Write-down Your Family Memories for Future Generations

It is important for us to save our memories for future generations, especially for parents and grandparents, because writing down the stories is a great way to personalize our family history narratives. Below are a few of the memories of my grandmother that I included at the end of my narrative for her. Using the first-person voice seems to bring the memory more to life.

  • After I had started at St Pat’s School, I began walking with my grandmother the two blocks to St Patrick’s Church for Sunday Mass. This walk was always a pleasant walk in good weather, and I would ramble on with stories of various topics that she would patiently listen to and sometimes comment. She was always very patient with me.
  • Dinners at the Zuchowski table were very basic. Grandma did not bring any Polish recipes with her from the old country. Our meals consisted of meat, potato, and a vegetable. However, I was picky about what foods I liked to eat, and grandma would usually make something special for me. Later as an adult, I was frustrated when my children were picky, but I have a special love for my grandmother for spoiling me.
  • In the late 1950s, Grandma worked in the kitchen at Auth’s which was a local restaurant. One night she brought home a catfish dinner that was left over from their weekly fish fry. This was the first time I had catfish, and I liked it. After that, I would occasionally stop at the kitchen door of Auth’s when she was working to get another taste of catfish.

We need to think about our ancestors and the memories we want to pass along to our children and grandchildren. We need to write them down and save them, so they will not be lost. If not us, who will do it?

Problems with Tree Syncing between Ancestry and FamilyTree Maker and RootsMagic

Tree Syncing with Ancestry.com family tree seems to put stress on Ancestry’s servers. If MacKiev and Rootsmagic both go live with syncing this problem will get worse.

The concept of constant syncing with our online trees has attracted many users lineage software as a great tool. Saving Ancestry results to our family tree provide the researcher with a convenient place to store research. The tree could be online at Ancestry or offline on lineage software such as FamilyTree Maker(FTM). I believe that this dynamic drove the popularity of FTM. The addition of TreeSyncing added to the popularity of FTM. Researchers who had family trees on Ancestry and offline lineage software had to decide which was their primary family tree to be maintained and updated with current information. Tree syncing allowed researchers to use their smart devices to search and save information to their Ancestry trees without overtaxing the memory of their devices. Ancestry would then download the new information to FTM, and both family trees would be current.

However, there were complaints of problems with the sync, and Ancestry chose to discontinue FTM rather than solve the problem. They quickly sold FTM to MacKiev who promised to continue support and updates for FTM. However, yesterday’s stress test by MacKiev of their new version of FTM indicates Tree Syncing may push the limits of the online servers at Ancestry and make the connections unstable.

If Tree Syncing endangers the functionality of the databases on Ancestry.com, should it be part of lineage software?

Hopefully, hints, search, and merge with Ancestry.com databases will be allowed to continue because these are also useful functions and do not overtax the Ancestry.com.

AncestryDNA launches Genetic Communities

On March 27, AncestryDNA introduced Genetic Communities. It is very new, but I believe it will prove to be a useful tool to unlock some of the mysteries that we encounter in our genealogical research.

Using the DNA results from the users in Ancestry’s database, DNA profiles were identified for over 300 geographical areas. (Note AncestryDNA used only results from users who agreed to participate in the test). Individual results were then compared to the DNA profiles to determine if results fit any of the profiles.

My results matched one profile although I expected at least two. The Genetic Communities feature is new and is still being refined, so I hope that the second area that I was expecting will show up in my results later.

This tool may confirm the geographical areas that we have identified as our origins, but it may also point to a new area especially if we have mysteries or brick walls.

The Genetic Communities is a tool that should be considered when deciding which DNA testing company to select. If I need to order another DNA test, I will probably order from AncestryDNA. Another factor in my decision is the ability to transfer the raw data from an AncestryDNA test to FamilytreeDNA. In the past, I have used the tools of both companies to resolve one of my brick walls, and the Genetic Communities should make this task easier.

March 12 at Palatine Library: Local Author Fair

Join me on March 12 at the Palatine Library for their Local Author Fair. Eighteen other authors. It should be fun.

 

What I have learned in the past year about my DNA

Using DNA to make genealogy connections is becoming very important. However, understanding DNA results and matches can be very challenging. My results confused me, but I have made some progress. Here are some things that I have done and some light bulbs that have turned on:

  1. I found the reason why my DNA results show Irish/English origins when my paper research indicates this was impossible. I found this by having relatives in different branches take DNA tests and compare the results.
  2. The processing of the raw samples by the three major companies produce the same data.
  3. However, the Origins segment of DNA results varies greatly. Each company has different algorithms to calculate where our ancestors came from.
  4. The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) projects the Origins analysis by 23andme is more accurate than FamiytreeDNA and Ancestry.com.

My major takeaway from my DNA testing is to treat DNA results similar to other genealogical documents. Remember, all contradictions in data should be resolved.

Saving Your Ancestors for Future Generations

Saving the family history for the next generation is the main reason I print my family histories. I see more interest from my children when they are reading the narratives and viewing the pictures. They show no interest in doing the research but have begun to ask many more questions. The grandchildren have also read some of the passages. Leaving my work in a bound printed book gives me more hope that someone in a future generation will continue the story. Self-publishing is an economical method to publish a bound book and still limit distribution to family members. Self-publishing also allows me to speak in my voice and tell the story of my ancestors.

POLISH CHRISTMAS

Celebrating holidays and special events gave the Polish people an overall rhythm to their lives during the year. My Polish ancestors enjoyed this rhythm as the seasons and weather changed. One of my Polish cousins told me his extended family and neighboring villagers would come together for the celebration of the customs for the different holidays occurring during each season. The celebrations gave them relief from their daily work, and they would look forward to the next festive time.

Thoughts of the Christmas festivities began with the four weeks of Advent which begins the preparation for Christmas with fasting and prayer. At the start of the holiday season, mothers and grandmothers in the Dmochy and Przezdziecko areas began cleaning their homes, and they began preparing those special dishes and treats such as Christmas cakes.

My grandparents told me Christmas seemed to create a magical atmosphere. It was a special time when people forgot all their problems and tried to be together. Christmas helped people transform themselves from the cold dark realities of winter into a better mind by enjoying the festive celebrations surrounding Christmas. Family, relatives, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers became kind, friendly and generous.

On Christmas Eve, the Christmas trees were set up in most homes. My grandmother and grandfather both told me they always had a Christmas tree in their home because it was always special to the children. However, their trees were set up differently. The trees were hung from the ceiling in Poland. Their families decorated the trees with walnuts wrapped in silver and gold foil, bright red apples, gingerbread in fancy shapes, and chains made of glossy colored paper. A manger was set up in the church in Czyzew and also in my grandfather’s home. My grandmother said they did not have a manger to set up. My grandparents said that they and their brothers and sisters made many of the decorations, but the manger and some of the foil decorations were ones used by my great-grandmother’s family.

The children watched for the first star to appear in the night sky because this was the signal for beginning the supper. After sighting the star, those attending the celebration knelt in prayer. Next, father broke the Christmas wafer (opłatek), took a piece, and passed it around the table for each person to do the same. Then, the family exchanged holiday wishes in the form of prayers such as God bless you (Niech cię Bóg błogosławi); God give you happiness (Daj Ci Boze szczescie).

The opłatek were unleavened wafers that were baked from pure wheat flour and water and were usually rectangular in shape and very thin. They were identical in composition to the communion wafers used in the Catholic mass. The Opłatki wafers were embossed with Christmas related religious images, varying from the nativity scene, especially Virgin Mary with baby Jesus, to the Star of Bethlehem.

After the wafer had been passed around the table, everyone then got to taste the traditional dishes that were prepared by mother and her kitchen helpers. The meal included cheese, sauerkraut pierogi, fish in various forms, fish or mushroom soup with noodles, herring, boiled potatoes, dumplings with plums and poppy seeds, stewed prunes with lemon peel, a compote of dried fruit and poppy seed cake. The traditional Christmas dishes followed the rule to use food from each of the family’s food sources: grains from the field, vegetables from the garden, fruit from the orchard, mushrooms and herbs from the woods, and fish from the sea, rivers, or ponds.

After supper, the candles on the tree were lit by the entire family or sometimes by only the children. Then the entire family joined in singing Christmas carols. After the singing, father, mother, or a grandparent would tell old Polish Christmas legends and different stories of how Christmas was celebrated in ancient times. One favorite story was about the belief that the farm animals spoke in human voices at midnight.

Beginning on Christmas Eve and continuing through the holidays, groups of boys from the village and the two nearby villages went around singing Christmas carols for their neighbors. They usually carried a szopka which was a miniature stable, with figures of the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the animals mounted on a pole or a platform and carried shoulder-high. One person in the group carried the star and was the gwiazdor or the star boy. My grandfather told me he was the star boy for the Christmas before he left for America. Over time, the person who carried the star became known as jolly St. Nick.

The festivities ended with the family blowing out the candles and then traveling to church to attend midnight mass.

On Christmas Day, the Zuchowski and Chmielewski families spent the day at home eating, singing and enjoying the family. On the second day of Christmas, they ventured out to visit friends and family in the neighboring villages.