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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Chicago and Surrounding Area Professional Genealogy Services

My friend Thomas MacEntee over at Geneabloggers suggested a couple of weeks ago that I join Ancestry.com’s Expert Connect. Well I waited because I had so many other things on my to-do list and now Ancestry has shut their Expert Connect down.

If you are looking for a Chicago area, which also includes Indiana, Wisconsin, and Missouri, researcher, I’m happy to help!

I provide:

In-depth Research Services

I conduct repository-based research; online research; and cemetery research.

Look-up Research Services

Just need a document or information or photos from a cemetery? I also conduct research in Northern Illinois for specific document searches such as Death Certificates, Census, Obituaries, etc., searches for a fee for each document plus postage.  I will do cemetery look ups and email you digital photos. If plot layouts are requested, I will mail those to you. Contact me for a list of individual services and fees.

Writing

I prepare research reports; lineage society reports; blog, newsletter and magazine articles.

I am located in the Chicago suburbs and have access to many wonderful research facilities such as:

  • National Archives, Great Lakes Region
  • Harold Washington Library
  • Newberry Library
  • Chicago Historical Society
  • Cook County Governmental Offices
  • Illinois Regional Archives Depositories, statewide
  • Illinois State Archives
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Area Cemeteries

I am also able to conduct research in neighboring states, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

For more information about rates and services, please contact me.

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Your House Has a History

I recently wrote an article about tracing family through street addresses and am now interested in finding the history of some of those houses. While the PDF file mentioned here, Your House Has a History, is specific to Chicago research, some of the tips included can be used in any city.

This booklet is composed of six steps. Step One – Checking the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. Step Two – Finding a copy of the building permit filed when your house was constructed. Step Three – Research information on the construction of your house (and any additions), its architect (if known), and its builder. Step Four – Finding information on the previous owners of your house. Step Five – Finding early or original plans, drawings and photos of your house.  Step Six – Your Neighborhood’s history.  The end of the booklet contains an extensive list of resources to find records.

In our collection of old family photographs, there are probably a few of the homes in which our ancestors lived. Does that home still exist today? One way to find out is to go on Google Earth and enter the address. The program will pinpoint the address and you can zoom in to look at the area. Sometimes a street view is also available. If I enter 2122 W. 18th Place, Chicago, IL, Google Earth will take me to 18th Place and the closest address, which is next door. 2122 does not exist. It was a wooden home, as tall as the ones on either side of it, and is no longer there. Instead, an empty lot filled with grass and trees is where the home stood. The houses on either side of the lot are brick. It will be interesting to find out what happened to the house. Did it burn down? Was it purposely taken down?

What about your current collection of family photographs? Does it include the house where you parents grew up? Where you grew up? Do you have a photograph of the house as it looks today? We can never forget to continue to record our current family history.

For more information specific to Chicago you may visit the Chicago History Museum’s webpage on Architecture.  http://www.chicagohs.org/research/resources/architecture

The Smithsonian has a great booklet online Finding History in your Home.

The Internet Public Library also has an extensive listing of resources on their Guide to Researching the History of your House page. 

Have you traced the history of any homes? What interesting things did you discover?

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