Welcome to my Polish blog! My Polish great grandpa was orphaned during the Chicago flu epidemic of 1918 & spent his life looking for all of his siblings. Some family stayed in Chicago & some returned to Poland. Some family was Catholic, & some are believed to be Jewish. I post the things I learn in efforts it may help someone else in their research. I also hope this blog helps me connect with others that know about the people I'm learning about. Digital images of records or links are put inside most postings so you can view records full screen. I encourage comments. Feel free to sign the guestbook, stating who you're looking for. Maybe we can all help each other out this way, because there are many challenges with Polish research. I hope you enjoy learning with me. And I hope to be taught more about my Polish heritage.
I have added a few languages to this blog through Google translate. I hope that it may be accurate enough with the communication of ideas.
Thanks! -Julie

Witam! (Polish translation of Welcome)

Witam w moim polskim blogu! Mój pradziadek został osierocony w czasie epidemii grypy w 1918 roku i spędził wiele lat poszukując swojego rodzeństwa. Część rodziny pozostała w Chicago a część wróciła do Polski. Część rodziny była katolikami a część, jak przypuszczam, wyznania mojżeszowego. Piszę w moim blogu o rzeczach które odkrywam i o których dowiaduję się mając nadzieję, że pomogą one wszystkim zainteresowanym w ich własnych poszukiwaniach. Wierzę, że ten blog pomoże mi w skontaktowaniu się z ludźmi którzy wiedzą coś na temat osób ktorych poszukuję. Zdjęcia cyfrowe lub linki umieszczone są w większości moich komentarzy i artykułów, można więc otworzyć je na cały ekran. Gorąco zachęcam do komentarzy. Proszę wpisać się do księgi gości i podać kogo Państwo szukacie. Może będziemy mogli pomóc sobie nawzajem, ponieważ nie jest łatwo znaleźć dane których szukamy. Mam nadzieję, że zainteresuje Państwa odkrywanie ze mną tajemnic przeszłości. Mam rówież nadzieję poznać lepiej moje polskie dziedzictwo.

Dodałam do mojego blogu automatyczne tłumaczenia poprzez Google. Ufam, że będą wystarczające w zrozumieniu o czym jest mowa w artykułach i komentarzach.

Dziękuję! - Julie

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24 January 2016

How can DNA testing help with my family research? My testing

This was a post I did on my Mecklenburg, VA blog. There are also notes about hopes for DNA helping with our Polish family too. If you wish to compare to see if our families have matches, let me know by messaging me. (email, Facebook, Ancestry.com messages, 23andme messages, My Heritage messages, and findmypast messages)
I'm still really new at DNA research. I'm trying to learn all I can about it. I read articles, take DNA classes at genealogy conferences, bought a book, etc. I wondered, how can I apply it, and use it as a source for my personal ancestry? The more I read, the more questions I have. (A good thing.) Really, I find it all a completely fascinating concept. I've messaged with several people on Ancestry.com, 23andme (including My Heritage) and gedmatch.com who have the highest matches to me. Sometime I send messages. Sometimes others see I'm a match and message me. I plan to take DNA tests at multiple places. Just doing a little at a time. A lot of my highest match results, we connect 150-250 years ago! (And my family had 6 generations in 100 years!) For some of my family that's pre-USA time period, still mostly unknown areas for me.  Thankfully, most the people I message with have our families documented well enough that we can see where we match up. Others newer to family history, don't know enough yet to make connections. But the match is still there to keep in mind until newer and better sources arise.

I've had two interesting emails about DNA matches this week that I wanted to share. One lady told me her ancestor was Jeremiah Jones, and that he was supposed to be part of my family in Mecklenburg, VA. She said she'd seen lots of trees reflect this, but no sources listed. They just referenced eachother's trees. She saw I had sources listed, but not her Jeremiah. So she asked me what I knew about it. We concluded that her Jones family was not part of my Jones family. I had court documents stating those relationships, and who all the heirs were. Unfortunately I hadn't heard of her Jeremiah, so I wasn't able to tell her which family to look at. I added my info to gedmatch.com earlier this month. I gave her my DNA match number, and she checked it against her mother and her aunt. No matches at all! So DNA was able to back up that our families did not match. I hope it will soon help her identify the correct family.

George & Arthur Stowe. Sarah, Lucy Long, Violetta Stowe
My second story I think is really amazing. It's about my elusive Sarah. She was Cherokee. (See picture to the right. Clicking on it will enlarge it.) In this picture my ancestry is George Stowe, (far left), his mother Lucy Long, and her mother Sarah Jamison or Jempson. (George Stowe, was married to Fannie Gray, my Mecklenburg, VA ancestor pictured in the heading of this blog.) We know Sarah was first married to David Dunn and had 3 children (Nancy, James and infant). The youngest child died as an infant a year before David died in the battle of Chancellorsville, VA not too far from where I live now. Sarah then was supposed to have married a Jimmy or Billy Long. Sarah and the unknown Mr. Long had Lucy and a baby named Emmett who died soon after birth. For decades we wondered "who was Lucy's father?" About two years ago, a Long researcher told me, "I think Lucy's father is James Randolph Long, who is also my ancestor." We compared notes for several weeks. James Long married Catherine Havener and they had 10 children together. One of James and Catherine's children named William Long (Billy), married Nancy Dunn. (The daughter from Sarah's first marriage.) Another of James and Catherine's children named Wallace Long, married Matilda Adeline Dunn, a sister to David Dunn. (Sarah's first husband). A bit confusing, but it shows a lot of connection between this Dunn and Long family. My Sarah was listed in Matilda Dunn Long's family Bible with David Dunn and their 3 children. We kept searching for some good proof, because we wanted to make sure the relationships were all in our tree correctly, and because the 1870 Census had confusing and conflicting information. James and Catherine Long also had a daughter named Barbara Long Rhyne. She married (Rhyne), but did not have any children. In her estate record, she listed all of her siblings and included Lucy. Nancy Dunn was a sister in law and half sibling to Barbara, but she had already died. James Dunn, (Nancy's brother and Lucy's half brother) was not listed as a sibling to Barbara. James went to Texas with several of his grown and married children from his marriage to Catherine. Sarah and Lucy stayed behind. James died soon after his arrival to Texas. 

We were feeling pretty confident in our little pieces of evidence all getting put together. Recently 5 of us who believed ourselves to be descendants of James R. Long, all did DNA tests with 3 different companies. Someone recommended we all put our DNA info into gedmatch.com and compare. We all did, and discovered this weekend we all matched! Descendants from 2 of James and Catherine's children, and 2 of us from Lucy (from 2 different marriages of Lucy) all matched. I thought this was really cool that we were able to back up what we had researched. Those of us who tested, did not have Dunn DNA ancestry, (only connections by marriages) so our matches would have been through the James Long family. I read a few emails today, about surname studies, including one set up for James Long. That's my project goal for this week.

I told my grandparents about this yesterday. They were really excited at the possibilities with DNA. They said they really want to get Y-DNA testing done for my grandfather. He's already done the regular Ancestry.com test. My grandfather is half Polish. His father Paul was born in Chicago. Paul's oldest sibling was born in Zywiec, Poland, just before the family immigrated to the United States. There are a number of people who have told me think they are related to our family. Same place, records in same church, same rare surname, ...I was born about 56 years after flu epidemic family separations, and 36 years after the invasion of Poland. I think the majority of the people who could have answered my questions about ancestry didn't survive the flu epidemic of 1918, or were separated in WWII, and we're still not able to reconnect. I think there's really great potential for my grandfather to find out more about his Polish (Sanetra and Wandzel) ancestry this way.

My conclusion? DNA can be an extremely useful tool, and used as a source to corroborate other records we find. There's lots to continuously learn about, and I look forward to future findings!

04 January 2016

Memories of Chanukah, from JewishGen.org site

I got an email from Jewish Gen about Chanukah stories. I find that with some holidays, there's a lot of tradition that remains over the years. Other times, things get much more commercial.  I completely love reading stories about how people really lived!  I also love reading about things that are an important part of people's lives, like Chanukah. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did. (Sorry I did not get this out in time for Chanukah.)

The following is from my email, 10 Dec 2015. Each of the places below are links to the website.

Dear Julie,

We believe strongly that knowing "how people lived" is an important element of the Jewish genealogical search process, and that it's not enough to merely make a family connection.

For your convenience, we have compiled some Holocaust survivor testimonies about Chanukah before and during the Holocaust (which appear on various JewishGen pages). Reading them will give you a sense of what life was like in various communities throughout Europe, as well as remind us of a world that no longer exists.

26 October 2015

Free Lance Star newspaper articles about family history

One of my favorite things to do is family history. I love volunteering at my local family history center. I teach classes on how to use FamilySearch. I also give people individualized help, trying to help them discover more about their ancestors. I really love FamilySearch, because there is a huge world wide focus.  World wide records accessible to the public, for free!! With huge amounts of records regularly added. I wish I had more hours in the day to help with indexing, and digitizing projects! I help with indexing when I can, and look forward to when I can volunteer to help with digitization-preservation projects. There's several premium subscription sites like Ancestry.com, Fold3, My Heritage, NewspaperArchive.com and FindMyPast that our center gets (free to patrons). I personally love and subscribe to most of these sites and also use them in addition to FamilySearch while helping visiting patrons. Here's an article printed today (26 Oct 2015) in my local paper. (Fredericksburg, VA) I'm pictured, showing what I love to do. I feel very rewarded volunteering time for family history. I also enjoy being a member of the Fredericksburg Genealogical Society.
newspaper article link

I also am really excited about the Freedmen's project that is a partnership between FamilySearch and the Smithsonian. Here's a link to more info about that project, including videos and pictures about the collections. http://www.discoverfreedmen.org/media

I helped with a local kick off for Freedmen's project and that was in this Friday's newspaper. (23 Oct 2015)
local Freedmen project in newspaper

03 October 2015

Bronislawa and Jan Skorupski

The last 2 years, I've been looking for all the Bronislawa's in the USA that I could find, born in 1901. I even looked for "Bernice" as many Bronislwa's changed their name to that. One by one I went to prove or disprove if each person I found on a record was my Bronislawa Sanetra who went missing Feb 1911. (While immigrating to her family in Chicago.) So far I've disproved all but this one, a Bronislawa Skorupski. I assume that Bronislawa changed her surname to be the same as whoever took her in, otherwise we would have found her. She was only 10 when she arrived. I've been trying to find any record for either Bronislawa or Jan Skorupski. So far I'm only seeing this 1920 record, and possibly Jan's immigration record through Ellis Island. Although the 1920 Census says he was born in New York.

Here is the link to the 1920 Census record on FamilySearch.org: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZWJ-PV2

Does anyone know anything about his family? If so, please send me a message.

24 August 2015

Saint Nicholas Catholic Church, in Evanston, Illinois, United States

We thought that Rosalie Wandzel and Adam Sanetra came to the US for refuge, and chose Chicago to be near other Poles starting their new life. It was quite a surprise to be told by a Catholic archivist in Chicago that Paul and Stanley were baptized by a German priest in a church that did Mass in German. We were also told that Evanston was known as a German community and everyone spoke German there. About the time of WWI, they stopped speaking German publicly there, and Mass was no longer given in German. We didn't even know Rosalie and Adam knew German! Evanston is now listed as a "suburban city" in Cook County. It's about 12 miles north of Chicago. (19 km) We know that Adam and Rosalie moved around a lot. But it is odd that Adam and Rosalie didn't continue having their children baptized at St Nicholas, even though they moved several miles away into the city of Chicago. It appears they began moving frequently after Ervin was born in 1907, and when their daughter Bronislawa arrived and never found our family in 1911. The Catholic Archivist explained to me that in this time period, just like in the old world, you picked your church, and all your religious ceremonies/sacraments were held in the same church. If you moved 3 hours away, and you were about to get married, you and your family got on a bus and went back to where you were baptized. I asked a friend who is military what she does for her family's records today. She explained to me that when her children had First Communion, that information was sent by their priest, back to the church that her children were baptized at. So the records are still kept together at the church they were baptized at.

Here is a link to St. Nicholas church, showing two pictures of the church and the history. I have two letters from the church in the 1950's, answering Paul's questions about his baptism and his brothers'. There's a nice drawing of the church as part of the letterhead. http://www.nickchurch.org/history/ The cornerstone for the church standing today was placed in 1904. First Mass was held 6 Oct 1906. Stanislaus Sanetra was baptized at Saint Nicholas in Apr 1904, and Paul Sanetra in Jun 1905. Here is a link about Evanston which is in Cook County, Illinois where Stanley, Paul and Ervin Sanetra were born. Bronislaw and Jozef were born in Chicago. http://www.cityofevanston.org/evanston-life/history-demographics/ Saint Nicholas church said they did not have a baptism record for Ervin, so we are still trying to figure out where he was baptized. 

I'm finding it's really important to understand the traditions and patterns for our families and also what was considered normal for their community in that time and place. Whenever there's a break in the pattern, it's important to ask why then go look for the answer. Asking questions of why Rosalie and Adam went to a German speaking church and community when they were Polish, led me to finding out Rosalie's family was most likely from Germany and moved to Poland, and that she might have been Jewish. I also found out that Rosalie's name (first and last name) was spelled the German way, not the Polish way, and that later in life when Paul had Alzheimer's he would count and say phrases in German. When his sons asked him where he learned that, he said his mother taught him (when he was very little).