Lillie Landes handwritten birth record [Drouin Collection]

In researching the Landes family in Montréal and Detroit, I came across birth records for the children of Martin Landes — my great grand uncle — and his wife, Paulina (Pearl) Jaruslavitz. The records are handwritten, and they are contained in the “Drouin Collection” on Ancestry.com. The discoveries have helped me support the written history that passed from Mortimer (Morty) Landes to my father. Like almost all discoveries, the birth records introduced more questions.

I discovered a birth record for Lillie Landes, born to Martin Landes and Paulina Jaruslavitch on 7 May 1910 in Montréal. I was unaware of Lillie previously, and have not found any further records. You can see the handwritten acknowledgment of Lillie’s birth here.

During my search, I uncovered another birth record for a son of Martin and Paulina in Montréal. Through the work of volunteers, this record was indexed under the name “Track Landes.” Volunteers take the time to interpret handwritten records in order to make them searchable, and these volunteers should be able to make the best judgments when handwriting can be confusing, so I trusted this index was accurate.

“Track” did not sound like it was a name that someone in my family was likely to have, however. I didn’t recognize it as a name, at all, until I remembered that a certain former governor of Alaska had a son named Track. Although unlikely, I decided to take the index for its face value and add an entry to my family tree for Track Landes. His birth date was 1 Jun 1903, close to his would-be brother, Irwin or Irving, who was born around 1904 according to the census information I had found by that point.

My research continued in different directions, and I didn’t come back to the mystery of Track and Lillie Landes until the other day. With fresh eyes, I took another look at the handwritten birth record for “Track” Landes and decided it just didn’t look right.

“Track?” Landes in handwritten birth record [Drouin Collection]

The handwriting throughout the record is consistent, and capital “T” is written consistently. It does not look like what is included in the above graphic. The first letter of the name, when compared to other words more easily identified, is certainly a capital “I.” The loop at the the top right of the letter gives its identity away.

It looks like the name as written in this birth record is most likely Isack, not Track. The spelling is non-standard, but that isn’t surprising, considering misspelled words and names are frequent throughout the records from this synagogue. At first, I tried to see if I could somehow justify the handwriting as saying “Irwen,” but I’m relatively sure it was written as Isack. Isaac could be an alternative name for Irwin. Probably most famously, Israel Isidore Baline adopted the Americanized/Anglicized name Irving Berlin; it’s not unlikely that Irwin and Irving were nicknames for Isaac.

As a result, I’ve removed Track Landes from the family tree and applied this birth record to Irwin Landes. I have found travel records for Irwin between Canada and the United States, and I’ll still continue looking for more evidence of Irwin’s existence. The mystery of Lillie Landes, however, continues. It will be important for me to keep in mind that the indices that rely on people’s interpretation of handwriting can often be incorrect.

Here are more handwriting samples that identify the capital “I” and capital “T.” The “I” seems to be drawn with one stroke, while the “T” seems to be drawn with two.

Capital “I” example

Capital “T” example

What do you think? Does this handwriting indicate “Isack?”

One Response to Looking closer at handwriting solves a mystery

  1. Shari Landes says:

    I agree completely, and in fact, even before I continued reading your text, when I first spotted it I assumed Iszach or Iszack. This was a common name in both the community in those days and this family in particular.

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