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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12 September 2017

Organizing Research Thoughts: Mostly Digital, With a Little Paper

I decided it was time for a little shift in my paper verses digital organization. I completely stopped keeping paper files about 10 years ago. There are some great digital record keeping tools that I use. Firstly, I love Evernote, it’s perfect for my organizing needs. I also love having Microsoft Word documents and Excel sheets as my research notes. I have several thousand genealogy documents on my computer. I prefer digital information retrieval as opposed to looking through a paper file cabinet. I love my trees on Ancestry.com and that I can pin sources to people in my trees, like a digital bulletin board. Even so, sometimes my body can only handle looking at a computer screen for short periods of time. And also, sometimes I want to remember more than what I typed up for others. So, I keep stacks of cut scrap paper in my desk drawer, ready to scribble thoughts or notes on as I think of things, until I can come back later to that topic. Sometimes this leads to having huge stacks of words and phrases written down, that I never did get back to, days or weeks later. They aren’t usually complete thoughts either. Lately, I’m often only typing up partial files. Once I start typing, I realize there are still questions I need answered, incomplete source notations, or further research is needed before I feel like I can share. When I have a lot of partially finished things, it makes me feel very irritable and frustrated with myself. My solution? Go back to keeping a paper journal, in addition to my digital organization method.
I like to think of myself as a detective, for my genealogy. I enjoy reading old public domain mysteries, and historical fiction mysteries. Lately I’ve been reading stories Alan Pinkerton wrote about his company’s real cases.  There were so many great detectives with smart research methods, all before the days of computers and databases! Alan Pinkerton’s stories are amazing to me because of how many undercover detectives were involved, sometimes months of investigating for just one person. I also thought it was pretty genius that everyone had to regularly write up reports to Alan, with their thoughts, ideas, what they’ve done, etc. They used regular telegraph reports in code and a paper write up at the end of a case. Other authors write about detectives that map out their ideas on paper. By writing it out, you can see how people, places and events fit together, and patterns are easier to spot.
I have kept a small and simple temporary file system for the last 15 years, that has worked well for me. I have only 6 folders for genealogy. I keep them in my desk drawer. One folder is for my volunteer work with genealogy. The other 5 folders are for different subjects such as: my Polish research, my Irish-Mecklenburg VA group, and notes people have sent me about DNA matches they have with me. The folders are pretty thin, nothing is meant to stay permanently in any of these folders. It’s information I haven’t put into the computer yet, pages with notes I took during a phone call, planning pages for a trip to the archives, or notes from a courthouse or cemetery visit I haven’t organized yet. Last month I added something new that has been helpful. I put a sheet of bright card stock in each folder so that I can write questions as I think of them, on that folder’s subject. It helps me to have the questions all on one page. I also have a page for blog post ideas and blog posts I started writing, with what info I still need to finish that post. In the Mecklenburg, VA Facebook group I’m moderating, I’m trying to post “a question of the week” every Tuesday. I have a sheet of card stock with ideas for the questions on one side. The other side of the page has notes on the questions I asked with the corresponding dates.
A few years ago, I kept 2 journal notebooks: one for on my Polish research, the other my Irish research. I felt I needed the notebooks then, since the research was all so new and foreign to me, with so much to think about. I filled in two composition notebooks for my Polish research, that I still review 5 years later. I stopped keeping a journal because I thought it might be more efficient to just use Evernote tags and notes. But I’m finding that because of the way I think and process information, I still need to write things out on paper. My Polish notebooks for Chicago research really helped me think things through when I couldn’t find people, and I was studying maps to manually look people up through census maps. I usually write paragraphs on the right side, and draw stuff out on the left side of the page. In my Mecklenburg, VA notebook, I drew circles for property, writing which neighbors were to the north and east around those circles. I drew squares for Census maps showing city blocks in Chicago. I wrote the enumeration district number inside the square, then the street names around the square for that location. I also wrote whether I found the person in that district or not, and where I found the address that I was looking up on the Census maps, then the Census. I also wrote out timelines for that house, family, or individual.
Instead of waking up and jumping right into emails and work stuff, I’m trying to make it a priority to do what has consistently helped me before, but seems hard to maintain. First thing in the morning, it helps me to sit on my deck and ponder the words I scribbled onto scraps of paper. Writing out complete sentences in my journal helps me complete my thoughts or write out a more detailed story. It helps me think about what I know, what I still want to know, who might know the answers, etc.  The pictures in my mind get sharper and more focused. It becomes easier to share information, because I’ve already processed my thoughts and formatted them in paragraph format.
 My conclusions? I love being mostly digital, but I need a little paper too. When I feel limited on how much I can look at computer screens, I can still write with a pen and paper, and add colored pencil notations. I especially love writing with my 1930s fountain pen.  I will continue to use Evernote and digital files, I’m just adding journaling back in. I've realized when I do genealogy, I need that writing, composing on paper process. I can type things up later, so I can avoid looking at a computer screen while I’m thinking about how I want to write something. I do keep my research log notes in my genealogy database. I use my paper journal as more than just a research log. It includes things like where I looked for answers, why a record says that, my thoughts during an interview, my descriptions of places, something I learned and my curiosity about if it could apply to this person I'm researching, things I learned or found interesting at a genealogy presentation, notes on books I’m reading for genealogy… and whatever else I need it to be. Writing in complete sentences and paragraph format helps me process my thoughts and helps me visualize things better, see connections, and feel more focused. Journals helped me before, so I’m returning to that process again.
Note, this post was written for both my Mecklenburg, VA and Polish blogs

28 June 2017

Holocaust Museum project: Diaries

Digitizing, translating and making diaries available for everyone to see is truly amazing. I heard about this on my last visit to the Holocaust Museum. The museum library was so beyond my expectations!! It's collections, the archivists, and that the people there know multiple languages, as well as an amazing knowledge of historical background, understanding various ethnicity heritages, and geography. Check out this project with a video clip explaining it, including details about this project to digitize over 200 diaries, written in 17 languages. They will be published as they are written along with English translations. I thankfully read about the project details and kickstarter, on Dick Eastman's blog: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ushmm/save-their-stories-undiscovered-diaries-of-the-hol

13 April 2017

Finding Rosalie's brother: Michal Wandzel

Michal Wandzel WWI draft records
Yesterday I found one record (WWI draft record) which tied 4 groups of people together! Six years ago, I found a death record I thought might be Rosalie's brother Michal. But there wasn't enough information to know for sure. After my latest find, I see that: 1) This Michal was Rosalie's brother, 2) That Adam Sanetra used Michal's address for his sons' school records, so they probably knew each other in Chicago, 3) That Frank Sanetra was living at this same address on the 1920 Census, widowed, with two single brothers: Walter and Anthony Sanetra. 4) That the Frank at this house was the same Frank that immigrated in 13 Jul 1893 with his wife Anna. This is the earliest Sanetra immigrant I can find. 5) Frank had a second wife Agneiska Visek that married him in 1909, and she immigrated (while married to Frank) to Chicago in 22 Jul 1909. Agnes died in 1911. On the 1910 Census it says this was the second marriage for both Agnes and Frank and that Agnes has no children. I'm not aware of any children for Frank. (Note all records can be viewed full screen by clicking on the picture icons.)

Michal Wandzel death certificate
My families in Chicago can be really challenging to find by surname. I have much better success when I know an address and can follow the address. I had gathered several records over the last few years, but needed more resources, to connect the information. Finding the WWI draft record for Michal Wandzel was my missing link. I searched Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and Fold 3 without any luck. But when I did "sounds like" on Fold3, this time, a record turned up for a Mike Wannzel.

The first thing that I noticed was that Michal's wife Rozalia was still living in Poland. Michal Wandzel and Rozalia Klosak married 5 Feb 1907 at Żywiec-Zabłocie, Bielsko, Poland.  Michal immigrated, arriving in the United States 20 Oct 1908, one year and 8 months after his marriage. It appears he remained in the United States the rest of his life and died in Chicago. It also appears that his wife Rozalia never came to America. I wonder if he had any children or visited his family in Poland?  I'm thinking that is not very likely, but it is possible, I just don't know enough about Michal yet. The birth date on this draft record is an exact match to the church marriage record we have for Michal in Poland.

1612 Centennial: Frank, Walter and Anthony Sanetra-year 1920

Michal's immigration record states the family member he left behind was his wife Rozalia. He was going to his cousin in Vivian, WV. I have seen a few relatives from Zywiec start out in Vivian, West Virginia. First name looks like Tomasz, but I can't figure out the last name yet. I wondered if this was Rosalie's brother, why he would go to West Virginia, when she had lived in Chicago since Feb 1904? I also wondered why he didn't bring Rosalie's daughter Bronislawa Sanetra with him. Maybe he needed more time to work and send money home, before making his way to Chicago.

The next thing I noticed about this WWI record was the date. This was dated in Sep 1918, one month before Rosalie died. Then I noticed the most important thing for me, the address: 1612 Centennial. I remembered seeing this address before. So I started looking back at records I had for Wandzel's and what addresses were listed. The WWI record and death certificate matched. Also, one school year, Adam Sanetra gave his address as 1612 Centennial on his boys school records. There are several schools and several addresses listed on a record sent to Paul Sanetra in about the 1950's when he requested a copy of his school records. Mulligan School in 1913, Avondale School in 1916, Monroe School in 1917, and Otis School in 1918. All the children were enrolled in Otis School, until they were sent to the orphanage in October 1918. Stanley, Paul, Ervin, Bronislaw, and Jozef Sanetra were all enrolled in Otis school using the address 1737 Austin. Not sure which school or which year they used the address 1612 Centennial, but it should be between 1913 to 1918.

On the WWI draft record, it says Michal worked at Precision Metal Works with the address of 1443 Carroll Avenue. On Michal's death record it says he worked at a Brass Foundry. I assume that means Michal worked with brass at the Precision Metal Works Company. I have not been able to find Adam Sanetra, his soon to be bride Alfreda Mazurkiewicz (married Dec 1920) or some of his children on the 1920 Census. I went to try to manually look up 1612 Centennial on the 1920 census. I couldn't find that address on a map. But I found where Michal worked (Carroll Ave) and figured that he lived close to work. I recognized some street names and wondered how close 1058 Marshfield Ave was, the address associated with Adam and Alfreda's family from 1918 to 1923. It was very close, only about a mile. (Map attached in the post.) I found the ward and enumeration district for Precision Metal works and as I was loading a census page, I saw that some street avenues were indexed on Ancestry.com. So I went back to type in just the street name in Chicago, (1920 Census), all other fields blank. Only about 25 names came up, for a long street, with a lot of people. I picked the first person listed as living on Centennial Ave and started scrolling through the batch. My 3rd page with the street address of Centennial, I found 1612 Centennial. Michal was not listed as living in the house, although he should have been. The Census was taken in January, and Michal died in November, using the Centennial address. Interestingly the informant for Michal's death certificate, Paul Cymonsky, gave his address as this same address of 1612 Centennial, and he is not on the 1920 Census at this address either. I'm not sure where Paul Cymonsky or Michal Wandzel went, or if they were accidentally omitted. But I was surprised to see there were 3 Sanetra brothers living at this address, not showing up on indexes. I only knew about this Frank Sanetra. I'm not sure of this Sanetra connection yet.

I called and confirmed Michal Wandzel was buried in St Adalbert's Catholic Cemetery in Chicago as his death certificate states. I asked, if Michal was buried in this cemetery that should mean he was Catholic right? I was told in this time period yes, Michal would have been Catholic to be buried there. This puzzles me a little, why Rosalie wasn't buried there too. There are other family members buried at this cemetery. She was married in the same Catholic church as her brother Michal. Rosalie was buried in the Bohemian Cemetery in Chicago, several miles from any of the Sanetra addresses I'm aware of. The only thing I can think of, is that I'm not really sure that Rosalie was born a Catholic.  Michal also dropped the "D", which I believe was intentional. I am told that the DZ letter combination was German and there was a lot of anti-German sentiments during WWI, the time period of these records.

Michal Wandzel's sister Rosalie was spelled the German way. His wife Rozalia Klosak was spelled with the Polish spelling. For now, I can say Rosalie's brother lived near her in Chicago and that both Sanetra's and Wandzel's used the address 1612 Centennial. Did Michal have any children? I don't know. Did he go back to visit family? I have no idea. Did Rosalie's children know their uncle? I've never heard him mentioned before. But it is possible; the boys were very young young when their mother and uncle Michal died. It's a little bit more puzzling to me that Stanley and Bronislawa went missing with another family member living close by though.

I printed and have been studying family group sheets for Rosalie Wandzel and Adam Sanetra's siblings, to see if I can find any other close family in the United States. Adam Sanetra was the only male in his family that lived to be an adult. Adam's sister Maria remained in Poland. Her family wrote our family a few letters in the 1960's. Adam's other sisters were Apolonia, Katarzyna, and Helena. Helena we only know her baptismal date. But I haven't seen Apolonia or Katarzna with their married names coming to America yet. My guess is they remained in Poland as well. Regarding Rosalie's family, Michal was the only male that lived to be an adult. Sisters Anna or Helena could possibly have immigrated. But I don't know anything past their birth dates, or which surname they would have used. I do know of a few other Wandzel and Sanetra's, close in age, from the same place, living near our families. It's highly likely they are cousins. We have found one Ancestry.com DNA match of my grandfather to another Wandzel family living in the United States. I am hoping to see more DNA matches in the future to help us find more records and connect our families a little easier.

Michal Wandzel line 4, page 1 of 2

Michal Wandzel line 4, page 2 of 2

26 March 2017

Current projects for blog posts

Me on a visit to Richmond, VA-Mar 2017
Lots of cool posts coming soon. I have several blog posts composed in my mind. I have stacks of interviews and stories to type up and share. I've been discovering lots of new resources, that I want to tell people about. It's very easy to get impatient with myself, because things now take much longer than I want them to. I've been trying to learn personal things for my health things as fast as I possible, so I can get back to more of what I love. Family history and genealogy feel like they are a part of me and my soul.

I have an electrolyte disorder that affects my muscles, including my vision and speech. I permanently went into a wheelchair last March. (2016) My hands are not strong enough for hand controls, to allow for driving. So, I also stopped driving then. I had so many places I wanted to see for my research! I live in between Washington DC and Richmond, Virginia. Both of which have libraries and museums I love. Public transportation doesn't come as far as my house, I'm still in a rural area. But there is a train station about a 10-minute drive from here. My doctor helped me with handicap paperwork to get disability transportation passes. I got train passes this month, so I can try to get out and about again a little easier.  I've gotten much better at balancing my electrolytes so I don't feel sick as much, and I feel safer to go out. I can also finally type on the computer longer periods of time again.  My wheelchair has made life much better and easier for me. These things have been a huge boost to my confidence and feeling more independence.

My Gray line from Mecklenburg, Virginia was from County Armagh, Ireland. (Immigrated 1838) After getting my DNA done on Ancestry.com, I discovered I'm more Irish than I thought and have found more Irish ancestors. Last week, my husband took me to Library of Virginia (state archives), and I got to see a presentation from the Ulster Historical Society, on St Patrick's Day. They sent us home with several folders worth of resources.  I also copied two very large chancery cases that day.  This month, I've learned a lot from Dear Myrtle's Irish Gen study group, on Google +. I've been rather immersed in Irish research this month and loving it! I also have some things I'm working on with Polish ancestors, so I'm planning a visit to Washington DC.

I made a list of dozens of webinars I want to watch. I've been shown dozens of new websites and resources just this month.  I plan to type up things I've been learning for my blogs. This past year, I got all my old archived emails into Evernote to tag and organize. I've also moved notes from personal messaging systems like FamilySearch, Ancestry and Face Book, into Evernote. The more I tag and put my notes into notebooks, the more I see more blog post ideas; As well as questions that I want to go back and ask people, now that I've learned more things the last few years.  Of course, as with life in general, these things are always a work in progress. I'm going through my notes and getting things into my computer a little at a time so it's easier to share. I'm thankful that I am still moving, not feeling stuck,...even though it's a slower pace than I prefer. Much more coming soon, ...a little at a time.

(This post was created for all 3 blogs: My Virginia blog, Polish blog, and simplifying-health blog)

01 March 2017

Good Neighbors in Gary Indiana

This story was posted as a comment in August 2016. Today feels so busy and faced paced, I don't see so much community as older people describe to me during interviews. Valerie is not related, but I think her story gives a great feel for the time, and place. I loved this story, so I wanted to put it in as a post, which is more visible than comments:
Hello. My name is Valerie. I am an African -American woman born in the late 60's. I had the most wonderful experience growing up in Gary Indiana. My Dad bought a house on Taft Street when he and my mother got married in 1966.He was a Mill worker and my mom was a school teacher. I came along in 1968. In those days the neighborhood we moved to was strictly white ,professional families, i.e. doctors, lawyers,nurses, educational professionals...The area was located by the local hospital ( about 4 blocks away) and several schools.Hence, considered the professional district. My family was the first black family on the block. My next door neighbors were Polish. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Roman. He was an English teacher at the Horace Mann high school 3 blocks away. I remember he walked everyday. They never had a car,and his wife was a housewife. She was wonderful to me and my sister. My earliest memories go back as young as two or three years old. She had beautiful flowers in her yard and she treated us like we were her own children. She spent many days socializing with my mom and they would even share recipes with each other. She baked the most incredible cookies in the world! and she gave us treats everyday. During this time in our history it was an unheard of concept. Because our other neighbors were very adamant about socializing with families of other races. They even had maids that weren't allowed to have passing conversations with those living around them. But my Polish neighbors were the exact opposite. Even though Mr. Roman worked, he still took the time to talk with us and teach us different things. Including their prayers. They had a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary in their front yard. Their names are carved in the concrete on the sidewalk in front of the house. Mrs. Roman taught my mom how to make those great cookies and my mama taught her how to make chitterlings......LOL! I still smile when I think of the songs she use to sing to us. As the years passed, Mr.Roman passed away and I believe Mrs. Roman, who had a son from a previous relationship, (this information my mother gave me) that came and took Mrs. Roman to live with him in her old age. My mom and sister took care of her for a while before her son came to get her. I had been long gone and living in another state so I never got the chance to see them again. In 2007, I purchased my childhood home from my mother. My Dad had passed away years before and my mom re-married and moved a few blocks away. So because my sister lived in another state and my baby brother was married with a home of his own, I also being the only one with children, I bought the home I grew up in. The memories are still there...next door.......48 years later.
Different people have lived there through the years...but "The Romans" is still carved in the side walk...the Virgin Mary is still in the front yard.....and The Roman's are still in my memory....and my heart.