Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Just a quick note to say Happy Veterans Day to you all. Enjoy it by thinking of and/or spending some time with the Vets in your family!

For me, today is a day to be especially thankful for my hubby, an active duty petty officer in the Navy. Today is also a day for me to think of my Dad, who was another Navy man, as was my father-in-law. I also have many special vets in my extended family, including my cousin and uncle who are Army guys. Coincidentally, I also spent some time finishing up the military records lesson for the NGS HSC today, for which I was reviewing the Civil War Compiled Military Service Record for James Bromagem, my great great great grandfather. And finally, I have a great uncle who was much loved by my mother's family and who died at Normandy in WWII. Today is a day for us to think of him and to be thankful for him as well.

This day is always kindof a sad day to me, thinking of those who were not able to return home and wondering if the next deployment will be the one that could take my own husband away, but taking the time to remember them and what they do and what they did is so important. They deserve all the time and respect and love that we can all muster for them, those who are gone and those who are still with us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 3

So while I was trying to figure out what to do with all of this information, I was also trying to find out more about Julius' possible mother (and father/stepfather) who were living in Detroit, MI prior to 1910. I didn't find much, but I did find several message board posts online for people descended from Michigan Boldas who came from Poland. They were all finding origins in the area of Puck, the current location of Wladyslawowo, previously Grossendorf. None of these posts mentioned Julius, but some familiar names were popping up like Frank Bolda (Franz Bolda, who arrived with Julius and his mother in 1887 took on the name Frank while living in Michigan as did a child Franz who also arrived with them and settled in Michigan) and Joseph Bolda (a name familiar to me because that was the name Julius' wife cited as that of his father, as well as being the name of one of the Boldas travel companions in 1887). The only link connecting the Michigan Boldas and Julius prior to the research on the place names and locations in Poland, is the name of his mother from his death certificate because Veronica Bolda arrived with him in 1887 and settled in Detroit with her presumed husband, Franz and another child named Franz who both Americanized their names to Frank. The names Frank and Joseph are pretty common so that really wasn't a super strong link. But having the place name turn up as the origins for descendants of that Michigan line be the same of a possible origin for Julius really does add more strength to the case.

I think that covers the run-down for now. I think what I'm going to do next is try to get Frank and Veronica's death certificates and Frank's naturalization paperwork. Since it's out of state again though and my date ranges are still pretty general, I'm thinking the best way to go about it is to order microfilm from the FHL and see what I can glean from that. I think at some point I can order film of the Catholic records from the area of Poland where I believe Julius came from. Finding a baptismal record would be the ideal situation but I'll definitely need to do just a bit more research to be sure of what's available and what I'll find.

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 2

Ok, so now that I've thoroughly stressed that you're going to need some kind of guide to help you navigate the Meyers Orts Gazetteer of the German Empire for the first time, I can show you why. First though, there was no entry found for a Grossrudorf, so what we found was for Grossendorf:

So we can see 6 entries for Grossendorf on this page (there were also two others shown on the following page but neither of those were in the right area to be the correct location). Each of the different locations was designated numerically. Following that number, there is an abbreviation which specifies what the location is categorized as. For instance, the first possible option with the name Grossendorf has a D. When we check with the family search appendix we see that "D." is the designation for a dorf, or village in English. Next, is the location abbreviation and various information regarding kingdoms and duchies. With this information you can narrow down where the most likely place with this name was located and then compare that to a modern map.

However, I got some excellent advice from a couple of German and Polish specialists including Stephen Danko, who maintains a blog at He pulled a handy dandy Polish gazetteer and managed to narrow things down even more and found the Polish name and current name for entry number 5 from Meyers Orts. This Grossendorf is in modern-day Poland and is currently known as Wladyslawowo in the area of Puck. At the time, this information didn't hit me particularly hard but soon enough I had reason to think I had a good lead on this.

Probably should move on to Post 3 now...I told you there was a lot to talk about! :)

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 1

I've been chomping at the bit to get back to this topic and have had so much to post about. Getting sick kindof put a damper on things and also managed to remove me a bit from the conversations that helped bring me to some conclusions and a plan of attack for the future, but I'll try to remember as much as possible to get through this.

So, when we left off with this topic, I had just received the naturalization papers for my paternal Great Great Grandfather, Julius Bolda, from Cook County, IL. Julius arrived in the US from the port of Bremen in 1887 and by the time of the 1910 census enumeration, he claimed to be a naturalized citizen living in Chicago. Because his paperwork was filed before 1906, his naturalization was handled through the local courts rather than the Federal government. When you order naturalization paperwork from Cook County, you get both the Declaration of Intent and the Final Papers. There isn't a whole lot of "new" information given in these pages, but the real prize is pretty much a single question: where was he born? And they're not just asking for the country here, they are asking for the town/village. In Julius' case, his place of birth appears to be shown as "Grossrudorf", right? That one issue became the center of a pretty fascinating conversation a couple weeks ago on the APG list. This is where the fun begins!

Like just about every other "official" record genealogists face in their research, this page has its backstory. First, while it does look like Julius signed the bottom of the page, he did not fill out the information, including that given for his place of birth. Instead, the clerk filled it out which presents us with its own special set of issues. When he wrote the place name, he wrote what he thought he heard, not necessarily the proper spelling of the name. So we can't be real sure at this point whether the name is actually right. Also, his handwriting is suspicious because when we look at the rest of the page, the clerk had several inconsistencies with his letter forms. For instance, lower case "n" and "u" were also shown the same way and more pertinently, his lower case "e" and lower case "r" were also written the same way. Taking these problem with his lettering into account, the name can now be Grossendorf rather than Grossrudorf.

So now that we have a couple of options for names, we throw in the big elephant in the room. These place names no longer exist!! Yep, so even after you think you get this name figured out, you still can't just open up a map and find it. At this point, you need the Meyers Orts Gazetteer of the German Empire and a little help (actually a lot of help) from the research help articles on Meyers Orts is, fortunately, available for ancestry subscribers here and the family search article on how to use it is found here between the two, you have a pretty good chance of success but it is absolutely crucial that you take a little time to go over the German handbook on family search first so you know what you're looking for, how to find it, and what you're going to see on the page. The reason for this is that the gazetteer is written in German script and has entries made up of all kinds of abbreviations specifying certain information. You need the familysearch guide, or some other online guide, to help familiarize yourself with the script and then to help you decipher what it is you're looking at and what information it's giving you.

I'll continue in a second post next...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sick as a dog

Well, I had planned on posting about my Julius Bolda information over the weekend/this week but I got hit with something over the weekend and can't seem to shake it. Ugh! So I'll just have to wait to post about the adventures of chasing Julius.