Sunday, March 18, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 11 - Luck

Genetics and Genealogy

I’ve never been especially lucky but this quest began with only one name and a lucky guess.

My son-in-law was adopted and seeking health information he so did a DNA test at 23andMe in 2012. The test did reveal some things he needed to be aware of but nothing shocking. He wasn’t really looking for family then, just the background health information so we did nothing about matches.

About the same time my son-in-law’s state of birth opened their adoption records and adoptees could order a copy of their original birth certificate. He ordered his birth certificate but when the certificate came, there was very little information on it. His birth mother’s name and age were there along with her address. For his father there was only an age.

With that information I began searching for her on I entered her name and year of birth into ancestry along with the state and county where she lived.

She was too young to appear in the 1940 census and I had absolutely no idea who her parents were. Someone with her name did appear in high school yearbooks in the area. As I looked at the yearbooks, I noticed that there were two other students with the same surname in the school. Here is where the guess comes in: I decided they were her siblings! Now I had three names to research.

Since I had two sisters and a brother and women often change their names when they marry, I decided to look for the brother. Unfortunately, he was deceased and apparently never married although he had served in the military. Because he was deceased, he did appear in a family tree on There was the tree showing the brother with birth and death information and two pink living icons telling me he had two living sisters. I also found the names of his parents. Now to prove that this was the right family!

Using traditional genealogy methods, I built a tree for this family with sources. When I found his mother’s obituary, I knew I was on the right track since his sisters were both mentioned with children and spouses.

In 2016, my son-in-law took a DNA test at and we began checking on the matches for both tests. The matches that we that responded to our requests seemed to be a high number of adoptees but I kept developing the tree anyway.

We have uploaded DNA results to ftDNA, Gedmatch, and MyHeritage in addition to the tests at and 23andMe. Working with the DNA matches provided by the companies involved, I can confirm that the tree I developed for my son-in-law is indeed, his correct biological line. On his maternal line there are shared matches with some third and fourth cousins and he also shares a genetic circle with those matches on his mother’s line.

One of the shared matches turned out to be a half sister on his biological father’s line. A shared match between them is actually a first cousin once removed. We now have both a paper trail and a genetic trail to my son-in-law’s heritage. His maternal tree goes back to 1793 in England and the 1830’s in Germany. There are other matches that are still to be explored as we widen the family tree.

It was really lucky I played that hunch about those three names in a high school yearbook.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - "The Nickel That Grew Up" *

Women shoppers at Mrs. Snyder's Candy shop
South Michigan Ave 1927
credit Pintrest
The theme for week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “ strong woman”. How do I begin to choose who to write about? I come from a long line of strong women, immigrants who ventured to a new country, widows who raised large families with grace, women who left their families to become Sisters in the Catholic Church and teach the children of others, or those who remained un-married to help other family members are the possibilities I am faced with.

My husband and his sister often reminisced about visiting their grandmother and going to a candy store where they could eat candy for free. In exploring this memory, I found that the store was owned by their great-aunt who founded the store that would become a Chicago institution.

Aurora Henrietta Hanson was the seventh child born to Oloff Hanson and Mary Hepke. She was born in Michigan City, LaPorte, Indiana 12 Mar 1876.[i] She was baptized in the Lutheran church there and shortly after her birth the family moved to Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Perhaps her father, Oloff, a fisherman, felt that the larger city would provide a better market for his daily catch.

Aurora’s mother died in 1881 due to childbirth. [ii] Her large family was left to cope with the loss. Aurora was only five at the time, but her older sister Lizbet married two years later and may have taken Aurora with her until her marriage in 1894 to William Allen Snyder.[iii]

The 1900 census shows Ora (Aurora) and William living with their daughter Edith and his parents George and Mary on Ellis Ave in Chicago where William is working as a bookkeeper.

The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago

In 1909, with only a cup of sugar and an egg white, using only five cents worth of ingredients, Ora began making candies in her kitchen to sell to the school children after school. This was necessary to support her family after her husband became too ill to work. At a friend’s suggestion she took her candies to downtown Chicago where they were much sought after.[iv]

By 1920 the Snyders were the owners of a confectionary factory according to the census and by 1925 she owned 8 stores and in 1931 she was elected the first continued woman president of Associated Retail Confectioners of the United States.[v]

Ora Snyder continued to watch her business grow and by the time of her death in 1948 she owned 16 shops, one of which was a 7-story building. In the 1960s Mrs. Snyder’s Candies and its 15 stores was purchased by Fannie Mae Candies there by ending an era.

Ora was a strong woman who found a way to support her family and created a business using her skills and determination to succeed. "I can't make all the candy in the world, so I just make the best of it." [vi]

* The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books

[i] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Operations, Inc., 2012.
[ii] Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iii] Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iv]   The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago
[v] Ibid 
[vi] The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books

Sunday, March 4, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 9 "Where there's a Will..."

Guardianship paper from the will of Hermann Burbach[i]

This is the guardianship paper which is part of the probate packet associated with the will of Hermann Burbach. According to Hermann’s Last Will and Testament, his wife Eva was to be his executor. 

Hermann died 12 April 1896 at the age of 44 years. He immigrated with his parents arriving from Villmar, Nassau, Hesse, Germany in 1856.[ii]  The family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Hermann’s father Georg worked at various jobs until Georg became a cattle drover in 1863. This was the beginning of the families connection to the meat industry.

In 1872 George became a cattle dealer while sons John and Herman held jobs unrelated to their father’s occupation. In 1874 John became a butcher while Hermann worked as a bookkeeper and they both lived with their parents at 1830 Walnut St in Milwaukee.[iii]

In 1876 Hermann had a butcher shop at 1530 Walnut where he also lived. He was working with his father Georg who lived nearby at 1830 Walnut. 1876 is also the year that Hermann married Eva Schmitz in Gesu Catholic Church in Milwaukee.[iv]

As the years passed Hermann and Eva became the parents of six children who survived infancy, and his butcher shop flourished with the addition of his brother John to the team. The family continued to remain on Walnut St over the years often seeming to trade residences. The business stayed at 1530 Walnut.

Hermann and Eva's son John tragically died by drowning in the Milwaukee River on 12 May 1893.[v] He had been rafting on the river with friends when the raft capsized, and he was trapped underwater.

Unfortunately, when Hermann died on 12 April 1896, he and John had just entered into a real estate contract with Herman Frey for the sale of property in the amount of $16,000.00 ( $465, 150.36 in current value[vi] . This sale had not yet closed and was one of the reasons for the delay in closing probate.

At the time the guardianship papers were filed, 21 April 1896, Hermann’s net worth was established as $3,500.00 ( $101,751.64 in current value[vii])

It is of note that in 1896, Hermann and Eva’s children Katie 19, George 17, Peter 13, Charles 11, and Henriette 9 were considered infants by the court and appointed a guardian ad litem.

It wasn’t until 9 July 1896 that Eva Schmitz Burbach was finally given permission to complete the real estate contract thus adding closure to Hermann’s estate.

Hermann Burbach is buried in a family plot in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

[i] Wisconsin, Wills and Probate Records, 1800 – 1987 for Hermann Burback, Probate Packets, 1850-1910; Author: Wisconsin. County Court (Milwaukee County); Probate Place: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Packets, No 11740-11761 Ii, 1896, datebase online, images 146-1560
[ii] Struck Wolf-Heino, "Die Auswanderung aus dem Herzogtum Nassau 1806-1866," passenger and immigration lists index,, ( : 28 February 2004), immigration of Georg Burbach and family page 141; Gale Research Company.
[iii] Milwaukee City Directory (Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin:n.p., 1874), page 88; digital image, ( : online 8 March 2016).
[iv] Marriage, , Marriage Register of Gesu Church (English), Roman Catholic, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Gesu), Wisconsin.
[v] Wisconsin Death Records 1867-1907 Wisconsin State Historical Society,, database ( : online database 11 March 2016), John Burbach.
[vii] ibid

Sunday, February 25, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 8 Heirloom

As the oldest child in the family, I have had the good fortune to have received many heirlooms over time and as my siblings have established their own homes, I have been able to share many things with them. My brother has a chandelier from my mother’s house that once hung in my grandmother’s dining room. Others have mom’s silver and china. But I have the Madonna!

The Madonna is a marble bust of the Blessed Virgin. She is eight inches high and about ten inches wide weighing at least five pounds. She is made of a combination or blue-grey veined marble with her face and neck carved of a plain white marble.

She has had a place of honor in the living rooms of four generations of our family. I don't know where her journey began or where it will end but this is her story as I know it.

I first remember her in front of a mirror in my grandmother’s living room. The mirror was almost floor to ceiling on the wall across from the sofa. About two feet above floor level was a beautiful wooden shelf. Almost like a hearth. It was about ten inches deep. And there she sat. Watching as I danced in front of the mirror. Watching as my grandmother Alice read her newspaper in her chair with the tall lamp illuminating the area as she moved her magnifying glass over the print. It was my privilege to stand behind the chair while my grandmother read her paper and brush her long silver hair.

Eventually the lovely lady moved on to my mother’s living room where she observed our comings and goings from her place of honor in the bookshelves. She shared those shelves with my mother’s treasured books. All of the Readers Digest Condensed Books with the faux leather binding under the paper dust jackets, books from my grandfather’s collection, and the works of such authors as J M Barrie, Robert Louis Stevenson among others.

Still later the lady moved into my home where once again she took up residence in the living room. As she occupied her place on the fruitwood cabinet just inside the front door, once again she kept track of our visitors as well as our own activities.

Now she lives in my daughter’s home where her place of honor is atop the piano. I find this very fitting since everyone in my daughter’s family is very musical.

Undoubtedly, she will find a future home with one of my grandchildren and hopefully the tradition will continue long into the future.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 7 Frank Valentine Krbec

Frank V Krbec
First Communion
Frank Valentine Krbec was born on 10 Feb 1907 in Chicago, Illinois to Frank and Rose (Bozovsky) Krbec.  He was baptized on 10 Feb 1907 at St Procopius Catholic Church by P Valeriou and the baptism was witnessed by Frank and Catherine Kotonous, his mother’s Grandparents.[i]

Frank grew up on a Bohemian neighborhood in Chicago as a first generation American on his father’s side. His father had been born in Bohemia and immigrated to the United States in 1889 with his parents Jan Krbec and Barbara Sonka, and sister Marie.

In 1910, Frank’s father was a wood worker in a piano factory, the skills he developed there would remain with him as he became a hobbyist at wood working.

By 1917, the family had moved to Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and Frank’s father was employed by Western Electric Co., a major employer in Cicero and a subsidiary of the telephone company.[ii]

By 1930, Frank Valentine has married Anne Angeline Mann (nee Franke) and they are living with her children Paul, Alfred, Virginia and Arthur at 2025 Racine Avenue in Chicago. Frank is a window worker in an auto garage.

On 25 May 1932 Anna gave birth to their only son, John Frank in Chicago.[iii] Sadly Anna Krbec died on 28 October 1933.[iv] She was buried on 31 Oct, 1933 at St Lucas Cemetery, in Chicago.[v] After Anna’s death her children with Alfred Mann changed their names and left Chicago.

In the 1940 census, Frank Valentine is shown living with his father Frank and son John Frank at 5404 23rd Place in Cicero, Cook, Illinois and working as a machine operator for a sporting goods manufacturer.

Frank Valentine Krbec died 20 Sept 1987 and is buried at Mt Emblem Cemetery.

[i] Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925;
[ii] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
[iii] llinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : 18 May 2016), Frank V Krbec in entry for John Krbec, 25 May 1932; Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, reference/certificate 18278, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm.
[iv] "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Anna Krbec, 28 Oct 1933; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference , record number , Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm .
[v] Ibid

Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Blogiversary and the Olympics!

1988 Winter Olympic Games Program
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

                       It's my Blogiversary!! Eight years of blogging!! I thought I would go back to how it all started.

It’s time once again for the Olympics! I began this blog in 2010 as part to the Olympic Winter Games meme created by Thomas MacEntee. Wow that was eight years ago! I thought I would have run out of ideas long before now.

In 1988 my husband and I were the guests of the 3M Corporation for the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Dave and I spent four wonderful days as we attended the opening ceremony, ski jumping, a hockey game, and both bobsled and luge events.  3M had rented a country club for the use of their guests and there was a frozen pond on the property.  The clubhouse had a place to borrow ice skates, so I was able to ice skate at the Olympics.

Part of the fun of the Olympics, it the custom of trading pins. Most of the sponsoring companies at the Olympics supply their guests and representatives with a special pin designed to commemorate the occasion. As you meet and mingle with other guests, pins are swapped, and it is a real contest to see how many pins you can collect. I think in the four days we were in Calgary, Dave was able to collect about thirty pins, far from a record but a nice souvenir of the trip.

Pin collecting did not end with the Olympics however, as we traveled in later years, Dave continued to collect pins representing our journeys. He especially collected the pins as we cruised in the Caribbean. The pins he collected were attached to his straw hat.His penchant for wearing his hat on trips to the various islands earned him the nickname of “Pin Man”. The Olympic influence doesn’t always end with the closing ceremony.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 6 Favorite Name “Dorette”

This week’s choice was an easy one for me as I have liked it since I first heard it as the name of the daughter of a “friend” of my parents. As it turned out the said “friend” was, actually, my father’s first cousin. His cousin Gordon had named his only daughter Dorette and I loved it from the first even though I did not realize the significance at the time. The name is pronounced as “Doretta” with the final “e” having the sound of an “a”. 

Dorette - Pronunciation of Dorette as a name for girls is of Greek origin, and the name Dorette means "gift". Dorette is a version of Dora (Greek): pet form of Dorothy.[i]

When I began doing genealogy I found that my paternal great-grandmother was Dorette Christensen and her mother had been Karen Dorothea.
Dorette Christensen was born 2 Nov 1857 in Akershus, Norway to Daniel Christensen and Karen Dorthea Christensen[ii]. She was the oldest of seven children and married Johannes Adolf Waldemar Hansen on 12 Dec 1876 at Grønland Parish, Oslo, Norway[iii].

Johannes and Dorette had seven children before her untimely death on 4 July 1887, at the age of thirty. Their youngest daughter, who died shortly after birth, was named Aagot Dorette.

RELATIONS VIA DORA Dodee, Dorae, Doralee, Dore, Dorea, Doree, Doreen, Doreina, Dorelia, Dorelle, Dorena, Dorene, Doretta, Doreyda, Dorie, Dorine, Dorita, Dorrie[iv]

Dorette’s son Adolph, my grandfather, named his daughter Dorothy, and his sister, Dagny, named her daughter Dorette. A great-granddaughter of Adolph's brother Sigurd, was named Dorette and over the years other great-granddaughters and great-great-granddaughters down to the sixth generation have used variants of the name as first or middle names.

My own name is Donna, but I never asked my parents if I was named after anyone. I assumed it was after my father Donald, but I kind of hope it was after that great-grandmother from Norway.

[ii] SAO, Garnisonsmenigheten Kirkebøker, F/Fa/L0009: Parish register (official) no. 9, 1842-1859, p. 77
Filter:Born and baptised (1857)
[iii] Norwegian Lutheran Church, , FHL film 1282502, , Marriage of Johannes Adolf and Dorette Christensen; FHL    microfilm , 1876.
[iv] ibid