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.á

CategoriesBig NewsPersonal

The Family Grows

Now that close friends and family have been notified, it’s time to let the rest of the world know. My wife, Darcy, and I are now expecting our second child in December of this year. I think Aerissa will really enjoy having a younger sibling to play with. She’s keeps us pretty busy.

I’m happy with either a son or a daughter, but since we have a daughter I’m leaning towards a son. As a dad, it’s always nice to have a son, someone to pass the ZALEWSKI name down another generation. We’ll see once we’re able to find out the gender.

 

CategoriesPersonalSingle ViewUncategorized

Everything I Know!

áYou 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 Knowácollection 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 WordPressáand 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.

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. áThough, 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.áI 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?áIf 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.

CategoriesNon-GenealogyPersonal

Happy Holidays!

I haven’t been posting much lately since I haven’t had a lot of time for research. The holidays are busy with work and..well..holiday stuff. There are a few other things going on that are making it hard to find the time. I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and a wonderful start to 2012.

CategoriesFunPersonalTechnology

The Tech-Savvy Genealogist

Geniaus created The Tech-Savvy Genealogist Meme, I borrowed it from Genea-Musings. This one is more up my alley since I’ve been involved in technology since I was a little boy.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad [not a tablet, but both an Android phone and an iPhone]
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Use a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader for genealogy related purposes [Have a Kindle, but have only read fiction on it so far]
  4. Have used Skype or Google Video Chat to for genealogy purposes
  5. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor’s home
  6. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree [RootsMagic, mainly]
  7. Use multiple genealogy software programs because they each have different functionalities.
  8. Have a Twitter account [@brianjz]
  9. Tweet daily
  10. Have a genealogy blog. [How’d you guess?]
    Read the rest.á Continue reading
CategoriesFunPersonal

99+ Genealogy Things

I’m going to copy Destination: Austin Family and update my 99 (really 104) Genealogy Things list. I last posted the list in January 2009.

The list below is annotated in the following manner:

  • Things you have already done or found: bold face type
  • Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
  • Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
  1. Belong to a genealogical society.
  2. Researched records onsite at a court house.
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents).
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Helped to clean up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference.
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
  12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
    Continue reading
CategoriesPersonalSaturday Genealogy Fun

Genealogy Bucket List

My inspiration for this post had come from, what I thought was a one-off post about this, but it turns out that it was one of Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun projects. He’s always thinking of clever things to post about.

What is on your Genealogy Bucket List? What research locations do you want to visit? Are there genea-people that you want to meet and share with? What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research? List a minimum of three items – more if you want!

I was thinking about it this week and this is what I came up with right now.

  1. I’d definitely like to visit one of my many ancestral homelands. There are a lot, though most of them seem to cluster around Germany and Poland, as you can see on my custom Google Map. The top three that I’d like to visit, in no particular order, are:
    1. Killeeshil Parish in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Origin location of my CORRIGAN ancestors. I just love Ireland and the history of the area.
    2. The origin location of my ZALEWSKI and LINDNER ancestors, which looks to be theá┼Üwi─Öte andáGocza?ki areas in modern north-central Poland. As with a lot of people, I feel a deeper connection to ancestors in my direct surname line, Zalewski. Plus, pictures I’ve seen of the area make it look beautiful.
    3. The origin location of most of my Belgian ancestors, DeBROUX, LAURENT, etc. They all came from the Walloon Brabant area of Belgium. Some of them came from the area of Chaumont-Gistoux, which during WWII was part of the famous defensive KW-Line.
  2. I would like to publish some smaller books either based on a specific family or just my ancestry in general. Both, I think, could be helpful to future researchers.
  3. I would like to become a certified/professional genealogist. I’d love to be able to help other people find their family history and hopefully spark the appreciation for everything that has come before them.
  4. I would also love to attend a national genealogy conference of some sort. I have yet to meet any of the extremely friendly and helpful geneabloggers that I socialize with almost every day. Unfortunately, most of them are never around in this area, so I have yet to have a chance to attend one.
What is on your genealogy bucket list?
CategoriesBig NewsCorriganFamily TreeFeaturedIrishPersonalZalewski

Ireland Loses a Daughter

Mary Jane (Corrigan) Zalewski
April 27, 1926 – August 10, 2011

Today we lost my grandmother, Mary Jane Zalewski, one of the world’s biggest fans of Irish heritage. Born in Ashland, Wisconsin on April 27, 1926 along with her twin brother, Tommy, to Maurice & Agnes (Braatz) Corrigan. Story has it that they were born so small that my great-grandmother would bundle them up and put them on the oven door to keep them warm. While in Milwaukee visiting her aunt Ethel Corrigan, who ended up marrying my grandfather’s cousin, Edy Strelka, she met my grandfather, Richard Zalewski. They tied the knot on October 11, 1947 and had their first child, my uncle, in 1948. My dad soon followed in 1951 and then my aunt in 1960.

Throughout my life, they always lived in the little house in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that we used to visit for Christmas Eve and many other times throughout the year. My paternal grandparents were very loving, as most grandparents, but they were also stern. Grandpa would scold us for sneaking into the basement or jumping into the window wells, but Grandpa and Grandma also used to have the greatest toys to play with including the matchbox car track and the puzzles. She was always a big fan of Ireland and anything Irish. Even though she was probably just as much German (and some French) than she was Irish, no one dared to correct her on it. She was a CORRIGAN and she was full-blooded Irish and that’s that!

When I was in my first year of college, my grandfather got sick and passed away on April 18, 1999. It was very sad to me since this was the first major death in my family and the first loss of a grandparent. I didn’t know how my grandmother would handle it. It turns out she did very well with herself. She drove (albeitáslowly) where she needed to go, met with friends, knitted like she always did, and was usually in good spirits. Sadly, she fell while living alone and had to move to an assisted living center, but she still made the best of it. I ended up buying my grandparent’s old house from my grandmother and we currently still live here. It’s comforting at times. Unfortunately, during the last few years, Grandma started to forget things and had trouble getting around, but she was her normal self a lot of the time. Even at 85, she still loved her pizza and beer. I’m told that she passed away peacefully in her sleep and now she is in a better place, probably catching up with my Grandpa. He’s probably got the “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” vinyl record already playing on the record player.

You can view the memorial video I made for her funeral.

We’ll miss you, Grandma. Thanks for everything. Ireland has one less fan today.

How do I live without the ones I love?
Time still turns the pages of the book it’s burned
Place in time always on my mind
And the light you left remains but it’s so hard to stay
When I have so much to say and you’re so far away

I love you, you were ready
The pain is strong and urges rise
But I’ll see you when it let’s me
Your pain is gone, your hands untied

Avenged Sevenfold, “So Far Away”

CategoriesFamily TreePersonal

State of the Research

It seems I’ve been away for almost two months. Sorry about that. I just haven’t had the time I’d like to do any genealogy research. Though, I’ve been able to do some stuff recently.

I áran across more information and was also able to add more generations to my paternal line. Thanks to FamilySearch’s German records, including their Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898, I was able to find ancestors of my great-great grandmother, Barbara Margaretha Magdalena (Maggie) STEARNS. So, I was able to add surnames like KELLER, HEINZ, and BAUER.

I was also able to find more information on an unknown line on my wife’s tree. Following her maternal line, I was able to add a surname to her 3rd-great grandmother, Nancy (WHIPPLE) CLEVELAND. From there I’ve been able to trace her via more records and also some WHIPPLE researchers.

To prepare for the future, I’ve also merged my “Everything I Know” sites into one place (currently just one for Frank ZALEWSKI and one for Mathias FIRMENICH.) The reason is more technical than anything else, but it will pave the way for easier “Everything I Know” sites. I really enjoy putting those sites together. They not only allow me to do some web work, which I enjoy, but they also require me to go through an individual’s information with a fine-toothed comb. I sometimes find new information or new leads doing this. Plus, it may help someone else in the future.

We also have a mini-reunion coming up in the middle of August with some of the CORRIGAN descendants. When I was a kid, we used to go up north to the upper peninsula of Michigan or to Wausau, Wisconsin for a family reuinion for the descendants of Thomas CORRIGAN. They were pretty large. But, now since a lot of the elders are no longer with us, we haven’t done that in many years. So, they put together a small one with mainly descendants of Thomas’ son, and my great-grandfather, Maurice CORRIGAN.