Searching for people in the newspaper by name is a good place to start. But be sure to search for your ancestor’s address as well. By and large newspaper reporters and typesetters probably scored above average on their Seventh grade spelling test, but even those standout students would be more likely to struggle with a name like Krotoszyner than they would with the address, 995 Sutter Street.
Here are three articles, each telling about a member of the Krotoszyner family who lived in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Note that each of these articles use a slightly different spelling of the surname, but all have the correct residential address of the family at 995 Sutter Street. I was aware of the spellings of "Krotoszyner" and "Krotozyner" in the first two articles, but I'm pretty sure the spelling in the third article, "Krotozner," is not a variant I would have thought of. I'm glad I expanded my newspaper searching to more than just names!
It’s a great idea to search by name, but make sure you also search by your ancestor’s address as well. You never know what might pop up.
This week I have spent some time in Sacramento sharing memories, hugs and a few tears with my dear Auntie Wilma and my cousins. A few years ago on another visit Wilma told me she had some letters my Uncle Warren, my mother’s brother, had written to his parents during the war. What she brought out was a treasure – four years of letters from the time Warren joined the navy in July 1942 until the end of the war. I spent the rest of that visit with Wilma sorting the letters and putting them in chronological order in a binder. These letters contained the words of a proud young man doing right by his country, but mostly expressed the love he held for his parents and his sisters. I hope to be able to share some of these letters in my blog from time to time. But today I share one letter from the collection, written not by Warren, but to him.
Secretary of the Navy
January 10, 1946
My dear Mr. Brown:
I have addressed this letter to reach you after all the formalities of your separation from active service are completed. I have done so because, without formality but as clearly as I know how to say it, I want the Navy’s pride in you, which it is my privilege to express, to reach into your civil life and to remain with you always.
You have served in the greatest Navy in the world.
It crushed two enemy fleets at once, receiving their surrenders only four months apart.
It brought our land-based airpower within bombing range of the enemy, and set our ground armies on the beachheads of final victory.
It performed the multitude of tasks necessary to support these military operations.
No other Navy at any time has done so much. For your part in these achievements you deserve to be proud as long as you live. The Nation which you served at a time of crisis will remember you with gratitude.
The best wished of the Navy go with you into civilian life. Good luck!
Mr. Warren Hardy Brown
1254 45th Ave.
San Francisco 22, California
Ever create a spreadsheet, enter a whole bunch of data into it, and realize you set it up wrong? That It would be more useful and functional if the rows were columns and the columns were rows?
Here is an example. Here I’ve created a spreadsheet to figure out how any people with various surnames lived in a community across various census years. I listed my nine census years down the left hand side to identify the rows, and I put my four surnames as the column headers. Looks great, but what happens when I find more names to research in that community? My table will just get wider and wider, but not get any taller (at least not until they release the 1950 census.) To my eye, short and wide tables just seem harder to read than tall and skinny ones. By this time I’m feeling a bit like a dodo. If only I’d used the census years (there’s a finite number of those) as the column headers and the surnames as the row titles.
Do I have to retype the whole thing? Nope. I can transpose it. Here’s how…
Highlight the table, in this example A1 to E10. Click Ctrl+C to copy. Click the cursor in a destination cell elsewhere in the worksheet or workbook (in this example I clicked in A13). Click on the triangle below the Paste icon, then click “Paste Special” and the box shown will appear. Click on the box next to Transpose.
And here's what it looks like after, and I'm ready to enter more data!
Easy peasy. A few simple steps and now my table looks just like I want it to. And without all that pesky retyping. Yay! Time for more research…
This story was originally published in Life Story Magazine, June 2013, but in honor of Father's Day, I'm putting it here on my blog. Miss you, Dad.
Through the raindrops on the window of the green Fiat Punto we looked at the little stone church. “Do you think you could make it up there?” I asked my 85-year old father.
“Yeah, I think I could do that,” he replied, perhaps a bit tentatively.
We entered the small visitor center. Its lone occupant, the clerk, sat on a stool behind the counter, immersed in a magazine. I’m sure he arrived at work that sodden morning, certain he would not see a solitary soul. Until the two dumb American tourists showed up, that is. And even more surprisingly, these two visitors weren’t here just to buy an Irish tea towel or a picture post card of some wooly sheep, they actually forked over five bob for the admission fee to see the 1000-year-old Gallarus Oratory, some quarter mile up the pathway. And in this weather, no less!
Leaving the gob-smacked official behind us we headed up the path, the wind from the west driving a drenching downpour along our right sides. Somehow the slope of the path had increased 20 degrees from what we looked at from the car park, but after a “short” ten minute walk we arrived and let ourselves into the little structure. The monks or masons who built this chapel must have known what they were doing. Even with no mortar between the stones, the building is snug and dry inside, ten centuries of Atlantic gales notwithstanding.
And empty! No pew or bench for the lonely pilgrim to take a load off. Dad pulled out his handkerchief to wipe his glasses dry, and tugging at his ear, muttered something about the damn hearing aid beeping.
After some.., oh, I don’t know, 45 seconds of marveling at the architecture, I said, “You ready to go?”
“Yep,” was the immediate and terse reply.
The wind was still galing from the west, so now our left sides caught the rain, but at least we were headed downhill. Finally we arrived at the car and tucked ourselves inside. The windows fogged up quickly and after again dealing with the raindrops on his glasses, Dad fumbled in his pocket for the replacement hearing aid battery. I started to say something but Dad cut me off. “Just stop. I’ve gotta fix this thing.” I ran the defroster while he got the device put back together and into his ear.
It was a quiet car ride back to Dingle but as we headed over Conor Pass and on to Limerick to see my old friends, Janet and Jerry, the sun brightened the sky and our moods, and the short bit of pique was soon forgotten. The remainder of the trip was clear skies and smooth sailing.
Several months later, Dad and I were visiting my sister, Diane. As we sat on the couch waiting for the baseball game on TV, Dad said, “They’ve got a book there on the shelf you might enjoy.” I pulled down “Ireland in Pictures.” Oooh, now there’s one of my favorite games. After a semester abroad with my children and my husband who taught at University of Limerick on a sabbatical from Seattle University,, and a couple of return trips (including the one with Dad) to visit friends, I get a pretty good hit rate on the “I’ve-been-there” scale on tourist calendars and other pictorial souvenirs of the Emerald Isle.
I began to page through, Dad at my side. “Been there. Been there. Not there. Been there. We went there. Been there.” And then I turned the page. Under a cloudless sky, the bright sun sparkled on the distinctive little upturned boat that is the Gallarus Oratory. “We went there,” I reminisced. “Bah! It didn’t look like that!” Dad laughed. And I had the distinct feeling that Dad had been waiting for some time for us to share that page, and that treasured memory.
To play along with Randy Seaver's Father's Day Geneamusings, let me also tell three things I vividly remember about my dad...
1. He KNEW everything Every car ride as a kid, "Hey, Dad, what's growing in that field?" He always had the answer - almonds, broccoli, sugar beets. Dad knew.
2. He REMEMBERED everything everything he ever learned. When I received my Master's degree from University of Texas, Dad came down to Austin for the graduation. Trivial Pursuit was THE game in 1984, and my friends and I thought we were pretty hot stuff. One night we took Dad to a picnic and concert at Zilker Park and of course brought the game along to entertain ourselves while we waited for the music to start. I don't think Dad missed one question. My friends were in awe. He blew us out of the water.
3. Dad was very precise in his language. I noticed one time when I was visiting him that I hadn't seen him smoke in the entire visit. "Hey, Dad. You quit smoking!" His reply, "No. I didn't quit. I'm just not doing it now." He didn't quit. He could have gone back to it any time he wanted. He just wasn't doing it right then. Or any other time for the rest of his life, as I recall. But he never quit. Never.
Before you begin to write your family story, go back and look at the records you have amassed. Look, for instance, at the census records, especially focusing on those columns over to the right. We look at name, age, and birthplace, but we tend to ignore those questions that might tell us more about their daily lives. Can she read or write? How many weeks was he out of work? A hundred years ago a man’s job was to support his family. How did he feel about himself in 1920 when he’d been out of work six months in the last year? How did his wife feel about him?
The 1900 and 1910 censuses asked about how many children a woman had and how many were still alive. Compare these answers to the other people on the page and to your ancestors or siblings. Your great grandmother gave birth to nine children and only two survived. How did she feel six months before the census, when Mrs. Moriarty next door brought home a baby girl to be spoiled by seven older brothers? What is her relationship like with her sister-in-law with so many healthy children?
Take the time to compare your ancestor’s answers on the census to those of his neighbors. Consider the value of the assets he owns. Is he the only renter in the neighborhood? Is he the only recent immigrant in his neighborhood or is he one of dozens of immigrants? What is the ethnic background of most of the people in the locality? Imagine what dinner time might have smelled like in the Russian neighborhood your ancestor lived in.
Wring every single clues you can find on the census to help tell your ancestor's story.
Year: 1900; Census Place: Franklin, Somerset, New Jersey; Roll: 994; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0081; FHL microfilm: 1240994
In 1999 I sent my father a tape recorder and a list of questions and asked him to answer whatever questions struck his fancy. From time to time I’m transcribing bits of it for my blog. Here are some reminiscences of Tiburon School.
“School started at either 8:30 or 9 o’clock, I don’t remember, and lasted until… [train whistle in the background]… there’s a train that just went from… on its way from Oakland to Sacramento, and it’s nice to sit here and listen to those lovely sounds. We got out of school 2:30 or so, except when we had rainy day session, when it was a little bit earlier. Often we took sandwiches for lunch, but sometimes we were told to go to Grandma’s house for lunch. Grandma’s house was just up the hill from the Tiburon school and on rainy days we were sent over there, not the whole class, but just me, and Kathryn, to have soup or something.
But the classes, the classrooms were interesting. One class would be assigned blackboard work, another would be assigned paperwork to be doing with pencil and paper and crayon and so forth. Then maybe another one would be assigned a reading lesson and the teacher would go back and forth between all these groups doing a kind of a catechism work of asking questions and answering questions, and telling people to go up to the blackboard and do this division or that multiplication. From front to back there was four or five rows of seats and maybe eight or ten seats front to to back. The blackboard in the front and a blackboard on the side that didn’t have the windows, and it was, in these sessions, when I was in the sixth grand that Mrs. Bean became quite disturbed because she told my folks that, when she’s trying to teach the seventh graders anything, she’d ask them a question and before they could answer it, that Tom would spurt out the answer and disturb the class. It finally became enough of a problem that partway through the year, Charlie and Agnes and Mrs. Bean all agreed that nothing was being accomplished leaving things the way they were, so it would be okay for Tom to do sixth grade work and seventh grade work simultaneously, and the following year pick up and join the class in the eighth grade, which is what happened. And sisnce I had already entered the first grade a few months before I was six years old, my birthday’s in November and classes started in August, under those conditions I was graduated from Tiburon school when I was still 12 years old, and entered the seminar at age 12 as well.
The principal reason for saying this is to let your know that I was 16 when I got out of high school and 16 when I started at USF. And there may be a lot to be said for being a… I don’t know what you say… a nerd or whatever you want to call it, but there’s an awful lot that is lost that I’d have to consider now, that I didn’t, that I wasn’t considering then and that is in social life. I went to a non-co-ed high school for four years – St. Joseph’s for three and St. Ignatius for one, and went to a non-co-ed university for four years, and in all the time from age 12 to age 20 I didn’t know how to talk to girls. My classmates at USF were all one and two and three years older than I and far more mature, and even if they had gone to St. Ignatius in the City, the grew up meeting girls from Presentation High and going to dances and things like that, and commuting from 6:54 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon, during the high school years, and then during the college years to working at the ferry building until 11:00 it was a situation I don’t say I regret, but I do say that I missed something in the growing up years that might have been beneficial.
Anyway, Ms. Bean finally got me out of there in 1934 and a year or two later she retired. I’m not sure that I know the reason.
Shoppers know you can go to Tar-zhay or Wally’s World and find something to fill every need – school supplies, a patio set and a gallon of milk. If it’s jewelry and clothing you’re after, you can find those in a big-box store as well, but your selection will be mass-market, name-brand items. You’re not going to find hand-made silver earrings with lampwork glass beads, or a designer dress. It’s the same way with genealogy sites – you can shop at Ancestry.com, the big-box retailer of the genealogy world and find a large selection of databases covering many locales and time-periods. But I encourage you to “shop” at some of the smaller, boutique websites for genealogy data as well.
I made a presentation to the Puget Sound Genealogical Society today in Bremerton, Washington. (They’re a delightful group and laughed at all the right places –thank you!). There I shared with them a few of my boutique websites. They don’t have everything, but you just might find some things here that you won’t find on some of the larger websites. Here are a few examples:
Don’s List – (http://donslist.net) This website centers on Pittsburgh area databases, so if that is an area of focus, be sure to check it out. But even if you’re not doing Steel city research, you might find some gems here. They have Oakland, California and Rochester, NY city directories for a number of years. I’ve been able to find many mentions of my ancestors in these, and any time I can find another data point for my peeps, I’m a happy girl.
Distant Cousin – (www.distantcousin.com) While Don’s List has many types of records including directories, Distant Cousin has nothing but examples of this wonderful resource. You can find directories from all 50 states as well as New Brunswick, Canada. More for some places, few for others, but you never know what you might see if you point your browser into this little boutique.
Linkpendium – (www.linkpendium.com) Linkpendium is by no means a hole-in-the-wall website. It has over 10 million links to genealogical data in the US, and a small beta-test section for the UK and Ireland. On Linkpendium you can pick a state, pick a county, pick a category (newspapers, ethnic resources, cemetery records, etc) and find links to free and paid sites. Some of the links connect you back to the big-box stores, but look at this one I found in Washington àKing County àVital records: Death certificates of Finns. (http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/emi3d20r1e.htm) It’s the perfect little “beaded handbag” full of records for someone with ancestors from Finland.
Spend a little time this week “shopping” for records in one of these charming little boutiques on the internet. You’ll be glad you did.
 Scroll down the page on Linkpendium. They’ve also got links for outdoor activities. Perfect for s summer outing (or my sister who couldn’t give a hoot about my genealogy but has never met a hiking trail she didn’t like. Love you, Tori!)
I arrived at Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree on Wednesday afternoon. No name tags yet, but there were genealogists lurking about. How can you tell? You just know. A couple of years ago I was on a train in Australia and I could spot ‘em there, too, even in a foreign country. As I wandered the halls, finding the room where I will speak on Sunday morning (climbing up on the dias where I will be speaking just to check out the view… deep breaths) I ran into a Lisa Harding and George, the volunteer coordinator and the father she “dragged” into helping her with her conference duties. As gregarious as George is, I don’t think Lisa dragged him anywhere! Of course when you meet complete strangers, initial introductions often include the where-are-you- from?s and when I told George Seattle, he said, “I’m from Seattle.” I asked what neighborhood – “The Ravenna hill.” Hmmmm… “What street in Ravenna?” I asked. He replied “32nd… 6050 32nd.” I told him my address, a mere five blocks away, and we were instant friends!
George’s house was one in from the corner of 32nd and 62nd, site of Assumption-St Bridget school, alma mater of my three kids. Looked quite different, George assured me, as he described the big open field where he played as a kid. And even his block, now filled with cars parked on both sides of the street in our two-cars-for-every-household world, was nearly devoid of traffic in the war years when he grew up, so all day long the kids had free reign to run and play ball or tag in the street. We reminisced about the nearby University of Washington campus, also much changed from his tenure there. And he told me a bit of a remembrance of a neighbor girl, Mary Maxwell, a few years older than George and most of his buddies, the unofficial “big sister” on the street, keeping all these boys in line. Mary Maxwell? Quite an accomplished woman when she grew up – served on the board of regents for the University of Washington, the United Way and several major corporations.  And Mary Maxwell’s training, keeping on the kids on 32nd Ave NE in line must have given her some training for what’s probably turned out to be her most famous job, that of mother to one Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.
Nice to come to Jamboree and learn more about my neighborhood a thousand miles away. Thank you, George, for making me feel welcome, in both places!
 Miles as the crow flies from Seattle, Washington to Burbank California per https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.