|Comparing photos from my cousins' collections with photos from my family|
This is, we believe, a tale of two sisters.
Hinda and Isaac Left Lithuania
Three of the above photos come from the collection of my UK/South African cousins. They can positively identify their grandma Hinda in the two left-hand photos. Hinda (1864-1940) married Isaac Chazan (1863-1921) in Lithuania and moved with him to Manchester, England, around early 1888. The couple settled in Manchester and there raised their family.
These same cousins, descendants of Hinda, also have the photo of a seated man and woman, at far right above. According to family lore, this shows Hinda's sister who remained in Lithuania, with her husband. My cousins remember hearing this story and seeing the photo in a place of honor.
Necke and Solomon Stayed in Lithuania
The photo in the center features, we think, Necke Gelle, my paternal great-grandma, mother of my paternal grandpa Isaac Burk. Necke's maiden name is shown as Shuham on Isaac's Social Security application.
There are two similar versions of this photo. I have one, and one is owned by another cousin who descends from Isaac's brother, Meyer Berg. No identifications are on any of the Necke photos, but having similar photos inherited by two Burk/Berg cousins strengthens the case that this is the ancestral family in Lithuania.
Another reason to believe this is Necke: The man in the center photo and, older in the right photo, is unquestionably my father's ancestor. Dad's face and this ancestor's face are eerily similar. Dad's first cousins also resembled this man quite closely.
I'm identifying the gentleman as Solomon Elias (or Eliyash) Birck. He and Necke remained in Lithuania when six of their children left for North America around the turn of the 20th century.
Strong Similarities, Strong Family Ties
After studying these four photos, we cousins agree that Hinda (both younger and older) looks uncannily like Necke (both younger and older). Look at the faces circled in the photos and you'll see what my cousins and I saw! Eyes, nose, ears, shape of face, there are lots of similarities between the woman in the orange circle and the woman in the purple circle. Sisters or half-sisters, they are closely related.
Why Necke remained in Lithuania while Hinda left for a new life in England, we'll never know. We do know that Hinda and her husband Isaac welcomed Necke's two sons Isaac and Abraham to stay with them as they journeyed from Lithuania to England and then onward across the Atlantic. My grandpa Isaac ultimately went to New York City, and my great uncle Abraham Berk settled in Montreal.
Happily for us, we have photos, letters, and family stories demonstrating that Hinda and Necke's descendants remained in touch over the years even though the sisters were separated for the rest of their lives.
As a result of this tale of two sisters, I am now describing myself as the second cousin, once removed, of the descendants of Hinda who so kindly shared the photos above.
And yes, there are centimorgans linking our families!