Thursday, January 29, 2015

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme

That being said, I don’t post just because it’s a certain day or time and I need to have a post. I think its not very useful or informative for my reasons, so I limit what I have to say to when I think I should share something. To me, time is precious and it should be used only when something important can be said or shared. 

Now...getting back to the topic...Remember to accentuate the positive  

GeniAus has invited me to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want or just answer a few questions...

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was
2.  A precious family photo I found was
3.  An ancestor's grave I found was
4.  An important vital record I found was
5.  A newly found family member shared
6.  A geneasurprise I received was
7.   My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was
8.   My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was
9.  A new piece of software I mastered was
10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was 
11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was
12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to
13. A journal/magazine article I had published was
14. I taught a friend how to
15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was
16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was
17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was
18. It was exciting to finally meet 
19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was
20. Another positive I would like to share is

© Copyright GeniAus 2013

So here it goes to accent the POSITIVE – this is a bit late but its better than never at all! So here’s my answer’s…

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was - on my maternal side. My uncle, whom I thought had died, and cousins. It was a shock to learn they were only about 10-15 minutes away from where I grew up and I never knew about them. Also, cousins on my grandmother's maternal line - all the way back to Poland!

2.  A precious family photo I found was - I had 2! My great grandmother Anna or Annie Larson Gauquie's passport photo. My mother always talked about her but until I saw that picture I didn't feel a connection. 

I also found my mother's maternal great grandmother, Walerja Rutkowski Ostrzyski (known as Valerie Ostrzyski), pictured as well. This one was on her headstone.

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was - I actually found a group of them. One group of the Gauquie's was in or at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Washingtonville, NY.

4.  An important vital record I found was - It wasn't exactly an important vital record but it was important. It was my Great Aunt Helen's funeral and obituary announcement. She had only just passed away and I was searching for anything, again, on that side of the family. I noticed and matched up some of the names and left a condolence message. Now I'm in contact with the that side of the family - and I am hoping to have first hand contact with my uncle soon. Thank you Great Aunt Helen!

The reason why I've had contact with my mother's side of the family again - My great Aunt Helen.

5.  A newly found family member shared - Pictures of my maternal grandparents. I never knew what my grandfather Louis looked like and I was very little when I had last seen my grandmother, and namesake, Janet. There's also much other information that has been shared, but pictures mean the world.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was - help with my great grandfather, Jules, connection to Belgium. People found and shared, through Geneanet, my great grandfather Jules' full name and his birth certificate - even found out when he was born he was illegitimate!

My Great Grandfather Joannes Julius Van Rompaye and later changed to Gauquie

7.   My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was my paternal grandmother Genowefa M Wojtkowska Schmitz's part 1 of her life. I want to finish this up and write a more in depth one for the family.

My Grandmother's picture

8.   My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was my first post of Welcome to my blog had the largest number of hits. 

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was the Belgium Archives. I spent over a month on the website!

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was the forum for Geneanet. It was different because of the different languages it covers. I do get lost every now and then but I'm still finding different sections of it. In fact, my husband's using it took and I think I got him hooked on it as well.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was - I didn't get to go to any this year. But I did set up and gave a beginner's class and have a chat at the local community space about genealogy.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to Coonara Community House. We trialed a 5 week course and everyone walked out after 5 weeks with at least 1 piece of information about an ancestor they wanted. They also had further ideas of where to go to look among other things. We are also looking at holding an hour meeting once a month at the local community meeting space.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - it did not happen.

14. I taught a friend how to do a search for newspapers and using Google to find some ancestors.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was Polish Roots by Chorzempa.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Belgium Archives as I outlined above. I'm also learning how to take what I found there and find it on FamilySearch.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was probably the various webpages I found written by numerous people who I've read about and put interesting facts together for my timelines for my family and ancestors.

18. It was exciting to finally meet a few of my cousins online. I cannot wait to meet them all in real life!

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was going into a college/university here in Australia to help my husband get the prospectus on a photographic company of his ancestors.

20. Another positive I would like to share is not to give up. Sometimes it might take you awhile to get there, but you will get there. Also, think about going at things a different way. For instance, I didn't know where to start with getting further for my ancestors, so I started looking up information that was on census' - what is Belgium? Germany? Poland? What is Flemish? Where is that located? Does the surname/last name have a meaning? (for instance Jagodzinski's were sometimes known as Berry farmers and some people changed their surname/last name to Berry upon arriving into the US). Its taken me over 10 years to get through the brick wall of my mother's family. However, now I have the information is just flowing right through like a river with a new lease on life. This new lease is also giving me the confidence to keep on going as well!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Remembering Victims and Survivors of Death Camps - 70 years on

As the 70th year since the most known death camp - Auschwitz - was liberated by the Russians, it is a timely reminder about stepping back and researching what exactly this was then, is now, and how we can honor those who have died.
From Embassy of Poland, Washington DC Facebook page

Remember it was 70 years ago, and those who survive are getting older and eventually, like many other things, will be gone in the future. Some of those who have lived through it, and still suffer from the memories, will leave their stories behind, so hopefully the world will never forget what happened at these places. And some have already left us - and their families have to keep them alive by telling their stories. CNN had many personal stories and NBC also had them. One survivor tells how she walked out of gas chamber alive.

What does "At These Places" mean?
Yes, I did mean to say, at these places. I think many people forget or misunderstand that there was more than just ONE PLACE where these murders happened. They were throughout Europe and not just in Germany or Poland. There was no POLISH DEATH CAMPS - they were Nazi death camps. Why? By looking at the image below gives people a greater understanding for where exactly the death camps and the concentration camps were/are. They were NOT just in Poland and the Polish people were some of the hardest groups that were slain in these areas. Some of the land has been "reclaimed" and no longer exist and others still do exist and either are not publicized or very well known about.
Only part of the map of Europe's camps - taken from
Another map shows just how far these camps really go.
Taken from

Malkinia and Triblinka
For instance, when I was looking up information on my grandmother who put on her ship manifest "Malkinia" I went looking at maps and researching. I finally realized the name had changed to Małkinia Górna in current times, and this lead me to reading a blog post which talks about Malkinia Junction. I then asked myself - Why Malkinia Junction? Well it seems this was the "joining" point between the German/Polish railway lines and the Russian railway lines. It doesn't seem like anything, but when you read the blog posts you understand.
furtherglory's 2011 blog post picture

"When train tracks were built in Russia in 1842, they were “broad gauge” or 1524 mm. (5 feet wide).  Train tracks in Western Europe were based on the “standard gauge” or 4 ft. 8 1/2 inches.  Western railroad cars could not run on the broad gauge tracks on the eastern side of the Bug river." - furtherglory's 2011 blog post
It doesn't seem like much but when you read about Triblinka Extermination Camp, you then understand why they used this tiny town to build such a camp - because of the train tracks. Its sad but explains so much.

How does Malkinia fit into this? Malkinia is only about 7 miles away from the Extermination Camp. Typically what happened was when the Nazi's took over a place like this, they would also go to the smaller villages and towns around it and would taken EVERYONE - not just the Jewish persons - EVERYONE and they would exterminate them ALL.

All... such a small word for many people's lives just because they lived in the wrong area.  Most people think or misunderstand about who was at these camps. Sure they know about the Jewish people, but just think of all (there's that word again!) the millions of Romani, Roman Catholics, Poles, Slavs, and anyone else the Nazis considered inferior, undesirable or dangerous and they were KILLED and are now put under the umbrella Holocaust Victims.

Belgium and the Holocaust victims 
Recently I've been following another family line of mine and this one was from Belgium. Upon looking around for information on my family and the areas they lived, I found the Nazi's made their trademark there as well - they killed people from tiny Belgium towns as well. It seems no one was safe.
Taken from Wikipedia - The Belgian version of the Yellow Badge, compulsory from 1942

 Karen Silverstrim, MA Candidate wrote an article up titled "Overlooked Millions:Non-Jewish Victims of the Holocaust" which will give you more of the victim breakdowns.

We mustn't forget - ever. If we do forget, we will only be slated to repeat history and that would be a shame as all these people would have died for nothing. Every year at the end of January, we should just stop all that we are doing and think of these poor souls who had died, so these awful things will never be forgotten and we have learned from them.
General Dwight Eisenhower inspected the Ohrdruf Nazi labor camp on April 12, 1945, while touring forward battle areas. It was the first camp in Germany liberated by the Western Allies.Taken from
US National Archives Facebook post

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I've been clustering and fanning

Did I get your attention with the heading? I hope so. You have probably noticed I haven't been around very much in the last 2 months, this is because I was busy doing some clustering and fanning of relatives.

For an in depth explanation, you can watch the video below which has come from

However, to easily say what I've been doing is asking a question about where in a country my ancestor would have gone and giving the surname or last name of the person. My my case it was Gauquie. I knew my great grandfather had come from Brussels because this is what he's put down on his paperwork I was able to find - including the census. I then found a forum which had a huge group Esen, Belgium. Another suggested I look at the Belgium Archives website. I then put the two of these suggestions together and off I went taking notes and saving any of the births, deaths, and marriage information I could find. The draw back is I have to now go into FamilySearch and get the certificates but at least I know where to look and the dates. The Archives website gives you a transcribed information but you need the certificate to get more updated information.
of Gauquie's on it. I asked the question about what town would they have likely been in. A helpful person came back and told me

My mapping of the movements of the Gauquie family.
After I went through all of that villages information, I then sat down to see if I could figure out who was the child of whom and the years. Meanwhile, my cousins and I got into a good discussion about if the Gauquie last name/surname was French or not. Within hours one of the helpful 'angels' on the forum said that the surname/last name didn't sound very Belgium it sounded more French to them. I think they are both correct, and had told them that, but we need to find the 'link' for the theory to be true. So on I went about figuring out which parent went with which children. I finally had a pretty good idea who went with whom. However, where's my link to this whole thing?

We are currently still looking for the link back to France. However, this is more difficult because it takes places during the French Revolution.

Jules or Julius Gauquie was born in Belgium. He lived in Brussels the paperwork said. Hmmm where do we fit into this large group of people? Off I went to towns and villages like Boesinge, Izegen, Elverdinge, Ploegsteert, Dikkebus, Noordschote and on and on. Finally I had to stop as it was doing my head in as there was still not a Jules or Julius. I then decided to search for his name or variants of it - nothing. I asked in the forum again and someone came back with Julius being a MIDDLE name. Great. Thankfully, someone found a group of paperwork about his birth and then about his parents' marriage.
Joannes Julius Van Rompaye (Gauquie) Birth certificate in Dutch

As his parents lived in one of the towns I had already researched, I was able to link of up information on siblings and grandparents and cousins. Using some of the family stories, I was able to start to track down if they were correct stories or not.

As you can imagine, this takes time as you are searching by town and person by person and trying to make all the puzzle pieces go together.

Was it worth it? 
You bet it was as I was able to confirm stories and link up people. It might have taken me a few months, but at least we can go back to the late 1700's and according to what I've been tracing on Google Earth, I can tell you we're getting closer to the current French boarder - only 15 miles to go.
Jules' direct ancestors - doesn't include all the cousins and such I found

If you are stuck with where to look next, you might want to give the clustering a try. Its slow but you gain so much information!