Updated: May 11, 2020
There have been a few times in my genealogy research where I've felt that a discovery has absolutely nothing to do with my research skills and everything to do with fate. In searching for Paya and her family, this serendipity happened a few times, the first actually having nothing to do with my search for Paya.
As I've mentioned earlier in the series, a distant cousin sent me a memoir written by my great-grandfather's half-niece. In it, she vividly described many family members, some whom I initially thought weren't even related to me. The pertinent excerpt from the memoir reads:
"NOT BERZAK, but EPSTEIN side:
A different branch of my father’s family lived in Janover (ינובה). This was my grandmother
Dvora’s sister, Hanna Gittel. She had 2 boys and 1 girl from her first marriage + 1 son from the
Discussed in Part I, Dvora (Dvera or Dverya) was the second wife of my 2nd great-grandfather, Yankel Yosef. She helped raise my great-grandfather and his brother and my mother's first cousin is even named after her. At first glance, looking into the family of Dvora might appear a waste of time because I'm not biologically related to her. Or am I?
Ashkenazi Jews practiced endogamy, marrying within the family and their insular community generation after generation for centuries. I have plenty of ancestors who married cousins, sometimes uncles marrying nieces. I decided to explore this information in the records.
Lo and behold, I found Hanna Gittel's maiden name in the records at JewishGen.
Hanna Gittel was a Berzak! This meant that Dvora was also a Berzak, my 2nd-great grandfather was related to his second wife, and therefore, I'm somehow related to her, too.
This had me thinking. If Yankel Yosef married some sort of cousin the second time around, perhaps he did the first time, too?
I had spent many hours with the Berzak records at JewishGen and FamilySearch, and one record came to mind. It was from a Revision List conducted within the Russian Empire, used for taxation purposes as well as identifying men to draft into the army.
If you recall, the "Rivka" who was very likely my 2nd great-grandmother Paya also had a father name Leizer and both were born around 1846-47:
Of course, this could all be coincidence. It was a theory, but a completely unsubstantiated one. I needed to keep searching, and I decided to next research this Paya from the Revision List's family.
To be continued.
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