Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rumors of Greatness

Poniatowski.  That's the family name I'm currently researching and there's a potential tie to a well-known historical figure:  Catherine the Great!

Stanislaw August Poniatowski was romantically involved with Catherine Alexeievna (Catherine the Great).  Through her influence, Stanislaw was elected the king of Poland in 1764. 

While I believe there's enough evidence to prove that Stanislaw was not a direct ancestor of ML, if one were to go back in history far enough, perhaps one could prove that he is a distant cousin, many times removed.  I don't imagine I'll be able to conclude definitively one way or another, but it is a fun connection to ponder.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sunny Days

Hi everyone,

I have to admit, the genealogy research this week has really taken a backseat to enjoying the sunny weather with my family & preparing for my son's baby dedication on Sunday. It's not often we have perfect weather in Cleveland, and I wanted to make sure I enjoy it while it lasts. My son certainly enjoys going on bike rides around our neighborhood!

This Sunday also marks Mother's Day so don't forget to let your mom know how much you care. Without her, (and her mom, and her mom...) you wouldn't be here right now.

In my first draft of this post, I realized I had added exclamation points to nearly every sentence. I must just be in a happy mood. Wishing you all the same!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Handwriting Challenge #1

Okay folks.. I've got a handwriting challenge for you all. This is some information from ML's grandparents as they came over to America. I'm trying to glean any more information from this record and thought I'd see what you thought. I'm pretty bad at reading handwriting, so I'm opening it up to your suggestions.

I know it says the following:
to son in law _________?
Shenandoah PA ______    302?

Would love to know the son-in-law's name, especially.  Arriving just a month earlier was another family member, also headed to Shenandoah:

This one though, is easier to read, as I have already encountered the family member.  It says:
to brother in law Mateusz Mikolajczewski Shenandoah PA ______ 230

It definitely looks like these family members are different, so any suggestions on the name would be fantastic!  :)  I'll have more handwriting challenges in the future.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Third visit with ML

I need to come up with a better title for this series.. :)

I had some time to visit with ML tonight... I'm pretty sure her smile is a little bigger each time she sees me walking down the hallway to visit. Today I shared with her the first Census (1910) that her family is listed on, her father's arrival at Ellis Island in 1907, and an all-in-one chart showing all of her relatives. I think she was most shocked by the all-in-one chart, realizing just how many other people she was connected to. I've only connected a little over 50 people, but seeing them all in one place certainly makes an impression. I could tell she really loved the Ellis island immigration form as well, and it took her back to her own memories of climbing all the stairs up to the arm of the State of Liberty. "I couldn't walk for two days after that" she described. Reading immigration records make me appreciate the sacrifices our ancestors made in the voyage to America in search of new lives. I try to imagine the faith it must have taken for the very first family member to venture to a new world. The spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation fill me with a sense of patriotism.

On the topic of innovation, ML also mentioned her father was smart and had invented something or two. I asked if there might have been a patent for it, and she didn't think so, but I still think it's worth pursuing. Has anyone tried this type of research before? She thought it was related to cars.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Fact or Fiction? That's the dilemma that seems to hinder this kind of research. I was able to find a record of ML's grandparents in the 1910 Census, along with her father and some uncles. I hadn't found it right away as it was indexed incorrectly, but very happy to have it now! The problem I'm facing now is that her grandparents list that they've been married for 23 years. This 23 is present on both the line for Simon, and for Elizabeth. The problem is their sons are listed as 29, 25, 22 and 20. I also know there are some daughters older than that too. So, is it an error in the transcription? Was the information just flat out wrong? Or is it possible some of these children were from a first-wife and Elizabeth is actually the second? Dun-dun-duuuun! Have you run into similar situations? What did you do to prove it one way or another?

Another interesting bit from the census is that Elizabeth mentions she has 8 living kids. I've found 7 so far, so I'm hoping I can confidently track down number 8.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poll: How do you share?

I've been pondering this problem for a bit and I'm not sure how to fix it, so I wanted to post a question to you. What's the best way of regularly sharing my findings with the residents? I've been spending a lot of time in Photoshop cropping and manipulating the records to get the important information on one page of paper and then printing the result. Unfortunately, this is a rather time-consuming process, but I don't know how else to do it: Printing the documents in their raw format will be illegible. (Think of printing a census record on a single page). I've thought about the idea of displaying results on a tablet that we could then zoom in and out with, but I can't really leave that with the residents either. It's nice that I can leave behind a paper copy they can review while I'm gone, but I'm just wondering if anyone out there has an idea for a better way to do this. What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Financial Friday: Donations

I debated whether I should include a button for donations, but in the end gave in as I could see this becoming an expensive service to produce. I feel like I should provide an explanation of where those donations will go.

Right now, I've personally paid for a 6-month membership to Ancestry which will end in September 2013. I only subscribe off-and-on (sometimes not for an entire year at a time). Primarily, donations would help with membership fees to this site, the bread and butter for my research. For just access to US records, this is $155 for an annual membership, or $23 per month.

In the rare event that there happens to be donated money beyond this, I have a few ideas for how those funds could be used:

*) Subscribing to a newspaper archive service would be a plus. Some newspapers are available on Ancestry, but there is next to nothing in the Cleveland area. This would cost roughly $20 per month or $70 per year.

*) Upgrading the Ancestry account to include international records. I don't really see enough value in this yet, but after working with more residents, I may have enough of a research backlog to begin looking in international records. Right now, the need is simply not there.

*) There are some other ideas like obtaining vital records, creating keepsakes once most of the research is complete, etc. I list these last as these are things I feel the nursing home may be willing to pay for.

I've decided that the Donate button is way too prominent though, and I've figured out how to move it to a separate page in Blogger, so I will work on doing that soon too. Donations aren't really the goal here.

I did want to send a shout-out to Laura for being the first one to donate, followed by my parents. As you can see from my shopping list, it's much appreciated! Thank you!

Just a reminder that Silver Branches is not an official charitable organization, (that is, donations here are not tax-deductible because I have not filed for a 501(c3) ) but I assure you that the funds will go to advancing this project and providing meaningful information to the nursing home residents.