Family History Research

Cemetery and IRAD Research Trip

Yesterday I had the most wonderful day with my 9 year old son Drew. We got up early and hit the road to drive into the city. Our first stop was St. Adalbert’s Cemetery in Niles, IL. That stop was not my most productive cemetery stop ever, but my son learned how to use the Kiosk to look up the graves; use the map to locate a grave; and took some pictures of the grave we found. On our next trip we will get plot layouts to help us locate the few people we did not find.

Our second stop, before it became unbearable outside, was Bohemian National Cemetery. We did not spend much time there as I wanted to get across the street to Northeastern Illinois University to IRAD. We were able to get the location of my grandfather’s niche in the Chapel and Drew saw that. Then we visited the grave of my Uncle Richard Holik. He passed away in 2007 and I guess I have not been up there since then because I did not have a photo of his grave stone.  We then walked from Rich’s grave to the next section to see Michael Kokoska’s grave. Michael died in France in WWI. Drew knows most of his history and thought it was amazing to see his grave. He has seen it before but now he has more of an appreciation of why I visit the cemeteries and research our family’s history.

Our last stop was IRAD. I prepared for this trip so I could teach Drew how to use the microfilm to look things up and follow the record trail. The one thing I forgot to add to my spreadsheet was the Soundex Codes. Not that it was a big deal, but we had to wait a few minutes while the staff person looked up my codes. Next time I will make sure we don’t waste those few minutes. Drew and I looked up Naturalization records for a couple hours and had some success. Then we waded into Probate and Will waters. Not so much success there. The microfilm for the Probate was so fuzzy you could barely make out the numbers. We will have to visit the County Clerk to try their indexes, which will hopefully be better. I think we did find at least two family members who had Probate cases though. That was exciting!

Drew was so great all day, he learned so many new things, and actually WANTS to go on the next research trip! We really bonded yesterday which was nice because he has two younger brothers and sometimes it is difficult to get that one on one time with him.  While I didn’t come home with as much new information as I would have liked, the day was a success and I can’t wait to go with him again.

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Preparing for research trips

Next week I hope to take two research trips, one to the Newberry Library, and one to IRAD at NEIU and from there stop across the street at Bohemian National Cemetery and then drive to St. Adalbert’s to cemetery hop. I decided since I have so many things I want to research on those trips, I am going to take my nine year old son along to help. He is in the gifted reading and writing program at school and I’m sure these new research skills he will learn will help him in 4th grade. He isn’t so thrilled but if I can find one or two things in the research that will grab his attention, it will be fine.

So of course, I begin the task of outlining all the things I want to find out while researching, starting with the trip to IRAD and cemeteries. We all know being organized before a trip helps immensely when researching.  One of the things I organized last night is an Excel file of my burial lists. I have one file with several tabs. The first tab is my entire genealogy file list of people, birth and death dates, burial place and grave location. Of course not every person has a burial place listed yet and some have a place but no grave location. Subsequent tabs are broken out by cemetery. On those tabs I added a column called DC (Death Certificate). I want to start tracking everyone for which I have a death certificate which will make my many lists of “want to find certificates” less cluttered. Those need to be condensed and made ready for another trip to the Illinois State Archives anyway.

When that task is complete by this evening, I hope, my next task will be to create a file for all my Naturalization documents. I envision this as another Excel file with a master tab listing, and a tab for those I have documents for broken out by name, date of birth, date of arrival, Ship Manifest, Declaration date, Petition date, Naturalization Date, Notes.  Maybe I can get my son to help fill this file in. He thinks it is interesting that we cannot find ship logs for some of our ancestors and at times he seems determined to find them.

And finally, before my week ends, I hope to also have a file listing of people to search for in Probate records at IRAD.  Many things to research in one day, but with some help, hopefully I can make a dent in the lists. Whatever is left when we return home will be made ready for another research trip soon.

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