Search This Blog

Friday, January 2, 2015

Missed the boat, literally not figuratively

I recently received a letter from my Sierant relative in Poland.  I asked her how my grandmother managed to pay for her trip to Canada.  Surprisingly, she told me that my grandmother actually attempted to come to Canada twice.  She wasn't sure of the year but the first time she tried, the train she took arrived three days late and she missed the boat.  She then worked for a rich family for a year and her brother also worked to help her save up for another ticket. She successfully sailed the following year.
  This explains a little mystery.  A few years ago I tried to find my grandmother in the passenger lists.  I couldn't find a trace of her in Canadian records. I did find her in a passenger list in Liverpool.  According to the entry,  she left Liverpool on July 12, 1929 aboard the SS Montcalm, bound for Quebec.   I even spent several hours on a line by line search for her in the passenger list to no avail.  This new piece of information may explain why she mysteriously disappears.  Maybe she never made it to Liverpool and was stricken from the Montcalm passenger list.  I've tried to find her second attempt in both types of passenger lists but she is eluding me.  I would love to find her.
  I can't imagine the despair she must have felt when she missed the boat.  Not only would it be a huge disappointment but $200 was a small fortune for her and her family.  I give her a lot of credit for her determination, she never gave up and fufilled her dream of a better life.  
  My grandmother never told me this story.  She did tell me that she left a boyfriend behind who asked her to marry him.  If he asked her before her first attempt, it must have been very awkward to return home and face this man.  I wonder if he tried to convince her that it wasn't meant to be or if he was bitter and made her year an uncomfortable one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Line-by-line? Easy peezy lemon squeezy

Well, the line-by-line search completed much quicker than I expected, I thought I was in for a late night. Twenty pages into Springfield district I found my "Krovec" line which was transcribed as "Krovie".  Gorge and his wife O came with their two sons Mack and Peter (this is really David) to Canada in 1913.  Three other children Pil (this is really Peter), Marry, and Annie, while born prior to 1913 did not have a immigration year.  These three children were recorded as being born in Austria, like their parents and older brothers but at some point this was stricken out and Canadian was written above each. Perhaps someone reviewed the completed sheets and corrected it because an immigration year was not reported for them? Anyways, I see this as further proof that my grandmother was not born in Canada and this explains why birth/baptismal records could not be found for her and Peter.  In this census  it stated that Mike and his parents could not speak English but could speak French!  Everyone also spoke Polish just to confuse things further.

So to narrow down where they came from here are some facts:

In the 1916 census, the family origin was Austrian.  Everybody was born in Austria. 
In the 1921 census, the family's origin was Russian.  Everybody was born in Austria.
In 1916 the family spoke Polish however I know that the family did not speak Polish but Ukrainian.
In 1921 the family spoke Austrian.
In 1940 Mike states that he and his parents were born in Ukraine.
In Mike's obit it states he was born in Ukraine.

My next steps:
Keep looking for them in a passengers list.
brush up on the history of boarder changes in area of southwestern Ukraine/sotheastern Poland during these time periods.


  Well, I finally have a clue as to where my Krovetz ancestors came from in Ukraine.  I obtained a copy of the National Registration of Canada that my oldest Great Uncle filled out. I wasn't really holding out alot of hope that I would get a village/town name but I did get something. I'm just not sure what it is. He recorded the place of his birth as Brskky and his parent's birth as Burskky, Ukraien.  Consider he wasn't able to spell Ukraine, I didn't think the city/village would be right either. I poked around the internet and google maps, but as I kind of figured, the place does not seem to exist as spelled.  I turned to my trusty jewishgen town finder resource, but that didn't help me much either.  I posted a request for some help in a couple of Ukrainian genealogy facebook pages to see if anyone could figure out a cyrillic or latin spelling of a place called Burskky.  In the meantime, I tried another resource on the jewishgen gazetter site and found a couple of potential soundex matches: Barskiy, Russia and Barsuki, Ukraine.  I turned to google maps again to look up these places and found one more: Bars'kiy in Western Ukraine.  A facebook user also suggested that I look at Busk, near Lviv.
  There are a couple of other interesting tidbits of information.  Mike state that he was not raised on a farm until he was 14.  He stated that he was born in 1899 which would place him on a farm around 1913.  I know from my grandmother and great aunt that the family lived on Macgregor Street in Winnipeg until they relocated to Lorette.  He also stated they came to Canada in 1906, which is 9 years before the year recorded in the 1921 census. It's possible that the family lived in Winnipeg from 1906-1913 then moved to Lorette.  I guess it could also mean that the family started farming in Ukraine around 1913 then came to Canada.  My next steps will be a line by line search of the 1916 census in the Lorette area, and possibly see if I can get ahold of some land records for the time period.  I'll continue to search passenger lists.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's a small small world

Late last year, I did a Dna test through 23andme.  The results weren't suprising, my ancestral composition is overwhelmingly Eastern European.  Recently I've started to explore my connections with people around the world who are genetically matched with me.  As I was looking through the pages and pages of people, one name stood out.  The name is pretty unique and I recognized it.  When we went to Poland last summer, my aunt, cousin, and I became friends with a couple from Chicago.  We kept in contact with the lady through facebook and like alot of people, her display name contains her maiden name, which is the same as my genetic match.  I contacted her right away and asked her if she knew the woman on 23andme. Turns out my genetic match is her second cousin.  Which of course means we are distantly related!  We are reasonably sure that we are related through my paternal grandmother's line but we are trying to confirm.  Really is a small world genetically speaking!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Karma strikes!

  I was recently contacted by someone on Ancestry who also has relatives from Suchy Grunt. She asked how I was able to gather information about my ancestors.  I let her know that I have the LDS reel for the church records and that I have been sifting through and transcribing the information since 2011.  I told her that would  look up her family and provide her with anything that I found.
  Tonight,  I started by looking for her most recent relative born in Suchy Grunt, which I knew would be at least 3/4 of the way through the reel.  I used a little too much muscle spinning through the images and wasn't  paying attention.  I found myself closer to the end of reel and when I looked I saw the images of handwritten, loose sheets, they weren't on ledger types of sheets just blank pages.  These sheets were sandwiched in between Zabrnie records, which I haven't looked at before.  The first thing I noticed was the date, 1775.   Then I noticed that they recorded not only records for Suchy Grunt but for the entire surrounding area!  I haven't translated the cover page that describes what these sheets are exactly, but it appears that these are Diocese records. Some of the images are in poor shape with a lot of water damage and bleed throughs but once I am able to unpack my research notes out of storage and do a lot of squinting, I suspect I will be able to get back one more generation on the Furgał and associated lines! WOO HOO!
 Given the fact that I've had this reel for almost 3 years and never seen the images before, I probably would have missed these sheets completely.  I'm a strong believer in karma and I'm thankful it decided to pay me back so quickly!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lazy susan babies

My coworker of Italian descent and I did some tandem research together.  Family lore tells a story that his paternal great grandfather (The Salvatore I wrote about in "The joys of Ellis Island immigration records")  descended from Italian royalty.  It seems that one of Salvatore's ancestors was the result of a love affair between a royal son and a maid in the household. When the maid got pregnant, she had to leave the household to avoid a scandal. The woman left for Tunisia to have the child and her lover eventually followed and married her.
 When my coworker queried his grandmother many years ago, she told him that the maid and her child did not end up happily ever after with her caped prince charming.  The woman gave the baby up to a monastery.  He talked to his uncle recently and his uncle confirmed that the man was a French duke.
While I was focusing on the paper trail, my coworker did some digging into the story. He found a very interesting article here which talks about the foundling children of Sicily.  To avoid the disgrace of being an unwed mother (and not necessarily because of a dirt dog nobleman), many women who found themselves pregnant out of wedlock would place their babies on a wheel built into the outer wall of a church, which they would then turn into the interior of the church.  This allowed them to abandon the child anonymously.  These foundling children whose parents were unknown, were baptized and given names.  The conditions however were not the best and many children later died.   In some cases the real parent or parents would later "adopt" and raise the child.
  These foundling children were sometimes given names that made it clear that they were illegitimate and forced them to deal with the stigma associated with their situation for the rest of their lives (and their children's lives). In some cases, the children were given last names which were in fact the name of a town.  I turned to Google maps and sure enough my co-worker's great grandfather's surname is the name of a small town on the east coast of Sicily, almost directly opposite of Trapani.  
  The next step is to see if I can trace back through the generations find this wee foundling child.  Apparently there the records of the baptisms of foundling children contain details about where the child was found, what the child was wearing, any markings, and any tokens that were swaddled with the child.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Charles and his sister wives

All of my genealogy research has been packed away for a few months now in anticipation of a move and has limited my ability to do a lot of research.  I have however been trying to uncover some information about the life of the kids 3x great grand uncle and his family.
  According to the 1851 Census of Canada, Charles was born in Canada West in 1850 to Isaac and Mary.  He was living in Hamilton at the time.  In the 1861 & 1871 census records, Charles was living with his family in Georgetown, Ontario.  His age shifts by two years in both census records (~1852) but he is still recorded as born in Ontario.  Charles like his other brothers took up the shoemaking trade, following in the footsteps of his father.  In 1875, Charles married 18 year old Catherine.  A year to the day later, they had their first child Charles Sydney in Waterloo, Ontario.  Somewhere between the birth of Charles and the birth of their daughter Ida in 1878, the family moved to Michigan.  Charles, Catherine, Charles Jr., Ida (born in the US) and Ella (born in Canada) appear in the 1880 US Census in Detroit, Michigan.  Catherine's sister Mary Ann is living with them.   Seems boring enough but I couldn't find the family in 1890 in the US or Canada.   To my surprise I found a marriage record in 1889 for Charles Sr. and Ellen, who was Catherine's baby sister.  She was about 9 when Catherine married Charles.  Ewwwww.   The marriage takes place  in Windsor, Ontario (across the river from Detroit) although both Charles and Ellen are living in Detroit.  Charles accurately declares the names of his parents but states that he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Hmmmm wonder what is up with that.  Poor Ellen at 22 marries her 39 year old brother in law and raises her 5 nieces and nephews.  I couldn't find any trace of Catherine dying although Charles does state he is a widower.  I've heard of sisters marrying their sister's widower to raise the kids and I know it still goes on today but I can't help but feel for Ellen.  I would think she was looking forward to a different sort of life. 
  I have to admit that I frequently give people the benefit of the doubt long after most doubt has been removed but I also have a pretty over active imagination and this whole thing had started to make me wonder what kind of man Charles was. 
   I looked a bit more and the children pop up in 1900 with Charles Jr as the head of the household.  Charles Jr, a day labourer appears to be supporting his two sisters and two younger brothers aged 18 & 16.  Unfortunately there is no address. Each child's entry states that their father's birthplace is Wisconsin and their mother's birth place is Michigan.  Each child is also recorded as being born in Michigan.  Seemed a bit odd and had me wondering why the Canadian connection seems to have disappeared for the family.  I also wondered where Charles and Ellen were. After I spent way too many hours trying to find them between 1890 and 1900,  I discovered that the 1890 census for Michigan was destroyed in a fire in 1921 and I couldn't find the family in the 1894 Michigan census.
So I turned to City Directories.
I found Charles Sr. in some of the Detroit city directories:

In 1890/91, as a shoemaker living at 243 Humboldt
In 1888/89, as a shoemaker living at 173 Poplar.
In 1889/90, as a shoemaker living at 374 16th Street.  I also found Sidney in the directory at the same address (occupation printer)
In 1901, as a shoemaker, living at  440 18th St

I may have also found Charles Jr. (Sidney):
In 1896 as a printer, living at 346 21st St
In 1897 as a printer, living at 181 26th St
In 1889/90 as a printer, living at 374 16th St

  I turned to a Michigan researcher for help to see if she may be able to uncover what happened to Charles Sr., Catherine or Ellen.  So far there is no trace of what became of Catherine or Ellen but she was able to uncover a death certificate for who seems to be a match for Charles in 1907.  Although the first name of the father is not correct, the mother's name and maiden name are a match and it states he was born in Wisconsin.  His marital status was unknown.  His cause of death was nephritis (kidney failure) cause by alcoholism.  The same thing that killed his brother Alfred in 1915.

I think the jury is still out about Charles. I'd like to think that he wasn't an alcoholic that drove his first wife to an early grave and forced Ellen to leave him. I'd also like to think that he didn't abandon his family.  And I would really like to figure out what the Wisconsin connection is or if it is a red herring.