Monday, March 27, 2017

The Name Game

I spent today (virtually) at the State Archive in Poznan with the Ganas family. My brain got tied up in knots for a while.

In an effort to honor their elders, 18th and 19th centuries families often present us with a puzzle of some magnitude.  Too may Johanns born too close together can be very frustrating.

Be kind to your descendants who may be interested in family history.

If your name is John, and you have an uncle, a grandfather, and cousins named John, think about breaking the chain. There are many honorable names:
Hezekiah, Ezekiel. Mergetroyd, Englebert. 

On behalf of your future family historians, I thank you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thank You, Volunteers!

Thousands of volunteers all around the world make Genealogical research so much easier than it once was.  They give their time to indexing and transcribing projects that allow the rest of us to locate and see records with just a few mouse clicks.

Hooray for volunteers!!!!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Dead Ones Are Easy

 It takes much more effort to find living cousins.

Now that I’ve established a connection with the Ganas family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I’ve begun trying to learn about them in hopes of finding living distant cousins.

I wish I’d had this information 30 or 40 years ago when I lived within easy driving distance from Milwaukee. These are relatives on my maternal side but I don’t think that my mother was aware of them.  It is a pretty distant relationship.

The low-hanging fruit is the first phase., FamilySearch, and  Find A Grave yield a pretty good picture of the family in the late 19th and early 20th century.  There are death records, some marriage records and some birth records. These are readily verifiable sources.

The next phase requires more effort. There are a few gems to be found on a few public trees on Ancestry.  There are images of newspaper obituaries that provide starting points for more research.  I’m grateful to the others who have put these clues out there for me to find.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I Will Graft this Shrub to My Tree!

In my previous post I wondered whether the Ganas family that settled in Milwaukee is related to my Ganas ancestors.  I described using BaSIA to get to archives in Poland.

The question was whether the Mathias Ganas in my tree is the same person as the Matthias Ganas in another tree on I now believe that they are the same person: my 3rd Great Uncle.

My 3rd Great Grandfather, Johann Ganas lived in the village of Czerlejno, Poland which was a small village that supported a Noble’s large estate and farm. Adalbert, Johann’s oldest child was my 2nd Great Grandfather.  He had a brother, Mathias.  I have the sacramental records for the baptisms of Adalbert and his siblings.  Mathias was born on 18 February 1820, and baptized on 20 February 1820

Other records from The Poznan Project show Mathias married twice in the town of Swarzedz. Swarzedz is a larger city (current population about 30,000) just about 6 miles from Czerlejno. In fact, all of Johann’s sons left Czerlejno for larger towns.

Pinpointing year of birth is a common problem in old records. Mathias’ first marriage record indicates his birth in 1824; his second marriage record indicated 1822. And my baptism record says 1820. Four years is a reasonably long span. There could have been two boys baptized as Mathias Ganas in that length of time.

BaSIA showed that there was a record of Mathias’ death in 1883 in the archives in Poznan.  I was able to download that record which showed his age as 64 which will put his birth in 1919.

The clincher was that this record showed that he was born in the tiny village of Czerlejno!  BINGO!

I am not a genealogy purist so I won’t be writing to Poland for certified copies of these documents. I accept them as correct until/unless I find contradicting evidence. I’m just happy to find more of my extended family.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Connecting a Shrub to my Tree?

I’m deep down a rabbit hole these days because gave me hints about one of my lines from another public tree. Can I connect the Ganas family in Milwaukee to my Ganas family in St. Paul??

There are tantalizing similarities.  My 3rd Great Uncle, Mathias Ganas was born in 1821.  I found his baptismal record on a FHL  ( film.  I have not yet uncovered a marriage record for him.

But the other tree in question has a Matthias Ganas born in 1824 – maybe.  It’s a “maybe” because when I go to The Poznan Project searching for his marriages it shows that he was married twice.  His first marriage in 1852 gives his age as 28 which puts his birth year at 1824.  His second marriage (as a widower) in 1868 shows is age as 46, giving a birth year of 1822.  Are either of them correct?  I’ve ordered the appropriate FHL film so maybe I’ll find more information. If I find his birth record on this film, I’ll know that he’s not MY Mathias.

In the meantime, I’ve returned to the search for Ganas records in Poland.  The BaSIA database is another resource created by volunteers transcribing archived records. This database continues to grow as more records are being transcribed. Entering a surname results in a map showing where, in Poland, there are records for that name that have been transcribed.

To the right of the map are the names of the locations with a graphic that roughly indicates the number of records. Clicking on the location results in a list of the records there. 

At the right of each record citation is a link to the archive that hold the records including information to find that record if it has been filmed and digitized. In the case of the Poznan archives, the record images may be downloaded.     

So I’m busy filling up a new flash drive.   Even if I cannot connect the Milwaukee shrub to my tree, I’m learning more about this part of my family.                                      

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fearless Females 1

I’m getting a late start on Lisa Alzo’s tribute to Women’sHistory Month.  She has a list of blogging prompts to help us get started.  Today’s (5 March) prompt is:

How did they meet?

My parents met in 1st grade at St. Adalbert’s school.   St. Adalbert’s was (and is) one of two Polish Catholic parishes in St. Paul, Minnesota.   Teachers were strict Felician nuns. Photo here  My parents remained in contact with some of them even into adulthood.

My mother was trained by the nuns in classical drawing.  This gave her some special privileges when artwork was needed for the school

My father won a prize for his mathematical talents.

They made their First Communions at the same time.

I wish I knew more about their school days and how their friendship blossomed into love

Ambrose Dachtera - Emily Ganas
September 5, 1936

Fearless female?  Anyone had to be pretty fearless to marry and start a new life in the middle of the Great Depression.