A new season of Who Do You Think You Are? is on, life here has slowed down after the holidays and I miss genealogy. In the past, I have always focused on my mother’s family, as I have relatives who have traced my father’s side back many generations. Looking at my database, however, it is easy to see that not all lines were traced back multiple generations. One of these lines is the Karpinski’s, my paternal grandfather’s mother’s line.
I am going to document my search for this family on my blog for a variety of reasons. First, the whole point of a is to show the research I have done, get help for problems I can’t solve (especially since I have never done Polish research before), and hopefully meet cousins. Second, if you are brand new to genealogical research, this can show you one method a genealogist takes to find their family. You can follow along, see what conclusions you come to and then use that information to search for your own family
Step one for any genealogical search is to start with what you know. Although it can be easy to say “Well, I heard we are related to *insert famous person here* so let me start with them and connect backwards to my family” or “I have always been curious about my 3rd great grandmother who has the same first name as I do, so I am going to go to Ancestry.com and search for her”, these are not the best methods to do historical research. Always begin with yourself and move backwards through time.
Write down as much information about each person as you can, including vital statistics, alternate name spellings and nicknames (particularly for immigrant ancestors), spouses, children, religion, occupation and organizations they belonged to. The more you have, the easier it will be to find them in records and to know that you are looking at the right “John Smith”.
What I Know
What you know can be listed in a wide variety of ways. The most basic way is in a simple list format:
Me: Amanda Acquard Perrine
Father: Dad Acquard (no, that is not his actual first name… I tend to keep that info off my blog for living people)
Grandfather: Theodore Frank Acquard
- b. 21 Sept 1933, Bennington Center, Wyoming County, New York
- m. 12 July 1958, Alden, Erie Co., NY
- d. 29 Nov 2009, Cheektowaga, Erie Co., NY
Great-Grandmother: Stanislawa “Stella” Frances Karpinski
- b. 6 May 1916, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
- m. 28 Dec 1931, Bennington Ctr., Wyoming Co., NY to Florian Dana Acquard
- d. 26 Jan 1987, Batavia, Genesee Co., NY of Thyroid Cancer
- buried: Bennington Ctr., Wyoming Co., NY
- other: 6 children, remarried to Walter John Acquard 30 Aug 1952 in Bennington Ctr. after death of Florian. Walter was Florian’s brother.
Franciszek “Francis” Karpinski
- b. 16 Sep 1880, Poland
- m. Unknown
- d. 22 May 1942, NY
- buried: Holland, Erie Co., NY
- other: 6 children (Florence, Thaddeus, Genowefa, Roman, Stanislawa and Alfreda)
Jozefa “Josephine” Szydlik
- b. 16 Sep 1886, Poland
- d. 4 April 1973, Warsaw, Wyoming Co., NY
- buried: Holland, Erie Co., NY
- other: Her parents were Thomas Szydlik and Barbara (last name unknown). They had 3 children (Jozefa, Stefania and Apolania)
As you can see, this can get lengthy and confusing. As such, genealogists use forms such as pedigree charts, family charts and genealogy programs to keep all of their information organized (I recommend Legacy Family tree, it’s free and tremendously simple to use, but also offers a lot of power).
Here is my pedigree chart for Stella:
Here is a family group sheet for Franciszek:
This is much more organized and easy to understand. Once these are completed, I print them out and place them in my research binder, along with family group sheets for Stella and for Thomas Szydlik. The printed sheets also have all of my sources for the information (in this example, all of the information I have was provided to me by my Aunt Dottie).
Now it is time to start researching, starting with your relatives. Please read about this step tomorrow!