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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Kliknij na flagę, aby zobaczyć w języku polskim

02 October 2014

Inquiries to the Red Cross, after WWII

I discovered an amazing collection of records at the Holocaust museum. Joseph Sanetra wrote to the Red Cross to find our family, and they found us in about 1961. Thousands of people wrote letters like his stating when they last saw their family member, info that could help identify a relative (like a birth date) and sometimes sent in a picture.

I was told that just after the war, the Red Cross gave the letter inquiry info to the Army, and the US Army and British Army did the searching. Stalin made mail inquiries, (such as this) stop in areas he controlled, which affected mail inquiries in other areas as well. Then after his death in 1953, mail inquiries searching for family started getting easier.

I was told the inquiries late 1950's and in 1960's, those records would be held by the Polish Red Cross. (Since the inquiries I'm looking for are Polish). The searches just after the war, investigated by British and US Army are in a database now. And the Holocaust Museum has access to this database. They looked up a few names for me during my visit, and I took home a copy of one case.

14 August 2014

The Holocaust museum is much more than exhibits

Several years now, I've questioned whether a few relatives of mine were Jewish or Catholic. I have a picture of two of them. When I show their name, or picture, or say where they lived,  whether I'm talking to currently practicing Jews or Catholics, (senior citizen age), they tell me, "oh most definitely Jewish!". But when I ask, "how do you know? Can you explain it to me?" I'm told, with a shrug of the shoulders,"You just know these things".

I talked with a Catholic priest who worked in old Catholic archives. He told me it's true that in the 1920's to 1940's the time period I was looking at, a lot of Jewish women did marry Catholic men. And when they moved to this country it was a new start, you didn't question what the husband said. So there are Jewish women buried in Catholic cemeteries in Chicago. The priest recommended I try visiting the Holocaust museum because they could help with people like mine who I believe hid behind Catholic marriages. It's more than just information about the holocaust in the museum. I spoke with another person recently who said something similar about help for my questions. The people I'm looking for are not showing up in Catholic records when the rest of the family does, and I really don't know about Jewish records, although so far I have not had luck with the Jewish genealogy online site. The museum can help me learn where to start.

This week, I called the holocaust museum. I told the guy that I didn't even know if my family was Jewish or not, but I was told by a few people they were. Could someone help me with that? To know if they are Jewish? I also told him part of my family was there during the invasion, could they help with things like that? He assured me they could help with all these things. I thought the museum/research part was just for if you already knew you were Jewish or to understand what happened to the Jews. And then of course the purpose of learning history, so it doesn't repeat. But now I realize the museum can even help people like me trying to figure out if their family was Jewish, and just overall understanding things better. The research part is open Mon-Fri. I have so many questions to ask, I can hardly wait for my visit!!
Here is a link to the website to learn more about it: http://www.ushmm.org/

29 July 2014

Organizing all my years of genealogy notes with Evernote

 Here is a post I did on my Virginia blog. This is all names and info relevant to my Virginia families, but the concepts can apply to any record keeping or researching ideas. I've been trying to organize all my stacks of notes. I'm working on getting things together to go look for long forgotten cemeteries and interviewing "old timers" who did farming the old fashioned way. About another month I should have all my Virginia emails in archive then I will work on my Polish emails, which are not as many and I started on much later with my Polish research, when I inherited copies of the records and information of Paul Sanetra Sr from his son Richard. The same concepts, just a new notebook. I think seeing connections will be extremely helpful for my Polish families. Already I have seen where the map and city directories have helped me, when I could not find records.
I wanted to take a little break from my usual posts to explain something I've been trying, in case it may be of interest or help to any of you. I've spent the last month trying to organize my genealogy stuff better. I developed a system that has worked amazingly well for me, with huge potential. A friend told me he used Evernote for genealogy. I wasn't sure how, and didn't have a chance to ask him for a long time. I set up an account, didn't get it right away, and I let it go for about a year. Then I read something about someone organizing all their daily tasks, blog posts, etc in Evernote, so I became curious again. I went to Evernote's website and watched the intro videos. Then I went to Google and typed "Evernote" and saw over 100 videos listed, of people showing how they used Evernote. I watched the top viewed ones, then got an idea of how I could use it for genealogy. I have the free version: windows, and droid for my phone.

I had hundreds of emails I saved over about 12 years, referencing court cases, records, notes on searching for cemeteries, ...lots of important things I didn't want to loose. But then finding where the info was, wasn't so easy. Which email? Which file was it stored in? Windows 7 searches occasionally found the files, Gmail much better. I started testing out tags in other programs and instantly loved tags/filters. So when I saw tags in Evernote I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them! Another thought: I had a plat, with the name JR Cole. At first I didn't really think I didn't needed to remember the name, because it wasn't a blood line. But after awhile, I started to see his name as a neighbor on other plats, as a witness on other records, but then I couldn't remember where. My lesson was learned. I found he was a close neighbor and his family married into mine lot. So every surname in my Mecklenburg/Brunswick emails gets a tag.

I've been doing this for about a month now. I've created about 10 household notes in a household notebook on cooking, sewing and gardening. The rest is working on this system I created in genealogy notebooks. I took about 250 email messages and created 170 notes in 18 notesbooks. Most of those digital notebooks are main surname lines like Dortch, Poythress, Jones, Taylor. Then I have one for cemetery searching, and interviews. I currently have over 250 tags. I take an old email message and copy/paste it into a note on Evernote. Then I tag all the things I want to remember in that new note. Here's some specific examples of what I do.

Example, my friend and relative Hobson Scott Wright sent me a Gray family picture we were trying to identify people in those pictures. The picture attached and email text goes in a note. It is in the notebook labeled "Gray". My tags are "Hobson Wright", "Gray", "VA-Danville", "identifying picture", "98th Regt group". Then notes about who we emailed and asked about the picture will go on that note. Right now that info is stored in a lot of places. It will be nice to have it all in one place, connected.

Another example: I went to Mecklenburg and visited the Rideout cemetery off Nellie Jones Rd. I visited it with 4 people. Those 4 people each have tags, also "cemetery searching", "98th Regt group", and "Ridout" are tagged.

Another example: someone emailed me a chancery case. Hobson Scott Wright and the 4 people who went to the Rideout cemetery with me commented on the case. There were 6 names in the case and 3 different surnames as witnesses, not in the case. That note has 15 tags: Hobson, the 4 names who also went to Rideout cemetery, the 6 surnames in the case, the 3 surnames as witness, and the word "chancery". So from these 3 examples you can see Hobson Scott Wright would already have 3 tags. When I click on "Pearson" or "Thomas" or "Jones" or "Purdy" or "Ireland-Armagh" tags, you would also see his name showing up, as one of the other tags on those notes.

Other types of tags I created: Just things I wanted to remember: If they went to Rehoboth church, or Kingswood, or Olive branch, or Sardis. If they died in military conflict, if they were in the military, then subcategories of which war, if a note has got a person's mailing address, if it's got an interview inclosed, if there's GPS coordinates in the note, etc.

I'm already seeing so many more patterns and connections! And as I type in notes, underneath my note, it shows other notes I have with similar subjects. As I search in Google, on the right, there's a box that shows similar Evernote notes I have on the subjects I'm searching. Evernote reads PDF's, does voice to text, ...so many amazing things! Evernote really can help you remember everything, help make your info organized, in your style, extremely accessible, very smart searching! I'm a huge fan now, if you can't tell.

PS. I recently showed my friend my system. He said had never thought of the tags. He just used notes to type up where he had searched, more like writing in a journal. But after seeing how I used the tags and OCR searching power, he thought that would help him and others, so I thought I'd share. 
For more information here is Evernote's site, the page with intro videos: http://evernote.com/video/

19 May 2014

Stories video clip

Note: Update 15 Aug 2014. I moved this video to the section "videos" under "pages" section, upper left, above the church picture.

I just added a little video clip into my blog. It was created for the 2014 Rootstech Conference. I couldn't get it into a post, so I put it just above the welcome message. I really liked this video, because to me, this is what family history is all about. It shows what I feel, that everyone has a story. I read recently that genealogy is names and dates, family history is the stories and pictures. So check out the little video clip, about two minutes. How many of those things do you think your family did? If you don't know, who can you ask to understand better?

I like to encourage people to upload stories and pictures to their online trees, for the benefit of other family members. Family they know, and relatives they haven't met yet. I've been working at my tree on Ancestry.com and familysearch for about 10 years. I have a lot of pictures and stories I'm trying to share with my family just a little at a time. It takes too long to thing about digitizing an entire bookshelf. But an hour each Sunday is manageable and very doable. Enjoy the video. I wish you the best at discovering your family stories!

20 April 2014

Easter Sunday and thinking about the church your ancestors attended

Today is Easter Sunday. A special Sunday when many people of the Christian faiths around the world attend church. So I thought I'd like to mention thinking about the importance of religion and family history.

What ceremonies or religious things were important to your ancestors? Most likely, because it was important, it was recorded. Either by the church, or in a family Bible or diary. Does that record still exist? If so, it would probably be a great help to you. Ask your relatives. Most religious records list parents names and/or a spouse. Religious records can really help prove the links in our tree a little better. Various rites in religions such as: Sacraments, Holy Communion, Marriage, the various terms for naming a baby.

Different religions and ethnicities have ways of doing things. Patterns. Do you know the pattern for your family? For the religion and ethnicity of your ancestors? I've spoken with several historians that work with Catholic archives in Chicago and Minneapolis. The typical pattern for a Polish Catholic family about 1900-1920 was to settle near the Great Lakes, (similar land and weather to their old home), settle in a Polish neighborhood, pick a Catholic church, then stick with it. Even if that family moved from Chicago to Gary, Indiana,.... if there was a wedding, tradition and the family pattern would say they go back to the church the bride was baptized in. Even if it is a 3-4 hour drive, the whole wedding party would drive that distance. It keeps all the records in one church. Like in Europe. I hear about my husband's Italians, that if you know the Catholic church (which we do), then you can follow the records back for hundreds of years.

One of the historians in Chicago called me, wanting to discuss my letter and to tell me exactly how much Adam Sanetra broke typical patterns. She was curious and asked if I knew why. I told her I had no idea, until she explained all this to me. We didn't even know they spoke German. Adam Sanetra, a Polish Catholic, moved to a German speaking town, his first two children were baptized in a church that only did German mass until that had to change with WWI. Then each child was baptized in a different church. Two of which I still haven't seen, and Jozef was baptized in an Irish church with mass in Gaelic. All of the churches were just a few miles apart too.

Religion can affect where you are buried. In rural America, people were often buried on their family farms. Catholic historians have explained to me there's some pretty specific things about their burial. A Catholic priest-historian explained to me that there are Jewish women buried in their cemeteries during WWII time. If the husband claimed his wife was Catholic for her safety, then, things just happened. Other times, the church allowed them to have the ceremony at the church with family but they were buried somewhere else.  There were many mixed religion marriages during WWII.  Also, many religions used to be very against cremation, but are no longer against it today.

The majority of the marriage records for my ancestors, before WWII, were performed at a church, (of many different denominations.) Unless there were conflicts with different religions, then they may have chosen justice of the peace. There are two main type of marriage records. A ledger: a book listing one after the other who was married, in the courthouse. And a certificate. I was married at a church, and there is a certificate for the church, and it is also recorded on the ledger at the courthouse. The same is true for relatives I have found a hundred years ago. Usually the pastor or priest's name and sometimes the name of the church are also on the certificate. Often the same records you have today for yourself, also existed 100 years ago.(click on images to view full screen)
Here is Karol Janik, marrying Julia. Adam Sanetra said on Ellis Island this was his brother in law. Not sure how yet. This says Holy Trinity Church, which is a Catholic church in Chicago. So there should also be a courthouse record too, from the ledger books.Example of one from Virginia:
Ledger marriage books at courthouses

right half of marriage ledger


Also for fun wanted to add in two Easter cards that Paul Sanetra (son of Adam) got from his nephew Adam (grandson of Adam) about the early 1980's