Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy New Year

Ahem.

Hello.

Anybody out there?

Boy, I sure am rusty at this blogging stuff. It's been a while. Quite a while.

I find myself staring at a blank page and wondering where to start. I have no idea. I didn't sit down with an outline of what to write. I just wanted to write something to break the ice, so to speak. It's a new year and I guess it's time for me to get back into blogging. In order to do that, I have to have something to write about. That means I'll have to get back to doing some genealogy and family history research. I haven't done anything along those lines in over a year.

A couple of months ago a dear friend sent me an email informing me that records from the ancestral village of one of my family lines are now online. I was delighted to learn that. I went to check them out and realized it was all foreign to me. Of course it would be because the records are written in Russian (Cyrillic) and I don't read Russian. But that aside, I realized that I've been away from everything genealogy-related for long enough that I can't just jump in and pick up where I left off. I'm going to have to learn the ropes again and that will take some time. The blogging will have to come along somewhere down the line after I get comfortable with what I'm genea-doing. ;-)

Anyway, if there is anyone still following this blog, Happy 2014! May your year be filled with genealogy successes!


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Polish Vital Records Online, Coming Soon!


Well here's an update to my previous post that I wasn't expecting to be posting this soon. Check it out. Good news indeed!

From the National Digital Archives of Poland website:

In the first half of 2013, we plan to publish more than 2.3 million scans in two rounds - in March and June. The attached list  archives, which are derived from the digitized resource materials, together with the number and name of the team. Due to the still ongoing cleanup of the whole immense material, we can not at this stage provide specific signatures. We reserve the right to minor adjustments of these statements. Any changes will be announced on our website.

(translation provided by Google Translate)

Unfortunately for me, none of my ancestral parishes are on this list. However, I am very excited to see that the process of digitizing the vital records of Poland is well underway and the first batch of records should be viewable online in just a few weeks! Yay!

**Hat tip to my friend Valerie who shared this info on her FB page this morning!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Polish Vital Records and My Family History

A couple weeks ago I read the following excerpt in the PGSA Notebook (Newsletter from the Polish Genealogical Society of America, January 2013).


RI-Poland and Polish State Archives Plan New Agreement
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (JRI-P) and the Polish State Archives (PSA) plan to sign an agreement that will define future cooperation between the two groups. It includes:
  • Access to data that will allow JRI-P to index all vital records that are more than  100-years old which have been transferred to PSA branches in the last six years
  • During the next four to five years, PSA will digitize all vital records (Jewish and non-Jewish) and make them available on the PSA National Digital Archives (NDA) or Regional Archives website.  There will be no charge for directly accessing the records.
  • As these records are added to the PSA site, JRI-P will be provided with the information necessary to enable it to link its search results to digital images of Jewish records.  JRI-P currently has 4.5 million records indexed.  This will be done by volunteers or paid professionals.  Currently the one town that is complete is Gora Kalwaria.
  • JRI-Poland will re-launch its Order Processing System that operated from 2003 to 2006, which simplified the process of getting copies of records from PSA.  During that period, JRI-P had a shopping cart system where clicking on a button next to one of their index entries would create an order to the PSA to provide a copy of the record.  This system will phase out as digitized records become available online but the total project will take a good number of years.
The indexing/linking of the records is a massive project that will include towns in Poland and the former Galician towns that were part of Poland between the wars.  Donations are being accepted at http://www.jri-poland.org.  Click on "support/donations" toward the top of the page.
From Nu?What's New? - Vol. 13, No. 52 - December 30, 2012


Upon reading this I said to myself, "Self, this is the best news we've heard in a long time!" I was particularly excited about the second bullet point... During the next four to five years, PSA will digitize all vital records (Jewish and non-Jewish) and make them available on the PSA National Digital Archives (NDA) or Regional Archives website. The will be no charge for directly accessing the records.

My heart rate accelerated a bit on learning about this project and I had to remind myself not to get too excited about it yet. After all, this is an agreement yet to be signed by the parties involved. But still, it holds such promise!

I've tried to be patient in waiting for FamilySearch.org to get the vital records for my ancestral villages in Poland uploaded. I've checked their list of indexing projects from time to time in hopes of helping out the cause. But FamilySearch.org is trying to get records uploaded for, well, a gazillion villages in hundreds of countries. It will be a while before they get around to mine. Some baptismal indexes for two of my ancestral villages are available but I have no idea when the actual images for those indexes will be made available online. If they ever are. There are no marriage or death records available online for those two ancestral villages. And it's anyone's guess when the images for my other ancestral villages will be made available. Patience, I tell myself. Patience.

Now it appears there may be another source option for online Polish vital records in the future. That's a really nice thought!

I've been toying around with the idea of writing a family history for a least one branch of my family this year. I'm basically done with my research (have been for a while) except for a few names here and there that I need to search for in neighboring villages. I wonder if I should just put a hold on that idea for another 4-5 years and see what becomes available online. Or am I just procrastinating? Perhaps the thing to do is write a history now and add an addendum when I'm able to fill in the few missing names and dates. Decision, decisions. I'm glad I have found as many of my ancestors as I have but at the same time I miss the days of research, discovery, and happy dancing.

Can I possibly think of enough things to say about my family history research to keep this blog going for another 4-5 years? Doubtful. Hmmm.

[[ Update: The agreement I referenced above was officially signed on February 15, 2013. ]]

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Carnival of Genealogy, 123rd Edition

Welcome to the November 4th, 2012 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic of today's edition is: birthday party! November is the month of my birth and I thought it would be a good time to visit the topic of birthday celebrations and perhaps honor family members born in the month of November. Please join us in this birthday celebration with a nice slice of cake and a glass of champagne! Sto Lat to all!

Pauleen presents 123rd Carnival of Genealogy: Birthday Parties posted at Family history across the seas.

Nancy Messier presents Nine Turning Ten posted at My Ancestors and Me, saying, "Every 9-year-old girl looks forward to her next birthday. Read what happened on mine."

Jasia presents Birthday Party Memories posted at Creative Gene. "I'm remembering the birthday parties of my childhood with great fondness."

Joan Hill presents 123rd COG: A Magical Birthday posted at Roots'n'Leaves, saying, "Autumn is a beautiful time of the year for a birthday -- and I want to share a most magical birthday experience."

Dorene Paul presents The "Birthday Four" posted at Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, saying, "Dorene from Ohio's great great grandfathers shared a birthday with two other friends, and they celebrated together for many years."

Carol presents 123rd Carnival of Genealogy :: Gonna Have a Birthday Party posted at Reflections From the Fence, saying, "Let's just cut to the chase: Happy Birthday Jasia!"

Cheryl Schulte presents, My Tenth Birthday posted at Two Sides of the Ocean, saying, "A 10th birthday party in Pomerania remembered many years later."


That concludes this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. I hope you enjoyed the birthday party! And thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes!!!



The Carnival of Genealogy is going on hiatus for a while. If you'd like to access previous editions of the COG you can do so here. Thank you to all the participants and devoted readers of the COG. You are the best!




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Friday, October 26, 2012

Birthday Party Memories


When I think back to the birthdays of my youth I remember only two birthday parties where friends were invited. The first party was held when I was 6 years old. The bottom two photos on my scrapbook page were taken at that party. The friends were all girls from the neighborhood and from my first grade class. I remember feeling really special that day because my mom bought me a little crown to wear at the party and everybody else got regular old cone hats. You can see my little crown better in the picture on the right.

Do you see the girl with blonde hair to my right in the photo on the bottom left? Her name was Mary Furman. She used to live two doors down from us. Her mother died and she and her father and sister moved away when I was in the second grade. I still think of her from time to time and wonder if we were related. I didn't know it at the time but my great grandmother's surname was Furman, Karolina Furman. Furman is a common surname so it's not likely that we were related, but still I wonder...

The second friends-only birthday party I remember was a surprise party thrown for me by my best friend Valerie for my 15th birthday. It was held in the basement of her home and all of my close friends were there. It was a sleepover party and we all had a great time. I even got a kiss (on the cheek) from Val's older brother who at the time all of us girls thought was super hunky. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from that party. It was fun though!

The rest of the years of my youth my family remembered my birthday with a birthday cake and gifts. It was always just a small after-dinner affair. On occasion my Aunt Ceily or Helen and George joined us. That made it feel a little more special. We lived in a small house with no dining room and the basement wasn't finished back then. Dinners with company presented a real challenge for my mom. You couldn't fit many people in the kitchen and going out to dinner was out of the question.

I always used to think of myself as lucky to have a birthday just a few days after Halloween. As a child, Halloween was always a big deal, long anticipated, and great fun. But there was sort of a let down when it was all over, for my friends that is. I still had my birthday to look forward to! :-) November in Michigan is usually cold, damp, and grey so any excuse for a party is a good one!

These days I usually celebrate my birthday with a couple of parties (one with my immediate family and one with my in-laws) and a couple of lunches with friends. It's nice to have a November birthday!

[Written for the 123rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.]

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Creative Gene, Doors of Faith

Over on the Catholic Gene blog there is a project going on where people have been asked to write about the Catholic churches their family and ancestors have attended to celebrate the Year of Faith 2012-2013. This wonderful project is the brain child of Lisa and is called Doors of Faith. I've written about my family's churches many times in the past so I will simply do a round-up here for anyone interested who may have missed these articles.

St Lawrence Church in Wojnicz, Poland is the ancestral church of many generations of my Mizera/Bober family lines. You can read about it here. You can't see the Doors of Faith very well in my scrapbook page below but you can see them better from the links in my article.


St Mikolaj Church in Zgorsko, Poland is the ancestral church of many generations of my Laska/Furman family lines. You can read about it here. You can see the Doors of Faith pretty good in the picture below.


Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Przeclaw, Poland is the ancestral church of many generations of my Lipa/Knot family lines (they lived in the nearby village of Bobrowa but it didn't have a church of it's own). You can read about it here. Below is the only photo I have of the old church from Przeclaw.


I have a cousin who is a priest at the Lodz Cathedral pictured below (I haven't written about this church on my blog). Doors of Faith are small but visible.


Moving on to churches on this side of the ocean...

When my Lipa family members first arrived in Detroit in 1881 they attended St Albertus Church in Detroit. You can read about it here. The Doors of Faith are a bit hidden here.



Later the Lipa family were founding members of Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit. You can read about it here. The Doors of Faith are barely visible. Sorry about that. They are really beautiful.


The Laska/Lipa family branched off to Detroit's west side and were members of St Francis D'Assisi Church. You can read about it here. Lots of Doors of Faith pictured here but from a distance.



And the Lisowski/Mizera branch of my family also moved to the west side of Detroit and attended Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. You can read about it here. Finally, some Doors of Faith you can really see.



I thought about sharing all the churches I have attended but this blog post would go on for far too long. So we'll just leave it at this. I've enjoyed sharing the Doors of Faith of my family. I hope you enjoy reading about them.

[Written for the Doors of Faith project on the Catholic Gene blog.]






Thursday, October 04, 2012

Carnival of Genealogy, 122nd Edition

Welcome to the October 4, 2012 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic for today's edition is: School Humor! I must admit I thought this would be a more popular topic than it was. But then, I'm often surprised which topics get a lot of submissions and which ones just a few. Gee, I hope people weren't put off by the need to register on the new BlogCarnival.com web site in order to submit an article. It isn't hard. Really!

We only have a few submissions today but they are good ones, guaranteed to make you smile if not laugh out loud. So pour yourself a cold glass of milk and put a couple cookies on a plate (that was your usual after school snack, right?) and come enjoy the humor of our school days!

Charles Hansen presents Missing Locker for the 122nd Carnival of Genealogy posted at Mikkel's Hus, saying, "You would think a locker built into a wall would not come up missing, but my locker did."

Dorene Paul presents When Mom Forgot It Was "Picture Day" posted at Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, saying, "Dorene recalls a time long ago when her mother forgot it was school picture day."

Donna Pointkouski presents I Was a Teenage Car Thief posted at What's Past is Prologue, saying, "My high school partner-in-crime and I weren't very good thieves, but we were excellent pranksters!"

Frances Ellsworth presents CreativeGene Carnival, 122nd Edition "School Humor" posted at Joyous Tomorrows, saying, "I am posting a story set in the time I was a school nurse and my daughter was a sophmore in High School."

Jasia presents It's Humorous Now, But It Sure Wasn't Back Then! posted at : : C R E A T I V E G E N E : : , saying "Some memories will be with you for as long as you live. These two funny ones fall into that category for me. Come share a laugh!

Cynthia Shenette presents Confessions of a Lunch Box Trader... posted at Heritage Zen:, saying, "What was in your lunch box? I really want to know..."

That concludes this edition of the COG. I hope our humor put a bright spot in your day! Maybe it reminded you of some humorous incidents from your own childhood. Please feel free to share in the comments below if you like.

Call for Submissions! The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: A Birthday Party! Yep, we're having a birthday party here at the COG and you're all invited! Whose birthday is it? Mine. :-) November is the month of my birthday and in honor of me I'd like to invite you to share a birthday story. (Yes, I know this is only October but the COG deadline and publish date for the next edition will be in November. ;-) Your story can be about a birthday party you hosted or was held for you. It can be a tribute to someone on your family tree who has a November birthday. Or, it can be a fantasy about your dream birthday! Please write up your birthday stories and submit them by the deadline of November 1st.

[[New Info! Please Read!]]
Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the COG submission form. Please note, the blogcarnival.com website has a new look and new management and they have made some changes to the way they do things. You will need to login to the blogcarnival.com web site to submit your articles. If you don't have an account with them you will need to set one up. (I know this seems like an annoyance but it's a good thing because it will cut down on the tremendous amount of spam submissions received.) Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link.


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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's Humorous Now, But It Sure Wasn't Back Then!

When I think back to my K/12 school years, I have many fond memories. I enjoyed school and I was a good student. I had lots of friends but I wasn't in the clique with the "cool" kids. My friends and I were not "jocks" or "nerds" or "frats". We were pretty much nobodies who hung with our friends from elementary school and those that lived in our immediate neighborhoods. One of my best friends throughout my school years was Pam, who lived next door to me when we were little. Her family moved about 4 blocks away at some point in our upper elementary school years but we remained good friends all through high school. 

Back in my K/12 years, "middle school" was known as "junior high" and it consisted of 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. I attended Thomas Edison Junior High School  for the years 1967-1970. (Don't bother to Google it. The school building was razed years ago and you won't find anything of interest about it.) Yep, those were the years of  Hippies, peace signs, free love, the Vietnam conflict, mini skirts, and the budding years of feminists and much political activism.  

Like most kids in the pre-teen years, Pam and I couldn't wait to grow up. We were boy crazy from a really young age. Our hormones had us bubbling over with our budding sexuality. By the time we entered junior high we were excited to go to football games and Friday night dances like the high school kids did. And like most kids at that age we were very self conscious. 

I had very few classes with my friends. We were at the tail end of the baby boom generation and there were a lot of us in school at that time. (There were over 600 in my high school graduating class.) However, I was lucky and happy to have Pam in my 7th grade Social Studies class. We sat next to each other and competed, in a friendly way, for top grades in that class. And when we weren't competing for grades we were getting into mischief. 

Mr. John Cotter was our Social Studies teacher. As I remember him, Mr. Cotter was tall and stocky and had an ordinary face until he was pissed off at which time he appeared very intimidating. He had a commanding personality when he was conducting class and he didn't tolerate much nonsense from his students. He wasn't one to crack jokes but he did throw around a bit of sarcasm that made us smile from time to time. All in all he was a pretty serious guy. 

I have a couple very precious and comical memories from Mr. Cotter's class and they both include Pam. The first one was really Pam's comical moment, not mine. The second one was the most embarrassing/horrifying incident of my K/12 years. These aren't the kind of incidents where you had to be there to "get it". These are the kinds of situations anyone can relate to. And smile about. 

One day, when we were having a class discussion about the meaning of democracy, Mr. Cotter asked a question. When no one raised their hand with the answer he called on me. As you would expect, everyone in class turned to look at me. And just at that exact moment Pam, sitting right next to me, sneezed. She tried to cover her mouth but she wasn't fast enough. Big long strands of mucus shot out from her nose to our desk/table and her hand, which was still quite a ways from her face. And those strands were still attached to her nose too! What a mess! She was mortified, of course, but couldn't really move without dragging the mucus with her. The class erupted in laughter. Gales and gales of laughter!!! Mr. Cotter, in his most commanding voice said, "Don't just stare at her! Get something to clean her up!" I reached down for my purse, which was under our table, and grabbed a couple tissues for her. But it was obvious she needed more than that. This was a super booger explosion! Pam ran out in the hall, and I went after her, to the nearest girl's restroom to clean her up. Thankfully, by the time we were done the bell had rung and that class was over. Once she was out of the classroom, Pam could see the humor in the situation and we laughed long and hard about that one! I've never forgotten it and I'll bet Pam hasn't either. 

And then there was my moment of mortification in Mr. Cotter's class... and after school. Pam and I were sitting next to each other, as usual, and I passed her a note during class. A paper note. You know, the old fashioned kind that kids used to use to communicate before cell phones and text messages. Mind you, he had warned us that if he caught anyone passing notes he would confiscate said note and read it aloud to the class. So I should have known better! But I didn't think I'd get caught!!! (famous last words before your goose is cooked ;-) He saw me pass the note and got up from his desk and walked over and stood in front of the table where Pam and I sat. He didn't say a word he just reached out his hand, palm up. Pam looked totally embarrassed as she handed him the note. I looked like I wanted to die because I did want to die. He opened up the note and opened his mouth to read it then thought better of it and said, "I'll see the both of you after school in my office." I knew I was in big trouble at that point because I had written something good Catholic girls didn't write in notes. What did the note say? "Mr. Cotter is T.S.T.S.A." 


Most of the kids in class groaned and encouraged Mr. Cotter to read the note but he refused and said he'd deal with it later. When we walked out of class after the bell had rung Pam asked me what the heck T.S.T.S.A. meant. I told her and she said, "I can't believe you wrote that! We're in big trouble now. What are we going to tell him?" To which I said, "You just tell him you don't know what it means because I didn't tell you and you won't get in any trouble. I'll think of some kind of explanation by the time we get to the meeting after school." That class was our first period after lunch so I had to worry about that after school meeting all afternoon. I couldn't concentrate on anything the teachers were saying in my other classes because I kept trying to come up with a reasonable explanation for T.S.T.S.A. It was all I could think about because there was no way I could tell him the truth. 

All too soon the school day ended and I had to go back to Mr. Cotter's classroom and face the music (his office was in the back of the classroom). I was so scared I was shaking. I hadn't come up with anything that T.S.T.S.A. could stand for besides what it stood for. Remember, I was only 12 years old when this happened. ;-) When I got to his office I could see that Pam was already in there and the door was open. I walked in and sat down and looked at Pam and she looked as scared as me. Mr. Cotter addressed us both and said, "Who wrote the note?" I admitted I did and he looked at Pam and said, "You can go." She got up and practically ran from the room. I'm sure she was hugely relieved that her time with him was over. I was hoping and praying a hole would open up in the floor and I would fall through it. No such luck. 

Mr. Cotter produced the note from his pocket, opened it up, and laid it on his desk. You know what came next... "What does T.S.T.S.A. stand for?" he boomed. 

My heart was beating so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack on the spot. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I looked down for a moment and one tear rolled down my cheek. I was absolutely mortified. I wiped the tear off my face, looked up at Mr. Cotter, and told him the truth because I couldn't think of anything else to say. "Too Sexy To Sleep Alone." 

I don't know what he was expecting to hear but it certainly wasn't that. He didn't say anything. He just stared at me for what felt like forever. He was probably trying to decide if I had the gall to be telling the truth. And he was trying desperately to keep his face from cracking a smile. He was pretty successful but I could sense his mirth just the same. Finally, he cleared his throat and said, "I'm not going to punish you any more than you're already punishing yourself. I think we're about done here." And with that he stood up and I stood up and I turned to leave the room thinking, "I can't believe that's all he's going to say!" He did give me one admonishment as I was leaving the room, "I don't want to see you passing any more notes!" "Okay!", I shouted back as I ran out into the hall to find Pam and share my mortification. But Pam wasn't there. She had gone on home and left me to face the wolf alone. I didn't blame her. I'm not sure I would have waited around if she'd been the one to write the note. It was a long walk home and I was a nervous wreck the whole time. I kept wondering what I would say if my mom saw how upset I was and asked me what was wrong. Telling her the truth would be even worse than telling Mr. Cotter. But I wasn't comfortable lying to her either. 

I guess I managed to pull off a serene face because I have no memory of talking to my mom about the incident. And I'm sure I would have remembered that! 

So how did I come up with the T.S.T.S.A.? It was something I'd overheard one of older girls in my neighborhood say in a conversation with my older brother. She was referencing a high school teacher she had. I thought it sounded cool and mature to be talking about a teacher that way. I was sooo naive. ;-)

Looking back, I think Mr. Cotter was a pretty cool dude. He could have dealt much more harshly with me than he did. I was never able to look him in the face again without feeling my humiliation. And I had him again for Social Studies for all of 9th grade! He was a good teacher though and I remember more of my assignments and class discussions from his class than from any other classes I had in my formative years. 

I can't help but smile when I think back to that note though. T.S.T.S.A.! What was I thinking, LOL!!!

[Written for the 122nd Carnival of Genealogy]

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Carnival of Genealogy, 121st Edition

Welcome to the September 4, 2012 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic for this edition is: Great Discoveries! We're writing about those things that have made us do the "happy dance", amazed and astounded us, or perhaps caused us to shed a tear. These are significant finds and we just had to share them with you! I know you'll be amazed at where and how we have come across the information that led us to these discoveries about our family members.

Summer is over. It's time to put away the beach umbrellas and bikinis. Pour yourself a glass of fresh apple cider and pull up a chair. The Carnival is back in town!

Mel Lassalle presents My Very First Deed posted at The Research Journal, saying, "My first attempt at land research has lead to an original deed and a dying husband's wish."

Joan Hill presents 121st COGs Great Discoveries; Discovering J.P. McPherson's Diary posted at Roots'n'Leaves, saying, "Discovering the diary of my great-great grandfather should have been much easier, if I had only taken in all the information available --- but not so."

Margie A. Rennick presents Carnival of Genealogy: Emotional Discovery in My Research posted at Ancestor Chase, saying, "I am always excited to make discoveries about my great grandfather Eugene Lammay, my biggest brick wall. What I did not expect was to have one of those discoveries upset me and actually make me mad at Eugene!"

Ellie presents How I Found the Mysterious McGarrs of Ballyraggan posted at Ellie's Ancestors.

Smallest Leaf presents Found! A small clue to my family's Jewish connection posted at 100 Years in America, saying, "The legend of a young Jewish orphan raised by Catholic religious sisters who grew up to be mayor of my ancestral village in Croatia has intrigued me for years. Now I've found a clue that might help to shed light on the truth of this tale. Make a stop over at 100 Years in America for the story."

Chery Kinnick presents The 95% Baard Johnson posted at Nordic Blue, saying, "For years, Chery consulted with relatives in search of a single image of an unaccounted-for great great grandfather who died in 1872. Using a little intuition and some deductive reasoning, Chery finally discovers his unmarked photograph hiding in "plain sight.""

Donna presents A Great Discovery posted at What's Past is Prologue, saying, "Donna Pointkouski presents "A Great Discovery" about surprises she found in her great-grandmother's alien registration and naturalization documents."

Julie Goucher presents Anglers Rest: Carnival Of Genealogy 121 - Great Discoveries posted at Anglers Rest, saying, "Great Discoveries"

Katie presents On ordering every record of everyone, ever. posted at You Are Where You Came From, saying, "When I was least expecting it, I found a maiden name on a collateral line, and it changed everything!"

Carol presents 121st Carnival Of Genealogy, Great Discoveries: The Lashbrook Book posted at Reflections From the Fence, saying, "My greatest discovery, 12 pages stuck in the back of a surname book. Twelve pages that continues to drive my research 20 years later."

Leah presents My Greatest Discovery (COG 121) posted at The Internet Genealogist, saying, "Who would have thought an obscure little book with a boring title would be the key to cracking the mysteries of my great-great-grandfather?!"

Dorene Paul presents Old photo of Aunt Bertie and Great Aunt Hilda posted at Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, saying, "I did a "Happy Dance" when my cousin in Florida emailed me this great photo of my aunt and great aunt. I had never seen Aunt Hilda's picture before, and since she died so young, it was a wonderful blessing to see this image!"

Cheryl Schulte presents The 30 Year Search posted at Two Sides of the Ocean, saying, "It only took 30 years of hard work and determination, culminating in a wonderful find, to take me back on one line into the mid-1400's. What a thrill!"

Jasia presents September Remembrance posted at :: C R E A T I V E G E N E ::, saying, "The clue came out of nowhere, in an email from an unknown person. Come see what I discovered about members of my family!"

Jessica A. Stern presents Brick Wall Breakthroughs: Theresa Kommer Schmidt Kneisel posted at The Brick Wall Climber, saying, "This is the story of how I quite accidentally broke through a brick wall - of one of my most interesting ancestors, Theresa Kommer, whose husband Joseph was murdered in one of Appleton, Wisconsin's most infamous crimes."

Charles Hansen presents Carnival of Genealogy #121 Discovery posted at Mikkel's Hus, saying, "Well I finally found a Civil War Ancestor, I knew his obit said he was a Civil War veteran, but when he applied for a pension they said he had not been in the Civil War! Maybe a month is not long enough to get a pension?"

That concludes this edition of the COG. Weren't you amazed at all the great discoveries? You just never know where you'll find the clue that will reveal some great information about your family. So keep an open mind and look everywhere, lol!

Call for Submissions! The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: School Humor! It's back to school time and we all have a few memories from our school days that never fail to bring a smile or chuckle to us. For the next edition of the COG I challenge you to share one (or more) humorous or embarrassing moments you remember from your school days. Feel free to use fictional names to protect the identity of those involved. It can be something that happened to you or to someone else. You can even share one of those dreadful school pictures of yourself if you dare. We hear so much about school bullying in the news these days and examples are all over YouTube. I thought it would be fun to go in the other direction and share some school laughter. Bring on the humor and share the good ole schools days with generations to come! The deadline for submissions will be October 1st.

[[New Info! Please Read!]]
Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the COG submission form. Please note, the blogcarnival.com website has a new look and new management and they have made some changes to the way they do things. You will need to login to the blogcarnival.com web site to submit your articles. If you don't have an account with them you will need to set one up. (I know this seems like an annoyance but it's a good thing because it will cut down on the tremendous amount of spam submissions received.) Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

September Remembrance

Some people touch your life in big ways, some in little. Most people don’t even realize the impact they have on your life, especially those who only touch it briefly and then are gone. Such is the case with Natalia who sent me an email a few weeks ago. I don’t know her, never met her, and probably never will. I may be related to her. I think the odds are pretty good but at this point I can’t prove it. She contacted me because of information she found on my blog regarding the village of Podborze, Poland. Her grandparents are from that village. We share surnames in common.

The most interesting part of her email was the information she shared with me about a document she found online. The document told of a tragedy that happened in Podborze in WWII that resulted in 23 family’s homes being burned to the ground by the Nazis. She listed the names of those families and most of those surnames are on my family tree. I was at once grateful that she had shared that info with me, curious to see the actual document she was referencing, and haunted at the thought of the tragedy.

Can you guess what happened next? I wrote back to her asking for more information, specifically about the document she mentioned as well as about our possible connections. She never replied.

That left me with no choice but to go out and do an internet search and find that document myself. Curiosity was eating away at me. My mind kept recalling her email and all the names she’d listed. Below is that list of names. I’ve highlighted those I’m certain I’m related to.


  1. Dudek, Jan and Karolina (first home burned down) 
  2. Kilian, Antoni, and Weryński, Antoni (Antoni and his father-in-law living in one home) 
  3. Dereń, Kazimierz and Bronisława 
  4. Kilian, Stanisław and Anna 
  5. Pietras, Piotr 
  6. Pająk, Michał and Maria (mayor of the village at the time) 
  7. Froncz, Wiktor and Maria 
  8. Rzegocki, Stanisław and Apolonia 
  9. Michoń, Jan and Józefa; and living with them was Dziekan, Jan, brother of Józefa. 
  10. Rzegocki, Adam and Maria [Maria and her husband Adam were my 1st cousines 3 times removed] 
  11. Kołacz, Adam and Apolonia [Adam and his wife Apolonia were my 2nd cousins twice removed] 
  12. Koźlik, Adam and Bronisława [Adam and his wife Bronislawa were my 2nd cousins twice removed] 
  13. Furman, Jan and Julia 
  14. Kużdzał, Jan 
  15. Golec, Franciszek and Maria; who lived in the home of their son Rzegocki, Błażej 
  16. Lasek, Tomasz and Agnieszka 
  17. Sierosławska, Apolonia [Apolonia was my Great-Grandaunt] 
  18. Ryś, Sebastian and Anna; living with them was Laska, Michał, brother of Anna. [Sebastian’s wife Anna was my Grandaunt, Michał my Granduncle] 
  19. Furman, Antoni and Elżbieta [Elzbieta and Antoni were my 2nd cousins twice removed] 
  20. Skowron, Julian and Józefa 
  21. Furman, Franciszek and son-in-law Stanisław Midurą. 
  22. Leśniowski, Jan and Maria [Jan and Maria are my 2nd cousins twice removed] 
  23. Laska, Karolina (known as Zygmoniak); [Karolina was the widow of Zygmunt, my 1st cousin 3 times removed]


I suspect another one or two of the people on this list are my family members as well but I need to do more research to verify that. The long and the short of it is, the story of what went on in Podborze becomes very personal with this many of my family members affected!

So, on with the search. My gut told me I wouldn’t find out anything about the village of Podborze doing a typical Google search but I tried it just the same and came up with nothing. Next I tried a search using Google.pl (Polish Google). Bingo! It wasn’t the first item to come up in the search but I found it eventually. I kept trying “Podborze” plus one of the surnames from the list. I don’t remember how many different surnames I tried before I found it but it took a while. And when I found the document I sent a mental thank you across the miles to the folks at Google headquarters for having created the Google Translate program. I would never have found it or read it if they hadn’t.

It turns out that the document was an 80+ page academic paper written for a regional conference on the topic of the Holocaust and Jewish/Polish relations. It was edited by Dr. Maria Przybysewska and presented in the nearby town of Radomsył Wielka in September 2007. The document tells of Polish/Jewish relations over the centuries and ends with stories of heroism of villagers from several Polish towns and villages during WWII, one of which was Podborze. On September 22 and 23, 2007, there were celebrations held to honor the heroes of Podborze and an obelisk that was erected in the town was unveiled.

I’m not going to try to condense an 80+ page translated academic document here. If you are interested in reading it in its entirety you can download it here. However, I will share with you a condensed version of the section that pertains specifically to Podborze and my family members.

In 1943, the Nazis were all about annihilating the Jews in Poland and had been doing such for years. There was a large population of Jewish families living in nearby Radomsył Wielka. They were killed, virtually all of them. However, one Jewish family escaped to Podborze when the Nazis had taken away their buildings and land 2 years earlier. From 1941-1943 the members of that family survived by living in the neighboring forests when weather permitted and were given sanctuary by a number of villagers much of the time as well. This was at a time when the Nazis had decreed that any Polish citizen who harbored a Jew would be killed for doing so. So the villagers of Podborze were putting their own lives at risk to help this Jewish family.

On April 23, 1943, the Nazis returned to Podborze looking for the Jewish family. Their intelligence information told them the family was living with Jan and Karolina Dudek. They went to the Dudek home but only their children were there. Jan and Karolina were gone for the day. One of the Jewish family members had been there but he escaped to the woods. The Gestapo went to a neighbor, Antoni Kilian, and tortured him in an effort to learn where the Jewish family was. But he did not tell them. The Nazis would not leave the situation at that. They set fire to the Dudek farm and set self-igniting devices in several other homes knowing that one after another they would go up in flames. And not only the homes but the out-buildings too. The home owners tried to salvage what they could from their burning homes but most lost everything. It was a tremendous fire and the Nazis also burned the building housing the fire fighting equipment so the villagers couldn’t even fight it. When the smoke cleared, 23 farms were destroyed along with the fire house. The homeowners had a very difficult time surviving afterwards. Most lived with extended family for a time and built straw huts to live in during temperate months. Years later evidence of the fire was still visible. The true miracle is that none of the villagers were killed in the incident.

And what of the Jewish family? Some of them survived, some did not.

So, what a find, eh? I was gobsmacked. Twenty-three families in the small, poor farming village of Podborze lost their homes and all of their worldly possessions because they were blamed by the Gestapo for harboring one Jewish family. Some of them undoubtedly did give shelter to the Jewish family, but did all of them? They all paid a high price nonetheless. Putting it in perspective, they didn’t pay with their lives as did so very, very many Jewish families but it is an example of how the Polish people suffered at the hands of the Nazis for trying to protect their good neighbors. I’m so glad that the memory of these residents of Podborze was honored. Their quiet acts of heroism are worthy of that at least.

This was the latest “find” related to my family history. I don’t come across this sort of information often so it is really valued when I do. How I wish I could search the last hundred years of newspapers near the villages in Poland where my ancestors lived. But I don’t believe such newspapers exist. Certainly there was no such thing as a “free press” during Poland’s long occupation by the Soviets. A few of Poland’s larger cities had newspapers but that wouldn’t help me. My family came from obscure farming villages in the middle of nowhere. Their names are not likely to be mentioned in any big city newspapers. Just another of the many challenges of researching family history in Poland.

The photo below is of Michał Laska (#18 on the list), my Granduncle, the only one of my relatives listed that I have a photograph of. This photo of Michał was taken in the 1980s. He was born September 27, 1906 in Podborze and died September 16, 1994 in nearby Zgórsko. Sadly, he didn't live long enough to know he was one of those honored for his sacrifice in Podborze. It was very fitting that he was remembered at the ceremony in Radomsył Wielka in September 2007 (September being the month of his birth and death) and is again being remembered in the September edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. Rest in peace, dear Michał.