Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions

The topic for the 63rd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolutions? I’ve got a million of them. They include organizing my office, labeling my photos, and solving about a dozen research problems. So the challenge for me is to narrow it down to my top few resolutions for 2009. Here goes:

1. I will share more photos and documents, both online and with my cousins. I’ve received alot of photos from older relatives, and I want to share the wealth.

2. I will catch up with my filing and data entry. I know if I do this it will help me with my research. I’m sure I have some fascinating discoveries in those piles!

3. I will write more. I will continue to write for my blog and for local genealogical society quarterlies. I will also submit writing to other genealogy publications. I enjoy writing and I will do more of it in 2009.

And here are a few more resolutions, by surname:

4. Bestick. For 2009, I will focus on my collateral lines, including John and Robert Bestick, who were possible siblings of my ancestor Timothy. I will also focus on discovering which Bestick played baseball in Brooklyn in 1872.

5. Whelan. I will concentrate on the Chicago Whelans, both mine and unrelated ones. I will continue to analyze, summarize and publish the data that I have collected. I hope to eventually document the Irish origins of the Whelans who settled in Chicago in the 1800s.

6. Skrabulis. I will share more of the bits of information that I've collected on my Skrabulis ancestors and related lines. I hope to make more connections and keep in touch with cousins that I have.

That's enough resolutions for now.

Happy New Year! May 2009 bring good news for us all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Christmas Party

Here are a few more photos from a holiday party for the Chicago office of the Veterans Administration. I was told that these photos were taken sometime in the 1950s.

This is a picture of Olga and Claire (no last names) at the VA Christmas party.

This photo shows some money changing hands. I wonder if there is an interesting story behind that, or if it was just a collection for the boss' gift.

Interesting neckties in this picture. If you recognize a person, or a necktie from this happy group, I'd be glad to hear from you.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shriners Christmas Party, 1942

I believe this photo was taken at a Christmas party for staff members of Shriners Hospital in Chicago. I was told the picture was taken in 1942. I think my mom, Ann Skrobul, is in the back row of women who are directly facing the camera. The one on the right looks like my mom, although it is hard to be sure since that is the darkest part of the photo.

If you recognize someone in the photo, I'd like to hear from you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

McSorleys of Newark, NJ

My 2nd great grandmother was Ellen McSorley. She came from County Tyrone and settled in Newark,NJ before 1830. I have not found her birthplace in Ireland or determined how she fits in to the McSorleys there. But I do know she had close relatives in the United States. I learned this by reading the church records of St. John's church, on microfilm, line-by-line. The reward for this was a small collection of Ellen's relatives and associates. Here are some of the McSorleys and their associates of Newark, NJ.

7 Jan 1833 Ellen McSorley married Timothy Bestick. Witnesses were Mrs. Richards. Wm Purcell, Wm Rowen, Miss Purcell.

24 Feb 1838 James Francis Murphy was baptised. He was the son of Fransic D. Murphy and Mary McSoley. Sponsors were Rev. Roderick Ryder and Bridget Fallen.

25 April 1841 Catherine Cox was baptised, daughter of Patrick G. Cox and Rosanna McSorley. Sponsors were John H. Kernan and Catherine McSorley

19 July 1841 Eleanor McSorley was baptised, daughter of John McSorley and Rebecca Mackey. Sponsors were Patrick G. Cox and Rosanna McSorley.

5 Sept 1841 James Robert Bestick was baptised, son of Timothy Bestick and Helen McSorley. Sponsors were James Dooner and Rosanna McSorley.

27 October 1841 Teresa Murphy was baptised, daughter of Francis D. Murphy and Mary McSorley. Sponsors were Daniel G. Durning and Anne Ward.

2 March 1845 William Carolin was baptised, son of William Carolin and Catherine McSorley, Sponsors were Patrick and Helen Carolin.

I extracted these entries using FHL microfilm no. 1398540. If you think you have a connection to one of these individuals, I'd be happy to exchange information.

Christmas Tour of Blogs

As a kid, we always had a real Christmas tree. There were tree sellers who set up in parking lots in my neighborhood. We would pick out a tree, buy it, and carry it the 2 or 3 blocks home.

Now, we usually get a real tree. We go to a tree farm to pick our tree. We cut it down, and wait for the tractor to come around and give us a ride back to the parking lot, where they tie it up while we have hot cider.

As a kid, we always had a nativity scene, surrounded by a Christmas village, underneath our Christmas tree. The village houses were made of cardboard. The 3 kings couldn’t be in the nativity scene until Epiphany (3 kings day.) So, the kings and their entourage started at the opposite end of the Christmas village, and moved a little closer to the nativity scene every day until it was their time. On the tree we had Christmas lights, tinsel, and ornaments that were older than me. We also had a traditional Lithuanian ornament that we bought at a museum gift shop.

Now, we have a nativity scene, usually under the tree or on a nearby table. We have an ever-expanding Christmas village that includes a fire station, pet store, post office and Irish pub. I still don’t let the 3 kings arrive too soon. We have lights on our tree and on the bushes in front of the house. It seems like the strings of lights always worked when I was a kid, but now we are lucky if the strings of lights last for more than one Christmas. We have a lot of ornaments, and we get a few new ones every year. The ornaments include Irish dancers, cartoon characters, skiing Santas, and places we’ve visited. I also have a few ornaments from my childhood. The only thing special about those is that they are still older than me.

Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas!

Here We Come a Caroling...

Footnote Maven has invited geneabloggers to join her Blog Caroling. So, post the lyrics to your favorite Christmas carol and join in.

It is difficult for me to choose just one favorite Christmas carol because I love Christmas music and have favorites in many categories. Among the Christmas hymns that I grew up with, my favorite is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” I really love the medieval sound of the song. To hear the music, click here

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


I have a favorite country Christmas song! This is surprising since I am not a big fan of country music. But “Christmas in Dixie” by Alabama is definitely one of my top 5 Christmas songs of all time. Any song that has the line “It’s windy in Chicago…” sounds good to me. You can read the lyrics and hear the song by following this link.

Some of my other favorites include “Angels We Have Heard on High”; “Grown up Christmas List”; “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie; “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, the Eagles version; and “White Christmas.”

I feel a sudden need for some hot cocoa. Enjoy the holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Party Photos

In honor of the holiday season, here are some photos from holiday parties past. These are pictures of employees of the Chicago office of the Veterans Administration. They don't seem too jolly, but the hats and ties are rather festive.

My parents, Edwin F. Brady and Ann Skrobul, worked at the Veteran's Administration. My mom started there in about 1943 and worked there until about 1955. I'm not sure when Edwin began working at the VA, but in 1977 he retired from there.

This is a photo of Mr. Chadwick, my mom's boss when she worked in the Personnel Department. Unfortunately, none of the other people in these photos are identified. If you think you recognize someone, I'd like to hear from you.

Enjoy this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My 3 Wishes for the Genea Santa

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: 3 Wishes! This is your chance to write a letter to Genea-Santa. Make a list of 3 gifts you would like to receive this holiday season from 3 of your ancestors. These have to be material things, not clues to your family history (we're talking gifts here, not miracles!).

So here is my entry:

Dear Genea Santa:

Here are my 3 wishes for this Christmas:

1. My 2nd great-grandmother, Ellen McSorley Bestick, was a milliner in Newark, NJ in the 1850s and 1860s. I’d really like to have a hat from her millinery shop.

2. My grandfather, Garrett Leo Brady, moved to Chicago around the time of the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I’d like to have a souvenir of his visit to the exposition—maybe a ticket stub from the ferris wheel.

3. My 2nd great-grandfather was Captain Garret Brady of Company C, 2nd New Jersey Volunteers. He served in the Civil War and was later a member of Lincoln Post 11 of the Grand Army of the Republic. I’d like to have a memento of his GAR membership.

While you are filling these wishes, Genea Santa, a few more old photos or letters would be nice too.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ann Skrobul Brady 1914 - 2000

This is a photo of my mom Ann Skrobul Brady. She was born in Beckemeyer, IL on December 9, 1914. After finishing school, Ann moved to Chicago. She worked for some years for Shriners Hospital as a nursing assistant. Starting in about 1943, Mom worked at the Veterans Administration offices in Chicago, which is where she and Dad met.

My mom loved flowers. She planted rose bushes in front of the apartment building where we lived. Since her birthday was in December, I always bought her a pointsetta plant for her birthday, and flowers for other occasions too.

She loved to listen to music, although our tastes eventually diverged--she enjoyed the Lawrence Welk Show!

Mom was a big sports fan, following all of Chicago's sports teams. Her favorite team was the Chicago Cubs followed closely by the Bulls.

My mom enjoyed nature, especially going for walks along the lakefront.

Family was very important to my mom. She enjoyed talking to her sisters and brothers by phone, and writing letters to them too. She was also very proud of her Lithuanian heritage. (Mom and my Aunt Jo used to practice their Lithuanian language skills when they didn't want me to know what they were talking about.) Mom was thrilled when we made contact with cousins in Lithuania, since we had lost contact with that part of the family after World War II.

And, as shown in some of the photos I've posted of her, she liked interesting hats.

I learned alot from my mom--everything from planting flowers to baking cookies to how to ride the Ravenswood 'L'.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baby Raymond's Photo

This is my entry to the 8th Edition of Smile For The Camera. The theme is Stocking Stuffer--post a picture that would make a great Stocking Stuffer and tell whose stocking you'd stuff. The photo can be of an ancestor, relative, yourself, or an orphan photograph. I immediately thought of this photo of Baby Raymond (last name unknown) at Shriners Hospital in Chicago.

My mom, Ann Skrobul, worked at Shriners Childrens Hospital for awhile in the 1940s. I have several photos from there, which are mainly unidentified. A number of the photos are of Baby Raymond. Here he is as a toddler.

This photo shows Baby Raymond as an infant in his crib.

I don't know what happened to Baby Raymond. I have not found any photos of him at an age past his toddler years. I don't know what illness or injury resulted in him being treated at Shriners. However, it seems he was receiving treatment there for at least a year or 2 based on these photos.

Here is the last photo of Baby Raymond, which provides some clues on the back of the photo. On it is written "Baby Raymond at Shriners." Below this is stamped the number 9, and then stamped in pink inside a circle is "5 prints and 2 enlargements from your Roll ONLY 25c APR 10 1940 PHOTO FRIEND FILM CO. LITCHFIELD ILLINOIS." Can't beat those prices! So, if we assume that the film was developed soon after it was taken, that means Baby Raymond, who looks about 1 year old to me in this photo, was being treated at Shriners Hospital in Chicago in April, 1940.

I have a few more similar photos of Baby Raymond, which I'd be glad to include with these as a stocking stuffer to a relative of Raymond. So, if you recognize the child in these photos and have information to share, or would like the original photos, please contact me. And Raymond, if you are out there, I hope you are doing well and I'd like to hear from you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Brady-Blanchet Wedding

This week has been dedicated to my Longford ancestors. So I've decided to end the week with wedding photos of one of their descendants, Gertrude Brady.

Here is a picture of Gertrude (on the right) with her maid of honor, Katherine McGrath and the best man Louis, a brother of Paul Blanchet, the groom.

Gertrude was the great-granddaughter of Timothy Bestick, who came from County Longford, Ireland.

Gertrude was born in New Jersey in 1890, the only daughter of James A. Brady and Mary T. McGrath. She lived in Newark, NJ for a time with her parents, grandparents Thomas and Mary A. McGrath, and aunts Margaret A. and Helen A. McGrath. By 1910, Gertrude and her parents were living on the north side of Chicago (without the in-laws.) In 1918, they moved to New York City.

Gertrude married Paul Blanchet on 26 April 1926. This photo of the couple was taken on their wedding day in "Mrs. Blanchet's garden" in South Orange, NJ.

Paul and Gertrude lived together for many happy years. Paul died on 3 November 1972. Gertrude died on 11 November 1977.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How many John Besticks were there?

I don’t know for sure but I count at least 5. And that’s just in the eastern United States in the 1800s. One of my genealogical goals is to discover which, if any of the John Besticks in the United States is John, who was baptized on 11 June 1803 in Longford, Ireland, whose parents were James Bestick and Catherine Farrell, and whose brother was my ancestor Timothy Bestick

Here are the John Besticks I’ve found so far.

John1 was born about 1805 in Ireland. He lived in Bridgeport, CT in 1840, 1850 and 1860. His occupation was carriage painter. He married Lucy Wogan and had several children including John2.

John2 was, born in CT in 1847. He was baptized in Newark, NJ in 1847. His parents were John1 and Lucy Wogan. His godmother was Ellen McSorley Bestick, wife of Timothy Bestick. John2’s probable occupations were brass finisher (1869-70 Bridgeport directory) and core maker (1874-5 Bridgeport directory).

John3 was born in Ireland in about 1819. He arrived in New York with Francis Bestick in 1837. His occupation was saddler. Could he be the same as the John Bestick who lived in New York City and worked as as hoemaker (1857 & 1869 NYC city directories).

John4 was born about 1846 in Ireland. He married Ann McCarmick on 29 June 1866 in Brooklyn, NY, They were married by a Justice of the Peace. His occupation was plumber. His parents names were John Bestick and Bridget Gannon.

John5 was born in about 1857 in Ireland. His occupation was laborer. He was at Castle Garden, NY when the 1880 census was taken.

My theory is that John1 was the same person as John Bestick who was baptized in Longford in 1803. I don’t have proof yet, but I have several pieces of supporting evidence: 1) The ages from the U.S. censuses for John1 are close to what John Bestick’s of Longford would be. 2) John1 had a son baptized at the church that Timothy Bestick’s family attended in Newark, NJ. Timothy’s wife was the son’s godmother. 3) Of John1’s 8 children, two are named James and Catherine, the same as the parents of John in Longford. Three of the children have names that are the same as the siblings of John of Longford. 4) When Timothy Bestick’s daughter Mary died in 1908, one obituary requested that Bridgeport newspapers “please copy.” This indicates that Mary had family or friends in Bridgeport. (Additional source details are available upon request.)

None of these items are sufficient by themselves to prove that these two John Besticks are the same person, or that John1 is a sibling of Timothy. But all the items are consistent with my theory. I have not found any evidence that contradicts my theory. I still hope to find an obituary or other source that will provide direct evidence to prove or disprove my theory.

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I look at every available source.

This is a story of my research into the Besticks of County Longford and a lesson that I learned.

I have been lucky enough to visit Ireland twice. On our first trip to Ireland in 1995, my husband and I visited the city of Longford. I knew my Bestick ancestors had come from there and I wanted to see the town where they had lived.

While walking around the town on a cloudy day, we came to St. John’s, Church of Ireland, which had an old graveyard around it. There were many headstones that were over 100 years old. Some were legible, many were not. Most that were readable contained minimal information. As we were walking around looking at the headstones, the sun broke through the clouds. My husband then pointed at a nearby headstone and asked, “Can you read that word?” I looked and read “Bestick.” I was thrilled. With the angle of the sun and a lot of effort, we were able to make out the following inscription:
“O Lord have mercy on the soul of Catharine Bestick who departed this life on the 19 of August 1830 aged 21 years”

The sun had broken through at just the right moment for us to see the inscription. If we had been there on a rainy day, we would not have made this discovery.

Our next trip to Ireland was in 2006 with our daughters. This trip was the Library-Tour of Ireland for me and the Playground-Tour of-Ireland for my husband and the kids. (It is great to have a family that puts up with my family history obsession.) While at the Longford County Library, I copied some pages from a manuscript, including a transcription of the Catharine Bestick headstone we had found in 1995. Upon comparing the two versions, I discovered that the manuscript contained an extra line of text that was not visible on the headstone in 1995. This line was … “Erected by her Mother Anne Bestick”

This experience taught me a valuable lesson about genealogy research—always look at all the available sources. It might have seemed like a waste of time to copy a transcription of a headstone that I had already photographed and transcribed myself. But in this case, the transcription contained more information than the original headstone. If I hadn’t copied the manuscript, I would have missed a valuable clue to the relationships of one Bestick family of Longford.

The Bestick Family of Longford

Last week I blogged a little about my great-grandmother Mary Bestick Brady. This week, I plan to start posting what I know about her Bestick ancestors and relatives.

My earliest Irish immigrant ancestor was Mary’s father Timothy Bestick. He came from County Longford and settled in Newark, NJ before 1833. When I began doing genealogy, I knew very little about the Bestick line. Since then, I’ve had some great discoveries. For example, originally we didn’t know where in Ireland the Besticks were from. I did find through the Householders Index that the name was found in Longford, so I started researching in church records there. I also wrote to the church in Newark, NJ to obtain Timothy’s marriage certificate for my collection. I received a transcript from the church with the basic information. But then, I noticed that the Newark church’s records were also on microfilm through the Family History Library. So, I decided to take a look at the microfilm too. And when I did, there was Timothy’s marriage listed on the first page of the church marriage register. Besides the information I already had, it stated that he was from County Longford and his wife Ellen McSorley came from County Tyrone. The priest only noted where people were from for the first few pages of the register. So, this was the first of my lucky finds in my Bestick research.

Timothy was the son of James Bestick and Catherine Farrell. He was baptized on 25 March 1809 at the Catholic Church at Longford (Templemichael and Ballymacormack parish.) The baptism sponsors were James Kiernan and Judith Bestick. Timothy was born into a large family. According to the Catholic baptism register for Longford, James and Catherine Bestick had at least 7 children: John, baptized 11 June 1803; Mary, baptized 29 June 1804; Francis, baptized. 10 May 1807; my ancestor Timothy; Edward, baptized 13 October 1810; Robert, baptized 18 September 1812; and Charles, baptized 12 December 1813.

Timothy’s parents both died at Longford before Timothy turned 18. His mother Catherine died 7 April 1819 and his father James died 22 February 1827.

Although Bestick is not a common name, there were several Bestick families in Longford. Judith Bestick was the baptism sponsor of my ancestor Timothy. Baptism sponsors of his siblings included Edward Bestick and Penelope Bestick. According to the Longford Roots research service, there was a Patrick Bestick married to Mary Beglin. Patrick and Mary had 6 children baptized between 1818 and 1830. An Edmund and Elizabeth (Greer) Bestick had 6 children baptized from 1806 to 1820. William Bestick and his wife Mary Kelly had 8 children baptized from 1814 to 1833. John and Brigid (Gannon) Bestick had one child baptized in 1838. While the Bestick name is uncommon, they were “thick on the ground” in Longford prior to the famine.

How were these other Besticks related to Timothy’s family? I don’t know for sure, but I believe they may all have a common ancestor 2 or 3 generations back from Timothy. I hope that someday I will be able to prove at least some of the relationships.

Coming soon: Timothy’s siblings in the United States and in Ireland.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Favorite Christmas Tradition

The topic of the current Carnival of Genealogy is Traditions. What traditions were passed on to you from an earlier generation? Do you keep those traditions? What tradition(s) will you or have you passed on to a younger generation?

When I was a child, my favorite Christmas tradition was baking Christmas cookies. My mom and I made spritz cookies. I got to get my hands green from the food coloring and use a cookie press. That was great fun!

I've continued making Christmas cookies every year, and giving plates of cookies to friends and relatives. My chocolate chip cookies are the most popular, but I still like the spritzes too.

Now my daughters enjoy baking as much as I do. We make spritz, chocolate chip and a few other kinds of cookies. They love getting their hands green from the food coloring and decorating the cookies with lots of sprinkles.

To see links to this carnival and others, go to the Carnival of Genealogy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

8 Things About Me That I Bet You Didn't Know - The Meme

I was tagged to participate in this meme by Sheri at The Educated Genealogist. So, here are 8 Things About Me That I Bet You Didn't Know:

1. My favorite photographer is Ansel Adams.

2. I love strawberries. Not as much as chocolate, but close.

3. I read alot of mysteries.

4. I love Christmas music. I usually start listening to it before Thanksgiving.

5. I once lived in San Diego. I liked to walk at Torrey Pines State Park and I really loved Sea World.

6. I enjoy scrapbooking. I've only finished one scrapbook so far, but I have several others started.

7. I like to cross country ski. Every winter I wish we had more snow to ski on, but that it only fell when nobody had to be out driving in it.

8. My favorite singer is Paul McCartney.

The rules for this meme are:
1. Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. A the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their name.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

So, here are the 8 bloggers that I'm tagging:
1. Julie at GenBlog
2. Paula at Paula's Genealogical Eclectica
3. Dear Myrtle at DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog
4. Robert Baca at The Baca/Douglas Genealogy and Family History Blog
5. Carolyn at Life in Possum Holler
6. Carol at iPentimento
7. TK at Before My Time
8. Donna at Donna's Genealogy Blog

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mary Bestick Brady and Friends

This is a photo of my great-grandmother Mary Bestick Brady (on the right) and 4 unidentified persons. This photo has been retouched--the original was a tintype that had creases across some of it.

Mary was born in Newark, NJ in 1838, and her husband Garret Brady died there in 1886. In this photo, I believe Mary is in mourning attire and she appears at least 50 years old to me. So I believe this photo was taken between 1886 and her death in 1908. Also, if Garret was alive, I expect he would have been included in the photo.

The other people in the photo appear to be related, to each other and possibly to Mary, based on facial resemblance. The eyes and mouths on the 3 closest to Mary make me think that they are siblings or otherwise closely related to each other. The face of the lady in white is a bit fuzzy, so it is hard to say if she strongly resembles the others or not.

If the photo was taken around 1886, then the 2 boys could be Mary's youngest sons, William (born 1872) and Garrett Leo (born 1874.) But then who are the 2 women? Several sources confirm that Mary's only daughter, Mary Ellen, died at the age of 2. The women appear to be too young to be Mary's long lost older sister Catherine. The 2 boys do not appear old enough to be married yet in this picture. So it seems unlikely that the 2 young women are daughters-in-law of Mary.

Besides her immediate family, Mary had other Bestick relatives that she could have been photographed with for some occasion. Mary had Bestick relatives in Bridgeport, CT, and she may be related to the Bestick families in New York City and Braintree, MA. I don't have any photos of those families for comparison.

Another possibility is that Mary was photographed with relatives of her mother, Ellen McSorley Bestick. There were McSorleys closely associated with the family in Newark, including Patrick and Rosanna McSorley Cox. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the McSorleys for comparison either.

So for now, Mary's associates in this picture remain a mystery. I welcome any comments or suggestions (or photos of Besticks and McSorleys.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Meme and a Game of Tag

In honor of Thanksgiving, Julie at Genblog invited bloggers to post 2 things they are thankful for. Here is her invitation.

It is a bit of a challenge to limit it to just 2 things, even if I limit my answer to genealogy. But, here goes:

1.Family. My husband and daughters are great, and they put up with my genealogy binges. I'm grateful for my parents, aunts and uncles, and all the things I learned from them, especially stories about the ancestors I never knew. My in-laws are great, and I've learned about their family stories too. I'm grateful for my cousins--the ones I've known all my life and my new internet cousins. I am very thankful for my rediscovered cousins. On both sides of my family, our genealogy research has reunited family groups that had lost touch over a generation or two. It was great to meet cousins I didn't know I had, and hear stories from them that I had also heard in my family.

2. Photographs. I love photographs--looking at them, taking them, and scrapbooking them. I've received alot of pictures from my mom, my aunt(dad's sister,) and my husband's grandma. And I've taken alot of pictures myself. Now I am scanning them and posting them online. I hope that someday I'll find photographs online of some of the ancestors I don't have pictures of. And I hope that some of the mystery photos I post will be seen by people who have been hoping to find those photos too.

And now, I'm tagging Paula.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Bestick Family of Newark, NJ

This is a picture of my great-grandmother Mary Ann Bestick Brady. She was born in Newark, New Jersey on 12 February 1838. Mary was the middle of 3 children born to Timothy Bestick and Ellen McSorley.

During the Civil War, Mary married Captain Garret Brady of the 2nd New Jersey Volunteers. They had 5 sons and a daughter. For many years in the 1860s and 1870s they lived at 143 Academy Street in Newark.

After her husband Garret died in 1886, Mary received a widow's pension based on his Civil War service. By 1900, Mary had left Newark and moved to Chicago with 2 of her sons--James and Garrett. Here is an inscription she wrote in a prayer book she gave her son Garrett in 1899.

In 1908, Mary returned to Newark. She died in East Newark on 22 October 1908. Mary is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange, along with her husband Garret and other family members.

According to her obituary, Mary's funeral was from the home of her niece, Mrs. William Condon. Nothing further is known about the identity of the niece. Mary's younger brother James had no children. The fate of Mary's older sister, Catherine, is not known. Mary's wedding announcement indicated she was an only daughter, so her sister may have died before Mary's wedding in 1862. Mrs. Condon may be a daughter of an unknown sibling of Mary's husband Garret. Mary's obituary stated "Bridgeport papers please copy" because relatives of her father Timothy Bestick lived in Bridgeport, CT.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

For the Love of Ireland

I was invited by Small-leaved Shamrock to participate in the 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. The theme is "For the love of Ireland." She asked people to share what they most love about Ireland and the Irish people. For me, that is an easy question. What I love most about Ireland is the music—-all kinds of Irish music.

I didn’t really discover Irish music until I was in my 30s. Before then, the only Irish music I knew was "Danny Boy." Now, my favorite type of music is Irish folk music by Schooner Fare, Tommy Makem, the Dave Rowe Trio, Leahy's Luck, and others. I also love Irish rock music (especially Gaelic Storm)and traditional instrumental music, including anything by The Chieftans, and Joemy Wilson playing O'Carolan music on hammered dulcimer.

The best way to enjoy Irish music is at a live performance. And the best place I know of to do that is at Milwaukee’s Irish Fest. If you love Irish music, then Irish Fest is a chance to visit heaven every August. There are more than 10 stages featuring performances of all types of Irish music, Irish dance, and theatre. There are also areas devoted to Irish sports, language, history and culture. I like to visit the genealogy tent every year. This summer it included representatives of the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin, the Irish Family History Foundation and Irish music plus genealogy, all at one location! Definitely heaven for me.

If you love Irish music, I hope you get the chance to attend Milwaukee's Irish Fest next August. I know I'll be there.

A Lithuanian Sense of Humor

That's my mom, Ann Skrobul Brady, in the front row to the left. (The one with the largest mustache.) I believe this was probably a party for employees of the Veterans Administration office in Chicago, but I'm not certain of that.

This photo reminds me of one of my mom's best traits--her sense of humor. I know it may not be a characteristic of all Lithuanians, but it is of the Lithuanian half of my family. They are great fun! I have alot of silly photos of my mom and her siblings.

Some ethnic groups have stereotypes of having a temper, being serious, organized, thrifty, etc. For me, when I think of Lithuanians I think of their sense of humor.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mysterious Skrabulis Family

One day my cousin and I were extracting information from the records of St. Anthony's church in Beckemeyer, IL. According to the person who was helping us, the records were in German, and for privacy reasons we could not view the records. So we were having the entries read to us. We were verifying baptism dates of our moms and their siblings, and gathering names of godparents and information about some marriages.

And then, we learned of a previously unknown family. The entry was extracted as: Joannas Skrabulis son of Joannas and Rosa Mazeijka, born 26 Oct 1910, bapt 13 Nov 1910, sponsors Guiehelmus Skimodus and Maria nee Skrabulis. (In Latin, Joannis=John.)

This entry was fascinating to me because I knew nothing about this family. No one had every mentioned them before. John and Maria were not siblings of my grandfather Antanas Skrabulis. We knew of all his siblings, both in America and in Europe. There was no brother named John, and Antanas' sister Maria stayed in Lithuania. The name Skrabulis is not a common one, even in Lithuania. And Beckemeyer was a rural town, not a large city with a large Lithuanian population. So it doesn't seem likely that this is an unrelated Skrabulis family who happened to end up attending the same church as Antanas' family.

I think John and Maria were cousins of my grandfather, but I have not been able to prove or disprove that theory. In fact, so far I have been unable to find this family in any other record. But my search continues! I hope someday I will be able to correctly attach John and Maria to our Skrabulis family tree, and maybe even find some long lost cousins--their descendants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Lithuanian Immigrant Story

This is photo of Antanas Skrabulis, my immigrant ancestor. The story of my immigrant ancestor is the story of 4 brothers and 3 sisters. As a child, I was told that my grandfather Antanas Skrabulis came to the United States to avoid serving in the Russian army. Antanas arrived in Baltimore on 9 June 1904. He was going to join his brother Josef in Munson Station, PA.

The other 2 brothers, Stanislas and William, and a sister, Antanina, also came to the United States. Their sisters Marie and Ludwiga stayed in Lithuania. Here is a photo of Stanislas.

In 1910 Antanas and Stanislas were living in Clinton County, IL, working as coal miners. My grandfather settled there and worked in the coal mines until he died in 1947. His brother William and sister Antanina both got married and settled in Lake County, IN. My mom said that the other 2 brothers, Stanislas and Josef, returned to Lithuania, where they had left families behind. Mom was told that Josef was killed by robbers on his way home to Lithania. Antanas read in the newspaper that his brother Stanislas was killed by the Russians and his family taken to Siberia. A daughter of Stanislas named Emily came to America and settled in Ohio. My mom had photos of Emily and of her father Stanislas. But the children and grandchildren of Antanas lost touch with their relatives in Europe after World War II.

However, that was not the end of the story. Over 50 years later, a cousin of mine visited Lithuania. Before he went, he gathered information from me and some other cousins. I gave him copies of the photos of Stanislas and his daughter Emily. We looked at the information he gathered, and decided that he should visit the "address bureau" while in Vilnius to see if anyone with our Skrobul surname still lived in Antanas' home town. At the address bureau my cousin was given a phone number of a Skrobul family. He called, and was lucky enough to find someone who spoke English. They arranged to meet. When they met and compared notes, they confirmed that we were related. In fact, our new cousin recognized the photos of Stanislas and Emily, which she had seen copies of too. So, after 50 years and 2 world wars, 2 sides of the Skrabulis family are reconnected.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wedding Photo

This is a wedding photograph of my grandparents, Antanas Skrabulis and Antanina Norvaisaite. They were married in Gary, Indiana on 21 August 1910. Antanas was 25 years old and Antanina was 19.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Lithuanian Surnames

This is a list of surnames associated with my family, but not related by blood or marriage (at least as far as I know right now.) These are mainly baptism sponsors and witnesses at weddings. If you see a name you recognize, please contact me. I'll be happy to share the informaiton that I have.

Blinstrutas, Bukavicius, Goleniauskas, Golniauskas, Kielsiauskas, Slabasevicius, Caplinskas, Fliadrzinskis, Jakutis, Jankauskas, Laucevicius, Monkevicius, Muzauskas
Sliapovicius, Kaminskis, Kelciauskas, Kelciouskes, Monkevicius
Vaisvila, ubavicius

My Lithuanian Surnames

Here is a list of the Lithuanian surnames found in my family tree, and the villages those names were associated with.

Liaudginai village: Blinstrutas, Bukavicius, Goleniauskas, Blinstrutas
Bukavicius, Goleniauskas, Golniauskas, Kielsiauskas, Slabasevicius, Golniauskas, Kielsiauskas, Slabasevicius

Sutkai village: Caplinskas, Fliadrzinskis, Jakutis, Jankauskas, Laucevicius, Monkevicius, Muzauskas, Sliapovicius

Uznugariai village: Kaminskis, Kelciauskas, Kelciouskes, Monkevicius, Vaisvila, Zubavicius

If you find one of your surnames on my list, please contact me. I'd be happy to share information with you.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Lithuanian Ancestry

I am dedicating this week to my Lithuanian ancestors--my mom's side of the family. So to begin, here is the coat of arms of the Vaisvila family. I received a copy of this in 1998 from the Lithuanian State Historical Archives, along with copies and translations of documents, including 9 generations of the Vaisvila family.

This is a picture of my maternal grandmother, Antanina Norvaisaite. She was the daughter of Povilas Norvaisa and Juzefa Vaisvila. Antanina was born on 29 September 1891 in the village of Sutkai and was baptized that same day in Pagramantis Roman Catholic church. She married Antanas Skrabulis in Gary, Indiana in 1910. Antanina died in Illinois in 1967.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Unknown Soldiers Photo

My last post of this week of Veterans Day is a photo of unidentified soldiers. I've been told that their uniforms are from the era of the Spanish American War (1898.) I do not know of any of my ancestors, or collateral relatives, who were in the military at that time. This tintype photo was passed down to me by my aunt. It came from our relatives on the Bestick and Brady side. So the 3 soldiers may be friends or relatives of those families in Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, CT; Braintree, MA; New York City or Chicago. I would be happy to share information with anyone who recognizes the soldiers or setting. If you have comments or suggestions about the photo, let me know.

In memory of all the soldiers:

"Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined
Although you died back in 1916
In that faithful heart are you forever 19
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed then forever behind a glass frame
In an old photograph torn, battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame."

from "The Green Fields Of France"
Lyrics by John Mcdermott

Stanley Mensing, 1948-1969

My cousin Stanley Mensing (also known as Stosh) died in Vietnam. His funeral was very sad.

I don't have any pictures of Stanley in uniform. This is the way I remember him--smiling and friendly when my family was there, visiting my mom's hometown.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Veteran Named Alvina

This is a photograph of two friends of my mom, Ann Skrobul. Their names were Stella Gordon and Alvina (in uniform.) I don't know Alvina's last name, or what branch of the service she was in. This photo was taken in Chicago around 1940. If you recognize Alvina, please contact me. I have more pictures of her to share with you.

Joseph Jonutis, Veteran

In honor of Veterans Day, here is another soldier from my family tree. This is a photo of Joseph Jonutis, who was a cousin of my mom. Joseph was the son of Joseph Jonutis and Stella Norvaisaite.

Here is a picture of our cousin Joe Jonutis, enjoying a visit to Chicago. Also pictured are my mom's friend Stella Gordon (left,) and my mom Ann Skrobul (right.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stan Skrobul, Veteran

Here is a photo of my uncle Stan Skrobul who was stationed in Germany during World War II.

In this photo, Uncle Stan is standing at the far right. I was told this photo was taken at Fort Leonard Wood, but I don't know if that is correct.

Uncle Stan was a great guy and I'm glad he lived for many years after his discharge from the service.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Armistice Day

Today is the 90th anniversary of the first Armistice Day--the day the armistice was signed in 1918 to bring an end to World War I. Here is a photo of my grandmother, Jennie Whelan Brady, and her co-workers on the first Armistice Day. The photo was taken outside the factory where they worked, on the north side of Chicago. I don't know the name or location of the factory. If you recognize a relative in the group, or know the company's name or location, please let me know.

Today is now known as Veterans Day, to honor those who have fought for their country. I'll be posting photos of some of the veterans in my family tree this week, beginning with my dad, Edwin F. Brady, a veteran of World War II.

Oh Baby!

The 7th Edition of Smile For The Camera is here. The word prompt is "Oh, Baby!" So, here it is--my baby picture.

I can't wait to see the photos that other participants have posted.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Garrett Leo Brady and Friends

This is a photo of my grandfather Garrett Leo Brady and two of his friends. Garrett is the one on the left. The names of his two friends are not known. I received the photo sealed in a frame, so I don't know if there is additional information on the back of the photo.

Garrett worked for the Post Office Department in Chicago, as a letter carrier. His uniform included buttons with the initials P.O.D., which he told his daughter stood for "Poor Old Dad." By 1914, Garrett was earning $900.00 per year (according to a 1978 letter from the Civil Personnel Records Dept.) If you recognize these other two guys, or had an ancestor who was a mail carrier on the north side of Chicago in 1907-1916, let me know. I'd like to hear from you.

Garrett Leo Brady was born in Newark, NJ on 5 November 1874. His parents were Garret Brady and Mary A. Bestick. Garrett Leo was one of six siblings. He married Jennie Whelan on Wednesday, 22 February 1905. It was Washington's Birthday, so they had a day off work.

Garrett's death on 22 March 1916 was caused by a skin disease, Facial Erysipelas, also known as St. Anthony's Fire. He was buried at Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

Another Interesting Hat!

For those of you who are fans of my family’s interesting hats, here is another one. This is a photo of Gertrude Brady Blanchet. She was born in August, 1890, the daughter of James A. Brady and Mary McGrath. The family lived in Newark, NJ (1900), then Chicago, IL (1910), and finally settled in New York City (1930). Gertrude was married to Paul Blanchet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Early and Often!

Just kidding. It is an old Chicago joke. :-) Finding my Chicago ancestor, Timothy Whelan, in the Chicago voters lists made me think of that saying. The 1892 voters list indicated that Timothy was a naturalized citizen, but the date and court of naturalization were “not known.” It made me think that the voting clerks weren’t too picky about who they let vote that year.

One thing I’ve learned from using the Chicago Voters Lists is to check all years available. On the 1892 list, my ancestor Timothy Whelan’s naturalization details were unknown. However, the 1888 list indicated that he was naturalized in 1856 in the County Court of Cook County. Due to the record losses caused by the Chicago Fire of 1871, this voters list may be the only record that contains the location of Timothy’s naturalization.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to look for the ancestors’ siblings on the voters lists (and on all other available sources too.) I searched for a client’s ancestor (who died in 1890) in the Chicago voters lists, but did not find him. I then searched the available lists for the ancestor’s brother. I found the brother on the lists, and the fact that he was naturalized in Onondaga County, NY. This information lead to a breakthrough and helped locate the ancestor’s widowed mother and his other siblings in a previously unknown location.

The Chicago voters lists for 1888, 1890 and 1892 are available on microfilm from the Family History Library and online on

If you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to vote today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whelan Headstone

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween, I am posting cemetery photos this week. This is a photo of the headstone of my great-grandparents Timothy and Catherine (Markey) Whelan (or Whalen) and their son John. Like my parents, they are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois.

I was very glad when I found out where my great-grandparents were buried, and was able to take a picture of the headstone. Even more exciting was the copy of the cemetery record that I received. (See below.) This is a 3 grave lot with 11 people buried in it. Seven of the burials were of children or infants. In fact, this cemetery record led me to discover that there were 3 sets of twins born to Timothy and Catherine. Most of the children did not survive long enough to appear in any census record. However, those born after the Chicago Fire of 1871 did appear in baptism records of Holy Name Cathedral. Who would've expected a cemetery record to lead to a baptism record? I sure didn't when I first saw this burial record, many years ago.

Whalen Headstones

These photos are of two Whalen graves at Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois. The graves are located in Lot 35, Block 23, Section U. I don’t know yet if these Whalens are related to my Whelans, also buried at Calvary Cemetery, but I hope to find out one day. Here are close-up photos and transcriptions of the headstones:

Michael Whalen
Husband of
Mary E. Whalen
Born Aug. 15, 1847
Died March 8, 1925
Rest in Peace

Mary E.
Wife of
Michael Whalen
Born in Chicago
May 25 1847
Died Jan. 13 1889
Rest in Peace