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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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

She 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!