Editorís Note: Cindy Munns and Elisha Amidan are members of the Kolomea research Group.
My first experience with genealogy dates back to around 1971, when I was 10 years old. I was visiting my Great Aunt Tillie (my maternal grandmotherís sister). I remember there was a big commotion for her husband Charles Mokotoff had recently received a family genealogy from a distant relative, also named Mokotoff. I remember it being a very thick book with lot of information. Uncle Charlie unfortunately did not want any part of it, saying that he had a brother who he did not want to establish contact with. While there was alot of discussion as to what to do, nothing ever came of it.
I began researching my own family tree in 1980 as part of a college project at NYU. Living in NY (New York) I was very lucky to have the resources of the New York Public Library at my disposal. When I was able to locate my first family entry, an old census entry for my fatherís family, I was hooked! While my motherís father had a huge amount of information on his family members, my maternal grandmother did not know much about her parentsí families. I did know that she was born in Kolomea in 1905 and was orphaned at age 9 in 1916. My maternal grandmother wandered around Galicia picking hops and trying to survive along with her younger brother Jack and teenage sister Tillie. Tillie is the great aunt I mentioned at the beginning of the story. In 1920 when my maternal grandmother was brought to the US by her older sister, While I knew her parentsí names I did not have any information on how many siblings each had. Early last year, I picked up my genealogy search again, when I found JewshGen.
The first family link I made was Gary Mokotoff, the renowned Jewish genealogist. It turns out that Gary was the one who sent my Uncle Charlie the genealogy when I was a child. Yes Gary and I are related. My Uncle Charlie is Garyís fatherís first cousin. Gary was very helpful-it turned out he even interviewed my Great Aunt Tillie and sent me an electronic copy of her naturalization record. He has a great genealogy web site.
Thanks to JewishGen Family Finder I was able to locate researchers around the world (Brazil, Israel, UK, US) who are descendants of the Lederfeind family, all originally from Kolomea. While we figured that we were all related in some way, we could not make the link, mainly because I had limited information. One of the Lederfeind descendants, Elisha Amidan of Israel, was gracious enough to provide a family tree. There was nothing promising. It was not until my mother remembered some crucial information that Elisha and I made the connection. She remembered that my grandmother had two cousins, sisters who spent WW II in Scotland, then came to the US and never married. I relayed this information to Elisha, and he gave me his auntsí names, who were indeed the ladies my mother remembered! It turns out that my great-grandfather Carl Lederfeind was one of 11 sons to Meir Israel Lederfeind of Kolomea. Elishaís tree had identified 5 of the 11 sons, and now with Carl we have 6. It was such a thrill to find out that I have relatives all over the world. I though there were a few, if any, descendants of the family left. It is even more gratifying to correspond with my new-found cousins after so many years of separation.
I still have many genealogical challenges to meet; such as, making the connection to the many Hoefling descendants also from Kolomea and tracking down any descendants of my fatherís family, the Compert family originally from Germany. My grandmotherís father was a Lederfeind and her mother was a Hoefling. While I have made contacts with several Hoeflings from Kolomea, I still have a lot of work ahead of me to determine the links. I also need to document all information I have received. After all, the joy of genealogy is passing the information on to your descendants. In closing, the best advice I can give you is to leave no stone unturned in your research. Talk to every relative you can and write down all the information, no matter how trivial it seems at the time. It could be just the information you need to help you make the link!
Copyright © 2000 Cindy Munns
Edited by Kolomea Research Group Coordinator, 20 January 2001
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