Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What's with the M?

In December 2008, I decided to revisit the research of the family of my great-grandmother Sarah Klein. On her 1905 Brooklyn marriage record, her maiden name was listed as Zembrowsky and her parents were listed as Isak & Pesi. On my grandfather's birth certificate, Sara's full maiden name was listed as Sarah Marjam Zabursky. Both my grandfather and his brother listed her maiden name as Zebofsky on their social security applications. I decided to start with the earliest spelling...Zembrowsky.

I had no idea which country Sarah emigrated from so I decided to start with the Poland records on Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland at http://www.jri-poland.org/, also with a link from the JewishGen website) simply because it's the largest database. I searched for a sounds like Zembrowsky in Poland and, BINGO!, I found the 1897 Russian Census for her family under the name Zymburski in Lomza, Poland. With this same spelling, I was able to find Sara's 1904 US ship manifest...she travelled under the name Sambrowski. As exciting as this was, I was stuck again. I couldn't find any more records. This where it sat for more than 6 months.

Last week, I tried doing a Lomza town search on JRI-Poland so I could scan all of the records for that town. As I found out shortly after trying this, most birth & death records while recorded in the town of Lomza don't actually contain the word Lomza in the individual records so no luck there.

Next I decided to try a given name search for the Lomza Gubernia. I searched for records that contain the given names Sara and Abram (Sara's father per the 1897 Census). Another BINGO! In addition to the birth (and death) records for Sara and her siblings and Abram's birth record I found other BMD records under the same surname...Zejburski...no M. With the name Zejburski, I was able to more US ship manifests and a few US records. Then I found out that Zejburski became Zebofsky in the US and I found even more records. Late yesterday, I found 4 Zebofskys on Facebook. I sent each of them a message and received a response from my 1st cousin twice removed. Incredible!

That pesky M! Having that M in the name put me in a different soundex on the "sounds like" searches. The M only appears in 3 records, the 1897 Russian Census, Sara's 1904 ship manifest, and Sara's 1905 Brooklyn marriage record. I have no idea how it got there and why Sara was the only one to adopt that pronunciation (she couldn't read or write so the name on the marriage record was by sound alone). Her children, my grandfather and his brother, knew it didn't belong when they applied for their social security numbers. Just because a spelling appears on a record in the original language does not mean that was always the spelling. I'm glad I had the patience to get past that M.

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