family, of course ...
Notice that Beylya here is born in 1866; Dora's birth date, as we have seen, varies between 1869 and 1872, as suggested here. If this list is indeed from a Russian Revision List, the dates will probably be more reliable than those Dora gave after she got to America - the Russian authorities used to check names and dates against other records, to try to catch conscription-dodgers in particular. So if we lean towards 1872 for Dora, we have to conclude that Beylya looks the more likely of the two to be the mother of a child born in 1886, when Dora would only have been 14 years old.
Are they really ours?
Provided, of course, that this is indeed our family. Notice that there is no indication of the existence of a family for Morris by a previous wife, which is where I would expect my great-grandmother Shprintsa and her brother Shmuel (Simon Morris) to appear. However, Shprintsa had married by around 1880, and Shmuel left for the USA around that time as well. If the list was put together after 1880 there would be no reason for them to appear on it - they were no longer part of this household.
But how come Jennifer has Benjamin down as the son of Beylya, whereas when he emigrates to the USA in 1922, he says he's going to his half-brother Sam Kawin, who we know to be the son of Dora and Jacob Kawin? Surely this implies that Benjamin is also a son of Dora, but by a different father? How can he be the son of a different mother as well? What sort of a half-brother is that?
Tick-tock, tick-tock. Time for that thinking-cap again.
I thought I had this sorted a month ago. I even posted #14, and thought, that's it, onward and upward. Next! However, on re-reading, there were several things I wasn't happy with. I revised, rephrased, re-drew the Trees, then revised, rephrased and re-drew again, and eventually split the analysis into two sections. Dora's story now spreads over 7 posts, that have taken 6 weeks to put together. I'm going to stick with this version, until I see reason to change it, of course.
Many thanks to Jennifer and other descendants who have interrogated relatives, trawled through websites, paid for research, and drafted Trees, and also shared their DNA with me, whether they realise it or not. And especial thanks to Genetic Affairs, whose AutoClusters provided the clues and pointed the way.
But this journey is not over yet. There are at least 4 more Zaturenskys to come, wending their way over the water from Pinsk to Peoria. But we can relax a bit, I don't think any of their stories are quite as complicated as Dora's.