An Example of Mapping Your Ancestor’s Migration

Below is how I traced the migration of my fourth great-grandfather Peter and his family from his arrival until my grandfather Roy moved to Bloomington, Illinois. I used family stories, land transactions, census records, marriage records, death records, county histories, and other documents to mark the dates and points on the map.

Here is the documentation of the map points

  • Family historians believe Peter Whittinghill arrived in the colonies about 1770. He was married to Catherine Gabbert in 1775 in Augusta County, Virginia, before the birth of their first child. However, we did not find any documents to confirm these dates.
  • The first record of Peter in Virginia was in the minutes of his 1778  Continental Army court-marshal, which happened in Augusta County. Peter served in the Virginia Riflemen, 2nd Division, Virginia Militia. The history of this military unit included the battle of Yorktown and the surrender of General Cornwallis.
  • On September 4, 1781, land records indicate Peter purchased land along the James River in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The river location adds to the story that he was a miller.
  • I could not find Peter’s 1790 Census record.
  • On April 5, 1796, county records indicate Peter sold his land and left from nearby Amherst County with friends and family on the migration trail to Kentucky. The group traveled south on the Great Valley Road to Blacksburg, where they found the New River. The river was the nearest migration route through the Appalachian Mountains to  Kentucky. The group followed the New River north to the Kanawha River and then to the Ohio River. At the growing settlement of Gallipolis, they built a raft and floated down the River to Maysville. From there, they trekked overland to Fayette County, Kentucky, where Lexington is today. This portion of their migration took three to four weeks.
  • On January 26, 1798, Mercer County land records list Peter and Catherine purchased land on Mud Creek, where he farmed and ran a grist-mill.
  • Peter’s 1800 and 1810 Census records indicate he lived in Mercer County, Kentucky.
  • Four of their child married in Mercer County – John (1803), George (1805), David (1805), and Mary (1810).
  • The 1800 and 1810 Census records also listed some of their neighbors from Virginia, and Catherine’s siblings were also residing in Mercer County.
  • A Mercer County deed dated January 3, 1814, stated Peter Whittinghill of Ohio County, Kentucky, sold his 100 acres. The documents indicate that sons John and David moved to Ohio County sometime after 1810, and Peter joined them with the rest of the family in 1813.
  • Their other four children married in Ohio County – William (1814), Sarah (1814), Elizabeth (1816), and Jane (1818).
  • Son David had moved across the Ohio River and into Warrick County, Indiana, where his son Pleasant was born in 1815.
  • The 1820 Census records indicate Peter living in Spencer County, Indiana. However, the census also lists that his daughter and their spouses had moved to Spenser County or neighboring Warrick County.
  • Peter’s son and my third great-grandfather John stayed in Ohio County.
  • John’s grandson and my great-grandfather Burrill married Elizabeth Pate in 1882 in Hancock County, Kentucky, and the 1900 Census listed him living in Lewisport, Hancock County, Kentucky.
  • The 1910 Census indicates Burrill lived in Glen Dean, Breckinridge County, Kentucky.
  • Grandfather Roy married Lula Mae Powell in 1914 in Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky.
  • Roy was also living in Breckinridge County on his WW I draft registration and the 1920 Census.
  • In 1922, Lula’s brother Joe moved to McLean County, Illinois, farming near Lexington in the 1930 Census records.
  • Lula and Roy followed Joe to McLean County in 1924, where Roy worked construction and rented farmland outside Bloomington.

Find the records for your ancestors. Map where they lived, and mark their migration route. Then, try to find accounts showing their life and what historical events affected them.


Find their story, write about it, and save it for your future generations.

Virtual Genealogy Class at Harper College

I am excited to present my beginning genealogy course through Harper College Continuing Education. This virtual course will be given at 7 PM for the next three Mondays: March 1, 8, 15. Each class will run 2 hours. Use the link below to sign up if interested.

LAA0011 – Genealogy: Start Your Family History

Genealogy: Start Your Family History

Learn a process to help start research and get hints to make your research successful. Before spending countless hours doing unproductive research, learn about a proven success that will guide you to the genealogical information you’re looking for. You will learn about DNA research and the various tests that are available. Discover research methods to make your efforts more efficient and create documents to share with family. Students gain hands-on experience in using the internet for research. LAA0011-004 ONLINE – Live Meetings 03/01/21-03/15/21 MO 7:00 pm-9:00 pm Instructor: Stephen Szabados TUITION & FEE: $75.0

Suggestions for Christmas

 

 

Here two fantastic websites for Polish related Christmas gifts and decorations:

Polish Art Center – https://www.polartcenter.com/

Polish American Journal (see Books and Gifts Tab) http://www.polamjournal.com/

 

Stay Safe During the Holidays

This year with the threat of Covid-19 looming around us, our holiday celebrations may seem even more critical to our lives as we pray to return to normal activities. Will the magical feeling we get from celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family make this return to normalcy possible? Or will family gatherings bring unwanted results? We need to have a balance between celebrating with our families and practicing safe contact. How can we do this and still stay safe?

Decorating the house inside and out can quickly and safely get the family into the Holiday Spirit. The decorations can give our family the warm, welcoming feeling of Christmas as soon as they drive up to our home. However, inside the house, the risk of transmitting Covid-19 increases, and we should take steps to minimize this risk.

Here are my common-sense suggestions:

  1. Do not travel to attend the family party. Everyone needs to stay close to home – different states and different counties follow different rules and cause confusion.
  2. Schedule your family gathering at a large enough house to maximize social distancing in the sitting areas. Do not congregate in the kitchen.
  3. Add tables to increase elbow room at the tables when eating
  4. Deliver food, beverages, and presents a few days before the gathering to allow time to wipe down packages and containers. Avoid last-minute shopping.
  5. Prepare food only at the location of the party.
  6. Minimize who handles food, dishes, and utensils
  7. Minimize who handles Christmas presents
  8. Before the party, ask family members if they have Covid-19 symptoms, and those who have symptoms should stay home
  9. Have masks available for all family members to wear if they need to
  10. Ask family members who have attended holiday parties at work or with friends at bars or restaurants to wear masks or stay home
  11. Have hand sanitizer dispensers available at multiple places at the party and encourage their use
  12. Inform family members about these practices in writing before the party

These may seem like extreme measures, but they will minimize the risk of transmission of the virus at your party. I feel they are needed because I would be devastated if a family member became infected with the virus at my family celebration.

Even with the above practices, you can still enjoy the festivities. Focus on enjoying traditional Holiday meals with all your favorite. What will you serve? Bring out the family photo albums and scrapbooks. Try to create an atmosphere that encourages everyone to remember family stories. If there are small children, read Christmas stories to them. Sing a few Christmas carols to bring the group together. Take pictures and write down the family stories.

Best wishes, and I hope you follow many of my suggestions. Have fun but stay safe.

Examples in Finding Family Stories

Most of my family history writing starts in an encyclopedic format, such as: “My grandfather Stefan Zuchowski was born on December 26, 1893, to Leopold Zuchowski and Anna Dmochowski in Dmochy Kudly, Poland.”

 However, I try to use everything I find to add details to the story. Here is a more interesting version: “My grandfather’s, Steve Zuchowski, birth was in a small cottage in the farming village of Dmochy Kudly, Poland, on December 26, 1893. The next day, his parents Leopold Zuchowski and Anna Dmochowska, carried him five miles down the dirt road to be baptized at Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church in Czyzew. Steve’s parents were descendants of minor Polish nobles who had owned large estates.”

Where did I get the details I added to my grandfather’s narrative?

  • Birthplace, location of the church, birth, and baptismal dates were from Steve’s baptismal record
  • Being descendants from nobility was from notations in the baptismal and marriage records of his parents.
  • The size of the cottage and condition of the roads came from vintage pictures of the village.

Another example is the information in my grandfather’s 1940 U.S. Census Record, which included family information, personal data, addresses of homes, and work facts. I added about 3-4 stories to his narrative.

The Census listed:

  • Family members – wife and two children
  • Age and Country of Birth – 44 yrs and Poland
  • Education – No schooling (How did this affect his work?)
  • Home address – 1418 W Mulberry Bloomington, Illinois (try to find a picture)
  • Where he lived in 1935 – same address (try to find a picture if different from 1940)
  • Rent or Own home – He was the owner (How important is this to the story of his life?)
  • Occupation – Boilermaker helper (Describe this type of work and how hard was the work? Show pictures if possible)
  • Where he worked Railroad shops (History of the Railroad shops in Bloomington)
  • Hours worked the previous week – 40 (Why is this important in 1940?)
  • Number of weeks worked the prior year – 52
  • Prior year earnings – $1200

From his census information, I included the following stories in my grandfather’s narrative:

  1. I asked the reader to consider how successful Steve was, despite his lack of education. The story centered around his consistent employment, earnings, homeownership, and purchase of a luxury car in 1939.
  2. I included pictures of his homes along with descriptions of his neighbors (ethnicity and occupations).
  3. I gave a brief history of the coal mining and railroad companies with detailed descriptions of his specific job. I did this to show why he came to Bloomington, Illinois, to find work and how his education and ethnicity limited his occupation.

I added the stories using the census information and expanded the narratives with facts from other research documents and accounts.

Remember, our collections of family stories, photos, and documents are incomplete unless someone writes an explanation of how they are related. The narrative creates our unique family history and is essential for our children and grandchildren’s future enjoyment. If you feel you do not have the skills to do this, who in your family can? If you like to do the research, is there someone that can work with you to write it? Also, my encyclopedic format is a simple and easy method to start writing your family history.

Our immigrant ancestors will not appear in history books but do not underestimate their sacrifices and help building America. Honor them by saving their memories.

Czech and Slovak Immigration to America – a basic outline

We need to find the answers to the following questions to unlock some elements of our family history:

  1. Why did our Czech and Slovak ancestors immigrate?
  2. When did they leave?
  3. How did they get here?
  4. Where did they settle?

Czech:

  • 1585 – Joachim Gans was a Czech mining expert who was part of the 1585 expedition that attempted to establish a settlement at Roanoke Island before Jamestown was settled in 1607.
  • 1640 – Augustine Herman(1621-1686) was a surveyor and skilled draftsman and arrived in New Amsterdam in 1640 as an employee of the West India Company
  • 1735 – The first large group of Czech immigrants began arriving in 1735 with the coming of a group of Moravian Brethren in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Late 1840s – The mass immigration of Czechs slowly began in the 1840s due to political and economic problems after the failure of the revolutions of 1848 in Europe.
  • 1850s – The magnetic pull of Chain Migration:
  • Increased the number of Czech immigrants arriving in America as letters home gave a glowing picture of the availability of jobs and cheap land.
  • This group was from the rural areas that were affected by a poor economy and the lack of jobs.
  • Immigrants were both single men/women and married couples who had to leave to find a better life.

Slovak:

  • 1695 – The first known Slovakian immigrant was Isaac Ferdinand Sharoshi, who arrived in 1695 to join the Mennonite religious community in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
  • 1770s – Two other Slovak immigrants were Maurice Benyovszkyand Jan Polerecky who were soldiers in the American Revolution. They fought under General Pulaski during the siege of Savannah.
  • 1867 – Mass Slovak emigration began after the American Civil War when the Hungarian nobles were granted their autonomy from their Austrian ruler and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was formed in 1867. By this agreement, the Austrian monarch gave the Hungarian nobles freedom in local matters.
  • Pre-1914 – Most Slovak immigrants who arrived before World War I could not read or write. They came from rural farming areas where the Hungarian government discouraged the development of literacy among the Slovaks. Most became industrial laborers. In America, parents encouraged their children to seek secure jobs rather than professional work, which required higher education.

 Push/Pull Factors:

In the last half of the 1800s and the early years of the 1900s, the forces motivating the Czechs to leave their homeland can be divided into “Push” factors and “Pull” factors.

Push factors were forces that drove them out of their home countries such as:

  • poverty
  • a shortage of land
  • the military draft
  • political or cultural repression
  • religious discrimination

Pull factors were:

  • the promise of jobs in the new lands
  • cheap farmland in America and Canada
  • the magnetic pull of “chain “

German Immigration to America – A Basic Outline

Below is a basic outline of German immigration to America that can be used as a handout for CAGNNI’s 9 AM GeneaBar session on German immigration.

We need to find the answers to the following questions to unlock some elements of our family history:

  1. Why did our German ancestors immigrate?
  2. When did they leave?
  3. How did they get here?
  4. Where did they settle?

1608 – German craftsmen were among the workers recruited for Jamestown. Glass-making was one of their tasks.

 1670 – Germans arrive in Pennsylvania fleeing the effects of the Thirty-years War and religious persecution – included Lutheran, German Reformed, Quakers, German Baptists, along with small denominations such as Moravians, Amish, and Mennonites.

1709 – Refugees from Palatinate flee to England, where the Queen exports some to Ireland and New York. They were fleeing extreme poverty and starvation in Germany

 1720 to 1770 – Redemptioners (indentured workers) recruited by agents to fill the labor needs of Colonial America – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Small groups also came to New England, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and both Carolinas

 1800s – German immigration to America was banned by the German princes from about 1700 but resumed in the early 1800s. It grew slowly at first until it became a flood after the 1848 Revolution fails:

  1. Peasants gained more freedom to leave
  2. Over-population fueled the economic problems and crop failures which grew more severe
  3. They fled from political oppression
  4. The magnetic pull from America for farmers seeking cheap land
  5. The need for workers to fuel the Industrial Revolution
  6. Cheap steerage rates for the voyage across Atlantic

DAR Begins Accepting Autosomal DNA

Great news for researchers who have a brick wall proving their lineage for DAR certification. The Society will now accept DNA results (Autosomal, mitochondrial, or Y-DNA) to help prove relationships to your Revolutionary War ancestors. This rule change is only for the first three generations of your lineage and will help adoptees or people with surprise parentage.

You can obtain more information on the DAR blog.

What about Dark Secrets?

If your DNA results do not make sense, ask yourself these questions before you try to uncover the answers:

  • Do you need to know the answer?
  • Are you prepared to deal with a dark secret that may upset the family?
  • What will you do with the information once you know the answer?

If you uncover a dark secret such as previously unknown illegitimate children, how will each family member react? How will telling your family members the details of a dark family secret affect your relationship with them? Do you need to reveal the secret? Can you tell some family members but not everyone?

Be sensitive to your family members. Everyone will react differently. Some people do not have to know. Some people need to know. Be careful with who you tell and how you say it.

Once the Cat Is Out of the Bag, the Cat will not want to get back into the Bag

 

1851 Polish-English Dictionary on Google Books

When trying to interpret the older Polish documents, an older Polish-English dictionary should be used. A modern dictionary will not be useful because word usage has changed over time.  I have found an 1851 dictionary on Google Books that can be very useful. Below is the web address where you can view and download a copy. I recommend downloading the dictionary in the PDF format.

Dokladny Slownik Polsko-Angielski 1851

https://archive.org/details/dokladnyslownik00chodgoog

polish-engish-dictionary