Month: March 2013


After watching the available live streams from RootsTech and following the theme of storytelling, I’d like to go over some of my genealogy goals for the rest of this year.

  • readingbookStart building my family’s stories. There is so much to work with from my ancestry that there are stories everywhere. While I’m not horrible at storytelling, it’s definitely not one of my strengths.
  • More video. I hope to record some basic vlog-type videos on YouTube and also join some Google Hangouts.
  • The Zalewski Project. I hope to collect more data for the site. I’m currently in the middle of the 1910 census, but I’d like to get some other data types on there, too.
  • Find Frank Zalewski. One of  my genealogy research goals is to finally track down Frank’s place of birth. The last big find was finding his marriage record, but I had no luck finding his birth in the area.
  • Interview and talk to my grandparents. I only have one pair of grandparents left, my maternal ones, and they’re getting up there in age and mindset. I’d like to sit down with them and talk. The recent access to photos from that side of the family will help me find things to talk about. I also plan to just out and ask my grandfather about World War II even though he’s never talked about it. Worst thing that will happen is he will say no.
  • Visit a genealogy conference. As I said earlier, my RootsTech visit fell through. I thought about attending the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree in June but after looking at my flight and hotel options, I just can’t spend that kind of money right now. I especially wanted to visit “DNA Day” over there, but unless someone can let me use a spare bedroom, I don’t think it’s happening (hint hint). I plan to find some closer ones that I can drive to around here. With my closeness to Chicago, there should be something.
  • Organize my files. Mostly my physical files. My digital files are somewhat organized already. We are currently working on adding a room to our basement that will be both the computer room and the kid’s playroom. This should open up more room in this house and make this job much easier.

Do you have any goals for the rest of the year?

Image: seasonal wanderer @ flickr

Up until now, I really only had photos and documents from my paternal side of the family, not including documents found online, etc. Recently, I’ve finally been given a collection of those things from my maternal side and it’s pretty awesome.

As always, a lot of the photographs are unlabeled, but I can tell who a few of the people probably are. Plus, I am fortunate that my maternal grandparents are still with us and hopefully we can find some time to sit down with them to discuss some of items.

I am currently in the process of scanning them, so you can probably expect an increase of “Way Back Wednesday” posts.

Here is one nice photo from the dozens I have scanned.

Thielke Family
circa 1919-1920. Click for larger. Much, much larger.

I’m almost positive that the couple on the left side of the photo are my great-grandparents, Arthur & Madora (Last) Thielke. Most of the photos are not labeled, but based on other photos and face recognition, I’m pretty certain it’s them. I will confirm with my grandfather at some point. My guess is this is either their wedding (since it’s dated around 1920) or another important event. I have no clue who the other couple is, but it’s safe to say that they are probably a relation to Arthur and/or Madora.

rootstechAfter watching some of stuff from RootsTech 2012 last year, I told myself I was going to go to RootsTech 2013. Both of my passions, genealogy and technology, are joined together from March 21-23 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They even have a “Developer Day” there now.

I knew that If I put aside some money throughout the year I’d easily be able to take myself there. I even talked it over with my wife and she said it’d be fine. Well, things don’t always go to plan, do they?

The first big wrench that was thrown into the gears was the birth of my son. I love him to bits, but his timing was just a bit off. I didn’t want to leave my wife with two kids under 3 for a few days, eight hours is probably enough during work days. The other wrench was that my wife will actually be out of town during those days, too and I need to watch my daughter. So, my plan is to hopefully hit up RootsTech 2014 next March or April. (Right, honey?)

Fortunately, in this digital age, RootsTech is streaming many of their presentations online and if it’s anything like last year they will be available on-demand after that. You can still access the videos from RootsTech 2012 which are still extremely interesting. (Warning: auto-playing video)

For all of you that are going to RootsTech 2013, have a great time and I hope to see you next year!

A couple of weeks ago I finally got a bunch of photos from my maternal side of the family. I really had next to nothing when it came to photos for that side of the family compared to the amount from my paternal side. Among the awesome pics of my grandparents and their families when they were younger, there are some photos of my grandfather during World War II. You may have remembered that there is almost nothing known about his time in WWII. It’s not something he talked about with most people and he’s considered too “young” to show up in a lot of the available public military records. I have yet to go to the state military archives, since there may be some stuff there, too.

One amazing photo was of him and a group of other men from November 1945 in Mannheim, Germany. The building behind the group has the words “504 QM BN Headquarters” on it. I quickly translated that to the “504th Quartermasters Battalion.” As much searching as I did, I could not find any info on that specific battalion. I posted a query over on /r/Military on reddit and got some help, but nothing solid. Fortunately, on the back of the photo were the names of all of the men. I searched for all of them and didn’t find much besides some generic obituaries, but again, no solid info.

Thielke 1945
Click for larger. My grandfather is 2nd from the left in the 2nd row.

My mom brought over another photo album and some newspaper clippings. One of the clippings was from a local paper in 1944 talking about my grandfather, a local man, and his service information. This clipping lists him as being part of the “748th F. A. Bn. Hq. Btry.” out of Camp Shelby, Mississippi which I assume is the “748th Field Artillery Battalion Headquarters Battery.” Again, no solid leads on that information, but it is another avenue of research.

The research trail continues. I may have some time to sit down with my grandparents, though they are slowing down in their old age, and maybe ask him about his service. Rumor has it that he was working on getting all of his military info in one place before he needed heart surgery a few years ago. Maybe he’s waiting for someone to ask him now.