Searching for X great grandparent siblings

+1 vote
My dad's side of the family has multiple brick wall ancestors as when the ancestor that came across landed here, all records or at the very least the majority of the records I'm looking for have disappeared. I know that both sides of my dad's family came to the United States in the late 1880s to 1890s. My dad's mom's side is Schensul and I have records stating that they are either from Lithuania or Russia depending on the record. My dad's dad's side is Hawthorne and I know that the family left from Ireland. One of the main issues is that I know when the parents were born but I can't find that much on their parents, and considering the time they were born in 1849, I am highly doubtful that my 3rd great grandparents were both only children. 3rd great grandparents from Ireland were David Hawthorne and Agnes McBride Hawthorne both born 1849/1850 respectively. Morris Schensul was my 2nd great grandfather born 1870 in Telshe, Lithuania and was married to Ida Cushman born 1875 in Russia. I have more information on the Cushman side of the family from a family tree my grandmother made when she was young. I'm not sure how family bibles were passed on, whether someone would start a new one when they married, or if the family bible stayed with the oldest male child and got passed down that way. I'm sorry if this is a bit disjointed, I'm trying to figure out how to find relatives when I can't find records that are probably in a different country and if there are family records somewhere.
in Genealogy Help by Jesi Hawthorne G2G1 (1.5k points)
edited by Jesi Hawthorne

3 Answers

+2 votes
Hi Jesi. From 1795 until 1918, Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire. So in a sense, both places are correct -- your ancestors were born in Lithuania, in the Russian Empire. Do you know if they were Jewish or if they were Baltic Germans? I can't tell based on the names. They probably weren't ethnic Lithuanians going by their names.

Anyway, tracing your genealogy back in Lithuania is going to be challenging. If your ancestors were Catholic, there are some Catholic church register books online:

If your ancestors were Jewish, there are some records on JewishGen.

The simplest method would be to hire a genealogist in Lithuania to research in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives for you.
by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (111k points)
Hey Jessica, Schensul is Jewish. I'm not sure about Cushman. I only have some stories told to go by and I think that Cushman may have been Jewish as well since my grandmother told me that her grandparents spoke quite a bit of Yiddish.

I have looked into JewishGen for some Schensuls and did find some but unfortunately, it was not before they came to the United States if I remember correctly. I am pretty sure they were Jewish in culture/genetics and religion.

Something that I don't understand is why on one record it says Telshe, Lithuania but for everything else it says Russia. I get changing borders, but I still find it odd that my 2nd great grandpa is listed as being born in Telshe at one point and Russia at another.
It wasn't really a changing border. For all intents and purposes, Lithuania did not exist. That's why his birthplace is listed as Russia. He was born in Russia -- in the part of the Russian Empire formerly known as Lithuania.
Ok, I get that. I had forgotten one of the records that I found stated that both Ida and Morris were born in Latvia. The record that stated that Morris was born in Lithuania is a record from Michigan Deaths and Burials. I'm not sure where they got Lithuania whether it was because of the year that Morris died or what. On census records, I think a majority of them say Russia. He is only listed as being born in Russia on census records, as far as I have found.
As it happens, I was trying to get a friend-of-a-friend to join Wikitree recently. She's Jewish and her mother was, as she puts it, "the last of her kind" -- born in America but with four Lithuanian Jewish grandparents. Apparently, this is something that is nearly impossible nowadays. Lithuania lost the largest percentage of it's Jewish population of any nation affected by the Holocaust: between 91-95% of Lithuania's Jews were killed in the Holocaust. As a result, there's not very many remaining Lithuanian Jews, so if you do a DNA test, be prepared that you may not find many cousins on that side.
My DNA results show a genetic match to Lithuania, Latvia & Belarus underneath Central and Eastern Europe which is listed under European Jewish. I also have a bit of Germanic Europe which I attribute to my dad's mom's side of the family.

I got my dad's mom to take a DNA test and she has the European Jewish and Germanic Europe which I was expecting in about what I expected too. I don't know why my test goes into so much detail with listing Lithuania, Latvia & Belarus whereas hers doesn't.

My hope is that there are relatives that we can find from these tests that are from her side of the family. I'm fairly inexperienced when it comes to looking into the Jewish side of my family mainly because of language barriers.
+2 votes

Telshe is TelÅ¡iai, a city in northwestern Lithuania. In US records, people born within the borders of what is Lithuania today are shown as having been born in Russia because Lithuania did not exist at that time. 

Here's a modern example of the problem. If you were born in 1970 in what is today part of Slovenia and you emigrated to the US, the records would say you were born in Yugoslavia -- because at that time Slovenia did not exist.

Modern Lithuania, with borders similar to those that exist today, was established in 1918. US records prior to that time will generally refer to Poland or Russia. 

The best places on the internet for learning about Lithuanian genealogy are  or

+2 votes

Relating to the Irish side of your ancestry, the Irish Birth, Death & Marriage entries are available to download/view FREE at

David Hawthorne & Agnes McBride were married 25th July 1878 in Belfast. Agnes' father was recorded as Hawthorne McBride, so they may have been related.

You should also be able to find the birth entries for their children.

by Vivian Egan G2G6 Mach 5 (55.9k points)
I tried finding the record you mentioned and couldn't find it. I also have a record showing that Agnes's father's name is Pat McBride and her mother was Eliza Smith.

Following the link you left took me to a search and when used, it brought up a list of sites to look and those had no results.
From the link in my above post, click on "Civil Records" in the Menu bar; on the next screen enter the details for David Hawthorne i.e. First Name & Last Name fields; in the year fields enter "1878 to 1878" then select the "Marriage" option & search. On the next screen, "tick" the Captcha box; on the next screen enter your own First & Last names & tick the box, then click on "Submit"

The marriage entry for David & Agnes is the only result. Click on their names, then on the next page (below the registration district details) click on Image.

Related questions

+13 votes
4 answers
0 votes
2 answers
+3 votes
1 answer
39 views asked Mar 11, 2018 in The Tree House by Derek Hawthorne G2G1 (1.6k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright