In some ways, the discovery of the Kauffmans’ history is an adjunct to the rise of the internet, for without the databases that sites like Ancestry started uploading in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a lot of salient information would have never been available to us, or at least not as easily discoverable. The ironic thing about this is that many (maybe all) of the most complete databases are managed by the Mormons and held in Salt Lake City, where of course I grew up.
As I’ve recounted in previous posts, my sister Kathie found the first clues with good old fashioned paper records in the early to mid-nineties, and I then found more relevant information when the 1930 Census data was briefly offered as a freebie by AOL one weekend probably in the late nineties. The most important information came courtesy of the documentation we were provided by the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, which had gone on to become the Jewish Child Care Agency. So where were we, exactly?
We knew my Dad’s real birth name, as well as at least some information on his parents (and grandparents, courtesy of his parents’ marriage certificate). We had birth certificates for my Dad’s younger siblings (born in Rutland, Vermont) and knew that there had been an older brother named Hyman (born, like my Dad, in Newcastle, England) who had evidently stayed with my grandfather Jacob when Jacob had dropped the rest of the kids off in foster care after my grandmother Kate died giving birth to a little girl Jacob had named Catherine, a baby reportedly put up for adoption in Yonkers a few days after her birth.
With the advent of the internet and its resources, though, a slew of information came to me courtesy of several wonderful genealogists, both amateur and professional, with whom I crossed paths over the years. A special shout out has to go to Keith Lassner, who volunteered a lot of his time to help solve the Kauffman family mystery and who was able to come up with a ton of information on my grandmother Kate’s family, the Tetenbaums. Keith got all sorts of fascinating documentation, including my grandparents’ ship manifests when they emigrated from England, as well as a number of documents detailing what turned out to be a rather large number of siblings for my grandmother.
One of the oddest things Keith turned up was what appeared to be my grandmother’s death certificate, which stated she had died in Toronto, Canada, in June 1922. Why was she in Toronto? All of the other birth certificates for my Dad’s younger siblings had been in Rutland, and (as I posted earlier) we had always thought Kate died giving birth to Sylvia (prior to getting the foster care records), and therefore should have died and been buried in Rutland. My middle sister Micheline actually journeyed to Rutland one year to see if she could track down info (before we had gotten the foster care records), but there had evidently been a major fire in the city in the late twenties or so and most paper records had been consumed in it, so that had turned out to be a dead end.
Keith’s sleuthing also turned up some interesting clues vis a vis the family member listed on Kate’s death certificate, a guy with the surname Crangle. A little more digging showed that there had been a Sarah Crangle who died shortly before Kate had and that the same man was the reporting agent on Sarah’s death certificate. Keith’s genealogical “spidey sense” told him Kate and Sarah might be related. I actually reached out to a bunch of Crangles in both Toronto and Vancouver, BC, but heard back from none of them, much as what had happened years previously with the Nachmonsons (see my previous posts).
It was yet another perplexing “clue”, one that ostensibly answered questions while creating a whole slew of new ones. Another wonderful internet phenomenon, JewishGen, would soon provide one of the most stunning revelations yet.