Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Saga of the Lost and Found Kort Family Records

Not long ago, I was contacted by Kathy Hinton on Facebook who was seeking help on finding the rightful owner of some long lost family photographs and cemetery certificates that unexpectedly turned up while she was helping a family friend clear out a recently vacated house in North Wales PA.

Max Kort
The cemetery certificates bore the names of three individuals with the surname Kort who had died more than half a century ago. The photographs were formally posed B&W portraits of family members bearing no annotations or identifications.

While it was clear these were not my own relatives, I agreed to help Kathy find the rightful owner of these long lost and forgotten keepsake records.

The materials were in an envelope addressed to Marilyn Gilinsky in Boca Raton FL. An Internet search on that name and address revealed that it was the former residence of Marilyn Gilinsky-Kalif who now lives in Los Angeles. A few more searches turned up a working phone number. Ms Gilinsky was indeed the granddaughter of Max Kort, who died in 1951. But how in the world did the materials that had been mailed to her in Florida in the 1990s end up languishing in a house in Pennsylvania, only to be discovered 25 years later?

Kort Family Photo
The recently vacated house in North Wales PA, where the old cemetery certificates and family photos were found, belonged to Barbara Young, whose family had owned the property for three generations dating back to the 1950s. Barbara Young had three children of which only one daughter is still alive. Mrs. Young's son, Gary J. Young, had lived for a time in his mother's house, but moved to Boca Raton FL in the 1990s. He died there in an apartment fire in 2004.

Marilyn Gilinsky confirmed to me that she had indeed met and become friends with Gary J. Young in the 1990s, when they both lived in Boca Raton. It is unclear how Ms Gilinsky's heirloom family photos and cemetery certificates fell into the personal possession of Gary J. Young and then came to be relocated back to his childhood home in Pennsylvania.

Marilyn Gilinsky told me that her Grandfather, Max Kort, came to the United States from Lithuania around 1910. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Isaac Kort, lived in Vilnius Lithuania and his three sons came to the US as young men in the 1880s. So it's possible that we are distantly related, although it would take DNA testing to establish the probability of a link.

It took a day's worth of sleuthing via Internet searches to discover the missing links that pieced this detective story together. Not bad for a day's work, eh?