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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vojtech Filek Obituary

Albert (Vojtech) Filek was my children’s paternal 2nd great grandfather. He came to the US from
Bohemia in 1864 and settled in Chicago, Illinois. In 1864, Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  I am trying to learn where Albert and his family lived in the “old country”

The easy sources, passenger lists, and naturalization papers, have thus far yielded no information.  If he filed his Declaration of Intent in Chicago at his first opportunity, it would have been destroyed in 1871 in the Great Chicago Fire. 

I learned that Chicago’s Czech language newspaper, Denni Hlasatel (Daily Herald) often included place of birth in published obituaries; and that these newspapers have been microfilmed and are archived in several places. 

The Czech & Slovak American Genealogical Society ofIllinois has published an index to these obituaries. The wonderful genealogy department at my local library, Indian River County Library, has this volume in its Chicago collection. There were several Fileks listed. Once I found that Vojetch’s obituary had been published, I was able to get the appropriate films from TheAbraham Lincoln Presidential Library via inter-library loan.

The bad news was that I found no place of birth. Although I was disappointed, I was excited to see his published obituary. For some reason it made him seem more real to me.

The search continues. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

ANOTHER Rookie Mistake!

After all these years of doing family research, I seem to still be a rookie making dumb mistakes.  I should know enough to search all possible sources of information however unlikely I think they are to bear fruit.  Why did I not think that a site like Billion Graves would give me any clues in the Czech Republic? 

Case in point: Trying to find Filek family roots in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic, I searched all of the immigration records found thus far looking for “last residence”.  I’ve been learning to use DigiArchiv of SRA Trebon databases; and I searched another Czech site, KdeJsme looking  for people with that surname currently living in the Czech Republic. Of course, there is little chance that Filek families today are living where their ancestors lived 150 years ago.

Armed with the names of towns where these families live now, I turned to Family Search again in hopes of being able to find them in digitized but unindexed films. I selected SEARCH and then RECORDS and then clicked on Europe on the map and selected Czech Republic.  The site first gives a list of those record collections that are indexed; then lists the unindexed records.  Billion Graves was among the indexed records. For some reason, I was not aware that Billion Graves data extended beyond North America.  I should have at least tried it. 

It gave me a list of 10 individuals with death dates ranging from 1868 to 2009.

I have not yet found the people I’m looking for, but I have many more clues to follow.

Moral:  Leave no stone unturned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rookie Mistakes

My genealogy began in 1999 with reading some books and articles and then diving right in. I made all the rookie mistakes.  Some are easily corrected once found – they just take time and patience. My most serious rookie mistake was in not recording sources of the information I found. 

Years ago, I decided to postpone my search for my children’s Bohemian paternal ancestors because I was frustrated.  I concentrated on my own Polish ancestors because I know much more about them and I had a place to start. Now that I’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit for my family, it is time to get back to Bohemian research for my kids and grandkids.

The big issue is that I have not yet been able to identify where the Filek family lived in Bohemia.  Since they left their home country in the mid 1860’s, borders have changed as various rulers came and went.   It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, part of Austria, part of the Third Reich to name a few. Names of towns and villages changed depending on which nation claimed the territory.

As I look back at my notes from my original research, I find a list of towns that apparently seemed likely at the time.  Why did they seem likely??? Nothing in my notes tells me where I came up with this list.

Even the most casual source note is important. Something as simple as “information from Grandma” is better than nothing. Source detail and validity will improve as data and facts are found. 

Even experienced amateurs can make mistakes. Is it time for a review?  Here’s an article from about Rookie Mistakes.