This past Sunday on the blog, I shared a 1940 census schedule listing my husband's maternal grandmother, Rita Brunswick. At this point in her life, Rita was living with and working for a minister's family in Fort Recovery, Ohio. Two years later, Rita married Frank Tumbush at St. Paul Church in Sharpsburg, Mercer County, Ohio. Below is a copy of their marriage license application (top) and marriage certificate (bottom), as kept within the Mercer County Probate Records. (Click on image for larger view.)
Here is a short description of the wedding service from the November 27, 1942 issue of The Minster Post. Alvera Wimmers is Frank 's first cousin and Melvin Brunswick is Rita's older brother.
Below is a photo of St. Paul's Catholic Church. Like many of the older Catholic churches in this area of Ohio, St. Paul's is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was designed by Anton DeCurtins, a Swiss immigrant who helped design and build many Gothic-style churches in Mercer County. Those who are not from this area of western Ohio or who have never visited are often surprised to learn about the area's many beautiful Gothic-revival churches that were erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is often called the "Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches."
Today's census schedules show the family of Lawrence H. and Justina (Braun) Brunswick. In 1940, most of family is living on their farm in Gibson Twp, Mercer County, Ohio, which is also where they had been living in the 1930 Census. The 1940 Census lists Lawrence, Justina, and nine of their children. One daughter, Wilma, passed away tragically in 1931 following an accident at home in which her clothes caught on fire. Another daughter, Rita, is also missing from the family. In 1940, 18-year-old Rita lives on Main St. in the nearby town of Ft. Recovery. She works for the family of Oscar Nicholas, who is listed as a 'minister.' (Click on images for larger view.)
Today, January 24, is singer Neil Diamond's 73rd birthday. Neil has had many hit songs throughout the years, but he may the only recording artist to make a hit out of a immigration-themed song. His 1981 song, America, is a powerful, positive song that more or less serves as a anthem to the people (our ancestors) who, for better or for worse, came to this nation to live, to work, and to make better lives for themselves and their descendants.
I found a nicely done video on YouTube, in which the producer, Orpheus, uses the song and immigration photos, art, and postcards to compile a really nice tribute to American immigrants. Enjoy!
Today, January 21, is National Hugging Day. I think I have posted this photo on my personal Facebook page in the past, but it has never made it to the blog. It is me, my brother, and three of our cousins hugging, probably around 1984ish. Give out some good hugs today!
Today, January 20, is Penguin Awareness Day. Well, what does that have to do with family history, you say? It just so happens that on Thanksgiving Day 2011, our son was chosen to be a Grand Marshal of the Penguin Parade at the Newport Aquarium. He had just turned four and LOVED every minute of it. There was lots of dancing before the penguins came out, and then he got to put on a sparkly black vest and lead the penguins on their parade. Our daughter, who was 15 months old, wasn't too sure of the whole thing, especially the big overgrown stuffed penguin. (She is almost three and a half now and she STILL doesn't like people dressed in full animal costumes.) Anyway, here are some photos of the event:
The 1900 U.S. Census is the first census in which my Croatian great-grandparents, George and Ursula Bellan, appear. They are living on Stanton Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. George's occupation is listed as 'laborer.' Their surname is listed as 'Belan,' which is one Americanized version of George's birth surname, Beljan. (In these early years of their American residence, family records switch from Belan to Bellon to Bellan, the latter of which ultimately becomes the family's permanent name.)
Ursula is listed as 'Mary,' and this name difference made me wonder, at first, if I indeed had found the right family. George and 'Mary's' ages were about right, as was their place of birth (Austria-Hungary) and their dates of immigration. Their first-born child WAS named Rudolph and he WAS born in May 1900, as the form states. How do I confirm that this is the right family?
Fortunately, I found some other family documents from the 1900-1901 time frame which helped me verify that THIS family in the 1900 census IS my Belan family. As mentioned above, Rudolph Bellan was born in 1900, and George and Ursula had another baby, Olga, in 1901. I was able to find the Birth Returns for both of these children. In Cleveland, during this period, birth returns were simple forms that were submitted to the Secretary of the Public Health Division by the attending doctor or midwife. The birth return lists the date of birth, sex and race of child, place of birth, and names and ages of parents.
The mother is listed as 'Marie' on both birth returns, which is consistent with the 'Mary' on the census form. 'Marie's' maiden name is listed here as Benitzki or Benici. (It is listed on Ursula's death certificate as 'Benicki,' so that is a pretty good match.) Notice also the place of birth - 'Stenton.' Considering that the midwife seems to have had a little trouble with the English language, I feel safe in assuming that this is supposed to read 'Stanton.' It is also worth noting that the residence of the midwife (Platt) is only a block or two south of Stanton.
If you look carefully back at the 1900 census form above, you'll see that Ursula ('Mary') cannot speak English. (Understandable, since she's only been in the country about a year and a half.) I suspect that she may have gone by an 'easy' generic name in these first years after coming to America, as many immigrants tended to do. George and Ursula's next child, George, was born in 1903, and Ursula is indeed listed by her correct first name on that birth return.
Have you ever found an ancestor in an unexpected location and wondered what the heck he/she was doing there? The other day, I was reviewing two December 1910 passenger ship lists on which my great-grandmother, Sophie Krupa, is listed - a German departure passenger list from Hamburg and a New York arrival list. On both forms, her last place of residence is listed as 'Gravenstein, Germany.' Sophie was born in Skrudzina, a small village in ethnically Polish Galicia, that was, at the time of her birth in 1888, part of Austria-Hungary. So, obviously, I was wondering what she was doing in northern Germany before she sailed for America.
Gravenstein today is no longer in Germany, and, in fact, it is no longer known by that name. The town that used to be called Gravenstein is currently in southern Denmark, and is now known as Gråsten. As you can see on the map below, Gråsten is quite a journey away from Sophie's hometown, so I started searching for why she may have lived there, at least temporarily.
As I wrote about in this post, Sophie was an illegitimate child born into one of the poorest regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I do not know anything specific about her early life, but I think it is safe to say that it must have been a hard one. On the U.S. 1940 Census, she (Sophie Bodziony) lists her highest level of education as only 2nd grade. As soon as she was old enough, she likely went to work.
While scouring the Internet, I came upon this website from the Danish Immigration Museum. The page gives a nice, concise history of Polish immigrants in Denmark during the late 19th and early 20th century - right at the same time Sophie was there. The one paragraph on this webpage that *really* caught my attention was this one:
"The Poles were recruited by organized German-speaking agents - the so-called “Aufsehere”, who usually travelled around Galicia in the winter and signed contracts with young workers. Some were also sent to Denmark through the so-called import associations that supplied workers to Danish and German employers."
So, there were recruiters around Galicia? Interesting. Sophie's occupation on the Hamburg list is shown as 'Dienstmädchen,' which translates quite literally to 'servant girl.' Was Sophie intending to stay and work in Gravenstein permanently, or was she just saving up money for the trip across the ocean? Was she there in Gravenstein by herself, or did she have close friends or extended family there also? Always left with more questions than answers after these investigations, but I wouldn't have it any other way! :-)
On August 29, 1828, a ship carrying Leon Bernard, his wife, Catherine (Kilker) Bernard, and their seven children arrived in New York, New York. From there, the Bernard family traveled west, first settling in Perry County, Ohio, before moving again to Mercer County, more specifically the area near Maria Stein. Since this area was popular with German immigrants of the time, Leon's children and grandchildren married into German families. (For those of you reading this who are related to my husband, Leon's granddaughter, Maria Magdalena Bernard, married Joseph Rolfes in 1865 and they are two of Rita Brunswick's great-grandparents through her Dad's (Brunswick) line. So, Leon and Catherine are Tony's 5x great-grandparents!)
The Bernard Family was from the small town of Réchésy, located in eastern France right on the border with Switzerland. According to his children's birth records, Leon worked as a shoemaker (cordonnier) in the village.
Last year, when I was working on creating my genealogy map wall, I bought a early 20th century postcard depicting Réchésy.
I recently stumbled upon this modern photo of Réchésy (below) on the Panoramio.com website. (Photographer is Mr. Yves Bamberger.) The perspective of both photos is very similar, and it seems as if the village has not changed too much over the centuries. This French Wikipedia page for Réchésy lists population data for the village, starting in 1793 and continuing to 2011. In 1793, four years after the birth of Leon Bernard, the population of Réchésy was 606. It appears that the population grew to 1200+ in the 1880s, but declined in the 20th century. Today there are approximately around 800 people in the town.
The church pictured is L'église Saint Jean-Baptiste. According to this Réchésy heritage website, it was built around 1850-1860, when the population of the town started growing larger. So, this particular structure was not there when the Bernard family lived in the village, but there was surely some sort of smaller chapel/church were residents worshiped and received the Catholic sacraments.
I clipped a few screenshots of the streets of Réchésy from Google StreetView. The streets appear quite hilly, which is to be expected in the foothills of the Alps. There is also a distinctive Alsace architectural look to some of the buildings, which makes the village very picturesque indeed. (Click on images for larger view.)
Oh, what I wouldn't give to be able to stumble through this cemetery on the hillside!
And this screenshot below may actually be my favorite, because of the 'Beurnevesin' directional sign. According to Leon and Catherine's civil marriage record, Catherine Kilker was born in Beurnevesin, Switzerland, a small village located just a few kilometers from Réchésy.
A little while back, a friend of mine asked me HOW I organize all of my genealogy-related findings. I thought about it and realized that this might make a good blog post, especially for those new to family history research, or for those whose current system of organization is just not working for his/her research style.
If you ARE new to genealogy, it is important to realize that there is no right or wrong way in order to organize your digital and paper genealogy files. Everyone does so a little (or a lot) differently and it really comes down to a matter of preferences, as long as your style is functional to you.
Between my and my husband's families, I have around 20 different binders in which I store paper copies of most of the documents I find. They are organized by surname; some of my binders contain information only on one surname, others contain more than one surname. I label all of the binders on the front with a simple cover page.
At the beginning of each binder, I try to include a basic family tree for quick reference. For binders with more than one surname, I use plastic dividers with tabs, so I can easily find the family I am looking for.
My binders are organized in chronological order, with the oldest records at the front and the newest at the back. Each document gets one clear plastic binder sheet - a photocopy of the document itself goes on one side and any source information goes on the other side. Using the clear plastic holders for every document does obviously add to the cost of my organization system, BUT it makes searching through the binders SO much faster, and I dare say it has eliminated many paper cuts I would have otherwise suffered from.
At the bottom of every copy of every original document, I write by hand the date and person of interest in the document. This simple step helps me immensely when I am paging through the binder looking for one specific document.
For documents that may consist of more than one or two sheets of paper (immigrant ship lists, wills), I use these handy plastic binder pockets. It would be fine if I simply put all the pages within a plain clear plastic binder sheet, but these pockets make it so much easier to take the sheets in and out.
So, what types of documents do I keep in my binders? ANYTHING related to my or my husband direct ancestors AND their siblings, sometimes referred to as collateral ancestors. I have done a little research on, say, nieces and nephews of direct ancestors, but, for now, most of those files I only keep digitally on my computer hard drive and cloud drive. I have a system of separating direct ancestor documents from sibling documents in my binders:
I use big (sometimes really BIG) binder clips to "section-off" the documents/sources related to siblings of direct ancestors. I stick a Post-It note on the front of each section that states HOW these people are related to the direct ancestors. I always, always, always write a woman's maiden name on all documents/sources pertaining to female ancestors. Also, on each document/source, I write, by hand, how this person is related to the direct ancestor:
Other resources that I have been gradually adding to my binders are reference map printouts. Several of my husband's ancestral families stayed in the same counties for many generations, but maybe moved to a different township here and there. So, I've printed out simple county maps with the townships delineated and put them in my binders, so that I don't have to keep Googling the maps on the computer.
Emily Kowalski Schroeder