Saturday, April 30, 2016

A to Z Challenge – What I learned

  •         It is possible to blog every day. (But it may not be practical)

  •        Having a prompt like the Challenge does make it easier to come up with a topic.

  •        It is not necessary for every blog post to be deep and pithy. Sometimes little snippets are all you need to let folks know that you’re still around – as long as they are pertinent to your blog theme.

 This has been an interesting and enjoyable exercise. Even when I struggled to come up with a topic, I managed to post something.  As a master procrastinator, I find it all too easy to put off writing when I’m short on inspiration. 

I won’t continue posting daily, but hope to keep up the momentum to post more frequently as long as I can stay on topic.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A to Z Challenge – Z is for Zero

Zero is the number of ideas that I have for a topic for the letter Z.

I like to visit the zoo. Zebras are fascinating animals. I’ve never been to Zanzibar so I can’t write about it.

Z (or zed, if you prefer) is just the end of the line – at least for this A to Z Challenge. It has been a worthwhile exercise.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z Challenge - Y is for You

You have encouraged me to complete the A to Z challenge. Without readership, I might have given up when I had to think hard to find a topic to match the letter. You kept me going.

Thank you all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z Challenge – X Marks the Spot

Where did your ancestors live?  What do you know about it? What does it look like today?

Using Google Earth with Street View and Google Maps, you can visit your ancestral villages.  Here are some my Xs in Poland as shown by the yellow push pins in this Google Earth image.

In an earlier blog post I discussed using both Google Earth and Wikipedia to explore your geographic roots.  Here's the link.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A to Z Challenge – V is for Verify

It is so exciting to find a family member in a database!  Perhaps you find a gem in someone else’s online family tree, or an ancestor’s name pops up on a passenger list, or birth or death record.  WOW!

However tempting it may be to take what you find at face value, it is important to verify all information. Check everything you can check.




Do your best to make sure that you’re not following a false positive.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A to Z Challenge – U is for Upper Levee

The Upper Levee in St. Paul, Minnesota is where countless immigrants made their first home in the United States. Literally on the banks of the Mississippi river with mud and annual floods, this was certainly not the “streets paved with gold” vision of America. Italian immigrants made up the largest ethnic group on the levee, but there were also large numbers from Poland, Bohemia, and Scandinavia.

The ship landings here were the northernmost ports on the Mississippi. Between the railroads and the river, St. Paul was the transportation hub of the upper Midwest.

My great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp (Sip) made their first US home on the levee. Most of their grandchildren were born here including my mother and her siblings (children of Ignatz Ganas and Stella Schipp Ganas)  shown in the photo below.

In this 1917 snapshot, they’re arranged by height rather than age. Fourth from the left is actually the oldest.  WW I was still going on and you see the 2 youngest girls, Julia and Emily (my mother) dressed as nurses and the two youngest boys, Chester and Frank dressed as doughboys.  Visible as a horizontal line in the upper background is the High Bridge that spanned the river connecting the bluffs on either side.  Gives perspective on the levee relative to the rest of the city.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A to Z Challenge – T is for Teamster

My maternal grandfather, Ignatz Ganas was a teamster back in the day when the term actually reflected what they did.  They drove teams of horses. He also did some tailoring for private clients.

I wish I knew more about him back then. Was he independent? Did he haul for some specific company or companies?  I do know that he owned his team and a wagon. He died before I was born, but I remember his work / horse shed. When I was a curious child, I badly wanted to explore that shed. It still smelled of the dressed leather tack; it had a grinding wheel and a lot of very interesting looking stuff. Where’s that time machine I keep asking for??