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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

See na huh?

My other maternal great grandmother Katie came to Canada in July 1903 through Hamburg with her mother, daughter, and brother.   Looks like another married brother, listed immediately below Katie et al came at the same time with his family (I always wonder how they could afford the trip with so many people coming over at the same time).

Like my other great grandmother I had very little information but after a lot of research I "narrowed" down where Katie came from:

-Sieniawka, Österreich (1904) - the Hamburg passenger list
-Sieniawa, Czeraiw?, Galicia, Austria (in 1922)
-Siniawka, Austria ( in 1922 in a different record)
-Chasanov, Austria (in a 1932 record where it states her ethnicity to be Ukranian)
-Powiat, Chessonof, Poland (in a 1930 record where it states her ethnicity to be polish)

 To make things more confusing in the 1930 record, her first husband is also recorded as being from Powiat, Chessonof, Poland but in the 1932, he is recorded as being from "(district) Basnia, Poland"

 There are at least 5 villages/towns in present day Poland called Sieniawa and 2 called Sieniawka (both near the German Border).  Then there is Siniawka which was in "Poland" around 1930 but is now a part of Belarus...

I did a soundex search at for Chasanov and one of the hits is Cieszanów.  Seems I found another phonetic massacre.
Using google maps, I found my "Sieniawa" near Cieszanów
Cieszanów is very close to the Ukrainian border, 36 mins away from Sieniawa by car, and was part of Austria up until 1918.  Basznia is right around the corner too.

The LDS has records for Sieniawa but looks like I may need to learn the basics of a few more languages.  The records over the last 300 or so years are in Latin, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian & German.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Perhaps another seven years in Manitoba?

Well the vital stats records arrived last week, they come very quickly if the request is emailed instead of faxed.  Unfortunately the registrations are not as detailed as the records i got for my Fedyna ancestors who lived well north of Winnipeg.  The death registration for my great grandfather, George was submitted by the doctor. His place of birth was recorded simply as Austria and his DOB, unknown.  He died from stomach cancer which metastasized in his liver.  He became toxemic,then died.  The record did provide his dad's name and his mom's name (phonetically), which gets me back one more generation. 
  His second oldest son David died three years earlier due to post operative shock following an operation to treat chronic empyema.  Not a pleasant condition to suffer from for four years.  Unfortunately David's date of birth was unknown and is also in Austria.  His mom's last name (no first name given in this case other than what looks like an E) seems to be a close match to the name of his dad's mother in his dad's death registration.   I wondered if maybe whoever provided the information misunderstood the question and when asked for the maiden name of "his mother" they thought they were talking about George.  For example:

What was the name of David's father?
George Krovetz
Ok and what was the maiden name of his mother?

Then i had a look at the third record I ordered,  the birth registration of the third son Peter.  Like his sisters, Peter had to register his birth as an adult because a record could not be found.  He did it in 1977 (he wanted his old age security).  His record states he was born in Winnipeg (according to the 1921 census he was born in Austria) and his  parents were born in the Ukraine.  His father is recorded as Peter (hmmmm) but this time i have a non-phonetic name for my great grandmother: Helen Tkaczyk.   I think Tkaczyk sounds pretty close phonetically to Kachuk (which is the maiden name of George's mom on his death reg) and even Karchuk, so i think my theory that someone misunderstood the maiden name is probably wrong. Maybe George and Helen were distantly related on his mother's side or perhaps they were first cousins. Hmmmm. 

Now, this is the conflicting information  I have about my great grandmother:
According to my great aunt she was Helen Poworoznyk
In the 1921 census she was named as Annie
In David's death registration, she was E Karchuk
In Peter's birth registration she is Helen Tkaczyk
In my great aunt's birth registration she is Helena Catchowka
In my grandmother's very late baptismal record she is Helen Poworoznyk

My next steps are to order my great grandmothers 1945 national registration and to order a copy of my great aunt's original birth registration...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Seven years in Manitoba

For about the last 7 years I have been looking for any information about my maternal grandmother's family. My grandmother was born and raised in Manitoba.  She went to Toronto for her sister's wedding and never went back.  I interviewed my great aunt when she was in her 80s and was able to get alot of details about the family.  She explained to me that the family lived in Winnipeg but were relocated to Lorette because they were poor (I was under the impression that it happened after her dad died).  Her father died when she was young and she didn't know alot about him, only that his name was John (on a different visit she said it was George), he was Ukrainian, served in the Russian army, and married his wife after her entire family was killed. At my great aunt's funeral her cousin told me that that the family name was Krywyj but anglicanized in Manitoba to Krovetz, by school teachers. 

 Last night I was organizing my genealogy material and I came across some Manitoba cemetery transcriptions that I had purchased on the off chance that I might find a familiar name.  I ordered them at a busy time in my life and didn't really look at them but decided to take a quick peek last night. In the Notre Dame de Lorette transcription I found a George Krovetz who died in 1926, I figured it was a long shot. In my mind I thought anything I uncovered would be registered under his original last name.  I did a quick internet search and found a picture of his stone: Although I was initially surprised to see the anglicanized version of the name, the stone looks more recent to me than 1926 and based on the inscription "father" I believe his children erected well after his death (and explains why the name appears as Krovetz).  A further search of Billion Graves revealed another Krovetz stone for Joseph (born 1922-died 1939).  I remember my grandmother and great aunt talk about their brother Joey but I didn't realize he had died young. The stone is very similar to George's so they were probably erected at the same time.
  Armed with this new information, I decided to see if I could find the family in the 1921 census.  Searches by Krovetz and Krywyj on Ancestry did not find them so I started a manual line by line search.  Lorette is in the electoral district of Provencher, but a manual search of each Provencher subdistrict showed that Lorette was not in that district at the time.  I then branched out to district just north of Provencer (Springfield).  Lorette was there.  Eight pages in I found George, his wife Annie (not Helen?) and their eight children (a ninth was on the way).  There were two big surprise for me:
-The first 5 children, including my grandmother were all recorded as being born in Austria (nationality Russian)! 
-My grandmother had a an older brother named David and an older sister named Marianne.
-They came to Canada in 1915 (I thought it was at the turn of the century)

This explains a couple of things:
-Why my grandmother could not find a record of her baptism or birth back in the 60s when she applied for it.
- Why I could not find them in the 1901, 1906 & 1910 census records.

I visited the Manitoba Vital Stats website and discovered that there are death registrations for George, David (who died at 17) and Joseph. I've ordered the records and I'm excited that I am one step closer to discover where the family originated from, before settling in Canada!

Monday, January 6, 2014

When is James really Jacob?

The kid's 5x great grandmother Mary Taylor (nee Thomas) was married in 1877 at the age of 20 and had three children before she died in Georgetown, at the age of 23 and 6 months.  What surprised me was her recorded place of birth, Oakville, which is where I grew up.  Merrick Thomas was a predominant settler of early Oakville, one of roads in Old/downtown Oakville is named after him and the town has preserved Merrick Thomas' house as a museum. Based on Mary Ann's marriage record, I knew that her father was James Thomas and not Merrick but I did wonder if she was somehow related to the famous family. 
  I decided to dig a little and found Mary Ann in the 1861 & 1871 census.  The problem was that the head of the household was Jacob (Nathaniel) Thomas not James.  I searched for and found the baptism record for this Mary Ann Thomas in the Wesleyan Methodist Registers, which a wonderful woman (Ida Reed) transcribed (100,000+ records).  I also found her brother Jacob but for both baptisms, the father's name is Jacob not James.  A review of tax rolls for Trafalgar Township in this time period also do not list James Thomas as a land owner. 
 I did some Google searches using the string "is Jacob the same as James" and discovered that the two names are indeed interchangeable.  I just find it odd that it was done in the marriage record.   
I still wanted to be sure that the connection was correct, so I kept researching.  I did a sideways search of siblings and found something helpful.  All of the children in the 1861/1871 census record stated in their marriage record that their father's name was Jacob except for one brother, who married the year after Mary Ann did.  He too referred to their dad as James. 
  At this point I think I can safely assume that I have the same family which is great because in the course of my research I dug up some interesting information:  Mary Ann's place of residence at the time of her marriage was Toronto which lead me down the wrong path for a bit as I searched the 1881 census for any signs of Jacob and family there. In the end I found Mary Ann (Sr)  living in Georgetown as a widow with a number of her children. Interestingly however, I found Jacob living with his daughter Emma and her husband in Waterloo, where he is  also listed as a widow!  While I haven't found Emma in the 1891 census yet nor have I found Jacob's death record, I did find Mary Ann (still listed as a widow) living in Toronto in 1891.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

34 years through Martha's eyes

  Like other families in early 1900s the Dunn's experienced more than their fair share of sadness and grief.   This a small sampling of how the world looked through the eyes of Martha Dunn, my husband's great grand aunt:

-1896 her brother Edward is killed in a hunting accident.
-1900 her first child to dies.  Elizabeth only lived for just under 7 months and died from heat prostration. 
-1903 her father dies, 3 months later her 3 year old niece dies.
-1906 her 3 year old nephew dies.
-1907 her daughter Ruth Elizabeth dies at around 6 months old, from malnutrition. 
-1912 her 4 month old son Frederick dies of pneumonia.  6 months later, her nephew dies.
-1913 her sister-in-law dies.
-1916 her grandmother dies.
-1918 her son John Thomas also dies of pneumonia.  Born in 1891, John was a teamster like his uncles and was attested for WWI in 1915.  He and his brother Charles are mentioned in the 1916 obit of their grandmother Charlotte Woods, which I wrote about in a previous blog.  He survived the war and went on to marry in Aug 1918.  Sadly, he died less than three months later in Oct.  His widow remarried 11 months later. 
-1921 her sister Rosy dies of TB.
-1924, 1925 & 1936 four grandchildren die.  Her son Charles also married after returning from the war.  He and his wife Mary Emily had at least 7 children and own their tragedies.  Their first daughter Marion died when she was almost 7 1/2 months old on 4 Oct 1925, also falling victim to pneumonia.  Just over 6 months later Mary delivered premature twins.  Their daughter was stillborn and their son, lived one day.  They had at least one more child in 1936 but unfortunately, the boy was also stillborn.
1930 - her mom dies.

Friday, November 8, 2013

September in Jamy

I may finally have a breakthrough on my grandfather's maternal line!  The family has always maintained that my grandfather's mom (Agnes Wąż) was born in Suchy Grunt.  I was able to find her marriage record but no baptism record.  When I visited my relatives in Poland they said the same thing, she was born raised, and died in Suchy Grunt.  I explained that I could not find any trace of her or her parents.  My relatives then mentioned that her parent's farm was on the boarder of Małec and Suchy Grunt.  While the family was able to confirm the names of Agnes parents for me, they didn't really know anything about her grandparents.  After some research, I discovered that the parish in Małec did not start until after Agnes was born and I was struggling to figure out where people in born in Małec prior to the 1890s would have been baptized. 

I then decided to see if I could find relatives in my indirect lines.  My Polish relatives were able to provide me with the names of all of Agnes' siblings, so I had another look at the Suchy Grunt baptism records. Sure enough I found them.  I'm a bit stumped though.  In two records Agnes' maternal grandmother is Anna Grzesiak and in three others Anna had a different last name which I had a hard time deciphering the letters.  Check this image out for example, which was for me the most difficult one to read. 
I spent several hours studying the priest's handwriting on multiple pages and checked out the marriage records too but I couldn't come up with the name that I thought was correct.  No one else even shared this last name in Suchy Grunt  as far as I could tell. I contacted my cousin Piotrek in Poland to see if he could help.  I'm so glad that I did. After looking at it,  he said it looks like the last name was Wrzesień (I was pretty close, I thought it was Wrzesiecu).  He also let me know that there are people currently living in a neighbouring village called Jamy that share this last name.   Family search has indexed some of the Tarnow dioceses church records so I did a couple of searches for Agnes, Maria and Anna.  While I still can't find a baptism for Agnes or her mom Maria, I was able to find what looks like baptism entries for Maria's siblings, in Jamy!  I've order the microfilm reels for Jamy and my next step is to go through them and see if I can find entries for my ancestors that may have been transcribed incorrectly or are very difficult to read. I'm also wondering if Anna remarried at some point which might explain the different last names.  I may finally crack this line!
BTW,  Wrzesień translated to English is September :) 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The joys of Ellis Island immigration records

My coworker of Italian descent gently reminded me this week that his ancestors wanted to be found so I did some poking around.  There is some family lore about his maternal side descending from Italian royalty, illegitimately and he wants to find out if there is any truth to it.  The first thing I did was attempt to find this line in the census records, the family immigrated to New York City.   From the census records I was able to determine when his great grandparents arrived in the US. Salvatore arrived in 1911. His wife Angela and children came in 1919.  Using that information I looked for ship passenger / immigration records.  What a great source of information (at least in the 20th century - the late 1800s in some cases provided minimal info).  I found Angela and her children first.  In the manifest, they referenced married women by their maiden names (at least the Italian immigrants that I was looking at) and the children by the fathers last name.   The record also provided her hometown (Trapani) and her mom's name (next of kin).  I know this stuff is usually standard but what surprised me is that they provided the complexion, hair and eye color for each passenger & for each adult passenger, their height.
  Salvatore's record contained the same level of personal information including his home town (also Trapani), his father's name and his father's street address which I was able to look at with Google Maps street view!
  Now that I have a starting point in Sicily I guess it's time to brush up on my Italian!