Thank you, Alex from Root to Tip: A Mystery Solved and A Question about Ancestry.com

In my last post, I commented that I had had no luck finding information about the parents of the Adrian Kramer who married my cousin Ruth Sondheim in 1924. I wrote:

Adrian’s background is a mystery.   According to his military record from World War I and his World War II registration card, he was born in New York City on December 14, 1896. But despite searching in numerous places for all Kramers and all Adrians within two years of that date, and all boys born on that date, I have not found his birth record. Perhaps he was born with a different name.

Military record of Adrian Kramer, World War I
Ancestry.com. New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919. Adjutant General’s Office. Series B0808. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.

Little did I know that that was in fact the case. But it took the help of the wonderful researcher, Alex of the Root to Tip genealogy blog, to find that out.

Alex left a comment on my prior post that said in part, “I noticed there was an obituary for Adrian Kramer in 1950 and it says he was the son of “Della Kramer.” Could this be Sandilla?”

Death notice for Adrian Kramer, The New York Times, July 1, 1950, p. 10

The first record I had found for an Adrian Kramer that fit anywhere close to a birth year of 1896 was the 1905 New York State census. On that document, Adrian Kramer, eight years old, was living on West 88th Street in the household of Maier Kramer. Also living in the household were six of Maier’s siblings: Sandilla, Joseph, Leo, Eva, David, and Minnie. None of them was married, but Sandilla was divorced.  She was listed with the surname Kramer, however, not a married name.

Adrian Kramer 1905 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 03; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 12
Description
Election District: A·D· 21 E·D· 03
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

I had wondered whether Sandilla might have been Adrian’s mother when I saw the 1905 census since she was the only Kramer sibling who had been married, but I was misled by the fact that the 1905 census identified Adrian as the son of the head of household, and the head of household was not Sandilla but Maier.   As I wrote last time, I was able to find the siblings also living together on the 1910 census, where Adrian was this time identified as the brother of the head of household, again being Maier.

The death notice Alex found seemed to suggest that Sandilla might have been Adrian’s mother, not his aunt or his sister. Alex then went the next step and located a marriage record for a woman she thought might be Sandilla; she was listed as Sundilla Kramer on the FindMyPast index.  That record showed that “Sundilla” had married a man named Jacob Baruch on June 26, 1895, in New York City, and that her parents’ names were Abraham Kramer and Miriam Rosenfeld.  Here is a comparable record from FamilySearch.

Marriage record of Sandilla Kramer and Jacob Baruch
New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24C6-M81 : 10 February 2018), Jacob Baruch and Sundilla Kramer, 26 Jun 1895; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,493,183.

I was blown away by Alex’s discoveries and her generous efforts on my behalf. Armed now with these clues, I checked the 18701 and 18802 census records for the Kramer siblings and saw that their parents were in fact named Abraham and Miriam; that confirmed that the “Sundilla Kramer” who had married Jacob Baruch in 1895 was the same woman who was living with Adrian Kramer and the other Kramer siblings in 1905 and 1910.

And Alex hadn’t stopped with the death notice and the marriage record; she also found on Ancestry an index listing for a child born in New York City in December 1896 named Abraham Baruch. Alex said in her comment that she wondered if that was possibly the name given to Adrian Kramer at birth.

So I went to find some evidence confirming that the baby born in December 1896 named Abraham Baruch was the son of Sandilla Kramer and Jacob Baruch. And I found an index listing from the New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909, database on FamilySearch that revealed more than the Ancestry listing located by Alex. It showed that Abraham Baruch, born in December 1896, was the son of Jacob Baruch and “Sandilla Kroper.” That seemed close enough to confirm that Abraham Baruch was Sandilla Kramer’s son with Jacob Baruch.3

But I still wasn’t sure that Abraham Baruch was the boy later known as Adrian Kramer. Fortunately, with the information Alex had provided, I was able to locate the Kramer family on the 1900 census, a census that had eluded me in my prior search:

Sandia and Abraham Baruch, 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0255
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Notice that Sandilla’s name is given as “Sandia K. Baruch” and that she is listed as the sister of “Myer Cramer.” Under her listing is Myer’s nephew (and obviously “Sandia’s” son) Abraham Baruch, born December 1887 and two years old.

No wonder I couldn’t find this census initially. Look at all those errors. Sandilla is spelled wrong. Maier and Kramer are spelled wrong. And a boy allegedly born in 1887 was listed as two years old in 1900! Even my math isn’t that bad…..

But reading between the lines and ignoring the mistakes on the census record convinced me that Abraham Baruch was  the son of Jacob Baruch and Sandilla Kramer. By 1900, Sandilla and her son had moved in with her Kramer siblings. By 1905, Abraham Baruch was using the name Adrian Kramer, and his mother was divorced.

Now I knew who were the parents of Adrian Kramer and where he was between 1896 and 1905.

Thank you, Alex! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts!

And now the Ancestry.com question:

I was puzzled by the fact that I had not found the death notice for Adrian Kramer that Alex found on Ancestry. What had I done differently in my search logic that caused me to miss this critical piece of evidence?

I asked Alex where and how she’d found the death notice for Adrian Kramer, and she told me that she had simply searched for “Adrian Kramer” in “New York, USA,” on Ancestry, and the death notice had popped up as a result in the Historical Newspapers database.

How had I missed that, I wondered?  I duplicated Alex’s search terms, and still I did not get her results.  And I have the All Access subscription from Ancestry—their most expensive level. I get no results at all from the Historical Newspapers database from those search parameters.

But when I went to the Ancestry Card Catalog, pulled up the Historical Newspapers database, and did a search within the database itself, I was able to locate the obituary. So why didn’t it come up on an overall search for me like it had for Alex? I don’t know. But it sure has me doubting the reliability of Ancestry’s search engine.

If anyone has any explanation for why Alex and I would not get the same search results with the same search terms, please let me know.

UPDATE: Thanks to Lisa in the Ancestry Facebook group, I think I have the answer to why Alex got better results than I did.  Get this—searching with a UK subscription brings up BETTER results even in US databases than searching with a US subscription.  HOW CAN THAT BE FAIR? I will be calling Ancestry back next week (no time today) to address this.

Thank you once again to Alex for her extraordinary research and for taking the time to solve this mystery for me. Once again, I am in awe of the generosity of the genealogy village.


  1. Kramer Family, 1870 US Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 20 District 18, New York, New York; Roll: M593_1008; Page: 572B; Family History Library Film: 552507, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  2. Kramer Family, 1880 US Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 886; Page: 506C; Enumeration District: 401, Source Information
    Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  3.  New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WSY-S85 : 11 February 2018), Jacob Baruch in entry for Abraham Baruch, Dec 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 54590 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,346. I am hoping to obtain a copy of the actual certificate. 

39 thoughts on “Thank you, Alex from Root to Tip: A Mystery Solved and A Question about Ancestry.com

  1. No idea why you couldn’t locate the record but thrilled for the help given by Alex @ Root to Tip. The reminder from your post on the inconsistencies of facts & dates on the census records and name changes and misspellings really helped confirm for me the path I am on with my research. I never remember to use the Historical Newspaper from the card catalog or FindMyPast – great post and update Amy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sharon. Twice in two weeks I have had the experience of not finding something on a general search that showed up for someone else using the same parameters. Using the Card Catalog is great—but no one can search each database individually! The general search engine should work more effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, she obviously went back to her birth name and wanted her son’s name to match hers. And my guess is Adrian was a less Jewish version of Abraham? As for Jacob Baruch, I am not sure, but I believe I found him as a lodger in NYC on the 1910 census and that he died in 1934. But I am not 100% sure it’s the same man. I didn’t pursue it since he was just the ex-husband of the mother of the man who married my cousin!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes. I know he is distant. But in my roaming mind, I think wow divorce in those days was so unusual. And to change the child’s name and delete the father was quite drastic. My curiosity is unleashed. That is my biggest issue with researching. I go more for the stories. My sister is the better researcher.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I did spend time looking for Jacob Baruch, but after an hour of finding nothing definitive, I decided to climb out of the rabbit hole and write a post to thank Alex! Now that I’ve done that maybe I will jump back in the hole. I hate unfinished stories also!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought Alex’s comment was awesome when I saw it at the end f the post. I have heard many people are having problems with searches on Ancestry due to some change they made.
    Wonderful of you to feature Alex’s help in this post.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Amy, I can see from this blog I’m not on my own with inconsistencies and dead-ends from Ancestry.com. I shall try the Historical Newspapers when I next get going! Well done to
    Alex too. Another riddle solved.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Shirley—It is good to know it’s not just me. I am hoping that someone from Ancestry will see my post and answer my question better than their customer service people could. (I posted the blog in the Ancestry group on Facebook.) I will let you know.

      Like

  4. Why ancestry’s search engine did not produce the same result that Alex had will most likely be forever a mystery for us. The only one who could solve the riddle is ancestry.com, IF they are open to respond to enquiries. I found it also thrilling that there are people out there like Alex who are willing to get involved in helping you with your family research, Amy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The genealogy community is made up of the nicest and most generous people I’ve ever encountered, Peter. I do my best to pay it forward because I can’t tell you how many times people have helped me. Alex is extraordinary! And I am working on this with Ancestry—so far, no answers.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I updated the post, but thought I would add this here for those who might not go back to the post:

    UPDATE: Thanks to Lisa in the Ancestry Facebook group, I think I have the answer to why Alex got better results than I did.  Get this—searching with a UK subscription brings up BETTER results even in US databases than searching with a US subscription.  HOW CAN THAT BE FAIR? I will be calling Ancestry back next week (no time today) to address this.

    Like

    • That is so strange. I would have expected search results to be search results no matter what your subscription is – in fact you would think that Ancestry would encourage people to see that there are other records out there but you may just not have the subscription to view the actual record. But I have the All Access Worldwide membership like Amy, but I find it so odd that it would work differently.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I would have also. What possible justification could there be for giving different search results depending on where a subscriber lives? I will follow up next week and report back.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. How cool that Alex was able to help (she is a superstar, and has been a source of advice to me too). This certainly opens a can of worms as regards Ancestry; I’m fascinated to know what their response will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What amazing sleuthing! And thank you for the tip about searching for death notices. I’m working on a brick wall regarding the death of my great-great-grandmother Fanny Spielmann, and maybe that might help. I have the same subscription level that you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Special hat tip to Alex for the wonderful support in bringing the pieces together.

    That 1900 census enumerator was really asleep at the wheel! It underscores how we have to play with all of the possible variations during our searches.

    I’m eager to hear what Ancestry has to say about the search question. It seems odd that the UK site would have a different search computation yielding different results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Alex was amazing! And that enumerator was terrible. I will update once I hear more from Ancestry. I will follow up this week if I don’t hear anything.

      Like

  9. There are Jewish roots in my husband’s family too, on his mother’s side. The Braun and Weibe families had left Russia during the persecution there. They were given land in Germany for a time, but were eventually evicted from Germany too. Finding their way to Canada, they had to settle the best they could without land that time, so the head of household sold real-estate while also working in a bank. He died pretty early, so the three children took jobs wherever they could. Eva Braun (Imagine that name coming out of Germany!) married a Sorenson, now Johnson, who was of Danish ancestry. A long beautiful story is now put together by my son-in-law using Ancestry.com.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For those who are waiting for some feedback on why Ancestry US generates different results from those generated by Ancestry UK, I just received this update from Crista Cowan at Ancestry: We have verified that different results are being returned because different search algorithms are being used on the two sites. I am working with the team to determine how to adjust them appropriately.

    Like

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