Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Family History Writing Challenge

I’m going to try Lynn Palermo’s Family History WritingChallenge again this year. I tried it a couple of years ago, but fell out very quickly.  This year will be different.  

This year, I’m not writing to be read; I’m writing to be heard.  My projects will be to write narration for short videos. Some of them will be very short but still need some advance planning.

Among my intended projects are some stories about photographs. This is an idea I got from Dear Myrtle, Pat Ritchley-Erickson. I’ll take a photo or a small group of photos and talk about them, perhaps explaining the time, people, place, or specific reason a photo was taken.  Sounds like fun.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I LOVE Adobe Spark

What an easy way to create a video to tell a story!  And it is FREE! 

Adobe Spark makes it extremely simple – teachers and students are among Adobe’s target audience for this product.
Here’s my first project: 1941 Road Trip

The website leaves something to be desired in terms of tutorials, but there are several tutorials available from others.
This blog post from Amy Johnson Crow includes a tutorial

And this Wacky Wednesday hangout from Dear Myrtle demonstrates step by step.

A Google search will find more.

Adobe Spark will create a link to your video so that you can share it with others. You can also download your video as am MP4 file that can then be uploaded to your YouTube channel.

In the past I’ve created a couple of videos using Adobe Premier Elements but I think I’ll stick with Adobe Spark

Monday, December 19, 2016

Family Search Family Tree? or Not?

In my opinion there are valid reasons for having my family tree posted on the Family Search site. 
Likewise, I see valid reasons for not having it there.  Here are my thoughts.


There are, among the Family Search members, very likely some who have branches that correspond to mine. They could be great sources to fill in my gaps and chip away at brick walls.

It is a free service.  If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, my online data would be accessible to anyone who wanted to continue my research without having to purchase software.  All other online tree databases are subscription services – no one would have access.


The Family Search tree is “open edit”. Any member can change any data at any time.  I have heard complaints from users about seemingly unresolvable issues regarding dates and relationships.  I recently watched a video dealing with how to deal with people who “mess up” your family information. I’m not sure I want to deal with that.

It seems that the argument about other members having information that I don’t have is countered by the fact that I can search the tree looking for my family members. That takes effort but it may be less frustrating than coping with individuals who are as stubborn as I am.

I can be sure let other who may be interested have access to my tree on subscription services, and my local computer so the information doesn’t fall into a black hole.


Several years ago I did post a partial tree on Family Search, but have not updated it in all that time. Should I delete it if I can?

Should I post my full tree?  My husband’s full tree?  Will I ever decide?

I will appreciate any thoughts and comments about this.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wish List – Dear Genea Santa

Where to begin!??

I have two lists.  One is for things that are either said to be coming in the near future; or are at least within the realm of possibility.  The other list is for those things that are unlikely or would involve a miracle of some sort.

All Polish archives to be online and searchable

Complete and error-free synchronization among all online family tree providers.

Every state in the US to have vital records online and searchable

Adequate budget to support every research trip I’d like to take and to purchase every publication I’d like to have, (And the room to store all the publications.)

Instant fluency in the Polish language.  This is where the miracle part comes in.

Reality: (Could happen)
Verify my g gfather Joseph Dachtera’s birth place.

Figure out which Solomon Rose is the one I’m looking for.  (There are too many men named Solomon Rose in the same time and region.)

Find the ancestral village in Bohemia of the Filek family I’m looking for.

The return of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library says this will happen in early 2017.

Better organizational skills. (Possible but not likely. Comes under the heading of “teaching an old dog new tricks”.

C’mon, Santa. Do your stuff!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Intermingled Families

Finally finding my paternal grandmother on a ship’s passenger list got me back to research on that family.  Searching again for historical records brought me an overload of information.  I have lots of shaky leaves on

One thing that stands out is the connections between 4 families.  Here’s a chart I made to help me visualize the relationships.

The slanted blue lines indicate marriages. Vertical lines show the individual and their fathers.  But there are two people that I have not yet connected to these families even though they have the same surname. 

I have no records for Veronica Raczynski born in 1852 who married Jacob Frost.
A note on Frost: I was surprised to find the name in just that form in records in Poland.  The word frost is mroz in polish, and there are plenty of people named Mroz.  So how did “Frost” become established in Poland??

The Lawrence Lewandowski who married the Veronica Raczynski born in 1879 may or may not be related to the other Lewandowskis on the chart.  There may be no common ancestor – the name is not uncommon so it could simply be a coincidence.

What these families do have in common is that they all lived within about ½ mile of each other, and they all attended the same church: St. Adalbert in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Familiarity breeds…..

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inaccuracy? Confusion? or Perhaps a Little White Lie?

 I suspect that Lucia Raczynska lied about the ages of her children.

It has been a struggle to find information about my paternal grandmother’s family. A scribbled name on the 1900 census had me on a wild goose chase for quite a while.

My grandmother was Tekla (Thecla) Raczynska, born September 21, 1873 in Breckerfeld, Westphalia, Prussia.  Her parents, Lucas Raczynski and Lucia Juskowiak were married on 24 Nov 1867 at Cerekwica, Wielkopolskie, Prussian Poland.  There were no civil records in Germany/Prussia until 1874, so church sacramental records are my only sources.

The 1900 US Federal census shows Tekla with her husband, Stanley Dachtera, and 3 children plus Lucia, listed as “mother” and Lucia’s sons Frank and John. But – scribbled in for Lucy’s surname is: Matykewich (sic).

So even though I know better than to make assumptions, I assumed that Lucia had been widowed and remarried to Mr. Matykiewicz.  I’m too embarrassed to tell how much time and effort I wasted on that.  Adding to my confusion was that one of Tekla’s sisters-in-law, Stella Dachtera, married Frank Raczynski.  Because he proved difficult to find in any records I had access to, I was not able to make a connection. I was never able to find Tekla on any passenger list. After beating on that brick wall for a while, I gave it a rest and moved on to something else. 


Fast forward to last Saturday.

Scanning photographs of my Dachtera ancestors got me back to my research.  I chased a couple of BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects), but finally found a passenger list record at FamilySearch.  Of course the surname was badly misspelled but it was worth a look at the document.  The transcriber did his/her best, but when I saw the record, I knew it was Raczynski.

It made sense.  There was my grandma with her mother, a sister, and two brothers.  YAY!!!
I did another search on Raczynski looking at city directories – and there she was in the St. Paul city directory:  Lucy Raczynski (widow of Lucas) and her son John at the appropriate address.  NO mention of Matykewich!
But then I went back to the 1900 census and it didn’t make sense.  The ages and immigration years were different from the passenger list.  How many women named Lucia Raczynska came to the US with children named Tekla, Veronica, Frank (Franz) and John (Jan)????  It is likely that the census taker spoke with Tekla who should have had accurate knowledge of birth dates – but she also may have had enough of an accent to confuse the census taker. I’ll never know for certain.
I created a small spreadsheet to try to clarify things, but that only made it clear that at least one data source had wrong information.

I have not reconciled the differences, and perhaps never will, but here’s my current thinking.
While it would be difficult to falsify the age of the infant Jan, the older children may have been presented as younger than they were in order to keep the cost of passage as low as possible.
Tekla was a very short woman.  If she was tiny as a child, it could have been possible to pass her off as a younger child to avoid paying an adult fare.  The same would hold for Veronica and Franz.
So at present, I am assuming that the Tekla Raczinska of the passenger list is my grandmother traveling with her mother and siblings.
Sure would be nice to find real proof.
If you have a different theory, please let me know. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

DPLA - Digital Public Library of America

Note that this is an unusual web address.

The goal of the Digital Public Library of America is to bring together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites, and make them freely available to students, teachers, researchers, and the general public. It is an ongoing project, constantly adding more material.

The great value of this project is that historical documents have been scattered far and wide over the years. Images and documents from your home town in Ohio may show up in libraries or museums anywhere from California to Virginia . 

A search for St. Paul, Minnesota, returned more than 78,000 items. Results showed documents and images located in several places including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia and in 14 different languages..  They are located in places I would never think to look.  Nor would I have thought to search for the very useful documents I found. . DPLA allows you to search by subject, place or date. 

I am seeking to understand how my ancestors lived – what their everyday lives may have been. 

A study of Minnesota incomes in the years 1938 – 1939 gives me clues about life during the Great Depression.

Items include everything from state statutes, to geology, to proceedings of the state horticultural society, to maps, photos, history, memoirs, and promotional materials designed to lure both settlers and tourists.

Drawing of Union Depot from The Grand Opening of the Northern Pacific Railroad - 1883

Wonderful information can be found where you’d least expect it.