Thursday, December 29, 2016

Genealogy and Hectic Life

Hi Everyone out there

As you can see, I've been posting today. I have done a small amount of posting prior to this but life has been turned upside down for us here and gotten very busy.

During the middle of the year, hubby's family had a bit of a drama which we are 'helping' out with still. However, life is now starting to calm down and I can and have gotten back into genealogy a bit with:

  • finishing writing up a draft of documents of my grandmother's life in more detail than what I've put on the blog. This is so the family has really good information and basis for my information I've used. Hopefully my father thinks I've done this part well enough to give it a thumbs up. Soon I'll have to start part 2 of my grandmother's life.
  • helping a cousin understand some of the timeline around our grandparents and parents' lives. 
  • helping the same cousin (as above) start with a great basis on relatives in Minnesota and then Belgium. 
  • helping with a community Find A Grave outing with taking pictures at a cemetery and uploading them.

These were on top of looking for a job and 'helping' hubby's family, and keeping 3 Facebook Group pages going and keeping in contact with all of the different cousins I've stayed in contact with, and posting on this blog every now and then. As you can see, I've been a bit busy. *grin*

I do keep up with things, so if you have any hints, tips or anything else you want to suggest to do with the blog or searching, please let me know!


Reflect on your geneayear 2016

This year was a bit different as we've been 'helping' out my husband's family deal with some issues. This affected my genealogy research along with looking for employment. Anyhow, I was able to feed my genealogy bug over 3 1/2 days while we had a huge break. However, starting tomorrow, the bug has to be put back on its leash.

Anyhow, before that happens, I figure to look back at 2016 and to the research I've done and see how I've gone this year.

Remember to Accentuate the Positive - which is hard for me to do this year. Its been a hard year for me.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was - the group of Gauquie's from Minnesota. I knew they were there a few years ago, but it wasn't until recently I could put them together with some meaning.

2.  A precious family photo I found was - A picture of my great grandparent's Annie and Jules Gauquie's wedding certificate. I've been looking for years for it.

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was... well this is a different way of 'finding' it. I've been looking for my grandmother's grave for YEARS. This past weekend I was told someone within the family had visited her grave in the past year or so. I was starting to doubt it existed, but now I know it does. *happy dance*

4.  An important vital record I found was again my great grandparent's Annie and Jules Gauquie's wedding certificate.

5.  A newly found family member shared there was a rift between the groups in Minnesota which I didn't know about at all.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was finding out one of the Gauquie relatives was actually reading my Facebook group posts and I could say hello. :)

7.   My 2016 blog post that I was particularly proud of was - not much as I haven't been writing as I have been due to the helping out of hubby's family.

8. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was probably Facebook. Its nice and easy for keeping in contact with those relatives. A few other relatives and I have tried to use Skype but didn't work so good.

9. I taught a friend what the WWII registration draft cards were for and why they were used.

10. A great repository/archive/library I visited was Victorian State Library for hubby's research on his family and Ned Kelly. I loved some of the things I saw in the huge display they had. Too bad our nephew was with us and started to have a meltdown in the middle of it. *fun*

11. It was exciting to finally "meet" a distant Gauquie relative named Paul. Also, my adopted grandfather Gardner (Grandpa Charlie) and finally met and friended his granddaughter.

12. Another positive I would like to share is ... to never give up, ask questions and share! Because of his my cousins and I are slowly putting what happened to my maternal grandparents, and in turn our own parents, life stories together.

Family Tree Christmas Tree

GeniAus had asked who would help create Christmas tree with her full of relatives. I decided, among my many other responsibilities this year, to give it a try anyway.

Like GeniAus, I created mine in Excel and then went from there. 

A post first appeared on the GeniAus blog http// about this topic.

Merry Christmas

 I don't think its come out that bad really!

And Happy New Year!  

Here's to hoping everyone stays safe and healthy over the holiday period!

A Genetic Geneameme in response to a post on GeniAus

Apparently on Facebook is a Geneameme created by The Genetic Genealogist, Blaine Bettinger. People usually post it on Facebook, but I'm posting my response here.

1. First person you DNA tested? My hubby tested first.
2. What was your own first test? FTDNA FamilyFinder

3. Year you took your first test? 2014 -  I think.

4. What was your most recent test?
Well I paid for my father MtDNA test to be done.

5. Have you done full mtDNA genome?
My father has but not myself.

6. What is your mtDNA Haplogroup? Like I said, I haven't tested by my father has - Haplogroup H11a and
 HVR1: 16188.1C, 16293G, 16311C
HVR2: 195C, 263G, 309.1C, 309.2C, 315.1C
Coding Region: 750G, 961G, 1438G, 4769G, 5585A, 8448C, 8860G, 13759A, 15326G
7. Any exact mtDNA matches? Not yet

8. Max Y-DNA markers you/male relative tested? 0 not tested - yet

9. What is your father’s Y-DNA Haplogroup? Dunno not tested

10. Any exact Y-DNA matches? 
Not yet

11. Tested at all of the Big 3 Companies? FTDNA

12. Have you had a whole-genome test?  No

13. About how many tests do you control/administer? 2 - myself and father

14. Do you use GEDmatch? Not really but have uploaded to them.

15. Favorite GEDmatch tool? Nothing really - still confused.

16. Were you able to test any of your parents? Yes, my father

17. Were you able to test any of your grandparents? Nope.

18. Age of the oldest person you’ve tested? 84

19. Are you all done testing relatives? No way
20. If you could ask ANY one ancestor to test, living or dead, who would it be? All of my paternal and maternal great grandparents. They would be even more lost with the whole science thing than I am.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting and My Ancestors

As the 2016 Presidential election is coming to a close (Finally! Cheers all around the world are heard), I thought I'd take a look back at who was running when my ancestors could vote in the United States.

If you've been reading this blog, you would know my ancestors come from Europe - Almost all of Europe. On my maternal side, we have Denmark, Belgium/France, and Poland. On my paternal side, I have Poland/Russia and Germany.  That's quite a bit of Europe when you think of it! However, when were they allowed to vote for Federal voting? Who was running in those years? Let's see what I found...

Maternal side:

Gauquie - France/Belgium area - Started to vote about 1899 in the USA. This is from my great grandfather's (Jules or his correct name Joannes Julius) naturalization papers:

Excerpt from Jules' Naturalization Papers
He believed he could vote due to his father becoming a US Citizen on 28 March 1898. This is due to what was/is known as "derivative" citizenship. This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father." The question then remains, why didn't he get citizenship then as it was his father. Why he didn't obtain it this way was because he was over the age of 18. When he became 18, he was technically an adult and had to renounce his citizenship from Belgium. 

Excerpt from Jules' Naturalization Papers
I thought it was very interesting that he admitted to voting in elections and even holding an office from another section of his naturalization papers(below). 

 He says he had been voting since about 1899. The problem with this is there were NO elections in 1899, so I'm more inclined to believe it was the 1900 election he voted in.

Also, the statement of "and hold office in the Town of Blooming Grove, NY" is very interesting as I have looked online for documents/newspapers for this area for elections, but cannot find anything. This is an area I will have to research next time I go back to visit.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1900?
This is one of the things when I was in school and we went over different presidents, and I thought, why do I need to know this crap? So what? It happened and its over. Well, now as I'm researching this, many of that crap, as I termed it, has been coming back to me. Then add it to my family history and WOW. 
Taken from Wikipedia

 This was a surprising find as NY was in red - it was Republican state. Since I can ever remember, its always been referred to as a Democrat state, so it was a shock to me. The next shock was to find out who McKinley's running mate was - Teddy Roosevelt!

Taken from Wikipedia
 Yes, you are reading it correctly! Teddy Roosevelt was Governor of NY. I am thinking this is most likely who my great grandfather voted for - but I could be wrong. I haven't been able to find any voting lists.
Annie's naturalization certificate in 1924.

Larson - Denmark - My great grandmother, Annie/Anna, was naturalized in 1924. She arrived in the USA in 1892, but at this point women could not vote yet. She was married in 1896 to my great grandfather, Jules.

The 19th Amendment which gave ALL AMERICAN women the right to vote did not get ratified until 18 August 1920. After this point, they were allowed to vote if they were Americans. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens."

However, she found in 1923, my great grandfather, Jules, was NOT a US citizen, which in turn, made her NOT a US citizen. This put her in the same area as Jules, was she voting? If so, then she probably started about the same as Jules. If not, then when she became a US Citizen in 1924, she could then vote without a problem.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1924?

New York State was still Republican which still shocks me a bit because growing up it seemed like NY was a Democratic state forever. Apparently not.

Taken from Wikipedia
Now I'm curious, out of the people running for office, I wonder who Annie would have voted for? Was she like my mother, who told me years ago she voted for the other person in an election because she knew who my father voted for? Did she vote or did she choose the same person as she knew her husband wanted? Sadly, we'll never know, but its fun to speculate what she would have voted for.

Jagodzinski/Berry - Poland - Appolanus or Leo Barry/Berry is a very interesting person and very much a ghost. He was born, as far as I can tell as Appolanus Jagodzinski in Poland. Then in his late teens, he left Poland for the US and arriving in 1905. Over the years, he changed his name a few times as far as I can tell to Leo Berry/Barry (Leo was American for Appolanus and Berry/Barry was probably due to his family perhaps maybe being berry farmers in Poland). The Jagodzinski name has a few spelling changes as well. Appolanus did fill out an Alien Registration form in 1930 which is just before World War 2. He never naturalized to a US Citizen.

Now I have to ask - could he have voted? I had to go looking and found my way to Wikipedia that states "By 1900, nearly one-half of the states and territories had some experience with voting by aliens, and for some the experience lasted more than half a century.[12]" Later the explanation goes on to say "In 1931, political scientist Leon Aylsworth noted: "For the first time in over a hundred years, a national election was held in 1928 in which no alien in any state had the right to cast a vote for a candidate for any office – national, state, or local."[16]" I did find in 1776-1804 NY did allow everyone to vote - both legal and illegal.

When I read through Appolanus' Alien paperwork, he does admit to having an offense (being arrested) for a Robbery in PA.  What really makes me laugh is he can't remember too much about the offense. Hmm have something to hide?

A part of Appolanus' Alien paperwork
Again I ask - Could he have voted? I found the following out: "In 48 states (all but Maine and Vermont) and in the District of Columbia, citizens lose the right to vote upon conviction of a felony; in at least a handful of states, the right is also lost upon conviction of a misdemeanor. All 48 states (and the District of Columbia) also provide mechanisms by which these citizens may seek to regain their voting rights, though some processes are much more viable than others." from the American Civil Liberties Union.

In fact, when I went to vote, it says right on the top of the forms I have to fill in the following;
Excerpt from a form in the 2016 NY election - note (c) condition

So yes, you cannot vote if you've been convicted of a crime. Do I think this stopped Appolanus from voting? Somehow I think he still voted, but I cannot prove or disprove this.

Ostrcyki/Ostrzycki/Ustrzycki - Poland/Russia - My 2x great grandparents and great grandmother arrived in the US in 1903. My 2x great grandfather, Stanislaw, was naturalized in 1920. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens." This meant all by his oldest child, Charles, were automatically US citizens on the same day he was sworn in. Charles later on would go to fill out his own paperwork for citizenship.

1920 Excerpt from Stanislaw's naturalization papers
So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1920?
Taken from Wikipedia
These relatives lived in PA, but it is still a Republican state as you can tell by the map above. I'm not sure on who he would have voted for but it would have been interesting.

Remember his wife, Valerie or Walerja, could have voted as well! Why? The 19th Amendment which gave ALL AMERICAN women the right to vote did not get ratified until 18 August 1920. After this point, they were allowed to vote if they were Americans. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens." As, Valerie or Walerja, was handed her American citizenship because of her husband's oath he took. Remember because of the same laws, all their children, but Charles, were US Citizens.

Again, she lived with her family in PA, but it is still a Republican state as you can tell by the map above. I'm not sure on who she would have voted for or if she would have voted at all. I know their one child, Lottie or Laura, was later to go on to push for Democrats in this area, so maybe her mother and/or father could have something to do with it? 

Paternal side: 

Wojtkowski - Poland/Russia - This was my great grandparents and grandmother on my father's side. My great grandfather arrived in the US in 1913. I believe he was too worried about making enough money to get his wife and child out of Poland and to the US before starting on becoming a US citizen. My grandmother and great grandmother arrived in New York in September 1920 - Just after the 19th Amendment became law. My great grandfather naturalized in 1925, my great grandmother in 1934 and then my grandmother followed in 1943.

What was so interesting about this, was even though my grandmother because a US citizen when her father took his oath through the "derivative" citizenship laws, my grandmother decided she wanted to take the oath and not just have it handed to her.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1925/1928?
As he would have missed voting in the 1924 elections, my great grandfather, Adam's, next election he could vote in would be 1928. 
Taken from Wikipedia

As he was a small business owner by now, I believe he would have voted Republican in New Jersey, which is where they settled when the arrived in the US.

So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1934/1936? 
My great grandmother, Marianne or Mary, would have voted I believe. She would have loved and been proud to do it after growing up the way she had been in Poland/Russia.

Her citizenship would have fallen between elections. The first election she would have been able to vote in would be 1936.

Taken from Wikipedia
I have notice NJ and NY are both democratic at this time. This must be when NY has become a traditional democratic state.

So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1943/1944?

My grandmother would have to wait until 1944 to vote which was the next federal election.

Taken from Wikipedia
I still remember her telling me when I was growing up, to hold firm to the US citizenship and make sure you respect the right to vote. There are other people in the world that do not get this right and you MUST exercise it.

It wasn't just the words that were spoken which have stuck with me over the years. It was the fire and emotion she put behind them. Now, upon researching her background, I can understand why she cherished these rights and freedoms - because while in Poland/Russia, she never had them. This is what she was trying to tell me all those years ago.

Schmitz - Germany - My grandfather came to the US in 1926 and he was in his late teens. In 1926 he filed his Declaration of Intention for US Citizenship. However, he resubmitted another Declaration of Intention in 1930. He married my grandmother, Jean, in 1934 and had a son later in the same year. He was finally naturalized in 1939.

My grandfather's citizenship certificate

So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1940?

He did not have to wait long before he could vote for the US President as you can see by the graphic below.

Taken from Wikipedia
However, I do not believe this was his motivator to become a citizen. World War 2 was already raging across the world and people who were of German origin, such as himself, would have been under increased scrutiny of the government. I believe this is his reasons around becoming a US citizen.

My Conclusion

Unfortunately, most people from Europe probably felt the same way as many as my ancestors - they never had the right to vote or a say in what was being done in their home country. What a great place to come to so you COULD have a say.

However, over the past many number of elections, US citizens, such as myself, are becoming much more disenchanted with what we are finding in our elected officials. The 2016 US Presidential race is one of the best examples of what NOT to do.

Everyone is complaining about who the nominees are (tomorrow is the election), what they are not, what Congress and The House of Reps are and are not doing. This includes myself. Not many people are very happy with what we are being served in the US for people to run the place.

I think its high time there has to be someone, with the knowledge, background, and COURAGE to stand up and fix the damned place. The truth would be good, but sometimes people are better off not knowing due to outside influences.

I hate to say it but NONE of the people who were put up as choices, fit this criteria. This is what the US has to fix - the nominees - before we can actually make a great choice. This election is just not it unfortunately. I can only imagine what my ancestors would do/say if they could see the state of the country today. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I'm not missing - honestly!!

Hello everyone.

Sorry I haven't posted very much lately, but about 3 1/2 months ago, our household was turned upside down with an addition. I won't go into what's exactly going on - privacy and all that - but we now have a small child staying with us. It wasn't planned on, as we're still trying to find and research our way to learning about surrogacy to have our own child, but the little guy's here and staying with us. It was only supposed to be a visit but has turned into so much more.
Taken from

Then the entire household came down with chest infections, so its felt like its one thing after another.
Alas, things have now settled down a bit, I'm not able to get back to doing my blog posts and looking for work, so I can pay for things around the house as well as get back to doing genealogy.

Taken from
Check back....!

Friday, October 7, 2016

My Top 10 Genealogy Tools

I belong to a blog by GeniAus and recently she posted her Top 10 Genealogy Tools. She got the idea from a post from Pauleen Cass in which she listed her Top 10 Genealogy Gateways.  One of the topics brought up was what other Australian Genealogists would put on their Top 10 list. I have read GeniAus' list which is very common to mine. 

That being said these are the applications and websites I use to research and compile information. I think the hard part will be to keep it to 10 - let's see how I go...

1. Ancestry - I started by putting my information there. However, since the upgrade they did about 1-2 years ago, my tree is all messed up. Further, people get on there and "borrow" things without putting credit or asking if they could use or take them. I'm a type of person who shares, but to just take things and not ask? That's just not on or right. Because of this, as I start to clean up the tree (yes I've just started and it will take me awhile) I'll be taking information off but leaving the event there. If the people want the event, they can contact me or find it themselves. 

2. Excel - Because of what happened on Ancestry, with the "borrowing" and the upgrade, I started to write up timelines for people. This way I could put links in there and I'm finding its nice to be able to add in history and anything else that relates to the person. I started to do this before Ancestry and the upgrade which includes SOME (not all) history facts. Anyhow, many times hubby and myself had found information which didn't have citations listed, gaps of information, and we can point things we have to do for the person. I find it very useful. 
Example of my timeline I use in Excel

3. Geneanet - This is a very good site for people who have ancestors from different areas of Europe. In fact, I found my father's cousin 1x removed and people on there also helped open up my maternal great grandfather's ancestry as I didn't know where to look. Before I knew it I had my maternal side going back to the early 1700's. The downside is in order to go look at some things on the site, you have to pay, so to go any further, I'll have to wait. However, the kind people on there gave me some ideas were to go to look for information which I am grateful for.

4. Dropbox - I started to use this in order to transfer files to work on for work, then it morphed into a topic in the classes I started to teach. Now I put my research (or used to until it filled up the site and now I have to look for more free room) there. I also do a backup on a external hard drive. Remember you can never have too many backups! Its great to use if we're out and about and need information on one of the relatives - I can just go there and all the information is listed. 

5. Newspaper sites - Trove - My husband first used and told me about this years ago. Its a great resource because you can not only find articles about possible relatives but you can also do searches on areas, countries and about things going on in certain areas, religions, etc this way it might prove or disprove a story passed down from generation to generation. Trove is Australian, but it is a worldwide search. Others I use are Elephind and Google newspaper archives (they are not adding new things on there but its still there to search).
Example of what the Trove screen looks like

6. Blogger/Wordpress - This is great to either do searches like you would do in Trove and sometimes you might even find a relative! This is what happened to me when I was searching for information on a place one of my relatives owned and someone had a blog about the family. I learned a great deal about the family and even commented on a few of the articles. It wasn't until a few years later one of my long lost cousins and I connected. These are also a great way of sharing your research.

7. Pinterest - People use this for arts and crafts type of thing, but have you thought about searching for your ancestor's names, places, and surrounding of the places on here? I found pictures of what houses/farms looked like back then, as well as soldiers and people around the areas of my ancestors. It also helped with at least one of the stories that were passed down about a hotel. 

8. Facebook - I know people use this to keep others updated with what is going on with their lives, but there are groups on there which can give you tips and tricks with where to look, what's available, what's not available or sometimes even help you with information. Further, its also a great way to share your information on your ancestors with others in your family. This way everyone can see it and comment on it. I have 3 groups set up for this and its very valuable as many new stories or memories were shared and because they are all closed groups, everyone feels very comfortable with sharing information there. 

9.FamilySearch - Its free which is a HUGE bonus. The not so good bonus is while things are there, much of it is not indexed so you have to flip through entire books of information to find that one possible piece of paper, but sometimes this opens up huge flood gates to other information. A great case in point is my great grandfather. Once I had the help of Geneanet people, then I could go to FamilySearch and find documents as I knew the areas to look. I was able to find many documents about my great grandfather - including him being illegitimate and this was only because his father - my 2x great grandfather was drafted into the army in Beligum. From there I was able to get other information and go backwards. This led to another cousin which had gone to the church and found another relative's information and was able to take us back another generation! 

10. Search Engines like Google - It might seem pretty innocent, but have you tried to just type in your ancestor's name? Then add a country or an area and this will narrow it down. I've found obituaries for family and then added people to my tree because of this. This allowed me to track down part of the family none of us knew about other than my mother's "yeah we came from there I've been told". In fact, I found a whole side of the tree this way. I found ALOT of information by doing this and I'm slowing putting the family back together again. A good browser is Chrome. I do not use it all the time, but if you are going to use Search Engines, try using one that is in the language of the country you are searching for, and by using Chrome, you can click and choose Translate to English and it will do it pretty well.

My one tip if you are just starting out, is first start a tree. Then for each person on the tree do a timeline of some sort. This will make you figure out what you know and what you do not know both with the people's names and also their information. The next step is to figure out what gaps there are and then to decide where to get the information.

An example is you know your parents and grandparents names but that is it. That's fine. Then you need to take out a piece of paper and just write the information and stories you know. When this is done, then you take a fresh piece of paper and take the information you've just written down and try and put it in date order. Oldest at the top to most current at the end. Then you can see what information you have, what you don't and what stories you have to prove or disprove. Some people colour/color code these, others (like me) write it in the timeline what you are missing and what needs to be found. An example would be "1920 federal census needs to be found" or "need to find ship manifest for this person" or whatever information you are looking for. 
This is an example of how you can highlight things you have done and need to do using a timeline.

Once this person (above) is done as far as you can go, then you move onto the next person and keep going. Don't forget to add things like World War 1, World War 2, Treaties, governmental changes (from Polish to Russian and then back to Polish with a year is a great example)Then you will be hooked and your free time is gone as well. *grin* 

Good luck!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Of My Flesh and Blood for my Genealogy Blog?

Johnny Cash's "Flesh and Blood" song from his album I Walk the Line was an influence of part of the title and the Of My is because this is MY family's history and  no one's else.

The words are: 

"Flesh And Blood"

Beside a Singin' Mountain Stream
Where the Willow grew

Where the Silver Leaf of Maple
Sparkled in the Mornin' Dew
I braided Twigs of Willows
Made a String of Buckeye Beads;
But Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need
Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need.

I leaned against a Bark of Birch
And I breathed the Honey Dew
I saw a North-bound Flock of Geese
Against a Sky of Baby Blue
Beside the Lily Pads
I carved a Whistle from a Reed;
Mother Nature's quite a Lady
But you're the one I need
Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need.

A Cardinal sang just for me
And I thanked him for the Song
Then the Sun went slowly down the West
And I had to move along
These were some of the things

On which my Mind and Spirit feed;
But Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need
Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need.


So when this Day was ended
I was still not satisfied
For I knew ev'rything I touched
Would wither and would die
And Love is all that will remain
And grow from all these Seed;


Mother Nature's quite a Lady
But you're the one I need
Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need. 
From Azlyrics

Seriously, when I started writing so much about my family's genealogy, it was overwhelming on the one site blog I was using and that blog's purpose was not to only exist for that purpose, so I decided to start this blog and its only purpose was to discuss my family's genealogy and some interesting and yet frustrating subjects I have come or will come across and this gives me a place to vent. 

Besides, I'm still looking for ongoing family, so I figured if someone who is family stumbles across this blog, they have a way to contact me. Then later, as the term of no issue came up for myself and my husband, it was a way to have the information out there for the future generations even after myself and my husband are gone. Why? Because the way it stands now, we have a no issue or we cannot have children, so our genes and memories of us will be gone after we are. This way, the information I've found can live on and any future generations can find the information I've tried to so hard to find.  
A picture quilt is a great way to remember ancestors

Before the no issue issue, one of the groups I'm involved with dared us to share what we've uncovered about our families. I sat down and thought of ways I could share information and this was one way to share information of generations past. This dare also lead me to create a few groups on Facebook (Gauquie/ Larson, Wojtkowski/Slepowron/Gardner, Ostrzycki, just to name a few) so information can be shared this way as well. Besides, what's the use of doing all of this work when it just sits there and no one learns from it?

An online timeline of your ancestors
Finally, on top of the above reasons (as if it weren't enough), I have started to put together my grandmother's documents and images of her life along with other information which might have affected her and her family, but its very slow going. First, I'm not confident enough with my writing to attempt something to big and, as one of my past managers have told me over and over, I'm a perfectionist. To do something that is not perfect would annoy me and frustrate me. Guess what? I hate to admit this but she is and was right. I'm still struggling and will continue with it, but its taking me a really long time to do this. 

Overall, the reason why I have this blog - its because things that are written here are because these people are OF MY FLESH AND BLOOD. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't exist and I have to pay homage to this fact.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Anzac Day 2016

I believe I have written here about ANZAC day before.

ANZAC Day is in relation to Australia and New Zealand's soldiers who fought in World War 1 (and in particular in Turkey) and how badly they were shot up on dawn on 25 April 1915. I think the entire time I've lived here I've only missed 2 or 3 ANZAC day sunrise ceremonies in Melbourne at the Shrine of Remembrance. Last year, 2015, was a big one and we had organized to meet up with my father in law, uncles in law and other family members for the service and then we went out for cuppas after.

2011 Anzac Ceremony after sunrise ceremony finished

Normally, my father in law, myself and my husband go into the ceremony, then we come home to watch the parades on TV, while I make breakfast. Then I put on a roast in the slow cooker and then go in and catch a nap as we get up about 3am to leave by 4am to get a parking spot and good standing position.
2007 ANZAC service

This year is going to be different. We are going to go to a country service this year. The good thing is we can be much later than normal which means more sleep. The bad thing is its going to be very small - we think.

ANZAC day was started for World War 1 but since they are gone and most of World War 2 are gone as well, they have now decided to honor ANY soldier who fought in ANY war which means Vietnam and the current situations in Iran, Iraq and that area of the globe. Right or wrong this is what has been decided.

Usually I stand there and think of everyone I am related to who has served and who we have lost because of them serving.

This year I get to add one more proud soldier to the list - Prosper Valère Verhaeghe. He is my 2nd cousin 3 times removed on my mother's side. He served in Ypres, Belgium. He thought he wouldn't make it back, so his son was named after him. Thankfully, he came back from there and continued to be a baker and own his own bakery until his passing in 1975.

 My hat is off to you kind sir for your valuable service.

As per normal, I would like to thank and think of everyone else within my ancestors who has fought in wars and served over so many years.

I have also found:

  • my great uncle Alfred Wotjkowski 
  • my grandfather Mathias Schmitz 

also served.

There can be others I haven't been made aware of - yet. If so, drop me a line and let me know! 

A Comment on a User Comment

Hi All.

Recently I've had a inquisitive person ask me the following question within the comments:
Is this why you left New York? on Requests for more information in NY and NYS
The person is asking in relation to the Requests for more information in NY and NYS from Reclaim the Records about my ancestors in the past.

Me in 1997 after flying over 40 hours to get to Australia to marry and live here permanently
The answer is - No. I left New York and New York State before I started doing my family history research. The reason behind me leaving the US for Australia? I met my husband online and we had decided to settle in Australia.

We had to pick a country and upon us looking at livability Australia seemed to be the overall best choice for vacation/holidays per year and our lively hood.

View on now nearly 20 years later 

After taking such a long time to GET a job the first time, I thought I was on my way. However, since then I've been retrenched or my position cancelled within the companies I've worked for TWICE. This last time was the real winner as it was a decision from above and the way they had things done was not a good feeling for me in my position. However, I carried on and could be satisfied I fulfilled my job to its full completeness and there is nothing for anyone to complain about whatsoever. I can be proud of that.
1998 from the BAN magazine at P&O.

In say this, since then, I have had an OUTSTANDING tough time finding a position. I don't know why as everyone has always been more than happy with my performances and ethics, but for some reason they just don't want to hire me.

I've done something outside the box and hired someone to come through and look at my resume. They said I did everything right, but they wanted to really pare it down and reword a few things... now, once I get my classes under full control, I can then apply for positions. I'm hoping in the next week or so I can get to do this.

However, I'm not very happy because I'm starting to think with me being from outside of Australia, employers are not looking at my job performances but at where I lived 20 years ago and are judging on that regardless all of the experience I've had here in Australia.

Its been really tough but I'm hopefully I might have some luck soon.

Monday, April 11, 2016

National Siblings Day - April 10th

The past few days I've been seeing many posts about National Siblings Day. Honestly, I've never heard of it before these past 2 days, so I decided to look it up.

National Siblings day was recognized and brought to the US Congress' attention in 2005 by Hon. Carolyn B. Maloney from New York. According to the Congressional Record, it states:
I rise today to salute Siblings Day, a day 
to honor our brothers and sisters for the many ways in which they 
enhance our lives. This celebration gives us the opportunity to show 
our appreciation for our siblings, much like Mother's Day and Father's 
Day are celebrated. Siblings Day was founded by my constituent, Claudia 
Evart. Ms. Evart has worked tirelessly to promote the observance of 
Sibling's Day on April 10th.
 I thought this was a very interesting idea. I could see where it could merit people to want to remember and pay tributes to their siblings. I know my father would probably pay a tribute to his brother, John, who has passed away.

I also can see some of my maternal relatives would probably want to pay tributes to their siblings. I'm talking about Charles and Mary Gauquie. I'm not sure if they are even thought of, but I know, since
One of the pictures from Find a Grave of Mary's grave site marker.
I've "found" these two siblings of my grandfather, I think of them often. Charles was about 10 when he fell into one of the rivers on my great grandparents' farm and drowned. I'm not sure if they ever found him or if he has a burial with the rest of the family at St. Mary's. Apparently, after Charles died, no one ever spoke about him again. Then you have Mary. Mary contracted polio when she was about 9. It didn't kill her but it affected her brain apparently. She would never "grow" up. Instead she stayed at home helping her mother with the chores - until my great grandmother Annie died. Then her father shipped her off to hospital or asylum for her to be "taken care of". She only lasted about 6-9 months there and ended up dying. She was only 36 years old. She was brought "home" and buried with her other relatives at St. Mary's. I still do think of them.
Sign for St. Mary's where some of my maternal line are buried

Then I thought about my own siblings. Whenever, I think about my own the best way I could say it is "Think of World War 3 and its still pretty tame". My brother, he's the peacemaker in all of it. He tries to get along with everyone and keep everyone up where everyone is at. Then you have the bitch, as
A family photo of my siblings when they were younger.
she said she doesn't mind to be known as, named Jean. She's the second oldest and named after our grandmother. She fights with everyone. Our middle sister, Debbie, and her haven't spoken in well...its got to be over 30 years now. I was just a kid when they had a huge fight. Now, I think, the only one that's still speaking to Jean is Charlie, but then again, maybe not. Theresa, I think, talks to everyone or at least tries to. However, she lives so far away its difficult to contact everyone as she lives in the middle of the USA. Then you have me. I live on another continent, but I do try and keep in contact with everyone. Not that its easy, but I do try. I speak to everyone - when they answer the phone or get back to me - except Jean. In fact, there are a very few pictures off the older 4 siblings of mine. By the time I came along, there were no more sibling pictures taken at all. Now there's very little hope of another one ever being taken because of the wide divides (aka fighting) of the family unfortunately.

We've all had our good times and bad, but we are still family. With the genealogy work I do, I'm trying to put all the pieces back together again (think Humpty Dumpty) of the family. Its not easy, but I'm finding I'm slowly starting to put all of the pieces and building the links that have tried to be destroyed. One day, I am hoping to have a huge reunion, but who knows if it'll ever happen?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The No Issue issue

Have you ever come across an ancestor who has had what they termed "No issue"? This is when the person has had no children. This can be both with men and women. Have you ever thought of what the ancestor must have gone through when they were dying or getting elderly and never had any children? No one to keep their memories or values alive and to be passed along?

Us on our wedding day May 1997
Most people, in my experiences, just say "they had no issue so we didn't look at them" and move on to another ancestor. Its like they didn't matter because they had no offspring to grow the family tree. I have to admit when I started researching my family history, I heard of it but hadn't run into it myself. Most people in my family have at least 1 child.

However, in the last 15 years, I've slowly, over the years, have come to know what these people must have felt through personal experience. My husband and I got married in 1997 and we wanted things to settle down and then we'd look into starting our family. We got married, I settled into living in

Australia, became a permanent resident here, and had we had stable jobs. We decided to go to the doctors to start on the journey of adding to our family of 2 (my husband and myself). The doctor was very upbeat and encouraging and we started on this road. Meanwhile, we bought and built our house thinking it was only a matter of time, and now we knew we would need help, to add to our family.

Our Pregnancy we named Jamie Sweetpea in 2003 which had to end.
In 2003, we became pregnant and thought things would now start to fall into place there. However, we soon realized it was not to be as it wouldn't survive as it was in my tube so it was either the baby or myself. We did become pregnant a few other times but it never stayed for long. By this time over 7 years had gone by and we knew we were in trouble. We eventually found ourselves in IVF and doing IVF.

Meanwhile, our friends and family have had children and moved on and drifted from us. We found ourselves on the outside looking at the range people we had in our lives and found they didn't want to invite us out or over because they had children. We became the "too difficult and too different" couple. Then there were the conversations with people talking about their children and then them looking at you and saying either through looks or through words "you wouldn't know anything about this because you're not a parent". Eventually, we found ourselves not even trying to keep relationships going.

If this is how hard it in the 2000-2016, can you imagine how they must have felt back in the 1900's or before? What did they end up giving up or were excluded from because they didn't have a family like everyone else? My heart breaks for them each and every time I see someone refer to an ancestor which had No Issue.
Found at

I understand. We're in that basket with them. 

Our story doesn't end here for us. In late 2015, things took a tragic turn. We learned I had a medical condition and would never - ever - be able to carry a child full term. True we could use surrogacy if we ever won the lottery, but its very expensive and a very long process if you got to do it. Yes, we're still looking into it, but since things happened in late 2015, I feel more kinship than ever before to those people who have been classified as having No Issue.

I hope we're not two of the forgotten ones in our history just because we might have No Issue under our names.

All I can ask is for you to remember those people with No Issue under their names matter too - they've lived, loved and were just the unlucky ones who couldn't have children. Please take a look at them and remember them - after all they are your family too.

Requests for more information in NY and NYS

I was born and raised in the state of New York. I didn't realize until I started to do my family history, both of my parents were born in New York too. I knew growing up my paternal grandmother was born in Poland and we had German from some place in the family. Then I did ask a few things and
1939 picture of paternal grandfather Mathias
was told we had Polish on my mother's side and Irish mixed in there some place. As you do, you take it at face value when you are growing up. My parents, other than my asking, never spoke about their family histories because it just wasn't done. My paternal grandmother, and the only grandmother I can remember having a true relationship with (as the other was in a mental hospital), talked when we were together every now and then about her family - Damn Russians or Ruskies, about how her family was killed in Poland, my family and cousins are all gone from there, my Dad's brother died fighting in a war in Poland, how Germans/Nazi's and the Gestapo would come to town and how they were treated, and about how she had great times in the rivers with her cousins and how they were the last ones to leave Danzig - they closed the gate right after then as they crossed to the ship to sail to the US.

When I decided to start looking, I knew it was going to be tough because of all of the historical fighting but you just have to keep chipping away at it a piece at a time. Now, over 15 years later, I've found cousins, and know a bit more about those ancestors.
Taken from

There is still one area that confuses me - New York City and New York State. I've tried to request my grandparent's information and it sounds simple. You look at the guidelines, say you want a certificate for genealogy purposes, and pay money. However, that's not always the case.

New York State Dept of Health (Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit) or form DOH-4384 form says:
The first point I met as I told them they were deceased and the dates, I told them their social security numbers, and their birth dates. Point 2 is about the number of years to wait for both birth and death which is what I was after.

The details:
These are about my grandparents on both sides. My grandmothers were born in the years 1910 and 1912. My grandfather's were born in the years 1906 and 1909. The birth records would have needed to be before 1938 as I did the request in 2013 (2013 - 75 = 1938). As you can see, I should have been able to receive these forms.

The death records were the ones I was worried about because of the dates. My grandmothers died in 1999 and 1988. My grandfather's died in 1975 and 1981. The death records would have needed to be before 1963 as I did the request in 2013 (2013-50=1963). As you can see, these requests would have been asking for the 3rd point, which is does.

As for the marriage documents, I would love these as well and had requested them. One set of grandparents were married in 1934 and the others in about 1935. One set I was able to obtain from a natualization documents and FamilySearch film I ordered in. The other one I wanted and the 50 year rule applied (2013-50=1963) and these I should have been able to be sent due to the marriages being prior to this date and both parties being deceased.
A Letter about my request they send every 6-12 months. Dated 2015.

Instead I get a letter stating before they'll release ANY of the information I need to show direct linage to them. I can't do this only because my parents haven't released their birth certificates to me, so I'm stuck. I do however, get a letter about every 6-12 months about them needing more information. Above is a letter from them in 2015 about my request.

However, I emailed the county my ancestors lived in, thinking I would have a similar problem to this for my requests for my maternal great grandparents information. This one came as a shock as within a week I received an email back stating they would go look and would I need it all or just sections? I was shocked. Within 3 months I had the full set of documents plus one more family member they had found for me sent to me AND it was FREE. I was shocked.

I thought I was the only one going through this, but talking to others on different Facebook pages I found I was just like many others.

The past 6 or so months, I've been following the Reclaim the Records requests. They've been trying to get files, which should be released to the public but isn't, for awhile too. They are getting the same mixed responses as I am. I felt this was comforting and full support their efforts.

I'm going to take some excerpts of one of their emails they've sent out to tell you about their "A Tale of Two Records Requests"

Six weeks ago, we submitted two records requests to two different government agencies, and so far we've had two wildly different responses and experiences. And yet both of these agencies are supposed to be operating under the same law, the same forty-year-old New York State Freedom of Information Law. It's amazing how different two agencies can be.
And then the email goes on about the best:
We are happy to report that, so far, New York's Department of Health has been excellent about this request. They have clear FOIL instructions online on their websites, for would-be records requesters. They acknowledged the receipt of our records request within five business days, as required by law, and assigned a unique tracking number to our request. They let us know that they would need twenty more business days to do some more research into the matter, also as allowed by the law. They then responded again and gave us a timeline for a potential records release, with a projected date of March 18th. They included in that notice a direct phone number for their legal department. And when we then called them up, they were very helpful about our request on the phone.
Which is great as its in the system and should get something back - a yes or now. Not a need more information after having the information for months.

And then the email goes on about the worst:
The City Clerk's Office never responded with any kind of acknowledgment of our request, even though they are required to do so within five business days. They don't have any FOIL information at all on their website for would-be records requesters, nor do they list their Records Officer on this public listing of all New York City FOIL contacts. which is very unusual for a city agency. We had even sent them a friendly "heads up" e-mail (you can read it online here) two weeks before the FOIL request was made, letting them know that a request would be coming their way soon. They never replied to that e-mail.
We then sent two follow-ups to our official FOIL request, one on January 14th and one on January 29th. Again, they never responded at all, in violation of the law. We've tried calling them, at multiple official New York City phone numbers, and we've left messages, and they all go unanswered. We even thought about using their website's general purpose Contact Us form, but it only allows a limited number of words and will inactivate the form's Submit button if you try to post more than that -- hardly a way to submit a public records request.
At this point, a total non-response to a records request from an agency is considered, under the law, to be the same as a denial of a request, except with extra bonus points for not following the rules. 
So, we had our awesome attorneys at Rankin & Taylor write up our Constructive Denial Appeal letter, and it went in the mail over a week ago.
 Again, this is the same state but just different people responding to the requests. What the hell New York? Get with the program and start doing your job. Don't keep people guessing and release the information, by law, you are supposed to release and don't just hold everything up. If you cannot release certain information state why but give the information you can.