Genealogy and Your Polish Heritage

Now is a time for us to celebrate our Polish Heritage and I feel one of the best ways to do this is through researching our Family History(Genealogy).

Try to find information on your Polish immigrant ancestors.  Read accounts that describe Polish life in areas close to where your ancestors left. Was it a rural or urban area? Try to find vintage pictures of the town, church, and homes. Find accounts that describe the daily lives of the villagers.

What challenges did they face on their journey to America?

  • What port did they go to for their voyage to America?
  • How did they get to the port? Was there a train station near their village?
  • How was life onboard the ship? How large was the ship? How many decks?
  • Review the passenger manifest to see if there were many Polish men. What were the occupations of the other Polish immigrants? Who did your ancestor talk to during their voyage?

What was their voyage to America like? What were their experiences when they arrived at te port? What were their fears?

Their destination was usually listed on the passenger list. Who was at their destination in America? What was the relationship to the person listed on the passenger list?  This information is part of the chain migration story. How did they get from the port to their destination? Train, trolley, or walking?

Why did they come? If you do not know, explore some possible reasons. Do not assume that the reason was economic or to avoid the military draft. Did other siblings immigrate? Did their parents immigrate? What was the status or occupation of your ancestors in Poland?  Multiple factors forced the migrations from Poland, and your immigrant may have been affected by more than one cause.

Look through early pictures in family albums and also history books of the local area and neighborhoods. Pictures of their homes, neighborhood, and their church are very important. Try to describe their lives in America.

Identify where they worked because this would have been a significant part of their lives. The growth of America needed the immigrants who worked in the factories or on a farm in the late 1800s, or early 1900s. Without their labor, America would not have grown as quickly. Do not sell them short.

Look at their overall life in America. How did they enjoy their new life? Did they do anything outside of work? Did they have a hobby? Were they active in a fraternal group? Did you find pictures of family gatherings? How was their life here better than what they would have had in Poland?

You will not find answers to most of these questions. However, asking the questions and researching for the answers will give you a perspective of what your ancestors experienced and give you a better understanding of their character and your Polish Heritage.

Now sit back, read, and enjoy what you find.

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Deadline to order FHL Film Extended

Familysearch.org has extended the deadline, for the discontinuation of the distribution of microfilm has been extended one week to September 7. Click here for more details:

Helpful Books on Polish Genealogy

Books on Polish genealogy are another important element in developing your genealogy research skills. Polish Roots. Second Edition 2nd Edition by Rosemary Chorzempa and Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research by Jonathan Shea have proven to be reference volumes explaining many of the Polish documents that are available.  Sto Lat: A Modern Guide To Polish Genealogy by Cecile Wendt Jensen and my book Polish Genealogy: Four Steps to Success present plans to logically do Polish genealogically research.

The challenges of translating your Polish records can be reduced by using the glossaries found in Jonathan Shea’s book Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research and the series he wrote with William Hoffman In Their Words – Polish, Latin, and Russian. If you find Polish records in the narrative format, you will find A Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents by Judith R. Frazin is an excellent user-friendly and practical resource.

Go to my page Helpful Book on Polish Genealogy for more details and a list of more books.

FAMILY TREE MAKER NEWS – release of Version 2017 this Weekend

In a recent new release, MacKiev, makers of FTM, warn that the discounted preorder price ($29.99) for their new version is good only through July 14 and they will release FT2017 this weekend. This is good news for those who were waiting anxiously for the new syncing software and bad news for those that were planning on continuing to use their older versions.

It is bad news for users who were not planning to upgrade because the announcement states clearly that the search and merge function in the older versions will no longer work. This function will only work in FTM2017.

MacKiev gives these six reasons to upgrade:

  1. To sync with an Ancestry tree. (No other FTM editions will).
    2. To sync two or more FTM trees with one Ancestry tree with FamilySync™.
    3. To discover the crossed lines of your ancestors with color coding.
    4. To fix faded old photos with our new Photo Darkroom™ tools.
    5. To add a new free data source with FamilySearch integration.
    6. To keep using Ancestry search and merge. (Older editions no longer will).

My plans have changed due to this announcement. I had preordered FTM2017 but I was planning on delaying its installation until I was sure there were no comments from users about any bugs. Now I will install FTM2107 and only convert old trees to the new format as needed. I will convert the remaining trees after the dust settles for the rollout of FT2017.

Is Roots Magic winning the marketing battle with Family Tree Maker?

Roots Magic just released their version 7.5 which interfaces with Ancestry.com for the first time. Now RM users can see hints for Ancestry.com records along with the hints they are enjoying from Familysearch.org, MyHeritage, and Findmypast. The new interface also includes our family trees we have on Ancestry which RM is calling Treeshare.  RM’s Treeshare is not the same as FTM’s Tree-syncing but does allow users to connect to Ancestry family trees, compare differences and changes between Ancestry and RM trees, and then select what information to migrate between the two versions. FTM Treesync allows Ancestry and FTM trees to be the same. RM Teeshare allows you to have additional people in your RM tree and be different from your Ancestry tree. I like the additional control RM gives me, but it does take more time to make the comparison.

My experience with FTM14.1 which is currently available is satisfactory, but interfaces with only Ancestry.com.  Mackiev has promised their new version FTM2017 will improve the syncing function and add an interface with Familyserch.org. However, the release of FTM2017 has been delayed and is about six months overdue.

With the release of RM7.5, Roots Magic seems to have moved ahead of FTM, but what will happen when FTM2017 is finally released? How much market share will FTM lose as now that RM7.5 has been released and the release of FTM2017 continues to be delayed? How much better will FTM2017 need to be to win back the market share they lost since the announcement by Ancestry to discontinue FTM?

I have been a long-time FTM user but my loyalty is being tested, and I am on the edge of the fence with my decision. FTM14.1 does not interface with Ancestry as well as older versions, but I think this is due to Ancestry not owning FTM and not due to the software. Will the interface between Ancestry and FTM2017 remain the same, go back to the old level, or get better. Only the release of FTM2017 will give us the answer.

How DNA Can Help Your Genealogy

DNA testing has become a popular topic at genealogy meetings, and the growth in the number of DNA tests has been fueled by numerous promotional sales and promises to unlock secrets in your genealogy research. In some cases, DNA results have been powerful in producing clues and knocking down brick walls, but in many other cases, the results have been confusing.

Genealogists, who I talked to, gave me the following list of reasons why they submitted DNA samples:

  • They were curious about what the results would
  • They were curious about their origins and ancient ancestry.
  • They were hoping to find matches and possible distant relatives to exchange information.
  • They doubted their paper trail and wanted to prove or disprove their oral history.
  • They wanted to test relationship theories.

I have heard many stories of successes in finding matches to lost branches of families that led to the addition of many stories and pictures to family histories. However, I have also heard many people asking for help in understanding their results. The testing companies are now adding tools that help family historians better analyze and utilize their test results. One step that helps significantly is the ability to attach your family tree to your DNA test results.  Some of the tools I find useful include:

  • Identifying Genetic Communities
  • Surname searches
  • Identifying Shared Matches
  • Adding surnames and other comments in the attached notes for matches

These tools led me to a secret portion of my ancestry that one of my ancestors took to her grave. However, I opened this new side of my ancestry by identifying a dark secret. So be prepared. If you have to unlock secrets, there may be a dark side that you may regret discovering.

In summary, I would recommend taking the Autosomal test offered by Ancestry.com or FamilyTreeDNA.com. Take Y-DNA and mtDNA tests only if you need to explore specific relationship theories. Your results will probably be very generic and match your paper trail. If your DNA results do not match your paper trail, you may have some secrets to uncover. If your results have matches that project as first or second cousins, contact them because you may have an exciting new source for family stories and pictures of common ancestors.

Just have fun exploring your family history and heritage. Remember to save and pass along what you find to your children, grandchildren, and future generations.

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?