Hoffman and Shea’s German Genealogical Translation Guide is Here At Last!

Christmas came early this year! While I was at the biennial conference of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast last weekend, I had the opportunity to purchase one of the very first copies of In Their Words: A Genealogist’s Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin, and Russian Documents: Volume IV:聽 German by William F. Hoffman and Jonthan D. Shea. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book for several years now, because I found Volumes I, II, and III (for Polish, Russian, and Latin translations, respectively) to be absolutely indispensable research aids. My family is all too familiar with these books, because they’re the ones that never seem to make it back to the bookshelf. Instead, they’re usually found lying on the kitchen table or coffee table, next to my laptop, because I refer to them so often for a quick look-up of an unfamiliar word or review of grammatical case endings.

So why are these books so great?

I’ve always been one to do genealogy on shoestring budget. Raising four kids meant that I couldn’t afford to pay for professional translations of each and every genealogy document I found. Although we have Facebook groups nowadays that offer translation assistance, such groups didn’t exist when I made my first foray into Polish records. Moreover, I’ve discovered a profound satisfaction in learning to read records about my ancestors in the original language, and having someone else translate the record for me just isn’t as much fun. So, I realized early on that this was sink or swim. If I wanted to make progess in genealogy, it was up to me to learn to read documents in Polish, Russian, Latin, and German.

It’s very true that learning to translate foreign-language records can be intimidating. As genealogists, we often have to contend with grainy or fuzzy microfilms of original records that may have been faded, smeared, torn, taped, or exhibit bleed-through from the other side of the page. We’ve all seen plenty of examples of the illegible chicken-scratch that passes for handwriting on certain documents pertaining to our ancestors. Throw a foreign language in there — or worse, a foreign language written in a different alphabet, like Cyrillic — and it’s enough to make us want to give in to frustration and take up a different hobby. But in reality, learning to read foreign-language records is very doable. Most vital records tend to be pretty formulaic, so it’s not necessary to be fluent in a language in order to read genealogical records written in that language. It’s necessary to have the right tools, however, and that’s where the translation guides by Hoffman and Shea come in.

These books were game-changers for me, allowing me to gain confidence and develop proficiency with translations in Polish, Russian and Latin. They provide numerous examples of an impressive variety of genealogical documents with transcriptions, translations, and discussions of the grammar and vocabulary used in each. They offer historical insight into obscure and archaic words that you’ll never find in a modern dictionary, and they provide multiple examples of the forms that each letter of the alphabet can take in print and cursive. One could even argue that their books have driven the course of my research. Like many of us, I often choose the path of least resistence when it comes to my genealogy research. Since Polish, Russian and Latin records are pretty comfortable for me at this point, I’ve developed a preference for research using documents written in those languages, and I’ve been putting off research that involves German-language records, for both my own family, and for my husband’s ancestors from Prussian Poland.聽 But no more! Now that their German guide has made its way into my eager hands, I have no more excuses. Onward and upward!

So my next post will include my very first German translation, but I admit, I’m on a sharp learning curve right now. The old German cursive (Kurrentschrift) in this 1857 marriage record that I’ve chosen is making my head spin, but hey, practice makes perfect. Stay tuned. And if you’re interested in reading more about Hoffman and Shea’s German translation guide, or you’d like to purchase a copy, you can do so at the authors’ website. I should mention that I have no commercial interest in the sale of their books. I recommend them because I happen to think they’re wonderful resources. However, in the interest of full disclosure, Jonathan was kind enough to give me a “speaker’s discount” and sell me a copy of the book at $9 off the cover price.

Time to get back to work on that record. It’s not going to translate itself. 馃槈

漏 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz

 

 

Missing the Forest for the Trees: Discovering the Marriage Place of Andrzej Klaus and Marianna 艁膮cka

Yesterday was one of those days when I couldn’t decide whether I should kick myself for being stupid, or rejoice at finding the answer to a question that’s been bothering me for years. I finally figured out where my great-great-grandparents, Marianna/Mary 艁膮cka and Andrzej/Andrew Klaus, were married, and it wasn’t where I expected. 聽I don’t think I’ve blogged about them previously, so let me introduce you, and explain the problem.

The聽艁膮cki family of聽Ko艂aczyce

My great-great-grandmother was Marianna聽艁膮cka, who was born on 21 April 1866聽in the village of聽Ko艂aczyce, which was at that time located in the Galicia region of the Austrian Empire and is now in the Podkarpackie province of Poland (Figure 1).1 聽She was the third child, and only daughter, of Jakub 艁膮cki and Anna Ptaszkiewicz. Jakub and Anna’s second-born son, Jan, died in infancy2,3, but another son Jan was born in 1872,4 in addition to oldest son聽J贸zef, who was born in 1863.5

Figure 1: Baptismal record of Marianna聽艁膮cka, born 21 April 1866 in聽Ko艂aczyce.1Marianna Lacki birth cropped

Marianna聽艁膮cka’s baptismal record tells us that her father, Jakub/Jacob, was a shoemaker, and that her mother, Anna Ptaszkiewicz, was the daughter of Franciszek Ptaszkiewicz and Salomea Sasakiewicz, who was the daughter of Franciszek Sasakiewicz. Anna (n茅e Ptaszkiewicz)聽艁膮cka died in 1879 at the relatively young age of 45,6聽and perhaps her death was a factor in the family’s decision to emigrate. In 1884, the remaining members of the 艁膮cki family left Ko艂aczyce, and traveled from Hamburg to the port of New York on board the Moravia, arriving on May 6th (Figure 3).7,8

Figure 3: 聽Hamburg Emigration List showing Jakob Lacki, age 50, Marie Lacki, age 17, Joh. (Jan) Lacki, age 9, and Jos. Lacki, age 24, with previous residence noted as Ko艂aczyce.7

Closeup of Hamburg Emigration record for Lacki family

The Klaus Family of Mani贸w and Wola Mielecka

Meanwhile, Marianna聽艁膮cka’s future husband, Andrzej/Andrew Klaus, migrated to America independently, in 1889.9 Andrzej聽was born on 25 November 1865 in Mani贸w, Galicia, Austrian Poland,10 son ofJakub Klaus and Franciszka Liguz. At that time, the village of聽Mani贸w belonged to the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Szczucin, which is where Andrzej was baptized.

Figure 4: 聽Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Szczucin, Malopolska, Poland, July 2015.IMG_3611

However, in 1981, a new parish was founded in Borki, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary, and the village of聽Mani贸w was reassigned to this parish. All the old records for聽Mani贸w were transferred to this new parish, so it was in Borki that I was able to see Andrzej Klaus’s baptismal record10 with my own eyes, when I visited the parish in 2015 (Figure 5). (Note that these records are also available on microfilm聽until 1 September 2017 from the Family History Library.)

Figure 5: Baptismal record for Andreas Klaus, born 25 November 1865 in聽Mani贸w,聽D膮browa County, Galicia, Austria. Godfather’s place of residence, Wola Mielecka, is underlined in red.Andrzej Klaus baptismal record marked

Although Andrzej was born in聽Mani贸w, the Klaus family was originally from Wola Mielecka, about 15 miles away, where Andrzej’s father, Jakub, was born, and where his uncle and godfather, Mattheus (Maciej) Klaus was still living at the time of Andrzej’s baptism.11 Andrzej himself also lived in Wola Mielecka just prior to his emigration, as evident from his passenger manifest (Figure 6).12

Figure 6: 聽Hamburg emigration manifest for Andrzey (sic) Klaus, departing 26 March 1889.12Andrzej Klaus manifest marked

This manifest seems like a good match for “my” Andrzej Klaus — he was reported to be 24 years of age in 1889, suggesting a birth year of 1865, which is consistent with data from other sources, and his year of immigration is consistent with the time frame (1888-1890) which he reported in later census records. The place of residence fits, and although his destination — Plymouth, Pennsylvania — was previously unknown to our family, it’s not unreasonable to believe he might have gone there to work for a while before moving on. However, the problem has been that both Andrzej Klaus and the 艁膮cki family drop out of the records for a time after their respective arrivals in the U.S. Until yesterday, I hadn’t been able to find any trace of Andrzej and Marianna until 1892, when their third child was born. Jakub and J贸zef 艁膮cki seem to disappear completely, and I don’t find Jan 艁膮cki in a record that I’m certain pertains to him until 1903, when he was naturalized in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

But yesterday, I finally discovered Andrzej and Marianna’s 1891 marriage record, in Buffalo, New York — a place where it was completely unexpected, and yet, makes perfect sense, since the family did eventually settle in Western New York. So why on earth did it take so long for me to find it there? I guess sometimes what we see depends on what we look for, and where we look. I was so focused on documenting the family story of where they were supposed to be, that I didn’t think to check someplace that, in hindsight, seems pretty obvious. Here’s the story.

The Klaus and聽艁膮cki families of….Texas? (And St. Louis, and Buffalo, and North Tonawanda)

Back in 1992, I interviewed my grandfather’s cousin, Julia Ziomek, to see what information she could provide about the Klaus family history. Cousin Jul had clearly been the kind of child who sat at the knee of her grandmother, Mary (n茅e 艁膮cka) Klaus, listening to family stories, and I’ve spent the past 25 years trying to document everything she told me. In some cases, she was absolutely accurate. In other cases, she was partially correct — for example, remembering that a particular name was associated with the family, but incorrectly recalling the exact relationship. In still other instances, she was just plain wrong. So it’s difficult to know how much stock to put in her story of the Klaus family origins, but as she told it, Mary聽艁膮cka and Andrew Klaus married back in Poland, and lived in Texas when they first arrived in the U.S. It was during this time in Texas that their oldest sons, Joseph and John, were born, but by 1892, the family had moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where their oldest two daughters Anna and Apolonia/Pauline, were born in 1892 and 1894, respectively. Circa 1895, the family moved again to Buffalo, New York, where my great-grandmother, Genowefa/Genevieve, was born in 1897. Two more sons, Edward and W艂adys艂aw/Walter, were born in Buffalo, before the family finally settled in North Tonawanda, New York, where their youngest children, Rudolf and Helen, were born.

Unfortunately, the timeline is problematic. Even before I found this marriage record in Buffalo, there was pretty good evidence that Cousin Jul was wrong about her grandparents’ place of marriage. Andrew and Mary could not have married in Galicia, since their passenger manifests make it clear that they emigrated separately. Could those be the wrong manifests, after all? It seems unlikely. I spent years looking for a manifest that supported the scenario of Andrzej and Marianna Klaus migrating into a southern port such as Galveston or New Orleans, that would be consistent with a first home in Texas, but never found one, nor have I found any evidence for Marianna Klaus traveling under her married name through any port, nor is there a marriage record for them in her home parish of Ko艂aczyce. In contrast, both the manifest for Andrzej Klaus and the manifest for the family of Jakub 艁膮cki match existing evidence very nicely.

In hindsight, the fact that both Andrew and Mary entered the U.S. through the port of New York should have been more of a clue to look for their marriage record somewhere in New York — for example, in Buffalo, where they were known to have lived later in life. However, a search in city directories for Buffalo between 1889 and 1892 revealed no trace of Andrew Klaus, so until yesterday, I didn’t see much point in checking Buffalo church records for their marriage. Moreover, if I were going to suspect that they’d married somewhere other than Texas, where their first two children were purportedly born, existing evidence would point to Pennsylvania, rather than Buffalo, since Andrew’s manifest mentioned a destination of Plymouth, Pennsylvania, and since Mary’s brother John was naturalized in Pittsburgh in 1903. However, rather than trying to guess where they might have married in Pennsylvania circa 1890, I assumed that Cousin Jul was correct about the family’s general migration pattern from Texas to St. Louis to Buffalo to North Tonawanda, and I reasoned that Andrew and Mary most likely married in Texas prior to Joseph’s birth circa 1890.

Although she was mistaken about Andrew and Mary’s place of marriage, Cousin Jul was spot-on about the Klaus family’s residence in St. Louis. Anna Klaus’s baptismal record from St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in St. Louis (Figure 7) is unmistakeably correct, as is that of her sister, Apolonia/Pauline.13,14 Since Jul correctly identified which Klaus children were born in St. Louis, Buffalo, and North Tonawanda, I had reason to believe her claim that Joseph and John were born in Texas, and it seemed more logical to predict that Andrew and Mary would have married there as well, rather than marrying in Buffalo, and then moving to Texas and St. Louis before returning to Buffalo.

Figure 7: Baptismal record for Anna Klaus from St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, St. Louis, Missouri.13Anna Klaus baptismal record

Don’t Mess with Texas, or Mary Klaus

Another reason why I’ve been inclined to believe Cousin Jul’s claim that the family lived in Texas, despite the difficulties in the timeline, is that she recalled one very specific event from their time there. Jul told me that Texas was a pretty rough place back in the early 1890s, and the locals weren’t always delighted to have Polish immigrant neighbors. A day came when someone was trying to break into the Klaus family’s home by climbing in through a window. Mary Klaus grabbed an axe and cut off the man’s hands. (You go, Grandma Klaus!) It may have been this incident that precipitated the family’s move to St. Louis. I’ve often pondered this story over these many years, because on the one hand, it seems pretty far-fetched. And yet, if ever such a story would be true, it seems more plausible in the Wild West than in any of the other places associated with this family.

Part of the difficulty with tracing my Klaus family in Texas is the fact that there were more than a dozen Polish parishes that existed there by the early 1890s. Rather than searching through the records for all of them, I hoped to find some clue first as to where in Texas they might have lived. Theoretically, this should have been easy, since both Joseph and John were (supposedly!) born there, and one might expect their places of birth to be recorded on their marriage and death records. But as we all know, theory doesn’t always line up with reality.

Evidence for Joseph Klaus

Joseph Klaus (or Claus, a spelling he seemed to prefer) married Mary Brzuszkiewicz (Brooks) in St. Hedwig’s Church in Dunkirk, New York on 16 August 1910.15 According to their marriage record, Joseph was born in Buffalo, New York, circa 1887. His World War I draft registration states that he was born 19 February 1886.16 The 1915 New York State Census (in which his name appears as “Cloos”) also suggests a birth year of 1887, and only states that he was born in the U.S.聽17 The1910 census suggests that he was born circa 1885 in New York.18 In the聽1905 New York state census,聽he was not listed with his family, and it’s unclear whether he was living independently at that point, or if he was merely omitted from the census due to error or miscommunication.19 Joseph Klaus died of influenza on 7 October 1918, and his death certificate states that he was born 25 February 1886 in Buffalo, New York (Figure 8).20

Figure 8: Death certificate for Joseph Claus (sic), indicating birth on 25 February 1886 in Buffalo, New York.20Joseph Klaus death certificate

In all these documents, the details such as address, occupation, and parents’ names confirm that they relate to the same individual, despite the misspellings or variant spellings of the surname. Moreover, all these documents point to a date of birth betwen 1885-1887, probably in February of that year, and they all consistently claim that he was born in New York State, probably Buffalo. In light of the new evidence that his parents were married in Buffalo after all, maybe I should finally believe all this documentation and look for his baptismal record in Buffalo? 聽I’m definitely more inclined to do that now, but I’m still not 100% convinced that the Texas story is completely false. For one thing, these dates of birth are clearly impossible, given that his father didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1889, so who’s to say that Joseph was not similarly ill-informed about his place of birth? And what about John Klaus? What do the records tell us about his place of birth?

Evidence for John Klaus

John Klaus’s story was even briefer than his brother’s. My grandfather was not even aware of his existence — it was Cousin Jul who first mentioned him, and I’ve since been able to verify his existence. (Score another point for Jul.) Like Joseph, he is not mentioned in the 1905 census with the rest of the family.19 John’s life was documented in only three records that I have discovered to date: his death record, dated 18 June 1905; a newspaper article from the North Tonawanda Evening News, dated 27 January 1905 (Figure 9); and the 1900 census.

Figure 9: North Tonawanda Evening News article mentioning John Klaus.21

John Klaus coal theft

Although this article does not mention his parents’ names, my Klauses were the only family by that name living in North Tonawanda at the time. John Klaus was reported to be 15 years of age in January 1905, suggesting a birth year of 1889-1890. This is consistent with his death certificate, which reports his age as 15 years, 8 months, 3 days when he died on 18 June 1905, from which we can calculate a date of birth of 15 October 1889.22聽The death certificate further states that he was employed as a “meter carrier,” that he was born in New York, and was the son of Andrew Klaus and Mary Lenke (sic), both Austrian-born. John died of tubercular meningitis.

Again, we have a problem with the timeline. How is it possible for John Klaus to have been born in New York in 1889? Do we believe the body of evidence gathered for Joseph and John, or do we believe those passenger manifests?

1900 Census to the Rescue!

For me, the 1900 census goes a long way toward resolving this conflict (Figure 10).23

Figure 10: Extract from the 1900 census for Buffalo, New York, showing the family of Andro (sic) Klaus.1900 United States Federal Census - Andrzej Klaus

Even though both Ancestry and FamilySearch indexed the family as “Klano,” rather than Klaus, there’s no doubt that this is the correct family. In 1900, the family was living at 43 Clark Street in Buffalo, New York. Andrew reported his date of birth as November 1863, reasonably close to his actual birthdate of November 1865. Similarly, his year of immigration (1888) and place of birth (“Poland-Aus”) were pretty consistent with other evidence. Mary reported that she was born August 1864 in Austrian Poland — a little bit off from her actual date of birth of April 1866, but we can live with it. She reported that she arrived 1887, which is also a little off from her actual arrival date of 1884, but is at least consistent insofar as she confirmed that she arrived in the U.S. before her husband. Andrew and Mary reported that they’d been married for 10 years, suggesting a marriage year of 1890, which fits nicely with the date on the marriage record I just discovered for them, in January 1891 (more on that in a minute).

Turning now to the children’s places of birth, we note with some dismay that all of them were reported to have been born in New York — no reference to Texas here. However, the fact that all the children were reported to have been born in New York — including the two for whom there is documented evidence of birth in St. Louis, Missouri — implies that it’s still quite possible that the oldest two might have been born somewhere other than New York — Texas, for example. All evidence suggests that the Klaus family was anything but affluent — barely making ends meet, even stealing coal to heat their home in January. Perhaps the effort of putting food on the table was sufficiently overwhelming that an accurate accounting of the children’s places of birth was simply not important to them. Who cares where the children were born? Let’s just say they were all born in New York.

Andrew and Mary were equally imprecise when reporting their children’s dates of birth. In this document, we see that 9-year-old Joseph was reported to have been born in March 1891, 7-year-old John was reported to have been born in June 1892, and 4-year-old Annie was reported to have been born in July 1896. Andrew and Mary’s system for estimating their children’s ages seems to have broken down completely by the time they reached Apolonia, since her reported date of birth was August 1896, implying that she was exactly one month younger than her sister Anna. They did somewhat better with the younger children: Genowefa’s date of birth was reported as June 1897, whereas she was actually born 28 September 1897,24 and Edward’s date of birth was reported as October 1899, while his actual date of birth was 11 September 1899.25

Clearly, these dates are off: 聽We know that Anna was born November 1892, and we know now that Andrew and Mary were married in January 1891. If we assume that children aren’t typically spaced closer than 11 months, that would suggest that John Klaus was born no later than December 1891. This, in turn, suggests that Joseph was either conceived out of wedlock prior to his parents’ marriage in January 1891, or that he and John were twins. 聽Although twins were common in both the Klaus and 艁膮cki families (Mary’s father, Jacob, was a twin, and Andrew had two younger brothers who were twins), it seems unlikely that such was the case here, since one might expect Andrew and Mary to report on census records that the boys were the same age, even if they couldn’t remember exactly how old they were.

In any case, it’s unlikely that Joseph Klaus was born as early as 1885-1887, as he reported in documents later in life, because there’s a big difference between a child of 9, and a teenager of 13-15. Even if the parents couldn’t remember his exact date of birth, they’d be unlikely to be so far off in reporting his age. On the other hand, according to the proposed timeline, Joseph would have been born in 1890, and John would have been born in 1891, which seems pretty plausible, given their ages reported here.

So what about that marriage record for Andrew and Mary Klaus, and where does this leave us with knowing where Joseph and John might have been born, as well as finding their birth records?

The Rest of the Story

I discovered Andrew and Mary’s marriage record in a wonderful online index to church records from St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, created by Kasia Dane. Her index isn’t new, it’s been online for some time now, and I use it frequently. In fact, it’s such a great resource that my Polish friend, Waldemar聽Chor膮偶ewicz, recently reformatted it and added it to the Polish vital records database Geneteka (under “Pozosta艂e,” at the bottom of the list of provinces on the main search page) to aid Poles seeking their family members who might have immigrated to Buffalo. However, I just hadn’t thought to search for the Klauses in that index until yesterday, for all the reasons mentioned here. It was only in the spirit of leaving no stone unturned that I decided to check the index, never really expecting them to be there. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they actually were.

Figure 10: Entry for the marriage of Andrzej Klaus and Marya 艁膮czka (sic) from Kasia Dane’s index of marriages from St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, New York, 1889-1894:

Klaus entry.png

I’m looking forward to getting a copy of the original record on my next trip to Buffalo. (St. Stan’s church records are available on microfilm at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.) I’ll also analyze the marriage record more fully in my next blog post, because this one record has prompted some interesting further discoveries. For now, I’ll just conclude by mentioning that I did, of course, check Kasia’s index to baptismal records at St. Stan’s for the baptisms of Joseph and John, and they were not there. In fact, the only Klaus children that were mentioned there were children of Andrew and Mary, all of whom I had documented previously — Genowefa/Genevieve, Edward, W艂adys艂aw/Walter, and a son,聽Boles艂aw, who was born in 1895 and died in infancy.26 This doesn’t necessarily imply that Joseph and John Klaus weren’t born in Buffalo, it only means that they weren’t baptized at St. Stanislaus. Other Polish parishes that were in existence in Buffalo circa 1890-1891 were St. Adalbert’s, founded in 1886, and Assumption in Black Rock, founded in 1888. Records from both these parishes are on microfilm from at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, so I’ll be excited to check them out on my next trip to the library.

All in all, I’m thrilled to have finally found Andrew and Mary’s marriage record, even if’s slightly humiliating that it was under my nose all this time. One more piece in the family history jigsaw puzzle has now fallen into place, and my understanding of my ancestors’ journey is a little bit clearer. Whether their migration path took them through Texas for a brief window of two years, or whether that was all a bizarre tall tale, remains to be seen. I’m looking forward to discovering the truth!

Sources:

Featured Image: Wedding photo of Mary聽艁膮cka Klaus and her second husband,聽W艂adys艂aw/Walter Olszanowicz, 21 November 1916, North Tonawanda, New York.聽Back Row, left to right: Apolonia/Pauline Klaus Sobu艣聽(Mary’s daughter), holding her son, Edward Sobu艣; Stanis艂aw/Stanley Sobu艣(Pauline鈥檚 husband); Anna Klaus Gworek (Mary’s daughter); Jacob Gworek (Anna鈥檚 husband); Genowefa/Genevieve Klaus Zielinska (Mary’s daughter, my great-grandmother).
Front Row, left to right: Julia Sobu艣聽Ziomek (Cousin Jul, daughter of Pauline Klaus Sobu艣); Unknown (most probably the groom’s marriage witness, Mary Jedrychanka); Walter Olszanowicz ; Mary 艁膮cka聽Klaus; Joseph Zieli艅ski聽(Genevieve鈥檚 husband, my great-grandfather); Marie Gworek Glitta (crouching on floor, Anna鈥檚 daughter); Helen Klaus (Mary’s daughter)

1聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1866, #20, baptismal record for Marianna 艁膮cka.

2聽Maciej Orzechowski, “Kolaczyce Births”, Baptismal record for Joannes 艁膮cki, transcribed from the collection, “Roman Catholic Church records, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Ma艂opolskie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1864, #36; report to Julie Szczepankiewicz, Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

3聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Zgony, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1864, #55, record for Joannes 艁膮cki.

4聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1872, #25, Record for Joannes 艁膮cki.

5聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1863, #3, record for Josephus 艁膮cki.

6聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Ko艂aczyce, Jas艂o, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Zgony, 1826-1889”, Stare Kopie, 1879, #45, record for Anna 艁膮cka.

7聽Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008), http://www.ancestry.com, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1731, record for Jakob Lacki, accessed on 3 August 2017.

8聽New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010), http://www.ancestry.com, Year: 1884; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 475; Line: 46; List Number: 506, record for Jacob Lacki, accessed on 3 August 2017.

9聽Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008), http://www.ancestry.com, record for Andrzey Klaus, accessed on 3 August 2017.

10聽Roman Catholic Church, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary (Borki, Szczucin, D膮browa, Ma艂opolska, Poland), “Ksi膮g Metrykalnych,” 1865, births, #37, record for Andreas Klaus.

11Roman Catholic Church, St. John the Baptist Parish (Ksi膮偶nice, Mielec, Podkparpackie, Poland), Ksi臋gi metrykalne, 1615-1919, 1830, #16, baptismal record for Jakub Klaus, FHL film #939982.

12聽Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008), http://www.ancestry.com, record for Andrzey Klaus, accessed on 3 August 2017.

13聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish (St. Louis, Missouri, USA), Church records, 1880-1993, Baptisms, 1880-1923, 1892, #127, record for Anna Klaus, FHL film #1872178.

14聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish (St. Louis, Missouri, USA), Church records, 1880-1993, Baptisms, 1880-1923, 1894, #2, record for Apolonia Klaus, FHL film #1872178.

15聽New York,聽Chautauqua, Dunkirk, Office of the City Clerk, Marriage Certificates, 1910, #431, marriage certificate for Joseph Klaus and Mary Brzuszkiewicz, 16 August 1910.

16聽U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005),聽www.ancestry.com, Chautauqua, New York, Roll:聽1712292; Draft Board:聽1, record for Joseph J. Claus, accessed 4 August 2017.

17聽New York, State Census, 1915聽(population schedule), Dunkirk, Chautauqua, New York, Election District 03, Assembly District 02,聽page 38, Joseph Cloos household,聽https://www.ancestry.com/, subscription database, accessed 4 August 2017.

18 1910 U.S. Federal census聽(population schedule), Dunkirk, Chautauqua, New York, E.D. 115, sheet 14B, Joseph Cloos in Elizabeth Couhig household,聽https://familysearch.org, accessed 4 August 2017.

 

19聽New York, State Census, 1905聽(population schedule), North Tonawanda, Niagara, New York, Election District 01, page 60, Anderes Kraus (sic) household,聽https://www.ancestry.com/, subscription database, accessed 4 August 2017.

20 New York,聽Chautauqua, Dunkirk, Office of the City Clerk, Death Certificates, 1918, #130, death certificate for Joseph Claus, 7 October 1918.

21聽鈥淐oal Thieves Were Fined,鈥 The Evening News聽(North Tonawanda, New York), 27 January 1905, p. 1, https://fultonhistory.com.com, accessed 4 August 2017.

22聽New York, Niagara, City of North Tonawanda, Office of the City Clerk, Death Certificates, 1905, #2016, death certificate for John Klaus, 18 June 1905.

23聽1900 U.S. Federal census聽(population schedule), Buffalo, Erie, New York, E.D. 84, sheet 28A, Andro Klano (sic) household, https://familysearch.org, accessed 4 August 2017.

24聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA), Baptisms, 1874-1903, 1897, #620, baptismal record for Genowefa Klaus.

25Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA), Baptisms, 1874-1903, 1899, #396, baptismal record for Edward Klaus.

26聽Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA), Baptisms, 1874-1903, 1895, #757, record for Boles艂aw Klaus.

 

漏 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2017

The Walsh family of St. Catharines in the Parish Census

Recently, I wrote about census records in Poland, and the kinds of census records one might find. One type of census record that I mentioned is called the status animarum in Latin, and it’s a parish census that the pastor would conduct annually as he took stock of his parishioners’ spiritual well-being. These types of censuses were conducted throughout the Catholic Church, not just in Poland. Some of them happen to be available online — namely, parish census records from the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria in St. Catharines, Ontario, which was the home parish of my Walsh ancestors.

Meet the Walshes

The featured photo is a copy of an old tintype photo of four generations of the Walsh family, circa 1905. On the far left is Elizabeth (n茅e Hodgkinson) Walsh (1818-1907), my great-great-great-grandmother, and on the far right is her son (my great-great-grandfather), Henry Walsh (1847-1907). Next to Henry is his oldest daughter, Marion (n茅e Walsh) Frank (1878-1954), and next to her is her daughter, Alice Marion Frank. The image was cleaned up a bit courtesy of Jordan Sakal in the Genealogists’ Photo Restoration Group on Facebook.

The Walshes were an interesting bunch. My great-great-great-grandfather, Robert Walsh (1808-1881), was a Roman Catholic immigrant from Ireland to Canada who arrived some time before 1840 and worked as a tailor. Around 1840, he married Elizabeth Hodgkinson (1818-1907), an Anglican native of Ontario, and a granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Loyalists. Census records show that Robert and Elizabeth had 9 children: B. Maria, James George (later known as George James), Henry, Mary Ann, Robert, Elizabeth, Ellen (also known as Nellie), Thomas J. (baptized as John), and Joseph P. (baptized as Peter Joseph). Unfortunately, baptismal records have only been discovered for three of these: Elizabeth, Thomas J., and Joseph P., all of whom were baptized in the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria. It’s likely that their parents were married there as well. The parish was certainly in existence circa 1840 when the Walshes were married, but unfortunately, early records were destroyed when an arsonist burned down the original wooden church in 1842.1聽No one seems to know what became of the records created after the fire, between 1842 and 1851. The earliest records that have survived date back to 1852 (baptisms and marriages only). Apparently, duplicate copies of the parish registers were never made, and neither the parish itself, nor the archives for the dioceses of Toronto (to which the parish belonged before 1958) or St. Catharines (to which the parish belonged after 1958) is in possession of any records from before 1852.2,3,4

As is evident from the list of their children’s names, the Walsh family had a propensity for switching first and middle names, and they also used variations of their surname indifferently, appearing as Walsh, Welsh, and Welch. One example of this can be seen in Figures 1 and 2, which show the grave marker that Elizabeth Walsh shares with her husband and youngest son (Joseph P), in comparison with her newspaper death notice.

Figure 1: 聽Walsh monument in Victoria Lawn Cemetery for Robert, Elizabeth, and youngest son Joseph P. Walsh. The inscription for Elizabeth reads, “Elizabeth/Wife of/Robert Walsh/Died/Jan. 1, 1907/Aged 89 Years/Rest in Peace.” Photo courtesy of Carol Roberts Fischer.

elizabeth-walsh-grave-inscription

Although the name appears as “Walsh” on the family monument, both her newspaper death notice5 and her death certificate6 report her name as Elizabeth Welch (Figure 3):

Figure 2: 聽Death notice from the Buffalo Evening News for Elizabeth Welch, 3 January 1907.5

elizabeth-welch-obit-buffalo-evening-news-wed-2-jan-1907-crop

With so much variation in spellings of names, and with a surname that is so common to start with, particularly in St. Catharines, which was home to a large Irish immigrant population, one must proceed with caution when examining any records that might potentially pertain to this family. Canadian census records, city directories, and church records all show a number of different Walsh, Welsh and Welch families which may or may not be related to my own. This parish census collection was no exception.

Identifying the Walsh Family in the Parish Census

Once I started searching the parish census, it didn’t take long to find this record (Figure 4):

Figure 4: 聽Walsh family in the 1885-1886 Status Animarum for St. Catherine of Alexandria parish, St. Catharines, Ontario.walsh-family-status-animarum-cropped-marked

This shows a Mrs. Walsh with sons Thomas and Robert. Not a lot of information to go on, but I’m sure these are mine, for several reasons. First, Mr. Walsh is not mentioned, consistent with the fact that the census is from 1885-1886 and “my” Robert Walsh died in 1881. Second, the entries on this page all seem to be families living on Lake Street, which is where my Walshes were listed on several city directories as having residence (Figure 5):7

Figure 5: 聽“Welch” entries in St. Catharines City Directory, 1877-78.7dir-of-st-cath-1877-78-thorold-merriton-port-dalhousie

The above entries for “Welch” include Robert, a merchant tailor, and his sons, Henry, a teamster, and Robert, Jr., who was co-owner of the “Rogers and Welch” livery service, all living at 34 Lake Street. This is consistent with the parish census, which indicates that the mother, “Mrs. Walsh,” is (or was) a tailor. The fact that the word “tailor” is crossed out may suggest a correction made by the priest, due to the fact that her late husband was a tailor but she herself was living as a dependent of her sons at that point. Thomas was originally recorded as being occupied in the livery business, but this, too, is crossed out, and corrected to “tailor.” The second son, Robert, is recorded as being employed in the livery business, consistent with the information from the city directory.

The family’s religious observance is recorded in the next column with Elizabeth being described as “careless” in her Mass attendance, while her sons were apparently not practicing. Perhaps by way of explanation, the priest noted in the final column that she was “a convert” and added, “three mixed marriages: 聽James — Main Street/Henry Lake Street/Mrs. Divine at Henry’s.” This notation points to the other ecumenical marriages in the family at that time: 聽Elizabeth’s son, James George married Jane Lawder, a Protestant; her son Henry married Martha Agnes Dodds, also Protestant, and daughter Ellen (“Nellie”) married Charles DeVere (recorded here as “Divine”). On the preceding page in the book, we find the family of Henry Walsh (Figure 6):

Figure 6: 聽Henry Walsh family in the 1885-1886 Status Animarum for St. Catherine of Alexandria parish, St. Catharines, Ontario.henry-walsh-family-1885-parish-census-cropped-marked

Henry Walsh is listed as a carter here, consistent with other sources which stated his occupation as teamster. His wife’s name is not stated here, but his wife, Martha Agnes Dodds, was Protestant. The child living with them, “Maud,” is noted to be 8 years old and attending day school. This suggests that “Maud” is their oldest daughter, Marion, who was born in 1878. It’s unclear why none of their other children are mentioned, since Henry and Martha’s daughters Clara and Katherine were born in 1880 and 1883, respectively. The other couple living with them, “Chas. Divine and Mrs. Divine,” are undoubtedly Henry’s sister, Ellen “Nellie” and her husband, Charles DeVere, also known as Charles Dolphin or Charles Dolfin. Although this is another fine example of variant surname spellings run amuck, their civil marriage record聽(Figure 7) shows that the groom was Protestant and the bride was Catholic, consistent with the notation about a “mixed marriage” on the parish census record.

Figure 7: 聽Civil marriage record for Nellie Welch and Charles Dolphinnellie-welch-and-charles-dolphin-1883-civil-marriage-marked

Although the original parish census entry for “Mrs. Walsh” mentioned the family of James Walsh, living on Main Street, there is no corresponding entry for this family in the parish census book, nor was Main Street listed as an address for any families in the census book. 聽It’s possible that these addresses would have belonged to another parish in St. Catharines since there were several Catholic parishes in St. Catharines by the mid-1880s.

Parish census records are unlikely to provide any earth-shattering new data in areas in which other census records survive. Nonetheless, they may offer some useful insights to add to our understanding of our families within their local communities. If you have Catholic ancestors from St. Catharines, be sure to check out this collection to see what you might find!

Sources

1聽“Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Catharines.” Wikipedia. Accessed October 21, 2016. https://www.wikipedia.org/.

2聽Price, Rev. Brian. Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kingston. E-mail message to author. July 7, 2016.

3聽Sweetapple, Lori. Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. 聽E-mail message to author, July 11, 2016.

4聽Wilson-Zorzetto, Liz. Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines. 聽E-mail message to the author, July 14, 2016.

5聽Death notice for Elizabeth Welch, January 3, 1907, http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html,聽Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, New York, online images.

6聽Buffalo, Erie, New York, Death Certificates, 1907, #198, record for Elizabeth Welch.

7聽Leavenworth, E.S., ed. “Welch” in聽Directory of St. Catharines, Thorold, Merriton, and Port Dalhousie, for 1877-78.聽St. Catharines: Leavenworth, 1877. 79.

漏 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2016

On Research Distractions and Why a Good Archivist Can Be Your Best Friend

I’ve never been one of those family historians who likes to stick to researching just one family line until it’s “complete” and then start another line. 聽For one thing, in our hobby, each answer (i.e. a person’s name) leads to two more questions (his or her parents’ names). 聽Sometimes a new bit of data can turn up unexpectedly, which prompts me to drop the research I’d been working on and follow the new trail for a while to see where it leads. 聽This tendency toward distraction is sometimes referred to as “genealogical ADD,” and there are plenty of internet memes which suggest that this is a good way to waste a lot of time with little to show for it in the end. 聽However, I often find that taking a break from a line and coming back to it later helps me to see the research with fresh eyes, allowing me to make new connections in the data that I’d missed previously.

I’ve discovered that the secret to making progress while jumping around in my research is to keep good research notes. 聽I use Family Tree Maker, which currently offers options for both “person notes” and “research notes.” 聽I use this section to keep a research journal, where I analyze my data, brainstorm hypotheses, plan my next steps, and keep track of phone calls and correspondence with archives, collaborators, churches, cemetery offices, etc. 聽Sometimes it takes time before a reply is received, so rather than sitting by the phone with bated breath, I move on to other research tasks.

The other day, something prompted me to take a look at where I’d left things with my Dodds line from St. Catharines, Ontario. 聽Robert Dodds was one of my great-great-great-grandfathers on my Dad’s side of the family, born in England on 28 January 1817, according to the 1901 Census of Canada. 聽He died on 16 August 1906, according to his civil聽death certificate, and is buried in St. Catharines in Victoria Lawn Cemetery, Section G. 聽Unfortunately, this civil death certificate does not reveal Robert’s parents’ names, which I need to know in order to further my research. 聽His marriage record might also mention his parents’ names, but unfortunately, that’s been difficult to locate as well.

Robert married Catherine, whose maiden name has been variously reported as Irving1 or聽Grant.2聽 Most sources agree that Catherine was born in Ontario of Scottish parents, rather than having herself been born in Scotland, as suggested by the death record of her daughter (my great-great-grandmother), Martha Agnes (n茅e Dodds) Walsh.1 聽Robert and Catherine probably married circa 1839-1840, since their oldest daughter, Hannah Dodds, was born 20 January 1841. However, early records for Upper Canada/Canada West are very spotty, as many did not survive, and it’s not clear exactly where Robert and Catherine married, or even in what faith.

Robert Dodds reported his faith as Methodist in 1861, Church of England in 1871, 聽Methodist in 1881, and Church of England again in 1891聽and 1901. 聽Catherine Dodds聽reported her faith as Methodist in 1861, Presbyterian in 1871, and she died in 1872. 聽Rather conveniently, the Methodist and most of the Presbyterian churches in Canada merged with some other Protestant faiths in 1925 to become the United Church of Canada, so their archive is an obvious place to check for the marriage record. 聽About 30% of the Presbyterian churches in Canada chose not to participate in this merger, and these non-concurring or continuing Presbyterian churches became the Presbyterian Church in Canada. 聽Again, their archive is another obvious place to check. 聽However, many congregations have retained their own records instead of sending them to the archives, so it’s important to know where the marriage took place.

This brings me to the second problem, determining where they married. 聽It’s common to use census records to track the movement of families and individuals, but unfortunately, the first time we see Robert and Catherine in the census is in 1861, when they are living in Grantham and are already the parents of seven children. 聽As mentioned previously, it’s likely that Robert and Catherine were married circa 1840, so the 1842 Census for Canada West would be an obvious place to search for the young family to see if they were already in Grantham at that point, or if they were elsewhere in the province. 聽Unfortunately, most of the returns for this census did not survive, including those for Lincoln, Elgin, and Glengarry Counties, which are the three counties associated with this family based on other records. The situation is not much better with the 1851 Census. As luck would have it, and despite the fact that many returns for the Lincoln District did survive, the returns for the Township of Grantham and the City of St. Catharines did not.

By 1871, the family had moved to Yarmouth Township in Elgin County, where Catherine died in 1872 and is buried in Union Cemetery. 聽Her grave transcription聽reads, “DODDS聽/聽聽In Memory of /聽聽Catharine /聽聽wife of /聽聽Robert聽DODDS聽/聽聽died /聽聽June 12, 1872 /聽聽aged 54 yrs. 1 month & 22 days.聽聽/聽聽My children dear assemble here聽聽/聽聽A mother’s grave to see聽聽/聽聽Not long age I dwell with you聽聽/聽聽But soon you’l dwell with me.” 聽(I find that transcription especially compelling in a morbid sort of way.) 聽Catherine’s death certificate聽states that she was born in “Martin Town,” that she was Presbyterian, and that she died at the age of 53, which would suggest a birth year of 1819. 聽Her grave marker suggests a birth date of 20 April 1818. 聽“Martin Town” points clearly to Martintown, Glengarry County, Ontario, a place settled by immigrants from the Scottish Highlands, which is consistent with what we know of Catherine’s Scottish parentage.

The original Presbyterian Church that served Martintown was St. Andrew’s in Williamstown. 聽Marriage records for this church are indexed here聽for the time period from 1779 to 1914 “with a couple of gaps.”3聽 However, closer inspection reveals that there are no marriage records past 1815. 聽In fact, this index seems to correspond to the collection of St. Andrew’s church records available on microfilm from the LDS, which exhibits the same gap from 1818 until 1855. 聽And as luck would have it, that gap neatly encompasses both Catherine’s birth record, circa 1818, as well as the record of her marriage, if it took place in this parish, circa 1840. 聽So at this point, we can’t say whether the negative result is because the record no longer exists, or because Robert and Catherine Dodds did not marry in this parish. 聽For kicks, I checked all the indexed births, marriages and deaths for the surnames Grant and Irving, even though the particular range of years I need is not available. 聽 Interestingly, I discovered that the surname Irving does not exist anywhere in these indexed records, although the surname Grant is quite common in the parish.

So where does that leave us? 聽Well, at this point, I still don’t know where Catherine and Robert might have met and married. 聽It might have been at St. Andrew’s in Williamstown, but if that’s the case, then the record may no longer exist. 聽I still don’t know Catherine’s parents’ names, although the data seem to point toward Grant as a more likely candidate for her maiden name than Irving. 聽But even in the absence of birth and marriage records, it occurred to me that I could still try to find church burial records for both Catherine and Robert, and perhaps by some miracle, these might contain their parents’ names, even though the civil death records did not.

I struck out fast with Catherine’s death record. 聽I contacted Union United Church, which is the descendant of the original聽Union Wesleyan Methodist Church which operates the cemetery in which Catherine was buried, to inquire about burial records. 聽Unfortunately, I was told that they, “have no records that date that far back any longer either.”4 聽Robert’s church death record seemed a bit more promising, as there were a number of Anglican churches in St. Catherines by the time of his death in 1906. 聽To help me determine which one might have his death record, I telephoned Victoria Lawn Cemetery, where he is buried. 聽The secretary was very helpful. 聽She informed me that Robert Dodds’聽interment was handled by MacIntyre Funeral Home, and “Rev. R. Kerr” was the pastor who performed the services. 聽A quick Google search shows that Rev. Robert Kerr (or Ker) was the rector of St. George Anglican Church in St. Catharines. 聽A bit more digging revealed that burial records from St. George have been microfilmed and are available from the archive at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. 聽I contacted them immediately to inquire about obtaining a look-up.

And that was when “real life” and other research pulled me away, and I put my Dodds line on the back burner again. 聽I wrote that e-mail to the archivists at McMaster University back on 4 September 2014, almost two years ago. 聽Almost immediately, I received one of those standard, “thank you for your inquiry, one of our archivists will be in touch with you shortly,” e-mails, and then nothing further. 聽I didn’t think about it again (obviously!) until just recently. 聽Flash forward to earlier this week, when something made me look back at my Dodds research. 聽In reviewing my notes, I realized that I’d never received a reply from the archivist at McMaster. 聽So I wrote to them again, mentioning my previous e-mail from September of 2014.

Lo, and behold! 聽I received a reply from a library assistant, informing me that one of the archivists, Bridget Whittle, had聽replied to me back in 2014, but the e-mail was sent accidentally to the Research Help department. She forwarded Bridget’s old e-mail to me:

“Your email was forwarded to us here in the Archives. Thank you for your inquiry. I’ve had a look at St. George’s Church in St. Catharine’s and there was no burial record for Robert Dodds in 1905 or the surrounding years. Is it possible it was a different church in St. Catharine’s?”5

How about that? 聽She’d actually taken the time to review the microfilm for me, no charge!

I wrote back to her to explain the conversation with the cemetery office at Victoria Lawn, and wondered if perhaps Rev. Robert Kerr ministered at more than one parish in St. Catharines, which might account for the lack of burial record at St. George. 聽Bridget replied,

“Given the information you received from Victoria Lawn Cemetery, it really does sound like it should be St. George鈥檚 to me. I checked again, just to be certain that I hadn鈥檛 missed it somehow, but he鈥檚 definitely not there.

I checked all the other churches in St. Catharines that had burial records for that time and didn鈥檛 see Robert Dodds in any of them (or records suggesting that Robert Kerr was performing services there). I鈥檓 not certain whether this means that for some reason the entry was never made or if there is some other place it might be. I have checked the vestry records for the time as well as a miscellaneous file in the hopes that there would be something, but again, came up short.

While all this is unfortunate, I鈥檓 afraid that for the names of his parents, you wouldn鈥檛 be likely to get it from the burial record anyway. I know you said you were having a hard time tracking down his marriage record, but that would be more likely to have the information.

Do you know if he was married in St. Catharines? Around 1840 is pretty sparse record wise, but I would be happy to have a look if you know the city he was married in.5

Wow! 聽It just makes my day to encounter someone so wonderfully helpful. 聽Of course I replied with more information regarding my search for their marriage record. 聽Bridget’s response was both thoughtful and on-point:

Thanks for going through all of those details. I can see why you鈥檙e running out of options. Based on your information I checked a few of the other churches (namely the one in Grantham and a few that are now part of St. Catharines, but were not at the time). Frustratingly, I鈥檝e still come up with nothing new. I was hoping I might catch a baptismal record for Hannah, at least so that we knew we were on the right track, but still nothing.

I have put a call into the Archivist for the Niagara Diocese, Archdeacon Rathbone, to see if we can figure out how it is that all of that information about Robert Dodds can be recorded at the cemetery and then not show up in the burial register. He鈥檚 away today, but I鈥檒l let you know what I come up with.

The records we have here don鈥檛 go as far east as Yarmouth, East Elgin. That falls under the Diocese of Huron. If you haven鈥檛 been in touch with them already, you can reach them here: 聽http://diohuron.org/what/HR/archives.php

You probably know this already, but the Methodist church in Canada merged with a few others to become the United Church. If you go hunting for the Dodds鈥 under the Methodist connections, you鈥檒l want to get in touch with them: 聽http://www.united-church.ca/leadership/church-administration/united-church-canada-archives

And good grief! I see what you mean about that 1901 census. I鈥檓 inclined to agree that it鈥檚 Jany [the month of Robert Dodds’ birth], but it鈥檚 a shame that it is so difficult to read (and that the UK census doesn鈥檛 go back that far). 聽I will let you know what the Archdeacon has to say. Hopefully he鈥檒l have some other lead.5

 

So what are the take-home messages in all of this?

聽1. Keep good research notes.

You never know when life is going to intervene and you might have to put down your research for a while. 聽As long as you have good notes, it should be easy to pick up again when you’re ready.

2. Follow up with all your leads (even if it’s two years later).

E-mails do get lost sometimes. 聽If you don’t hear from someone for a while, don’t assume he or she was ignoring you.

3. 聽Be sure to reach out to the librarians and archivists in the geographic areas in which you’re searching.

They are a fantastic resource — typically knowledgeable about the history of the area in addition to knowing what records, maps, finding aids, and reference works are available, and where to look for them. 聽Nothing beats local knowledge. 聽The search may continue for my elusive Robert and Catherine Dodds, but at least it’s nice to know that I’ve got some allies in my quest.

Sources:

  1. 聽New York, Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, County of Erie, City of Buffalo, Death Certificates, 1935, #4549, Death Certificate for Martha Dodds Walsh.
  2. Death record for Hannah Dodds Carty, eldest daughter of Robert and Catherine Dodds (click link for details and image).
  3. Per information at the parent website (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onglenga/), this index was created from, “‘St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church,’ (aka the Rev. John Bethune records); Williamstown, Charlottenburgh Twp., Glengarry, Ontario.聽Transcript by Dr. K. A. Taylor聽Registers of births, marriages and burials: 1779-1914 (original and typescript versions). MS 107 Reel 1. 聽File contains transcriptions from 1779 up to 1839 with a couple of gaps.”
  4. Whitehead, Karen. 聽“RE: 聽[Cemetery] Availability of Church Records.” Message to the author from unioncemetery.uucc@gmail.com. 聽4 Sept. 2014. 聽Email.
  5. 聽Whittle, Bridget. 聽“RE: 聽Question submitted through Ask a Librarian chat.” 聽Message to the author from archives@mcmaster.ca. 3 Aug. 2016. 聽Email.
  6. 聽Featured image: 聽Gordon, Bruce. Photo of St. Andrews United Church Cemetery. Digital image.Find A Grave. Find A Grave, Inc., 1 Sept. 2014. Web. 4 Aug. 2016.

 

漏 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2016

 

 

 

 

What’s in a name? My Zarzycki family of Buffalo, Rybno and Bra艅sk

I’ve been very busy with adding new data to my family tree for my Zarzycki family, thanks to my fabulous researcher in Warsaw, Justyna, who visited my ancestral parish in Poland to obtain records that are not available on microfilm, online, or in any archive. 聽 By way of introduction, my maternal grandmother’s father was Jan/John Za偶ycki, who immigrated to Buffalo, New York in 18951聽and eventually settled in North Tonawanda, New York. 聽My extended Zazycki family always insisted that the surname was spelled “Za偶ycki,” rather than the phonetically-equivalent “Zarzycki,” and furthermore, I was told by some that anyone with the surname “Zarzycki” was not likely to be related to us. 聽It may indeed have been the case that my great-grandfather preferred the spelling without the “r.” As you can see from the signature on his civil marriage record, John clearly spelled his name as “Za偶ycki”2: 聽Jan & Weronika Zazycki Marriage 2
John Zazycki’s naturalization papers contain both spellings, but one could argue that the places in which it was spelled with the “r” were the result of carelessness on the part of the clerk, since there is one place on the naturalization certificate where John’s name not only contains the “r,” but also appears as “Jarzycki”3:

Jan Zazycki naturalization certificate 2

Compare this with the Petition for Naturalization1, which John himself signed at the bottom:

Jan Zazycki Petition for Naturalization

However, any experienced family historian can tell you that one needs to be flexible and keep an open mind regarding variant spellings of surnames, and that is true in this case as well. 聽In records from Poland, I have only rarely seen the surname spelled as聽Za偶ycki. 聽For example, in records in which Jan’s father, Ignacy, is mentioned, the surname is spelled as “Zarzycki” on 17 occasions and as “Zarzecki” on 3 documents. In documents pertaining to Ignacy’s father,聽J贸zef, the surname has been spelled as “Zarzycki” 7 times, and as “Za偶ycki” only once. 聽In fact, that’s the only time I have ever seen the name spelled as “Za偶ycki” on a document from Poland.

My Zarzycki family was from the villages of Szwarocin and聽Bronis艂awy, which belong to the Roman Catholic parish of St. Bartholomew in Rybno. 聽All of these villages are presently in Sochaczew County, Mazowieckie province, but were in the Warsaw province of the Russian Empire at the time of my great-grandfather’s birth in 1866. 聽Literacy rates were quite low in the Russian Empire in those days — one estimate places the聽overall literacy rate聽of the Russian Empire at聽24% in 1897, while the rural literacy rate which would include small villages like Bronis艂awy, was as low as 19.7%.4 聽Despite this, there is evidence that Ignacy Zarzycki was literate: 聽his signature appears as distinct from that of the priest, on the birth records of two of his children. 聽Below is the birth record for Ignacy’s son, Leonard Zarzycki, in 1876.5 聽 Ignacy clearly signed his name as “Zarzycki.” 聽Leonard Zarzycki birth 1876

The same is true on this birth record for his son, Roman Aleksander Zarzycki in 18726:

Roman Aleksander Zarzycki birth 1872

So although it may have been the case that my great-grandfather preferred the spelling “Za偶ycki,” it appears that that preference may have begun with him, and has no bearing on the spellings that we see on records from Poland for this family. 聽In fact, not only does the spelling with the “r” predominate, but John’s own father spelled his name that way.

According to the paper trail for this family, Jan Za偶ycki was the son of Ignacy Zarzycki and Antonina聽Maci膮偶ek,2 and Ignacy was the son of聽J贸zef Zarzycki and聽Joanna Krzemi艅ska.7 Going back one generation further on the paternal line,聽J贸zef Zarzycki was the son of Adam Zarzycki and Wiktora Stolarska.8 聽In records pertaining to Adam, we see a different trend in spelling. 聽Out of twelve documents found to date in which he is mentioned, six of them give his name as “Zarzecki,” five of them spell it “Zarzycki,” and only one of them (the marriage record for his son,聽J贸zef) shows the spelling, “Za偶ycki.” 聽Interestingly, the documents that contain the spelling “Zarzecki,” tend to be older (1802-1812) whereas the spelling “Zarzycki” is found on documents dated between 1812-1828.

The record for Adam’s first marriage to his wife, Wiktoria, states that he was a newcomer to the community in Rybno, having moved there from his original place of birth in聽Bra艅sk:9

Bransk

If there were any doubt about which place called聽Bra艅sk was meant, it would be cleared up by the record for Adam’s second marriage to Agnieszka Kruczewska in 1810, in which Adam is said to be from Podlachia (Podlasie):10

1810 crop

Taken together, these two documents suggest the town of Bra艅sk, which is currently the seat of gmina Bra艅sk in Bielsk County, Podlaskie聽Voivodeship, approximately 143 miles from Rybno:

13246316_10207640187954005_3609992669130168736_o

Adam Zarzycki was born about 1769 to Kazimierz Zarzycki and his wife, Zofia,9 but there are novital records for the parish in聽Bra艅sk available for this time period from the Polish State Archives.聽The LDS Family History Library does have some vital records for聽Bra艅sk on microfilm聽including death records from 1797-1823, but no birth or marriage records from this or any earlier time periods, which suggests they might have been lost or destroyed. 聽So although it may not be possible to locate a birth record for Adam Zarzycki, it might be possible to locate death records for his parents, and this is an obvious direction for future research. Some of the existing records are indexed on Geneteka, including marriages from 1885-1896, and a search for “Zarzycki” reveals two marriage records with the spelling “Zarzecki”:

Bransk

Taken together, these data suggest that the original spelling of the surname was “Zarzecki,” and that it evolved to “Zarzycki” after Adam Zarzecki migrated to Rybno. 聽Analysis of the geographic surname distributions for both variants of the name (based on data from 2002) confirms that, although the “Zarzecki” spelling is generally less popular in Poland, it is significantly more common than “Zarzycki” in Bielsk County (124 bearers for Zarzecki/a聽vs. fewer than 50 for Zarzycki/a).

As this case demonstrates, surnames can evolve significantly over time and place, and the spelling variants that one sees may follow a particular pattern, rather than occurring at random. Tracking these changes can sometimes lead to a better understanding of a family’s geographic origins. 聽It will be interesting to see聽whether I can find additional traces of this family in the microfilmed death records from聽Bra艅sk — it’s unclear from Adam’s marriage record whether he was from the聽Bra艅sk area generally, or from that parish specifically. 聽But if I am able to find additional records there, you can be sure that I’ll pay close attention to how the Zarzycki/Zarzecki surname is spelled.


Sources:

1Erie, New York, #1892, Petition for Naturalization for Jan Zazycki, 12 July 1900.; Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin St.聽Buffalo, NY 14202.

2Buffalo, Erie County, New York, 1901, #202, marriage record for John Zazycki and Veronica Grzesiak.; Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin St.,聽Buffalo, NY 14202.

3Erie, New York, #1892, Certificate of Naturalization for Jan Zazycki, 8 August 1900.; Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin St.聽Buffalo, NY 14202.

4“Likbez.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 29, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Likbez#CITEREFGrenoble.

5Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew Parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Ksi臋ga urodze艅 1870-1880”, 1876, #87, baptismal record for Leonard Zarzycki.

6Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew Parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Ksi臋ga urodze艅 1870-1880”, 1872, #15, baptismal record for Roman Aleksander Zarzycki.

7Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew’s Parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Early birth records (before 1831)”, 1828, #34, baptismal record for Ignacy Zarzycki.

8Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew’s Parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Ksi臋ga 艣lub贸w 1826-1828”, 1826, #11, marriage record for J贸zef Za偶ycki聽and Joanna Krzymi艅ska.

9Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew’s parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Ksi臋ga 艣lub贸w 1790-1802”, 1802, #9, marriage record for Adamus Zarzecki and Victoria, parents’ names unknown.

10Roman Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew’s Parish (Rybno, Sochaczew, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Ksi臋ga 艣lub贸w, 1803-1810”, 1810, #8, marriage record for Adamus Zarzecki and Agnes Kruczewska.

漏 2016 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz

 

 

 

Welcome to my world!

I started this blog as a way of sharing my passion for family history research with family members, genealogy friends, and anyone else who is interested in following along. 聽Please feel free to share your comments, suggestions, questions, and ideas with me along the way.

Most of us family historians seek to understand who we are by understanding where we came from, and what kind of people our ancestors were. 聽I come “From Shepherds and Shoemakers,” but also from farmers, potters, tailors, teamsters, architects, laborers, and others. 聽As I develop this blog I hope to introduce you to them, and to provide some strategies and resources you might employ in your search for your own ancestors.

漏 2016 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz