Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Resolutions

While I generally to not make resolutions.. a few things to accomplish in 2009:

Colonial Dames
Research - Start my Grandmother's Scotland line.
Consider working toward certification.
Get organized and stay organized?
Get involved with local historical society - focus - cemeteries.
NO Blog fade :(

It's a start.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Memories

This was our second Christmas without my father. My step-father actually but the man that was my father in all senses of the word since I was a troubled 14 year old teenager. This Christmas was so much harder than the first that he was missing from. My mother, sister and I seem to sigh a given moments when the pause is one that he would fill. I am older, an adult and know people die but in truth it plain sucks no matter how old you are. I find that the moments of sudden teariness over missing him do not lessen and they still come at the strangest times like thinking about nothing on the commute home. I miss you Bill.. you were the best father a girl could have.

Christmas this year has brought me back to my childhood. Every year we would go to Akron, Ohio, where my great uncle (George Fender - middle in picture), my grandmother (Elizabeth Dewar Spalding Fender Duncan - right in picture), and great aunt (Edna Fender Naehring - left in picture) were the central point of our family and lived (Uncle George ran away to Florida for a few years). Aunt Edna, was the provider of house for the party and three branches of the family would converge on Christmas Eve in the early evening. I remember we loved to go but my sister and I would worry about Santa not coming if we were not home sleeping by the time he got there. Not once did Santa ever forget us I am happy to report. The first Generation there would be Grandma Willie (Willie Clay Moore Fender). She was George, Elizabeth and Edna's step-mother, their mother died young. Grandma Willie was the sweetest woman and I remember she was mostly blind and could see things if right up to her nose and big however she was pretty quick with a dollar bill to stuff in your pocket and she could move fast when she had reason. I also remember she was the "southern style green bean" chef of the house. They were delicious. She lived with my grandmother until she could no longer live on her own. The second generation would be my grandmother and her siblings, the Third Generation was my mother, her cousins Carol and Bobby. George's children did not come to this gathering as they were older and had their own parties. The fourth generation would be myself, my sister and five cousins.

While it was like any other family party, I don't remember anything bad.. this was a family that truly loved to be together and this was a night looked forward to year after year. The highlights were when Uncle George and his wife Aunt Stevie would come, they had moved to Florida for a number of years and I remember going to visit them there. George Fender was one of the more charming men you would ever meet. He was full of life and had this smile that was intoxicating. This younger generation could never get enough of sitting on his lap and hugging him to death. There was something truly magical about him from a child's point of view.

Highlights of these Christmas Eve gatherings:

The year Uncle George could not make it due to bad weather. Guess who showed up to a riot of happy outcries and a reunion like no other.

My Aunt Edna singing Christmas Carrol's with that beautiful voice, she quieted the room and brought tears to eyes.

My grandmother at the age of 50 doing a Highland Fling with such a beauty that you could see the girl she once had been.

My Grandmother, Uncle George and Aunt Edna singing Scottish tunes when they drank a little too much Scotch. They all came to the US from Scotland as teenagers.

The year the power went out. Out on the highway a car hit a telephone pole and the entire area when black on a very snowy night. Candles lit, everything quiet, snow falling, Aunt Edna's kitchen shut down, she went to the piano and we all sung Christmas songs by candlelight and that year to me was the most special of them all.. nothing mattered but that we were together and the occasion was marked to forever live in my mind.

Can you tell how much I loved my Grandmother, my Great Uncle and my Great Aunt? They were three of the more important people in my life.. while we all moved on to our own family traditions after their generation took ill or passed on still all of us in this family still long for those Christmas Eve's at Aunt Edna's. May you each know how much you are missed and loved.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting my mojo back...

After an extremely crappy day and over stuff that I should not let get to me... really... I sit here at 9 pm irritated that I did not get my research back on the ball today as that was the plan. I am super tired right now and I suppose that has much to do with my current mood but now I am wondering where to start. It has been weeks since my research box was packed up for the move. I am still not settled in but I figure a box will get unpacked or decided on when I darn well feel like dealing with it. I want some sort of normalcy back and research is part of my normalcy.

And so... I suppose it is a matter of opening a box and picking a person to start on because invariably that is not the person I am working on within an hour because I follow leads or thoughts or ideas and find within three hours I am on the tenth person past the person I started on that research session. Haha.

When you are working on projects daily, you kind of have a memory of what you have been doing and what you are trying to do but it has been so long I am sure I will feel disorganized for a bit of time... so, I suppose I will jump right in and find my way rather quickly.. I think it is the jump that is the part that is taking the effort.. it will all be better tomorrow.

Tonight maybe laying in bed with the tv on is the ticket... I think I will give myself the night off and stop being angry with myself for not getting anything done today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Small Hitch in the Getalong called "Moving"

Research has been scattered at best because I moved from one town to another. This will save me 90 minutes of driving today. Puts my daughter closer to her college, puts me closer to work and just makes everything so much easier. Too, I must make a small confession, one that I wonder if other Genealogists ever experience this. For a lot of years I had wondered and looked for George W Duncan and finding his death information sort of affected me in a way I was not prepared. I felt elated that I found him and sad that he died so young. I almost dare to say that for a couple of days I was depressed about him and maybe in mourning over finally finding how he ended up? Silly but he had been such a focus for me. I am hardly done researching him but he was a brick wall and now the wall is crumbling.

The town my daughter and I have moved from is small, very small. It is in apple country in western NY state, bordered by Lake Ontario on the north town line. Maybe about 6000 people. One grade school, one middle school, and one high school. One very small grocery store, two gas stations and one traffic light at the village four corners. I stayed there to keep my daughter in the same school district until she graduated. She has done every grade in that school system. Patiently I have waited for this to happen, her graduation would free me to move off to do and live where I want to. Never did I feel it would be so hard to move from that little town. I know I have lived there for 16 years but I was never a huge part of the community. I never considered it a permanent place but maybe time did that for me.. made it a home that I did not realize that it had become.

So the last drive from my old town to my new (and I am sure I will be back there on occasion for things.. like apples!!!) I passed by odd things that made me sad that would not be part of my routine anymore. Funny how that happened. There is this cute house that I would have bought if it ever went up for sale and it never did so the owners feel the same way about it that I do obviously, haha. Well every morning the lady of the house would be sitting at the kitchen counter drinking her coffee and reading her paper. The road in relation to that spot in her kitchen was vi sable and so every day I would drive by and see her sitting there. Oddly, when she wasn't sitting there I wondered if she was sick or had the day off (no, I am not a stalker). Without realizing it this had become a small routine. So I started to pay attention. I did the same with the tiny cemetery that sits out in the middle of nowhere. It is next to a farm house so obviously the old farmstead family cemetery. It needs work, there are tombstones at such an odd angle I am amazed they are off the ground at all. I wonder who takes care of it, if anyone has recorded that cemetery. Maybe I will get back there and find out some day.

So there seemed to be a lot of little things in my daily drive that made me realize I would miss my long home that I didn't think I would miss.. Now I start anew, I am going to join the historical society here and looking at the application I will volunteer to be a greeter and to do cemetery work. It should be fun.

Here is to new adventure. :) Now to get organized and get back to research work but first.....

Has anyone seen my coffee cups!!!! I need coffee really bad....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

George W Duncan

I will admit it, I am a hopeless romantic. I will never know the day to day of these couples that I research. I will never know if my great great great grandparents loved each other or were married because it met other needs. I will never know if George looked at Jane Edwards and just knew she was the perfect woman for him. I am sure I will wonder the same on every branch of my family tree. What were they like as man and wife.

George has been hard to track down. I knew he and Jane were not together for long as she is on a few older census' living with one of her sons. I assumed he died but for the life of me could find no mention of him anywhere in North Carolina where she was born, lived and died and where he was born. I did find one census record of a George W, about the same age and in Texas living with a large family of a different name. When I saw this I wondered, "Did he up and leave North Carolina?". Then the questions.. if that is him, did he leave them, did he go to Texas to find a good life for them and tragedy struck so this was never fulfilled. What kind of husband was he really? I didn't want to think that was George but it might be, things happen in life and not always as we like or plan it.

I posted before about finding by accident a widows pension application document that Jane Edwards Duncan had filed. I hoped to find some sort of information on him. The envelope came from the North Carolina Archives and Records Section. In it was a Widow's Claim for Pension for 1885 and a Widow's Application for Pension filed in 1901. These documents gave his service information and that he did fight in the Civil War. Skimming through the documents I realized there was another document with these two. They sent it along and I didn't even know this book was there. It is "North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 A Roster" compiled by Weymouth T. Jordan, Jr. Volume VII Infantry, 22-26th Regiments.

Page 289, Co. G, 29th Regiment N.C. Troops.

"Duncan, George W., Private
Born in Ashe County and resided in Yancey County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 29, July 26, 1861. Died in hospital at Knoxville, Tennessee, June 20-27, 1862, of "diarrhoea." "

He died so young and in Tennessee which is why I have been having a hard time tracking him down in North Carolina! I was relieved in a way, I am so glad he was not the George W. Duncan found on a census in Texas. While I hate that his wife hardly had a life with him before he was taken away from her, I am glad he didn't up and leave for Texas, never to be seen again. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

DAR and Colonial Dames

Here I go attaching my swing to another branch of my family tree..... *what else is new.. too much information, it is tooooo exciting*

About 20 years ago, my mothers cousin was helping her join the DAR and the Colonial Dames then I was going to join. The applications were all filled out. Patsy was a Registrar for the Colonial Dames and then the forms were put away and the process was not completed. When I picked up the family history again I decided I should do this and started some research trying to figure out who I had to prove as my mother was going to join on Patsy's registration numbers so I had none of the documentation myself, nor did she. When I mentioned this to my mother she said she had all of this information and it was in the safe. I said, "Mom, I just went to Virginia for a week to find all this information and it was in your safe?" And so I sat to look at the applications and they are quite a few. For the Colonial Dames we have John Sturman, Sr, Lt. Patrick Spence, John Sturman, Capt Thomas Youell, Thomas Sturman, Capt Thomas Youell Sr. For DAR we have Richard and James Luttrell and also on the British side we have Tom Cowden of Tennessee. So it looks like I will be busy gathering all of the documentation to connect to these ancestors so that I might apply to join these Organizations.

More to add to the to do list!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yipes, as the Township Turns - Edward Wilson and Dolly Briggs

My research is in its beginning stages but I did find that Edward was married to Rachel Silver from Maryland and they had a lot of children. He and Rachel were together on every census I can find, the last being 1870 and they lived with one of their sons. Dolly's four children were born within the same years Rachel's were. One born 1812, one born 1813... you get the idea.

So now new questions, IS Edward the father to any of the Briggs children? Was Dolly so in love with him that she accepted him as is as "life partner" seems to imply? Did Dolly live fully devoted to him and spurn any other mans attentions? She must have known about Rachel, did Rachel know about her? Did he love them both, did he love either? And all those children.... if all of them are his, he was a viril man and it does put his nickname of "Big Ned" in a different perspective? I know, I digress, don't groan so loudly. :)

When I first started looking into him via ancestry.com I thought maybe Dolly had come with him and his family from South Carolina to North Carolina. Were they just age old friends?

It looks to be an interesting story but I find myself at a cross roads until I find something that maybe explains their relationship. At this point I don't think I can assume he was Mary Jane's father. I wonder what life was like for the Briggs children...

Woopsie, will the wrong Mr. Briggs please sit down...

I have Dolly Briggs on my family chart, her daughter Mary Jane is my ancestor. I found her connection to Edward "Big Ned" Wilson and took him to be her second husband but could not seem to find her "Mr. Briggs" husband. In my research I found a very vague mention of Delothe so took that to be her maiden name but amazingly, there are no Delothe families to be found. Why? Delothe is her given name! And she was called Dolly, and she never married so all her children have her maiden name.

I am again learning the value of forums. This was my first venture into Ancestry.com forums and I found three very good clues for different members of my history but this one out shines them all:

Message Boards > Localities > North America > United States > States > North Carolina > Counties > Yancey


Subject: Re: Delothe "Dolly" Briggs
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Wilson, Briggs, Edwards, Hensley, Jones, Honeycutt

Dolly Briggs born about 1785 in SC, died abt 1885 in Yancey Co. NC. Her life long partner was Edward "Big Ned" Wilson - no info on his birth/death dates.
Leonnah Briggs born abt 1810 died abt 1844 married to John "Broke-Leg' Edwards (my GGGGrandfather)
Mary Jane Briggs - March 10, 1813 - March 15, 1909
married Banister Hensley
Charlotte "Lottie" Briggs, Born 1817 died after 1860
married Silas A. Hensley (also ggg grandfather)
Belle Mariah Briggs, aborn abt 1818, died abt 1880
married William "Bill" Jones
Howell Milburn Briggs, born 1827, died abt 1909
married Naoma Honeycutt,
This info came from many sources, primary source was Toe River Valley Heritage Book.
hope this helps you,

Can we say.... WOOT!

So I removed the false "Mr. Briggs" from my family tree program and I apologize to him for trying to make him part of my family tree without his consent, hehe.

So... if they were life partners, why? I mean, This is the early 1800's, wouldn't life partners be frowned upon and especially once children came along? Do I assume Edward is their father though I think it is obvious he was. This leaves me thinking on the times and why invite all the trouble that must have come along with their decision to live without marriage. I hope in my travels I come upon a story, or some reason why they chose the path in life they chose.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

GWD keeps becoming the Edwards Line

This has been the most interesting man to research... George W Duncan, he would be my three times great-grandfather (it is thought his father is John Duncan and his mother would be John's wife #1 out of maybe 4). Every time I sit down to focus on him, I end up with new Edwards information which happened to be his wife. A few weeks ago I did find a pension application for his wife, Jane Edwards Duncan and have sent off to North Carolina for it and lets hope it gives me more leads to him. The only thing I have known about him is that he died young as she shows up on two census' living with one of her sons.

This time, I googled "Jane Edwards Duncan". I got this... ready? Huh? This is what I said... "OMG!!!!" to my 18 year old daughter just looking at me like I lost my mind. Well it is a "OMG" moment! So here it is...


Three new generations of the Edwards family to be filled in on my chart! Jane Edwards parents, grandparents and great grandparents. With sources and documentation. And... a very impressive site of research and resources which brought me to Alleghany County, North Carolina deed images search site. I have spent a lot of time combing through this website and enjoying reading about the Cheeks who I am not even related to, haha.

From what I read, the Edwards family was a large family and active in the county... the counties confuse me because they change so much. I am not sure how my George W met Jane because I am not sure he was from the same county as she was. Oh to be a fly on the wall of history.

I am a huge fan of the tv show, Heroes. Me and co-workers have a frenzied water cooler chat about it on Tuesday mornings to which my boss just laughs and laughs as we really get into it with the "OMG, did you see that? And ohhhhh... he and so and so and such and such!" Well this year in the second episode, the evil Sylar was given another power. He can touch anything and know the history of it. When asked what power I would like of all the characters, I could always come up with four or more that I wanted. When I saw this episode, that was the power that I wanted to have.. the power of history, that would be the most amazing thing ever. I know, I digress. :)

So this last 24 hour period has given me this by a truly amazing find....

Jane Edwards daughter of William Edwards and Nancy Carter

William Edwards son of David Edwards Sr and Elizabeth Morris

David Edwards Sr son of John Edwards Sr and Mary "Unknown" (further research pointed to "Mary Stokes")

John Edwards Sr possibly son of John Edwards who came from Wales.

Organization has become my focus, I feel like I do a lot of things over and over so a solution was found, quite by accident. I put Windows Office 2007 on my pc and there is a program called OneNote that has moved me from scraps of paper and post-it notes stuck all over the place. I made a notebook for "Family History". The first page is all my subscriptions, terms, name and passwords and a list of links I find on my way. Second page is a to do list page so I can put things there as I am working in RootsMagic. I find this easier than using the program to do list. Then third I have a page of things I find or heard on a podcast, etc. and I know I will need that information when I start to work on another family branch. I paste that info there, links, what have you. Then I have started a page for each family name. You can create sub-pages on each of those so using the Edwards as an example. The Main page is called "Edwards", each sub page is for an individual. One page for Jane, one for William, one for David, etc. This way I can copy blurbs I find on the web, links, anything that pertains to that person so I can find those notes when I want them again. I paste Genforum posts there too so I don't have to go back and find it. I just past it on the persons page that I was inquiring about and OneNote keeps links live so you can access them right there, your browser window pops open to the site. I have gotten rid of a lot of post-it notes and I don't need to print so much now. Copy, paste, and you have the information at your fingertips!

Today I think I am going to make chili for the freezer.. tis that time of year.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hot on the trail..

Today I continued on George W Duncan and Jane Edwards Duncan. I have made more progress on Jane this week than anyone and for a woman known only to me as "Miss Edwards" for a good fifteen to twenty years, she is stepping up for her close up lately. I thought to search the North Carolina archives for the 'men folk' today. I didn't find anything on George, I found absolutely nothing on Bannister Hensley or his daughter Martha Jane Hensley. I have her death date and can find nothing on her at all yet. So then I thought I would search Jane Duncan just for hoots and there she was! She has two files in the archives for widow's pensions so I have filled out the form to send off to the Archives to see if I can get copies.

Slowly I am forming a life for Jane. It seems she was a widow for a long time by census information, never remarried and anything on George is hard to find which I find odd since he was in the military. I am finding a few George W's but not mine I don't think. I almost wonder if he is named after a Grandfather or better yet an Uncle of the same name. One gentleman posted to a post of mine on Genforum that he found a George Duncan that married Patience Edwards in 1793 so it would be interesting to find out if George and Patience had a son by the name of John which would be my George W's father.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Elusive "Miss Edwards"

I would have liked to have known William F Duncan (b. 1842 d. 1925). He would be my maternal great-great-grandfather. Everything I know about him comes from his pension files that I have. His handwriting is clear and concise. His spelling is good and it seems that I read into his sentences a sense of humor. It is not to say he wrote with humor but in the way he filled out the application, I feel he might have had a good sense of humor. He was a sickly man. He was pensioned from the service as he had a lot of physical problems and I believe this all happened after being kicked by a horse. However he still managed to have a lot of children.. haha. Eight to be exact.

He was born in North Carolina and died in Tennessee and I wonder if he was in touch with his family or estranged. His first wife died of tuberculosis leaving him with a small son, my great-grandfather David Washington Duncan. He left for Georgia with his second wife and family then onward to Tennessee. I am having a hard time working through his parents but I am saying that I am gaining some experience because I did finally find a census for his mother today proving her name is Jane. In his pension application, he was so formal that he listed his mother as "Miss Edwards".

Miss Edwards has turned out to be Jane Edwards. I stumbled upon her gravestone listing and that gave me her birth and death dates and so far I have found her on the 1870 and 1900 Census. On both she was living with her son Thomas (b. 1849) so George W Duncan, her husband, died before that yet. They had 7 children per her 1900 Census information.

Jane E. Duncan
born September 4, 1817
died April 20, 1912
A Tender Mother - A faithful friend

Friday, September 26, 2008

Duncan - Hensley - Briggs

In starting on proving that Robert Bruce line, that takes me to a branch of my tree I am not that familiar with. I grew up talking about Duncan's, Baldwin's, and Cowden's and I am familiar with some of that family history but now I crawl up the Hensley line and that brings me to North Carolina records. I have a good idea about the geography I am working with in Tennessee and this past summer I learned the counties of Virginia I needed to be familiar with. Now I venture into North Carolina territory and find the Hensley's a bit more elusive. I have birth date information on them but finding the proof is the work I am doing now. I have been trying to find cemeteries and census records and after a complete day of working on these surnames, finally I found a 1840 census record for Bannister Hensley. On this record he is "Banister" so this weekend I will work on trying a variety of spellings for him as I am sure this was probably an oft misspelled name. So anyway there was one find today.

Bannister Hensley born 1811, married Jane Briggs, Yancey County, NC.
Their daughter Martha Jane married William F Duncan.
Bannister's parents were Henry Halen Hensley and Barbara Angel.

This will take me back to searching all of those cemetery listings, I remember seeing a lot of Angel's. I suppose it helps to have a chart laying in front of you when you are knee deep in research.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yowza and is this getting out of control!

Ancestry.com. The good thing about it is that you can find people doing your branch of the family tree. The bad thing is, if one person has accidentally put in the wrong information, a lot of people can pick it up and the error spreads like wild fire. It is a great tool.. I found one of my lines to be rumored to land at the doorstep of Robert the Bruce. YAY!!! I mean, this is so cool! I remember my mothers cousin, Patsy, said that she thought we were a descendant of his but she had not proven it herself. Recently with finding Ancestry and matching up family trees I mentioned to my mother that maybe she meant on her paternal tree which we are not related to so I sort of gave up on that idea.

So here I sat pulling in what follows up my ancestry tree and I see two different spellings of Stuart..Stewart and Stuart, and I think.. hmmm... House of Stuart? Nah... can't be!!! And onward up the tree I go and suddenly there is.. Marjorie Bruce.. blinkety blink.. so, I climbed a bit faster!!! Then there are a line of Robert Bruce's.... And then... King David?? NOOOOOooo.. there is no way this can be true!

So we will see. While seeing there are 8 ancestry charts with the same (or close) information, still, I am going to work on proving that line for myself. It is kind of neat though. My grandfathers mother has been the line that qualifies my family tree to the DAR, Colonial Dames and now Scottish Royalty. Who knows what else I will find. I just love the Scottish roots, I have grown up loving everything about our Scottish roots and loving the history and hating the hardship. I feel like I know this land very personally and I have not been there yet. My grandmother on my maternal side came from Scotland when she was a teenager.

So while American, my blood is very Scots... I hope this family tree can be proven!

Time to slow down, I am going to upload this tree into MagicRoots and start from scratch to work out this tree, this alone could be my life's work!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And then.. there he was.

My Great-Grandfather. On the 1920 Census he was still using his birth name. I am in awe if the skill of experienced genealogists. I know what I want to be when I grow up.

OK, I was finally able to find them in the 1920 Census:

Ward 21, Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan

Stivic, Zivko, Head, aged 32, married, emigrated 1912, alien, b. Croatia, parents b. same, machinist, auto factory
Stivic, Marianne, Wife, aged 26, married, emigrated 1912, alien, b. Croatia, parents b. same
Stivic, Bozidar, Son, aged 7, b. Michigan
Stivic, Felix, Son, aged 4 years, 0 months, b. Michigan
Stivic, Engelbert, aged 2 years, ? months, b. Michigan
Stivic, Gabriel, Son, aged 5 months, b. Michigan

His WWI draft registration card gives the following info:

Zivko Stivic (Stevens), aged 30, of Maryland Avenue, St. Clair Heights, Michigan, born 17 September 1886 Lipovac (Croatia), Austria-Hungary; has wife and two children as dependents. Dated 5 June 1917 at Wayne County, Michigan

They arrived into New York aboard the Saxonia on 5 June 1912 out of Fiume:

Stivic, Zivko, aged 26, labourer, b. Hungary, German, last of Vodinci(?); gives his mother, Anna Landekic of Vodinci as next of kin; bound for Michigan, born in Lapovac
Stivic, Marianne, aged 19, b. Hungary, German, same info as above

They are joining an acquaintance, Anton Kocianu(?) of 32 Hendrik Steet, Detroit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Elusive Surname - Stevens

I grew up told the Stevens were German. Turns out they are from Hungary. That adds a little excitement to the family tree I hadn't expected and a long list of new questions. I have mostly done US so far. I want to tackle the Scotland next that was my maternal grandmother's line but I do have a sense of Scotland and growing up with it part of being us so I pretty much know how to tackle that branch. Hungary however is a foreign language and a world that I know enough about in history and what I learned in European history and what reading I have done on my own but I do not "know" about Hungary. This will be a true learning experience. I have had help by other family genealogists with my known family tree. For this branch I am on my own.

I posted to GenForum tonight. I have to say that people there seem very nice so far. That is where I found out about the Stevens line on the Michigan board. I am a novice in so many ways and try to ask questions that sound intelligent and asked with enough detail (I hope) and not sounding like I am asking people to do the work for me however, I do need help with this branch, I know nothing about this side of the world. So, I posted to see mainly see how someone from Hungary would get to the US, I have no idea what country they might travel to and what Port City. Suggestions have come and I am eager to start on some of the suggestions.

My Post:


I have a branch of my family that is very elusive. With a major breakthrough in finding a cousin on the Stevens side of the family, I am faced with genealogy searches in Hungary. (I had been raised on the family story that my great grandfather came from Germany not Hungary)

In trying to figure out where, or even how, to start searching I think my first question is how would they have traveled to the US, through ports of Germany?

The information I do have is his name in Michigan was John Stevens, born 1887 in Yugoslavia but on the 1930 census he said he was born there, but parents were Hungarian. His wife was named Mary and she was from Hungary. They came to the US and arrived in Detroit Michigan in 1912. My mother remembers my grandfather saying the name was Americanized to Stevik (using that spelling having found it on a Radix list).

I feel like I am walking around in the dark. We have no information on him except for that one census and my experience in tracking down an ancestor across the sea is limited.

Any hints or where to starts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time!

The responses:

The first question is easy. They bought a railroad ticket and maybe even a steamship ticket in their hometown, jumped on a train and where at the port of departure in no more than 2 days. The German ports and others were set up with crude but efficient facilities to house and feed travelers till they got on the boat. At Norddeutcher-Lloyd in Bremen the emigrants were on train cars that dropped them off right inside the shipping company's compound.
Next, the Hungary that existed before 1920 was the Kingdom of Hungary. It was about 3-4 times bigger than modern Hungary. That Hungary was a multi-ethnic country where the population was made up of 5-7 different ethnic groups. Over time many people claimed allegience to one ethnic group but their names showed their ancestors were from another. Since the coutry was run by the Magyar part of the population being seen as a Magyar brought certain benefits. The process was called "magyarization" and you can find out about it on the web.
The name you posted looks like the a South Slav name. Probably spelled Stevic. And after 1920 the territory they lived in, then called BACSKA and today called VOIVODINA is now the northernmost part of Serbia. I can't say this for certain but it is highly likely.
Records from their hometown probably exist and probably are available in the US but you have to know the place name. All the old records are indexed by EXACT place name.
The places the hometown would be identified would be the ship manifest, a natrualization file, if not a citizen in 1940 then the Alien Registration card, and finally the SS-5, application for Social Security.
Once you have a place name you can start on the next part of the search.

What language was spoken by this ancestor?
Any draft registration form, naturalization petition, social security numbers, Alien Registration Form, baptismal record?
I am sure you are aware that country of Yugoslavia no longer.
Why STEVIK? Why not STEVICS, STEVANICS or ISTVAN? There are 2 STEVIKs in www.ellisislandrecords.org

Do you have a placename in "old" Hungary?

it is really big quise.
It is sure, the Stevens is not German and not Hungarian name. The Stevik also quastionable, what could be that name, which was Americanized to it? The English "S" is in Hungarian written as "sz" could it be Sztevics/Sztavics etc?
One thing is sure, only, and that could be a good start.
Yugoslavia existed from 1921, so in 1887 it could not be. In 1930 he knew, that part of Hungary or Croatia have been Yugoslavia, and he said for the census-worker, that is in Yugoslavia. ( and the statistics for got to write the word "now")
It would be good to look your and your family members' "pantry". Maybe you can find an envelope, a postcard, a letter what could be a good start. An other thing to look the documents in the cemetery's office, where he was buried. In those papers usually is written the birthplace more correctly. Same, what about the social insurance?
Let we see....

As you see, I have good information and places to start. Most importantly, my only source on John Stevens is his 1930 census for Detroit Michigan. I have not found him on a 1920 census yet and he did come to the US in 1912 per the census and his first child was born here in 1913. I can't find any information on him either. This family is very elusive!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

John Foster Duncan

In all of my reading in how to do a family tree has been the one key thing... interview your older relatives. I don't have any available to me, our family unit is very small, so I thought I would pick a person and give my perception of this person with the memories I have.

I will start with my maternal grandfather, John Foster Duncan. I am not sure why, I so adored my grandmother (Elizabeth Dewar Spalding Fender) and she many times was my lifeline but I will start with my grandfather. He was not a large part of our lives but we saw him regular enough.

He was 6'7". His entire family was tall, even his sisters were 6' and I remember being afraid of their size when I was little. They were so nice and I adored them even if intimidated by their height. John had large feet and if I remember correctly, he had basketball shoes made specially for him because he didn't fit in regular shoe sizes. I almost want to say he had size 13 feet. He played basketball in college. He was thin and a very good looking man and I think he looked a lot like his father, David Washington Duncan. He was born and raised in Bradley County,Tennessee. John went to College and moved to Akron Ohio (he lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a short period of time). He was a rubber chemist and loved the country club life. He separated from my grandmother when my mother was about 15. They never divorced but did live apart for over 25 years.

He was a storyteller. Boy was he a storyteller!! We lived in Rochester, NY and when we would go to Akron for visits to my grandmothers apartment, he would come for a visit while he was there. The evenings were usually him visiting with me and my sister then he would take my mother out for a night on the town. He loved the night life. During our visits he would sit in this chair that was round with a round back but left the arms free. Almost like a 60's version of a fabric barrel chair. He would take us up on his lap and tell us these stories about being poor and working the farm, school was so far away and they had no shoes. You know the drill. He would have us in tears over how he suffered as a child. He would kiss us on the nose and put us down and rise, taking my mother out for her well deserved evening with him. We were never close but we seemed to accept him as he was. He loved us but was more a loner.

He called us his "lil pea pickers" in that southern drawl. He always brought us a little box each of the Brach's chocolate samplers for the sweetest girls ever. He was always that southern style, mannered and friendly. I don't remember ever hearing anything mean, or rude being said by him.

He wrote stories. Short stories and I remember my mother said he was a very good writer. He should have been with the stories he could turn. I don't know if anyone ever kept anything he wrote. He loved to read. Westerns were his favorite genre.

He could cook.. goodness could he cook! He was very comfortable in the kitchen and very particular about burning his salt in his cast iron frying pans.

For a lot of years he lived the high life and found that more interesting than family. While it was a sore point for my mother, she was the child not getting his time, still he seemed very hard to hate for it. He was very charming, I knew this even if I was in my single digit years. That high life did end though and he ended up living in a boarding house and I remember him coming to visit in a sling, he had been mugged on the street in his neighborhood. But still he was dignified and took that in stride. I think his shoulder was hurt, not sure if broken. I don't remember.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

And Wow! Family!!!

Contact has been made and the tree builder in Ancestry.com is my first cousin. Her mother is my fathers sister so we have started exchanging email and I look very forward to getting to know her. My mother is an only child so I have never had Aunts and Cousins before. I have given them information that I found about my father. It has been 35 years since I have seen him and I would prefer to let that rest. I wish them success in making contact with him. I kind of like being the link to a brother and sister finding each other, it is just a little helping hand I can be. Nothing like my gift from the man in Michigan. Again, I can’t thank you enough.

Today I added to the collection of computer progams, GenSmart (GenSmart.com). I am not sure what I had done before without it. Thanks Genealogy Guys! Adding some of what I found on my fathers side combined with all I already have on my mothers side, I only have about 2000 things on my “To Do List”. Thanks GenSmart, I think you gave me so much work to do that “putting in for vacation” will never happen! :) Great program though and thanks to the makers! I will say thinking backwards is not all that easy but I will figure it out. For example, the very top clue is “Tennessee 1880 Census for Tom Cowden”. Then for explanations is the following:

Researching the Tennessee 1880 Census makes sense because his spouse, Nancy Crewse [467], died in 1878 in , Bradley,
Tennessee, USA and he died in 1884 in Bradley County Tennessee. The 1880 census is important because it contains birthplace
information for parents of the people listed, as well as the relationships between people living in the household.

Missing Data
This suggestion is important because his father’s birth place and mother’s birth place have not been recorded, and you could obtain this
information by researching this record.

Some background on Tom Cowden [540]: He was born in 1780 in NC?, and he died in 1884 in Bradley County Tennessee. He married
Nancy Crewse [467] on 1805 in , Person, North Carolina, USA, and had the following child: James [295] (1805).

The confusing part is that the Tom Cowden on the link given me is 26 years old so someone’s son and once I figure out the relationship, perhaps that will be the clue. It will take time to turn my brain to that thinking but this weekend I seem to be in such an excited state about finding the Stevens link that concentrating on anything is just not going to happen!

Tonight for dinner: Fried Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Cheese, Glazed Carrots.

By the kindness of strangers..

I have been thinking about a website and blog for myself. I am a graphics geek, what can I say. So I have been thinking and mulling over ideas and deciding, sort of, that I wanted my blog on my own website and so thought to figure that out but today… today the nicest thing was done for me so this seems the perfect day to start my blog no matter where it ends up.

A stranger.. someone who just happened to see a post of mine on a Michigan board, reading my frustration in finding a family that I feel should not be so hard to find and yet finding it impossible.. he found it within a day after I had been searching for the last 6 months! He sent me the following email:

Sharon: Lets start with why I do this genealogy for total strangers, such as yourself. It is a hobby/addiction. I rationalize, I suppose, that my “hobby” costs much less than other hunters and fishermen. Then also I have found my ancestors back to Charlemagne as a result of kind genealogists who helped along the way . . . none of them seeking recompense for same. I have to tell you it was and is a great pleasure to “payback” those people. I won’t go into my career, that being mundane for strangers, but a treasure for me and mine.

So here is the good news. Your sibling Leona did a family tree and you can find it if you have access to ancestry. com. (if not, let me know) in short, your line starts with John Stevens, 1887 Yugoslavia who came to Detroit in 1912,and had among others, Theodore J. Stevens 1913, Felix, 1916, Englebort,1918, Gabriel 1920, Mary 1924.you were right about the Shufelt connection. Bernadine was a Sheufelt and born, if I remember a Magyar (or Hungarian) and john though born in Yugoslavia was Hungarian also. The tree includes a picture of your grandfather and Bernadine. (kind of unusual, but a gift from Leona eh.)

Let me know whether you have access to ancestry com or not. if not, don’t fret, I will get it for you.
Name withheld, Flint Mi

Today I am on top of the world. A few reasons, the most important, my people are out there. My Aunt and I have something in common by our interest in genealogy. Another, that all the recent months (and years) of frustration are replaced by a hunger and enthusiasm to know more and to find out more. Sending off an email to the owner of this family tree was a bit daunting. I have no idea what sort of relationship my estranged father had with them. I kept it basic, information and asking if she was who I was looking for. Underneath is a lot of excitment.. I have an Aunt who is out there! And there are more. For years I have wondered about this side of my family. My mother says she remembers them being a nice family. I feel a bit emotional since I have seen the names of my grandparents and great grandparents. I have wanted this day so long. This family has not seen me in 45 years or so, when I was 3, maybe a bit younger. Do they even know I have a sister?

I am eager to see where this chapter goes.