Friday, November 26, 2010

Time to Dive In

So, in 2003 I began the search in earnest. I invested my hard earned cash in and subscriptions. This was before they were merged – at that time neither had all the census data digitized so I used both. My initial focus was on my father’s grandmother on his father’s side. My grandfather’s full name was Mervyn Raphael Marks (middle name pronounced “ray-full”). According to my Uncle Merv (his son) the middle name was actually his mother’s maiden name. So now I was armed with at least my great grandmother’s last name. My grandfather had a sister named Carol. And I knew that she had married a man named Repp. This I knew because Carol’s son was Stafford Repp. Stafford had been an actor in some films but mostly early television with his most famous role as Chief O’Hara on the campy Batman series with Adam West as the Caped Crusader in the mid-1960s.

After much searching, I found the Repp family in the 1930 Federal Census. They were living in Oakland, California and there were 5 in the family – the husband and wife – Herbert and Carol Repp, the son Stafford and the daughter Betty (who actually used the name Elisabeth later in life). But the most fantastic find so far was the discovery of the mother-in-law – “Mollie Marks”. I had found my first great grandmother!


Next to family history obtained through personal interviews, the federal census will provide you with family members that you didn’t know you had. In the past family members tended to stick together and older aunts and uncles and grandparents often lived with younger relatives. Search them – you will be amazed at what you can find!

From this find – I rapidly began to fill out that side of the family. I found Mollie and her sisters and her parents in the 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses, so now I had found my first great great grandparents – Marks Raphael and Pauline Saloman. Through the San Francisco Call Index I found lots of other dates and information. Through the Yuba County, California Genealogy website I found where Marks and Pauline were married in 1863, along with the burial information for two of their infant children. I was now on a roll!


There are hundreds if not thousands of these free websites, many with searchable databases. Search for them. Use them. For example, has been extremely helpful as many of my ancestors lived in San Francisco during the 1800s and early 1900s.

I rapidly filled out approximately 60% of the Raphael information that I now have back in 2004, through this variety of databases. On a vacation to Yosemite National Park, I stopped in Marysville, California, where my Mollie Raphael Marks was born along with all of her siblings, and where her father was a tailor, during the 1860s and 1870s – the gold rush years and beyond.

I found Marks Raphael’s brother Aaron, who also immigrated to America in the 1850s and spent time in Marysville, San Francisco, and Oakland, California. I fleshed out Aaron’s family and his children and grandchildren and their families.

So now I had an excellent start to the Raphael line. On to other branches!

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