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 Nepomuck√Ĺ) (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: