The other day, one of my friends posted on Facebook, “If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be?” For a brief moment, I thought about famous historical figures and then I thought- no way! I’d want to talk to some of the ancestors on my tree in the places where I’m stuck!
It would definitely be difficult to pick just four, but first I’d start with Michael Puza (aka Michael Kulis-Puza), my great-grandfather. I know from his ship’s manifest that he came from Austria-Hungary (well that narrows it down!). I suspect that he came from the same area as his wife- somewhere in Slovakia. That branch is the only branch on my tree where I’m stuck at the great-grandparent level, so if I could even get just the names of his parents I’d be thrilled!
Narrowing down the next three would be more difficult.
It could be my 2nd great grandfather, Paul Eremus (1883-abt 1919). I found his draft card from 1918 that says he is a patient at a sanitorium, but then his wife is listed as a widow in the 1920 census. So obviously he died somewhere in between of tuberculosis.
Another choice could be Fedor Malatyak (1853-1886) from Ol’ka in what is now Slovakia.
Or maybe Anthony Merlo (I’ve also seen Murlo and Marlo), another 2nd great grandfather, (1876-1954), from the Galicia region, or his wife, Josephine Savinsky (1889?-1949) from the same place. Well, at least that’s where they emigrated from.
And those choices are just my paternal branch!
On my maternal side I could choose from some 4th great grandparents:
Johanna Tuffs (Tufts) born about 1820 in Massachusetts, I don’t know and can’t find her maiden name, as of yet anyways.
Hannah Useted, (abt 1816-1892) from New York.
William H. Shaw, (abt 1814-1883) born in New York, died in New Jersey.
There’s also a 3rd great grandfather, Meyer (Max) Bressler (abt 1851-abt 1930). He was born somewhere in Austria-Hungary and died in New York. His wife was Sobel (Sara) Spinner (abt 1853- bef 1925). She may have been from Tarnow, Poland. I have parents’ names filled in for her- but I’m only about 50-75% sure those are right.
There’s my 2nd great grandmother, Fannie Citron. She was born about 1880, somewhere in Austria-Hungary (family legends say France- but I can’t find any proof of this). I’m not even sure when she died- it had to be sometime around 1940.
Another set of 3rd great grandparents would be David Rabinovich and Jennie Pesha. David, or Dov, was born about 1845 in, what is now, Belarus. Our family records say Delyatitz, but I was able to use jewishgen.org to track that down to modern-day Delatichi in Belarus. I know nothing about his wife Jennie. I could guess she was born around the same time in the same area, but I don’t really know.
The last couple in the running would be a final set of 3rd great grandparents, Abram Louis Kantrovitz and his wife, Fannie Fogal. The only thing I know about them is that they were born in the Russian Empire, circa 1840; and that they eventually emigrated to Massachusetts.
It’s kind of a good thing that the “dinner with four people” could never happen because I’d have a really hard time narrowing that list down. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to prioritize that list. Would I start by closest relatives, or most mysterious? Because they’re not necessarily the same people.
Maybe I could even pick the elusive John Rigsbee or his mother, Sheldon Shaw. Those two people fascinate me and were my inspiration to start my family tree research.
I suppose I would even be really tempted to go with the people I miss the most- my dad and his parents.
It’s funny how much thought I’ve put into this hypothetical situation. And really, just so nerdy. It’s a sure sign that I’m a total genealogy nerd!