Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why Genealogy? A Common Question. The Puzzling Answer

I've been asked many times, often by complete strangers who are contacted by me for information about their families, why I am "doing this." The answer can be long or short.

The short answer, a defense of genealogy usually given to those who ask accusingly and suspiciously why it is that I am building family trees of EFRONS, is:

"Some people collect stamps, some people collect coins -- I collect EFRONs"

This sort of explains the hobby of genealogy, because often it is the thrill of adding on to one's compilation of people that is satisfying -- just like any collection-type hobby. But there is a lot more to it, just as there is much more to stamp or coin collecting.

Here's what I think is my motivation: It's just darn interesting and fun and it is intellectually satisfying. Genealogy is the solving puzzles -- and I've always loved puzzles.

Well, I know I'm not the first one to say that genealogy is like a jigsaw puzzle. But more than that, it is a puzzle that at one time was far from being a puzzle, so it is like a treasure hunt. It is a puzzle that has only one, certain, true and eternal solution, so it is like scientific discovery. It is a puzzle that requires a multitude of skills and strategies to solve, and so it is like life itself. Sort of.

Think about this: at one time my great-great-grandmother, Rivka Rochel (nee EFRON) BRAWERMANN, was the daughter of two parents, had a spouse with two parents, had brothers and sisters, and had children. Now, I have little idea who her mother was and do not know the names of four of her daughters. But I have learned the first name of her mother, her father's name and some of her great grandparent's names, and the names of seven of her children and numerous descendents.

What skills are required to solve these puzzles? Good interviewing skills where the correct questions are asked; the ability to read, at least phonetically, in several languages; a lot of geography and in my Jewish genalogy a fair amount of Hebrew onomastics (the study of names). Persistence, patience and imagination are required to get to an evasive solution.

Example: an Israeli-American who was born in Russia tells me that his mother says that her Efron relatives - Yosef, Mottel and Shmuel -- had immigrated to Sao Paolo, my first step is to start searching Sao Paolo phone books. Then some searches through (the LDS Church's site) and in Nothing. Think. Think. Have I seen a family with these three names anywhere else in my research?

Of course I have! These are some of the brothers of the family that settled in St. Paul, Minnesota!! Not Sao Paulo, Brazil! And yet, the same place name.

I hope to post some current, particular puzzles to share, and invite you to sleuth along with me to solve them!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Earlier Efron Genealogies

Long before I began my 20-year hobby of building family trees of Efron families there already existed written records of the family history. Here follows an acknowledgement and summary of those genealogies, and the people who wrote them. I may have left off a few, and to those folks I say sorry. But my main intent here is to show how much information was already compiled.

There were still lots and lots of family trees which I had to build myself, not the least of which was the entire Braverman and Heffron branches of Boston.

Here then, my tribute to those upon whose prior work I've built

Sam Effron. Born in Amdur as Shevach Effron, he came to Poughkeepsie, NY in 1899 by way of Argentina. His autobiography has been published on my FamilyTreeMaker website -- see the links near the bottom of the home page at . But he also wrote a genealogy of the family. In that genealogy, which is not yet available on the web, he mentions the brothers of Motte Tsinne's, but does not give further information about them. At the end of the genealogy, he recounts the story of Shael Efron, but does not indicate how Shael is related to Motte Tsinnes (Shael is a nephew of Motte).

I have relied to a great degree on Sam Effron's genealogy. I have verified in one way or another most of the information in the genealogy, although some of it is taken on face value -- specifically, the head of the family's name, the matriarch, Tsinne, and her sons' names.

My draft genealogy (unpublished) quotes from Sam's genealogy extensively. I have also managed, with the basic information supplied in this genealogy, to fill in many gaps and bring family trees down to current generations.

Yedidia Efron. He wrote the history of the town of Amdur, and included a substantial portion of it to his own family history. You can use the above link to access the book, including the project where portions of the book are now bing translated. In addition to a chapter where he specifically speaks about his family, there are many references throughout the book to his Efron relatives. In many cases it is the combination of information in this book with other sources that has allowed me to make connections. For example, Yedidia discusses Avraham Shlomo Tzines, who is the head of the Goldberg family genealogy done by Bill Lowenstein.

Julio Mazo. Julio lives in Israel, and used to live in Argentina. Julio has done extensive work to create family trees of the Efron families that came to Argentina. Many of those families are very large. Julio's wife, Martha, works at the Hall of Names at the Daniel Goldmann Museum in Tel Aviv, and the genealogy that Julio did has been submitted into their database.

Max Effron. He is from the Motte Matsul branch and did a family tree of his family which adde to Sam Effrons information and allowed some branches to be linked together.

Joanne Goldberg. Joanne did a very thorough genealogy of the Morris Efron family of St. Louis/Aiken, SC

Colin Silver. He authorized a genealogy of the Australian branch, who are the descendents of Chatskil Efron. Most of the descendents of that family settled in Australia.

Joy Adams from Chatanooga put together the family history of the family that settled in Chatanooga, TN and environs.

Bill Lowenstein was a young man from Pittsburgh, PA who because interested in family history at a young age and compiled the branch of the family descended from Eliezer, son of Motte Tsinne's.

Tina Efron. Tina compiled a genealogy of the branch of Yael Chaim of Slutsk.

Eli Efron and his son, Nathan Efron, of Cincinatti. They left detailed genealogical notes about his immediate family,

Frank Effron did a family tree for his branch, which is that of Leon Effron the Phildelphia dentist.

Sidney "Tiff" Simon created a very helpful family tree of the descendents of Mina Affron of Kingston.

Rose Brownstein put together a nice family history, showing the descendents of Asher Efron of Krynki.

Norman Levitz sent me the family tree of the Schneider family of Krynki (Krinik). The matriarch of the family was Bashe (Efron) Schneider, and it also shows her relationship to the Avrohm Simche Efron family. (this paragraph added 11/11/08).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Variations on the Name Efron

Nearly all families that have any of the following spelling variations have been researched by me and I have built family trees of those families: Efron, Effron, Affron, Ephron, Efran, Effront. But that is not everything.

Some families related to the families that used the above spellings use a spelling which is typically used by Irish families: Heffron. In Boston, a large Jewish Heffron family established itself 100 years ago, and they are definitely Efrons -- they just use an unusual spelling.

And some related, Jewish families or small parts of families use other spellings: Efrein, Efrin and Hafron, for example. All families who spell their names in one of these ways has been researched by me.

Those of course are English spellings, and there are many variations of spelling the name in Hebrew as well. First of all, in Hebrew the name starts with an Ayin or an Aleph, two different vowels. The second vowel in the name is usually a Vav, giving the second vowel and "O" sound, but there are variations on that as well.

The Belgium enzymologist Jean Effront used a decidedly French or Swiss spelling, just as the Boston Heffrons found themselves using a decidedly Irish spelling.

The most universal spelling is EFRON, but perhaps the most common English spelling is EFFRON.

The AFFRON families were found primarily in Kingston, NY, from whence they've since spread.

EPHRON is used by certain branches or sub-branches, and is the accepted Engish spelling of the Biblical character from Genesis, who drives a hard bargain with the Patriarch Abraham in order to sell Abraham a burial place for his wife, Sarah.

It is unlikely that the source of the name EFRON (and its variants) is from the biblical Ephron the Hitite, who sold Abraham the Cave at Macphelah. The source of this family name will need wait for another Blog posting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hi and Welcome -- Now I'm a Blogger too.

I'm trying to set up a good web presence that will allow me to complete my 20-year genealgoy odyssey (gee, I hope this has spell check) of research of families named EFRON -- and spelling variations. My goal -- publish in book form, on disk, and on the web a family history of all families that have this surname.

First, a word to the fans of a certain 21 year-old movie star, a star who is the most popular idol of girls age 6-16 (61?) since Frankie Avalon (the 61 year-olds will understand that). I ask you PLEASE do not send me email. I have promised not to put any information about Z A C or his family into my online genealogy because I want to respect the privacy of his family. Period.

So, what have I done so far, and what else am I planning to do? I have done a lot of research and have acquired a lot of research done by others. I have put up some information on the web. If you found this, then you have found that (or will easily find it).

I have a file, unpublished, that is broken into chapters representing the different families. One of the families is huge, of which I am a part, but most of them are small, and may only go back to some Efron who was born around the mid-1800s. There are about 40 different branches. So that file I call my "draft genealogy," and it will eventually become the final, published genealogy. As part of that file, I have about 25 appendixes wherein each contains a certain type of reference. For example, Appendix C lists all of the census references I've located. To illustrate, within Appendix C I have listed 100s of 1920 and 1930 census references, and revision lists (Russian census) references, etc. Each entry has a unique nunber, or alphanumerica identifier. I will try and post these appendixes to Google docs, and reference these appendixes in this blog. For many of the references listed in the appendixes I also have source documents, including many pictures of gravestones, ship manifests, natrualization papers, etc.

In parallel to my "Draft Genealogy" with its appendixes, I have a Family Tree Maker file wherein I list the same names and family relationships as found in the Draft Genealogy. I have published my FTM file to the internet on my own FamilyTreeMaker web page, which you can find easily enough (and yes, I can and will reference the site in this blog) by Googling key words Efron, Effron, Ephron, Affron -- you get the picture.

My current work being done on the draft genealogy, to reach my goal of publishing the thing, is to make sure the info in my draft genealogy matches the info in the Family Tree Maker file. The FTM file only lists name, date and place of birth, marriage and death, and relationships. The draft genealogy currently has everything else, including unpublishable personal information that needs to be removed before it can be put up on the web. Note, the FTM file now on the web has not been updated for a while, but that is one reason why I am working on bringing it up to date -- so that I can republish it to the web. The other reason that I want it updated is because it will serve as an index and graphics for the final genealogy that I publish. Also, it is a good way to communicate with family members to show them what information I am still seeking.

I guess that's enough for my first posting. I can do this anytime I want? Cool.