Friday, April 19, 2013


I decided I wanted to start my own blog (all of these posts are sort of post-dated to fill in my prior thoughts) and as part of that I wanted a nice project name. I settled on "Silver Branches" to capture both the intended audience, and the service I'm providing. I think that will do just fine going forward. Sometime I'll need to work on the styling for my page, but I'm really bad at that kind of stuff. At work we've been discussing CSS pages a little, so I have a few ideas to try.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Polish Names

ML's relative has been contacting me quite a bit and has provided a number of useful reports & photographs. Possibly the most useful tip she shared with me has to do with Polish names. In Poland, some male nouns end in -ski, while the similar female nouns end in -ska. So a female with a dad's last name of Kaminski may change her last name to Kaminska. Keep this in mind when searching, as you'll likely want to search for both endings!

Also, keep in mind that up until 1918, Poland as we know it didn't really exist as a separate state, so ancestors may have reported that they were born in Russia, not Poland.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Visit with ML

Excited and nervous, I decided it was time I make a trip to the nursing home and share what information I had so far. I wasn't sure what to expect as I walked down the corridors to ML, as she was finishing up her dinner, but those fears quickly dissolved as I sat down with her and two other residents. Although she was in a wheelchair, she was sharp and as our conversation went on, she was doing a good job remembering useful details. It was somewhat difficult to hear some of the more painful memories from her childhood (father was an alcoholic, uncle turned to alcohol after breaking his leg, etc.). I'm hoping I can find some more uplifiting stories to share with her. I was able to find names of her grandparents, which she hadn't ever known before, or at least not her mom's side, so that was a plus. I left her with the information I had, and she seemed eager to dig through her photos and see what information she had to share with me the next time I visit. Overall, definitely a positive experience and I'm glad that I can work with her first - she's very easy to talk to!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Relatively Close Relatives

While researching for ML, I had come across an image on that was uploaded by another member & marked as "private". I was interested, because it appeared to be a picture of her father's gravestone. I contacted the member to see if they would be willing to share that with me. As it turns out, I have actually found a not-too-distant cousin of ML! Basically the person I contacted is her cousin's granddaughter. She and her dad (which would be "first cousin 3 times removed and first cousin 2 times removed) live about an hour away and would actually like to come and visit her in the nursing home! They have been in touch with a cousin that is still living in Poland [where ML's ancestors emigrated from] that is also helping with the research. I'm sure they're going to be able to provide a lot more information than I can get too, so I'll have to arrange for that visit sometime too.

I can't believe all this happened in just a few short days. Kind of validates my idea for this project, I think.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Playing Detective

Initially, I was only given a name, which I'll abbreviate ML. With only her first name and married last name, could I possibly find anything? I thought I'd give it a shot before I met with her. I did some preliminary research and because her name was so unique, I was quickly able to find the records I was looking for: 1920, 1930 & 1940 Census images, marriage records, even her father's World War I draft card. I had found the first bits of information, and I was excited to hear what she would think about them...