20 July 2008

UK: Finding family in New Jersey

A family in Tyndale, Hexhamshire (UK) has reconnected with American relatives in New Jersey (US), reports the Hexham-Courant, which also has relevant photos.

Daniel Hershon’s wife Lorraine turned Internet detective to track down her husband’s relatives in New Jersey.
Now Daniel has been reunited with second cousin Liz and her family who took a detour from their holiday walking Hadrian’s Wall to visit the Hershons at their remote cottage in the tiny hamlet of Unthank near Haltwhistle.
“It is amazing,” said Dan. “It turns out my family has lots of secrets – and lots of name changes over the years – but Lorraine still managed to find them! It feels like I am putting the pieces of a jigsaw together and everything is falling into place.
“When Lorraine and I had our two sons and became parents we both had this overwhelming desire to find out more about our families. I believe it is important to talk to your children about where they are from, about their family’s history.
“My son Elkan is named after my great great grandad Elkan and my son Isak is named after Elkan’s son who died at the Somme. It is an amazing story. Exploring your heritage can really help give you a strong sense of identity and a real sense of history.”
Dan's great-great-grandfather Elkan, a bootmaker, left Latvia for Liverpool five decades before the Holocaust.

“We don’t know what made Elkan move – maybe he just wanted an adventure, to see the world – but we do know that his actions saved the lives of not just his children but his grandchildren, great grandchildren and all his other descendants.
“In fact I would not be here today if he hadn’t decided to leave Latvia and make a new life in England.”
Elkan’s son Hirsh Aron became Harry Harris, married a Latvian girl in England, had sons Sydney and Abraham and daughter Yetta and moved to America.
“Searching for Harry Harris in America was a bit like hunting for a needle in a haystack,” said Lorraine. “But I eventually found him on the Ellis Island database.
“Then the 1930 American census came on line and I managed to track down the names of his three children – who now of course have their own families. Within days of sending out a message on a geneology website appealing for help I had found not just Sydney, Abraham and Yetta but Sydney’s three daughters Liz, Barbara and Nancy.
The story focused on the UK family meeting the New Jersey family: Liz, husband Michael, sons Spencer and Greg. Liz's father Sydney was a local bank vice-president of a local bank, who once ran a Coney Island  fairground.

“The amazing thing is that Harry’s brother Eli, back in Liverpool, also had two sons called Sidney and Abraham. You just couldn’t make this up!”

Read the complete story at the link above.

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