Family History Research

Madness Monday – Those Ancestry Leaves

If you follow me on Twitter @jencoffeelover, you may have seen my rant last week about those Ancestry.com leaves and people merging stuff into their trees. Let me explain.

My Holik ancestors came to Chicago from Senetin, Bohemia. They all came to Chicago and appear based on all the records I have found, to not have lived anywhere in between once they got off the ship. Their ship logs all indicated another member of the family as the person in the U.S. they were meeting. For pretty much all the kids that immigrated, Frantisek Holik, their father in Senetin or Anna Holik, their mother in Senetin, was listed as the closest relative in the old country.

I found a tree on Ancestry.com where a woman had merged all my Holik stuff into her tree for a Marie Holek. Names and birth years were close so it must be right? Right?

She took my Marie Holik, sister to my great grandfather John, as hers. She merged in records for that Marie and my great great grandmother Marie Rataj Holik into her Marie.

Now it appears her Marie was born around 1890 and probably lived in Ohio. The records for her husband Jan V* show him in Ohio. BUT her son was born when she was four years old and her grandson was born before her. So I have no idea what her real birth date is, or for her descendants either. But Ancestry showed this person all these pretty leaves so it all was merged into her tree.

Let’s look at what she merged and why I can tell you these are not the same Marie’s.

1890    Birth in Czechoslovakia

Sources: 1910 Federal Census (Chicago); 1920 Federal Censuses (Chicago and Ohio); 1930 Censuses (Chicago and Ohio); New York Passenger List for my Marie Holik.

 1906    Arrival

Source: 1920 Federal Census (Chicago) for Marie Holik born 1883. This is my Marie Holik’s sister in-law Marie nee Rataj Holik.

 28 Apr 1909    Arrival          

Source: New York Passenger Lists for my Mary Holik.

 1909    Arrival       

Source: 1910 Federal Census for my Marie Holik in Chicago.

 1910    Arrival    

Source: 1920 Federal Census Ohio.

 1910    Residence Chicago Ward 34, Cook, Illinois   

Source: 1910 Federal Census for my Marie Holik in Chicago.

 1920    Residence Gorham, Fulton, Ohio    

Source: 1920 Federal Census Ohio

 1920    Residence Chicago Ward 34, Cook, Illinois   

Source: 1920 Federal Census Chicago for for Marie Holik born 1883. This is my Marie Holik’s sister in-law Marie nee Rataj Holik.

 1930    Residence Chicago, Cook, Illinois       

Source: 1930 Federal Census for a Mary Holik married to a J. Frank Holik. These people are not in my tree.

1930    Residence Richland, Defiance, Ohio. This fact is in her profile twice.

Source: 1930 Federal Census

 4 Mar 1944      Death Chicago, Cook, Illinois           

Source: Cook County, Illinois Death Index 1908-1988 for Marie Holik Kratchovil. My Marie.

Can you see why it is difficult to even know what information is accurate for this Marie Holek in this tree?

Moral of this story is – just because Ancestry shows you all those pretty leaves doesn’t mean those records belong to your person. They are possible matches but it is up to you, the human, to evaluate the information in the record being suggested.

Have you run into this in your research? Tell us about it in the comments.

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NGS HSC Lesson 11

Did you hear me cheering in Chicago this morning? I finished Lesson 11 on migration and census analysis! Whew! That lesson took many hours to complete because I had to do a transcription of roughly 100 people on two censuses that included my ancestor. After I sent the boys off to school today (another cheer moment) I finished the migration portion of the lesson and dropped the entire thing off at the post office.

Four lessons to go and I think my new deadline to complete them will be December 31 rather than April 1 when ProGen ends.

Now, using the census analysis I did for my great-great grandfather Joseph Kokoska, I am going to write an article for the Czech and Slovak American Genealogical Society of Illinois’s Koreny journal. I started writing articles for them at the end of 2010 and three were printed. Their journal comes out four times a year. I suppose my unofficial goal is to appear in at least two of their journals a year. One of the members told me my last article on Robert Brouk was very interesting and one of his neighbors actually dated Robert way back in the day. How cool! Nice to know someone is reading my stuff too.

Stay tuned as I continue down the NGS HSC path. The end is in sight!

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NGS Home Study Course Thoughts

Since last December-ish I have been working on the NGS HSC graded version. My goal was to learn some things I didn’t know, brush up on things I did and in the end, earn a certificate. I thought it was an affordable way to expand my genealogical education. If I had it to do over I think I would save my money and find another educational opportunity.

Why, you ask?

While I do not mind independent study courses, this is a little too independent for me. There have been a few instances where I emailed a grader of my assignments only to not have my specific questions answered. Asking questions again still went unanswered. And the grader was not very kind in the responses.

In a lesson on census I was supposed to list everyone on page one of my pedigree chart and all the census years in which they could be found. I listed each person and under those who were immigrants, specifically noted the year they immigrated. The grader chose to ignore this and berated me for not including all the censuses for those people’s life time. Well, if my great grandfather immigrated in 1904, he certainly will not be found on the 1900 census will he? Or because he was simply alive I should have included the 1900 on the list even though he didn’t live in the U.S.? That isn’t competent research.

Today I got a lesson back marked complete on military records. The lesson said to choose a grandfather. A grandfather, not list every male in my pedigree chart. Then list the grandfather’s known ancestors and all the wars they may have served in starting with the Revolutionary War to WWII. Well, I had two grandfathers. Jerry who immigrated in 1925 and could have served in WWII. Jerry’s father died in Bohemia. The End.The other grandpa Joseph was listed. I also listed his father and said specifically that he immigrated in 1904 so he could have served in WWI. He died in 1930.

The grader said in my comments that it she didn’t believe I had no other male ancestors in the country during that time period. But she would give me the benefit of the doubt that I had listed them all. I sent a note to the course administrator who forwarded it to the grader. I asked if I didn’t complete that part of the assignment correctly because it said to choose a grandfather. Not every male. The grader responded apologizing saying I did complete it correctly and that she should read the assignment directions before grading.

WHAT? I have never had the same grader twice. So don’t they focus on one set of the lessons? How could you NOT understand the instructions if you are responsible for grading one specific lesson over and over?

I get the feeling sometimes that those dealing with the NGS HSC don’t understand that not all of us have ancestors who have been here since the Mayflower. That some of us have shallow roots in this country. And I really feel they do not provide enough feedback or answer questions like they should.

I have many years of research experience but it concerns me that those who are just starting out or have only a few years under their belt are not getting the full experience they should. They are not being provided with enough feedback. So how are they supposed to fully learn? And how can you learn if your questions are not being answered?

I will finish the HSC as I only have five lessons left. I have learned a lot and do not regret taking the course. I just wish my experience had been a little better to this point.

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Websites to Follow

I found a few great websites to share with you this week in an effort to provide more resources for finding the history of our homes and cities. I hope you find them useful!

Chicago Landmarks Tour 2010 This is a blog by a man who made a goal for 2010 to see all of the Chicago Landmarks. He takes readers on a tour of an area of Chicago and posts beautiful pictures of the area and architecture. I think I will have to visit some of the places he writes about this summer with my children.

City of Chicago Landmark List If you would like to see the entire list of Chicago Landmarks, check out this site. These are the places the above blogger is visiting.  To view a PDF file of this list go here.

Chicago Architecture Foundation And finally if you live in Chicago and want more information about the history of our great city’s buildings, visit the CAF.

Now, unrelated to the home and city history sites above, I was reading Dr. Bill’s blog this morning and he posted a Follow Friday blog post that fits very well with the articles I have been writing the last week.  If you have had problems finding family on Census records, please read Bayside Blog for a great article called Census Searching: Ancestor Not Home? Ask the Neighbors, on finding that elusive ancestor. If you haven’t started following or subscribing to Dr. Bill’s blog, you should! Thanks Dr. Bill for posting this article as a recommendation!


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