Showing posts from 2017

How a DNA match + great German records = Blum family breakthrough!

Lena Blum is my father's father's mother. For years, the only information I had about her parents came from census records. Her father Robert died between the 1860 and 1870 censuses, which is too early for most kinds of death records that might have provided information about his parents.

The 1860 census for Detroit, Michigan shows that Robert is a pedlar, and that he and his wife were both from Hesse Darmstadt. Their oldest child - my great grandmother Lena -  is the oldest of four children. The younger three were all born in Michigan. Lena was born in New York, which provides a hint about their port of arrival when they immigrated from Germany.

Robert is buried beside his wife Regina (sometimes also called Gina or Lena) in a historic Jewish section of Woodmere cemetery. His headstone is large, with lots of text that is both foreign and faded. I have long felt that it must hold important details about his life that could help me discover his parents. (I was right!)

Last year …

School projects and family history serendipity

My son is reading The Great Gatsby at school and has an assignment to do a major project relating to that era. He is a car buff and so chose 1920s cars to research. Last week our family watched the PBS documentary on Henry Ford. Great program, and particularly interesting because my dad was born in Detroit.

 As my son was working on his project yesterday, I had a very clear memory come to mind of a photograph of my grandfather (mother's father) driving a very interesting car. I found the photo and was pleased to see that it was taken in 1924: perfect for the project! We will have a nice print made to go on his project board. 

The serendipity gets better! Later that day I was documenting descendants of one of my dad's mother's ancestors, hoping to help an adoptee that is one of my closer DNA matches. After exhausting all the usual databases and coming up empty, I googled the woman's name and got a hit that was a snippet view of an obituary available on I s…