A Whole Mess of Franks

Sometimes a mystery stays a mystery.

Frank Brovet(s), part 1


I should preface by explaining something about me. I grew up in a small family, with a limited amount of relatives. There were maybe a dozen Brovets in the whole country, and I spent my first few decades confident that I knew all of them.

Ah, the assurance of youth.

I think that’s part of why the Frank story frustrates me so. I had this misconception, and I was able to hold onto it well into my 30s. My brain still gets stuck on the point of: I know all of them, so there can’t be more. This Frank situation has been like hearing, “That’s what YOU think,” from the Universe, over and over.

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Frank Brovet, Genealogical Nemesis

The watchmaker, the seamstress, and a mystery.

Last I left off, I was researching Richard Schober at the Newberry Library. He was not my only find that day. Nor the biggest find.

Back then, the Newberry was a rare place offering free access to the Chicago Tribune’s digital archives. I was full of confidence after my first stab at detective work, so I decided to keep going. I knew had relatives in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Maybe I could find a marriage announcement or something. Without too much thought, I typed my surname into the search box.

I hope you’re hearing the alarm blaring in your head. I did not hear it in mine.

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