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