30 November 2012


One of my girls is doing a research paper for her English class and her thesis  - I forget the exact wording - concerns Auschwitz, the conditions there specifically and Hitler's prejudice against Jews. While she was surfing to find some additional credible sources, she came across the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The site offers a database of those imprisioned at Auschwitz. While the Museum states it is unlikely to ever actually conatin ALL the names of those who entered the camp, it is compiled from the original SS paperwork. However, the SS ordered many of the records destroyed.

The database pulls its information from several resources:
  • Death Books
  • Digital Repository—Prisoners of and Deportees to Auschwitz
  • Gypsy Family Camp Record Books
  • Memorial Resources
The site does a great job explaining the references and terms as well, in addition to some of the more common translations.

I search for Hruszczak, Kurenda and Skrabalek but found no one. When I searched Matys though I discovered 19 entries. Some appear to be the same person, like Aleksander Matys below.
  • From the data contained in the so called Death Books of Auschwitz Concentration Camp Matys, Aleksander
    Wolka Abramowska
    b.1919-02-17 (Wolka Abramowska), denomination:katholisch, remarks:zgin.1942-03-05 w Auschwitz
  • From the data contained in the Digital Repository Matys, Aleksanderb.1919-02-17
  • Z danych zawartych w dokumentacji transporów do KL Auschwitz z Lublina Matys, Aleksanderb.1919-02-17 (Wólka Abramowska), camp serial number:19476, profession:kowal, remarks:+ 4.3.1942 w Auschwitz
  • From the data contained in the Digital Repository Matys, Alexanderb.1919-02-17, camp serial number:19476, remarks:W archiwum i zintegrowanych danych cyfrowych znajduje się więcej niż jeden dokument dla tej osoby/In the Archives and integrated digital collection are more than one document for this person

  • Now I have to admit that I have no clue if any of the people listed are in fact related. However it is unusal for me to find family names. My great grandmother - Bessie Matys - was born 5 June 1895 in Fraga, Rohatya, Galicia. She immigrated by herself in 1913 meeting up with her brother - Frank - who had come over earlier with his wife and child. Frank was living in Coatesville, Chester County, PA and Bessie lived with them. It was there she met Panko Hruszczak whom she would marry in 1915.

    Church records identified her parents as Joseph Matys and Olena Vaspleship. They never immigrated and of them I know nothing.

    22 November 2012

    Thankful Thursday - Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving Day is a day of reflection and giving thanks.

    Through my health blog - Facing Diabetes - I participate in Wegohealth's National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM). Today's NHBPM topic is to write about what we’re thankful for! Very fitting subject for Thanksgiving Day. I am thankful for my girls. They are the reason I go on most days! I am thankful for my husband and that we are back together and have learned from past experiences. I am thankful that my girls are in good health and are good students. I am thankful for my faith, although admitedly when the depression hits hard I do question everything. It is my faith and my girls and my husband who pull me back. My best friend too. I don't understand how exactly but whenever I am at my lowest is when he calls to "just chat."

    That is what I am most thankful for. I gave up on my dream job long ago. I have no talents of any use. I am not pretty or sexy - good thing I am also not superficial. I am not rich or even comfortable. We have what we need and we have each other. For those things I am grateful.

    Genealogy Research at the Lancaster County Library

    Local libraries are always a great resource when working on genealogy. The Lancaster County Library, on Duke Street in Lancaster City, is no different.

    According to the Library's website, their collection includes:
    • Census records (microfilm)
    • Local newspapers (paper and microfilm)
    • Local histories
    • Atlases
    • Select collection of family histories
    • Select church and cemetery records
    • Small collection of passenger lists and immigration records
    • Lancaster City Directories
    The microfilm area is in the lower level. To use the microfilm, go to the information/help desk located pretty much at the bottom of the steps. Ask the person (the day I went I got a very helpful gentleman) for the roll you want. The older two machines are off to the left while the newer machine is straight back. Both work the same way way and if you are not sure the resource person will walk you through how to load and unload the microfilm properly. The advantage of the newer machine is simply that it does not stick like the other two and the quality of the print feature is better.

    There is no limit as to how much you can print. The print jobs come out on the far side of the room and the resource person will have to get them for you. You can collect them one by one or all at once at the end. Either way you will need to inform the resource person that you printed out. I personally got up and asked for the print after each printing. My main reason being that I document everything when working on genealogy. There is a charge for the prints and you may pay cash or check.

    Older newspapers can be found on microfilm. Current papers are also in the basement in the microfilm area but they are hanging up just as you come down the steps.

    The Library is on Duke Street across from the Duke Street Parking Garage. There is also a small parking lot directly behind the Library off the alley. Bring your quarters though. The parking lot behind the Library is metered and it is patrolled by Lancaster City Police.

    Happy researching!

    13 November 2012

    Tombstone Tuesday: James F Still

    Seeing as it's Veteran's Week (I know I made that up but doesn't it sound better than just one day?), I thought I would look through some tombstone photos I had and choose a vet to honor today. Well I feel so bad - Sunday when I wrote of my family's vets, I omitted my Uncle Jim!

    James Franklin Still served in the US Army during WW2.

    He was born 5 September 1910 to Pierson George and Mary Kilpatrick Still in Unionville, Chester County, PA. He was the oldest son. Pierson and Mary had had a daughter - Margaret Nora Still - the year prior but she had lived only two months. In 1913 his parents had another daughter - Dorothy - who died within her first months as well. James' brother Lloyd Pierson Still - my grandfather - was born 24 March 1914. He lived a full life. Their mother passed two years later - in 1916 - due to complications of childbirth. So Pierson raised James and Lloyd on his own with help of course from the family and a housekeeper, Edith Maltby.

    On 7 April 1942 Uncle Jim enlisted in the Army. He served until his release on 9 June 1945. Sadly I know little about his time in the Army except that he was in the European Theater.

    He is buried at the Old Doe Run Presbyterian Cemetery with his parents and sisters in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, PA.

    12 November 2012

    Another Veteran's Day Thank You

    Yesterday I mentioned my side of the family who had served in the military. Today I would like to recognize some of my husband's side.

    Thank you to (in no specific order):
    • Frank Eckman Jr (brother) -- Vietnam - Marines
    • William LeMon Jr (nephew) - Marines
    • William LeMon Sr (brother in law) - Marines - Vietnam
    • Oscar D. Eckman (great granduncle) - Mechanic US Amb Corps Unit 583 - WW2
    • John Francis Deyoe (uncle) - Army - WW2
    • John C Eckman Jr (Uncle Bud) - Army - WW2
    Thank you also to Frank Eckman III (nephew) who is currently serving with the Marines in Japan.

    I know there are many others who have served in the past. Thank you to everyone.


    11 November 2012

    A Veteran's Day Thank You

    Thank you to all who have served. Thank you to all who currently serve. Thank you to the families - the spouces, the children, and the parents - of those who serve.

    Thank you to my family members who have served:
    • Joseph Ruczhak - s/o Joseph & Anna Kurenda Ruczhak (my dad) - Vietnam
    • Teddy Ruzchak - s/o Theodore & Mary Chernecky Ruzchak (my cousin) - Vietnam
    • Peter Ruczhak - s/o Panko & Bessie Matys Hruszczak (my uncle) - Korea
    • John Kurenda - s/o Peter & Anna Kurenda (my cousin) -
    • Paul Ruczhak - s/o Panko & Bessie Matys Hruszczak (my uncle) - WW2 Italy
    • Nicholas Ruczhak - s/o Panko & Bessie Matys Hruszczak (my uncle) - WW2 South Pacific. He was awarded the Bronze Star for the Philippine Libration
    • Paul Kurenda - s/o John & Frances Skrbalek Kurenda (my uncle) - WW2 KIA
    • Joseph Welsh - s/o Martin & Catherine O'Flaherty Walsh (my uncle) - WW2
    • Leo Welsh - s/o Martin & Catherine O'Flaherty Walsh (my uncle) - WW2
    • Raymond Welsh - s/o Martin & Catherine O'Flaherty Walsh (my uncle) - WW2
    • Gerry Welsh - s/o Martin & Catherine O'Flaherty Walsh (my uncle) - WW2
    • Benjamin Franklin VanHorn - s/o George & Jane Dudbridge VanHorn (my uncle) - Civil War

    I am sure over the years many cousins and aunts and uncles have served one way or another who I was not aware of. Thank you as well. I meant no disrespect by not mentioning. Please contact me with their information so I can recognize them in the future and of course in my FTM.

    08 November 2012

    Thankful Thursday: Helen Still Webster

    Today's GeneaBloggers theme is Thankful Thursday. I am thankful for my Aunt Helen. Born Helen Still in 1903 to Franklin and Jennie S VanHorn Still in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, PA. She grew up on the same farm she was born on. In 1924 she married Elwood Webster. They had two children. One - Gloria - lived only a month and a half in 1926. Five years later they had another daughter Janet who had three children herself.

    Aunt Helen attended West Chester State Normal School with intentions to teach. Her father Franklin - in addition to his farm - was a rural school teacher. The lifestyle would have been one to which she was already accustomed. However she quickly realized she hated teaching. During World War II she went to work at a paper mill in nearby Modena.  She continued on doing odd jobs until she landed at Unionville School. She was there for 13 years on the janitorial staff. She was so well loved by teachers and students alike that one year the yearbook was even dedicated to her. She had also been a correspondent for the local daily paper - the Coatesville Record.

    She was active in her parish - the Old Doe Run Presbyterian Church. There she had been a Sunday School teacher. She was also an Elder within her church.

    Aunt Helen passed in 1905. A column ran in the local weekly paper calling her the "Duchess of Mortonville." The huge church at Doe Run was standing room only for her service.

    She was so helpful when I first got into geneaology back in high school. We wrote back and forth. She offered dates for births, deaths and marriages. When we got done all the vitals - as I call them - I asked specific questions about her life. She would tell me stories - some serious and some silly - about chores on the farm, taking the bus to school, the various jobs she held, and so on.

    To her I am thankful - for fostering and nuturing my love of genealogy.
    Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.