Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A German From Russia: Anton's Story

In the previous edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy, I wrote about my ancestor Caroline. Well, for this edition, I'm writing about her husband Anton (As I mentioned in the other post, I am not mentioning surnames to protect the privacy of others).

So, what do I know about Anton? Well, I just happen to know a little bit more about him than his wife. For starters, I have more than one record that gives the same date of birth. (He was born in the 1870s.) Plus, I know the names of a few of his siblings and possible siblings. (With Caroline, I still do not know the names of her siblings.) As in the case of Caroline, though, I still do not know where he was exactly born. All I know is that it was in the Russian Empire, possibly in present-day Lithuania. (Only the 1930 Census lists that as his place of birth. Other censuses say Russia.)

Anton immigrated to the United States in 1902. He came to the country through Ellis Island a few months before Caroline and their children, and went directly to Detroit, Michigan, where he would live for the rest of his life. (I think he earned enough to bring them to the U. S. within a couple of months.)

Family tradition holds that he worked for Ford Motor Company when he came to the U.S. Of course, I don't have any other proof other than oral tradition. (I don't know if Ford keeps records of former workers. I guess I'll have to take a look and find out.) According to family members, he mainly worked in lifting the heavy steel presses. Other family stories mention that he was also an excellent tool and die maker. The one story, though, that sticks in my mind, is about his strength. Supposedly, he was strong enough that he could lift one end of a heavy, wooden table that typically could only be lifted up by three or four men. (So, if you could picture this, my ancestor would lift one end of the table while three or four men had to lift the other end, so that they could just move that table.) When I actually got to see a picture of him, though, I was shocked to see that he was small. He did not look as strong as these family stories said he was. (I should mention, though, that he was sitting down. That might explain why he looked small.) Even if the story is not exactly true, it is still a colorful story, and helps to paint a vivid picture of him.

I wish I could have met him, but he died way before I was born since family stories suggest he was an interesting person. The best I can do, though, is find out more about him than the little that I do already do now.

1 comment:

arootdigger2 said...

Isn't there a ford Museum there at
mukegum or Dearborn? I loved it. I have some pictures. My husband lived near there as a kid and said they went to the museum a lot.

It's possible I have my places mixed up. I thought there were period homes there as well.