I finally have managed to upload my first family tree on the web. I tried to upload my full family tree, but I have so much for my dad’s side of the family that my connection would reset before the file was able to upload. So, I gave up and uploaded just my mother’s tree. It is much smaller, and frankly, that side of the family is where most of my attention goes. My grandfather and his mother before him (on my dad’s side) did a LOT of research on their family, so there isn’t much left for me to do. My mother’s family, however, is barely sprouting, and there is a lot of work to do.
So, first things first: her family tree is now on Ancestry.com, titled Silber-Clausse Family Trees. Her mother’s line goes back a few generations, and I’ve found quite a bit of information on those families. Her father’s line, however, is a whole different story. Her father was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Jewish Hungarian immigrants. I was able to find records for the entire last generation in Hungary (my great-grandmother’s brothers and sisters), but beyond that there aren’t may records available or accessible.
My great-grandfather’s family is a mystery. I know that many immigrants to America came with an inherent distrust for government officials, and I think my great-grandfather’s family was like that. I have found a few records, but they all contain different information. There is enough information to confirm that I’m looking at the right person, but there is also a lot of conflicting information. It’s almost like they were trying to be honest with the information, but not “too honest”. A couple of interesting things that I’ve noticed with that family is that names don’t seem to stay the same for very long. In fact, my grandfather, who everyone knew as John Josef Silber, or Jack, was actually named Irving. It wasn’t until the 1930 census was released that anyone knew that–even my mother, his own daughter, never knew! We also discovered that her grandfather, Jack’s father, who we all knew as Josef Silber, was actually Simon Silber before coming to America. Apparently, when he came to America, he didn’t speak English. All the guys that he worked with would just call him “Joe”, and I guess the name stuck–to the point that he just changed it.
Things like that make genealogy kind of difficult, but not impossible. In fact, that’s part of the excitement of genealogy–finding a long-sought-after piece of information. Part of my joy in this research is finding as much information as possible–not just birth, marriage and death dates. I like to find each census record, land purchase records, anything I can find that helps tell the story of their lives. I like knowing what was happening in the world that could have affected their lives and movements around the world. It makes them more than just names on paper–or in my case, on a computer screen. It makes them real people who lived real lives, in most cases very hard lives. I can’t imagine how I would have survived in those times.