Saturday, May 21, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Duh to Wow! Uncle Sidney's Birth Record Leads to New Cousins

The May theme for Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party is: Duh! What was your genealogy "duh" moment and how did you solve it?

Dad (Harold Burk) and Uncle Sidney in WWII

I knew my father's younger brother, Sidney Burk, was born in Canada in 1914, and brought across the border by his mom a year later when she moved back to NYC as her husband looked for work there.

But since Uncle Sidney died a bachelor, and I knew him well, I never bothered to look for his birth records or even his naturalization, assuming there was one.

This was an anomaly: I'm forever chasing after genealogy documents of ancestors' siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins--because there are often nuggets hidden in their documents that can help me learn more about the family (like maiden names or hometowns). For some reason, I just didn't see my uncle's birth as a research priority, especially since I knew little about searching in Canadian records.

Then I heard an expert in French-Canadian genealogy mention the Drouin collection. I went home, logged on, and entered "S Berk" with "Quebec, Canada" as the place of birth. (Berk was the family's name before Burk.)

The top result of my search was "Samuel B. Berk," a name I never heard of. But with a click, I had on the screen a handwritten record of Uncle Sidney's birth, as the son of Henrietta Mahler Berk and Isaac Berk, my grandparents. Duh. So simple, and quite intriguing to find out he'd been given a different name than the one I knew him by.

Double duh: A few lines down in the results was a "Lily Berr" and below that, "Rose Bert." Click: they were both related to Abraham Berk (not transcribed correctly but worth a click to check). I know that name! It's my great-uncle, the brother of my grandpa Isaac. Never before had I known where Abraham lived or the names of his children, and suddenly that entire line opened up to me. Even better, there were living cousins who I soon traced and now am in contact with.

So my duh led to discovering an entire limb of my father's family tree. From duh to WOW!

15 comments:

Linda Stufflebean said...

What a great find and for quite recent family connections!

Marian B. Wood said...

Linda, many thanks for reading and adding a comment. This "duh" was really an unexpected breakthrough.

Elizabeth Handler said...

A great WOW - thanks for sharing!

John said...

Every database must be searched. Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll find! Thanks for sharing.

Schalene Dagutis said...

What a great find!

Marian B. Wood said...

Many thanks for reading and leaving me a note, Elizabeth!

Marian B. Wood said...

Yup, exactly like a box of chocolates--many surprises await! Glad you stopped by and left me a comment.

Marian B. Wood said...

I remember doing the genealogy happy dance and giving myself a mental dope slap for not trying harder to research my uncle's early years. A great find for sure. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

You know I've noticed how often people I am helping jump right over the relatively more recent people in the family to try to find the ones further back yet some of the closer up individuals hold the key. Your duh moment is a great example of that and something I've done as well. I find myself rejoicing and kicking myself at the same time for not doing it sooner!!

Marian B. Wood said...

So true, Michelle. I'm guilty of it more often than I'd like, and this "duh to wow" experience is a good incentive to use my Genealogy Go-Over as a way to be sure I've left no stones or relatives unresearched! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Dara said...

Hi Marian, I followed the link to your blog from Colleen's 'Leaves and Branches'. Great story - I especially love when following one little clue leads to so much more than was ever expected. What a breakthrough!

pastprologue said...

That's a great find! I love that photo of your dad and uncle, too.

Marian B. Wood said...

Donna an Dora, many thanks for reading and commenting. This blog party is such fun and it's introducing me to new blogging friends too--all while I learn some new tricks and how to avoid pitfalls.

Andrea Kelleher said...

That's awesome that you were able to discover a whole new branch of the family!

Marian B. Wood said...

Thank you, Andrea, for reading my "duh" moment and leaving a comment. Isn't it great when we try something and it works even better than we could ever have hoped?!