New Ratner family branch discovered

New information (for us) about a branch of our Ratner family popped up on Ancestry.com, and as a result I have now made a connection with a new second cousin once removed. She is Nicole Richner, a great granddaughter of George Peyser Ratner, the older brother of our grandmother Selma.

We had known about Peyser's daughter Marjorie Decker, and knew that she had been alive in a nursing home near Albany until recently. Walter made an unsuccessful attempt to contact her. We also knew Marjorie had married Robert Ken Decker and that they had two sons, and thus we had conjectured that there could be another generation of Deckers. However, my efforts to discover who and where they were had gone unrewarded.

Then a week ago I am scanning Ancestry for new leads on the Rabinowitz side when I am presented with alerts that new information has been posted about people in my family tree. Clicking through, I see that George Pizer Ratner is a part of a new Decker Family tree that was posted on October 3 by an Ancester member named Nicole Richner. Attached to his record are several familiar census citations that confirmed that this was the same George Ratner that is our great uncle.

Clicking further into the tree gave me several answers to open questions. First, Marjorie passed away at age 91 a year ago, in October 2008. I'm sorry that our project began too late to have reached her when she was able to contribute her memories. (Nicole has her photo albums, though.) Second, we now knew what had become of Marjorie's sons Ronald and Curt.

Well, sort of. Ancestry has a policy of not showing full information about a living people in members' family trees. The tree's owner can allow access to other members to see the full names and personal information, but I was viewing Nicole's tree as an unprivileged user. So all I could see was profiles labeled "Living Decker" for each person. Still, I could deduce that one of the two sons was unmarried and childless and that the other had had six children, three sons and three daughters. Two of the daughters had last names other than Decker, including a Living Alexander and a Living Richner, who had presumably married and taken their husbands' names.

So this living Richner was obviously the Nicole Richner that posted the Decker Family tree. Delighted to have learned this information but wanting to be able to see the full information, I sent off a message to Nicole through Ancestry's Member Connect feature. I identified myself as her second cousin and told her a bit of our Ratner genealogy and asked her to reply.

Today her message came back. Here is an excerpt:

Most of what I have has been due to my grandmother, that you so kindly mentioned in your email. She was an awesome women! I had the opportunity a few years back when both my grandparents were still living to visit with them for a few days. I went specifically to just sit and listen. They were the ones that gave me the framework for every peice of information that I have. I very grateful that I was able to do that. She also sent me her photo albums and other documents that I have yet to fully go through. She had a memory like an elephant. I was amazed at the information that she was able to share.

I've written back again and hopefully soon will be able to get photos and other information about Marjorie's Ratner family. With all the progress we've made about our Rabinowitz family as a result of Harriet finding us, it is exciting that we are positioned to learn more about our Ratners now that Nicole has turned up.