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13 July 2011, Vol. 14, No. 7
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Hosted Sites, and Mailing Lists
Volunteer Opportunities
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions, and Reprints

RootsWeb Resources
RootsWeb Helpdesk
Check here for frequently asked questions about RootsWeb.
RootsWeb Review Archives
Check here for previous editions.
Using RootsWeb
By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion."

Striking Genealogical Gold in Foreign Records
Has this happened to you? You get the request, "What do you have on the family genealogy? My child has a school project and we're hoping to trace the family ASAP. Can you help?"

Yes, we helped. The child received an A, but wishing to prove more generations, we delved further!

Location Research
The family had Polish origins, and searching foreign records is not without the fear factor.

Not only are there language barriers, but at various times, Poland was controlled and partitioned by other countries. As a result, documents report varying countries, and even provinces, since names have changed. And the hometown of Rosa (Róża in Polish) was not the only one by that name. When researching foreign locations it is helpful to make a note of potential location names.
Republic of Poland
Zassow Province
Polish Equivalent
Austria, Prussia, Russia, etc.
Renamed Rzeszów, now Malopolskie
Tarnow (Tarnów) had jurisdiction over parish records
We were lucky. During a visit to Poland, our guide not only figured out which Rosa was ours, but took us there. At the time of emigration, the family lived in Austria.

While there we also visited the church where generations of family had worshiped. The priest looked up some family records, but there was little opportunity to learn more. That would require more research, so I made a list of more potential resources.
Historical societies
Passenger lists (such as at Ellis Island)
Polish Archives
RootsWeb's Mailing Lists
RootsWeb's Message Boards
Subscription databases (such as Ancestry.com)
Family Search/The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Of these, the most promising were databases pertaining to marriage and baptismal records.
Marriage Databases (Polish Genealogical Society of America - www.pgsa.org)
Poland, Roman Catholic Church Books, 1600 1950 (Family Search)
We also had access to an unpublished marriage database (unknown author) contributed by another researcher.
Transcription Variations
The three files enabled tracing an additional three generations, but not without challenges. Transcriptions recorded names either in Latin (Catholic records), Polish or English conversions.
Agnieszka = Agata, Agatha, Agnes
Jan = Joannes, John
Malgorzata = Margaret
Wawrzyniec = Larry, Laurentius
Wojciech = Albert, Adalbertus
Surnames also varied. Where one read Tabor, others recorded it as Gabor or Psabor. Either handwriting was hard to decipher, or original entries were incorrect.

Then we noted surname suffixes. Was Zmuda the same as Zmudianka, Skowron the same as Skowronski and Biela the same as Bielawa? In most cases, yes. Polish suffixes (often called diminutives) indicate distinctions in origin, marital status, sex, occupation or even a parent's name. For example,
'anka / ówna - indicates a single female
ewa / owa - married female
equicz / owicz - child of
ski / cki (male) ska / ski (female) - from, pertaining to, or former indication of royal roots
As complications grew, I entered data into a genealogy program and often had to merge names.

Not finding complete families, I began a process of searching The "Poland Roman Catholic Church Books" using multiple queries. After locating a child, I repeated by querying the parents. When siblings were located, I'd cross-reference to the marriages. Then given names were entered (without last names) to uncover surname spelling variations. If too many results were produced, the search was limited by date ranges, adding Rosa as the location.

Family History Library (FHL) Films
Theses searches were quite successful, but it became clear images needed to be reviewed. So we ordered corresponding film FHL #1959125 as reported in the database.

Films are free to view at the library in Salt Lake City, or can be rented at Family History Centers around the world. The catalog is easily searched, and you can specify call and film numbers, location, surnames, subject / numbers, titles, film numbers and keywords. Go to https://Familysearch.org and click on Catalog which will bring you to the Search page.

For titles in foreign languages, use a translation service, such as Google Translate at http://translate.google.com.

When the film arrived, we struck genealogical gold!

Not only did the baptismal records specify parents and witnesses, but all four grandparents were named, including maiden names. There’s a lot more to the story but I hope this summary will inspire you to venture into your own foreign ancestry.

If you are interested in reviewing my research, please visit WorldConnect database, Kieras Family Ancestors of Róża, Poland. If you have additions or corrections, please leave a post-em on the file!
Behind the Name
Learning: Polish Names (Ancestry the Polish Connection)

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Genealogy Tip
By Joan Young

Obtaining an obituary (when you already have proof of death)
They say nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. Records involving both can help in your genealogical research. Even if you already have obtained a death certificate or located an individual in the Social Security Death Index when the death is recent (mostly 1962 to the present), or found burial or cemetery data -- obtaining an obituary can still be helpful. You may think that once you have ascertained the date and location of death you no longer need to look further. You may be missing valuable family information if you overlook an obituary.

In some cases, obituaries are nothing more than a two or three line statement of the death of an individual with very little useful family information. In other cases, obituaries can be a goldmine fleshing out your ancestors' lives. Obituaries often include a list of all living relatives and sometimes those who are no longer living. They may provide you with married names of siblings you hadn't previously discovered. You may learn where family members were living when the obituary was published. Sometimes, small town newspapers will include the name of another town with the notation "please copy." This can be a clue that the deceased was originally from that town, previously lived there, or has family there. My great-great-grandmother, Catherine (DIETERICH) SMITH died in York County, Pennsylvania, and her obituary carried the notation "Lancaster papers please copy." I knew very little about Catherine and this tip gave me a lead to pursue.

Additionally, an obituary may (if you get lucky) provide information about your family member's life you would otherwise have never known. My great-grandmother's obituary stated that she'd been in good health until the Atlantic City (New Jersey) railroad disaster of July 1896 when her back was badly injured. I hadn't known about the train wreck before finding the obituary. Another ancestor's obituary contained the information that when she passed away at an advanced age she could still "read her Bible without glasses which she had never worn." This not only told me about her eyesight but also informed me this female ancestor could read at a time when many women could not.

There are many online resources both free and subscription where you can find obituaries. Some resources are:

Cyndi's List, Obituaries

Free Online Obituaries

Linkpendium (click on the locality links for the location where your family member died and then on: Obituaries and Funeral Home Records)

RootsWeb obituary resources:

RootsWeb User-Contributed Databases

RootsWeb message boards. Select the advanced search option and search the Classification "Obituary."

Search and/or subscribe to an obituary mailing list

If you cannot find the obituary you seek you can post a query on the appropriate locality message board or mailing list to locate a volunteer in that area who may be able to obtain the obituary you need, use volunteer resources such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, or contact a library or Historical Society for their available obituaries.

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Patience Really is a Virtue
In January 2007 I posted a message on the SLABY surname message board on Rootsweb. That board is so little used that my post is still on the first screen, almost 4 ½ years later. My grandfather left Germany in the early 20th century, and I knew he had brothers, and I was looking for relatives in Germany or elsewhere. A few weeks ago I heard from a second cousin in Germany who said he found my post by accident. He is a grandson of one of the brothers of my grandfather. We’ve exchanged a lot of information by email since then. Thanks, Rootsweb, for maintaining message boards for even some of the less frequently seen names!

Jerilyn Marshall in Cedar Falls, Iowa

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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Do you really know…?
My Dad was the informant for his mother's death certificate. The death certificate said she was born in Kansas.

In doing this family's research, I found that his mother left with her family when she was about 5 years old and lived in Kansas for about six years. He remembered and also told me that she talked about the wheat fields in Kansas.

I now have her birth certificate and a form stating where she was baptized. It was not in Kansas but in New Orleans, LA.!

Audrey Borde, Metairie, LA

Unlikely Source Of Information
Something unusual happened as I watched "Antiques Roadshow" on 16 May. Presenting from Biloxi, Mississippi, they showed a set of four pictures. I looked at the names under the top two pictures and was flabbergasted as well as excited. The names were Moses Gibson and Elizabeth Gibson. I sat up and paid attention because I knew they were some of my ancestors. Moses Gibson (1783-1857) married Elizabeth Paisley (1785-1846), and they had several children.
Unfortunately, Antiques Roadshow policy prevented my finding out who has the pictures. The owners probably are related, and I do wish AR would have given them my name and address/telephone number. Nevertheless, it was an exciting moment.

Mary Greene

Uncertain Birthdate
I teach genealogy classes and run workshops.

One student came in with three certified birth certificates for himself with different dates! When was he actually born? Yes the dates were only a few days apart but they were still different.

I have never seen any type of government document that you could say without any hesitation was accurate.

Richard Bloss

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31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Register now online for the 31st IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Washington, DC. Aimed at all levels, the Conference is invaluable for solving family history research problems! It’s got 200 sessions on vital records, shtetl research, the Census, Sephardic genealogy, DNA, etc. Use our 40 Resource Center computers to access computerized databases (such as ProQuest), covering historical newspapers, Holocaust records, etc. Attend Breakfasts with the Experts to help solve family history "brickwalls." Attend Special Interest Group luncheons; "schmooze" with others researching your ancestral region. And – submit your surnames to the Conference Family Finder, so other researchers can reach you!

What’s New: Databases, Hosted Sites, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb
CALIFORNIA, Kern County. The Bakersfield Californian 2009 Obit Index 5032 records; Sharon Dulcich

CALIFORNIA, Kern County. The Bakersfield Californian 2010 Obituary Index 4864 records; Sharon Dulcich

MINNESOTA, Pine County. Recorded Births of the Village of Sandstone, 1894 - 1953 1105 records; Connie Glattly, Pine Cnty. Genealogical Society

MINNESOTA, Pine County. Recorded Deaths of Sandstone, Pine County, MN 1915 - 1957 1205 records; Connie Glattly, Pine County Genealogy Society

TEXAS, Erath County. Johnson Cemetery - Family Plots 269 records; James and Julie Myers

TEXAS, Erath County. Johnson Cemetery, Surveyed Plots 335 records; James and Julie Myers

VIRGINIA, Caroline County. Alumni List 72 records; Paula Lucy Delosh

VIRGINIA, Stafford County. Alumni Lists 37 records; Paula Lucy Delosh

Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database

New/Updated Websites for Counties, States, and Historical Societies
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
KHHP = Kansas History and Heritage Project
USGW = US GenWeb
TTTP = Trails To The Past

  • acwunits — American Civil War Units
  • arboone2 — Boone County (AR) History
  • azapactp — Apache County (AZ) Trails to the Past
  • azmaritp — Maricopa County (AZ) Trails to the Past
  • cosummtp — Summit County (CO) Trails to the past
  • gawalto2 — Walton County (GA) USGenWeb
  • illchgs — Lawrence County (IL) Historical and Genealogical Society
  • itchertp — Cherokee Nation (Indian Territories) Trails to the Past
  • ksmarhhp — Marshall County Kansas History and Heritage Project
  • ksmcphhp — McPherson County Kansas History and Heritage Project
  • ksnemahp — Nemaha County Kansas History and Heritage Project
  • kssalihp — Saline County Kansas History and Heritage Project
  • kswashhp — Washington County Kansas History and Heritage Project
  • kyadaitp — Adair County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kybarrtp — Barren County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kyhardtp — Hardin County (KY)Trails to the Past
  • kyharttp — Hart County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kyjefftp — Jefferson County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kyjohntp — Johnson County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kysimptp — Simpson County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • kywarrtp — Warren County (KY) Trails to the Past
  • nccarte2 — Carteret County (NC) AHGP
  • nhmhs — Merrimack Historical Society (NH)
  • nykvhs — Kuyahoora Valley (NY) Historical Society
  • ohhvcsar — Hocking Valley (OH) Chapter Sons of the American Revolution
  • vaofp — Virginia Society Order of the Founders and Patriots of America
  • onvictgg — Victoria County (Ontario, Canada) Genealogy Group
  • pakhist — Pakistan History and Heroes
Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn’t up yet, please check again in a few days or next week. These sites are accessible at www.rootsweb.com/~48643x, where 48643x is the account/site name.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Garfiled County (Colorado) Trails to the Past web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account

New Mailing Lists
New Surname Mailing Lists
To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

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Volunteer Opportunities
Are you looking for an opportunity to give back to the genealogy community?
Check this section to learn more about som;e of our hosted projects and other projects you can participate in.

The World Archives Project is helping to keep the world’s stories alive. You can too by typing information from historical records into searchable online collections that are available to the public for free. Learn more

For a complete list of projects to key, and search click here.

If you know of genealogically related volunteer opportunities please email Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

The Darkroom
This is a picture of my mother, Hazel Mildred McClarity pretending to drive the car, and next to her, with the large bow, is her sister Ethel Del McClarity. My mother Hazel was born in 1910, so I would guess this picture to be taken about 1915. At that time they lived in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, on Euclid Avenue.

I did extensive research on the car. I ended up contacting the Director of Marketing of the Gilmore Car Museum who in turn contacted the Editor of the Brush Runabout who stated that, "After some research I saw it was not a Pope Toledo, though the fenders are similar. I now say it is a Locomobile of 1905 or 1906."

Thanks to Diane Schroeder

For a chance to see your ancestor’s photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
Unusual Name Variant
Many many years ago, I was tracing some related-by-marriage families from New Jersey to Michigan - Van Buskirk, Fanckboner, Crose. I was using the printed census index for 1850 for Kalamazoo Co., Mich. (all we had then), and could NOT find William Fanckboner, so I decided I would just have to go through the census line by line until I found him. Indeed, sandwiched in between 2 Crose families was Frank Bones, 47, NJ with the right wife and children. In 1860, he is recorded correctly as William Fanckboner. I guess when the census taker asked his name he just answered "Fanckboner."

Cathy Gowdy
Marin Co., CA

Always a Saint
I have been indexing the "Appointments of US Postmasters" and found the name "Saint Virtue" as one of the postmasters for a town in Lancaster, PA during the 1860s. Unfortunately, I was unable to find that name in any census records although there were some with S as a middle initial for last name Virtue. Oh well. It would be hard to live up to that name.

Dana Kessler

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to
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