I Could Plotz*- All Three Birthplaces!

*plotz- burst from excitement

Part Two: Locating the Homeland

My last article included details on how I used a timeline to develop a list of potential sources for the birthplace of my 2x great grandparents.

The list of possible sources was:

Samuel Engel—Birth Record, Synagogue Records, Tax Lists, Marriage record, Passenger List, Declaration of Intent Application.  Other potential sources that may have his birthplace town:  World War I draft card, Death certificate, obituary, South Bend Synagogue Records


Dora Fleckman—Birth Record, Synagogue Records, Marriage Record, Passenger List. Other potential sources that may have her birthplace town:  World War I & II draft cards, Marriage application, Death certificate, obituary, South Bend Synagogue Records


Otto Engel—Birth Record, Synagogue Records, Passenger List.  Other potential sources that may have his birthplace town:  World War I & II draft cards, Marriage application, Death certificate, obituary, South Bend Synagogue Records

The initial search began with items that I already had in my possession for Samuel and Dora.  I had scanned a number of items that my mom had inherited when her mother passed away and amongst them were the Funeral Book for Dora, and obituaries for Dora and Samuel.  Though the Funeral Book was quite full of interesting names and tidbits; it only stated the birthplace as Austria, Hungary.  Samuel’s obituary indicates that he was born near Vienna, Austria.  Dora’s obituary gives no reference to her birthplace.  These sources were too vague and Vienna is nearly 500 km away from Presov, Slovakia (then Eperjes, Hungary) which was identified as the location of Samuel’s trade certification in 1884/7 (see previous article).  Soon I began to try some of my more Jewish resources.

I turned to JewishGen’s databases to search for their surname in Slovakia.  I knew that Samuel was born in 1864 and that by 1884/7 he was in Presov.  Based on census records it was estimated that around that same time Samuel and Dora were married.  By 1889 they were in Chicago since their second child, my great grandmother Antonia, was born then.  I thought I could look for their marriage record or birth record for their first son within Presov (then Eperjes) between 1884-1889.  I began searching with the surname Engel and the town name Eperjes.  A total of 51 matches were found in the Hungary databases as shown below.

JewishGen Hungary Search Matches
Screenshot of the JewishGen Hungary Search Matches

I was hopeful as I worked my way through the available matches.  I skipped looking at the 1848 census records and the deaths.  The SIG lists offer possible connections to other researchers who may have asked through the email lists about similar towns or people.  I took a look, but none of them seemed to match my family.  I moved on to the marriages and had no success finding Samuel Engel with Dora Fleckman.  Next I examined the Births Database with the intent of looking for Samuel again.  I did a simple Ctrl-F for Samuel on the page and there was just one matching result.  Scrolling down the screen with anticipation… and below the name Samuel was the name Dora Flekman.  Inadvertently I had found the birth record for their first son, Adolf.  In America he had gone by the name Otto so I was not 100% certain that this was the same person.  However the match of the surname and Dora’s name seemed an excellent match.  To my delight, there were mentions of Samuel and Dora’s birthplaces too!

JewishGen Birth Index- Hungary
Screenshot of the JewishGen Hungary Births Database


Based on this source, I now have the birthplace of all three relatives!  Samuel Hirsch Engel may be from Hethars (now Lipany) and Dora Flekman from Sebes-Kellemes (now Sarisske Luky).  I could hardly wait to look for these towns in the JewishGen’s TownFinder.  Once I discovered this I felt that I should  try to get a copy of the original birth record and quickly noted the LDS Film # with the intent of making a request through FamilySearch.  However, I ended up finding a digital copy of the source online!  Here’s the supporting information for the index that was found on JewishGen.  I cannot wait to find out more about their ancestral towns and hopefully unearth another generation back in time.


Slovakia Church Books
Slovakia Church Books- Jewish Presov Birth Record (Source: FamilySearch)

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. Receive The In-Depth Genealogist free by subscribing HERE.


3 thoughts on “I Could Plotz*- All Three Birthplaces!

  1. It’s so gratifying to read about your successful search, and it must have been especially rewarding for you to find Otto — under the name of Adolf, no less. I am impressed with the thoroughness of these databases. People who made these records cared about details…as we always hope. Can you read the Slovakia Church Books, or is it just the names there that count?


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