The People of Pancho

At Play In The Archive

A New Puzzle Piece

I discovered a genealogical record today that appears to unlock several mysteries at once. I want to pose the evidence to you, my Genealogy People, to see what you think. Am I barking up the right tree? Am I missing anything obvious?

For those who have been following for a while, you know that I’ve been trying to acquaint myself with the least-documented branch of my family, the Spielmanns, my great-grandmother Margaret Spielmann Lessiack’s family of origin. I inherited a mass of photographs, most of which were unlabeled, and through a careful, two-year-long process of comparing genealogical data with the pile of photographs, I think I’ve got just about everybody identified.

Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack and Margaret Spielmann Lessiack, New Jersey, 1917. Photographer unknown.

My great-grandparents, Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack and Margaret Spielmann Lessiack, New Jersey, 1917. Photographer unknown.

This the Spielmann family, 1917. One son--possibly Erwin--is missing from this picture. Leonor peeks out from behind Fanny. Photographer unknown.

The Spielmann family, 1917. Herman and Franziska (Fanny) Spielmann had eight children. My great-grandmother Margaret (on the right) was the eldest, and the youngest, Leonor, peeks out from behind Lillian. One son — possible Erwin — is missing from this picture. Photographer unknown.

But, some mysteries remain.

Mystery #1:

As I wrote in Meet the Spielmanns:

“At first I thought there were nine children, because the 1900 census also reported a Jennie Spielmann, born in 1882, living with the family in Manhattan. However, examination of the actual document revealed Jennie to be a “sister-in-law.” Though the relationship was supposed to be listed relative to the head of the household, I think that Jennie must have, in fact, been Herman’s sister, and therefore Fanny’s sister-in-law. Otherwise, why would Jennie have the same surname as Herman?”

Why indeed?

Mystery #2:

When my mother and I both did DNA tests through 23andMe, my mother’s results revealed ~25% Jewish ancestry. We were both stunned by this revelation, because neither of us had any idea of Jewish ancestry prior to the DNA results. I pondered this discovery in The Hidden Branch, but the question remains: Where does Judaism reside in my Mom’s family tree? All of her other grandparents are quite well documented going back many generations (did you see that scroll, People?), so Leo and/or Margaret seem like the likely candidates.

Today’s Discovery

Herman and Fanny reported in the 1900 US census that they were married in Vienna, Austria in 1891. While browsing in the GenTeam European database today, I discovered a marriage record from Vienna, Austria from 1891 that I think belongs to them.

Two interesting things:

  • The record was catalogued as part of the “Index of Jewish Records of Vienna.” The Volume was called “Tempelgasse” — at least part of which, Google Translate tells me, means “temple.” (The other part of that word means “alley” which doesn’t make much sense, but there you have it. I seriously need to rustle up some German speakers.)  In any case, I think I just found my Jewish ancestors.
  • The groom was Herman Spielmann. The bride was Franziska Spielmann. Is it possible that they already had the same last name when they got married? That would explain the “Jennie Spielmann as sister-in-law” mystery mentioned above.

What do you think, People? How else might I confirm these conclusions? What am I overlooking?

 

No shortage of mysteries here. Until next time, dear People.

29 comments on “A New Puzzle Piece

  1. Aunt Fran Stabler Meyer
    September 7, 2014

    Wonderful research, Panch! An intriguing story/history unfolding. I am hooked. 🙂 Both amazing detective work and writing. Hooked, Aunt Fran 🙂

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 7, 2014

      Thanks, Fran. It is totally addictive.

      Like

  2. Fran
    September 7, 2014

    Oops…
    PS. You asked for ideas to confirm your conclusions. I don’t have a clue, but I know you will find a way!

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 7, 2014

      I appreciate your faith in me. We shall see!

      Like

  3. Su Leslie
    September 8, 2014

    Fascinating stuff!! I can’t think of any way to help. Is the marriage record you found for Hermann and Franziska a transcription, or a scan of the document? Scottish marriage records show both parties’ parents’ names. That might give you a bit of extra info to learn more about the Jewish community in Vienna at that time — and help identify whose sister in law Jennie was maybe. I’d live to know how you get on.

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 8, 2014

      So, I’m still figuring out how the database works. What I found was a reference to something else. The reference had two different record identifiers, the source of the record, the name of the bride and groom, the date, and very little else. I think it refers to a physical document somewhere in Vienna, but I haven’t been able to figure out where. I’m going to do a little more digging, and then write to the owner of the database if I can’t figure it out on my own. There are spaces for the parents names in the reference, but no names in them. I don’t know if that means the reference is simply incomplete, or if the original document also does not contain parental names. Thanks for stopping by, Su. I appreciate the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Su Leslie
        September 8, 2014

        Good luck. It will be fantastic if you can figure the database out, and even gain access to a copy of the document. I love this part of what we do 🙂

        Like

      • Pancho
        September 8, 2014

        Me too!

        Like

  4. bernfeldfamily
    September 8, 2014

    It’s plausible. Their names can be Jewish as well. Have you checked the JRI Poland Index yet?

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 9, 2014

      I have not, but I will now. Thanks for the tip!

      Like

  5. bernfeldfamily
    September 8, 2014

    Also, take a look at the link to Vienna cemeteries at the bottom of my Genealogy Gems article. This might open a door for you! : ) http://bernfeldfamily.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/genealogy-gems-part-4-billion-graves/ Good luck and keep me posted.

    Like

  6. thegenealogygirl
    September 9, 2014

    There is a Facebook group called Genealogy Translations that might help you with that record.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pancho
      September 9, 2014

      Good to know. Thanks for the tip, and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mom
    September 10, 2014

    I think you’ve stumbled headlong into a gold mine! Congrats!

    Like

  8. Amy
    September 11, 2014

    Hi, Pancho! For some reason I wasn’t getting emails of your posts, so I am hoping now I have done what I need to do to get them. A few suggestions for resources: one is JewishGen,org, the best overall Jewish genealogy website. People there are very helpful, and there are listservs for different geographic areas so you can post questions to those groups. The other is Tracing the Tribe on Facebook and German Genealogy on Facebook. Both might be helpful to you on this question if you are on Facebook.
    Wendy’s site on the BernfeldFamily blog is also a great resource.

    As far as both Herman and Fanny having the same surname—so did my great-grandparents! They were first cousins and were both Brotmans (meaning my siblings and I are both siblings and fourth cousins….). It was not at all uncommon for cousins to marry back then so perhaps Fanny and Herman were cousins also.

    Good luck! Keep us posted!

    Like

  9. Sheryl
    September 11, 2014

    One of my favorite things about family history is that there is an unending supply of mysteries that need to be researched.

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 11, 2014

      Right you are. That’s my favorite part too. Never a dull moment!

      Like

  10. Jana Last
    September 12, 2014

    Leslie,

    I want to let you know that your wonderful blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/09/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-september.html

    Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pancho
      September 12, 2014

      Wow! Thanks, Jana. I really appreciate the support.

      Like

  11. Dana
    September 12, 2014

    I haven’t read through the other replies, but my first thought is… maybe they were cousins? That would not only explain the surname ‘issue’, but also possibly add to the ‘amount’ of Jewish ancestry you saw with the DNA tests. (I have first cousins who married in the 1800’s.)

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 18, 2014

      Dana, you are the second person to suggest this as a possibility. Could very well be. Thanks so much for stopping by; I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the help from the genealogy blogosphere, yourself included!

      Like

  12. Ancestral Paths
    September 17, 2014

    Hi Leslie, thanks so much for the visit. I love your blog! Like you I love a mystery and seems you have some really good ones to sort through. I had my DNA test done through Ancestry and am now wondering if I should have used 23andme. I found their website the other day and was blown away with the information available. They offer so much more information that what I have seen with Ancestry. Good luck resolving your issues. Happy Hunting! Janice

    Like

    • Pancho
      September 18, 2014

      Hi Janice — thanks for the kind words. Yes, no shortage of mysteries here! I’ve done DNA through both 23andMe and AncestryDNA, and you’re right, each offers something different. I was fortunate that I did the 23andMe test prior to their troubles with the FDA, so I also got the very interesting health information. The benefit of the AncestryDNA is that it makes it much easier to compare family trees. I have made some interesting connections through both companies, though. My dream is that at some point in the future, all the databases will talk to each other, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  13. Pingback: Leo is Confirmed | The People of Pancho

  14. Argie
    November 21, 2014

    Lord have mercy child! This research is remarkably awesome!! Oh, if we had had all this information before Papon died. Great work, you are fortunate and blessed.
    It is no wonder you and Richard discovered you were soul mates immediately.

    I’m so happy for you.
    You know Mamacita Lessiack is turning over and over in her grave. Bless her heart,
    couldn’t help but love all of her.

    Love you my dear!
    Argie

    Like

    • Pancho
      November 21, 2014

      Dearest Amy! What a treat to hear from you!

      Like

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