Monday, March 9, 2015

Take a journey with your ancestors...

I have to say, in the years that I have been doing my family's genealogy, I never know where I am going to go on a given day if something arises when I am doing research. In fact, I've told both people I have spoken one on one with and groups, that when you do genealogy you just hang on for the ride. The research will take you were you are meant to go.

The FindMyPast Free Weekend

For instance, this past weekend FindMyPast had a free weekend from Friday night until Monday night in Australia.

On Friday night/Saturday morning, I was in the US finding out about Gauquie's there. I went to states like New York and California.

On Saturday I went in search of people/places in Newburgh, New York and Germany. Sunday was a big day - I went in search of the Ostrzycki's. This was in New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Washington DC and some other places. It seems once the original ancestors that came over from Poland, once they were gone people started to move out into the rest of the US. I learned about some who were hurt by accidents, illnesses and some who had died. Some that looked up to others and some who moved to help family out. In fact this was so big it took over most of my Sunday as well.
Lon Ostrzycki (@PastorLonO) on Twitter
"...He was my hero and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. ...He was not going to be counted out in the game of life and has exhibited the same persistent qualities I watched him display on the football field in his fight to walk again" - Lon Ostrzycki about his brother Wayne in September 21 1985 Monessen Valley Independent story, page 5.
Monday came and I started to do country searches to see what was happening in some of the countries. I went to Koblenz/Cobelenz Germany, Belgium, French Flanders, and France. I was looking for information on what was happening within the countries at the time to see what influences happened to my ancestors. However, most of the newspapers were either very blurred or very tiny and after a few hours I had a headache and couldn't do it any longer. If I found something I could easily read, I did, but most of it was in tiny typing which was crazy. Even my husband who said he wasn't having a hard time tried to see what he could do and ran into the same thing as myself.

What can you find out from old newspapers?

However, I did get to know my family a bit more. I know what church had the service for my great great grandmother and have tracked down where she is buried. It sounds like it was the family place
1931 Aug 24 Charleroi Mail Valerie's obit
to be buried because of some of the death certificates I have. Like I said above, I know about illnesses, accidents and birthday parties. Associations family members were in and how involved in the community they were.

I found with one of my grandparent's businesses, someone was robbed and assaulted just after they bought the business and it was right next door! From the way it was written, I think my grandmother already had an impact because instead of starting anything in the business, they went outside. I smiled at that one!
1946 Jan 17 Middletown Times Herald

Then I learned that another family member sold up his livestock because of an illness. I know he must have won that time against the illness because he lives near the Great Lakes and is a farmer. He has a daughter that is going to be or is a vet as she was on the Dean's List a few years ago. I know another Grand Uncle lost his barn in a fire and said he would have to either sell his livestock or rebuild the barn but he couldn't do both. Tough times all around, but there were good times too. We had a Valedictorian and Student Presidents in the family too.

That's why when you do family history, think of yourself in a canoe going down a river - sometimes its a wild ride like with rapids and other times it flat and you are just floating along. Either way, you can learn alot about your ancestors - you just have to keep your eyes open.
Picture taken from

I'm floating - how & where can I keep my eyes open? 

We all hit brick walls. What you need to do is look at different ways of obtaining the information. Some ways are:
  • Look up the surnames. 
  • Look up towns and places your ancestors lived. 
  • Look up clubs, associations, and churches they were involved with. 
  • Look up places and the above mentioned things on Facebook and join the pages.
  • If you live close enough, visit them in person. 
  • Visit historical societies and attend genealogical talks. 
  • Have you done a timeline for each your ancestors? 
  • Have you put history or events in them? 

These may all give you what your ancestor was going through. This is what we call putting flesh on the ancestor. Its almost like you are stepping back into time and looking at what they were experiencing.

Remember, not everything is online - I would say there's at least 60-50% of information that is still not online, so you have to go places or ask others to go there for you.