Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Yedinak Sisters?

This is a picture of Florence Yedinak, a friend of my mom, Ann Skrobul. Other photos of Florence can be seen here.

This photo is labeled Helen Yedinak. I don't know if Florence and Helen were sisters, but it seems to me that there is a family resemblance.

I believe these photos were taken in Chicago in the 1940s. If you recognize Florence or Helen Yedinak, I'd be happy to hear from you and share photos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pierce Landy's Deposition

This is one of my favorite documents from the Mary J. Whalin pension file. (Click on the labels related to Patrick Whelan for additional information about this pension file.) This deposition gives several clues for me to follow up on. It also provides details of what life was like in those days and some of the challenges faced by my relatives.

Misspellings and other mistakes are transcribed as they appear in the document.

Deposition G
Case of Mary J. Whalin, No. 773265

On this 19th day of May, 1903, at Chicago, county of Cook, State of Ill, before me, J. H. Stibbs, a special examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, personally appeared Pierce Landy, who, being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to him during this special examination of aforesaid claim for pension, deposes and says: I am about 70 years old. I do not know my age. I reside at 181 Milton Ave Chicago Ill.

I knew this claimant before she married Pat Whalin. When I first knew her, she was a young unmarried girl. I do not believe I was at their wedding, because I was on night watch at the time, but I knew all about it, & my wife attended the wedding & saw them married.

I know they lived together from that time until he died, except for the time he was in the soldier’s House, but they were never divorced or legally separated, & she has not remarried since he died.

I knew Pat Whalin long before he went a soldiering, several years before the war, and he was then a young unmarried man. His first marriage was to this woman Mary. My first wife was his sister. When I first knew him he was a drayman here, & several years before the war he bought a lot on Siegel Street, & built a house on it, and lived there with his mother & sister, and he was living there with his mother at the time he married claimant and he afterwards lost the place on a mortgage. The first house was burned In the big fire (1871) & then[?] he borrowed money to build a two story house & that he lost. I think he was some older than me but not much.

The only property he left was the house where he lived, & I don’t know as that belonged to him. Claimant has been very poor since, and has to work as a scrub woman.

The affidavit [?] [?] B. J. [?], was signed by me.
I am not interested in this claim. The above has been read to me & is correct.
P. Landy

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 19 day of May 1903, and I certify that the contents were fully made known to deponent before signing.
Special Examiner.

Interesting points from this deposition:
1. Pierce Landy's first wife was the sister of Patrick Whelan and my ancestor, Timothy Whelan. Unfortuntely her first name is not given. I hope to find her in censuses and other records, but I'll need to be sure I find the first wife, and not a later one.

2. The mother of Patrick and Timothy Whelan lived in Chicago before Patrick went a soldiering! This is great news, since Timothy was one of my "space alien" ancestors who seemed to materialize in Chicago without any relatives. I will be trying to find out more about the mother (such as her first name) through censuses, cemetery records and other sources.

3. Patrick worked as a drayman (wagon driver) and lived on Siegel Street before the Civil War. This informtion will help me idenify him in city directories.

4. Patrick lived in a soldiers' home for a time. I will try to find out which one, and see if any records are available that might relate to Patrick.

5. Patrick owned property in Chicago. I'll want to look at any deeds, mortgages, or other records about the property.

6. Pierce Landy believes Patrick was older than him, but not by very much. Pierce wasn't sure of his own age, but believed he was about 70 years old in 1903. Therefore Patrick was probably born before 1833, at least according to Pierce.

I wll continue to post additional depositions and discoveries as I find them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ann and Florence in Montana

This is a photo of Florence Yedinak and my mom, Ann Skrobul, visiting my mom's relatives in Montana. I believe the photo was taken in the early 1940s.

Here are Florence and Ann waiting at the Miles City station for the train that would take them back to Chicago. They packed light! I had more luggage than both of them put together when I visited Montana in 1975.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ann, Tony and Friends

This is a photo of my mom, one of her brothers, and two of their friends. Standing are Bob Kahroff, my mom Ann Skrobul, and Tony Kannell. Kneeling is Tony Skrobul, also known as Uncle Putt. Uncle Putt was a fun guy. It looks as if Tony Kannell and Uncle Putt are ready to go hunting. I believe this picture was taken in Beckemeyer, Illinois in front of the Skrobul home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Uncle Theo's Obituary

This is an obituary for my great-uncle. It appeared in the Gary Post-Tribune on 5 July 1955. I never met Theo--he died before I was born. I always thought of him as "Uncle Theo." However, as a Lithuanian immigrant, there were many versions of his first and last names. His baptism record shows his name as Teofilis Norvaisa. I've seen his first name given as Teofil, Theofil, and Theo. His last name is given as Norvich, Norwich, or Norvaisis. On his Declaration of Intent in 1912, he signed his name as Teofil Norwich.

Theo has always been a bit of a mystery to me. No one talked about him much. His death certificate indicated he was divorced, but I don't know anything about any wives or children he may have had. At one time, Theo worked as a coal miner in southern Illinois, and lived in Beckemeyer, IL near the family of his brother-in-law, Anton Skrobul. Later, he moved to Gary, Indiana where he remained until his death.

I hope to gather more information about Theo in the future. For now, I'm glad to have a copy of his obituary with such interesting details. It gives me several possibilities for further research, beginning with the cemetery, funeral home, Lithuanian Workers Society and LDS 81.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

In honor of Valentines Day, here is a photo of my mom, Ann Skrobul, and my dad, Edwin F. Brady, together. I believe this photo was taken in the early 1950s. I wonder if this was a work-related party, since they are both wearing i.d. badges. My parents met when they were both working at the Veterans Administration offices in Chicago.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ed Brady and Friends

Here is a photo of my dad, Edwin Brady, and his friends on vacation in Colorado, probably in the early 1930s. From left to right: Edwin Brady, Don Hayes, Jim Collins.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mary J. Whalin, Widow

This is a transcription of an affidavit from the widow's pension case file of Mary J. Whalin, the widow of Patrick Whalin.


Deposition E
Case of Mary J Whalin, No. 773265
On this 16th day of May, 1903 at Chicago, county of Cook, State of Ill, before me, J. H. Stibbs[?], a special examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, personally appeared Peter Lynch, who, being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to him during this special examination of aforesaid claim for pension, deposes and says: I am 78 years of age, and reside at 540 Burling St Chicago Ill. I have known this claimant since she was a child in Ireland.
I came to this country in 1844, & was back & forth to Ireland after that. I saw claimant in Buffalo N.Y. in 1865 or 66, and when she came to Chicago. She came to live in my family. She was then a young unmarried girl.
I knew her husband, Patrick Whalin from 1857. I landed in Chicago in 1856, got acquainted with him in 1857, and knew him well from that time on. He was my wifes brother and a part of the time lived with me.
I knew positively he was not married until he married this claimant. I was at their wedding and saw them married, and I knew they lived together from that time until he died, never were divorced or legally separated. They were living together at the time of his death, and she has not remarried since. She has no property of any kind. The house in which she lives belongs to her crippled son, and she has no income, but supports herself as a scrub woman. I could not give the date of marriage, but it must have been about 1867. I knew she was here in Chicago but a short [?] when she was married. Her husband served in the 90th Ill. That was the only service he ever endured[?] in either the army or Navy that I knew or heard of. He was there[?] until he was wounded.
The affidavit B. J. [?] [?] was signed by me & the facts stated therein are correct.
I am not interested in this claim. The above has been read to me & is correct.
Peter Lynch
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 16th day of May 1903, and I certify that the contents were fully made known to deponent before signing.
Special Examiner.


Patrick Whalin was my great grandfather's brother, which I discovered from documents in this pension file.

Interesting points contained in this affidavit:

The witness, Peter Lynch, was the brother-in-law of Patrick Whalin. Peter's wife (who isn't named) was the sister of Patrick.

Patrick Whalin was in Chicago by 1857.

The witness, Peter Lynch, traveled a bit. He arrived in the U.S. in 1844, arrived in Chicago in 1856, and was in Buffalo, New York in about 1865. He also indicated that he traveled back and forth between the U.S. and Ireland.

New questions based on this affidavit:

What was the name of Patrick's sister who was Peter's wife?

Why did Peter Lynch travel so much? Did he have a job that involved travel? Did he bring friends or relatives to the U.S.?

Peter Lynch knew Mary J. Whalin when she was a child in Ireland. Where in Ireland did Peter and Mary come from?

I'm hoping that other documents in this pension file will help me find the answers to these and other questions I have about Patrick Whalin and his associates.

Thomas Whelan Headstone

Here are photos of the headstone of Thomas Whelan who was buried at Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Illinois on 8 November 1905. His wife, Delia (Della on the headstone) was buried in the same lot on 26 February 1919.

Here is a transcription of the headstone:

DIED NOV. 5, 1905
DIED FEB. 22, 1919

This is an image of the plot card, showing 7 people buried in the plot.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Picture of Mom

This is a picture of my mom, Ann Skrobul, dressed up in her Sunday best. I believe it was taken at the time of her confirmation.

Some images of records from St. Anthony's church (my mom's parish) in Beckemeyer, IL are on the FamilySearch pilot site. Who'd of thought? The images include listings for my mom and some of her siblings and cousins. I found alot of familiar names as I was browsing these records. A link to these records is here. (That's mom on image 32, line 14.) I am looking forward to seeing this entire record group posted online someday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Smile For the Camera Circa 1900

The subject for the 10th Edition of Smile For The Camera is: Costume. No, not as in Halloween. Costume as in dress in general; especially the distinctive style of dress of a people, class, or period.

This photo shows my great-aunt, Frances Whelan, in what appears to be the typical costume for a working woman in the early 1900s. Frances worked as a school teacher at that time. She was born in 1874, so she was in her mid-20s at this time.

For examples of costumes from this timeperiod, see Clues to American Dress by E. F. Hartley and Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 edited by Halvor Moorshead.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Florence Yedinak in Miles City

I love this picture of my mom's friend Florence. I look at it and think that somewhere there is a relative of Florence who has looked at her copy of this photo and wondered "Miles City? Where is that? Do we have relatives there?" Well, I can answer her questions: Miles City is in Montana. You probably don't have relatives there, but I do.

My mom had cousins in Miles City, Montana, and she visited there when she was a young woman. I also visited Montana in 1975. I remember there being alot of open country as I drove with my cousins to the family's ranch. For me who grew up in Chicago, I looked around and wondered why it was called Miles City. It looked like the opposite of a city to me. I had a great time on that visit--I rode a horse for the first time, flew in a small private plane, visited the family ranch, and met more cousins and my great aunt Stella. I'm sure Florence and my mom enjoyed their visit too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Did Timothy Whelan have siblings in Chicago?

That has been one of my biggest questions ever since I started doing genealogy research, over 30 years ago. I asked my dad, my aunt, and others, but no one knew the answer. My aunt told me that Timothy Whelan was from County Kilkenny, but that was all she knew. Well, this week I got the answer--a great big YES!

The answer was in copies I received this week from Civil War pension files. I had requested copies of pension files and service records for two possible siblings of my ancestor that I had identified through city directories. As I mentioned here there were actually two Patrick Whelans from Kilkenny who lived in Chicago and fought in the Civil War. Well, the genealogy gods were smiling on me this week: only one of the Patricks had a pension file, and he was a sibling of my ancestor Timothy Whelan. (Time for the happy dance!)

The files I received included an invalid pension for Patrick Whelan, and a widow's pension for his wife Mary. The files are awesome! I am still busy transcribing them and looking at the additional research possibilities they open up. But a few of the highlights I have found so far include:

1. Patrick Whelan lived with Timothy at 166 Chestnut at times. This confirms that it is my Timothy, since that address is well documented in my files.

2. Timothy stood up to Patrick's wedding in 1867.

3. Timothy's widow, Catherine (Markey) Whelan gave an affidavit which was included in the widow's pension file. Catherine testified that, "I was not present at the church when they were married, but I was at the house that evening where the wedding festivities were held." It must have been a memorable party, since it was mentioned in several affidavits.

4. Not only do the files confirm that Timothy and Patrick were brothers, but they also had two sisters and THEIR MOTHER living in Chicago at one time. (Of course, no first names are given for the women. Humbug!)

So, if you haven't done it yet, I recommend that you look into the possibility of pension files for any Civil War ancestors that you may have. And don't limit yourself to direct ancestors. Go for the siblings, possible ancestors and siblings, in-laws, and the guys who served with your soldier. You never know what you may find.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rita Brady

Here is a photo of my aunt, Rita Brady, on another wintry day in Chicago.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The McSorleys of Newark, NJ

I am related to the McSorleys who lived in Newark, NJ. (Well, maybe not all the McSorleys, but at least some of them.) My McSorley relatives lived in Newark in the 1830s and 1840s. My ancestor, Ellen (aka Helen) McSorley married Timothy Bestick at St. John's Church in 1833. Here are some other records from St. John's that include McSorleys. These were extracted from FHL microfilm no. 1398540.

25 Feb 1838 Mary Ann Bestick dau of Timothy Bestick and Ellen McSoley, sponsors Francis Bestick and Mary Wall

24 Feb 1838 James Francis Murphy son of Francis D. Murphy and Mary McSoley, sponsors Rev. Roderick Ryder and Bridget Fallen

16 Apr 1838 Julia Fogarty dau of John Fogarty and Isabella Brown, sponsors Bernard Kearney and Rosanna McSaley

16 Dec 1838 Catharine Bergen dau of Edward Bergen and Ann Smyth, sponsors James Delany and Catharine McSoley

25 Apr 1841 Catharine Cox dau of Patrick G. Cox and Rosanna McSorley, sponsors John H. Kernan and Catharine McSorley

19 July 1841 Eleanor McSorley dau of John McSorley and Rebecca Mackey, sponsors Patrick G. Cox and Rosanna McSorley

5 Sept 1841 James Robert Bestick son of Timothy Bestick and Helen McSorley, sponsors James Dooner and Rosanna McSorley

27 Oct 1841 Teresa Murphy dau of Francis D. Murphy and Mary McSorley, sponsors Daniel G. Durning and Anne Ward

18 Apr 1844 William Carolin and Catherine McSorley, witnesses Patrick Carolin and Margaret Kearny

The families of Catherine, Ellen, John and Rosanna McSorley are all connected as baptism sponsors to each others' children. However, the family of Mary McSorley and her husband Francis D. Murphy were not connected to the other McSorleys by church records during this time period. I hope to discover the place of origin for my McSorleys. I also hope to discover if Mary or any other McSorleys in the U.S. were related to mine.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Genealogy Happy Dance

My happy dances are all about reconnecting with long lost relatives. I can think of 2 major happy dance events. The most recent was connecting to cousins in Lithuania. I've written about that here.

My best previous happy dance was about connecting with relatives on my dad's side, through the Chicago Genealogical Society's "Chicago Genealogy Finder." A long lost cousin wrote a letter to me after seeing me listed with our common ancestor, Timothy Whelan. Unfortunately, the address listed was over 10 years old, and I had moved from San Diego back to the Chicago area by then. My distant cousin is a librarian, and a very resourceful person. When her letter was returned, she found my current address in more recent membership lists, and tried again. We connected, exchanged packets of information and had some nice get-togethers including her mom and my Aunt Rita. Both sides of the family knew my great aunt Frances Whelan (also known as Sister Delphine.) I also have an autograph book that belonged to my grandmother Jennie Whelan, which was signed by Jennie's half sister Mary, the great grandmother of my long lost cousin.

Taking a Second Look at Things

I have found over the years that it is a good idea to take a second look at what I already have. Sometimes it can lead to major discoveries, and sometimes just to interesting details. One example comes from my research on my Skrobul family.

My grandpa was Anton Skrobul (Antanas Skrabulis.) He and his 3 brothers, William, Stanley and Joseph, all came to the United States.

Discovering their parents' names, and the many spellings of them, has been a challenge. On Anton's marriage certificate, his parents are given as Wm Skrobul and Ella Rinch[?]. On Anton's death certificate, his father's name is given as John, mother's name unknown.

I expanded my search to Anton's siblings. On the death certificate of Anton's brother William, the deceased brother's name is given as Vincent and the parents' names are Vincent Skrobulis and Elizebeth Sorokowa. (The Lithuanian name Vincas is translated as either William or Vincent in English.) I've also seen the mother's name given as Syrak or Soroka on other documents.

So, I was a bit confused about Anton's mother's surname. None of the possible surnames I'd seen sounded Lithuanian to me. In Lithuanian, a married woman's name generally ends in -iene and an unmarried woman's name ends in -aite or -yte. So I felt I still hadn't found the Lithuanian version of the mother's surname. In fact, I thought Sorokowa sounded more Japanese than Lithuanian. (I admit, I'm not knowledgeable about Eastern European or Japanese names.)

My confusion was solved by a visit from a Lithuanian cousin. He told me that Sorokowa was a Polish version of Soroka, and that the Lithuanian version for a single woman was Sorokaite. Both he and another Lithuanian cousin mentioned that the Soroka name was common in the area that our Skrobul ancestors were from, and that the Sorokas were cousins (somehow) of the Skrobuls.

So now, I come to my second look. I have found passenger lists for some of my Lithuanian relatives, including grandpa's brother William (indexed on as Vizenty Scro??.) William traveled from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore aboard the Hannover. He arrived in June, 1905. According to the passenger list, William was going to Munson, PA to join his brother Josef Skrobul. This made sense to me. I had been told that grandpa and his brothers lived in Pennsylvania for a few years. And grandpa's passenger list from 1904 indicated he was going to join Josef in Munson Station.

When I looked at William's passenger list again recently, I noticed that listed on the line above him was Thomas Soroka, from the same town (possibly Maceviciai)in the Suwalki region of Lithuania. Thomas is going to join his brother, Josef Soroka, in Munson, PA.

So, this isn't a major discovery that will take me back 3 generations or add 1000 more names to my database. But I find it kind of neat to know that my great uncle William Skrobul traveled to America with a Soroka cousin, and that they were going to Pennsylvania together to join their brothers. It is always good to have family and not to be alone.