Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What To Do with Conflicting Data?

Making sense out of conflicting documentation for Gus Kaufman, a research chemist and first cousin of my great-grandfather William Bloomfield has been challenging. At this point, I could use some help, so I thought I'd share what I found with my knowledgeable readers and see if together we can cleanup of this "mess".

The two big question? When did Gus Kaufman arrive in the US and under what name?

Declaration of Intention
Certification # 13-1487

Filed 29th of May, 1931, Beaumont, Texas
Source Citation: Dutchess County, New York, 
Naturalization Records, 1932-1989[ database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. This collection was indexed by

Original data: Dutchess County, New York, Naturalization Records, 

1932–1989. 10 Market St., Poughkeepsie, New York 12601: 
Dutchess County, New York.

When I found this Declaration of Intention, I felt as if I hit a jackpot! It's full of wonderful information and even a photo!

The following three pieces of information were news to me:

1. Gus Kaufman was born on September 3, 1904-in Scherschev, Russia! (First time, I heard of this village in the Bloomfield/Pomerantz clan)
2. He immigrated to the United States from Copenhagen, Denmark on the Oscar II, arriving in New York City on Dec 27th, 1904.
3. He entered the United States under the name Boruch Kaufman.

I crossed check the naturalization document with US Census records and confirmed I had the right Gus Kaufman.  At the age of seven he appears on the 1910 Census in Gonzales Texas with his parents Alex and Ethel Kaufman and his siblings. According to the next Census the family had relocated to Houston by 1920. By the Census 1930 Gus is logding at same 1117 Lake Short address in Port Arthur, Texas as listed on this document.

One thing really bothered me about this document. The date of arrival in the US did not check. On the 1920 Census it lists the Kaufman children arriving with their mother in 1910. On the 1930 Census, Gus reported arriving in 1908.

Previously, I found what I was quite confident to be their Ship Manifest:
Galveston Passenger List SS Wittekind, May 26th, 1909 
 (click to enlarge)
[ Source Citation: National Archives and Records
 Administration; Washington D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels
 Arriving at Galveston, Texas, 1896-1951;
National Archives Microfilm Publication:
M1359; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration
 and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: 85].

According to this record, Ethel (Eidel) Kaufman arrived on the SS Wittekind on May 26th, 1909 with her brother Moses Pomerantz and her four children: Enia, Aisisc, Gerschon and Meische Aron. They were headed to Fort Worth, Texas. The boat departed from Bremen, Germany and their port of entry was Galveston, Texas. Ethel and Moses listed their mother Tzvia Pomerantz as their nearest relative in the country of origin. I had no reason to doubt ship manifest. Everything about it checked. Ethel's husband, Alex had arrived in the US earlier (c1904-1905 according to 1920 and 1930 Census records). It made sense that he would have prepared for his family's arrival and then sent for them, five years later. It also made sense that Ethel would have chosen to travel with her younger brother Moses (Morris Aaron), who could help her four young children.  The children's ages and names were fairly consistent. Annie (born c1900), was the oldest and only daughter, followed by Ben (born c1901), Gus (born c 1903) and then Maurice (born c1904). The youngest of the 6 Kaufman children, the twins David and Julius were born in 1911 in the US and therefore do not appear on this ship manifest.

Gus, who would have been known as Gerschon in Hebrew or Yiddish according to this document was about 5 years old when he arrived. Certainly too young to recall the exact information of the trip. But why would he have reported on his naturalization papers, a completely different name of a boat, the Oscar II, arriving from Denmark, to New York, four years earlier? If wasn't sure, wouldn't he have stated as such?

Ship Manifest Oscar II, Dec 37, 1904 (Click to enlarge)
[ Source Citation: Year: 1904; Arrival; Microfilm Serial:
 T715; Microfilm Roll: 524; Line: 17; Page Number: 13].
My next step was to find the records from the Oscar II.  Sure enough, there was a Kaufman family on the boat. The father Elie (age 28), the mother Eidel (age 27), a son Boruch (age 4) and a daughter Henne (age3).

Our Alex Kaufman did arrive around 1904. Could he be Elie Kaufman? He was about 28 in 1904. I have not found any other ship manifest for him. Could our Ethel Kaufman be this Eidel Kaufman, rather than the presumed Eidel Kaufman who arrived with her brother on the Wittekind four years later? If so, how many kids would she have had in 1904? According to all the census records, she would have had at least three, Annie, Ben and Gus. Maurice was born in 1904. Also, Annie was the oldest and according to this record, Boruch was the oldest. Gus would have been only a year old in 1904, so there another discrepancy there.

If the Kaufman family from the Oscar II were not our Kaufmans, then why did Gus Kaufman report this information when he declared his intention to become a United States citizen? Where would he have gotten this information?

I am going to let you guys ponder this dilemma for now. I would love to hear some thoughts and promise to provide more documents and possible scenarios on my next post, What To Do with Conflicting Data? Part II


  1. Smadar, you certainly have a dilemma on your hands! I'd love to help figure this out, but unfortunately, my eyes cannot make out the fine print on the scanned documents--even after enlarging the files--so I have to rely on your explanations.

    One thing puzzling me: on your first document, you list the source as Duchess County NY papers, while also stating that the declaration was filed in Beaumont, Texas. Since the one ship arrived in New York City, and the other in Galveston, Texas, I'd be leery about picking up a document from a state so far away from the other Texas records you are presenting as documents of your family in question. I don't understand why you listed that first document as filed in Texas when the source citation states Duchess County New York.

    Second, Gus may certainly be a nickname. I have to take your word for converting Gerschon to Gus, which seems a reasonable match. However, Boruch to Gus seems quite a stretch...unless he had a middle name that had Gus as an English equivalent. The family associated with Boruch seems not as tight a match, judging by the other children's names, in my opinion.

    Sometimes when I am stumped like that, I keep looking. I know you have already conducted an exhaustive search, but your hunch and uneasiness may be telling you something: don't settle.

    It is conceivable that there were two Gus Kaufmans with similar data. It may be helpful to play it forward, searching for further information on the New York Gus as well as the Texas Gus. Can you find death certificate information listing full names for each one's parents? You want to find some way to isolate the right Gus.

    Or, take the parents' names. I couldn't tell if the ship's manifest for the Texas Gus actually named Eidel's brother as specifically a brother by relationship. If the document doesn't specifically say this is so, could that actually be another family with a different husband?

    Can you locate death certificates for Eidel? (Actually, either one?) Or for her brother Moses (to see if the mother's name is listed on the document)?

    Can you trace any other documents for either of the men called Gus--or for any of the other family members for both ships? it an obituary or other detail...there will be something that will hopefully allow you to know which Gus is the right one.

    Best wishes as you find the right identity!

    1. Jacqui! Thanks so much for taking the time to study this carefully and give me your input. As to your first question, which an excellent one, the answer has to do with what I was going to write on my next post (just too much information for one post, this one was getting too long!). To answer briefly, I was struck by the indexing as well and it lead to more documents (immigration documents for Gus), the story of which I will share on Wednesday. Interestingly, these documents do not resolve this dilema and answer my two main questions.
      As for the other questions. I have not found death certificates for his parents but that's a good thought, though I'm not sure they will clarify this conflict because they will probably only have the names they used in America which is sure to be different than the Yiddish/Hebrew name on the manifest.
      As to your question about the Manifest listing Eidel's brother as a brother or could he be a different husband, is also an excellent question. It doesn't list the relationship, but lists Tzvia Pomerantz as each of their mothers and not mother-in-law. Moses Pomerantz, is a known brother to our Ethel Kaufman. He used Morris Aaron Pomerantz in America but we know he used Moses. His grandson is actually the one who identified the ship manifest originally. He is one of the cousins I collaborate with and is quite knowledgeable about the family history. I am sure he will read this blog post, so I'm looking forward to his input as well. Eidel's maiden name was Pomerantz. That I know.
      I haven't found any other documents for the rest of the family members, but I think that is an excellent idea. I am going to try death records in the state of Texas which should be fairly readily available.

  2. This is an interesting conflict. I enjoyed reading the comment from Jacqi. I will be interested in seeing how this all figures out. Hopefully you will find some answers.


  3. Smadar - It's most likely that the Gerschon Kauffman listed on the Texas manifest is the same Gus Kauffman in your Declaration of Intent. The document numbers match (see notation on passenger list next to Gerschon's name). Whether this is YOUR Gus Kauffman, I don't know. It's also curious why he listed his name as Boruch instead of Gerschon on the Intent.

    I'm also interested to know why it's part of the Dutchess Co. NY record set. I can only imagine that he filed the Intent in Texas and was then naturalized in NY and got his certificate there.

    I see a similar note made next to Boruch on the New York manifest, but it's been crossed through and I cannot read it.

    Also, (playing devil's advocate here) about Moses Pomerantz, you said "It doesn't list the relationship, but lists Tzvia Pomerantz as each of their mothers and not mother-in-law." I don't see where Eidle has listed Tzvia as her mother, only that she is the nearest relative or friend in her home country. Moses is the only one who has her listed as "mother."

    I would try to find the intent or certificate of naturalization for Boruch (maybe some creative photo editing can allow you to see the number on the manifest).

    I would also look to see if Eidle ever went BACK in between these two arrivals. Her age is consistent with the dates on both manifests. It could be the same family, with multiple trips to the U.S., bringing other family members.

    Another thing is to try to find Gus' certificate of naturalization to see what name they actually use. It's likely the Boruch number is crossed through because they determined he used the wrong name on his application.

    Now the disclaimer: I have VERY little experience with immigration records thus far - so I'm mainly going with my intuition here. If anything I've said is off base, please feel free to correct me.

    1. Jenny, no need for disclaimer. I think your comments are very helpful! I'm going to put it all together in tomorrow's post, and get back to your specific points if that's OK? I think the thought that Eidle went back and forth is a really good thought. I would still need to prove it's the same person, and it seems there are too many inconsistencies, particularly the ages of the children and the fact that Boruch is the oldest.
      As far as the annotation on the manifest. The Galveston does have the certificate number, which confirms it belongs to our Gus. It still does not explain why he would have provided the other ship's information. I was not able to make out the erased note on NY manifest, but after your comment, I just re-examined the numbers again, and I think you are correct. It is the same number and erased. That seems to imply they had matched the naturalization petition to this record and then decided it's a mistake. I'm still not clear how that could have happened. I'll raise this question again tomorrow once I present the rest of the documents!
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to give me such insightful advice!

  4. Smadar,

    I just wanted to let you know that this post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks so much Jana for including me in you Fab Finds post this week (which I love by the way). I really appreciate your support!


Thanks for sharing your comments!