Welcome!

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

Kliknij na flagę, aby zobaczyć w języku polskim

Google Translate

09 December 2017

Ervin Sanetra, and His Brother Paul



1920s-Ervin left, Paul Sanetra right (brothers)

Brothers Ervin and Paul Sanetra were very close. They tried to do things together whenever they could. They couldn’t find any other family for decades (39 years). They went to St Hedwig’s orphanage when their mother Rosalie died in Oct 1918. This was the last time they saw the rest of their siblings and their father. Ervin was 11 and Paul 13 years old. There weren’t enough beds for children 14 and older, so Stanley (age 14) was never admitted to the orphanage. Jozef and Bronislaw were younger and remained in the orphanage. Ervin and Paul were old enough to be farmed out, which they were. When Adam Sanetra came back to pick up his 5 sons in 1920, only the 2 youngest were left: Bronislaw and Jozef. The orphanage had lost track of Paul and Ervin.  

Paul went to work on the Deering family farm. On the 1920 Census, he was living with them on Foundry Rd, in Wheeling, Cook, Illinois. Paul said the Deering family was very good to him. They worked him hard, but they also worked hard beside him. Ervin and Paul were able to visit each other for holidays and special occasions. This picture attached would be one of those visits as teenagers, as well as the picture at the top of the blog with their friend Roy Miers. I haven’t been able to find Ervin on the 1920 Census, but my guess is that he was in Kane County. Ervin was sent to Aurora or St. Charles, in Kane County. He lived there the rest of his life. I looked through the Census manually at the St Charles School for Boys but I did not see Ervin’s name. 

Ervin’s wife, Ida Eggert, had been living in Kane County for a while. They were married about 1928-1929. Their son Norman was born after the 1930 Census, in Sep 1930. About the time Paul turned 18, he moved to St Charles to be near Ervin. Paul was listed as living there on the 1930 Census. Paul and Ervin had a construction business together until Paul had a health crisis. Paul then moved to Arizona in the mid 1940’s to recover physically and financially where he could work year-round in warmer weather. Paul and Ervin wrote letters to each other, visited each other and took a few road trips together. 

I was very surprised when I found Ervin’s baptismal record to see that he was born 6 months and 8 days earlier than we thought. Ervin was born March 1st and baptized March 10th. We thought his birthday was Sept 7th, which was even reported on Social Security. We also thought Ervin was born in Evanston, Illinois. But now we know he was born in Chicago.  I couldn’t find Ervin’s baptismal records at first, in the Chicago Catholic records on FamilySearch. I changed the search parameters to any Sanetra with a father named Adam. Searching this way showed Ervin’s record, but I still haven’t found Bronislaw’s record. 

I was also surprised to see that Ervin was baptized in a congregation that was mostly Kashubian ethnicity in 1907. Joseph was baptized at St Josaphat Catholic Church, about 14 miles south of St Nicholas Church where Ervin’s two older brothers Stanley and Paul were baptized. Google maps tells me that’s about a 35-minute drive with light traffic.  Here is a link with a picture of the church http://polfamily.info/st-josaphat-chicago  Interestingly, this web page mentions people from Żywiec are in marriage book Volume 2. 

Ervin Sanetra's baptism record
I was very happy to discover that Ervin’s godmother, Magdalena Biernat, was the same person as Jozef’s godmother. (Ervin’s youngest brother). I can’t find very many consistent things with Adam Sanetra and his family. I’ve found lots and lots of addresses listed for Adam and his children. 6 of Adam’s children were baptized in 5 different Catholic churches; churches not that far away from each other. Adam also had a 7th child after he returned to Poland, who doesn’t appear to have been baptized. So, to see Magdalena listed as a godmother for two sons, at two different churches, and still associated with the family 5 years later, seems a pretty big deal to me. I also guess that she’s related, for these reasons. We know of some Biernats who were related to our Sanetras in Poland, but that was in the early 1800’s. I’m not aware of any more recently related Biernats. I think I found this Magdalena on the 1910 Census. When I discover more regarding Magdalena, I’ll do a blog post about her. 

In 1957, Ervin and Paul heard from their brother Bronislaw and discovered he was living in Ukraine. In 1961, they heard from Jozef Sanetra, living in Poland. The Red Cross helped Jozef find his brothers. Soon after they also heard from Bronislaw’s family in Poland and they discovered they had a sister Jadwiga, from their father’s second marriage, who was living in Lębork, Poland. Ervin lived until 1969, only a few years after the brothers started to find their siblings. 

26 November 2017

1833-1925 Chicago Catholic church records on Family Search

Stanley Sanetra baptism
Our family has had a copy of the baptismal records for Paul and Stanley Sanetra since 1951. It used to be, you'd write to a church and forms were filled in, as your copy for your genealogy records. But scanned images of church book records in Chicago have been going up on FamilySearch. Two weeks ago, I was happy to discover records for Saint Nicholas Church are now online. You can see our earlier copy from 1951, and also the newer released collection on FamilySearch. Note: my Sanetras first lived in Evanston, Illinois, then moved to Chicago by the time Bronislaw was born in 1910. I'm told when my family lived in Evanston (early 1900's), it was a German speaking community, and mass was in German at this church. In Chicago, our family lived in  Polish communities.

Here is a link to this collection from 1833-1925. : https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1452409
The source information says this collection is from:  GS Film Number 001579545

I was thinking that it is odd that we were told Ervin Sanetra was born in Evanston too, but was not baptized in the same church as Paul and Stanley. I searched this collection and after trying several different types of searches, I did find Ervin's record, but it did not say what I thought it would say. I'm working on a separate blog post about that. Part two next Sunday.

Stanley Sanetra Baptismal record, bottom right

Paul Sanetra baptismal record

Paul Sanetra baptismal record, top right


Update: 28 Nov 2017, Note: this connection is not completely indexed yet on FamilySearch. 

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