CategoriesEthnicityFeaturedGenetic GenealogyPersonal

Ancestry Composition

I received an email the other day from 23andMe letting me know about their new “Ancestry Composition” tool. I let it go to the back-burner since I didn’t have a chance to visit it the other day.

Today visited the link and was quite impressed. This is how it works, according to their site:

Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.

Mine wasn’t really that surprising, as usual. Mostly Northern European with most of that going to German/French and small chunks going to the British Isles and Scandinavia, just like my Ancestry.com test. Here is a capture of my data. That 0.2% Unassigned? That’s probably troll or goblin or alien or something. Nothing to worry about.

Click for larger version
Click for larger version

Though, what was slightly surprising is when I loaded up my wife’s Ancestry Composition. I would’ve guessed she is mostly Northern European like me, with most of it going to the British Isles. It turns out she also has some Scandinavian. There was one surprising result on the list. Can you spot it?

Darcy 23andMe

That’s right. 0.2% East Asian & Native American, estimated to be about 0.1% Native American. That’s news to us. I have yet to find any connection to that, though I know this test is for way, way back. I’d be interested to see which side of her genes this came from, paternal or maternal. I’m pretty sure her dad would be interested in getting a test. He’s always interested in stuff like this. Maybe next time we visit, I can ask.

If you took a DNA test, was there anything really interesting or surprising in your results?

CategoriesBig NewsFamily TreeFeaturedPersonal

Keepin’ The ZALEWSKI Line Going

20121208-162158.jpgThe day finally came after a bit of waiting. After taking his sweet time and not being sure when he would decide to make his grand entrance, we welcomed Xander Lee Zalewski into the family. He was born at 3:15pm on December 8th weighing in at 7lb 4oz. His middle name, Lee, is taken from his grandfather’s (my father-in-law’s) middle name, like Aerissa’s middle name, Jean, is from the middle name of her grandmother (my mother) and great-grandmother.

Aerissa is excited to have a little brother. She wouldn’t stop talking about it in the days leading up to his birth. I’m excited to have a son to go along with my daughter. It will be a sort of new experience raising a boy (though I have some first-hand experience.) Up until now, raising Aerissa was pretty neutral in terms of gender as she is still quite young and hasn’t yet got into her “girly things” stage.

It’s nice to add another branch to my own family tree that will hopefully extend for many more generations. It’s also nice to keep the Zalewski name going down the line. I wrote a bit more about the next child on my wife’s website, if you want to read it.

CategoriesBig NewsEnglishFamily TreeFeatured

But, What Do Mayflowers Bring?

Embarkation of the Pilgrims - Robert Walter Weir - Mayflower

It has been a bit quiet on the genealogy front. I haven’t had as much time to do any research, but recently I have come across some extra time and interest.

I recently added another individual to my “Everything I Know” site. This is the first person I did a site for on my wife’s ancestry. He is James COLLINS. I picked him because we previously had his information down and also information on his parents. Then we ran across a new census record that threw all of that out the window. I try to put together the info we have now (or lack thereof) and try to see if we can track down his real parents.

While researching James COLLINS and getting lost down other lines of my wife’s ancestry, I (tentatively) traced one of her maternal lines back to Plymouth Colony Governor and Mayflower passenger William Bradford. I say tentatively since most of the info I found was surprisingly located on Find-A-Grave entries (sidenote: glad they added those “Family Links” options.) Though, I did back a lot of it up using other sources. I just need to now source and confirm her line back to the more researched lines, though it looks pretty solid. This now adds the “Mayflower Descendant” title to her maternal line along with the other previous titles of “(Tentative) Royal Descendant” and “Daughter of the American Revolution.” All I have on my lines so far is “Sort Of Related to Robert Goulet.”

I’m hoping that if these connections stay true, this will hopefully help our children feel more connected to history. It’s a known fact that I’ve posted about earlier, I didn’t really enjoy History classes very much in school. Though, once I started genealogy and felt more connected to these places and events, I can’t get enough of it anymore. Now when my daughter starts learning about Thanksgiving in school (probably one of the first historical things kids learn) we can tell her that one of the Pilgrims is her 12th-great-grandfather.

Photo:Embarkation of the Pilgrims – Robert Walter Weir – Public Domain – Wikipedia

CategoriesCorriganFamily TreeFeaturedGenetic Genealogy

Ancestry DNA

Ancestry sent me an email a few months back giving me an early invitation to their new Ancestry DNA service. I couldn’t resist, so I ordered one and sent it back in. The results were recently posted and there are some cool new things in there.

The first interesting fact is that according to them, I am 50% Eastern Eurpoean (which is no news to me) but that I am also 45% Scandinavian. That is definitely news to me. The other 5% is lumped under “Uncertain.” Obviously, like an genealogy-related DNA test, according to Ancestry, “Your genetic ethnicity results may be updated. As more DNA samples are gathered and more data is analyzed, we expect our ethnicity predictions to become more accurate, and in some cases, more detailed.

My DNA results according to Ancestry DNA

This also doesn’t take into account recent history as DNA goes way, way back. I know I trace my family to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, etc and none of those are listed. Poland and Germany can technically fall under “Eastern European.” According to their info, my guess is that I may descend from either the Vikings or the Goths.

While the Vikings were feared by the coastal towns of medieval Europe as seaborne raiders and violent pillagers, they were also well-travelled merchants and ambitious explorers. They raided the Mediterranean coast of Africa, settled areas as far south as the Black Sea, and traded with the Byzantine Empire.

The rise of the Viking culture spread Scandinavian ancestry far throughout Europe. Their earliest coastal voyages took them to Scotland, northeastern England and established the settlement of Dublin, Ireland. As their power continued to grow, the Vikings spread farther afield, down the Volga River in Russia, to the coast of France and Spain.

And it wasn’t just the Vikings who had an irrepressible urge for adventure. In the days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Goths, originally from Sweden, wandered south and settled in what is now eastern Germany.

That could explain the Scandinavian DNA. They settled (and probably sacked) a lot of areas I have ancestry.

The other part of Ancestry’s DNA area is the “Member Match.” The one thing that propels their test over 23andMe’s test is that it’s tired directly to member’s family trees that they uploaded. The matches are broken down into “Confidence” and “Distance.” I had 2 people match me within the “4th Cousin” distance with 96% probability. One was anonymous with no tree, so that wasn’t helpful, but I did leave them a message. The other was helpful and as soon as I saw their tree I knew how we were related.

On a side note, originally I had incorrectly linked my DNA profile to my family tree entry in my Facebook app Ancestry tree, not my full detailed main tree, which threw off the results. After I fixed this issue, when I went back to this match, it actually told me exactly which ancestor we shared. We both shared my 3rd-great-grandparents, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN and Mary MCCANN. I found that fascinating as I have not yet even found a genealogical match on my 23andMe test. Hopefully as more people add their DNA, I will get more matches. I do have a bunch of matches in the “5th-8th Cousin” area, but those are at Moderate confidence and I have yet to see any similarities.

Ancestry showing me exactly where we match in our genealogy. Click for larger version.

If you get an invitation or Ancestry opens the test up to everyone, I would recommend ordering one. Though, make sure you have a nice detailed tree uploaded and this will help a lot. I love the future of Ancestral DNA and it’s only getting better and cheaper.

CategoriesFeaturedNon-GenealogyPersonal

New York City

It seems I took one of my unplanned breaks again. Sometimes the perfect storm of not having much time and my interest in other things comes together and I don’t get any genealogy time. It’s been a busy few months, especially the last few weeks. Last week I was finally able to visit New York City, something I’ve wanted to do for many years. My wife was attending a conference there, so the whole family tagged along. My main job was to keep an eye on our 21-month-old daughter while my wife did conference-y things. Due to that, I didn’t get to tour everything I would’ve liked to, but I am still young overall, so I will probably get another chance. It was still great to just see the city. (More photos below)

We were situated in Midtown Manhattan at the Hilton New York, so anything within walking distance was fair game. I took my daughter on walks almost everyday so we got to see Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center including 30 Rockefeller Center (aka 30 Rock, the NBC headquarters), and Central Park where we spent a lot of time. I would’ve liked to see things like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and Ground Zero, but didn’t get the chance. Interesting fact, none of my direct ancestors stepped foot in Ellis Island (apart from maybe visiting, but I doubt it.) All of my family arrived before it opened. The only close one is my great-great-granduncle, Jacob ZALEWSKI. He arrived at Castle Garden in 1891.

To put it into a genealogy perspective, I don’t have very many ties to the city. It’s rumored that my 3rd-great-grandfather, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN, was born there after the CORRIGAN family arrived in North America. On my wife’s side, it is said that both her 3rd-great-grandparents (who were married), George LANT and Emma DOUGLAS were both born there in 1842 and 1844, respectively.

After visiting, I am interested in the city’s history. I did some reading while I was there, mostly on Central Park, which was actually very fascinating. It’s a beautiful park which looks so out of place right in the middle of Manhattan, but it is definitely a nice place to relax from the busy, busy city rush.

The trip was nice and was only marred by a “slight” 5-hour delay on our flight home due to storms. Normally, while that would be annoying for myself, it was much more difficult while traveling with a 21-month-old. We made it home safely and all is well.

CategoriesFeaturedNewsTechnology

The 1940 Census Hunt Begins

How can I go through this week without a post about the 1940 Census? The digital images were released on Monday, April 2nd free for everyone, though I personally never got to see them until late on Monday night. I don’t think they expected as much traffic as they got on day one. I heard somewhere around 37 million visits on Monday alone. It was no surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting to be able to view the images right away. I’ve been through my fair share of first day launches with things like MMORPGs and other websites to know not to expect much on the first day.

Since the 1940 Census was just released on Monday, there is no name index created, so you cannot search by name. There is currently a massive indexing project going on, that anyone (including you) can help with, that will hopefully bring us this index soon. You need to know the Enumeration District where your ancestors lived in 1940 and browse page by page through it. If you do not know the 1940 Census ED, the website has a nice little form that will convert the ED from the 1930 Census to the ED in the 1940 Census. In my experience, most EDs are only 30 pages are so on average. Though, when I was able to access the images, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could download the entire Enumeration District to browse via my own computer instead on needing to browse one-by-one online.

I was able to find all four of my grandparents pretty quickly since I knew where they lived in 1940 and also my great-grandparents at the same time due to the fact that my grandparents were all in their teens. I also ran across my great-great-grandmother from the same area as one of my grandparents. The first image I found is below.

Frank Zalewski; Ward 13, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; ED 72-288; Household 172 - Click for larger version

The 1940 Census image for my great-grandfather, Frank ZALEWSKI. Frank’s wife, Anna, died in 1939 so he is listed alone in his specific “household.” His youngest son, Frank, Jr., is listed in the same building with his wife Louise. (This also proves the marriage I wrote about the other day.)

I found my grandfather, Richard ZALEWSKI, living near his grandfather, Frank, in Milwaukee, his dad working as a Milwaukee Police Officer. I found my grandmother, Mary Jane CORRIGAN, living in Kingsford, Michigan, her dad working as a machine operator at the Ford Motor Company. I found my other grandfather living in Grafton, Wisconsin and my other grandmother living in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I am currently trying to find my wife’s grandparents. Her paternal grandfather giving me some trouble since I didn’t find him in the ED he lived in in 1930. He was also 21 at the time, so he could be living as a boarder, etc if he is out on his own.

I’m just getting started digging for my family and I also hope to do some indexing soon enough. I know the indexes will help me in the future, why not help everyone else by creating it?

CategoriesFeaturedNews

Do You Know Anyone In It?

In 27 days, on April 2nd, the sixteenth census of the United States, the1940 US Census, will be released to the public. Due to privacy laws, the census reports are released to the public 72 years after they’ve been taken. The last one, the 1930 US Census, was released back in 2002. 1940 is not that long ago in terms of generations. Do you know anyone who is in it?

Unlike previous census years, images of the the1940 US Censuswill be made availableas free digital imageson Day 1. While this is awesome, only the images are being released. The job of indexing these census records so they can be easily searched relies on us. Wonder how you can help or have more questions about the census? Visit the1940 USCensus Community Project website.

I’m not expecting to find any amazing, new information in this census since all 4 of my grandparents were in the 1930 Census. Though, there will be a few things that may be interesting. It’s the first census after my great-great grandmother passed away in 1939. There is also supposed to be some new questions for random individuals that may give us more info than normal. Hopefully, I have a few family members that answered those.

CategoriesBig NewsFamily TreeFeaturedGermanPolishTips & Tricks

My Most Recent Last Research

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 Knowsite 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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CategoriesFeaturedPersonal

Why Does Genealogy Interest Me?

Me, preparing for future genealogy research.

I have sometimes thought about this question. Why does genealogy interest me so much? I was never really much into history classes. I usually did enough in them just to get by, even in college when I was already doing some genealogy research. I remember being bored out of my skull in my US History class and also my Western Civilization class. Now, I absorb as many history TV shows and documentaries that I can. The key for me seems to somehow tie the history to my family tree. I guess it makes the history seem more relatable. Though, I have always had a small interest in “local” history, which is similar to history related to my family tree. Local history has to do with my local area, be it my hometown or even my house.

The other reason I think I enjoy genealogy so much is I get to problem solve and work with data. I’ve noticed over the last few years at my job that I’m a pretty good problem solver. I am able to think outside the box and rule out different possibilities until I come to pretty safe conclusion. With data, I’ve always been a data junkie. You can show me a collection of data on almost any mundane thing and I’ll be excited to graph that data and look at it in different ways.I seem to have a knack for noticing patterns and other small fluctuations in streams of data which allows me to pick out certain things. I’m pretty sure I get that ability from my dad. You could rarely get anything past him as he would notice even small changes in how things were on a normal day.

For example, there was this program I ran across many years ago called Moodstats. It doesn’t look to be active anymore since the main site isn’t working. It was primarily for tracking you mood using a number from 1 to 10. You do this everyday and then after awhile you could use that data to see how your mood changed. The cool thing was, you could also make your own tracking options like Creativity, Stress, and even Hours of Sleep. I was even excited to play around with that data. Sometimes I love opening up some old document or census data and just browsing through it and seeing all of the patterns. These patterns can sometimes tell a lot, like how groups of families spread out or how people immigrated together, etc.

The final reason is probably on everyone’s list. I love breaking down the mystery of myself, so to speak. Every piece of data I uncover and ancestor I discover creates a new picture of me or my wife and daughter. This life-long project will never end, but it never gets boring because every new item I find directly relates to me.

Why do you think genealogy interests you so much?If you do a post, link it in the comments and I’ll create a new post in the near future with a list of everyone’s entries.

CategoriesFeaturedPolishZalewski

Parish of St. Barbara

After some research, I think I’ve traced the marriage of my great-great grandparents, Frank Zalewski & Anna Lindner, toParafia św. Barbary w Świętem (or the Parish of St. Barbara at Święte.) According to a translation of their Polish Wikipedia entry:

The parish was founded in about 1300 by the Teutonic Knights. During the Thirteen Years’ War the church was destroyed and the parish declined. The present wooden church was built in 1723 on the land of the owner of the village – Waclaw Kozlowski. The last thorough renovation of the church took place in the 1990s.

Also according to their (wonderful) website, this church is the largest wooden structure in the area and one of the largest in Poland.

Their website has a great photo gallery of the church, inside & out, including the adjacent cemetery. They also have a very cool gallery of the cemetery on All Saints Day, November 1st, 2011. The photo above is from that gallery. Click on it to view more photos from that day.

It’s very cool to see the actual church from across the world that your somewhat distant ancestors were married in and baptised some of their children in.

CategoriesFeaturedPolishSlownik Geograficzny Translation

Slownik Geograficzny Translation – Święte

Update 11/5/2014: I made another run-through of this translation and am fixinga few things.

I recently took another shot at translating an entry from theSlownik Geograficzny. This time I worked on translating the entry forŚwięte, which is the town where my great-great grandparents were married and some of their family had lived.

Here is my translation. You can find the original entry by visiting the University of Warsaw’s website that allows you to view the original book with a Firefox plugin. You can also view it on this site, without a plugin, though the site is in Polish so you may need some translation.

The translation is a work-in-progress and is obviously not completely perfect. I am grateful for some help from Al at Al’s Polish-American Genealogy, who has translated many entries himself. I will mark the words or phrases that I am confident are wrong or are not even translated as I could not find any information on them, with italics. The rest, while they may not flow very well, are mostly right and just need some small tweaking. Some of the diacritics on the letters did not copy over, I plan to fix those once I have some time.Any errors in the translations are completely my own. Continue reading