By Martin Tompa and Siva German
I have been a JewishGen member for more than 13 years. Over the years I have been contacted by many other members looking into similar surnames or villages, but there has never been even a hint of successful connection. Until this past May.
Siva German (who lives in London, UK) and I (who live in Seattle, USA) both subscribe to JewishGen’s AustriaCzech SIG mailing list. In April, I had posted a message there in which I listed, among other surnames, my interest in the Schück family. Siva replied to me, saying that her mother’s maiden name was Schück and telling me what little she knew about her Schück family. Among other names in her initial message, she said her great-grandfather Josef Schück had a brother of unknown name with children named Helene, Rudi, and Emmi. I didn’t recognize any of the other names in her message, but these were the names of three of the seven siblings of my grandmother Ottilie Schück. This seemed unlikely to be coincidence.
We exchanged some rapid and excited messages, and it didn’t take long to establish that Siva and I are third cousins. Some more research in the Czech Jewish records found in the marvelous Badatelna registers on the internet took us from Böhmisch Leipa (now Česká Lípa in the Czech Republic), where my grandparents were born, to Hlinsko 200 km away, where we uncovered our common great-great-grandparents Salomon and Anna Schick (each born about 200 years ago) and the birth records of their children, our great-grandparents. One curious thing is that Siva’s grandfather Julius Schück and my grandmother Ottilie Schück, who were first cousins, lived in Vienna at the same time in the early 1900s, yet Siva knew only those three names from my side of the family, and neither I nor any of my close relatives knew anything at all of Siva’s side of the family.
On June 15, just a month and a half after our first contact, Siva and I met in Paris for a day, as we both happened to be in France. Siva met my train at the Gare du Nord and we spent a delightful day together walking around the city, telling stories about family past and family present, and talking about our parents and about our childhoods. We found that there were many parallels in our upbringing. We shared inherited photos of family gatherings in Vienna in the early 1900s, but unfortunately neither of us recognized any faces in the photos supplied by the other, adding to the mystery of what might have kept our ancestors apart during those Vienna years.
We continue to exchange messages about our lives and genealogy discoveries and we look forward to our next opportunity to meet. It is wonderful to have found each other through JewishGen.
Seattle, Washington, USA