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.