Sunday, May 22, 2022

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20: Textile

It's Week 20 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The prompt for this week is ‘Textile'. This is an easy one for me. I immediately thought of a dishtowel I have in my collection, handed down to me from my grandmother.
This dishtowel was hand-woven by her mother, Mara Miller Janco. Mara died at a young age, when my grandmother was only 11 years old. It is the only thing I have from that great-grandmother. If there were photos of her, they have been long lost.

I do not know if Mara made this towel after she came to the United States in 1911, or if she made it while she was still in Europe. She'd been in the U.S. less than 2 years when she died. It seems likely she made it while still in Europe and brought it along to her new home.

I also do not know what my grandmother meant by 'hand-woven'. Did Mara use a loom to weave the cloth? Or did she literally do the entire thing by hand. I don't know enough about weaving to speculate, but it seems likely to me that she used a loom. Either way, I am lucky to have this artifact and grateful to my Grandmother for choosing me to keep this legacy.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 18: Social

It's Week 18 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The prompt for this week is ‘Social'.

 One thing that has always amazed me when reading old newspapers is what was considered newsworthy. Not just engagements and weddings, but showers and house warmings. Not just births, but also christenings and parties afterwards. Here is an example from a 1934 newspaper.

Shirk reunion and birhtday partyShirk reunion and birhtday party 03 Apr 1934, Tue The Pomona Progress Bulletin (Pomona, California)

 I'm not only surprised by the fact that these events are considered newswothry by the entire community. I'm also surprised by the amount of detail included. As in this article, often everyone in attendance is listed, along with the place of residence. It isn't unusual to see a listing of who traveled furthest to get to a family reunion. In shower announcements, the food served and the decorations are reported in detail. Wedding announce not only give detailed descriptions of the bride's outfit, but also the attendants. 

Forrest-Westfall WeddingForrest-Westfall Wedding 25 Jun 1954, Fri The Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois)

Look at the detail in this one wedding announcement. The outfits, the flowers the decorations, and the names of the guests. This was the 1950s version of Facebook!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 17: Document

It's Week 17 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The prompt for this week is ‘Document'. I decided to blog about a document that I found with my grandmother’s important papers—a petition for naturalization filled out by her youngest brother.

One thing that my family and I find interesting about this petition is the explanation for the name change. The little brother was born ‘Adam’ but used the name Albert or Al once he settled in the U.S. His explanation?
“Adam does not appeal to my sense of hearing.”

I don’t know if Albert ever filed this petition, or if he ever naturalized. This petition is not complete. I found a copy of his Declaration of Intention. It was completed and stamped in the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. The date is January 23, 1925. Albert would have been about 19 years old at the time.

Even though the petition is not complete, it does contain some valuable information. Once section lists places and dates of residence in the U.S. since his arrival.

The last residence listed is Richmond, Illinois from Jan 1926 to ‘present’. This tells me that Albert filled out the petition sometime after Jan 1926. He apparently intended to file the petition in the Circuit Court of Woodstock in McHenry County, Illinois. Now I have some hints to guide me in my search for Albert’s naturalization.

Albert died of tuberculosis on April 3, 1936 at a sanatorium in Ottawa, Illinois.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16: Negatives

It's Week 16 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I’m behind this week. Some of the reasons are good. I’ve been busily working to help index the 1950 US Census on FamilySearch. You can help, too. I’ve also spent the weekend participating in the WikiTree Connect-a-thon. It’s too late to participate in this round, but you can get involved on WikiTree, too. Check it out.

The last reason is that the prompt for the week is ‘Negatives’ didn't inspired me. But I do want to write every week. So this week is a real reach. As you know, I’ve found a collection of photos from a Gunn family in Kentucky. I found them with other family photos. There are quite a few, so I have to assume that they are somehow related to my family. I’ve been researching various Gunn family members trying to find that connection. Some of the people I have been researching is Mary D Lane and her father, William Lane. I found a passport application for Mary on FamlySearch. She mentions that her father, William N Lane, was born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. At the time of the passport application in 1923 he was living in Maysville, Kentucky.
Clip from 1923 passport application for Mary D Lane
found on

 This lead me to a death certificate for a Willoughby N Lane, married to Jenny. He
was buried in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. But he died in Ohio. 
Clip from Ohio death certificate for Willoughby N Lane - 10 Mar 1926
found on FamilySearch

I wasn’t sure if this was Mary’s father, but one thing caught my eye. The death certificate
was signed by a deputy coroner and the cause of death was a gun shot wound to the right eye. This left me with a lot of questions. Did Willoughby/William die by suicide, and if so, why. This was my first negative feeling. Was a he murdered? And if this was Mary’s father, why was he in Kentucky? Obviously I had some research to do.

The first thing I found was a small article in a Paducah, Kentucky newspaper. It stated that Col. Wm. Lane, formerly of Kentucky, was killed in Ohio. There an argument with Ross Campbell about a tobacco crop. The dates matched up to the death certificate. Suddenly I had negative feelings towards Ross Campbell!
I found another article detailing the trial. The sons of both William Lane and Ross Campbell were witnesses. Ultimately, Ross was acquitted, which left me with even more negative feelings. And I felt bad for Mary!
Then I found a third article, this one from a Danville, Kentucky paper. The headline states that Newt. Lane was killed. The body reports that Col. William Newton Lane was killed
It is enough to convince me that William and Willoughby are the same man. But I still don’t know why the name discrepancy. Then one little line at the bottom of the article caught my eye. ”It was reported here that Lane killed two men at Versaille many years ago.” That left me with some negative feelings towards Col. Lane. And a lot of questions!

Was he maybe not a very nice guy. Did he threaten Ross Campbell? Did Campbell act in self-defense? And why the move to Ohio and the name change. After William killed two men, was he a pariah in Kentucky, Did he move to Ohio with a new name for a fresh start? Obviously, I’m going to need to do more research!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Photo Friday: Unknown Woman and Child

  It's Photo Friday. Today I am sharing another photo from the Gunn collection.

I love this photo of the unknown woman and child. I don't know who they are, but I want to think that they are mother and child. However, the woman could be older than I think, and could be an aunt or a grandmother. I love the wicker baby pram! Based on the pram and the woman's clothing, I'm guessing this photo to be about 1900. There is not photographer mark.

The photo was found with the Gunn famliy photos I posted about previously. Someday I hope they will let me know who they are!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 15: How Do You Spell That?

It's Week 15 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The prompt for the week is ‘How Do You Spell That?’ That is a great question! After over 20 years of research, I still do not know the correct spelling of my grandmother’s surname! When I knew my grandmother, she was Susie Petrini. But before that she was Susie Janco…or was she? I have found so many variations of the spelling of ‘Janco’, and the longer I research, the more variations I find!

The earliest record I have found is the ship manifest for her father’s arrival at the Port of Baltimore. I always knew him as Paul Janco. Janco is the spelling my grandmother wrote down in her notes. Janco is the spelling on his death certificate. Janco is the spelling I've seen on the back of every photo. But on the ship manifest he is ‘Pal Jancso’.
This could be a simple misspelling due to pronunciation. I know my great-grandfather lived into his 90s and only reluctantly used English. He had a heavy accent and could have been misunderstood. However, the Jancso spelling is also found on a ship manifest 4 years later. When his wife arrived at the Port of Baltimore with 3 of their children, the name is spelled Jancso.
Paul is found as ‘Paul Jansgo’ in city directories from Peoria, Illinois in 1913 and 1914. The spelling is close, with a ‘g’ replacing a ‘c’. But the ’s’ has reversed places. In an earlier 1910 directory I find ‘Paul Jansok’. This may not be Paul Janco, but I don’t find ‘Jansok’ in any other directory, and I don’t find ‘Paul Jansgo’ in the 1910 directory.
I have a 1912 birth certificate for daughter Elizabeth, born in Peoria. The spelling here is difficult to read, but appears to be ‘Janscha’ or ‘Janscka’. I don’t have a lot of faith in this variation as my feeling is that this is could be a distortion due to pronunciation.
When Maria aka Mary died a few months later her surname was recorded as ‘Jansgo’.
 So which was the original spelling? Was it Jancso; or was it Jansgo? Things will be even more complicated for future genealogists! Very early in my research I requested a lookup for Mary Janco’s death record on a Peoria County message board. Not only did the researcher look up the death record—she also went out to the cemetery to get a photo for me! Unfortunately Mary’s grave
was unmarked. I shared this information with my Janco family. They all seemed excited to have this information.

About 10 years later I was making edits on Find-A-Grave and saw that there is now a tombstone photo on Mary’s memorial. 
Tombstone of Mara Miller Janco/Jancso
Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum - Peoria, Illinois
photo by Karen Ziege Bartelt
Find A Grave contributor # 48169864
Memorial #194939360

The name on the marker is Mary Jancso. I contacted the cemetery to get contact information for the person who placed the stone. I hoped to learn more about Mary and the original spelling of the name. I
was surprised and disappointed to learn that the purchaser was my mother’s cousin. She used the spelling I gave her years earlier! And had no supporting evidence that Jancso was the true spelling!

I have no idea if this is something she 'always' knew. She seemed surprised by the spelling when I showed it to her. Both my mother and my aunt have reacted this way when I've shared information with them. They are completely surprised by the new information. Then several months later they seem convinced that they always knew this infomation. They tell me I should have just asked instead of wasting my time on research! I know this happens with them, so I have no confidence that any information they give me is correct! Obviously, oral history is not reliable information! DO you spell that anyway?!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Photo Friday: Easter Sunday

It’s Photo Friday. It is also Easter weekend, so I am sharing a photo from an Easter past. This is a throwback photo of my sisters and I on Easter Sunday 1963.

I like this photo a lot! It is a photo of my sisters and me, but it is so much more! You can guess that is was a chilly Easter morning. You can almost feel the sister on the left shivering!

The photo also shows a slice of history—a time in the past when people routinely dressed up! I have photos of a family vacation with us dressed similarly, with all the little girls in dresses at the beach! But Easter was special. You see the girls are wearing dresses. They have shiny patent leather shoes, little white purses, and even hats and gloves! Shopping for Easter clothes was a big deal when we were little girls, and the outfit always had to be brand new!

From this photo you can see that my Mom liked to dress the little girls alike. The two older girls are in identical dresses. Even the color is the same—a sky blue. My little sister is not dressed the same. Her dress is yellow. My guess is that the dresses were from different departments. This one was probably not offered in the smallest sizes.

Our clothes were handed down from one sister to the next. My mom often bought our clothes a bit on the big side so that we could 'grow into them. We could wear them for at least two years. Of course that meant that the younger sisters wore the ‘same’ dress for four years! Woe to the poor sister who hated the style!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20: Textile

It's Week 20 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The prompt for this week is ‘Textile'. This is an easy one for me. I immedi...