Friday, December 30, 2016

I LOVE Adobe Spark

What an easy way to create a video to tell a story!  And it is FREE! 

Adobe Spark makes it extremely simple – teachers and students are among Adobe’s target audience for this product.
Here’s my first project: 1941 Road Trip

The website leaves something to be desired in terms of tutorials, but there are several tutorials available from others.
This blog post from Amy Johnson Crow includes a tutorial

And this Wacky Wednesday hangout from Dear Myrtle demonstrates step by step.

A Google search will find more.

Adobe Spark will create a link to your video so that you can share it with others. You can also download your video as am MP4 file that can then be uploaded to your YouTube channel.

In the past I’ve created a couple of videos using Adobe Premier Elements but I think I’ll stick with Adobe Spark

Monday, December 19, 2016

Family Search Family Tree? or Not?

In my opinion there are valid reasons for having my family tree posted on the Family Search site. 
Likewise, I see valid reasons for not having it there.  Here are my thoughts.


There are, among the Family Search members, very likely some who have branches that correspond to mine. They could be great sources to fill in my gaps and chip away at brick walls.

It is a free service.  If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, my online data would be accessible to anyone who wanted to continue my research without having to purchase software.  All other online tree databases are subscription services – no one would have access.


The Family Search tree is “open edit”. Any member can change any data at any time.  I have heard complaints from users about seemingly unresolvable issues regarding dates and relationships.  I recently watched a video dealing with how to deal with people who “mess up” your family information. I’m not sure I want to deal with that.

It seems that the argument about other members having information that I don’t have is countered by the fact that I can search the tree looking for my family members. That takes effort but it may be less frustrating than coping with individuals who are as stubborn as I am.

I can be sure let other who may be interested have access to my tree on subscription services, and my local computer so the information doesn’t fall into a black hole.


Several years ago I did post a partial tree on Family Search, but have not updated it in all that time. Should I delete it if I can?

Should I post my full tree?  My husband’s full tree?  Will I ever decide?

I will appreciate any thoughts and comments about this.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wish List – Dear Genea Santa

Where to begin!??

I have two lists.  One is for things that are either said to be coming in the near future; or are at least within the realm of possibility.  The other list is for those things that are unlikely or would involve a miracle of some sort.

All Polish archives to be online and searchable

Complete and error-free synchronization among all online family tree providers.

Every state in the US to have vital records online and searchable

Adequate budget to support every research trip I’d like to take and to purchase every publication I’d like to have, (And the room to store all the publications.)

Instant fluency in the Polish language.  This is where the miracle part comes in.

Reality: (Could happen)
Verify my g gfather Joseph Dachtera’s birth place.

Figure out which Solomon Rose is the one I’m looking for.  (There are too many men named Solomon Rose in the same time and region.)

Find the ancestral village in Bohemia of the Filek family I’m looking for.

The return of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library says this will happen in early 2017.

Better organizational skills. (Possible but not likely. Comes under the heading of “teaching an old dog new tricks”.

C’mon, Santa. Do your stuff!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Intermingled Families

Finally finding my paternal grandmother on a ship’s passenger list got me back to research on that family.  Searching again for historical records brought me an overload of information.  I have lots of shaky leaves on

One thing that stands out is the connections between 4 families.  Here’s a chart I made to help me visualize the relationships.

The slanted blue lines indicate marriages. Vertical lines show the individual and their fathers.  But there are two people that I have not yet connected to these families even though they have the same surname. 

I have no records for Veronica Raczynski born in 1852 who married Jacob Frost.
A note on Frost: I was surprised to find the name in just that form in records in Poland.  The word frost is mroz in polish, and there are plenty of people named Mroz.  So how did “Frost” become established in Poland??

The Lawrence Lewandowski who married the Veronica Raczynski born in 1879 may or may not be related to the other Lewandowskis on the chart.  There may be no common ancestor – the name is not uncommon so it could simply be a coincidence.

What these families do have in common is that they all lived within about ½ mile of each other, and they all attended the same church: St. Adalbert in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Familiarity breeds…..

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inaccuracy? Confusion? or Perhaps a Little White Lie?

 I suspect that Lucia Raczynska lied about the ages of her children.

It has been a struggle to find information about my paternal grandmother’s family. A scribbled name on the 1900 census had me on a wild goose chase for quite a while.

My grandmother was Tekla (Thecla) Raczynska, born September 21, 1873 in Breckerfeld, Westphalia, Prussia.  Her parents, Lucas Raczynski and Lucia Juskowiak were married on 24 Nov 1867 at Cerekwica, Wielkopolskie, Prussian Poland.  There were no civil records in Germany/Prussia until 1874, so church sacramental records are my only sources.

The 1900 US Federal census shows Tekla with her husband, Stanley Dachtera, and 3 children plus Lucia, listed as “mother” and Lucia’s sons Frank and John. But – scribbled in for Lucy’s surname is: Matykewich (sic).

So even though I know better than to make assumptions, I assumed that Lucia had been widowed and remarried to Mr. Matykiewicz.  I’m too embarrassed to tell how much time and effort I wasted on that.  Adding to my confusion was that one of Tekla’s sisters-in-law, Stella Dachtera, married Frank Raczynski.  Because he proved difficult to find in any records I had access to, I was not able to make a connection. I was never able to find Tekla on any passenger list. After beating on that brick wall for a while, I gave it a rest and moved on to something else. 


Fast forward to last Saturday.

Scanning photographs of my Dachtera ancestors got me back to my research.  I chased a couple of BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects), but finally found a passenger list record at FamilySearch.  Of course the surname was badly misspelled but it was worth a look at the document.  The transcriber did his/her best, but when I saw the record, I knew it was Raczynski.

It made sense.  There was my grandma with her mother, a sister, and two brothers.  YAY!!!
I did another search on Raczynski looking at city directories – and there she was in the St. Paul city directory:  Lucy Raczynski (widow of Lucas) and her son John at the appropriate address.  NO mention of Matykewich!
But then I went back to the 1900 census and it didn’t make sense.  The ages and immigration years were different from the passenger list.  How many women named Lucia Raczynska came to the US with children named Tekla, Veronica, Frank (Franz) and John (Jan)????  It is likely that the census taker spoke with Tekla who should have had accurate knowledge of birth dates – but she also may have had enough of an accent to confuse the census taker. I’ll never know for certain.
I created a small spreadsheet to try to clarify things, but that only made it clear that at least one data source had wrong information.

I have not reconciled the differences, and perhaps never will, but here’s my current thinking.
While it would be difficult to falsify the age of the infant Jan, the older children may have been presented as younger than they were in order to keep the cost of passage as low as possible.
Tekla was a very short woman.  If she was tiny as a child, it could have been possible to pass her off as a younger child to avoid paying an adult fare.  The same would hold for Veronica and Franz.
So at present, I am assuming that the Tekla Raczinska of the passenger list is my grandmother traveling with her mother and siblings.
Sure would be nice to find real proof.
If you have a different theory, please let me know. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

DPLA - Digital Public Library of America

Note that this is an unusual web address.

The goal of the Digital Public Library of America is to bring together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites, and make them freely available to students, teachers, researchers, and the general public. It is an ongoing project, constantly adding more material.

The great value of this project is that historical documents have been scattered far and wide over the years. Images and documents from your home town in Ohio may show up in libraries or museums anywhere from California to Virginia . 

A search for St. Paul, Minnesota, returned more than 78,000 items. Results showed documents and images located in several places including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia and in 14 different languages..  They are located in places I would never think to look.  Nor would I have thought to search for the very useful documents I found. . DPLA allows you to search by subject, place or date. 

I am seeking to understand how my ancestors lived – what their everyday lives may have been. 

A study of Minnesota incomes in the years 1938 – 1939 gives me clues about life during the Great Depression.

Items include everything from state statutes, to geology, to proceedings of the state horticultural society, to maps, photos, history, memoirs, and promotional materials designed to lure both settlers and tourists.

Drawing of Union Depot from The Grand Opening of the Northern Pacific Railroad - 1883

Wonderful information can be found where you’d least expect it.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Family History in Perspective – Inflation

Old-timers may talk about way back when bread was 5 cents a loaf. I actually remember when
gasoline was $0.30 per gallon. Sounds pretty cheap.  BUT. I got my first part time job in 1958 making minimum wage: $1.00/hour.  My mother spoke about working in the late 1930’s for $0.39/hour.  Ahhh! The good old days!

When we look at our parents and grandparents in the 1930 US Federal census records, we see the value of their homes, or what they paid monthly in rent. The numbers look pretty small. Likewise, when we find information on wages and salaries, those numbers look pretty small. So, I’ve spent a little time comparing then and now.

Using the CPI (Consumer Price Index) Inflation Calculator from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, I see that things may not have changed that much. It is also important to realize that the world of finance was much different in the past.  It was more difficult to get a mortgage or other kind of credit.  Savings were often kept at home rather than in banks. Only the well-to-do had checking accounts.  By contrast, creditors, today are often more than willing to extend credit to almost anyone who is breathing.

A home valued at $10,000.00 in 1930 is valued in 1916 dollars at just over $144.500.00. 

In 1938 in St. Paul, Minnesota, the average annual income was $600.00 for an individual and $1700.00 per household (multiple wage earners)[i]

1938                           2016
$600                           $10,200
$1708                         $29,200

That still doesn’t look like much in today’s dollars, but this was the Great Depression when very many were unemployed.

My 1958 $1.00 minimum wage would equal $8.35 today. 

Certainly there are many more factors to consider when trying to compare yesterday’s economics to today’s; but even this simplistic comparison is interesting.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Who’s Who?

I wish I could positively identify everyone in this photo. The best I can do is a semi-educated guess – especially on the children..

Based on comparisons with other photos, I believe that my grandmother, Stella Schipp Ganas, is on the left, and her sister, Mary Schipp Fierstein, on the right.

My best guess is that the photo was taken in 1910 or 11. If was 1911, Stella also had an infant not pictured. The sisters lived next door to one another at 263 and 264 Upper Levee in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their parents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp brought them from Poland to the US in 1887 and settled on the levee of the Mississippi river.

The levee was where many immigrants from many countries put down their American roots.  The location was less than ideal because of the frequent Spring floods as snowmelt raised the level of the river.  On the other hand, St. Paul was a busy steamship port for both freight and passenger travel. Grain milling, lumber and railroads provided job opportunities. St. Paul was a good place to be.

This link will take you to a page with some pictures of early St. Paul.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Blog Party – Strange

I feel left out this month.

Elizabeth O’Neal’s October Blog Party asks about the strangest thing we’ve found in our genealogy research.  But my family research has found only typical, everyday kind of folks.  No witches or wizards. Scandals have been minor.  Very unexciting.  Poor me.

So the best I can do to contribute in the spirit of strangeness and Halloween is the image below.  It is a Google Street View image as shown on Your Daily Dish.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Told in a Line – January 23, 1884

The St. Paul and Minneapolis Pioneer newspaper of January 23, 1884 included a feature called “Told in a Line”.  It was simply a list of one-line news items. 
 Some are very straightforward:
West Point has another negro cadet.
The Greely relief bill passed the house.
St. Louis has 8,000 idle iron mill men.

But a few of them are quite curious:
Mrs. Colton has more letters in reserve.
Was she the Vanna White of 1884?
Senator Allison is practically re-ellected
Almost re-elected? Re-elected in a practical manner?
Steubenville, Ohio has caught a wild man.
Jim Nutt was not too insane – just insane enough.
Mrs. Nicholson is feeling for the major’s property.

How insane is “just insane enough”?

And I think this one line tells me more than I want to know about Mrs. Nicholson. Whatever does that one line mean?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Genealogy on Facebook

If you haven’t explored genealogy on Facebook, you may be missing a huge amount of information and collaborative help.  Facebook is so much more than “what I had for lunch” and pictures of grandchildren and cute cats.  

Katherine R. Willson has compiled a list of more than 10,000 Facebook pages and groups related to genealogy and history.  You can download the Genealogy on Facebook List, a PDF file with 288 pages of links to these pages. The table of contents alone takes up more than 8 pages.

My limited experience with genealogy groups on Facebook has been completely positive.  I’ll be scouring this list for helpful pages.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why Didn’t I Think of This?

It is called Bullet Journaling.  I learned about this concept from the September 19, 2016 edition of MondaysWith Myrt

Myrt showed JenniferAlford’s blog post about bullet journaling. It made sense to me. A Google search on ‘bullet journal” got me to Howto Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide.

I’m sure that competent Evernote users have already been doing this using Evernote.  I’m struggling with how best to use Evernote – my organization leaves a lot to be desired. I use One Note for simple things.

So I’m thinking about bullet journaling.  What would work best for me? Physical notebook? Electronic?  Electronic makes more sense to me as long as I can keep it from getting too complex, and I do tend to over complicate things.  This will take some thought.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back to School Blog Party

This post is for Elizabeth O’Neal’s Back to School BlogParty. The premise is a genealogy school and what our students need to learn.  Be sure to check into the Blog Party site throughout the month to get some helpful hints.

This topic is timely because I lead a special interest group for beginning genealogists for Indian River Genealogical Society.  We meet September through May so I’m preparing for our new season.

So… What do my group attendees need to know?

Cite Sources
Always document sources – even casual sources.  If you got information from cousin Edna, note that. Information from family interviews may not always be accurate, but we need to know where it came from. If a fact is from your own personal knowledge, note that, too. As research continues, sources get more verifiable and concrete. Sometimes it is important to know where misinformation comes from.

Question Everything
Even “official” documents may contain misinformation. The information on a death certificate, for example, is only as accurate as the knowledge of the person giving it. A young man may have lied about his age when enlisting in the military. A young woman may have fudged her age when applying for a marriage license.   Census records are often filled with misspellings, and erroneous information.

Don’t rely on one single document as absolute proof.  Verify! Verify! Verify!

Make Use of Free Resources
Subscription sites are great but there is a great deal of information available at no charge
and so many others

Continuing Education
            LegacyFamilyTreeWebinars (free)           
Free weekly webinars.  Each webinar is available to view at no charge for one week following the live presentation.  Buying a subscription gives unlimited access to all previous webinars and the syllabus for each one. (more than 300 webinars)
            FamilySearch Classes and Webinars (free)
            AncestryAcademy (membership required)
            GeneaWebnarsCalendar – a listing of upcoming webinars

Read blogs by professional and amateur bloggers – especially those who are doing research similar to yours.      – a wealth of blogs and blogging resources

But most of all, they tell me what they need to know so that they can make progress along their genealogy journey.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to Basics I – Census Records

 Census Data – Facts or Clues?

Following up on my previous post Family History From Census Records, I am reviewing my ancestors in census records and city directories. Discrepancies in census records can be a stark reminder that these records are only clues; and that a given census records alone cannot be deemed as a fact.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The image above shows the 1910 US Federal Census information recorded for the residence of my great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp. Some of it is correct. 
  • ·         The surname is misspelled (not uncommon)
  •  ·         It shows that 5 of their daughters were married (correct) and living at that address (incorrect)
  •  ·         Daughter “Otela” is actually “Stella”.
  •  ·         Daughter Helen and her family do live with Helen’s parents. But Helen is listed twice. The other 4 married daughters are living at other addresses with their husbands and children. 
  •  ·         In spite of what the census shows, only Helen and Pauline were born in Minnesota; the older children were born in Poland.

What happened here? 
  • ·         What did the census taker ask?
    • o   If he asked the names of Michael and Elizabeth’s children, that’s exactly what he got. Did he specify that he only wanted those at this particular residence?
  • ·         Who gave the information?
    • o   That is not possible to know.
  • ·         Was there a language issue?
    • o   Very likely.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

Here’s the 1910 US Federal Census page that shows my grandmother Stella Schipp Ganas with her husband and family (highlighted).  Living next door is Stella’s sister Mary and her husband and family. 

Stella and Mary lived farther down the same street as their parents. But. Different Enumeration District; different census taker.

By the way, my grandfather was called “Nick” but his name was Ignatz in Polish, Ignatius in English.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Family History From Census Records

Last evening, I started reading COMMON PEOPLE subtitled: In Pursuit of My Ancestors by Alison Light.  So far I’ve read the preface and prologue and gotten only to page 59 of the content, but these few pages have inspired me to review my family's census records for the wealth of historical information they may hold.

Ms. Light began with little knowledge of her ancestry. She studied census records and from there was able to identify and then visit ancestral towns. She’s done an amazing amount of research beyond census records, but I was struck by how much information can be gleaned from the census.  I’ve always looked for obvious family living nearby but I rarely dive into understanding the character of a neighborhood.

What was the neighborhood like?
  • Single Family Homes?
  • Apartment buildings?
  • Boarding Houses?
  • Multiple generations living together?
  • Did surnames and/or birthplaces indicate a predominant nationality?
  • Many children or few per family?
  • What kinds of jobs did people have?

Did they move often? Or Never?
Did occupations change over time?

The “FAN club” (Friends, Associates, Neighbors)  is an important part of understanding our ancestors and our heritage.

I can’t wait to read the rest of Alison Light’s genealogy journey.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Obscure American History

Much has been written about the World War II Japanese internment camps. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the government was gravely concerned about the possibility of Japanese government agents residing in the United States. While this might have been a reasonable fear at the time, the steps taken were extreme. More than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced into internment camps – whether or not they were American citizens. 

What I did not realize until recently is that once the United States entered World War II, it also created German and Italian internment camps.

Google Search brings up some interesting reading about this little known slice of history.

For a broad overview, here are some Wikipedia links.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Couple Things

Writer’s Block:

Maybe it’s the phase of the moon. I have started 3 writing projects and all seem to have stalled.  One is on hold while I try to gather material. Another is on hold because there’s too much material and I can’t figure out how to prune it to make it manageable.  The third one is just stuck in limbo for some reason I haven’t figured out yet. 

Stalled Research (brother to writer’s block)

But here are some suggestions for jump starting stalled research.  Lorine McGinnis Schulze writes a wonderful blog called Olive Tree Genealogy. Her latest post is exactly what I need just now.
I think I’ll start by creating a timeline for someone who does not yet have one. Got to get those juices flowing again!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The More Things Change.....

The more they stay the same.   Two very brief newspaper clippings:



Either of these could likely appear in one of today's newspapers. But they appeared 132 years ago in the St. Paul, Minnesota Daily Globe edition dated April 20, 1884.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Runaway Horses, Dateline Constantinople, and Dog Skin Gloves

I am on a quest to try to understand what life was like for my ancestors. My research includes looking at old newspapers.

My great grandfather Michael Schipp arrived in the US in April, 1884 and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. Looking online at ChroniclingAmerica I found no digitized papers for April of that year, so I took a look at the St. Paul Globe for January 31, 1884.

 Although it was only 8 pages, it had 7 columns per page that included local, national and international news. Of particular interest in St. Paul was news about agricultural markets and railroads.  Farm products from Minnesota and the Dakotas came through St. Paul for shipment farther east.  St Paul was a hub of the expanding railroad industry.  Passenger train schedules were published daily.

Page 2 of this issue had a story about a  “Terriffic Runaway” (sic).  Four children of James J. Hill (railroad baron) and their nurse were riding in a sleigh when their horses were spooked by shingles falling from a scaffolding. The driver was unable to regain control and the sleigh eventually overturned. Must have been truly “terriffying”. (There were only minor injuries.)

A column titled “The Old World” had short items from around the globe.

Local news included listing court cases.

And individual comings and goings that were sent in to the editor.

There were blurbs about statewide happenings. Oyster and ice cream??? Eaten separately, I hope.  

There weren’t many ads, but a couple of them caught my eye. 

And a clothing retailer that advertised dog skin gloves.  In case you cannot read it, here's the text:

"A Valuable Dog Lost!

And large reward offered for his recovery; but he never came back, as he was made into a pair of beautiful Dog-Skin Gloves, which we are selling at One Dollar a Pair. They are worth more money."

You can't make this stuff up!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chronicling America: Newspapers – Part two

Chronicling America is FREE and easy to use. I’m not an expert user, but if you haven’t visited this site, you may find this post helpful.

Chronicling America website is the result of the NationalDigital Newspaper Project sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and The Library of Congress. More information is available on the site.

The home screen has three tabs on the left of the screen and on the right is the button to see the entire 1690 to present directory of newspapers.

Search Pages
This tab allows you to search papers from a specific state or from all states. Select the range of years desired. Type in the name or word to search for. 

 The image below shows some of the results of my search in Minnesota papers for the surname Muccio from the years 1890 – 1922.

Red highlights the occurrences of the name. Clicking on a page enlarges it and provides tools for zooming in and out; and viewing other pages of the same issue.

Advanced Search
Gives many options for making your search more specific as shown below.

All Digitized Newspapers 1836-1922
Allows you to select papers from a specific state, those aimed at a specific ethnicity, and/or printed in a specific language.

 The above searches look only at those papers that have been digitized.  There are more than 11 million searchable pages at this time.  More are being added as the digitizing process goes on.

Search U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690 – Present
The directory lists all papers from 1690 including those that have not yet been digitized.  You can browse by newspaper title or select state, county and city and years of publication.
 The image below shows a partial list of papers published in Cincinnati, Ohio. Clicking on the title will give more information about it.

One note of caution: It is easy to get completely wrapped up in reading these old newspapers.  They’re a snapshot of our ancestors’ lives.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

History of the Rest of Us: Newspapers – Part One

Volumes are written about individuals who had significant impact on our world. It is easy to learn about kings and conquerors and prominent scientists, inventors, politicians and business leaders.   But what about the rest of us?

What about the laborers, tradesmen, merchants, farmers, homemakers?  What were the local implications of historic events? How was everyday life affected by political realignments or troop movements, or inventions or even weather?

Newspapers.  That’s the best answer I’ve found so far.  Many of us scour newspapers for obituaries, birth and wedding announcement, etc. But don’t neglect to look at the entire paper.  You’ll find the entire spectrum of life.  More than just the hard news, there are cultural events, ads showing styles of clothing and home furnishings, opinion pages and even comics in some papers.

Our ancestors were more quickly affected by local events than by national events. The newspaper is where you’ll find the things that were shaping their everyday lives.  And don’t forget foreign language papers. I recently wrote about finding obituaries in Chicago’s Czech language paper.

Local historical societies generally retain newspaper archives.  If they’ve been microfilmed, you may be able to borrow them via inter-library loan to avoid travel expenses.

Chronicling America is a wonderful online resource for digitized newspapers from 1836 through 1922. (Copyright laws prohibit later issues.)  There is also a directory of US newspapers dating from 1690 to the present.

The best part is that these digitized papers are searchable!  Select the state and the range of years; then type in the surname that you’re looking for, and press the search button.  If that name appears, you’ll see it and the entire page on which it is mentioned.

My next post will be some detail about using Chronicling America.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Viewing Digitized Images on

The number of indexed digitized records at is growing steadily. Just recently there was a huge volunteer indexing project.  But what if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the indexed records? Familysearch also has a vast collection of records that have been digitized but not yet indexed. 

The idea of browsing through these images can be intimidating but it need not be that way.  I am learning to enjoy browsing these records.

The title of this post is taken directly from a post byJames Tanner.  Apparently this is part one of a planned series.  James explains his topic clearly and thoroughly.  If you haven’t yet dived into this, you’ll want to follow his posts.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Bad Old Days?

In this age of political correctness, it is easy to forget the ethnic epithets that were common in past decades.  Those of us of a “certain age” remember them.  Words that were used to denigrate those who were not of our particular ethnic persuasion.

Dago, Mick, Kike, Limey, Polack, Bohunk, Frog, Spic, Wop, Chink.  And the  unforgetable “N” word.

Back in the day, these words were common in the neighborhood.  But I was surprised to find them in a more respected context.

Searching Chronicling America for newspaper mentions of family surnames, I found the following.

In an article about a knife fight that took place in an Italian neighborhood: St. Paul Daily Globe., December 18, 1894

In an article about a local physician’s trip to Japan: The Indianapolis journal., April 10, 1904

Times were hard then. People were hard then – harder than we are now. People didn’t trust others who were not like them and they didn’t hide it.
We’ve come a long way since those days, but unfortunately those biases and prejudices are still a part of our world. We’re just more subtle these days – with a few notable exceptions..

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Genealogy Blog Pool Party: A Rose is a Rose is a Rose is…

A Rose is a Rose and its name is probably either John or Solomon

This month’s theme for Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party is:
 Annoying Ancestor? Push 'Em in the Pool!   Well roses need water so here they go.

Researching my children’s paternal ancestors began easily enough with their grandmother, Mary Irene Rose; but it soon got complicated.

Mary Irene Rose (b1910) was the daughter of
John Rose (b1873) who was the son of
John Rose (b1842) who was the son of
John Rose (b1811) who was the son of
Solomon Rose (b1780) who was the son of
Solomon Rose (b1760) who was the son of
Solomon Rose (b 1731) who was probably the son of
Solomon Rose (Ross?)

At one time, there were 3 generations of Solomon Roses living in Pepperellborough (now Saco), Maine. And their wives were either Sarah, or Sarah called Sally, or Abigail perhaps misspelled as Abigil, or Mary known as Polly.  And, of course, the female names were also passed from one generation to the next.

Confusing?  Frustrating?  Annoying? all of the above.

At this point, I think I have them mostly figured out.  Maybe.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Unpleasant Truths

Do you have any family scandals?  Are they minor or major scandals?

The answer to that second question may depend on time. One hundred years ago, an illegitimate birth might have been considered a major scandal. That’s not the case in today’s world.

In the early 1960’s when a cousin and I wanted to start a family history project we were shut down by our aunts. It wasn’t until 30 years later when I resurrected the idea that I understood our aunts’ fears.  There were rumors of an illegitimate birth, a drunkard or two, and someone who may have been in jail a time or two. Earlier generations were deeply shamed by relatives who did not live up to expected standards. By the time I began seriously exploring my genealogy, the generation before mine had all passed and would not be affected by revelations of misconduct or poor decisions of the past. Later generations are not as sensitive to relatively minor missteps. It’s pretty easy to discount negative things that don’t affect us directly.

A blog post I read today at A Family Tapestry made me think about the families with truly major scandals. Every murderer has a family – parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and perhaps brothers and sisters. How do future generations deal with this part of their family history? Even if one’s life is not directly affected by an ancestor’s crimes, revelation of those events will certainly have some effect.

I don’t have a conclusion to this post. I am still pondering the subject.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

1,000 Years of Border Changes

Every time I watch this short video, I have to pause it several times to study the nations that come and go over time. One thousand years of wars, royal marriages, and treaties made and broken.

Watch 1000 Years of European Borders Change In 3 Minutes

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Try Mind Mapping to Organize a Plan

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information or ideas. 

Albert (Vojtech) Filek’s home town in Bohemia is a brick wall for me.  None of the usual sources have yielded that information. In a previous post I lamented that my hopes for a breakthrough in Chicago’s Czech language newspaper, Denni Hlasatel, obituaries got me nowhere.  

So now what?  I need a plan.

I do have information that Albert, his wife Katarina Lusk Filek and two sons arrived in the US in 1864. US Census records tell me that Albert and Katarina were married in about 1859. That helps broaden my search by including Katarina and their sons, Thomas and Joseph.

  • ·  Although the indexed records for the Czech Republic were no help, there are a number of unindexed digitized records to examine. A daunting task.

  • ·       Digital Archives at SRA Trebon in the Czech Republic are a great resource, but it is a work in progress and I need some idea of what locations to search. Another daunting task.

  • ·       KdeJsme, another Czech site gives me the current frequency of surnames in the Czech Republic. How likely is it that any of today’s Filek families are still in the same town where Albert lived more than 150 years ago? Not very. But it gives me some places to search using FamilySearch and the SRA Trebon records. Even more daunting.

With three sources of unindexed records, my mind was spinning.

XMind to the rescue.  XMind is a free, easy to use and extremely versatile tool. It has simple layout options plus excellent templates for everything from project plans to To Do lists.

Mind mapping begins with a central topic from which other topics branch off much like a tree structure.  One thing leads to another.  The advantage is that you can see the flow of information. Mind mapping on a computer is much easier than on paper because it is so simple add, delete, change and reorganize with a few mouse clicks.

I now have the start of a plan.  The simple diagram above is growing as I add detail.