Well, it was one year ago today, still mourning my grandparents, that I got bored and entered my name in a search engine and came up with a page that mentioned my great-grandfather. (That page seems to have disappeared from the net.) It seems like a good time to take stock of what I've discovered in the past year.
I'm sure there's plenty I've left out, but these are the things that spring to mind.
I feel like I've accomplished an awful lot in the past year, and know that there's a lot left to do, and that the problems generally just get knottier from here on in. I haven't had any luck finding the marriage record of my great-grandfather and his last wife; in fact, I'm not certain whether my grandfather's mother was his father's second wife or third wife. Without the marriage record, I'm not certain of being able to trace that branch back much further, either, as my great-grandmother's death record was distinctly unhelpful, not listing her parents or anything, even getting her age wrong I think. And the prospect of dealing with all of the details of Ukrainian records for my grandma Horbal's family is daunting. Ukrainian as a language isn't one where knowledge of English or Romance languages helps much, and the Mormons don't seem to have filmed the records that I need to look at, so there will be much writing away to gather that information.
I hope the next year is as interesting and rewarding as this past year has been.
Posted at 2:32:32 PM Link to this entry
More items that have been languishing on my hard drive. Whenever you enter the United States, you have to fill out a little card about who you are, where you come from, that sort of thing. I've had to fill these out on airplanes coming back from overseas. Well, you also have to fill them out when entering the US from Canada, or at least you did at one point. There's microfilm of all the border crossing cards for non-US citizens for Detroit from 1906 to 1954. I did a search for Grandma and found the card for when she came to the US (it's pretty simple; all the cards are on the microfilm in alphabetical order). She came to the US on June 7, 1932 with her "husband" Michael Smolka. Good thing Grandma told me his name or I never would have found the card, since it's filed under the name Josepha Zurbyk Smolka. She lists her nationality, race, and language as Polish, despite the fact that she was Ukrainian. That's one of the odd things about Ukrainians, that they'll often list themselves as Polish. She lists her closest relative in the country she's coming from (Canada) as "Uncle Lawrence Zurbyk, Elphinstone, Man, Canada" She said she was going to be living with her husband, Michael Smolka, at 1955 Carpenter St. If I'm not mistaken, that was Sobol's address. The back of the card says that her visa was initialed H.D.L., and that her husband was issued Certificate of Naturalization number 2343124 at Detroit on November 22, 1925 or 6 (hard to tell from this scan or on the microfilm).
Equally interesting is a series of four cards for Vincent Sobol, Grandma's uncle who brought her to America. The crossing of May 26, 1923, seems pretty routine. He gives his race as Ukrainian. He had last been in the US on May 26, which means that this was a day trip to Canada. He had previously been in the US from 1915 to 1923. He gives his last permanent residence before moving to Detroit as Windsor. Given that he came to North America in 1912 and only moved the the US in 1915, it appears that he lived in Windsor for a few years before crossing the river to the US. There's nothing significant on the back.
The next crossing, on February 28, 1925, is another story. The front of the card is the normal information, giving his birthplace as Samoluskowcy, Poland (a village just up the river from Lychkivtsi, where Grandma was born), the relative he's going to join as his wife Nellie, address 5710 Joseph Campau, his closest relative in the country he came from as his brother Antony in Samoluskowcy, and his arrival in North America as taking place on March 13, 1912, on a ship whose name he doesn't know. The back of the card is where all the really interesting stuff is. It says that his entry into the US was rejected because he had "no PP visa and no Perm visa". I don't know what "PP" means, but I'll find out eventually. It gives the date his entry was rejected, Feb 28 1925. The decision was appealed immediately, because the same date is given for the appeal date. And in the field for Decision and Date, his appeal was dismissed on 3/14-25. So now Sobol was stuck in Canada and couldn't get back home.
He tried to cross into the US again on September 3, 1925, but was again rejected. The front has much the same information as the other two forms, except that Sobol gives his race as Polish, not Ukrainian, and his wife Nellie has moved from Joseph Campau to 1996 Calvert St., maybe because she wasn't able to pay the rent on Joseph Campau without Sobol working. He gives his last residence as Ford City, Ontario, a suburb of Windsor, and his closest relative or friend as Father Panasyczyk of Ford City. On the back, there's a stamp that says "Immigrant identified and deported to Canada" Under the field for reason rejected, he does not have an Immigrant Visa (quota). The card is kind of confusing, because it says both that his appeal was dismissed on 9/29/25 and that his appeal was sustained on 11/17/25. It also says that an Immigrant Visa, number 789, had been issued at Windsor, Ontario, on September 3rd. It appears to me that perhaps he got the wrong kind of visa, and that's why he was rejected this time.
The last chapter in this story is shown by the card for November 17, 1925. The front is largely a duplicate of the card from February, except that Sobol's nationality is now given as Russian, and Samoluskowce is now placed in Russia (it wasn't). On the back there's a note that Sobol had a non-quota visa issued in Windsor on 9/3/25 (which supports the conclusion that he got the wrong kind of visa), and then a note that the alien was being admitted, that the US had "Rescinded former excluding decision and in [garbled] thereof has sustained appeal and authorizes admission of alien." Sobol's day trip to Canada had lasted eight and a half months.
When I talked to her in 1996, Grandma had mentioned something about Sobol having trouble getting back into the US because he had lost his papers, but I had the impression that she was talking about a visit to Poland that he had trouble returning from. It may have actually been this fiasco that she was referring to.
Posted at 12:15:37 PM Link to this entry
Here's one of the things I've found that I've been sitting on for a few months. This is the birth record for Filippo Antonio Potito Brandi, my 3G Grandfather. The record was pretty difficult to read from the microfilm because of bleed through from the other side of the page, but I've gone into my scan of it with Photoshop and cleaned up most of the bleed through mess to make it much easier to read (that's one reason why I was sitting on it for a while). The record says that at 8 pm on 1 June 1818, before the mayor of San Potito, Gianbattista Pitella, Daniele Brandi appeared. He was a 34 year old farmer living in this village, and he told that mayor that at 10 pm on 31 May 1818, a child was born in his house to himself and Giovanna Cancello, his legitimate wife, who was 33 years old. The child was a son, who was presented to the mayor, and the father said that the son's name was Filippo Antonio Potito. This was done in the presence of two witnesses, Pietro Federico, 33 years old of some occupation I haven't translated yet living in this village, and Giovanni Leggiero, a 35 year old farmer living in this village. At the bottom of the page, it mentions in a handwritten note that the baby was baptized at 11 pm on 1 June 1818.
So there's another generation: Filippo Brandi's parents, my 4G Grandparents, were Daniele Brandi, born in about 1783-4, and Giovanna Cancello, born in about 1784-5.
Posted at 8:20:27 PM Link to this entry
I got an interesting e-mail from a gentleman named James Matteo the other day. He said that his father was born in San Potito Sannitico in 1897, and had been delivered by a midwife named Rosa Brandi. He wanted to know if it was the same Brandi family as ours. It seems likely to me that it is. My GGG Aunt is Rosa Brandi, born on 14 May 1844, the daughter of Filippo Antonia Potito Brandi and Maria Navarro. She was the older sister of Vincenzo Daniele Brandi, who brought his family to Saginaw in the 1880s. I don't know if she was a midwife, but I'll certainly be looking for that. She would have been 55 years old in 1897. James has actually visited San Potito, and in particular the church there, Santa Caterina, and passed along the interesting information that they have records at the church going back to 1697. The civil records that I've been looking at via the Mormons only go back to 1809, and I had figured that might be as far back as I could go, so this is interesting news indeed, that there are another 100 years of records. It might require a trip to the village, though, so I won't be looking at them any time soon.
Interestingly enough, in the civil records that I do have access to, I've discovered a Matteo in our tree. I haven't posted the records yet because I've been busy and haven't had time to clean them up, but I hope to soon. Maria Domenica Rapa's father, Domenico Rapa, has his mother's name given on his birth record and marriage record as Nicoletta Matteo, born in approximately 1789. Of course, the civil records don't go back that far, so finding a birth certificate for Nicoletta would have to wait until I can access the church records, but she and her husband Michele Rapa seem likely to have gotten married after 1809 (when Nicoletta would have been 20), so that's a possibility to find through the Mormons.
Posted at 2:58:47 PM Link to this entry
Still no sign of Ira Poats in the 1870 Michigan Census, but his wife's name was Nancy Jane Mizner, and I have found her father, John (my GGGG Grandfather), and brother, also named John (my GGGG Uncle), in the Census. The elder John supposedly died in 1870, so this is the last Census he would appear in. Interestingly, his wife Nancy was not living with him in 1870. I wonder why. Oh, and the name was spelled "Misner" in the Census.
Posted at 12:52:12 PM Link to this entry
The Library of Michigan has really improved its 1870 Census Index web site since the last time I looked at it. Before, it was pretty plain, just giving a reference on where to look. Now, it includes links to the actual Census images in PDF format. I found the Census entry for my great great grandfather, Charles Warren Miller, as a three year old in Sherman Township, Newaygo County, living with his father Hugh and mother Mary and sister Ida. I still need to find out more information about the Schmitts and Hertels to find any of them in the index; I've only got them back to about 1880. No sign of Ira Poats in the index, not even as "Potts". I know he was in Michigan at the time of the Civil War, because I found a war document on Ancestry.com when they had one of their free access periods. I'll have to figure out what happened there.
Posted at 1:08:45 AM Link to this entry