Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The True Stored Treasure Surfaces!

The original copy of Minnie Crane's writings and
some of the photo copies I worked from. 
My reputation of family treasure hunter precedes me. The word treasure is not only in the title of my book, Stored Treasures, but it is also my twitter name: @StoredTreasures. The treasure the name refers to is my great-grandmother's, Minnie Crane's, manuscript. I unearthed this hidden gem two and a half years ago. Of the hundreds of family treasures I've discovered, this manuscript holds a special place in my treasure chest, as it is the only one turned into a published Memoir. 

 The manuscript was lost in my mother and her brother's attics for over thirty years. What I pulled out of the moldy boxes, was not the original manuscript, but yellowing and smelly photocopies. Everyone had a slightly different sets of copies. Deciphering the handwriting was doubly difficult because of the quality of the copies, parts of which were dark, blurry or cut off. How I longed for the original.

Despite extensive searching and attic cleaning, the original never appeared. I settled for the copies and completed the book. In foreword of Stored Treasures, I recap how at every step, new material resurfaced. Yet the elusive journal remained hidden. 

A few weeks ago, my uncle Michael mentioned that he had more stuff for me. For years, when ever anyone finds family memorabilia they simply label them "Smadar's Stuff"and forward it me. I am happy to take the "old stuff" off their hands. 

The last thing I expected to receive from Michael, was the one and only..... STORED TREASURE. Minnie's original journal! But that's what I got.

A leather bound burgundy book in mint condition! Someone wrapped it in a protective plastic cover years ago. My uncle had been to New York and visited his sister in-law who was in the processing of moving. In preparation for the move, she found the journal and set it aside for me. Michael, the messenger,  knew this was at least part of his grandmother's writings, but he assumed I had seen it before so was in no hurry to give it to me. When he presented it to me this weekend, he was thrilled to discover, this was the book I had been after for years! 
Inside dedication with color drawing. 

I particularly enjoyed, seeing the color version of the dedication my late Uncle Larry drew his grandmother when he gave her this book. As I leafed through the first time, I immediately saw that the handwriting is much easier to read in the original. I have my work cutout for me and it will take a long time to carefully review the original and located words which I may have misread in the xerox copies. 

The other sticking insight I got from the original book is that much of what Minnie wrote is upside down. She began the book from left to right but only wrote on the right side of the page. When she filled the journal this way, she realized she wanted to continue writing. She turned the book upside down and began again, this time writing from right to left, filling in the blank pages. She numbered this new set and consistently wrote upside-down (see photo bellow). I had never seen a book written this way. Working from the photocopies, I assumed there were at least two notebooks. Now, I know that the two volumes were written in the same notebook, only one was written upside-down and backwards. I loved discovering Minnie's creative solution to her space problem. 

Note the upside-down writing on the left hand side.
Stored Treasures is a treasure that keeps giving. Just when I think I discovered the whole treasure, more appears. It's only January, but I am nominating this notebook as the discovery of the year in my family history journey. I can't wait for the next unexpected surprise! I hope 2013 will be as productive in your family treasure hunting!


  1. Congratulations on a great find (several times!). I'm jealous - I have virtually nothing from my family and relatives.

    1. As you can see, I really do treasure what Minnie left behind. As a window into that time period, particularly into Jewish immigration to the US, it is a gift not only to my family but applicable to many way beyond. By the way, I have a lot of Garbers on my tree. I don't know a lot about them but they are connected to me via an Chaya Garber (Poczynka) from Kamenetz who married a Hershel Garber. I don't know anything about Hershel. Maybe we should compare notes!

    2. Were your Garbers from Kamenetz-Podolsk or Kamenetz-Litovsk? (I know, crazy isn't it!). The town where my Garber family is (mostly) from is Labun (today Yurovshchina), Volhynia Gubernia, Ukraine - actually quite close to Podolsk. I believe there were some family members (although not Garbers that I know of) from there. I also believe I may have had Garbers in Litovsk (which is near Grodno in Belarus). Still trying to figure all this out.

      My Labun Shtetl webpage is at

    3. Good question. They were from Kamenetz-Litsovk. I found a lot of information about Chaya's family in the Yizkor book, including a photo of her mother who was my fourth great aunt. I don't know where her husband was from, he could have been from the same village, or as you know he could have just as easily been from another shtetl. I'll try to do a little research on him and see what I come up with. I am in touch with some living descendants but I don't think they know much more. I'll recheck. Great job on the Shtetl page!

  2. How very exciting for you, Smadar. Isn't funny how these artifacts come to us. Wished for for years and there all the time. I'm glad this treasure has made its way to you. Enjoy.

    1. It never ceases to amaze me! Just when I think I found everything there is to find, something else shows up! I love it!


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