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Solving a family mystery

“Posting that notice on JewishGen was a shot in the dark - but I have learnt always to take a flier, and this shot in the dark paid off.”

By Michelle Essers as to Nancy Siegel

Great-Aunt Hinda Ruchel (Rose) Evens Gulin

When I began to research my family history in 2002, all I knew beyond my own immediate family was that my paternal grandparents, Pearl Kramer (Peril bat Baruch Leib) and Samuel Evian (Schmuel ben Nissan), had emigrated from Lithuania to South Africa in the early 1900s. I also knew that Pearl and Samuel had been to America in the 1950s to see family - someone by the name of Gulan.

I wondered - who was Gulan? Was Gulan male or female? And how was Gulan related to my family?

I posted a message on JewishGen asking if anyone knew anything about a family named Gulan. A few weeks later I got an email from Jules Feldman. He had been helping Jeffrey Gulin, the grandson of Hinda Gulin, research his family history. Hinda Gulin, unknown to me previously, was born Hinda Evian - the sister of my zeida!

Because Jules saw my notice on JewishGen, I am now connected with my American cousin, Jeffrey. We have shared family information and photographs. Jeffrey was even able to send me photos of my grandparents during their trip to America.

Posting that notice on JewishGen was a shot in the dark - but I have learnt always to take a flier, and this shot in the dark paid off.

Thanks to Jules and JewishGen, I was able to follow up on a very “lost” branch of my family - just the kind of boost to encourage a newbie to genealogy.

September 2009

After reading Michelle's initial posting on the LitvakSIG mailing list, Jules Feldman thought that her family might be related to a family he was researching for Jeffrey Gulin, and he sent Jeffrey an email quoting Michelle's post. Here is Jules' email and Jeffrey's response:

Jeffrey - Hi !

In message number one in today's digest there is the following:

Looking for relatives of Samuel Evens. Shmuel ben Nissan Born 15 Dec 1897 Original surname possibly Evian/Evan. Possibly came from Anykst or Kovnov around 1901 or 1904 Known: Brother to Joseph, Yossel, Yokkel, Heschel. Who all came to South Africa around 1901/04, possibly via England Possibly had a sister Gulan (unsure if 1st or surname) who settled in Baltimore USA. There must have been other siblings as well.

Since I do not know the maiden name of your grandmother Hinda Ruchel...... Also she called her oldest son Nissen - could it be in memory of her father? Is it possible to trace her grave and find her father's name on it? Did she possibly have brothers or other relatives in South Africa? Did she possibly leave letters or an address book?

Like most stones turned over, we may not find under it what we are looking for but we keep on turning them over.



Jules -

Nice sleuth-work again. Hinda Ruchel's maiden name was indeed Evens. She did name her first son after her father, Nissan. My father recognizes some of her brothers' names and confirms that they emigrated to South Africa. In fact, both my parents remember a visit to our home in Baltimore in the early 1950s by Shmuel ben Nissan and his wife, Pearl. I was a toddler at the time, but recall them previously mentioning this visit. Please communicate this info to the inquirer.


Jules then forwarded information about the Gulin and Evens families to Michelle, with the following email that identifies her great-aunt, Hinda Evens Gulin:

Michelle - Hi !

I do not know if you received my previous message. You will find it below.

Hinda Ruchel Gulin (nee Evers [sic]) was, according to the Gulin family in Baltimore, the sister of Samuel Evers [sic] of South Africa and Samuel and Pearl Evers [sic] visited them in Baltimore in the 1950s. She was born c1889 and arrived in the USA in 1921.

Best Wishes,
Jules Feldman
Kibbutz Yizreel

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Michelle's initial research tools included posting messages in the local South African newspapers and on the JewishGen Litvak Special Interest Group (SIG) and South Africa SIG mailing lists. Since then, she's also used the general JewishGen Discussion Group to expand her research and has posted family names on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF). In addition, she told the rest of the JewishGen community of their discoveries and success by posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group which you are encouraged to subscribe to if you do not already.

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Updated by MH on Monday, May 24, 2010.

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