Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Migrating away from Family Tree Maker


Yes, I know that Family Tree Maker (FTM) isn’t going away soon.  It will be around for as many years as its loyal users are willing to hang on to it.  But it will be static. Future improvements in technology and database design will not be reflected in FTM. And, according to the December 9, blog post, there may be “degradation of features over time”. I compare it to driving an Edsel or a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. They may still be drivable, but they’re pretty much obsolete.

Technology comes and goes. Does anyone but me remember 8” floppy discs?  How about Lotus123?  Word Perfect?  

Ancestry’s announcement timing was extremely poor for the abandonment of FTM.  The news came out less than 30 days from the withdrawal of the product!  That is ridiculous.  There would have been much less commotion if they’d announced it in September or October. I have great empathy for those who purchased the product as Christmas gifts.

As a replacement, I’m looking at both Legacy and Roots Magic software. It will take a while to learn each one and decide which I prefer. Maybe I’ll end up using both.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


For the next several days, I’ll be spending a lot of time on in spite of my opinion of the company.

Until now, I haven’t felt the need to follow up on all those shaky leaves – they’d still be there when I got around to them.  But now I intend to migrate completely away from Family Tree Maker so I need to get all the information I can get before my final FTM/Ancestry sync. My current (one month) subscription expires on December 31. The plan is to be mostly fluent in either or both Legacy and RootsMagic software by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

I’ll decide later whether to prune my Ancestry trees down to just cousin bait.

R.I.P. Family Tree Maker’s December 8, 2015 announced decision to retire Family Tree Maker (FTM) software has their users in an uproar. Many of us have used this genealogy software since long before Ancestry bought it.  Many have used nothing else to document their research.  Responses range from anger to dismay, a feeling of betrayal of trust, and downright begging for a reversal of this decision.

On December 9, 2015the Ancestry blog posted a second message that was meant to be reassuring, but seems to have had the opposite effect.  It read like a patronizing pat on the head telling us that everything will be OK. 

User comments are scathing!  

In an earlier post, I noted my disaffection with  That disaffection grows.

At the bottom line, is a big business. The goal of any business is to maximize profit and keep revenues growing. They are working hard to achieve those goals.  The redesign of the website is aimed at users of mobile devices.  They need to keep up with the marketplace in order to attract and keep new subscribers.

Existing users and subscribers who cannot or will not move at Ancestry’s pace are simply collateral damage.  It is strictly a business decision.

We are assured, however, that FTM will be supported through the year 2016 and will continue, after that, to run as it does now barring the user upgrading to a future Operating System that may not support its aging design and structure.


That assurance is belied by this quote from the December 9Ancestry blog post:
Q: “What happens to the family tree I’ve created using Family Tree Maker? Will it continue to be accessible?
A: “You will continue to be able to access your data through the desktop software beyond Jan. 1, 2017, however over time there will be a gradual degradation of features. You can always export your tree and save it.”

Gradual degradation of features?????

I’ve been half-hearted in my efforts to learn the Legacy family tree software I bought a while ago; and RootsMagic has made an offer I couldn’t refuse so I’ll be trying that, too, as a replacement for FTM.  It has always been just too easy to keep using the old familiar stuff.

Online, I’ll probably keep my trees on but maybe not update them there. I’ll bring my online trees on up to date. I don’t like the online sites where other people can change my data.

I will continue my policy of buying a one-month subscription to when it seems useful. My December subscription will allow me to investigate my shaky leaves and get everything I can into FTM before migrating to new software.

Change happens.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Love/Hate Computers

I had a catastrophic disc failure this past week.  

  My laptop was at least 5 years old so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that it finally gave out.  When the technicians opened it they also found internal damage resulting from several overheating events over the years.  Looking at the cost of a new disc plus labor to get it working again was discouraging.  My solution was to purchase a refurbished laptop for just a little less than the estimated cost of repair; and send the old one to the scrap heap.

Fortunately I’d done a backup about a week and a half earlier.  Backup is one thing, restoring is something else again.  It worked – mostly.  I seem to have most of my critical data. The key word is “most”.

“Hate” isn’t really the right word. It’s more like frustration and anxiety. How much will I have to recreate from scratch?  Do I have all the CDs I need to get back to where I was? Did I save all the .exe files for software I downloaded?

The answer to that last question, unfortunately, is no. There are a couple I didn’t save so I’ll need to go back to find the right IDs and passwords so I can download them again without having to pay for them again. Lesson learned. ALWAYS save it locally.

It has been a few very frustrating days but I think I’m mostly back in business. Today is Sunday – I think I’ll just watch football and play solitaire.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Distracted by a New Toy

Last July, +Dick Eastman wrote in a post about a Kickstarter project he was backing.  I looked into it and decided to become a backer of Remix Mini by Jide Technology.  

Remix Mini.   Yes, it is truly this small.

The Remix Mini was promoted as the first Android based PC.  At that point the only thing I knew about Android was that it is the primary operating system for most smartphones and tablets.

Although we're both techies, my husband and I are waaaaaay behind the curve when it comes to handheld devices.  We use our phones only as phones. I get and respond to an occasional text - less than once a month - from one my kids or my brother. As for tablets, the iPad is not in our budget; nor has been any other tablet that has a screen that we feel is big enough.

Finally, now, prices of 10 inch tablets are coming down to our level. So the question becomes which OS to choose.  We've both been Microsoft users since way before Windows and still are. (We managed to avoid Vista and Windows 8.)  Should we stay in the Windows family with a tablet, or should we look at Android devices?  The Remix Mini looked like a good opportunity to get to know Android, and to consider what our next PCs might be when ours finally bite the dust.

My Minis arrived this past week (I got two of them) and I've been exploring Android. So far, I'm very favorably impressed.  Remember that I'm looking at this device as a possible full PC replacement, not as a small mobile device.

My verdict, thus far, is that it could work - mostly.  The lack of a hard disk is negated with the use of flash drives and mini SanDisk memory cards, a local network drive, and cloud storage. I suppose the lack of a CD/DVD device could be taken care of with an external device. Of course there is still the issue of major software applications like Photoshop, and most genealogy software.  But Android's design for small devices means that it simply is not as robust as operating systems designed for large systems.  Android is easy to navigate and very intuitive.  I am still in the early stages of exploration and learning so I'll reserve judgement on the OS for now.

I am writing this post using Google Docs on my Mini.  I'll get back to genealogy before too long.

#Android #Remix Mini PC #Dick Eastman

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ancestral Towns on Wikipedia

Did you know that there are Wikipedia sites in many languages?

Did you know that many small towns all over the world have a web site?

In the US, when we type just (or .org) you get a page that looks like this.

 Clicking on one of the language options will take you to that native language site. You will see a page with a header that looks like this French version. They all have a similar format. If your browser, Chrome, for example, has a translate function you can see the page in English. Or use Google Translate

Note that you can go directly to a foreign language site by using the country code  as in

I’m using the French example here because the language is easier than the Polish villages that I am researching.

The box at the upper right is always the search button. Enter the name of the town here to search for it.  If wikipedia has an entry for it, you will get a page with general information, in the native language, about the town including  history, location, major characteristics, etc. On the right side of the page you will see a vertical panel like this one for Lyon, France shown here in sections.

If the city/town itself has a web site, there will be a link to it at the bottom of the panel. Here is the top of the home page for Lyon, France.

NOTE that at the top right, just above the banner, are two tiny flags: one French and one British. If you click on the British flag it will bring up a Lyon page in English.

But also NOTE that the English version is aimed at foreigners.  I have found this to be true also for the places I research in Poland.  The information is useful but it is general.

The native language version usually gives a much more complete picture of the town and its surrounding area because the focus is primarily for the locals and other speakers of the language.  It gives a sense of the essence of the place, it’s people, culture, events, etc..  

You can use Google Translate to learn about your ancestral village

Even if your ancestral village is relatively small, you may find it on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hooray for Google Translate!

It isn’t perfect, but Google Translate is helping me understand my Polish heritage.

My genealogy focus in on heritage rather than merely on lineage. I want to know how and where my ancestors lived.  Google Earth has let me see the locations of my ancestral villages and Street View has let me drive through them as they are today.  That’s the easy part,

The hard part is getting an understanding of these villages as they were in the 19th century. I’m doing this by reading gazetteers from that time. There are two of them.  This post looks at entries for Grabow nad Prosna, the village of my Schipp ancestors in Poland.

Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire (commonly called Meyers Orts) includes Prussian Poland where my ancestors lived.  See below for links to online access. It is in two volumes. The fifth edition was published in 1915. The descriptions of small towns and villages are generally brief, but include population broken down by religion, businesses, and facilities such as mail, railroad and telegraph. Here’s the entry for Grabow nad Prosna.  It is a three-pronged challenge

You can see that it is printed in old German Script. Deciphering the script is the first challenge.  Once the script is decoded, the second challenge is the abbreviations.  Fortunately there is an abbreviation table online. See link below. The third challenge is the actual translation. I do not speak German. With the combination of a good German/English dictionary and Google Translate, I get some understanding of this town.

Among other things Meyers Orts tells me that there was a dairy, a sawmill, and a railroad station that served both passenger and freight customers and had a telegraph. There was one Protestant church and 2 Catholic churches.

Słownik Geograficzny Kólestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich
 (Geographical Dictionary) is a gazetteer of Poland “and other Slavic countries” published in 15 volumes.  It is available online as are guides to its use. See links below.  Despite the complexity of the Polish language, this is easier because it is printed in a normal font – I can recognize the alphabet. But this one also has the challenges of abbreviations and a language I don’t speak.  The edition I find online was published beginning in 1880 – it took a few years to complete all 15 volumes.

The advantage of this gazetteer is that there is more information in each entry.

This is just a very small portion of the entry in Slownik Geograficzny for Grabow nad Prosna.

It describes the city of Grabow on the Prosna river as being in a lush fertile valley. It says that the residents were engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding, and smuggling in spite of vigilant border guards.

The smuggling part sparks my imagination. Were my ancestors law abiding farmers or did they make a little extra income on the side???

Grabow had a doctor and a pharmacy. It had once had iron smelters and a Franciscan monastery.

The entry for Grabow nad Prosna is quite extensive and includes some significant points of history going back to the year 1264.


There are some words that I’ve not been able to translate either using a Polish/English or Google Translate.  That’s OK because I’m not looking for a verbatim translation, I just want to get a sense of what the village was like in that time.

Google Translate is more than adequate and is so very much easier than looking up every word in a dictionary.  Hooray for Google Translate.

If you know of other sites for gazetteers that may be relevant, please leave a comment with a link.


Meyers Orts
Family Search
            Note: this version is searchable.
The Hathi Trust

Slownik Geograficzny
Polish Roots – this is the easiest site for those of us who don’t speak Polish. There is a link to an excellent guide to using this resource. The “How to Use” document on this site gives detailed instructions for using the dictionary.  The first link to an online version takes you to the University of Warsaw site which is in Polish. If you use the Chrome browser it will give you the option to translate. There is a list of abbreviations beginning on page 13 of Volume 1.  This list is crucial for reading the entries.
WARNING: The pages of the dictionary are in Java Script which is not supported by Chrome. I had to revert to Internet Explorer to see the pages.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Finding Ancestors’ Records in Poland

The key to finding records anywhere is knowing where to look. That can become especially tricky looking in a foreign country where you don’t know the language All of my grandparents were born in Poland.

My mother knew that her father came from the village of Iwno. It didn’t take long for me to home in on Iwno, get LDS microfilms, and find his birth record.

Mom also knew that her mother was born in Grabow.  When I began this project in 1999 there were not as many resources available online.  The best resource for finding a village in Eastern Europe was a site called Shteltseeker – now called TownFinder on JewishGenWeb. I entered the name Grabow and specified that it was in Poland. The search results came back with 12 villages named Grabow – scattered all over the country.  It was sort of like knowing that your relatives came from a town named Springfield somewhere in the United States. I got a road atlas of Poland to help locate all of these Grabows.

I started ordering LDS films from various Grabows but got very frustrated and switched my focus to other searches.

Then, just a few years ago I learned of a Polish site called The Poznan Project. Volunteers have been, and still are, transcribing all 19th century marriages in Poznan region  (then called Posen by the Prussians). It has a powerful search engine.  I found my great grandparents’ marriage in 1872 in the town of Grabow nad Prosna which translates to Grabow on the Prosna river.

Grabow nad Prosna

LDS film 1189069 showed my Grandmother’s baptism. Except for deciphering ancient handwriting, these Catholic Church records are pretty easy because they’re written in Latin

This Baptism register shows that Stanislawa Sip was born on October 25,1874 to Michael Sip and Elizabeth Jasczynska (they listed the mother’s maiden name) in Pustkowie Grabow, one of the 16 villages that comprise the town of Grabow nad Prosna. The place of birth is important because a church may have served several different villages in the area. The record also shows her father’s occupation and the names of her Godparents. This was very exciting.

But wait! There’s more!

Prussia began keeping civil records in 1874. I got much more information by reading the civil record of her birth.

Not so easy. The forms are printed in German Script and filled out by hand in German. Thank goodness for Google Translate!

For both the bride and groom the information includes.
  • Village of birth
  • Date of birth
  • Current residence
  • Parents’ names
  • Residence village of Parents
  • Names of witnesses

Just as in our modern times, a wedding generally took place in the bride’s church. These civil records give much better information on where both parties were born.

Using The Poznan Project and other Polish genealogy sites has made my searches much more productive.  Not that I’ve found everyone – there are still plenty of Polish puzzles to solve.

What adds some meat to the bare bones data is that, using Google Earth, I’ve been able to see where my ancestors came from. The villages look much different, of course, but it still gives the perspective of the land. Was it forest or farmland? Hilly, mountainous, or flat?  My experience shows that if there’s a numbered road through the town (Hwy 449 for example) Google Street View has probably traveled it. It has been so much fun to drive through my ancestral villages.

Google Earth view of Grabow nad Prosna

AND!!!   Many towns even have their own websites that include the town’s history.  

Hooray for the internet!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Double Remembrance Day

11 November, 2015 would be my Dad’s 101st birthday. Happy birthday up there in heaven, Daddy.

He is one of the veterans we all remember on this day. I cannot imagine where we would be today without the sacrifices made my so many men and women over the years.

My Dad and two of my uncles served in WW II. One of my uncles was captured by German troops.

Dad and Mom

Anti-aircraft drill

A couple of my cousins were career Marines.

My husband served on board an aircraft carrier. One of his sons spent 20 years in the submarine service.

And of course many friends and acquaintances have served at one time or another.

Thank you to all who served and who are now serving. We owe you so much.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Computer History (scores at least a 9 on the boring scale)

Randy Seaver’s November 7, 2015 Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Genea-Musings post asked readers to tell their computer history. Here’s a synopsis of mine.

I beat you by a couple of years, Randy.

In 1962 I was hired as a computer operator in the biostatistics department of a pharmaceutical company. The computer was a Bendix G-15 about the size of one of today’s Sub Zero refrigerators. Main I/O (Input/Output) was via 5-channel paper tape. There was, of course a console with keyboard; and we also had 2 magnetic tape drives and a CalComp plotter.

The structure above the computer is an exhaust hood to dissipate the heat from the vacuum tubes. No transistors.

My boss, David Calhoun, a biometrician, was the closest thing to a genius I’ve ever met. When I was taking math courses at night at Northwestern University, he was able to elaborate on the concepts – relating them to work going on the labs – in terms I understood.  He was able to speak at my level making me feel that I was listening at his level.  If he couldn’t remember a formula, he derived it. Amazing.

I learned to program in ALGOL and then in machine language on this computer. Then I moved to FORTRAN and Assembly Language on a SDS (Scientific Data Systems) 940 that we connected to remotely using a 110 baud modem on a Model 35 Teletype machine.  I learned about database design and experimental design.

My last job as a Scientific Applications Programmer was as a contractor at Ford Motor Company’s CAD/CAM department in Dearborn, Michigan.  After that I moved into technical sales support and software training.  I also got to work in “distance learning” in its early stages.

My first personal computer was a Tandy (Radio Shack) Model 16 acquired in 1982. It had two 8-inch floppy drives. By that time I’d advanced to a 300 baud modem. High speed!! I discovered Bulletin Boards big time.  One day I got a call from the telephone company. They thought they might have a problem because in one month my phone bill jumped from whatever the basic charge was at the time to just over $300.00.  The woman just laughed when I told her about my bulletin board roaming.  I was much more discriminating after that.   I did some programming projects in BASIC.

By 1984 my husband and I had an IBM PC clone. We used WordPerfect and Lotus 123. Does anyone remember daisy-wheel printers? Talk about LOUD. We soon discovered that we really needed two computers because we had differing ideas on disk file organization. And each of us knew that our approach was the best one. Result: his and hers computers.

In the late ‘90’s I had a digital photo restoration business called Photo Rebuilders.  The web site can still be found on the wayback machine, I think.

Genealogy became a major interest for me in 1999 and has consumed most of my computer time since then except for an 8 year hiatus.

We switched to laptops in 2004 when we moved aboard our sailboat to go cruising. My main usage then was weather, weather and more weather, email, photo storage and tweaking, and researching routes and destinations. We moved back to land in 2012 and I got back to genealogy.

Now, I spend most of my day at my computer. Genealogy, Google+, blogs, Facebook, news, crossword puzzles, and games. I especially like hidden object games.

My name is Mary; and I’m a computer-holic/genea-holic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Second cousin twice removed found via 23andMe DNA testing.  Our MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) is my great grandfather, Michael Schipp.

I’ve been too involved in other things to pay much attention lately to the DNA sites where I’ve added my genome.  This discovery will get me looking at them again.


My FamilyTree DNA kit #: B47527

My GEDMatach kit #: M609369

And, of course, 23amd Me

Are we related???

Saturday, October 31, 2015

First Names Part II – Trends

I should ask school teachers how they handle trendy names. What do you do when facing a classroom with 3 Emmas, 2 Zoes, 2 Liams and 2 Ethans?
Not that this is a new problem. I’m guessing that there have been trends in naming babies as long as humans have had names. Every culture has its own name trends over the years; so I don’t know why it surprised me to find the same thing in 19th’ century Polish Catholic baptism records. Probably it stood out because the names were not the familiar English language names I hear and see every day.

Reading LDS microfilms of church records, I’d find one year when it seemed as though 25% of girl babies were named Josepha or many boys named Andrej (or some spelling variation), and another year when Elizabeth and Johann were common.  It is too bad that I never kept track of these because it would be a great research project to learn what were the cultural influences at those times.

Looking back at US ancestors in a couple of my lines, there were times when biblical names were very popular. There were also patriotic names. My husband’s paternal line has 5 men named after George Washington; and 2 after Thomas Jefferson.  In the US in modern times, we see trends based on movie stars, sports stars and other celebrities.

Personally, as a child, I disliked having a common name: Mary. There were too many other Marys when I was in Catholic School. I wanted something exotic. I envied Rita Hayworth’s daughter named Yasmin. But I survived.

I wonder if any of the “old fashioned” names will get recycled: re-trended? Will we ever see a resurgence of Donna, or Mabel? Of Herbert or Edgar???

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Birthplace on Census Records

This week’s homework for Dear Myrt’s Tracing Immigrant Origins Study Group is to review census records to find country of origin for our immigrant ancestors.

Census records show the birthplace of my great grandfather Joseph Dachtera as
Prussia – 1900
Prussian Poland – 1910
Poland – 1920

They’re all correct

Poland did not exist as a sovereign nation when he was born – her lands had been divided up among her more powerful neighbors, Prussia, Austria, and Russia.  But at the end of World War I, Poland’s sovereignty was restored. In 1920 his birthplace was once again within the borders of Poland.

I’m tempted to write more here about the wealth of immigration information to be found in census records, but I suspect that may be part of our next assignment so I’ll hold off for now.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Schipp Family Passenger lists

My great-grandfather, Michael Schipp, emigrated from Prussian Poland in 1884. He traveled steerage class on the SS Westphalia. He arrived in New York, Castle Garden, and traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota with a probable stop in Chicago.  Here is an image if the Hamburg passenger departure manifest.

Michael’s wife, Elizabeth, followed in 1887 with their five children. Apparently Michael was doing well enough to pay for a second class cabin for his family’s voyage on SS Saale landing at New York’s Castle Garden

 In my experience, German departure manifests contain more information than U.S arrival manifests.

My video story of Michael and Elizabeth in Poland can be found at Michael and Elizabeth Schipp in Prussian Poland

Images from

Monday, October 12, 2015

First names – Part I

Everyone searching for European ancestors has encountered first names that are unique to a nation or region.  Many of these are quite common and easily translated into English.  Every country also has some names that do not translate easily or/and are so old fashioned that they’ve been out of use for many years. Here a are a couple that I’ve encountered researching my Polish ancestors.

Kunegunda (Cunegunda)

 St. Kunegunda (1224-1292) Daughter of King Bela IV and niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she married King Boleslaus V of Poland at sixteen. On his death in 1279 she became a Poore Clare at the Convent of Sandeck, which she had founded. She also built churches and hospitals, ransomed Christians captured by the Turks, and served the poor and ill. She is also known as St. Kinga. Her cult was confirmed in 1690. Feast day July 24.


John of Nepomuk (or John Nepomucene) (Czech: Jan Nepomucký) (c. 1345 – March 20, 1393)[1] is a national saint of Bohemia, who was drowned in the Vltava river at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. Later accounts state that he was the confessor of the queen of Bohemia and refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this account, John of Nepomuk is considered the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron againstcalumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods and drowning.

I have found only a few instances of this first name.  Since this is the patron saint of Bohemia, it leaves me curious to learn if there is a possible connection to Bohemia in my ancient ancestry.

More information about these two saints is found at CatholicOnline Saints and Angels

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My first WWII ration book.

During Wold War II, rationing was the system put in place in the U.S. to make sure that everyone had access to the necessities of life – even if quantities were limited..  Everyone was issued ration books – I had one in my name when I was only 7 weeks old. Children were issued ration books to insure that families had access to adequate goods. When it came to rationed goods, a person was allowed to purchase only a certain amount at any given time.  The books contained stamps that were collected by retailers at the time of purchase.

In order to preclude a black market in ration stamps, retailers were prohibited from accepting stamps that had been removed from the books.  Rationed items included, rubber, leather, sugar, meat, fats and oils, and gasoline among other things. More information about rationing can be found here:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Short form Research Plan

I needed a plan to help me zero in on some specific gaps in my tree. My short form research plan is designed to help me isolate possible sources for each gap so that I can try to do a thorough search for each item and briefly record the results. This should help me organize these loose ends and keep me from redundant research.  (I hope.) There will probably be revisions to the form but this looks like a good place to start.

Research Plan (short)


Marianna Jaskowiak
Birth & Brother
August 1849
Marriage 1867
LDS films Iwno

Nepomuceno Sip
Birth date
LDS films Grabow

Magdalena Kaczmarek
Birth date

My Heritage??

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Respect Your Audience – a minor rant

I’ve been watching tutorials for MS Movie Maker. A few of them are produced by Microsoft; but many are produced by user gurus and wannabe gurus. I classify some as “wannabes” because while their knowledge of the product is very good, their presentation skills, well, just plain suck.  Has our culture become so casual that a sloppy presentation manner is thought to be acceptable? 

One individual has produced several Movie Maker tutorials.  I’ve watch two of them and the video presentation is good; but I won’t watch any more of his work because of his careless and unedited narrative.

He burps. He sniffs. It even sounds like he blows his nose. UGH!!!  I can’t listen to him. This man is a social moron! (I did say it is a rant.)

I know that there are many tutorials on many subjects that are very well done by user gurus so I’m not condemning them all  Just the few who have no respect for others.

<<End of Rant>>

And I did manage to get my two StoryPress stories converted to YouTube videos.
War Baby on YouTube

Schipp in Prussian Poland

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Story Interrupted.

My favored family story platform, seems to have gone belly-up. It was VERY user friendly and FREE. Easy to upload videos or photos and add narration. I discovered it when Thomas MacEntee announced he’d done a story about his mother.   This was shortly after I’d struggled to produce my first YouTube video.

I was amazed at the simplicity of StoryPress. It is disappointing that the site will be shut down at the end of September.  Apparently the venture was not profitable. They say they’ll review their business model to see if they can come up with revisions that will make it work for them.  I hope they are successful.

The good news is that I was able to download backup copies of my stories; and that the backup consists of separate image and audio files. I won’t have to start from scratch.

The goal is to create a history in an appealing contemporary format. What is the likelihood that my kids and grandkids would read it in a book?  Small. So multimedia is my choice.

A year ago my impatience led me to give up on Microsoft’s Movie Maker because it is not intuitive – at least to me. But I’m going to try it again after watching a couple of tutorials. (When all else fails, read the instructions.) It’s always a bit frustrating trying to learn new software but I’ll give it a go.

I’ll be redoing the stories I had on StoryPress and posting them on YouTube.  They are “War Baby” and “The Shipp Family in Prussian Poland”.  Then I’ll resume work on the next story about crossing the Atlantic as a passenger in steerage in the 1880s.

Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Partitions Wars and Partitions

There was a lot going on in Poland during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Power brokers were busy waging war, making and breaking treaties, and redrawing national borders.

My third great grandfather, Johann Ganas was born in 1779 the village of Czerlejno in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth just after it had come under Russian control.  Johann’s son Adalbert was born in that very same village – probably on the very same plot of land, and perhaps even in the same house – in 1810 but Adalbert was born in Prussia. Here’s what was happening in the 32 years between Johann’s birth and the birth of his first son.

1772 First Partition of Poland - The Polish-Lithuanan commonwealth becomes a protectorate of the Russian Empire
1779 Johann Ganas Birth
1790 The Polish-Lithuanian and Prussian alliance was a mutual defense alliance signed on 29 March 1790 in Warsaw between representatives of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Prussia. It was signed in the brief period when Prussia was seeking an ally against either Austria or Russia, and the Commonwealth was seeking guarantees that it would be able to carry out significant governmental reforms without foreign intervention.
1791 The Constitution of 3 May, 1791 (PolishKonstytucja 3 maja) was adopted by the Great Sejm (parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dual monarchy comprising Poland and Lithuania.
1792 The Polish–Russian War of 1792 (also, War of the Second Partition,[3] and in Polish sources, War in Defence of the Constitution (Polishwojna w obronie Konstytucji 3 maja)[4]) was fought between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on one side, and the Targowica Confederation (conservative nobility of the Commonwealth opposed to the new Constitution of 3 May 1791) and the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great on the other
1793 The 1793 Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the second of three partitions (or partialannexations) that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795.
1794 The 1794 Greater Poland Uprising (Polish: Powstanie Wielkopolskie 1794 roku) was a military insurrection by Poles in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) against Kingdom of Prussia which had taken possession of this territory after the 1793 Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
1795 The Third Partition of Poland (1795) was the last in a series of the Partitions of Poland of the land of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth among Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and the Russian Empire which effectively ended Polish–Lithuanian national sovereignty until 1918.
1803 Johann Ganas Marriage
1806 The 1806 Greater Poland Uprising was organized by General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski to help advancing French forces underNapoleon I in liberating Poland from Prussian occupation. The Wielkopolska Uprising was a decisive factor that allowed the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw (1806) and the inclusion of Wielkopolska in the Duchy of Warsaw.
1807 Abolition of serfdom. Serfs were free to buy the land on which they worked, and to move from the Noble's estate on which they worked.  
1807 The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July, 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July.
1811 Adalbert Ganas Birth

Poland disappeared from the map, but not from the hearts of her people.  

Timeline of Polish history adapted from Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Coming out of a slump

I’d finished a project on which I’d worked intensely for some time, and then fell into a mental abyss.  It’s as though my battery had died and needed a recharge - a mental time out in the dog days of summer. So I puttered around for a while, reorganized some files, got a few things organized into binders and played some computer games. At times like this it feels that my brain is filled with fog.

I made a stab at getting going on my next story – about crossing the Atlantic as a steerage passenger in the 1880s; but it got to a certain point and then stalled.

Thank goodness, the time out did manage to get me recharged.  The fog has dissipated and I’m back.

I’m working on a report to send to my cousins. The steerage story will actually happen. And I’m going to revisit some LDS microfilms to make sure I’ve not missed anything on them.  Monthly Indian River Genealogy Society meetings resume this month.

Back into the fray.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Goodbye for now,


  • There are better sources for researching my Polish ancestors.
  • I strongly dislike the new user interface for family trees.
  • If I am not going to use it to maintain my trees, I cannot justify the cost
  • If I am not a current subscriber, I cannot view sources that I had previously attached to my tree.

The new version leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Why must I lose access to existing source documents?  Money grubbing.  Turns me off.

I will keep updating my trees on Family Tree Maker and sync them with Ancestry as cousin bait.  My main online trees will be on and my main local trees will be on Legacy.

Fortunately, my library has a world wide subscription that I can use when Ancestry seems the best place to search’ but as long as I am concentrating on Poland, those times will be rare.

When I shift my focus back to my husbands’ early American ancestors, I’ll probably go back to subscribing for one month at a time for research.  Too bad.  I really liked Ancestry before they “improved” it.

(Note to grammarians: Yes the apostrophe goes after the s because I am researching both my current husband’s family and my ex-husband’s family)