Sunday, July 2, 2023

Unraveling Roots: Where Are The Hidden Clues

Leave Census Records For Last
How can you distinguish the five men with the same name all born in New York, all born between 1892-1897? 

At this point the descendants online trees meshed the records. Our Samuel was seen as Samuel N Kaufman in his proven obituary. Yet, he was often placed on the tree of Samuel P Kaufman's records; but there was also Samuel H., Samuel P and the lone Samuel bar a middle initial. What a mess! 
Daily News, New York, New York · Thursday, December 22, 1955

So Why Are You Looking At Census Records?
At this point, census records will only cause the wrong Samuel Kaufman to be placed in your tree. When you turn to census records you will want to be able to prove or disprove a Samuel. More data is needed: 

Date of Birth: abt 1895 
Date of Death: 21 Dec 1955 
Place of Birth: Unknown 
Wife: Anna Address:  
Parents: Unknown  
Siblings of YOUR Samuel: Unknown 
Middle Initial: N (not always correct, but a great starting point) 

Who's Our Samuel, born between 1892-1895

Where to Begin, Is at the End 
Let's follow the clues. I know it can be disconcerting to start with death related records but what a great way to find a consistent birth date and birth place. We know our ancestors' birth dates weren't always consistent, but they often stabilize at the end of their life. So let's start with the end of life records. 

Daily News, New York, New York · Thursday, December 22, 1955
  1. Obituaries don't always give actual birth dates, but they do give death dates. With that information, you can turn to Social Security Death Index and applications. They may also provide parents name - not in the case of our Samuel. But, we know it's the right Samuel, thanks to wife and/or children being named. In Roni's case, she knew her father and her uncle. Both were named.
  2. Social Security Applications can be used to match and corroborate the death of your ancestor as noted in an obituary. 
    U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,

  3. Cemetery records may offer a family plot, or more genealogical information. 
  4. Military Registration and Military Service Records if applicable. Following the birth date, a military draft registration for Samuel Kaufman was located: 
Biggest Hint: There was a note that he had to support his mother. This suggest the father as either deceased or not in the home in 1917.  If not remarried, we should be able to find a 1920 census with Mrs. Kaufman, without a husband in the home.  If remarried we need more information, like her name. We also have his address.
5.  Marriage Records. We  know our Samuel had a wife Anna from his obituary.  The ancestry indices though were of little help. But based on military draft, we know his marriage to Anna was after 1917. 

Voila! Pull the originals to gather more information. 
State Vital Records: NYC Dept of Vital Records:

Census Record Time
1920 Census Record on Prospect

Now is the time to turn to census records.  We were looking for Wm. and Jennie with Samuel in the home. Census records found Samuel in the home with both parents and siblings until 1910.  Father William died/disappeared before 1917 draft.  

Need More Proof:? Sweat the Small Stuff and Follow Addresses
Note the 982 Prospect in the 1922 Marriage Record and the 1920 Census Record. Mother Jennie died in 1923. It just so happens mother who died 1 year after his marriage also had the 982 Prospect address. Her death certificate gave her parent's names. 
 Our Samuel Uncovered
Although mixed in the tree with Samuel Paul Kaufman born 3 days before, we were able to uncover Samuel Nathan Kaufman with a wife Anna in a WWII draft card.

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Kathleen Brandt 
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