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  • svanderschaaff

My Own Family: A Different Story

In some ways, the story of The Judge's house is one of criss-crossing family fates.

A family resides in the house until their fortunes, or life circumstances, change. This has been true from the start--Simon Nowell, the first owner, a ship captain who dallied in any side-business he could find, lost it shortly after the War of 1812 restricted trade and his income. Within a few years, the The Judge's family moved in. Nowell's youngest daughter married into the Luques family, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The fact that we arrived in November 2020 represents yet another twist, especially when I compare one aspect of my family's history to that of The Judge's.

In the 1920's, when The Judge was affirming his New England pedigree and the house's long history in Kennebunkport by the commission of the murals in the dining room, my

great-grandfather Joseph Maraniss was helping immigrants from Russia become citizens of the United States. He wasn't a lawyer and I don't think he did this in any organized way, but his name appears as witness in several naturalization documents throughout the 1920's--Russian Jews, perhaps people he worked with, neighbors or friends of friends, who he could help.

As I've discovered the upperclass life of The Judge and his children--I have had in the back of my mind an awareness that my own ancestors were traveling in a different circle.

The Judge's children were born in 1888, 1891, and 1895. My great-grandfather is the same generation, born in 1889.

I found his World War I draft card on which his place of birth is stated. It's the first time I've seen it: Minkovsky, Podolia part of the Russian Empire, later, the Soviet Union and now, Ukraine.

My father has told me that Joe came to the United States when he was two. I have found his WWII registration card, completed decades after the one from WWI, and census records from the 1940's. He lists his place of birth as the United States. My guess is that after so many years here, and so much reinventing, it was almost true.

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