Owing to other commitments (such as trying to overcome winter sadness and ennui), research on the family tree has been a little in abeyance lately. However, thanks to contacts in the UK, Germany, France, USA and (now) Holland, we are slowly expanding our store of knowledge about this wide-spread family of ours.
In common with all amateur genealogists, we face obstinate hurdles. Contradictions and inconsistencies increase with every piece of information. Forenames change; surnames are misspelt or misrepresented in some way. Dates are vague and sometimes surmised. Locations shift awkwardly. Children are omitted or wrongly ascribed to parentage.
Perhaps not unusually, we have several specific difficulties. The French Revolution altered dates and spellings of surnames. Kahn, for example, is spelt Cahn by French registering authorities. Then we have Kahen, Kaan and the infamous Kahnn. Nausen becomes Nathan. Some family members eschew their given names; Alexander Gaston has always been Gaston Victor to us – until recently. And some of our forebears have so many forenames we have no idea whether they’re diminutives, nick-names or good old-fashioned cock-ups.
Entire territories change hands. One minute Luxembourg is Prussian; the next it’s French. Schweich in Germany became French for a while. And we know what happened to European records and archives in modern history, from the middle 1930s to the end of the 40s. Did the politicians and generals of the day have no concept of the problems they’d cause future genealogists?
Despite confusions, we’ve made progress this year. Four paces forwards, two back, means we end the year in credit. In fact, that understates the case. 2010 has been a bumper year for the Moselle River crop of Kahns.
But we still haven’t traced Victor’s siblings. Each piece of evidence so far points to him being an only child, almost the sole incidence of such in the entire Kahn tree. And yet, intuition suggests otherwise.
Perhaps the New Year will bring the breakthrough we seek. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has kept our hunger assuaged with morsels, multiple-pages, articles and entire books of information. We do appreciate your help. May you all prosper in wealth, health and harmony throughout 2011and beyond.