Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Child’s Christmas

When I was little, we didn’t really have many Christmas traditions. We were in a Chicago suburb.  All the rest of the family was in St. Paul, MN. - we moved away in 1946.  There was no Grandma’s house to go to, no cousins to play with.  From age four to ten Christmas was just Mom, Dad and me.

I don’t remember Christmas dinners but I’m sure that Mom served something that was a tradition for her. As a kid, I wasn’t a foodie.

We’d go to Midnight Mass and then to bed; and I’d try to get to sleep quickly so that Christmas morning would arrive  

Before I entered first grade, Mom explained the truth about Santa because she was concerned that other kids would spoil it for me if I still believed.  I was sworn to secrecy so as not to ruin Christmas for a true believer.  Even so, no gifts appeared under the tree before Christmas except those that were received from far away relatives. Knowing about Santa didn’t diminish my anticipation.  There was always something special under the tree on that fantastic morning.

From about second grade on, I asked every year for a Chemistry Set. But Mom was afraid I’d burn down the house so it never arrived.

One year was the electric train – a great Lionel train set. I loved it and Dad let me think it was mine.  It DID have my name on the gift tag.

There were building blocks and an erector set.

There was a record player with an album with the story of Johnny Appleseed narrated and sung by Dennis Day.  I sobbed at the end when Johnny went to his heavenly reward.

There were Nancy Ann Storybook dolls. One year there was a beautiful Alice in Wonderland doll complete with a gorgeous coat with a Persian Lamb collar made by Mom who was an accomplished seamstress.

There was a 26 inch blue and cream Schwinn bike for a 7 year old girl.  I’d grow into it.  It had a headlight and a battery powered horn.  But no training wheels.  Dad taught me to ride.

Dad was a machinist at an International Harvester tractor factory. My folks counted every penny.  They spent a lot of those precious pennies on me at Christmas. 

I was a very lucky little girl.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tedious but Necessary

My biggest weakness when it comes to genealogy is that I tend to be a “big picture” person.  That’s my rationale for my impatience with the grunt work of dealing with the details.  I want answers NOW.

But the details are crucial and need to be recorded properly – or as well as I can. That last stipulation is because I find some of the handwritten records to be undecipherable.  So I record what I can. 

It helps when there are multiple sources. Here’s a section of the 1832 record of the marriage of Marcin Dachtera and Marianna?????????.  I couldn’t find another example of the first letter of Marianna’s last name so I had no clue at all.

But going to the PoznanProject allowed me to find that marriage record had been transcribed in Poland.  Here’s the search result.

 Exact matches
Catholic parish Parkowo, entry 1 / 1832
·                                 Martinus Dachtera (26 years old)  100%
·                                 Marianna FrÄ…ckowiakowna (26 years old) 

I could never have figured out Marianna's last name from the church record.  While I know that transcribers sometimes make mistakes, I'm sure that this is at least very close to correct.

My new plan is to allot a certain amount of time each day to reviewing the details; then go on to something else. I’m hopeful that will contain my impatience and help me make steady progress.  Gotta have a plan.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tangled Trees

It’s been a while since my last post because I’m not inspired to blog when frustrated.  My double focus lately is trying to make sense of two families.  I alternate from one to the other when I get stuck or overwhelmed. 

 The Polish Genealogy group on Facebook has helped me better understand my dilemma with the Dachtera family.  Church sacramental records from the late 1600s through the 19th century confused me with several variations of the name.

There was what I was looking for:  Dachtera.  But there were a number of others

The Polish language is very complex.  I didn’t know whether these were likely to be different families or just variant spellings.

The responses to my Facebook query answered some questions but raised a few more. 

I now expect that these are all the same family.

The church records were handwritten in old fashioned European script in either Latin or in Polish.  Penmanship varies widely – some are extremely sloppy while others are picture perfect. The small sample below is more readable than most,

 And the names recorded were apparently at the discretion of the priest who wrote them. He wrote what he heard, or what he thought he heard or what he thought it should be.  (This happened in the US into the 1930’s when the priest at St. Adalbert’s in St. Paul decided that my Schipp relatives should be spelled Szyp.)

So now I have to figure whether out whether “Marcin” is correct, or should be “Martin”.  If Marcin’s wife is shown as Maria in one record and as Marianna in another, are they the same woman? Both were extremely common – a couple may have named one daughter Maria, and another Marianna.

 Trying to follow the Rose family from Maine to New York state to Wisconsin has proven a real challenge.  In New York they lived in counties that were absorbed into other counties.  Without the ability to travel to the courthouses to review the records, I’m dependent on online records and the materials at my library. They have a huge collection of material from New York that I’m sifting through. 

Fortunately, Chicago’s Newberry Library has a wonderful online resource in their Atlas of HistoricalCounty Boundaries.  Its interactive map shows  boundaries for any given year in any given county in the US.

Of course, it is always possible that I’m trying to connect two different Rose families.  Its slow, but I am making some progress.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US.  Families and friends gather to enjoy a feast and to give thanks for all that we have.  I have so very much to be thankful for.

I am most thankful that my great grandparents immigrated to the US.  They left everything that was familiar with the hope of a better life in a new country.  Because of the risks they took, I’ve had the privilege to live in freedom my entire life.

How lucky I am!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose…………….???

But I’m beginning to wonder if all the Roses I’ve found are of the same family.  I’m up to my neck in Roses and trying to make sense of it all.

The Roses got from Maine, to New York state, to Wisconsin.  But how? Why?  Based on census and land records, I have some idea of when they moved west and then west again. 

I am truly grateful for online resources such as the Atlas of Historical CountyBoundaries at Chicago’s Newberry library. They have an interactive map that shows how county boundaries changed over time. New counties were formed from old ones; and larger counties swallowed up smaller ones. 

I’m also grateful for historians who so carefully logged people and events and published their findings, especially before states began official recordings of vital statistics.

No doubt it will all come together eventually, but I’m in overload just now.

Heading back to the library.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Fork in the Road: Bohemia or Maine?

I’ve opted for Maine for now – at least until I hit the brick wall that’s bound to be there.

My focus had been on Poland for my ancestors and on Bohemia for my children’s paternal ancestors.  Bohemia is a tough nut to crack if you have no idea where to look for ancestral villages.  I’d done some research on their paternal grandmother’s ancestors in Maine (as noted in my blog post of Jan 13, 2013), but put that aside to concentrate on the more difficult Bohemia connection. I figured the Maine part would be easier so I’d save that as a reward for my first Bohemia success.  It’s a long wait.  Who knows if I’ll ever get anywhere there.

Then I mentioned to my son that one of his ancestors from Maine had fought in the Revolutionary War.  That really sparked his interest which, in turn, has motivated me to give the Bohemia quest a rest for a while and dig into the Maine folks.

Like most, the typical response I get from family when I talk about genealogy is: “That’s nice”.  So  his interest is a BIG deal.

I’m fortunate that the Indian River County Library has an outstanding genealogy department.  Because of our seasonal snowbird population, we seem to have much more interest in the northeastern part of the US than in Florida.  (Like California, most folks here are from someplace else. It’s always surprising to find a native Floridian who is older than 30.)  The collection about Maine is huge including vital records for every county and many cities.  And I’m looking at online resources I hadn’t used before now.

It’s always fun to start off on a new tangent. Finding new information is great fun. Even finding earlier mistakes is fun because it means progress.  And there are new problems to solve.  In my earlier post I asked: Just how many Solomon Rose’s can there be?  At least four in Maine.

It turns out that Solomon Jr. is really the third.  The fourth Solomon broke the chain but started a new one when his son John set in motion a string of Johns who begat more Johns.  Got to try to keep them straight.  Who’s on first?

In the meantime, I’m rereading microfilms from Polish churches in order to make digital copies that I can make somewhat readable so that I can work at making connections.  Keeps me off the street.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Connecting the Unconnected - I hope

How can I find the connections among numerous people with the same surname who lived in the same area at the same time? Complicating things is the fact that some of them also share common first names.

How can I find the connection between families that I KNOW are related but I don’t have evidence of the connection?

I’m hoping that Clooz software can help me make those connections.

Most genealogy software is lineage based. You enter the people you know are related and use documents to supply evidence of the relationships. Clooz is document based.  You enter documents and the people in those documents. You can then analyze the collection of documents for possible kinships among those people.

My evidence from Polish ancestors comes from Roman Catholic church records that have been microfilmed by the Mormon church.  These records can give clues to relationships that are not obvious.  A Baptismal record is hard evidence of parentage, but it also lists the infant’s godparents.  Who are these people?  They are clearly important people in the lives of the baby’s parents.  Are they siblings?  Cousins?  In-laws?  Neighbors?  The same holds for the witnesses shown in marriage records. They are undoubtedly close to the bride and groom – but how? I want to find the connections.

Problem is that it’s almost like starting from scratch because I must manually enter the documents. And I find the Clooz documentation to be only minimally helpful. The good news is that there are only a few families for which I need to do that.

I still don’t know for absolutely certain where my grandfather, Stanley Dachtera was born.  When I began my research I found many people with the Dachtera surname in a relatively small geographic area. There were also a lot with variations on that name.  How are they all connected?  ARE they connected?

Back fifteen years ago I was able to print the pages from the microfilms but had to take them as they were – no enhancement was possible. Many of them are almost impossible to read.  They’re smudged, or faded or very dark.  And, of course they’re written in Polish or Latin in ancient handwriting.

So I’m going back to those microfilms again.  This time with technology that lets me make electronic copies and even try to clear up and enhance the images before I copy them. Then I can use Photoshop to clean them up even more.

It is a bit daunting. Rereading the films. Learning new software. Entering the data.  I sure hope it solves some mysteries.