Family History Research

Madness Monday – The Lithuanian Side of the Family

In a few days I am taking a class at the Newberry Library and wanted to stick around afterward and do a little research. I started updating my research files and began focusing on my husband’s Lithuanian side of the family. I remembered why I don’t spend too much time on them. They are so difficult to trace! I have had more success with my Czech side and Brian’s Italian side.

This is what I am facing:

Alexander Urban b. 1874 d. 1917 married Vincenta Norushas (Norkus?). The family told me Norkus was her maiden name. Yet I found her obituary this weekend which stated Norushas was her maiden name. Does Norkus=Norushas? I understand how the Czechs change the spelling of the woman’s last name after marriage but I am completely unfamiliar with the way the Lithuanians do this.  I cannot locate a ship log for her. I cannot locate a marriage license for her marriage to Alexander or her second husband Vincent William Tatarelis.

Then there are the Kaminski/Kaminsky/Kaminskai and Yasulis branches of the family. Anton Kaminski m. Veronica Yasulis. I have a ship log for both, who arrived separately. I am certain Anton’s log is his because he lists his brother in -law Yurgis Yasulis at 4409 S. Wood Street, Chicago as his contact. I cannot find anything on Yurgis beyond that. I looked at Behind the Name to see if Yurgis became John or another Americanized name. I found Yurgis could be Jurgis. Still, I cannot find anything on Yurgis beyond the ship log and the family stayed in the home after arrival for many years.

Finding Declaration and Naturalization information for Anton has been difficult too. I have searched IRAD with no luck. I keep checking the Cook County Declaration Database for various spellings (this is an ongoing project for the county). And of course the various Census records show him being either seven, five, or four years older than Veronica which makes his year of birth anywhere from 1873 to 1882. His grave says 1873 so my searches typically start there with a +2 or +5 difference to search.

If you have done Lithuanian research, I would love to hear your tips and suggestions. Have you searched something I should avoid because it is a time waster? Did you find a fabulous source? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Family of Frantisek and Anna Holik

Frantisek and Anna Holik lived in Senetin, Bohemia before 1900. Senetin is located east of Prague. Frantisek lived from 1845 to 1910. Anna lived from 1860 to 1934. Frank and Anna had 11 children, many of whom came to America.

For each of the children, I stumble across a new piece of information every few months. I am still searching for pieces of information here and there and my son has developed interesting theories for some of my missing pieces. It is good to return to this family once in a while and see what new things can be found and in the process, a mystery solved.

Bozena was born April 3, 1879. She died September 13, 1935 in Senetin, Bohemia.

Jan was born February 11, 1883. Jan immigrated in 1903 or 1904 according to the Declaration of Intent he filed to become a citizen and 1910 and 1920 census records. His Declaration contains a ship name, the Barbarossa, and date of immigration, but I cannot locate him on a ship log. I’m now going through page by page of every ship log the Barbarossa had in 1903 and 1904 in the hopes that his name was transcribed incorrectly and I will find him. Jan married Marie Ratay June 11, 1905 in Chicago. I have found a ship log entry for Marie that I am fairly certain is correct. Jan died April 8, 1930, before he was Naturalized. Jan and Marie are my great grandparents.

Katerina was born June 7, 1887. She immigrated and arrived in New York on March 18, 1903 on the Kronprinz Wilhelm. She married Jan Koluvek May 14, 1905. Interestingly, Jan was on the same ship as Katerina. They were listed one page apart on the ship log. Jan lived in Snet, Bohemia and Katerina in Senetin. These towns were 40 km apart. I am not sure if they met on the ship or in Chicago. There is no indication prior to living in Chicago that they knew each other. My nine year old son has a theory they met on the ship. I believe they met in Chicago. It is a nice debate for us and a way for him to look at the evidence available to create a theory and try to prove, disprove, or rule it a possibility.  We will never know exactly where and how Katerina and Jan met but it is a nice debate. Katerina died in Florida on December 15, 1980. Her husband Jan died in Florida in 1950.

Frantiska was born March 8, 1885. No other information is known on her.

Anna was born November 6, 1889 and died a few years later in 1896.

Frank was born November 25, 1890. He immigrated to the U.S. on March 16, 1910 on the Rijndam. Frank married Agnes Vadlejch on March 13, 1911 in Chicago. Frank died before 1963.

Marie was born January 31, 1894. She immigrated in 1909 on the Kaiser Wilhelm II. According to the 1910 Census, Marie was working at the Chicago Municipal Isolation Hospital (for smallpox) at 3400 S. Lawndale. This hospital was run by German nuns, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Marie was only 17 or 18 years old when she worked as a nurse there. I think she might have married in 1911 but need to research this more. She was not working there in1920.

Josef was born April 2, 1896 and immigrated on November 3, 1921 on the Orbita. Josef married Anna, maiden name unknown on May 12, 1923, in Berwyn, Illinois. Josef died September 1979 in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Alois Josef was born March 10, 1899 and died soon after.

Gabriela was born January 29, 1900. No other information is known on her.

Anna was born September 13, 1902. She immigrated the year before Josef and arrived in the U.S. on August 30, 1920 on the Noordam. At this time I have no information about her after she arrived in Chicago.

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Connecting Families Online, a lesson learned

Several months ago I received a message from a woman on Ancestry.com named Jean who was working on her Hammer family and we found a connection. Her Catherine Hammer was the sister of my Dorothy Hammer from Bohemia. While we were making this connection, another woman connected with us. This woman thought her John Hammer was a possible sibling to our Catherine and Dorothy. Their parents were Vaclav and Rosie Hammer.

Now Jean and I had documents to prove the relationship between our siblings and parents. This woman had no idea who John’s parents were, but thought the birth year fit and the fact he lived in Chicago fit. She basically wanted me to prove whether or not her John was the same as my John. Not a lot to go on when trying to prove or say “yes I believe this could be the same person.” I love a good mystery and helping people who are stuck, but you have to provide information to get me going.

Many emails were exchanged between this woman and myself and she provided one or two new clues in each email such as when he was married, who he married, where he lived, what spellings of the last name she had encountered (Hammer, Hamer, Hemr, Hamr). She had a naturalization document for him as a Minor and the date of naturalization. She found him on the 1892 Chicago Voter Registration. I became very frustrated because the more I searched based on what information she was giving me, when I contacted her again she would tell me she already had that information. It was a frustrating for me.

More information was provided via email but still not enough to say yes or no to John. At this time I was also tracing each child of Vaclav and Rosie, and their spouses through census and knew who the nieces and nephews were for my Dorothy Hammer. Jean and I were updating our trees on Ancestry.com and would notify each other if we found something exciting. It was at this point that this woman brought up a letter written to John by a cousin. When she gave me the name of the cousin and address of the letter I was immediately able to connect John to the family. The cousin was a niece of Dorothy. Tracking the families addresses made making the connection easier too.

I learned a big lesson in this connection and that is if you are asking for help, you should provide the person helping you with as much information as you can. This will result in less backtracking for the helper and less confusion. A connection, or lack thereof, may occur much more quickly if more information is given up front. I love helping people who are stuck facing a brick wall. It is a challenge for me to see if I can get over it because I am looking at it with new eyes. Because I love and need the challenge, I will continue to help people when asked, but I think I will ask for as much information as they have up front before I start the search.

Have you had a similar frustrating experience helping someone online? What did you learn? Please post in the comments so we can all learn new ways to help others.

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Book Review – Women Adrift

I was looking through my bookcase this morning and came across a book I read in a Chicago Women’s History grad school called Women Adrift, Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 1880-1930 by Joanne J. Meyerowitz. I thought this would be a great book to mention this week since I wrote an article about women and naturalization.

I do not have any women in my family who went off on their own to become “women adrift” but this book was very interesting to read. The chapters walk the reader through what some of the women experienced. Chapter 1 discusses being apart from the family. Chapter 2 is about exercising caution in the big city. Chapter 3 mentions orphans and innocents while Chapter 4 discusses Surrogate Families. Chapter 5 goes in depth about the people who helped these women and Chapter 6 talks about the women being Urban Pioneers.

Meyerowitz addresses issues such as sexuality of this “new breed” of women coming to the cities; what social circles formed and why; the vices that existed in the cities and how the women handled them or fell prey to them; and contains many tables with statistics, several illustrations, and lengthy note and bibliography sections.

Whether you had a Woman Adrift in your family or not, this book is well worth your time to read. You might just see some similarities between these women and second or third generation women of immigrants in your families who branched out on their own after the 1930’s.

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