17 February 2015


Island of Hope - Island of Tears; Charles Guggenheim; National Park Service; AVA15996VNB1 1992 (1989); From 1892-1954, Ellis Island was the port of entry for millions of European immigrants.

Old footage of life in the agricultural old country.  How our ancestors left their villages to immigrate to the United States for work.

03 February 2015


I've been advised in the past by Latter Day Saints missionaries to PRAY to the ancestors in the spirit world for help in my genealogical research.  To me this is a form of ancestor worship.  I don't actually have a problem with the notion but I also have never prayed for other worldly research assistance.

Maybe this is because an occasional dream has provided guidance instead.

I suspect it is more ethical to pray to your OWN ancestors for help when it comes to genealogy research - or anything else - than to the ancestors of strangers you might be helping or working for. 

I do wonder what other people think of this.

I suppose it can't hurt but maybe it can.

Maybe it depends on the focus of the research.

28 January 2015


What to do if the family you're researching for - maybe your own - refuses to BELIEVE that your research is valid, when you know it is?

I've encountered this problem with my own family and with a client, who was not a client for long.

This woman refused to believe my research because the spelling of her surname in the Old Country was not the SAME IDENTICAL SPELLING to the one that she and her parents and grandparents used here in the United States.  It was a very rare Eastern European name, one found in a specific region of Eastern Europe, and using phonetics and the European language, it was clear that the American spelling was the way it sounded, not the way it was spelled in that language but still recognizable as the same name, just about 3 letters different.  I also found relations of hers that used another spelling from the same region.  It was clear to me early on that she would continue to disbelieve and discredit my research and probably not pay me, so I gave up. 

I considered this a different kind of lesson. Some people don't want their genealogy researched.  She was a psychologist but didn't understand herself on why not she was so closed minded and cut off from her ancestry.  I wasn't prepared to go to battle to defend my research to her.

I kept my work.  I didn't charge her.  I didn't take her phone calls.

Of  course I sort of worried that she would not recommend me to her friends but in my life I have found that it's very likely she was friends with the same type of people anyway. Who needed it?

I'm an ardent researcher and aim for accuracy and proof. 

When it came to certain members of my own family, I figured that memory failed them.
For publication (with distribution to only be within the family) I provided copies of the various documents and went forward with the truth as I found it.  When the difference between the documents and the story that some relation has promoted is vast it probably isn't a good idea to also publish their memory as a sort of folky "We all love Auntie but" story as part of the publication.  If it is only slightly off or a reasonable error, sometimes retelling the story and revealing the source is OK and can even add more humanness and charm.

Such as...

"Auntie Love remembered the flood that came through their house as eight feet high, but then Auntie love was only 7  years old when the flood occurred, so though the local papers reported that the river rose three feet, as a seven year old that water was terrifying."


"Auntie Love said that she herself named her sister Patience, Patty, but then Patience got born two years before Auntie Love and the name Patricia appears on her birth certificate."


"Maxwell remembered seeing his brother home on leave in his Navy whites in 1946, but brother Stanley was discharged honorably from the Navy in 1942."

17 January 2015


Are there secret "tricks" to successful genealogy research?

I find that the longer one researches they better they get at research in general.  With experience you start developing a kind of reasoning that is practical and about increased knowledge of methods and resources.  Once you have gone down a research path once or twice, you remember that, and the next time it seems to go much faster.

But then again, genealogy can really challenge your assumptions and sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself if what your doing is really the best way to go and when information you want is just not there, missing from where it SHOULD be, you have to learn to interpret and sort of go around the mountain instead of down the path.

I enjoy all of it.

I also enjoy talking to other researchers, sharing in their often hard won triumphs, and have picked up a lot of "How To" over the years from others.  I enjoy sharing what I know and giving advice too at times, because it not only helps others but enforces my own knowledge.  In other words we learn by teaching others.

So perhaps a "trick" is really something you've learned to do quickly because you learned it from experience.

12 January 2015


I lost touch with someone back in '07 when they moved away and now this person is back in town to live intends to be a new friend all over again.  I realized that maybe I did not know him so well all those years ago and so rather than just go here and there and look for a good or interesting time of cultural explorations and participation in the arts, that I would ask him some questions about his family, his relationship to his ethnicity and childhood religion, if any, and so on.  I'm not looking for his autobiography, just for information I haven't known that might help me get to know him better.

One day he challenged me about my long time interest and participation in genealogy and I was surprised that he didn't know how important it has been and is to me.

I was even more surprised to learn that he is one of those people who thinks that genealogy people are all "stuck" in the past.  (I believe we can at least learn from the past, especially if we contrast it with the present, and happen to be someone who loves futurism too!)

I became dismayed feeling that he might never at least respect and appreciate that this of such great importance to me and my life.  That he would probably never want to research with me side by side at a library.  And I checked any impulse to offer to get him started with his own research or to use research to get information that he wasn't telling me.

"You've probably "poked around" he said, twiddling his fingers, and already know about my divorce," he said.  I told him that years ago closer to when we first met and he was telling me about it I had checked the divorce index in another state but that I had not and was not going any further.  (Too bad, from some things he told me I imagine he has some great things to find, especially on his mom's side!)

Ah well, we cannot all understand or approve of other's avocations or professions, even when they are totally legal and legit!


The other night I was trolling through some old posts I put up on Ancestry years ago, not knowing that they were actually going to be on the INTERNET (I thought only on the innards of the then small genealogy database) and which, frankly, I deeply regret posting.  I lost the password in to delete these myself and have to write to Ancestry to have them all taken down.

NOT ONE POST IN ALL THOSE YEARS EVER RESULTED IN ANY GOOD INFORMATION SHARING, just a lot of new researchers speculating and hoping that the social networking aspect of the site would bring them other people's research for no effort on their part, sad to say.  Which is why I think there are a lot of people willing to give subscription databases a spin, without being willing to put the time and effort in, and terribly ignorant that you still often have to use the OLD FASHIONED methods like books, microfiche, films, and writing away to governmental archives.

But strange - someone did post about a year or so ago on one of these many posts I made and it was a story about someone whose surname was similar to the person I posted about.  This poster said that the person I posted about was said to have brought with them (on a steamship) enough GOLD to last THREE GENERATIONS. 

I had to laugh.

My research on this line is now EXTENSIVE and HARD WON, as well as EXPENSIVE, but I have never found ANY evidence that there was even enough GOLD to live well in the first, immigrant, generation.  There isn't one person in the entire family who hasn't worked until they were sick or dead.

THAT MEANS IF THERE WAS GOLD it was buried or lost.

The tale might even have some PIRATES in it!

06 January 2015


This year I have to look through years of research and make sure that it's better organized and protected.

This year I'm going to send away the old fashioned way for some marriage and death records that still are not available on FamilySearch or Ancestry.com.

This year I'm going to photograph old pictures and upload the images onto an electronic resource, though probably not a "Cloud."

This year I'm going to think more about which of the youngest members of the family will actually inherit originals and copies of my research when I die.

This year I will take all the links that I sent myself on my cell phone off the phone but store those links in my research file.

This year I will help at least one other person with their research when they ask me in person.

This year I will continue to post about genealogy research and resources, and related topics such as DNA discoveries to ANCESTRYWORSHIP.BLOGSPOT.COM

Happy New Year Everyone!

16 December 2014


How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-Occupied Poland, 1939-1945
By Ewa Kurek
Introduction by Jan Karski
C 1977 Hippocrene Books
Originally published in Poland as Gdy Klasztor Znaczyl Sycie  C Zvak Publishers

The book starts out with a translation of a poster that was posted in German and Polish during the occupation.  It says:

A reminder - in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.  According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty.  This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against 1) Providing shelter to Jews 2) Supplying them with Food 3) Selling them Foodstuffs.  Dr. Franke - Town Commissioner - Czestochowa 9/24/42."

This book was first published as a graduate student thesis and it is very detailed, informative, and most importantly strives to show both sides honesty and fairly. So it begins with just what the interaction of most Jews with most Christians was before the Holocaust, and that was minimal, but for the professional classes which would have come in contact with each other mostly in business.  (That would include Doctors and Lawyers.)

One of the reasons I'm posting this book review/recommendation on Ancestry Worship - Genealogy is that sometimes Industrial era immigrants from Poland and other countries effected by the holocaust have suggested to later generations that someone in the family was a convert from Judaism to Catholicism or another Christianity. I then often hear that this had to be "impossible" because Jews and Christians had little to nothing to do with each other in the old country.

Well, now that you've read what the law was, you know that indeed, anyone who helped a Jew survive could be put to death themselves.  Such people, when recognized for their sacrifice are called "Righteous Gentiles" by Jews today.

Page 33
According to the estimates of the Remembrance Institute of Yad Vashem in Jerusalen, of the nearly one million Jewish children in Poland, only five thousand survived the Holocaust.

Page 35
Many Jews refused the offer of help for their children because  they did not want them to be converted.  Conversion was one of the reasons for those offers. "The Catholic clergy has always made use of hard times in the life of Jews (pograms, deportations, etc.) for winning both adults and children."  Additionally, some clergy could offer shelter and hide children under the threat of death but they could not necessary afford to feed and support the child and charged money for this.

Page 45
"On the eve of World War II, there were 74 active convents and11 contemplative ones in Poland, in which over 20,000 nuns lived." ... "The nuns belonging to the active orders in Poland worked among and for the Polish people.  They satisfied Polish society's great needs concerning child care through their work in orphanages, nurseries, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and boarding-schools; they too care of the poor, the sick, the homeless, as well as outcasts; they constituted the bulk of the junior medical staff in hospitals all over Poland; they taught religion and helped with the work of numerous Catholic parishes.

Yes, in order to hide the children under watchful Nazi eyes, the children had to learn the prayers, dress differently, and sometimes remain silent in order to hide an accent or the fact that they did not speak Polish, but Yiddish.  Still, most likely some Nazi's knew or suspected that some of the children they saw when they showed up at these nunneries were Jewish.  Perhaps they respected the nuns enough to pretend not to know.

This book contains the testimonials of some of the children as adults as well as some of the nuns.  It also contains a list of the orders of nuns by location, for instance  Baworow was the Albertine Sisters, Chorzow, the Dominican Sisters, Grodzisko, Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Kostowiec, Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

A valuable book, that covers a part of history that many people's families took part in on one side or the other.

11 December 2014


How a heroic HJapanese diplomat saved Jewish refugees in World War II

C 2005 Dentsu Inc.

In 1939, as Hitler advanced through Eastern Europe and Jews fled, Japanese diplomat CHIUNE SUGIHARA decided that he would provide handwritten (in Japanese) passports to thousands of others.  He risked his career and ultimately was punished and by the time he returned to his family he was a changed man, for the worse, unsmiling and perhaps depressed.

He was the Japanese Counsul to Litrhuania and more than 2000 Sughihara visas allowed families to flee through Russia to Japan and then abroad.  He is the Japanese Shindler.  For today there are at least 40,000 people alive due to his decision to act upon his innermost values. 

In a case like this I always hope that this person has their reward in the afterlife and in future incarnations.