Posts Tagged devil in the details

Importance of Speaking to Living Relatives to Glean Information

I thought I identified the correct family line on the Molner branch of my extended family tree. The information fit, names of the sisters matched so I thought, and the location fit. I heard a story that the mother died young that fit in with data I gathered. I spent countless hours trying to find records of their lives.

Then I went to a wedding.

In September 2015, I attended my niece’s wedding. I had the opportunity to connect with Aunt Sandy. Aunt Sandy is related to my older brother and sister. The Molner branch of the tree is from my mother’s first marriage to Robert Gaber. My mother, Shirley, married Robert in July 1954. Robert died suddenly in December 1956. My mother was a widow at 21, with two toddlers to raise.

There wasn’t much contact with the relatives and descendants of this line as in most families the ties that bind where long cut and we drifted apart. My sister reconnected to Aunt Sandy when she moved to Florida where her Gaber grandparents once owned a house that Sandy now lives in. That night at the wedding, Sandy and I, started talking details of her mother, Elizabeth Molner family.

I found out I was way off this branch. Luckily, the axillary bud of this twig was fairly short when I lopped it off my family tree. In its place has grown a sturdy twig that will support the leaf primordia that will turn into leaves to fill in the family tree.

Meet the Molner’s

Aunt Sandy provided the names of the siblings, the parents, and that the family lived in Mahanoy, Pennsylvania. Turns out Elizabeth Molner was one of nine children both to Paul Molner and Veronica Petrilla. Both parents lived to the early 1950’s. Currently, I can only find information about the parents from the 1930 and 1940 Censuses and possible death records.

The 1930 Census has Paul’s birthplace is listed as Poland, Russia. Veronica Petrilla Molner is from Austria. Paul immigrated in 1905 and Veronica immigrated in 1904. Married about 1917. The first four children were born in Illinois. The remaining five were born in Pennsylvania. The 1940 Census contradicts with the 1930 Census listing all the children born in Pennsylvania.  Except Elizabeth Molner, who is now married to Stanley Gaber, is listed on the 1940 Census as being born in Illinois.

I will have to create a research plan for this family to locate further information. Did the parents marry in Illinois, are there naturalization papers, can I find out from whence they immigrated and all the other pertinent details. Now that I am on the right footpath.

Am thankful that I spoke to Aunt Sandy while she is still alive. My own father passed away last November 2015. There are still more questions I should have asked. It is so important to connect to the past through the living.


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Triple In-Laws – Herman’s and Langner’s – Keep It In The Family

So the story is, two brothers and a sister from the Herman family, married two sisters and a brother from the Langner family. What?  Who married who?

Hey, it is not my line.  I was squirreling up collateral line of my Great Aunt first husbands tree.  Why, because I get distracted on my line when I cannot find any records.

Now I am not the first person to discover this ultra close knit family.  I was content just to stop at my aunt’s in-laws.  However, the surnames kept popping up and I had to write out a mind map to see if they were part of the same family group.

There are a few branches in my tree where I have double in-laws, where siblings of one family marry siblings of another family.  So, I was a little taken back to see a three-some.

Triple In-Laws

Triple In-Laws

The Herman and Langner families were immigrants from Prussia. The Langner family arrived in 1870, the Herman’s in 1887.  They settled near Avon and Holdingford in Sterns Co, Minnesota. Very small farming communities near St. Cloud, MN.  They are still sparsely populated today.

The towns claim to fame is that they are most like the fictional town of “Lake Wobegon” created by Garrison Keillor.  The local All Saints  Catholic church serves both towns.   A church that most likely brought the two families together.

Maybe the world was just a little too small to find a subtle mate at the turn of the century for these families.  One pair, Peter and Victoria Herman left Minnesota for work at the auto factories in Detroit.  No one else followed them that I can see. Even after Peter died in 1917, Victoria remained in Detroit until her death in 1970.

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#52 Ancestors – No. 15 – Suzanne Botfaite

This post is number 15 in the series of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of us blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy’s website.

Is it Botfaite or Gotfaite, that is the question?

There are several printed transcribed records of the immigrants and settlers of New France (Quebec) as well as the handwritten records of of the church.  The handwritten records are in French.  Specifically I am looking at the Drouin Collection. The collection is the work of Joseph Drouin, founder of the Drouin Genealogical Institute.  The collection contains French-Canadian and English historical records from 1621-1967. The institute microfilmed the Quebec parish records back in the 19060’s.

My 10th great grandmother is Suzanne Botfaite. She was born in England about 1630 and died in Quebec in 1694.  She is the daughter of Gilbert Botfaite and Anne Bonne. I have not been able to find the family in England.  They have French names and good have easily moved back and forth from England to France before making the move to find a new life in Quebec.

The printed records stated various spellings for the Botfaite name.  They include Betfer, Bedfer, Bedford, Bottefer, and a few others. There is another microfilmed capture of a Suzanne Bottefair that I am unable to decipher the flourish handwriting.

I find the microfilmed Drouin record interesting.  In reviewing the record that last name appears to be spelled with a “G” not the letter “B”.  I have looked at words starting with a capital “B” or “G” in this particular register and see a distinct pattern.  The lower case “b” and “g” look similar.  It most cases the “B” has a flourish or stroke on the left stem of the letter. I can see why a transcriber would think the first letter is a “B”. The more I look at the handwriting, the more I think the last name started with a “G” and may be Gotfaite instead.  Now I just need to confirm my hypothesis.

Below is the entry of Suzanne’s 1649 marriage record to Mathieu Hubou at the Notre Dame parish in Montreal, Quebec. I highlighted words with the letter “G” in red.  The blue circles are the letter “B”.  Suzanne’s father, Gilbert is in one of the red boxes.  The “G” in his name is written is similar to the first letter in Gotfaite. So, what do you think?  Is it a “G” or “B”?


Source Information: Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.

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Devil in the Details – My experience with a Polish Genealogist Researcher

I hired a Polish genealogy researcher located in Poland three years with mediocre results.  Mostly my compliant was with the incorrect of labeling the documents correctly and email correspondence. I also thought the costs were a bit high at that time.  Especially, since I had to ask for clarification of the document labeling and spelling errors.

I quite aware of language translation barriers and would expect semantic errors. But these typing errors muddled family names in the same sentence.  I could not tell if it was a spelling variant or different person. When I followed up for clarification, sometimes, I had to ask twice.  Lack of details and follow through is not a good trait for a researcher. My email asked if they spelled the name incorrectly. The reply was a lesson on grammatical gender rules regarding the family names. Budna and Borucka are the feminine forms or Budny and Borucki.

No, I asked about spelling.  The name you wrote was “Budy”; did you mean “Budny”?  I had five years of French and one year of German.  I know all about grammatical gender naming.  The other misspelling was Bogucki for Borucki. That’s frustrating for when you are trying to verify family names.  My last name is Polish if you have not figured that one out.  I seen Budny spelled in a few different ways.  We were not sure how the name was spelled in Polish. My goal is this research request was to verify the Polish spelling. 

 The records for a birth and death certificate were in Russian.  The Russian spelling just adds to confusion. Then add writing styles on top of that create more chaotic spelling variations. The documents had two variants of spelling by the same writer. I included three snapshots of the Russian spelling of Budny is this blog.

 Budny_Russian2Budny_Russian1Budny in Russian

One emailed listed the names of the god-parents as Ksawery and Julianna Borucki.  Michal the researcher said that Julianna’s maiden name was “Budy” and could be a relative. Now, did he mean to write “Budny” or “Budna”?  When asked for clarification, he said her maiden name was “Borucka”; I’m frustrated and confused.

 I am getting no closer to enlightenment with my corresponding. Though now I have a few extra names to pursue.  Further research was needed and requested by me.  However, a lack of follow through by Michal ended our contract. 

 I am ready to do additional Polish research and looking to hire another firm in Poland. I was wondering if any one had recommendations. Here is a few that I found on the web. Cyndislist has quite a few at Let me know if you have used them and what your experience was like.

 The Borucki / Borucka family is from Mamino, Makow Mazowicki in Poland.  The birth and death certificate were located in Pultusk State Archives. They were from the Civil Registry Office of the Roman Catholic Church in Gasewo Poduchowne.

Records for the Budny side were not located in this particular search.  Information is sketchy, but a possible locate is Kolaki, Poland and may be in the Sielun parish. A researcher with ties to Makow Mazowicki would be ideal.

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