Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Fixing a Mistaken Assumption by Buying a Record

Albert Winkler was my first cousin, once removed, the nephew of my maternal grandfather, Theodore Schwartz. His mother, Rezi Schwartz Winkler (1881-1944) was my grandpa's oldest sister.

I know Albert's name because he submitted Yad Vashem testimony about the Holocaust killings of his mother and other close relatives. But I knew almost nothing else about him, other than he died in May of 1993. 

Don't assume anything!

Without any proof, I made the assumption that Albert was born in the early 1900s, given that his parents Rezi and Moritz Winkler were married in 1898 and their children began arriving in 1899. At this point, the youngest child I'd found was Lili Winkler, who was born on March 20, 1912

Traditional sources didn't help me much in my research for Albert. Then I took a look at summaries of birth records available for purchase from the specialized site Sub-Carpathia Genealogy

Doing a record search on this site for "Winkler" birth records from Ungvar (now Uzhhorod, Ukraine), I found TWO Winkler children born in March, 1912. 

Father of both: Mor Winkler. Mother's maiden name of both: Schwartz. One baby Winkler was named Lili, the other baby Winkler was named Bela. A Winkler cousin confirmed that Bela was almost certainly Albert.

Paying to fix my mistake

Of course I quickly clicked to buy the records for Bela Winkler. Within an hour I had proof that he was born on March 20, 1912, the same day as his twin sister, Lili Winkler! (Twins run in the Schwartz family, by the way. Bela and Lili had twin first cousins, my Mom and her twin sister.)

As soon as I plugged in this birth date for Albert Bela Winkler (using Ancestry, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch), I had multiple results.

Never, in a million years, would I have been able to find out so much without paying for this unique record to get Bela's original name and exact birth date. Why? Because Bela had yet another name!

Bela, Albert, Voytech

As shown at the top of this post, Albert entered the United States under the name of Voytech Winkler. Not a name I've ever seen before. It only turned up once I searched for Bela Winkler with the exact birth date and residence city.

This single index card, for Albert's naturalization, gave me a wealth of information. I tracked down the passenger list, his naturalization petition, and his naturalization papers. I learned that Albert married in 1962, and his Hungarian-born wife was naturalized around the same time as Albert. There's more to discover, but already I have many more facts than I had before.

UPDATE: "Voytech" on the passenger list was phonetic...I found "Wojtek Winkler" (born in Uzhhorod) on a list of Vilna Refugees in 1940, "Polish Jewish Refugees" who had been helped out of Krakow. Now to investigate further! 

All because I invested in a unique genealogical record to fix my mistaken assumption. Now my trees show Albert Bela Winkler, 1912-1993.


"Mistake" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.


  1. Voytech is an uncommon name. Bela sounds more like it. But thank goodness you bought the record and found out the truth. What happened to his twin Lili?

    1. Sorry to say, Lili was killed in the Holocaust.

  2. That's why I always try to get every record about someone, even if there is a cost. One never knows what secrets that record might hold.

    1. Lots of info on some of these documents, which is why I buy for many (but not all) ancestors.

  3. I love to see how one piece of evidence leads to another and the story grows!