Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Elusive Sarah Klein

Information about my great grandmother Sarah Klein always seemed to be beyond by grasp. Until a few minutes ago, all I had were a few US records with the following information:

>March 1905 NYC marriage of Abram Klein and Sare Zembrowsky with her parents listed as Isak Zembrowsky and Pesi Korrevsky
>Sept 1907 NYC birth records for my grandfather Aaron (later Harry) and Joseph listing their mother as Sarah Mirjam Zabursky
>various census records and a 1931 divorce record but they don't provide any clues about Sarah's parents, siblings, or where the emigrated from

My dad and his siblings & cousins don't really know anything about Sarah. I still haven't been able to figure out when she died (mid to late 1950s is the best guess) or where she is buried. My Uncle Len remembers visiting her once in a dark apartment that she shared with a Mr. Mendel. My dad remembers that she was scary to little children with her Yiddish accent and gruff voice. She wasn't really in touch with the family so didn't know the names of her grandchildren. When we talk about her, I usually hear someone say "Sarah and her sisters were whores". I'd ask if they actually stood out on a corner. I was told no but the men knew where to go. I think Sarah got a bad rap...if she was such a terrible person, why was I named for her?

A few moments ago, I found a big piece of information. I decided to go to the JewishGen website and just start searching the databases country by country in the hopes of finding Sarah's family or at least a common occurrence of a surname similar to Zambursky. I started with Poland because the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland group has created the largest database of translated and extracted records of all of the country indexing groups. I typed in the name Zambursky, selected the country Poland, and started going through the list of results. First town, nothing that looked familiar. The same with the second town. The next town on the list was Lomza and I struck gold...

The Lomza District Census for 1897 shows the following family living in Lomza (the difference of the "i" or "a" at the end of the surname just shows the masculine or feminine version of the name):
-father Abram Icek Zymburski, son of Szlema, age 33, a shoemaker
-mother Pesza Brajna Zymburska, daughter of Jus'ko, age 32, housewife
-son Ilel, age 16
-daughter Sora Mariem, age 13
-son Aron, age 9
-son Moszek, age 5
-son Juszk, age 1

This is Sarah's family. Her name matches up with the 1907 NYC birth certificates. Her age makes sense. The parents' names match up to the 1905 marriage record. No sisters but I've killed off a few family stories as I've researched the family history and the whore story might be a good one to shoot down.

Next up are the ship manifests. I've searched there before but I was looking for Sarah traveling with sisters. Now it's probably brothers. One good thing about here having is brother is that the surname lived on for a little while at least so maybe I can follow the trail if the boys came to the US. Hopefully Sarah won't be a mystery for much longer.

More information see here.

Updates, see here and here.


Apple said...

Congrats on a great find! I hope you are able to fill in much more about her family from this.

jamerie said...

Great job on this page. My KAWKIEWICZ, PERLA, WSTENGA,and CHMIEL families are from Lomza too. Unfortunately, I do not have any pix of them. They came over prior to 1889, so missed the census.