Old Letter, New Clues

What happens to us between “woo hoo!!” and “I’ll come back to this”? Why don’t we take the time to process documents the second our heart rates return to normal?

The following letter has been in my Mangels’ file folder for years. It was penned by a distant cousin and postmarked September 2, 1987. I received a copy five or six years ago.  Notice any clues that might have been helpful in my genealogy research?

“Dear Louis,

Have just reread your very interesting letter received near Christmas ’85. May I please have an update?

Also need more information on your sisters and brother, their children, children’s spouses, grandchildren, and all addresses and phone numbers. Am hoping you already have this typed, and that you would simply have to make copies.

Enclosed are the present versions of my mother’s branch of the Mangels family and our directory. My sister Joyce (G****) L****** will be selling her house soon, and will then be living with her second son S******. Her eldest son L***** J****L****** is living with her now, but will not be after she moves. The latest address of D**** A** G**** in Sacramento, CA, has been requested but not yet received.

Our grandmother Mary Mangels lived with us for four years before our mother died and for four years afterward. She never spoke in English about her parents, siblings or life in Germany. Do so wish I had thought to ask her about them! Ever since her death in May ’34 I have been on the lookout for important papers and documents which would fill in the gaps. Not until very recently did some of them come to light. When Aunt Louise had to be hospitalized in ’47, my elder brother S******, while emptying her apartment, had to temporarily store some of her possessions in our sister Fern’s attic. When he retrieved them later, one small, unlabeled box was overlooked. It was discovered by Fern’s son D***** (who purchased the house many years ago) when he built another bedroom, more closets, etc. up there. I was overjoyed, and we were all surprised by what we learned.

Grandmother’s passport and marriage license were not included; however other documents and Aunt Louise’s memos made possible the Mangels and Bukmakofsky records enclosed.

Most surprising to us was the discovery that our maternal grandparents were not of 100 percent German descent. Both parents of Maria Bukmakofsky were of Russian descent. (This is the correct spelling of our grandmother’s maiden name, as she herself wrote it on documents after living in the US for several years.)

Grandfather Herman Mangels’ father was of German descent, but his mother’s maiden name was Hansen. Since the Danish border is nearby, that is readily understandable. Because his mother’s given name was spelled Dorothea, her mother was probably German. Danish spelling of that name is Daarte.

The given name of our grandfather’s father was not available; therefore, because his firstborn was named Johan I have listed Johan with a ? over it, as the father’s name.

Several years ago you told Frank’s wife Avis that the FBI had a copy of our Grandmother Mangels’ passport. Because of her Russian ancestry perhaps? Since her birthplace was under Polish domination, I assume that her name was listed as Maria Bukmakowski on the passport, just as it was on the birth certificate she secured shortly before leaving Germany. If you have any other background info I’d be interested.

Hope all is going well with you and yours .

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Alice (G****) F*****

[address etc]

P.S. Am seventy-four now, and in highly unpredictable health. My sister Fern (Mrs. V***** V****) has agreed to take over the family-record work after I’m gone.”

In my defense, this branch of my tree hasn’t been active for awhile. But with clues like these, I think the activity level is sure to increase!

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One thought on “Old Letter, New Clues

  1. Pingback: Are We Polish? Part One | where2look4ancestors

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