Month: February 2012


I recently ran across a website for a specific surname that’s goal was to collect all of the information it could and provide it in one easy location. The Rainwater Collection of Genealogy Resources purpose is “to assist serious genealogical researchers in their research by providing an archive of well-documented, accurate and uninterpreted data related to the Rainwater family in America.

This was similar to something I’ve always wanted to do for the ZALEWSKI surname, so recently I purchased the domain for thezalewskiproject.com. Currently, it just redirects here. My plan is to do something similar, collect data and records related to ZALEWSKI families and individuals and present them in an easy-to-use fashion. I like the Rainwater site and I think it’s organized very well. Though, I want to do it my own way. I want to allow you to view data in different ways, to sort data, etc. Collecting, displaying, and analyzing data really interests me, as I mentioned in my post about why genealogy interests me.

One challenge is that, surprisingly, Zalewski is more popular than Rainwater, though not in the US, but worldwide. The Rainwater site specializes in US info only, though I think I will also add data from outside of the US, specifically Poland. In Poland, Zalewski is very popular which could make for a lot of data.

I’m not sure when I will get the site up and running. I need to find time and I also need to spend time researching how best to collect and display this data so researchers can use it however they want. So, keep an eye out.

Go into your brain and pick out a surname that would be awesome to try to research. Something that would return 8 million results every time you searched for it. If you guessed the surname LAST, you win.

Searching for anything on that surname was never fun. I would get every version of “last name” or other common phrases. In order to try to help myself get my information organized on my furthest LAST ancestor, Johann LAST, I decided to set up an Everything I Know site for him. Just like the other sites I set up, when I start going over all of the information I have, sometimes I find new avenues of research. I started with the first record I have of Johann and his family, the passenger arrival manifest from when they arrived in New York in 1857.

I looked it over to see if I missed any important info. I didn’t see anything new. Then, I just checked which port they left from in Europe and I noticed it was Hamburg, Germany. I remembered that Ancestry had the passenger emigration lists from Hamburg on their site. I think I browsed through them before, but didn’t find anything. I looked closer this time using their Hamburg Passenger Index database and found their entry. It was under “J W G Last” just like their arrival record. It’s basically the same info, except one very useful piece of info, his place of origin. The record says what looks like “Nagard” so after some searching and tweaking, it is probably talking about “Naugard” which today is called Nowogard in northwestern Poland. This is exactly where I tracked Doeringshagen, the listed birthplace of Johann’s son Charles, to be located today. That’s good news.

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 You wish I would just make a post with everything I know in it, but that’s not really the case here. This is related to listing everything I know about a specific subject, though.

The last week or so I spent some time overhauling my Everything I Know collection of genealogy sites. A basic overview of the sites is that they are set up for a specific individual in my tree. They have two main purposes. One, they put all of the information I have about one person (birth, location, census, jobs, etc) all in one place. Two, while I work on them, they sometimes stir more avenues of research, or in some cases, they allow me to see info I missed previously.

The original idea for a site like this was created by Elliott Malkin, who started the Everything I Know About Hyman Victor website for his great-grandfather. I emailed him asking about his WordPress template and he was nice enough to let me use it.

I used it for a few years, but recently got the itch to make it more “my own” (while allowing me to easily update it and add more people.) I also changed the theme to more match this main blog site. Some of the few things I did were putting the info, images, and even a map into their own tabs to more easily browse each part. The site is completely built using WordPress and some of its more advanced features, so it’s very simple for me to add and edit the posts.

I plan on making some more tweaks that will allow me to get even more information into each of the items and some more usability fixes, since it’s not perfect. Feel free to take a look and explore. It should work fine in any modern browser, but it works best in Chrome or Firefox.