Monday, January 15, 2018

Research Shape-up for 2018

How am I going to get my research and goals shaped-up for 2018? I am joining Elizabeth O’Neal’s January Genealogy Blog Party to try to set some goals for this year.

My list of long-term projects has gotten a lot of revision and adjusted priorities.  There are some video stories I hope to do but they’ve been lowered in priority.  Other projects got bumped up on the list.

My main focus, for now, will concentrate on the US. Via Mondays With Myrt, I learned of Val Greenwood’s latest edition of The Researcher’sGuide to American Genealogy. Santa Claus (my daughter) gave me a copy; and now I’m ready to start learning more about the few ancestors who’ve been in the US since before the mid-nineteenth century. 

There are also recently discovered distant relatives who immigrated from Poland in the 19th century and settled in parts of the US that I know nothing about. Its time to learn more about resources in Buffalo and in Pittsburgh.

The list never gets shorter, does it?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bullet Journal: Fad or Useful Tool?

It was just over a year ago when Bullet Journals were all the rage. I wonder how many folks who jumped on that bandwagon have since fallen off.

A bullet journal is a concise way of keeping track of your plans and activities. It is not a wordy discussion of your daily life.  In its simplest form it consists of a To Do list accompanied by a Done list. I won’t try to explain it here but here are some descriptive sites:  and this post on BuzzFeed.

For some, it becomes a project in itself with expensive notebooks, fancy paper, and embellishments on every page.  You can spend a ton of money creating one.  Do a Google search on bullet journal and you’ll find images of extravagant notebooks, a how-to video, and lots of other relevant sites.  You can read very complex methods including daily log, monthly log, future log, and an index.  You can follow every aspect of your life.

Mine is much simpler, and its simplicity is what makes it work for me. My bullet journal is solely for genealogy – my personal projects and my job as Education Committee Chair for Indian River Genealogy Society  My total investment was for a vinyl 3-ring binder, paper to fill it, and a pack of tabbed dividers. It doesn’t need to be elegant, it just needs to be useful. I’ve whittled the recommended features down to 3 items.

Projects is a prioritized list of things I’d like to accomplish, both short and long term.

Future Log is a list of projects for the near future – one sheet.

Monthly Log includes a calendar for the month, things I need / want to do this month, and a daily log of what I’ve done.  One or two lines at most.

If you haven’t tried this method of keeping track, I suggest that you give it try.

Whether you make yours very complex

Or simple as mine, it can be a very useful tool

Sunday, December 31, 2017

DNA Smashes a Brick Wall

Tekla Raczynska Dachtera, my paternal grandmother, has been a huge challenge in my research. Her parents were married in Cerekwica, Poland; she was baptized 6 years later in Breckerfeld, Germany,  I looked for her parents in Cerekwica with no luck; I found nothing else in Breckerfeld. Passenger lists were no help. 

She immigrated and settled in St. Paul, MN. There were others in the St. Paul area with the same Raczynski surname.  I pieced them together as best I could, given the information I had, and put them in my tree on in hopes that someone would either disprove or help me prove my assumptions. No one contacted me about them.


And Then.

I received an email from someone who matched my DNA and looked at my tree.  The question was whether my Raczynski family was connected to her Reczynski family. Yes, they are!!  She gave me some information about her family and the FHL film where I could find them.

A new cousin!  Our MRCA is our third great grandfather. I was able to find my grandmother’s siblings, and paternal ancestors two generations back.  But now comes the work of making my tree coherent for this family. 

Smashing a brick wall is a great way to end the year. Learning about my “new” relatives is a great way to begin a new year.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Am I Missing the Point?

I am baffled by people who have tens of thousands of people in their family trees.  How far removed are the individuals at the very outer branches and twigs?  Why are they there?

Is there any value in having the 3rd great grandmother of the wife of my mother’s cousin 2X removed?

Should I be including these distant in-laws?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Genealogy Blog Party: DNA Discoveries

DNA testing has led me down a wonderful path of discovery.  Not about me and my family but about European history. 

My DNA was tested by 23andMe back in 2013. I had breast cancer and, for my daughter’s sake, was concerned about BRCA gene mutations. I turned to 23andMe because a $4,000.00 full genetic assay just wasn’t in the budget. I was relieved to find that I don’t have that mutation.

My ethnic mix showed no big surprises, but a couple of small ones.  My favorite surprise is the 3% Neanderthal component.  I love it!  That’s been the subject of a couple of previous blog posts:

And just today came across another article: 

New DNA From a Neanderthal Bone Holds Evidence of a Lost Tribe of Humans

I’ve traced my ancestry back to the late 18th century in Poland. Ethnicity estimates from 23andMe, FTDNA, My Heritage, and Gedmatch all agree that is where my ancestry is centered. But they also show Southern European and Northern European roots, and that got me wondering if those are real or are false positives.

Poring over history books, historical atlases, and Wikipedia gave me quite an education.  The Northern European component may have come from the late 1600’s when Sweden invaded Poland. There are still ruins of Swedish fortifications in Poland.  Possibly this is the source of my Northern European connection.

My mother’s maiden name is Ganas, a name more common among Greeks than among Poles. It seems that in the 12th and 13th centuries merchants from Greece and Turkey plied their trade in Central Europe. My guess is that at least one of them, with the name of Ganas, stayed in Poland.  I have yet to convince any of my male cousins from that line to do a DNA test; but I’d love to see what their Y chromosome could tell us.

The knowledge and insights into history that I’ve gained are priceless.
Here are links to previous posts European history.

As for family discoveries, DNA has helped me find only two previously unknown 2nd cousins – none more remote that that.  I keep hoping to find more. I know they’re out there somewhere.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Narrative Fallacy: It’s easy to fall into this trap

This post on Narrative Fallacy by James Tanner on his Genealogy Star blog is a gentle reminder to all of us. It is far too easy to reject research that doesn’t fit with the story we’ve woven.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Different Brick Wall

Last week, a circuit breaker flipped.  I was working intensely on two projects when my circuits apparently overloaded. The projects have been sitting untouched on my desk for several days now.  I’m running in neutral  - idling.

What happened?  I haven’t a clue; but it seems useless to fight it.  In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on my reading and surfing the net.

My project trying to connect Sip families in Poland is temporarily on hold.  That’s OK.  The information will still be there when I get back to it – or maybe more information will have surfaced by then.

I am hopeful that using Genome Mate Pro will become clearer to me as discussion continues on the Facebook group.

Until my research gene gets turned on again, I’ll probably do some writing and reopen the video projects waiting in the queue.  Yep, the video projects sound good.  And I’ll find topics to keep this blog alive.

To everything there is a season.