Importance of Speaking to Living Relatives to Glean Information

I thought I identified the correct family line on the Molner branch of my extended family tree. The information fit, names of the sisters matched so I thought, and the location fit. I heard a story that the mother died young that fit in with data I gathered. I spent countless hours trying to find records of their lives.

Then I went to a wedding.

In September 2015, I attended my niece’s wedding. I had the opportunity to connect with Aunt Sandy. Aunt Sandy is related to my older brother and sister. The Molner branch of the tree is from my mother’s first marriage to Robert Gaber. My mother, Shirley, married Robert in July 1954. Robert died suddenly in December 1956. My mother was a widow at 21, with two toddlers to raise.

There wasn’t much contact with the relatives and descendants of this line as in most families the ties that bind where long cut and we drifted apart. My sister reconnected to Aunt Sandy when she moved to Florida where her Gaber grandparents once owned a house that Sandy now lives in. That night at the wedding, Sandy and I, started talking details of her mother, Elizabeth Molner family.

I found out I was way off this branch. Luckily, the axillary bud of this twig was fairly short when I lopped it off my family tree. In its place has grown a sturdy twig that will support the leaf primordia that will turn into leaves to fill in the family tree.

Meet the Molner’s

Aunt Sandy provided the names of the siblings, the parents, and that the family lived in Mahanoy, Pennsylvania. Turns out Elizabeth Molner was one of nine children both to Paul Molner and Veronica Petrilla. Both parents lived to the early 1950’s. Currently, I can only find information about the parents from the 1930 and 1940 Censuses and possible death records.

The 1930 Census has Paul’s birthplace is listed as Poland, Russia. Veronica Petrilla Molner is from Austria. Paul immigrated in 1905 and Veronica immigrated in 1904. Married about 1917. The first four children were born in Illinois. The remaining five were born in Pennsylvania. The 1940 Census contradicts with the 1930 Census listing all the children born in Pennsylvania.  Except Elizabeth Molner, who is now married to Stanley Gaber, is listed on the 1940 Census as being born in Illinois.

I will have to create a research plan for this family to locate further information. Did the parents marry in Illinois, are there naturalization papers, can I find out from whence they immigrated and all the other pertinent details. Now that I am on the right footpath.

Am thankful that I spoke to Aunt Sandy while she is still alive. My own father passed away last November 2015. There are still more questions I should have asked. It is so important to connect to the past through the living.


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