27 February 2015

Follow Friday goes global

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) launched NGS Monthly, this week. This new digital publication will feature articles on genealogical methodology, research techniques, sources, and the latest news from NGS.

Blog posts worth reading:
  • Michael John Neill does Genealogy Tip of the Day and his tip on Tuesday this week was awesome. His tip was about teachers and newspapers. If you have a teacher in your tree – I have several – this is a must read! Thank you, Michael!
  • Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small, reinforced some great information about dying without a will in her 52 Ancestors post this week. If your ancestor died without a will, chances are that everyone got named in the court records following the division of the estate!
  • I love Vera Miller’s blog, Find Lost Russian Family. This week she shared her latest find, a database – in English – that covers WWI soldiers.


My New Follows at Twitter:

  • @granie46 – researching her Norwegian family
  • @rosemarymorgan – specializing in London research
  • @brandyhei – novelist & amateur genealogist
  • @HeatherRojo – genealogist and traveler
Follow Me

Helpful websites
  • I am a FTM user and will probably not change (I hate change) but I came across Molly McLaughlin’s review of Brother’s Keeper 7.0 in PC Magazine. She calls it an “excellent tool for the serious genealogist.”

Follow Friday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers                

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Infamous Civil War prison opens doors

The first Union prisoners arrive at the infamous Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia On This Day in 1864. The prison only existed for 14 months, just a little over a year. In that time, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were held there. Today Andersonville is preserved as a National Historic Site. 


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

26 February 2015

Genealogy Do Over Week 8: The value of collateral research

This week’s prompt is conducting collateral research. Collateral is defined as “a person having the same descent in a family as another but by a different line.” In genealogical terms, a collateral relative may be an aunt or uncle or a cousin. Last October I discovered the maiden name of hubby’s great grandmother through collateral research! 

Hubby’s grandmother was Julia Coursault Deyoe. Her death certificate shows her father as Charles Coursault from the USA and her mother as simply Apolina from England. Nowhere had I been able to find more information on Apolina until … 

Last October I did a broad search for Coursaults in the Pennsylvania Death Certificate database on Ancestry.com. I already knew her siblings’ names since I had followed the family through the census records. I found the death certificate for her brother, Francis Coursault. Their sister Catherine (also spelled Kathryn), who married George Bonner, was the informant and listed their mother as Apolina Morrill.  

Had I not thought to (pun intended) branch out, I would still be beating my head against the wall on that line! By finding that piece of the puzzle, I have been able to go back one more generation to her parents – Issac and Mary Morrill. 

I’ve had similar finds doing this on other lines as well. Always treat collateral ancestors as potential leads!

Looking back:
Week 7 – Software and digitizing
Week 6 – Evaluating Evidence
Week 5 - Research and Citations
Week 4 – Managing projects
Week 3 -  tracking research and conducting research
Week 2 - set research goals, self interviews, and family interviews


Genealogy Do-Over is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.  

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Those Places Thursday: Vacationing at the cabin

My parents took us – my sister and I - on several vacations over the years. Some I really enjoyed and others were less exciting. All of them were great, in hindsight. I wish I would have been more appreciative at the time.  

We went to Disney World, Bush Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and out West. We went to Yellowstone National Park, the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the Corn Palace and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. We also spent many a summer at Daddy’s cabin in the Potter County. 

When I think of family vacation time, I have to admit the cabin comes to mind first. I even chose Lock Haven State University because it was in the mountains relatively near Daddy’s cabin! (LHU is in neighboring Clinton County). 

Dad had a cabin with some guys he grew up with from Coatesville. The cabin was called Bear Cat Cabin. I have no idea why. The cabin was, in the truest sense of the phrase, a hunting cabin. It was made by men and it was for men only. Women were not allowed in during hunting season.  

The cabin sat at the end of the lane furthest in, so it was literally the end of the road. It had electricity by the time we spent time there as a family but no running water. On our way up the mountain, we would take a blue barrel up with us and stop at a natural spring along the way to fill up with water.  

There was one large sleeping area upstairs. There might have been a dozen beds. Downstairs there was one great room where the dining area and sitting area were separate but open to each other. The huge fireplace was in the living area. There was a small kitchen just passed the dining area. It is hard to imagine 12 men working around each other in there but I suppose they were not all there at the same time. The outhouse was located out back through the kitchen rear door. 

Sadly I do not have any photos of the cabin. 

There were always lots of deer, regardless of what time of year it was. Awe saw many black bear up there as well. There used to be an old trash dump on the road out to Renovo, I think it was. The bear would come out at night and normally pay us all no mind as they went scavenging. People would drive to the dump just to watch them! It was like a drive in movie, of sorts. 

One time I remember Daddy screaming for me to get the camera. He was so excited! I ran down the stairs and out the cabin expecting a bear at our door. It was a bunch of wild turkeys.  

I love the smell of the mountains in the morning. The air is so clean and so crisp. The sounds of the morning are just as exciting. The animals and the wind were the only sounds. There was a creek nearby but we were not close enough to hear it from the cabin. 

A few years back, mom made mention that those summers we spent at the cabin were to save up for a “real vacation.” I loved those summers. I miss those summers. 
Photos: Dreamstime

Those places Thursday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: HMHS Britannic leaves Belfast

The HMHS Britannic launched On This Day in 1914 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. She was the sister ship to the RMS Titanic. The HMHS that precedes her name stands for His Majesty’s Hospital Ship. 

On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

24 February 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Darius J Eckman, from coal dealer to city collector

His stone is a simple one. It reads: “Father. Darius J Eckman. 1870 – 1944.” He is buried alongside his wife, Ella, at the Zion UCC Cemetery is New Providence, Lancaster County. Many of his family are buried there.

He was born 14 September 1870 in Strasburg Township, Lancaster County to John Henry and Catherine Kezia Cresswell Eckman (hubby's 3x great grandparents). He married Ella M. Doner in 1897. They had three children: Esther, Charles, and Paul. 

The family lived on Mary Street in Lancaster City, where Darius was a coal dealer for many years. Sometime between 1920 and 1930, he became a collector for the City Treasurer’s Office and the family moved to James Street. Esther has moved out on her own at this point. 

His death certificate simply states his occupation as retired. He died on 15 March 1944 of cardiac dilatation. That was due to coronary disease for four years due to hypertensive heart disease for 12 years. He was buried five days later.

Tombstone Tuesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Pope changes calendar

Pope Gregory XIII announced the Roman Catholic Church was changing over to a new calendar On This Day in 1582. The announcement was made through his papal bull Inter gravissimas. The new calendar, now used throughout most of the world, is known as the Gregorian calendar. It replaced the Julian Calendar. 


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

23 February 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Memories of Squirt

As I go through my journals, I wrote about many things, including pets. When I first met my husband he had his dog, Bear – a shepherd who had been training to be a drug sniffing dog for Maryland law enforcement. His mom had a nasty thing out back. It was part greyhound and part wolf. I would not even go near it. Bear, on the other, I absolutely loved! 

His mom’s dog got pregnant – neighbor’s dog – and had a litter shortly after we got married and were expecting our own bundle. We ended up with one of the pups from that litter … though not for long. 

Entry from Thursday, 28 January 1993:          
The other day (Tuesday) the man came to take the puppies when Glenn dropped me off at my parent‘s. I started bawling. I didn’t want to loose my puppy – the black one. He is so adorable! He cuddles right up to me and he’s really good in my car.  Anyway, Tuesday morning Glenn got back to the house five minutes before the came for the puppies. He had just enough time to talk his mom into letting me keep the black one.  

His name is SQUIRT. Squirt was eight weeks old on Wednesday. Tomorrow he goes to the vet. Right now he is curled up next to me on the waterbed! 

Entry from Saturday, 30 January 1993:
Yesterday we took Squirt to the vet ($24). Worms. A lot. Meds. A lot.  

I bought him a chain collar and a lead yesterday too. Hopefully – if Glenn and Squirt ever wake up and get their lazy @**#* out of bed – we can take both Squirt and Bear for a walk. I’m surprised how well the two of them get along. 

Entry from Sunday, 31 January 1993:
We took Squirt and Bear for a walk through the field this afternoon. Bear was not very obedient. Squirt was okay but he did not like his lead. After our walk, we took the pups to get ice cream but Bear snapped and snarled at Glenn so he didn’t get his. … I gave him some later when we got home and Glenn was clueless! 

Entry from Tuesday, 22 February 1993:
Squirt’s getting bigger every day. Need a new chain already. 

Entry from Friday, 12 March 1993:
Squirt is SO big now. He is still at my parents. Mom said he actually moved their sofa the other day! 

I am worried about how well Squirt will act when he gets home and sees he is no longer the only baby. 

Sometime in between “oh he is so cute” and this next entry, Squirt had started to show that he was just mental. He would do stupid stuff and started not listening to Glenn. My mother-in-law absolutely hated the dog – or perhaps me and by extension the dog, which is more likely. Anyway, one night Glenn came in late one night and Squirt was in bed as usual. I was out cold. Squirt almost attacked Glenn when he tried to shoo him out of bed.  

Entry from Tuesday, 13 July 1993:
Friday night we went to our District 5A 1st Quarter meeting. Glen and I got 1st quarter Jaycees of the Quarter. After we all went to Chuck’s. Dave & Sandra from PV agreed to take Squirt. I feel torn giving him away but am so tired of his mom complaining. 

Now Dave and Sandra had a farm. We thought this would be good for the dog. He would have lots of room to run. Sandra later told me the dog was just not right. It was just little things at first. Finally they took the dog to a dog psychiatrist! They were still working with the puppy shrink when Squirt got loose one day and chased a milk truck … and lost.  

A word of caution – never let an emotional pregnant woman make animal choices! 

Your turn:
Squirt was our first pet that was ours together. Did you have a pet when you were first married? What kind was it? What was your best memory concerning the pet? 

Amanuensis Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

On This Day: A new Orthodox basilica is built

Byzantine emperor Justinian I ordered the building of a new Orthodox Christian basilica in Constantinople On This Day in 532. The basilica – the Hagia Sophia – is now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.


"HagiaSophia Mars 2013" by Arild Vågen - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

22 February 2015

My Family Calendar This Week

Happy birthday, Karen Swier Hornak. May God grant you all Many Years.

Memory Eternal
Today is the 16th anniversary of the passing of Charles D. Eckman. Charles is the son of Darius and Ella Doner Eckman. He was the husband of Mattie Leanore Kittinger. He was a watchmaker at the Hamilton Watch Company in Lancaster. 

Monday will be 93 years since George David Still, my 3x great grandfather, passed. George! What can I say about George that I have not already said dozens of times! His mother, Margaret Still, had him out of wedlock in 1808 and I am still tracing his father. George apprenticed as a tailor but took to farming instead. In 1830 he married Sarah Bing and they had six children. He died of dropsy and heart disease. George is buried at the Olde Doe Run Cemetery in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County. 

Agnes Armstrong Still passed away 155 years ago on Tuesday, the 24th.  She was the George’s sister-in-law! She married David Still. I know nothing of her parents. She died of pleurisy and is buried at the Romansville UM Cemetery. 

Friday is the 77th anniversary of the passing of John Kurenda, my great grandfather. John was Baba’s father. “Big John” they called him. Everyone says he was huge. Once the car died and he lifted it up and moved it off the road by himself. He was born in Sambor, in Poland in 1884, immigrated here, married Frances Skrabalak and they had seven children. Diabetes and sleep apnea contributed to his death in 1938. he is buried at the Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township, Chester County. 

Jacob Eckman died 117 years ago Saturday. Jacob was married to Elizabeth Eckman, the daughter of John Eckman and Susan Groff. I have not confirmed Jacob’s parents yet.

My Family Calendar This Week will be a weekly feature.  

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: PSU turns 160

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) was founded On This Day in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania. It was known as Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania from 1855 to 1862 when it became the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. The name changed to Pennsylvania State College in 1874 and became PSU in 1953. The school is located in State College, Pennsylvania. 

On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

21 February 2015

Surname Saturday: Michael Walsh has gone in hiding

Michael Walsh has gone in hiding. Well, at least it seems that way. I have managed to narrow down his death year but I know so little about him. 

Walsh is an extremely common Irish surname. My 2nd great grandparents are Michael J and Anna Keating Walsh. I know little of her and even less of him. My grandmother had told me once that Michael was born in Dublin. She was not sure when he immigrated. Anna, she said, left Ireland as a child with her siblings. They met up near Shenandoah, married and had several children. 

Their children (that I know of) are:
Katherine (1875-1939)
Daniel James (1877-1957)
Margaret Mary (1881-1926)
Martin Joseph (1884-1923) ß my great grandfather
Michael Joseph (1893-1968) 

The Walsh family lived at 306½ Lloyd Street in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County. By 1910 Michael Walsh, the father, was already passed. This I know since Anna’s marital status is widow on the 1910 US Federal Census. The Census shows just Anna, 56, and their 17 year old son Michael. It also states she had 11 children but only six are living.  

Until today the 1910 Census was the only one I found. Today I found an Anna ten years earlier on the 1900 Census. Most of the information is as I already have it but there are a few differences.  

In 1900 the family lived on West Centre Street in Shenandoah and comprised Anna and four sons: John, Martin, Mike, and Thomas. The 1900 Census asks the month and year of birth. Anna was born February 1851, is 49 and a widow! She came to America in 1860. It does not however state if she is still an alien or if she is naturalized yet. It also asks the number of children. She answers that she had 10 children and six are living. Ten years later, in 1910, she said she had 11 children with six living then. John, 21, was born in May 1879. Martin, 14, was born in January 1886. (I have Martin’s birth recorded as being 20 December 1884). Mike, 6, was born March 1894. Thomas, 2, was born June 1897. 

I never knew of a Thomas. If this is my family then Michael – the father – would have died between October 1896 and 1900. 

I also found a death certificate for a Margaret, daughter of Michael Welsh and Anna Keating but Margaret’s last name is given as Good. Her birth and death are close enough to be their Margaret Mary. My conflict with this one is that Margaret Mary married a John Williams in 1904 and had a daughter Margaret “Peg” Williams. (She was a sweetheart!) I think Margaret (all of them) and I are will be spending some quality time together here shortly! 

So many questions remain!


Surname Saturday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Today is International Mother Language Day

Today is International Mother Language Day and it is a day to promote all of the world’s estimated 6,500 spoken languages. The purpose of today is to celebrate the world’s cultural diversity.  

Mother tongue education, according to UNESCO, is “essential to bolster multilingualism and respect for linguistic and cultural diversity in societies that are transforming quickly.” 

You can join the effort today on Facebook or Twitter. Use hashtags #IMLD or #MotherLanguage. 


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015