Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Friday, March 31, 2000

I sent away for some more vital records today. I sent for Grandpa Brandi's birth certificate, Great Grandpa Brandi's death certificate, and Great Grandpa Horbal's death certificate. Michigan charges $13 apiece for these, as opposed to Pennsylvania, which only charged $4. Ouch! Michigan does promise to act on requests within 1-5 days, though, which is a little quicker than Pennsylvania. We'll see; I don't suppose that genealogical requests take very high priority (and rightly so).

I'm hoping that between Grandpa's birth certificate and Great Grandpa Brandi's death certificate I can clear up the question of what Great Grandpa's middle name actually was. I'm hoping also that Grandpa's birth certificate will make crystal clear who his mother was and help dispel some of the confusion generated by Aunt Yola's and Aunt Zina's Social Security forms. And I hope, but don't expect, Great Grandpa Horbal's certificate will mention a little more clearly where in Poland he came from. I don't remember if Buscha died before or after him, but I think I remember that they went within less than a year of each other, so hopefully I'll get a better idea of which side of his death hers came on.

Posted at 3:28:59 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, March 30, 2000

Well, Pennysylvania came through. They found Grandpa Horbal's records, apparently, and they were even under his real name, although oddly enough, it didn't include his middle name, August. Go figure. Sadly, Great-Grandpa and Buscha's birthplaces are just listed as "Poland", again, which gets me no closer to knowing where specifically they're from. The back of the certificate says that the information is exactly transcribed form information contained on the original certificate, so I guess that means that this was all the information on the certificate. No hospital listed, no address, just the names of the parents, their ages, and a birthplace for each of Poland. I think it's interesting that the certificate is listed as having been filed on June 15, 1914, more than two whole months after he was born. Maybe that's due to the screwup on his last name, which doesn't show up on this copy (which is a modern printout rather than a photocopy or microfilm copy of the original).

Posted at 8:53:53 PM Link to this entry


Saturday, March 25, 2000

I also got death certificates today from my parents for Grandpa Brandi and Grandma Horbal. More about that tomorrow after I get some sleep.

Posted at 1:31:10 AM Link to this entry


I got the other three SS-5s I ordered from Social Security today (Friday). That was fast. They must bundle all the requests up and do them at a single time. Funny thing is all three forms raise as many questions as they answer.

First up is Aunt Zina. I now know her first husband's last name, and probably his first initial, too, because she applied, aged 18, as Zina Brandi Hockensmith, and signed as "Mrs A C (or E) Hockensmith". She's supposed to have the same mother as Grandpa, but her mother is listed as "Anne Davis". That's curious, because I thought Grandpa's mother's name was Antonia Wisniewski, and Aunt Betty's comment at his funeral that she told him that there was no shame in being half Polish would confirm that. There's also a little comment after her name in parentheses that says "(dec)", which I assume stands for "deceased". So is Anne Davis Great-Grandpa's second wife? What's going on here? Also, she lists her father's name as Ralph Albert Brandi. But then Grandpa wouldn't be a Junior, would he? She applied on December 4, 1936, and was working at R. L. Polk & Co., living at 1571 Lillibridge in Detroit.

Second is Aunt Yola. I finally have the spelling of the unspellable name of her first husband: Guetschoff. She was living at 1535 Lycaste in Detroit and working for Zenith Cleaners on Harper. She also gives her father's name as Ralph Albert Brandi. She gives her mother's name as Antonina Wisniewski, which is roughly the name I have for Grandpa's mother. But she was born in 1910; Zina was born in 1918 to Anne Davis, and Grandpa was born in 1919 to Antonia Wisniewski. After thinking about it, I guess that it's possible that Aunt Yola still thought that she had the same mother as Grandpa when she filled out the form, but found out afterward that she had a different mother. I don't know. And I'm not sure I'll be able to get her birth certificate to find out, since I'm not directly descended from her. She applied for her number on July 20, 1938, a year and a half after Social Security began, so it would appear that maybe she wasn't working before then. She was 28 at the time.

The third SS-5 was for Grandpa (Vincent) Sobol, who I understand to be my Grandma Horbal's uncle. Now I'm not so sure what their relationship was. When I talked to Grandma in 1996, she said that her mother Mary's father was Frank Sobol, and that Mary was Vincent's brother, I think. But on his SS-5, Sobol says his father's name was Bartolommeo Sobol. That doesn't seem much like "Frank". But Grandma also mentioned a Barko somewhere in there, although the connection isn't really clear. If his father's birth was registered in the Catholic church, presumably it would be in Latin, and Bartolommeo seems like it might be the Latin for the Ukrainian Barko. Or maybe not. This could clearly use more investigation. Sobol gives his mother's name as Catherine Mikus, and his birthplace as Poland. I wish they would give a little better indication of where in Poland, although I would expect that Sobol was born somewhere near the same place Grandma was. Sobol applied for his number on November 30, 1936 at the same Chrysler plant where Great-Grandpa Horbal submitted his, which makes sense given that they were friends who met at work. His address at this time was 1955 Carpenter Ave. in Detroit.

I scanned these forms too:

Posted at 1:23:11 AM Link to this entry


Friday, March 24, 2000

I looked up the name Wozny in the Mormons' databases. There are a bunch of them in the Ancestral File, most of them centered around a place called Schalkowitz (or Alt Schalkowitz), Opole, Poland. I couldn't find any place called Schalkowitz in the Global Gazetteer, but there are five or ten places called Opole, a couple of which are in areas that could be described as ethnically Ukrainian.

The International Genealogical Index for Continental Europe has a ton of them, too, over 200.

Posted at 12:22:30 AM Link to this entry


Thursday, March 23, 2000

I got my first three SS-5s from Social Security today! On Great-Grandpa Horbal's, he lists the names of his parents, Paul Horbal and Justine Wozny. I didn't know those names before, so that's cool. Unfortunately, he gives his place of birth simply as "Poland", which covers a lot of territory and doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know. His employer on November 30, 1936, was Chrysler, on Jefferson Ave, and they had kindly filled in that space for him so that he wouldn't have to. Some efficiency expert probably figured that they could save a million dollars by doing that. :-) His address at the time was 9121 Harper Ave.

On Grandpa Horbal's application, he gives his mother's name as Victoria Mazur, so I had that right. Given that the state of Pennsylvania spelled his name wrong on his birth certificate, they probably spelled hers wrong too. It also lists his birth place as Altoona, PA, so I got that right on the Vital Records application too. I hope they're able to find his birth certificate; the lady who called last week from the PA Vital Records office was having trouble finding it, but said they would have something in the mail for me this week. They cashed my check, so I know they're working on it. :-) Grandpa's SS-5 lists his address as 13430 Goddard Ave. in Detroit, and his employer as the Hudson Motor Car Company. They didn't pre-print the forms, though. Maybe that's why they don't exist any more and Chrysler still does (in some form). I wasn't aware of the Goddard address; the form is from November 25, 1936, about 9 months after he and Grandma married, so presumably that was their first home together. At the bottom of the form, he originally signed it "Theodore Horbal", then that's crossed out and underneath he signed "Theofil Horbal". At least he didn't sign it "Joe". I never knew someone who was called by so many different names.

Great Grandma Miller's form gives her address as 11474 Christy in Detroit, which is right by City Airport, and which Dad pointed out when we drove by it in January when we were there from Grandpa Brandi's funeral. She's listed as being unemployed when she applied on January 18, 1943. One interesting thing is that she spelled her name "Eveline", not "Evelyn" as I had thought.

I've scanned all three forms:

Posted at 9:09:57 PM Link to this entry


Monday, March 20, 2000

Tricia Dovenspike of Leister Productions posted a note to Reunion-Talk about some Sherlock plug-ins to search the Reunion-Talk archives and the FamilySearch Ancestral File and IGI databases. Cool!

Posted at 11:00:15 PM Link to this entry


Friday, March 17, 2000

I got a call from Pennsylvania Vital Records this afternoon. They're having trouble finding Theofil Florbal. I said I wasn't positive about the spelling of his mother's last name, Mazur. I wish I had mentioned that his real name was Horbal, although that's kind of on the form I sent in. Oh well. The lady said she would go back and search some more, and that they would have something in the mail to me next week. Hopefully it'll be a certificate....

Posted at 5:57:10 PM Link to this entry


Tuesday, March 14, 2000

The people I talked to at the 'Fest about genealogy mentioned that it took about a month for Social Security records to show up. I ordered three on February 22 and three more on February 29, so I've got a few weeks to go, assuming they're right about the time it takes.

Posted at 9:42:46 PM Link to this entry


My copy of Reunion 6 showed up today. It doesn't feel much different than versions 5 or 4 did, but that's a good thing; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It took me a while to figure out how to get the web report to use index.html as its main file, do the file names in lower case, and all that good stuff. I still haven't figured out how to configure it to do the HTML the way I like it, and to include my style sheet. There's a mechanism for using alternate resources, editable with ResEdit, but I couldn't find the original resources for generating the HTML for the reports.

Posted at 9:36:39 PM Link to this entry


Looking through the Michigan Genealogical Death Index for Schmitts in Wayne County who died between 1867 and 1882 turns up some interesting causes of death. One poor soul died of Inflammation of the Legs. Another suffered from QUICK CONSUMPTION. A number of youngsters are listed, too, suffering from Croup or Scarlet Fever. I'm clearly going to need more information about Great-Grandma Miller before this becomes a useful tool for finding Schmitts, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Posted at 9:31:42 PM Link to this entry


Monday, March 13, 2000

While I was at the Winter SWL Fest this weekend, I mentioned my newfound interest in genealogy. Turns out that Fred Kohlbrenner, Eric Cottrell and George Zeller have all done a lot of work on their own family genealogies. George has even been to Switzerland a few times to do research.

Posted at 1:37:58 PM Link to this entry


Monday, March 6, 2000

I finally found a list of questions on the 1920 census, so I don't have to try to unpuzzle the blocky type of the underlying form on the Digital Microfilm.

Posted at 8:48:49 PM Link to this entry


In fact, the National Archives' entire Genealogy page is worth looking at.

Posted at 8:34:53 PM Link to this entry


The National Archives has a nice page explaining what kind of clues you can find in census records.

Posted at 8:22:37 PM Link to this entry


Well, my Digital Microfilm of the 1920 Tuscola County, Michigan census arrived today from Heritage Quest, so I guess you shouldn't pay too much mind to the stuff on their site that mentions only having up to 1900 available. It seems to run okay under Virtual PC on the Mac, considering, but Virtual PC is still like having a mouse soaked in molasses. :-P The image quality is so-so, but then, I haven't seen what it looks like on microfilm, so maybe it's just as grainy there.

Interestingly enough, in the same batch of mail was a note from the Census Bureau about this year's Census. :-)

Looking for a map of Tuscola County that shows townships so I know where to focus my search through the Census, I found a page about Tuscola County on something called US Gen Net, part of the American Local History Network. Dunno how this relates to RootsWeb and USGenWeb or if they're competitors or what. It's all Gen and Roots and Web and Net.

I also found a map on something called that shows the townships, but doesn't say what they are. Bleah. But there was a page about the local government that included an e-mail address and web site for the Registrar of Deeds.

Posted at 8:08:13 PM Link to this entry


I remembered something I forgot to cover in my February retrospective. I spent some time looking for the history of Belle Isle, since Dad told me that somewhere in the past, our family used to own Belle Isle back when it was known as Pig Island. The Detroit Public Library has their catalog online, and looking through it, I see a monograph titled A history of Belle Isle, written by Phyllis Wilbeck Ross. Next time I'm in Detroit, I'll have to have a look at that.

I found some pages about the history of Belle Isle, from the National Register of Historic Places and the Grand Prix (apparently there's a race on the island each year). Everybody seems to mention that the city of Detroit bought the island in 1875, but nobody mentions who they bought it from. A couple of pages that I can't find now mention a couple of owners, among them the Macombs and Joseph and Barnabas Campeau. Macomb County is named after the former, and there's a street in Detroit named Joseph Campeau. I have no idea yet who we're related to who owned the island, though.

Posted at 3:22:15 PM Link to this entry


I got my Great Aunt Della's address and phone number from my mom this weekend, who had gotten it from Aunt Nancy. Now I have to decide whether to go down to San Antonio in a week and a half with Laura. Mom also said that Aunt Nancy has some genealogy stuff she can tell me, but I suspect I've probably got much of it already from talking to Grandma four years ago. She did give me some correct spellings for names of aunts and uncles, though, so that helps. I'll have to talk to Aunt Nancy when she's feeling better.

Posted at 12:56:45 AM Link to this entry


Sunday, March 5, 2000

I've put together a page showing everything I learned in February, with links to where I learned it (when I learned it on the web). There may be one or two things missing, but I think I got almost everything. I'll be updating the design of this site in the next few days to give easy access to the archived postings.

Posted at 12:31:13 PM Link to this entry


Saturday, March 4, 2000

A university in Ukraine has placed all the maps from Paul Magocsi's Ukraine: A Historical Atlas on the web. Maybe I shouldn't have bought a copy.

Posted at 2:45:49 PM Link to this entry


I heard back from the owner of How To Do Things, mentioned in the "Books We Own" page listed below. No Horbals. The census in the book only covers Elkland, Kingston, Koylton and Novesta townships in the southern part of Tuscola county; Caro is in the north, and so it's not there. Oh well; maybe the company that did the book also did a version for the Greater Caro Metropolitan Area. It's just a matter of finding a copy.

Posted at 12:37:07 PM Link to this entry


I ordered an upgrade to Reunion 6.0, the computer program I use to manage information, yesterday from Leister Productions. One of the nice new features is that you can tell the program to leave out personal details for living people when you export to HTML. When I get the program in a week or so, I'll probably post my tree here, with the understanding that all the stuff I got from the genealogy Aunt Betty sent a few years ago has no citations and will probably have to be reworked. :-P

Posted at 12:31:59 PM Link to this entry


I finished reading The Genealogy Sourcebook by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack today. I'm no expert, but it seemed like a pretty solid beginners' book (so I guess that means I'm exactly the audience it was aimed at). I also bought a couple more books at Barnes & Noble at lunch, Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val Greenwood and Polish Roots by Rosemary Chorzempa. The latter book had some information about Ukrainian information, too, including a table of Ukrainian names in Cyrillic and Roman lettering and their English equivalents. As I suspected, the feminine form of "Joseph" would equate roughly to "Josefa". Maybe I'll scan the Cyrillic rendition in later. "Theofil" was listed as both a Polish and Ukrainian name.

Posted at 1:38:01 AM Link to this entry


I'm going to try to write up a narrative of what I learned in February some time this weekend, rather than post it in dribs and drabs.

Posted at 1:06:27 AM Link to this entry


I came across an interesting entry in the "Michigan Books We Own" page on Rootsweb. Under Tuscola County, there's a book from 1919 telling farmers how to do things that contains a census of farmers in the area. I've sent a query to the owner of the book to see if Joseph Horbal, my great-grandfather, is listed. I think they would have moved to Caro by then from Altoona, PA, where Grandpa was born.

Posted at 1:04:05 AM Link to this entry


Wednesday, March 1, 2000

I've done a lot of work on the family history already in the past month or so. Probably the most important thing to me was finding the name of the town my great-grandfather (and namesake) was born in in Italy, and in the process, finding a second-cousin, Carol. I was bored one day (January 31), so did a little ego-surfing (entering my name in a search engine to see what came up). Most of the pages had something to do with me. One or two were about some vice president at a semiconductor firm in California with the same name. And one page was a query on a page having to do with German genealogy, looking for information about Helen Prillwitz, who had been married to Ralph Brandi of San Potito, Italy. Bingo! I now had the name of the town, the name of one of Ralph Sr.'s wives, and an e-mail address for a relative I didn't even know I had.

There's a lot more to tell on what I've figured out in the past month or so; I'll try to catch up on all that over the next week.

Posted at 11:46:30 PM Link to this entry