Letter seeking relatives of early 20th century immigrants lands into federal agents’ hands

The struggle to find relatives of a woman’s great-grand uncle who immigrated to America in the early 1900s from current-day Belarus turned into a shocking twist with one phone call.

The woman who asked for my help (free, of course) e-mailed me today to see whether I received any calls or e-mail messages in response to the letter I sent in November. I went back onto the search, hoping I could get an answer about why my letter was never acknowledged.

I revisited the online phone directory where I had found the address of the woman’s great-grand uncle’s grandson.  Not sure whether the man moved or maybe his house was sold due to his death, I searched his address. Another name appeared for the address, giving me hope the new owner would give me information on contacting the grandson.

The call to the man’s house was strange from the first words, which I couldn’t understand. I told the man whom I was looking for and that I had sent the man a letter in November about relatives of his grandfather’s sister.

“Ma’am, you have called a federal government operation. How did you get this phone number?”

The conversation went back and forth into the importance of understanding that I contacted “a federal government operation.” He told me to delete any reference on my computer to the address where the letter was sent and I hung up on the federal agent who feared my genealogy adventure would harm his investigation.

Just 8 months ago, I was so proud to find the address of a grandson of the Belarusian immigrant. The gymnastics it took to find this grandson was an Olympic-level routine.

After finding the great-grand uncle in the 1940 Census, I was stuck on how to find this family until I got his wife’s naturalization record. All efforts to find the man’s naturalization record failed. Nothing could be found. His gambling arrest  noted on a visa application made me realize that maybe his right to be naturalized ended with that arrest.

The naturalization record for the wife was the document that put everything together.  I finally had the great-grand uncle’s children’s birth dates. I didn’t have the daughters’ married names but all the birth dates helped to narrow down the search results on ancestry.com.

Every attempt to find children of the daughters failed. Thankfully, I found the name of one son’s spouse. Her first name was uncommon, making the search easier with her very common married name.

Once I found her death notice, I had enough information to search for grandchildren of the great-grand uncle on a paid people search website. I used the information provided for free to search on Goggle.

In a few clicks, I finally had the address of a grandson. It felt like such a relief that I finally found the family of the woman’s great-grand uncle. It took many months of constant searching to share the great news that the mere $55 the woman invested in obtaining archive documents had finally paid off.

Now, the package filled with the great-grand uncle’s immigration records and a letter explaining his family’s journey most likely has  been discarded by federal agents. Many decades can pass and families can reunite as long as federal agents aren’t added to the mix.

Related post:

Nothing like a 1930 gambling arrest to help solve a mystery

4 thoughts on “Letter seeking relatives of early 20th century immigrants lands into federal agents’ hands

  1. Sandy Guthrey (maternal grandmothers married name-Melnikowa)

    Pretty awesome. One day, I will find my lost Russian relatives. As I get older it feels like something I need to find out, be it good or bad.

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