I had class again on Tuesday and this week we met at the library to discuss using library resources to research our topics. I wasn’t overly excited for this class; I had to use EBSCO and JStor quite a bit as an undergrad majoring in Classical Studies. Finding obscure articles on even more obscure topics is sort of my forte.
I will admit, I learned two very cool things that day: students have the ability, through our library, to use Ancestry.com for free and we have access to the AP photo archive (also for free). I will also admit I’ve browsed Ancestry.com before and quickly gave up my search when I was prompted to pay for a 6 month subscription in order to view the records I was looking for. It’s amazing how quickly my interest in genealogy faded when the issue of paying came into play. But Tuesday night, I was granted free access to a wealth of old records and I was not disappointed by what I found.
Genealogy is pretty fascinating. I think everyone is interested in their past and who doesn’t want to be able to say with 100% certainty they’re 50% Polish and 50% Irish, or whatever they are. I’ve heard I was given my middle name for my mother’s paternal grandmother but to see census data about the household she grew up in makes it sink in she was a real person. She was one of 10 children and her father was born in Ireland.
The vast majority of information I’ve found has come through census data sheet from 1900 to 1940 but I also found 3 documents I might have never guessed were out there on the Internet. The first was a picture of my paternal grandfather from his college yearbook. He attended what is now referred to as Michigan Tech and I was able to find a picture of his college fraternity.
For those who are wondering, my grandfather is in the second row from the top and is the first one on the left, in a white suit. What’s really cool about this photo is that most of my family has not seen a picture of my grandfather at this age and yet I was able to find one on the Internet. I’ve sent this photo out to my family members and everyone has come back saying the family resemblance is definitely there.
It’s also interesting that Benjamin Roski’s WWI registration card says he was born in 1887 and his WW2 registration card says 1889. I suspect the 1889 was a typo because the WWII registration card is for “Men born on or after April 28, 1887 and on or before February 16, 1897.” With other family members, too, I’ve noticed birth years can be very approximate. They definitely didn’t keep records back then the way we do now. My maternal grandmother once told me a story about how her brother lied to get his driver’s license when he was 14; That would not fly in today’s world.
The rest of my finds were census data sheets but they have proved to be way more informative than I would have expected. I’m still trying to go further back and find more census records from 1900 and 1910 but my Irish side of the family has much more common names and it’s a bit tricky to figure out who exactly is related to whom.
My paternal grandfather’s family in the 1930 census:
These census sheets are very useful because they give the age the person was at the time of the census and they identify the family unit each family member grew up in. The 9th column from the left tells the person’s age and the 14th, 15th, and 16th are the person’s birthplace, the birthplace of his/her father, and the birthplace of his/her father respectively. Using these, I can search for Benjamin and Rose Roski’s census data from the households they grew up in because I have more information about their age and where their parents are from. Using this information, I gathered my mother’s paternal great-grandfather was born in Germany, likely around the border of Poland given the Polish last name.
Below is the record for the house my maternal grandmother grew up in. Her grandfather and grandmother were born in the “Irish Free State” and they rented their house for $20. I’m not sure if that’s monthly or annually but wow.
My paternal grandmother’s grandfather appears to have been born in Ireland but this is not exactly relevant to my ancestry because she was adopted. This fact might throw a wrench in further investigations but I’m going to keep at it.
Below, I have some census data from 1900 pertaining to my paternal grandfather’s father. His name was Joseph Raymond Monkoski and he came over from Poland (what appears to be Poland under German control) in 1879. Joseph Raymond lived with his mother and brother and I’m trying to see if his father came over with them as well and perhaps passed away before the time of the 1900 census.
Lastly, I have 1930 census data about my paternal grandfather’s home, with his father, Joseph Raymond. This was interesting because his maternal grandparents were from Yugoslavia. I had always heard his family might be Welsh but this was the first I’d seen anything about Yugoslavia. His father also spoke Polish, which is not surprising because he spent the first two years of his life in Poland.
So this is a basic outline of what I’ve done so far. This information is probably not quite as interesting for you as it is for me and my family but I would definitely recommend trying this out for yourself. I’m sure there are many other libraries out there with free access to Ancestry.com including both school and public libraries. It’s amazing to me that this stuff is out there online, how could you not be interested? After all, I had no idea I was part Yugoslavian. One of my big goals in this search is to find out my exact heritage by determining the exact heritage of my four grandparents. So far, I’ve figured out my paternal grandfather is half Yugoslavian and half Polish. One down and three more to go.