Things that make you go hmmmm

This is my great-grandfather, Isidore Solomon Bressler.



I have long heard stories that he may have been involved with the Zionist movement regarding the establishment of the state of Israel. While I’ve never been able to find conclusive proof of these stories (which involve arms smuggling and other questionable activities and would make for a fantastic story), I have found this.



In 1920, Sol received a passport to travel to Palestine, England, and Egypt. What was he planning on doing? Well….


He’s going to investigate the possibility of up a clothing trade in Palestine. Hmmm….

and “Moreover, Mr. Bressler is desirous to aid in the development of the land.” 

That’s a pretty ambiguous statement. I know that my great grandfather was not a farmer, so what kind of development was he interested in- because I can’t imagine that it was agricultural! 

I’ve also found this


So I know he made it to Jerusalem in early 1921. 

But what was happening in Palestine during this time? Well, in April of 1920 the Nebi Musa riots occurred. 


It’s interesting that Sol should choose to go to Palestine when the area is obviously unstable- particularly for the purpose of commercialism. Maybe I’m connecting dots that don’t exist, but I wonder if the unstability of the area was exactly what drew Sol to Jerusalem.

I’ve also found that there were a few kibbutzes, a moshav, and a moshava founded in 1921. Was Sol involved in any of these things? I don’t have any evidence of anything other than that he was actually in the region. To the best of my knowledge, his father’s clothing store never branched out into Palestine. And besides, who would send a 19 year old to investigate a business opportunity? That in itself sounds a little fishy to me. 

Maybe someday something will surface that will explain what Sol was up to in 1921. 


Well that wasn’t very helpful!

A lot of genealogy advice centers around talking to relatives to see what they can remember. That’s all fine and dandy, unless you have relatives like mine.

Most of my relatives are divided into two camps:

Camp One:



No memory. And I’m not talking about physiological problems such as Alzheimer’s or dementia (those relations get a free pass obviously). I’m talking about the relatives who just seem clueless at times. 

Last year I had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Me: Hey- I found your father’s obituary. I didn’t know he remarried.

Relative: He didn’t remarry.

Me: Are you sure? Everything else seems to fit.

Relative: No, he never remarried.

Me: Well I kinda find it hard to believe that there’s another person out there with all the same details. It said grandfather to so and so- those are your kids.

Relative: *silence………..OH YEAH! I totally forgot about that! That’s funny, I helped match them up.


I also had this conversation:

Me: Do you remember what year your mother died?

Relative: Hmmm…

Me: Really? Do you remember about how old you were?

Relative: Hmmmmm…..I don’t remember, Somewhere between 8 and 12 years old I think…….



And then there’s this kind of relative:



This camp is comprised of the relatives who won’t talk. I understand that maybe they don’t want to cast themselves in a bad light, or speak ill of the dead. But I’m not asking questions to judge anyone- I just want to know the the heck I’m descended from and when and where they lived.

Here’s one of those conversations:

Me: Hey- some lady just contacted me about so and so. They said she would have been your aunt. Did you have an aunt so and so? I don’t have her in my tree.

Relative: Yes, I had an aunt so and so. The family cut her off when she moved away.

Me: Well why did she move away?

Relative: I don’t know. I guess we weren’t good enough for her.

Me: Did anyone talk to her?

Relative: Well my mom did for a while, but then she died and aunt so and so couldn’t be bothered to come to her own sister’s funeral, so no one has talked to her since.

Me: Oh. That’s sad. Are there any other relatives we don’t talk to so I can add them to my tree?

Relative: Probably, but I don’t remember who they are.



So in my case, I get very little usable information. I end up having to check, double-check, and triple-check everything. A lot of times any info I get turns into an elaborate game of connect the dots. 

Sometimes I can’t figure out if the relative honestly doesn’t remember or is just withholding information. It gets to be seriously frustrating!


For the love of god- PLEASE PRINT!!!!!



I used to work as a unit secretary in a local hospital. This definitely helped me with genealogy research. How? Well when you get used to reading doctors’ notoriously illegible handwriting, figuring out hand-written records becomes a little easier!

But I’ve run into a few problems with handwriting that have stumped me for quite some time. 

For example




These columns are from the 1930 census and are labeled “Father’s birthplace” and “Mother’s birthplace.” Obviously the first word is Austria, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what that second word is.

Not only do I not know what the word is, I have no idea what it means. Does it point to a specific place or ethnicity? I have seen this on other censuses as this


So I wonder if it is an ethnicity.

But then, I found this:

Names of the Dual Monarchy in the officially recognized languages of its citizens:

(From Wikipedia).

While none of those seem to match the word I’m trying to figure out, if it is Hungary in another language it would still point to a specific ethnicity and then region.

This is the problem with having ancestors from the Austria-Hungarian Empire- that empire covered about half of Europe! 

Any ideas?????


I know a lot of people who don’t want to spring for an subscription. There are plenty of sites who are willing to try and fill in those gaps that are free, or at least cheaper. But, in my experience, ancestry is probably the best website to use for genealogy.

One of my cousins recently e-mailed me and asked if I was a member of the site OneGreatFamily. Nope, I actually never heard of it. So I googled “OneGreatFamily reviews.” Not good. Looks like they have been reported to the Better Business Bureau multiple times. The most common complaint that I read was that many people had signed up for the free trial and then were billed nearly $80 US. Many of the complaints allege that customer service is nearly impossible to get in contact with and that they were billed multiple times.

The other, what I consider to be HUGE, problem with this site is that it’s built entirely on user-submitted material.  The site offers to constantly update your tree as new information becomes available- but how is this a perk when that material is coming from other users? I take genealogy very seriously and I don’t want to add just anything without checking and double-checking evidence. I’m not going to add a 5th great grandmother just because someone else added it. There’s no way of verifying their information.

You can see this problem pop up on when you compare trees. I’ve seen people’s trees messed up beyond belief because they just copied other people’s trees. Before you know it, there are fifteen trees all with the same bad information. One tree that made me giggle had the father being born less than ten years before the son, another had the mother being eight years old when she gave birth to her daughter. I HIGHLY doubt this is/was likely. It might be physically possible, in some cases, but still- highly unlikely.

Whenever I’ve come across some information without sources, I’ve contacted the user through ancestry. I don’t know if that’s an option on OGF, and I’m not going to risk being billed $80 to find out.

The websites that I currently have pay subscriptions to are and I also frequently use and but these sites are free.

I’ve also tried, but I wasn’t impressed. They don’t have even close to the amount of records that ancestry does, and everything I found there was duplicates from ancestry. 

I have found some stuff on They do have different newspapers than genealogy bank. But I haven’t yet figured out  way to cut and paste or copy and paste from their archives.

I definitely welcome any hints on any other sites that others might be using.