Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Other Roths - a happy story

     In my last post, I discussed some families who were related to me on the Roth side, although I'm still not sure exactly how.  In preparation for that post, as I always do, I went back to the information that I have about that person or family, and reviewed how I know what I think I know.  At that time I also look for new records that might have become available since I last looked.
     In this case, I was looking at the Lavinthal Family.  The head of the family was Samuel Lavinthal, and his wife was Fannie Roth Lavinthal.  They had several children, among whom was a son, Bennie.  I knew that Bennie had married, and had a daughter, but he and his wife were divorced before I came on the scene.  Bennie and my father were very close growing up and as adults, and I remember him from my childhood.  I never knew his wife Rhoda, or his daughter Charlotte (or Charie as she was known).  I had no records for Charie except one census record from 1930, when she was a child.  A cousin had told me that she had lived in Washington, DC, and had died young and childless.
     When I looked at her record, a "hint" told me that there were new records for me to review.  The first was an index of Social Security applications and claims.  This index does not cover all SSA applications, so I was surprised when I examined it, to find that indeed it was for my Charlotte Lavinthal. It listed her parents (Ben Lavinthal and Rhoda Green) Check.  Her birth date.  Check. And a married name!
     When I entered the married name into my tree, more "hints" appeared.  First was a Virginia marriage record, which upon examination proved to be hers, but more interesting was a link to someone else's tree that had a person of that name in it.  When I looked at the tree, I wasn't sure that  it was the same person.  None of the other names in the tree were familiar to me.  Living people were only indicated by blank boxes, and there were a lot of those, but most intriguing was a blank box that came from Charlotte.  Everyone I had spoken to had said that Charie had no children, but I thought I'd ask anyway.
     I wrote a short note to the (unknown) owner of the tree explaining that if this was the same person, and there was a child, I would like to chat with him or her if they were interested.
     I quickly received an answer.  The owner of the tree was the child in question (I'll call her E.).  She explained that Charie had given birth to her when she was 18 and unmarried, and had given her up for adoption at birth.  Only Bennie and Rhoda had known about the child.  They were already divorced, and the pregnant Charie went to live with her mother in Chicago.  E had always known that she was adopted, but under the laws of the time could get no information about her birth family.  Subsequently, the laws were changed and the agency had told her what they knew, and had performed a search, determining that her birth mother was dead. Her marriage had ended in divorce after only a few years and she had not remarried.  E had made efforts to contact her mother's heir with no success, but she held out hope that she would find her other family.  She had entered her birth mother's name into her family tree along with her adopted family so that her children and grandchildren would know where she came from.
     The details of her story matched what I knew about Charie, but I am a distant relation and couldn't give her the details she longed for.  Making no promises, I contacted the few cousins from that family that I knew and told them what I had found.  They at once got in touch with her and they began trading photos and family stories.  Everyone is very happy, and I get to add a whole new twig onto my family tree.


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  2. This is E. Just is case anyone is wondering, this really did happen. It took about 24 hours for the story to find its way from Mary Jane to a first cousin who knew my mother, Charlotte (Charie) as a girl, who sent the information to her son, who knew my mother when he was a young man attending college and just happens to live about 45 minutes from my home - on the opposite side of the country from where the story originated. We have been communicating ever since and hope to meet soon. I am now a 68 year old grandmother and I started work on my family tree for my children and grand children after being inspired by one granddaughter who was assigned to create a family tree in a class at school. This has been a great gift to me and my family. I am particularly grateful for the number of people in my birth family who, very quickly and with much trust, embraced a new family member and sent me photos and stories that I can now share and that have now become a part of MY family's story. My mother lost her ability to have children when she was 20 due to a medial condition unrelated to my birth (but one that my daughter also suffered from, though better treatment existed for her and she went on to have three children). She was an only child, and so as far as anyone in the family knew, her family line ended with her. But she DID have a daughter, who knew her name, and she has children, grandchildren, and (since my 5 grandchildren should all one day become parents themselves, she will have great, great grandchildren and onward through the generations. We have a custom in Judaism that a person's immortality is established here on earth through their posterity "that their name shall continue in Israel." Charlotte Lavanthall's name and that of her mother and father, will now continue through the generations. God, as my adoptive mother used to tell me, works in very strange ways.