01 September 2017

First Day of School

Off to Bender Academy!

Me, Steven?, and Heidi Lenartowicz on the first day of school
at Bender Academy in Elizabeth.
Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.

And don't we look just thrilled? That's me on the left, with the up-flip. I remember my mother making me sleep in rollers for this "special" day. Torture! The curls may have lasted until I got to school. Not much longer than that though. My hair never would hold a curl. The boy in the middle is, I think, named Steven. I don't remember if he was in my class or not. He lived at the end of the block next to Warinanco Park. The other girl is Heidi Lenartowicz. She was a year younger than me.

This was the first day of either first or second grade for me. There were at least four or five kids on the block who went to Bender Academy in Elizabeth. Our parents took turns driving us.

30 July 2017

Immigrant Ancestor Checklist : Naturalization Records

My local genealogy support group spent a session a month or so ago learning about naturalization records. It seemed like a good idea to use the notes I took in class to make a little worksheet that would help me gather the information that I might need to track down my immigrant ancestors' naturalization records.

And then I thought I should share it with you :-)

  • This worksheet is designed to help you gather in one place the information that you might need to find immigration records. 
  • Once you narrow down the time and place, find out where your ancestors might have filed, and where those records are stored today.

Note the section at the bottom that gives some information you might find useful if your ancestors didn't naturalize as US citizens. My Lithuanian great-grandparents never became citizens, but I was able to get some great information about them through their A-File (Alien Files) records.

When you are trying to pin down the earliest possible dates for Declaration of Intent and for Naturalization be sure to find out what the immigration rules were for those actions at the time your ancestor might have been applying for citizenship. You'll find a general overview at the National Archives website.

PDF : Immigrant Ancestor Checklist : Naturalization Records 
I hope you find this checklist helpful in tracking down naturalization records for your ancestor. Free for your personal use. Enjoy!
You can click on the image to make it larger, or click on the link above to access the PDF file.

28 July 2017

What I did on my summer vacation : GRIP 2017

This was my second year at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). Last year I learned about being a family archivist. It was a great class, and the whole experience at GRIP was terrific.

When the class list for this year's sessions came out I knew I had to sign up for this one : 
Gateway to the Garden State : Sources and Strategies for New Jersey Research

I'm so glad I did! For five whole days the class got what seemed like a never–ending list of great sources, repositories, organizations, and how–to's. We covered history, record groups, and the law. The presenters were Melissa A. Johnson, Michelle Tucker Chubenko, Karen Mauer Jones, and Judy Russell.  My classmates were a nice mix of professional researchers and seasoned enthusiasts. There was a lot of sharing of information, and some nice conversations.

I'm hoping to make use of the resources in the extensive syllabus to push my research along and discover some new stories for this blog. So many records, so little time...

12 June 2017

Resource Roundup: New Jersey State Census Update

Good news! FamilySearch has now made available the 1885, 1905, and 1915 New Jersey state censuses. They are indexed and searchable, and best of all, with images.

Previous indexes I've seen for the 1915 census included only the most basic information. With access to the images of the enumeration pages themselves you get so much more. Information on the census form includes:
  • Address
  • Name
  • Color or race
  • Sex
  • Month and year of birth
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Place of Birth
  • Place of birth of parents
  • Citizenship information, including number of years in U.S. and naturalization status
  • Occupation
  • Education: reading, writing, abitlity to speak English
  • School attendance, including the name of the school and whether public, private or parochial
  • Home ownership information, including ownership, rental, mortgage, and house or farm

Here are the links to search the newly updated records:

I've been going through the 1915 census and have found some interesting things. For instance, my grandmother, Lillian (Maita) Traina, was 11 years old when the census was taken, but the name she is given on the census is "Rosalie." Was Rosalie her middle name, or was Lillian? 
 "New Jersey State Census, 1915", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-4DZY : 8 October 2014), Vincent Maita, 1915. Downloaded 11 June 2017.
1915 NJ state census record showing my grandmother, Lillian (Maita) Traina - listed under the name Rosalie.
The birth month and year are a match, so it must be her.
 "New Jersey State Census, 1915", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-4DZY : 8 October 2014), Vincent Maita, 1915. Downloaded 11 June 2017.
 I've also found adults ennumerated in both their parents' household as well as in the household with their own spouse and children. More than one example of that, actually.
If you've found anything interesting about your family in the 1915 census I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below.

15 May 2017

Wedding Bells 1955 : Dixon and Traina

My mother, Mary E. Dixon, married her best friend's brother, Frank J. Traina, on May 15, 1955. From photographs I have seen, Mary was well acquainted with the Traina family for years before she and Frank tied the knot.

The wedding took place in Union, New Jersey, and was a civil ceremony performed by a Magistrate of the Court. Mary's Matron of Honor was her future sister-in-law, Frances (Traina) Carlino. The Best Man was Frank's friend, Leo Piazzo.

Here are a few photos from their wedding day.

Mary (Dixon) Traina gets help with her hair
from her sister-in-law and
Matron of Honor, Frances (Traina) Carlino.

Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina
15 May 1955

Matron of Honor, Frances (Traina) Carlino
and Best Man, Leo Piazzo

The toast.
Frank and Mary (Dixon) Traina toast,
as Fran (Traina) Carlino looks on.

The happy couple and their parents.
Left to right: Joseph Traina and Lillian (Maita) Traina;
Frank and Mary (Dixon) Traina; Sophie (Karvoius) and Wallace B. Dixon.

Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina cut the wedding cake.

Frank Traina dancing with his sister, Mary Ann,
and Mary (Dixon) Traina dancing with her brother, Wallace A. Dixon.

The happy couple in a snazy car.
Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina.

08 May 2017

My Immigrant Ancestor : Marian (Reina) Maita

Marian [or Mary or Marianna] (Reina) Maita, on the right, and an unidentified friend or relative. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Marian [Marianna] (Reina) Maita, right.
Collection of E. Ackerman, 2017.
If you recognize the lady on the left,
drop me a note!
What a thrill to hold in your hand a photograph of someone you've never met, but who is intimately connected with you. A person that is, if you think of it, instrumental to the mere fact of your existance.

I would like to introduce you to my great-grandmother, Marian (Reina) Maita.

That's her, on the right in the photo. You can click on it if you'd like to see it a bit larger.

This "meeting" would not have been possible without the happy convergance of a number of things. First was the generous gift of this photo, along with many others, from a first cousin of mine. He did not know who these ladies were, though my first thought was "that woman sure looks like Grandma Traina." The second was the wonderous connections that Ancestry.com DNA has given me to living cousins that I never knew I had. I was able to send a digital image of this photo to one of them who confirmed that it was her grandmother - my great-grandmother. Hooray!

"They were married in Sicily..."

The helpful cousin who identified the photo for me shared the few facts that she knew about her grandmother, who died when my cousin was a young child. According to her, Marian and her husband, Vincenzo Maita, were married in Sicily before coming to the United States. They lived in Elizabeth, in "the Italian section" – Peterstown, where Vincenzo had a house built on Christine Street. The house is still there, and she describes it as being all brick, with a green door and shutters. My cousin also confirms that Marian and Vincenzo had eight children, one of whom was my grandmother, Lillian.

So now I have a place to start, and I know 100% more about my great-grandmother than I did two weeks ago.

"...then they came over to the U.S."

It's the Maita line that, ultimately, pushed me into researching my family tree. A death in the family lead to frantic e-mails amongst cousins asking "do you know Grandma's maiden name?" We sorted it out after a bit, but it bothered me that none of us knew even that much about our grandmother. Sheesh.

Early investigations led me to discover that three of my grandparents had more siblings than I ever knew of - if I knew of any at all. At least I had personal knowledge of my maternal grandmother's family, and I knew my great-grandmother in that line, although she died when I was a child.

In any case, aside from the Dixons, who appear to have been in this country for many more generations, I have three sets of great-grandparents who were immigrants to this country. This is, to coin a phrase, a very long walk off a short pier that points straight out into the Atlantic Ocean. But before I put on my water wings and take that leap to research in the "old country" there is plenty of research to do in my homeland - Elizabeth, New Jersey!

25 April 2017

Other People's Ancestors : Success and a Reunion

This photo of  George Wickham Metcalfe
is soon to be reunited with his family.

G.W. Metcalfe is heading home!

I'm thrilled to report that I've been able to reunite this photo of George Wickham Metcalfe with his family. [You can read more about George in an earlier post on this blog.]

George's granddaughter contacted me via Ancestry.com, where I had created a tree for George and uploaded his photo. I included in every note space available on that site the invitation for a family member to contact me to reclaim the photograph. And it worked!

This is a photograph of George that his granddaughter had never seen. She was kind enough to share some of her memories of him with me, and I treasure that. I feel like George is part of my family too, after spending so much time researching him.

Happy trails, George!