Yesterday I received eight new documents, and I will report on them all over the next couple of days. But for me, the most exciting document is my grandfather’s naturalization application. It is always touching to see a document written in the handwriting of someone who means a lot to you, so that alone would have made it exciting. It’s also exciting to see the names of my grandmother and aunt and uncle on his petition. It’s exciting to see his distinctive signature.
But what made these pages particularly exciting is that they resolved a question that has been unanswered for a long time. A number of years ago my brother tried to find the ship manifest for our grandfather Isadore at Ellis Island. He was able to locate the manifests for David, Betty, Moritz and Gisella, but not Isadore. When I started my own research almost two years ago, I also tried to find something that documented when Isadore arrived in New York, but found only the same information that Ira had found. I had given up and moved on to other things.
When I returned to researching the Goldschlagers a few weeks ago, I once again looked, figuring that with my improved research skills and newer research tools, maybe I would finally find a ship manifest for my grandfather, but once again, nothing turned up. I resigned myself to the idea that I would never find a record for his arrival.
Then the other day, as I wrote in my post entitled “Isadore and David Goldschlager: More than Brothers,” I realized that there were two ship manifests for David Goldschlager: one dated October 27, 1904, and the other dated November 4, 1910. I also realized that it was the later one that was accurate. Every other document said David had arrived in 1910: his naturalization papers, several census reports, and his wife’s naturalization papers. It also made sense that David had waited with his mother and sailed with her to America.
That left me thinking that the David Goldschlager on the 1904 manifest was not David, but Isadore, my grandfather. That manifest was for a ship called the Patricia, sailing from Hamburg, and arriving in the United States on October 27, 1904. I was hoping that Isadore’s naturalization papers would reveal what ship brought my grandfather to America. I hoped that I had finally found the evidence of how and when Isadore traveled to his new home.
Well, I opened the naturalization papers today, holding my breath, scanning quickly to see if the answer was revealed. And there it was: Isadore wrote that he arrived on October 28, 1904, on the Patricia, sailing from Hamburg. Isadore had in fact used his younger brother’s name to escape from Romania.
I was always told that he left Romania to avoid the draft. He turned sixteen in August, 1904, and was presumably then draft age. David, on the other hand, was a year younger and would not turn sixteen until 1905. Perhaps Isadore took David’s passport to get out of Romania. Or maybe he just used his name. (That leaves me wondering how David managed to stay safe until he left in 1910, but I am afraid we will never know the answer to that question.)
When I told my mother what I had found, she said that she was not surprised that her father figured out a way to get out of the country. He was a very clever and resourceful man who knew how to get what he wanted. He used his wits to survive. As one of his namesakes who never knew him likes to say, “If at all possible, lie.” It seems that that approach may have saved our grandfather’s life and enabled his three children, his nine grandchildren, his fourteen great-grandchildren, and the ever-increasing number of great-great grandchildren to come into this world.
Thank you, Grandpa, for being so clever and for escaping Romania, and thank you, David, for letting him borrow your name.