*To a genealogist, at least.

First a follow-up to the last post. Yury had problems commenting on the blog, but he wrote me:

I think the best candidate is “Жмудская”. There is no clear “Жм” on the document, but those could’ve easily be “misspelled”, not to mention that there is no “Ж” in English.

Жмудская is right next to the intersection she described — a bit to the right and a bit down, in I-11. It’s part of a very Jewish neighborhood at the time, where low middle class and poorer jews lived, according to [1] (in Russian), with 7 synagogues on the short street.

Also found [2] (in Russian) that lists house owners (from a 1912 directory “All Wilna”), and there is number 12.

[1] http://www.jewish-heritage.org/agran.htm
[2] http://vsia-vilna.livejournal.com/14407.html

Yury also found scans of the “All Wilna” catalogs from 1912 and 1913, and he was kind enough to look through them for me. But alas, no Dorogois. So perhaps they moved or died by then. More to find out.

Second, switching tree branches. My great-grandfather Simon Leader is from Kobryn, Belarus. I was able to discover his mother’s first name as in my grandparents’s photo albums, there’s a picture of Simon at her grave, which gives her first name. But that is the only evidence we’ve been able to find about her. From the gravestone, we get her name and her year of death and approximate year of birth. Dead ends. My cousin, with whom I’ve been researching this side of the tree, and I have hunted for clues but with no last name, no father’s name, no nuthin’, you can imagine we haven’t found much at all. This side of the family has been elusive.

And then I read this post, “Treasure Chest Thursday: Jack Garber’s Social Security Card Application,” in Emily Garber’s great blog, (going) The Extra Yad. Social Security applications? I had no idea they were out there for the taking (well, you have to pay for them, but still!).

One of the things I learned at the conference is primary versus secondary documentation. Secondary information is documentation others have filled out. You tell someone information, they write what they understand on the ship’s manifest (hence the many misspelled names). That’s secondary. A death certificate is secondary, as obviously a dead person cannot write out his own information. But folks filled out a Social Security application themselves. Primary information.

The easiest thing to do is to look up someone’s Social Security number through the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and order the application that way. But alas, Simon Leader didn’t have a social security death index. And I realized he most likely died too soon (1939) after the passage of the Social Security Act (1935) to have registered for Social Security. But I ordered one for the elusive Max Braslowsky, whose last name I have not been able to confirm. Then, just for the heck of it, I tried ordering one for Simon anyway. “Who knows?” I thought. After, I ordered for my two other great-grandfathers. By the time my great-grandmothers all passed away, if they had had SS numbers, they would have been in the SSDI. But since most of them either worked with their husbands or didn’t work, they didn’t have numbers, so I focused on the men.

I received Max’s first. And I swear, that man is tormenting me from the grave, refusing to give up his last name. I’ve at least confirmed his first name, but I can assure you, he was not born with the last name of “Brown.”

Max Brown SS App

Not much new info here, although the “Marcus” confirmation is helpful.

And then, I got a second piece of mail:
Simon Leader SS App

Ding ding ding! My hunch paid off! Of course, this is now a secondary document, but it’s still immensely helpful. Not only do I see where Simon worked (he owned a number of stores), but his mother’s last name is on the form! Winner winner chicken dinner! (I asked my father why someone would need a SS number post-death, and he said it was most likely so Simon’s wife could receive widow benefits.)

One of the things that so appeals to me about genealogy is the constant puzzle that it is. You think you’ve hit a dead end, you think you’ve discovered all you can, and then, boom! Something new pops up that opens up a whole new branch of the family tree. Now to research the Kaplan family of Kobryn!