Several people who have ready my family history manuscript have told me that it would be helpful to have a family tree for reference. It’s a good idea, and I’m happy to oblige. This is a history of my extended family, and the work is crowded with characters—great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of various stripes. It’s hard to keep track of so many people. I created a preliminary family tree and posted it here, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. The tree was in pedigree format, so it left out my aunts and uncles, my grandparents’ siblings, and other significant characters—a severe deficiency in an extended family history. It also had a sterile appearance, and the telltale leaf symbols on some of the nodes betrayed its origins in Ancestry.com. Not that Ancestry.com is anything to be ashamed of, mind you. It’s just that I would prefer that my tree not be identified with a particular source of genealogical data. In the end, I charted the family tree myself, using data gleaned from Ancestry.com and other sources. Unfortunately, it’s still quite sterile in appearance. My artistic skills are limited.
Like many things nowadays, family history is a technical undertaking. Online archives host vast troves of genealogical information, as I’ve noted previously. In addition to Ancestry.com, you can trace your relatives using Family Search, Rootsweb.com, Genealogy.com, JewishGen.org, and many others. These sites save a huge amount of legwork and make available material that might be impossible to obtain by other means. Where else would I find an image of my great-grandfather’s World War I draft card? Most genealogy sites exchange data in the GEDCOM format, which was developed by the Church of Latter Day Saints. You can download GEDCOM data to your computer, modify it in the genealogy application of your choice, and reload it to the Web, where others can view it online, if you choose to publish your research.
I thought of drawing my tree by hand, but I have no great talent as a graphic artist, and I was pretty sure the result would be ungainly. Even if I used a graphics application like Adobe Illustrator, I don’t think I would do well, since I lack not only manual dexterity, but also design chops. So I began to consider genealogy applications, which can output a family tree based on your genealogical data. This capability is especially useful given the incomplete nature of my research. I’m still learning about my heritage, and I don’t want to draw the tree over and over. In the end, I downloaded Family Tree Maker, synced it with my tree on Ancestry.com, and got to work. I began by cleaning up my data, which was full of cruft. I merged duplicate entries, settled on a naming convention for women (where known, maiden name only), and generally reviewed and cleaned up my tree. I also experimented with different tree formats, and in the end found it most convenient to produce two separate extended family trees, one each for my paternal and maternal lines. The Kubrin tree looks is shown below. I’ve updated it to correct an error brought to my attention by my second cousin Tony Kubrin.
This chart shows the descendants and extended family of my great-grandfather, Harry Kubrin.
For security reasons, To thwart the identity thieves, I’ve omitted birth dates and death dates. I’ve also omitted the youngest generation. The chart is not quite complete—my infamous great-uncle Meyer Letwin does not appear, for example, because I haven’t added him to the chart yet. Jerry Kubrin and Silvia Kubrin’s children do not all appear—I just haven’t built the chart out that far yet.
While reviewing the Lipsy family data, I discovered an error. As a small child, I once met a very old woman named Ida Lipsy. The occasion was Ida’s 100th birthday party, and she lived long enough to celebrate two or three birthdays after that one. Ida Lipsy was said to be my grandfather’s grandmother—that is, my great-great-grandmother. She was my family’s sole living link to the old country, a woman who remembered the pogroms and the day the Cossacks raided her shtetl.
There’s a problem with this story, however. Ida was not actually my grandfather’s grandmother. I made this discovery when I ran an Ancestry.com search on her name and found this obituary: My grandfather Manny Lipsy always called Ida his grandmother and Ida’s daughter, Genevieve Lipsy Klein, his aunt. Eva Grody he referred to as a cousin. My mother always took these terms at face value, never realizing that Ida was Geneieve’s mother and that the connection between these relatives and my grandfather was indirect. Ida was probably my grandfather’s great-aunt. Her children, William, Genevieve, and Eva, were probably my grandfather’s cousins, either first or second, once removed. So now we have a limb of the family tree whose connection with the other branches is not quite clear: I have more research to do.
© 2014 – 2015, Andy Kubrin. All rights reserved.