I went to the cemetery looking for my family. I think I found them.

A few days ago I decided to change my screensaver on my PC. I thought I’d look up places where my ancestors lived and fill my screensaver scroll with interesting photos of those places to provide inspiration for my family search and for blog posts. You wouldn’t believe the stories I uncovered! Right here, in the good ol’ U S of A!

But first, a few shots from my past in the old world:

Wimpassing Im Schwarzatalle, Lower Austria , where my great-grandmother was born. Yes, those are the Alps in the far background.(http://www.bergfex.at/sommer/wimpassing-im-schwarzatale/)

Wimpassing Im Schwarzatalle, Lower Austria , where my maternal grandmother was born. Yes, those are the Alps in the far background.(http://www.bergfex.at/sommer/wimpassing-im-schwarzatale/)

Hanstein Castle, near Hanover Germany. (http://posture.doonks.com/hanover.html)

Hanstein Castle, near Hanover Germany where my maternal grandfather was born. (http://posture.doonks.com/hanover.html)

The only Jewish synagogue in the old Jewish sector of Pressburg, Austria, now Bratislava, Slovakia.  Did my maternal great-great-grandfather preside over a congregation here?(http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Slovakia/Bratislava-686020/Things_To_Do-Bratislava-Jewish_Life-BR-1.html)

The only Jewish synagogue in the old Jewish sector of Pressburg, Austria, now Bratislava, Slovakia. Did my maternal great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Rudolf Abeles preside over a congregation here?(http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Slovakia/Bratislava-686020/Things_To_Do-Bratislava-Jewish_Life-BR-1.html)

Bydgoszcz, Poland (http://allworldtowns.com/cities/bydgoszcz.html)

Bydgoszcz, Poland where my great-grandparents immigrated from. (http://allworldtowns.com/cities/bydgoszcz.html)

One of the few remaining buildings in a tiny place called Kwiatkow in Poland. If I go back far enough, will I find that my surname originated here?

The photographs of the old world are amazing, but I do have ancestors from the colonial days in America too. My paternal grandmother was born in Potter County, Pennsylvania, and my grandfather, son of Polish immigrants, was born in Cattaraugus County, New York. The two counties share state borders, and from what I’ve heard, Grandma must have crossed the state line where she met my grandfather. I’ve actually driven through Cattaraugus County, and I even stopped in the City where my father and grandfather were born (probably the same city where my grandparents met, considering it is rural New York, and it really is more of a small town), so I really was more interested in seeing images from the Pennsylvania side.

11The first pictures I found of Potter County’s “Painted Hills” were truly beautiful. Having been raised in the wide open spaces of the American West, I was shocked at the immensity of these rolling hills and their thick coating of deciduous trees.  The photographs are beautiful, but I can imagine that the early settlers found the terrain a bit unforgiving at times.I think I would have felt quite isolated living within these thick forests, even if I had neighbors a few hundred feet away.

45This rail-bridge puts the immensity of the hills in proportion, dontcha think? This is not at all how I imagined Pennsylvania. This is a helluva gorge. But really, I grew up in the driest state of the nation. I don’t think I ever truly experienced a forest until I toured America’s Midwest. And mountains? Well, the ones I know are rocky. I guess that’s why they call them the “Rocky” Mountains. These should be the Tree-y mountains. But I guess it doesn’t roll off the tongue or fall quite right on the ear. Is this actually even a mountain range?

For some reason, this just seemed like a fitting image. Dad was born during the depression, and I know Grandma had a tough life after her mother died

For some reason, this just seemed like a fitting image. Dad was born during the depression, and I know Grandma had a tough life after her mother died

The more I looked, the more I could visualize family and the conditions they must have lived in, and probably even found quite comfortable for their times.

This could have been the home of my great grandparents, or more likely great-greats....

This could have been the home of my great grandparents, or more likely great-greats….

Grandma was born in Wharton, so I entered Wharton Cemetery as a search term. You know …. Me and cemeteries. I had to do it. This is what popped up:

I immediately posted the link above to my Stories From The Past Facebook group. (You can join too!) I said, “This cemetery includes family names such as Jordan, Walker, Williams, Wykoff, Card (by marriage, I think), Bartram and Berfield. Several of these tombstones are direct ancestors, so I am thinking that a large portion of this very small graveyard is related to me.” My father used to tell me that I was a distant cousin to Charles Ora Card, the man who settled the town of Cardston Canada. I guess he was right. And I guess that makes me a distant cousin to Orson Scott Card, Author of Ender’s Game, as well.

Then one of my Kwiatkowski cousins from across the border in New York chimed in. He posted a link to the cemetery where many of my grandfather’s relatives are laid to rest (yet another cemetery loaded with untold stories). I immediately identified my great-grandfather’s name among the dead there. Wow. Social networking for dead people!

Some stuff

Susannah Sterling Berfield

And still another New York cousin said “my wife’s ancestors are the Berfields (there are various spellings) from Wharton and Sinnemahoning. I have a fair amount of information about them. Send me a few names and I will see what I can share.” The next thing you know, he was sending me this photo of my fourth great-grandmother’s tombstone. Wow. My cousin’s wife is my cousin too. It turns out, that this Susannah was a Sterling before she got married, and her father settled in the nearby area of Sterling’s Run (I learned that on Ancestry.com). My cousin tells me that Susannah’s husband, Stephen Berfield, was responsible for settling the Sinnemahoning area of Pennsylvania.

And remember that rail-bridge? My cousin also said that “The movie Unstoppable was shot in that area, and Olean as well. The Wharton/Sinnemahoning area is basically steep hill, road, steep hill, railroad tracks, steep hill, then creek. No room for error. Many train wrecks occurred in that area on the PRR, the most recent when a chemical spill killed the fish in the Susquehanna, prompting the movie.”

Oh. My. Gosh. Who’da thunk that a simple image search on the internet would reveal so many stories?  I have a bit more unearthing to do, but I think we’re on to something here. By the way, Olean is where my Kwiatkowski cousins are from. And no, I’ve never met any of them in person. That’s another story for another time.

How to Dig up Dirt on your Ancestors

I don’t know about the Brits, but here in the U.S. we say we’re “digging up dirt” when we work hard to get the details of an interesting, maybe even scandalous, story.  It’s just one of those idiotic idioms we use.

They might be, Harry. Just how much do you know about Lilly and James Potter?

I’ve just wrapped up my first professional research project. All of the records come from the British portion of the U.K. It’s been a lot of fun, and a LOT of work. Probably a lot more work than I needed to do; but I can honestly say that I now know much more about a complete stranger’s past than they do.

I’m busy trying to make a living, so my dad, who is retired, handles the majority of my family’s genealogy. My dad is from a small town in New York, but he grew up in Nevada with no communication from his father’s family in New York or from his mother’s family in Pennsylvania. When grandma left the Painted Hills area, she cut all ties. Dad had to remake a lot of connections to begin his research. Thanks to the internet, it’s been a little easier, but Dad’s no youngster, and he likes doing things on paper. It’s a little slow and messy, and he’s got to be incredibly organized. Unfortunately, my dad inherited his organizational skills from me.  I have had to learn to make a strength out of my weakness, and it is a constant battle. That last project reminded me of that.

Until I began the Untold Stories  project, I really was just a dabbler. Genealogy is a hobby I’ve had since I was a teenager. It is something my dad and I have in common, and I have very fond memories of our family search “dates” from my childhood. My most recent free-lance job was for a genealogical research company, so I don’t get to know who the client I’m working for is.  Honestly, I like it that way because I don’t enter my research with any prejudices. I was presented with just a bit of hearsay, a photograph, and four “documents”. One was an “annotated” copy of a census record, and another, a scribbled index of a census record which was not a match for the ancestor they wanted me to search. I was feeling a little better about my organizational skills upon seeing these.

But I was totally unprepared for the deluge of documents that I would uncover, and I had no clue how to store them temporarily among my already overflowing genealogy files on my computer.  After I had collected about thirty documents, I decided to go back and double check to see if I’d missed anything. It was then that I realized that I did miss something; I missed documenting my research so that I didn’t have to repeat the process while looking for things I missed. I stopped right there, and created some templates to help myself stay organized and focused while gathering piles of information.

By the time I finished recovering all of the files and missing documents, I was a week-and-a-half late turning in the finished project. I may not be asked to do another research job for that company, but I know now exactly what I need to do to stay organized and get things done quickly and efficiently while doing my genealogy.

My dad’s managed to get documents for his parents and family members together in a system that works for him, but all of the digital files that I have been given have yet to be organized, and I was recently handed a packet of paper copies for my mother’s side of the family. They are all in German. Mom said, “We don’t know what they are. You figure it out and let us know.” Gee, thanks. In the meantime, Dad’s still digging.

My New System

Actually, I think my new system will shave weeks off of my next search, and I am feeling ready to tackle the job of locating my lost ancestors in Germany. Yes, they are lost, but that’s another story for another day. So here are my suggestions for people like me and my anonymous client:

  • Gather as much information as you can from family members. Talk to the oldest ones first, and always use a voice recorder, making sure to record the date and year of the recording before you launch into your Q and A.
  • Organize all of the vital information you have into one place. As you gather more information, add it, but make sure that you have a system to identify the information you already have versus the new information that you add. Here’s the one that I made:
I highlighted what I already knew in green, and what I found in orange.

I highlighted what I already knew in green, and what I found in orange.

On the opposite side is a four-generation chart with siblings. Once again, green for old information, Orange for new.

On the opposite side is a four-generation chart with room to add siblings. Once again, green for old information, Orange for new.

You can download a Word doc  for free until July 15, 2015. Send your request for an individual search organizer to

Keep reading. I’ve included a link at the bottom of this post for a free download.

  • Identify every step of your search, making sure to include those steps that reveal no new information. Number each found document in the order that you found it, and include the date of the original document. For example,
name your files whatever you want. Just make sure that the first part of the file name is a number matching the order in which it was found.

If the third file I found was a census record from 1851, the file name would be 3.1851.  If the fourth file was a church in London, it would be 4.london.

  • Make a research table. Write down EVERY step of your search, even if you don’t find anything. That way, you won’t keep looking in the same dead ends.
  • Number each document you find, and the order you found it, even though it may not be a perfect match. Number the corresponding digital file with the same number.
Make sure that you include a date and a number for every document you find. Photos do not need to have dates unless you are sure of the dates they were taken.

Make sure that you include a date and a number for every document you find. Photos do not need to have dates unless you are sure of the dates they were taken. Any search that does not turn up evidence will not have a date or a corresponding file number. With any luck, your research table will be as long as this one.

  • Print out your finished Research Table, and file it with the corresponding vital information organizer.
  • Keep a paper copy and a digital copy of every single document you find, and number your paper copies corresponding to your research table. File all paper copies together.

I’ll talk more about using these documents and organizing files, both paper and electronic, later. Just be sure to download organizers  today, because they are free for a very short time only!

Apologies to My Readers and Some Totally Irrelevant Information About Myself

Dear Readers,
Please accept my most profound apology for ignoring you. I wasn’t doing it on purpose.  In the last few months I have experienced some health problems that affected both my heart and my ability to think straight. So I was saving my energies for more lucrative ventures, like writing that I might actually get paid for.

But seriously, there were actually times when I started to write a new blog post, but got tired (physically, not mentally) and started dozing off. Dozing off isn’t a good thing when you are writing.

By this time you might be curious about what is going on with me. And now that I am feeling somewhat better, and actually understand it myself, let me tell you. It’s pretty simple, actually. I have chronic migraines and Grave’s Disease.

Those of you who actually suffer from migraines know all about the chronic part. Migraines are just chronic–one of those things that you just have to deal with. It’s very difficult to function during one, and once it’s over with, you have to deal with debilitating fatigue. Many years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic depression;now they tell me it was those headaches all along. Fortunately, the doctors are finding different ways to deal with it, and despite a rough start where new medication brought on a cluster of migraines lasting two whole weeks, I am feeling much better today.

You don’t have to tell me; I already know–it’s all in my head. That might even be true for the Grave’s Disease, if you count my neck as part of my head. Grave’s Disease is hyperthyroidism. It really has nothing to do with actual graves like the ones I usually talk about in this blog. My thyroid is actually over-functioning, and wreaking havoc with other parts of my body–like my heart. And if I’m not careful, I’ll be the one in the grave and I no longer be able to blog about it.

We discovered the problem when I landed in the ER with Atrial Fibrillation, more commonly known as A-Fib.

So now I am taking piles of meds: for my allergies, which contribute to my migraines; for my migraines, so I won’t have to deal with them on a daily basis anymore; for my heart, to keep it beating regularly; and for my thyroid, to keep it calm.

And then come the negotiations.  My thyroid doctor wants to radiate my thyroid, effectively killing it off.  I don’t like that idea, because I will have to rely on medications for the rest of my life.  My heart doctor will not take me off of the heart medication until I have removed ALL risk factors. Otherwise, I’ll be on heart meds for the rest of my life. And of course, that means doing something about my thyroid.

I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. But I really am shooting for a totally med-free life.  So here’s my plan: I negotiated with the thyroid doctor to try reversing the Grave’s Disease with medication and a healthy diet. He’s giving it three more months. And then, he says, he’s radiating me. He also says he thinks I have a 30% chance of success. Yuck.

Once I have successfully beaten the odds and reversed the Grave’s Disease, then I have to lose weight. Once that happens, I will be able to go off the heart meds.  And of course I haven’t mentioned the allergy shots.  Following that, I am hoping that I will be able to wean myself off of the migraine medication.  If you’ve got any suggestions, puh-lease, let me know.

Know Your Groups

If you’re lucky,  your family has never immigrated.  It happens. But since the discovery of the Americas, people have been migrating with increasing frequency. No matter where you live, if you are anything other than indigenous, you can be sure you will find immigrants in your past. People marry outside their traditional cultural and social sets all the time, bringing more groups into the mixture.

While this is usually a good thing, it often makes it difficult to do genealogy. But as my family has found, focusing on one family group at a time helps to organize and focus on the task at hand.

Take a look at my family:

  To make it easy, I begin with my father’s parents, and go from male to female, and oldest to youngest by generation. My father’s father is easy.  He is is the progeny of Polish-Catholic immigrants, so he is of two family groups: Polish, and  Polish-Catholic. Making a distinction of religion is important, because records were often kept separately.

Once we have identified the generation that migrated, we then focus our efforts on understanding the place where they came from.  My Polish relatives migrated from Bydgoszcz, one of the larger cities in Poland. It stands to reason that people migrated from rural areas into the cities for economic reasons, and so once we have exhausted the family name in that area, it will be necessary to look into outlying regions. Knowing the family group allows me to follow that group until I get to its origins, and then subdivide each surname in that group so I can do the same.

Kwiatkow

Many Polish names like mine, are based on places or ‘kowa”; so once we’ve exhaused our search in the Bydgoszcz area, we can start looking for something with a prefix of Kwiat or Kwiatkow, a “place of flowers.”  A Google search reveals five possibilities in Poland, including a small town by the name of Kwiatkow just south of Bydgoszcz, but it may not necessarily be the place of origin for all Kwiatkowskis because Kwiatkowski is among the most common names in Poland.  Besides that, a “place of flowers” could be just about anywhere, including places not listed on the map. But it’s a good place to start.

Long Island/New Jersey

On my dad’s mother’s side, we have several groups.  We can count the most obvious one as Euro-American. We can narrow that group even further by places of settlement. One group originally settled in the Long Island/New Jersey area. I feel safe in assuming that I still have relatives there.

Painted Hills, New York/Pennsylvania

When parts of the family emigrated from Long Island, another group was created. This one is called Painted Hills.” It covers a strip of land in southwestern New York, and northcentral Pennsylvania.  Grandma grew up in Pennsylvania, and Grandpa grew up in New York. They both belong to this one group, which has a genealogical society devoted specifically to research in this area. Click on the photo for access to the Painted Hills Genealogy Society.

Holland/Netherlands

 

Sweden

We have been able to follow some groups from my father’s matrilineage out of the country, and we know for sure that Sweden and the Netherlands play equal roles in providing ancestors, so that adds two more family groups.  as one of those groups through the Wyckoff line.

We can count religious groups too, so we add Dutch Reformed Church to the mix.  When doing genealogy, we can look for records in municiple files as well as church files. Counting a church as a group gives us more possibilities for finding family documents. Of course, we cannot count atheists and agnostics, as they are not organized groups maintaining records.

As you can see, the list grows longer, the farther back you search.  That is why it is best to focus on one group at a time. Here are my additional family groups that I know of through my mother, my children, my husband, and in-laws. I have tried to order them by generation:

Jewish

German

Lutheran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irish

Italian

Canadian

 

 

Navajo

 

Cantonese (Hong Kong)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS)

A Renewed Tribute to Tante Rosa

A couple of months ago I had to delete one of my blog posts: “A Tribute to Tante Rosa.”  I had linked the post to the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California because I would not have been able to write my tribute without access to their research on the Holocaust.  Unfortunately, the Shoah Foundation attracted malicious hackers, and my blog post had to be removed in order to protect the rest of my web site.  Why is it that tragedy attracts malevolence?

Rosa Daniel as a child

Rosa Daniel as a child

Today I am rewriting my tribute to Tante Rosa (Rosa Daniel), since I did not save it in any other form. I will not be linking my site again to theirs, but I do recommend looking up USC Shoah Foundation.  It does a great job at personalizing genocide, something we should all make personal.

If we can’t relate to it, we have no reason to put an end to it.

Tante Rosa’s story has been intrinsically connected to my appetite for genealogy.  I truly believe that we are all products of our past, and that those who came before us help to define who we are today.  For example, my mom tells me that my brother walks with the same swagger that my grandfather had; and I know that my daughter suffers from the same anxiety and depression that I believe came from Rosa’s sister: my grandmother (Josephine Daniel).  My mother and I have it too. As I learn more about each of my ancestors, I begin to understand how customs, traditions, physical characteristics, and yes, behaviors, are kept alive in myself.

star of david holocaustI learned about my Jewish predecessors as a young girl, and I wondered about the behaviors  not only of Nazi sympathizers, but of the Jews themselves. I wondered why people took their fear of differences so far that they felt  those who were different had to die. And as I watched my own family, I began to see repeated behaviors that mirrored behaviors of those from certain races.  I have come to understand that these are not necessarily “racial” behaviors, but circumstantial responses that have been passed down from one generation to the next.  When it comes to my grandmother’s side of the family, I speak specifically of pathological illnesses including (and not limited to) depression, anxiety, and paranoia that are quite often evident in surviving European Jews and their families. The tragedy has been kept alive in ourselves.  If we don’t understand it, how can we “fix” it?

In telling Rosa’s story, I hope that I am adding a human connection to history.  This isn’t just the story of Rosa Daniels, it is my story.

Grandma left Austria on her own between the wars.  She was tired of the poverty and bigotry experienced by her family, and wanted more for herself.  She explained:

It wasn’t as bad during World War I as it was after the war. Austria had food rationing during the war. We didn’t have much, but we did have something. Everything collapsed after the war; there was no rationing. after the war, there was two months when we never saw a piece of bread. We lived on the greens in the garden. My mother had a few chickens. Once in a while we had an egg, but we had nothing to feed the chickens. We used to get horsemeat; it was a feast to get horsemeat. We got horsemeat from an old horse that would kick off. Almost before it died, they would kill it and sell the meat. There wasn’t any cats or dogs around the country [sic ]. (Rothsprack, Josephine Daniel. Interview by Fredrick M. Kwiatkowski, approx. 1965)

The family property is located in building to the right. (Those are probably family members in the doorways.)

The family property is located in building to the right. (Those are probably family members in the doorways.)

Grandma left all four of her sisters behind in Austria. My Daniel great-grandfather and great-grandmother had passed from this life by the time Austria was annexed to Germany (Anschluss). Two of grandma’s sisters married influential men who were able to keep them safe, but Tante Leni (Helen Daniel Boe) and Tante Rosa were left alone in the town of Wimpassing im Schwarzatale, where they were the only Jews.  Grandma begged Rosa and Leni to join her in the United States, but Rosa felt that she would be able  to save the family’s property (a bakery and store).

Bremen--the ship that carried Tante Leni to safety in August of 1939.

Bremen–the ship that carried Tante Leni to safety in August of 1939.

Grandma scraped up the funds to get both sisters out of Austria, but Leni came alone, and I am told she was able to get out just before borders were closed to Jewish migration out of the country.  Three years after Leni left, the property was in the hands of the Nazis, and Rosa was gone.

I am not sure why, but Grandma believed that Rosa died in Auschwitz. From Grandma’s verbal history passed on by my parents, and information from the Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem, we have been able to piece together the truth: Tante Rosa did die at the hands of the Nazis, but not in a concentration camp.

As the story was told to me, Rosa took paperwork from Grandma into Vienna in her determination to save the family property from Nazi occupation.  The paperwork showed that Grandma was an American citizen with interest in the property. Rosa believed that property owned by a U.S. citizen would be exempt from seizure, so she took it to Vienna to have the property registered as American. This part of the story was passed on by word of mouth. I have since discovered that Rosa probably did not go willingly. Yad Vashem’s report of Tante Rosa’s transport says that “Jews that had been selected for this transport had to report to the assembly camp in a former school situated in the 2nd Viennese district, Kleine Sperlgasse 2 … On arrival at the school grounds, Jewish deportees had to hand over the keys to their homes” (Yad Vashem). Clearly Rosa stayed in contact with Grandma up until the days before her death, otherwise Grandma would not have known that Rosa was going to Vienna with her paperwork. After her trip to Vienna, Rosa disappeared, and Grandma never heard from her again.  Grandma died long before the invent of the internet, so she never knew what actually happened.

In 2010, my father found the Shoah Foundation. Originally, the foundation linked him to an eye-witness testimony of my great-aunt’s death.  Unfortunately, this information is no longer accessible to the general public, even if a direct familial relationship can be established.  The original “eye-witness” printout has been lost, so we have no way of proving the truthfulness of the supposed survivor who met my great-aunt on the transport train and watched her die. However, a later visit to the Shoah Foundation linked us to Yad Vashem, which led us to this document:

Rosa Daniel Death record

The content of the eye-witness report sounds legitimate due to the date of the arrival of Transport 39: September 4–the end of summer. I remember learning that many Jews died during transport due to heat exhaustion from overpacked trains on warm days.  Rosa boarded a cattle car on September 2.  The train was filled with at least 1000 people.  It is very likely that people died in large numbers during the two days they were on the train.  It is not likely, though, that the report is accurate, as there were no known survivors of Maly Trostenets.

Maly Trostenets was not a work camp or even a concentration camp.  This Belorussian camp made no pretenses at freedom or survival.  It was simply a death camp. The only prisoners in the camp were those who were forced into slave labor–perforning camp duties such as maintaining mobile gas chambers and burying victims.

Yad Vashem details the last moments of those who survived the trip on Transport 39:

In order to save gasoline (and time), the trains were diverted to a seldom-used sidetrack that led from Kolodishchi to an improvised platform in the vicinity of Maly Trostenets. Members of the security service (SD) rounded up the Jews in a meadow close to the Maly Trostenets camp, where they were quickly robbed of their last remaining belongings. The SD-men conducted a selection in which they chose 20 – 50 young men who were then sent to various kinds of forced labor in the camp. The remaining Jews on this transport were brought directly to open pits in Blagovshchina forest, where they were shot to death by SD men.

So now we know.  At least we know enough.  Details are unnecessary, and photos are incredibly graphic. I am sure that Grandma saw enough on newsreels, and did plenty of imagining.  I wish someone could have been there to reassure her that Rosa did not suffer for long. Perhaps it would have eased my grandmother’s own suffering.

dachau-arbeit-59.4In the summer of 2001, I visited Germany and Austria. While I was in Germany, I went to Dachau.  The gates to the camp are emblazoned with the slogan, Arbeit Macht Frei (work brings freedom). It’s an ironic falsehood leading detainees to believe that hard work would result in their release.  Of course we know that was not so.

My visit to Dachau came before we had any answers to Grandma’s questions, so while I toured the camp, my mind envisioned a different fate for Tante Rosa.  It was a mostly soundless tour.  I was there with friends and I had plenty to think about, but nothing to say. It just seemed wrong to talk, although plenty of tears were shed, and not just by me. A few months afterward I was finally able to put those thoughts together, and I came up with my tribute:

Tante RosaTante Rosa

 

Bremen-Helene Daniel Boe transport 19

A new Branch on my Family Tree

My silence for the past few weeks has not been purposeful.  After the birth of my newest grandchild, I spent some time caring for his big sister, and then nursing a sinus infection.  I’d like to say that I am over the sinus infection, but every time I say so, it flares back up again.  And on days when it does, I am not capable of thinking straight enough to catch up on my writing. This morning was another rough one, but I’m feeling better for now.

So about that new grandkid.  He’s a cutie!  Brody was nine pounds and six ounces, and we assumed he was completely healthy; but on the morning that he was scheduled to go home, the doctor came into my daughter-in-law’s room to tell her that Brody had been moved to NICU.Brody NICU swing

Brody spent a week hooked up to tubes and monitors fighting off an unknown infection. He’s home now, and doing fine.  He’s been to the doctor twice already just to make sure.

One thing that everyone said when they saw that big boy with piles of black hair is that he looks like a little Navajo boy.  I said it too.  Because he is.

Brody’s mom is half Italian and half Navajo.  His grandmother on his mother’s side was born on the reservation in Arizona. Brody won’t know his Navajo grandmother. She died about a year ago.  His grandmother was kind of like my grandmother.  She didn’t like to talk much about her life on the reservation (my grandmother didn’t talk about being Jewish), so Brody’s mom doesn’t know much about being Navajo (like my mom didn’t know about being a Jew).

With my daughter-in-law, we have a whole new limb grafted into our nearly 100% European tree. That new limb brings some authenticity to the transplanting of our tree in North American soil. But it also brings a different way of doing genealogy.

I lived for just one year in Page, Arizona, where I taught English to students from the Navajo Reservation.  I fell in love with the Navajo people and their ways of doing things.  Because of that year, I know a little more about the Navajo way than my daughter-in-law does.  We are both looking forward to learning more about the Navajo culture as we help Brody and his big sister grow.

So . . .  Ya’at’eeh. Welcome to the world, little Brody!

You Know You Want This

Geneabloggers is running a holiday contest! They have lots of cool genealogy stuff to be won. Check it out here:

Click on the photo to enter.

Along with the contest, Geneabloggers is offering a holiday boot camp–absolutely free (almost, just donate what you want).  All you have to do is sign up and show up online (in your PJs if you want), and learn some great new tips and tricks for improving your search for your family’s past. Sign up now, there are only 500 spots available. It’s a Super Saturday for genealogists!

Click on the picture to enter.

Even if you don’t win the contest, the Boot Camp will be like winning anyway.  And no, Geneabloggers did not pay me to say this, I just wanted to share. Besides, I get five more entries into the contest for every one person I get to enter!