Thursday, March 29, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Getting Ready for Easter


(This is a post from last year, but I wanted to share it again.  These little sweetbreads are so yummy and perfect for the season!)

Since Easter is just around the corner, I figured I'd share a recipe that my mom used to make each Easter when my sisters and I were little kids.  It's from the "Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cook Book".  I managed to get a copy of it on eBay and look forward to making some of the other breads and treats that my mom used to make each year!

These bunny buns are so yummy and my kids love them!  I've only ever made the twist bunnies, but perhaps I'll make the curlicue bunnies this year as well so I can get a picture!

Bunny Buns

1 pkg active dry yeast                                                                       
1 tsp salt
¼ c. warm water (110 – 115 degrees (F))                           
5 ½ c flour
1 c milk                                                                                                      
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. sugar                                                                                              
¼ c. orange juice
½ c. shortening                                                                                      
2 tbsp orange peel, grated

In a small bowl, soften the yeast in the warm water.  Heat together the milk, sugar, salt, and shortening until the shortening melts.  Cool to lukewarm (110 to 115 degrees (F)), then stir in 2 cups of the flour.  Beat well.  Add the eggs; mix well.  Stir in the yeast mixture.  Add the orange juice, peel, and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Rest 10 minutes.

Knead dough 5 to 10 minutes.  cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).  Punch down.  Cover.  Let rest for 10 more minutes.

Shape into bunnies.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Let bunnies rise in a warm place until almost doubled before baking.  Bake at 375 degrees (F) for 12 to 15 minutes.  Drizzle with a mixture of confectioners’ sugar and milk.  Makes about 20 bunnies.


TWISTED BUNNIES:  For each, you’ll need a 14-inch strip of dough.  Wrap one end of the strip over the other to form a loop; now bring the end that’s underneath up over the top end, letting the tips extend to the side for ears.  Plat the tips of the eats to shape a point.  Roll a small ball of dough and place in the middle of the loop at the bottom of the bunny for the tail.

CURLICUE BUNNIES:  For each, you’ll need a 10-inch strip of dough for the body and a 5-inch strip for the head.  Make a loose swirl of the body strip.  Swirl the strip for the head and place close to the body (they’ll “grow” together as the dough rises).  For the ears, pinch off 1 ½ inch strips and roll between hands until smooth and cigar-shaped.  Let the point make the tip of the ear; snip off the opposite end and place the ear next to the head.  Pinch off a bit of dough and roll into a ball.  Place the ball next to the back-end of the bunny for the tail.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Unknown Collection Continues...

This album was passed down from my Quirk ancestors who lived in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Now this photo wasn't taken in northeastern Pennsylvania, but I do know that one of my Quirk ancestors went out to Pittsburgh for the funeral of one Mrs. David Menges.  Mrs. Menges had siblings with the surname Lee and these same siblings came out to northeastern Pennsylvania for Mary Quirk nee Lee's funeral in 1913.  So there is some common Lee relationship out there.  Sadly, I don't have these Lees in my family tree and I've spent years trying to find and figure out who they were and how they fit.

So seeing any of these photographs in my album that were taken in Pittsburgh always makes me wonder if they could be  members of the Lee or Menges family.  As always, I hope that someday, someone may come across my blog and I may finally find out.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Twits and Twitter...There IS a Difference

It took me some time before I caved in and got on Twitter.  Then again, it took me quite some time (and nagging from dear friends) before I got on Facebook.  I haven't regretted either.

If you say "Twitter" to many people they pull a face and usually say something along the lines of "Why would I want to have anything to do with Twitter?  I don't need to know when a celebrity brushes his teeth!?!"

Yes, I've noticed that this seems to be what many people have come to think of Twitter, and I'll admit that I did as well and then on October 28, 2010 I read a blog post that was linked through Family Search (@RecordsWiki) about Twitter and how useful it was to genealogists...and I was convinced.

I had no idea that by following the genealogy hashtag (#genealogy) that I could see anything that people were posting on that subject.  I just didn't know how it all worked.  I thought that I needed to have followers to make it useful to me and my research, but that wasn't correct at all.

I was able to communicate with other genealogists about goings-on in the genealogy community.  It was a very inclusive tool and it had some other benefits too.

Whenever I had posted something new on my blog, I would often head over to Twitter (via bitly to grab a shortened URL) and tweet about my blog post.  It brought more traffic to my blog.  A lot more traffic. It opened my blog up to people that hadn't been following it, or didn't even know about it and allowed an exchange of ideas that I may not have otherwise had.  It can open you up to those long lost family members researching the same lines as you too!  Granted I don't tweet every blog post, but that's just me, you certainly can.

I don't just follow genealogists on Twitter though.  I do follow politicians that I favor and some actors/comedians (who can resist following Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart?).  It's also a great way to get breaking news...

Now where does the "Twit" part of my post come in. Well, there are certainly plenty of twits out there using Twitter.  After all the stereotype has to originate from somewhere doesn't it?  We can start with the "breaking news" I just mentioned.  Just because someone tweets about something, doesn't make it true.  I take everything with a cup of salt. The same goes for Facebook though.  We know we've seen plenty of silly posts that people make on Facebook that a small trip to would clear up if they'd bother checking before posting!

Then there are the people that are always saying "Follow me, I follow back!"  Gosh, they kill me!  I "liked" Twitter on Facebook.  I liked them because 1) I'm using their product and 2) I want to know if there are any problems, updates, tips, etc for using it.  Sadly, this is where you see the majority of the "Follow me!" posts.  They fill most comment blocks on what would otherwise be a useful exchange of Twitter information on Facebook and annoy the serious Twitter users.  What these people don't realize is that Twitter isn't a popularity contest (OK, maybe for them it is, which is just sad).  If you actually are contributing something to a # (hashtag) that people follow, then you will have people reading your tweets and will, in the end, get followers.

It's kind of like those friends you have on Facebook that simply run around "friending" people that they've never met.  I'm not talking about how many of us genealogist/bloggers friend each other.  That's making connections and we're pretty much all one big genealogy family, but the people that send friend requests to everyone and anyone that makes a comment on a board they follow.  They end up with thousands of friends and don't really know any of them.  Silly, but not really any different than Twitter.

Another great part of Twitter...just like on Facebook, when you get a spam tweet (and you will get one at some point) there are ways to report spam/obscenities and to block users from contacting you.  No worries!

I actually had a friendship end because of Twitter [sniff].  Sounds odd, but she was a very thick-headed lady and had made some comments about how only juvenile, needy people used Twitter.  When I tried to explain to her the benefits that can be gleaned from using Twitter (and that Twits were everywhere, and not just on Twitter) she had a minor melt-down.  The one and only time I had to unfriend someone [sigh].

So if you haven't jumped into the world of Twitter yet, what are you waiting for?  Get your blog out there. Pass on information.  Follow some hashtags #.  Ask questions and even see if there's a hashtag for an ancestor's surname! You never know until you look.  It's not hard and there are Twitter tutorials out there.  Heck, I even sat in on an absolutely fabulous webinar by Dear Ol'Myrtle about using Twitter.  You don't need to know all the abbreviations either.  Heck I still don't know them all.  I'm learning all the time!

So live and learn and know that while there are many Twits on Twitter, they can be found anywhere, so stop hiding! Jump on in, the water's fine!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - One Letter, So Many Questions

This letter was one that was passed on to me by my uncle.  It helped me narrow down the time when my great grandmother, Jadwiga, died.  She isn't mentioned by name in the letter (which I did find odd) but it is obviously who the attorney was talking about since that is Clarence's mother.

I found it a bit odd that my great grandmother was the sole owner of the property in question.  Any ideas there?  Also the property isn't elaborated on because obviously Clarence would have known what the attorney was talking about, but I'm curious about that property and certainly want to find out more.  Maybe it was left to her by a family member?  Would she really have purchased it on her own?  I'm also very curious because this property wasn't mentioned in the will/correspondence after Jadwiga's husband died.  As I blogged about previously, the property in dispute then was their home.  Could it possibly be the same property?  So many questions.  Lots still to look up and learn!

"Law Offices
Walter W Kaczmarek
426-27 Connell Building
2 Scranton, Pennsylvania
Telephone 2-8241

July 13, 1945

Mr Clarence P. Tabor
670 Garfield St.
Hazleton, PA

Dear Mr. Tabor;

Due to the fact that your mother, who died only recently, was the sole owner of the property that was leased to the Socony Vacuum Oil Company, payment of rentals by the company will not be made to your father unless sole ownership in the property is vested in him or authority given to collect the same.  At present he has an undivided one-third interest in it, and each of the four children own an undivided one-sixth interest.

I talked this matter over with your father, and he thinks it could all be simplified if the children and their husbands or wives, as the case may be, would convey their respective interests in the property to him and he in turn would execute a Will leaving the property to the children in equal shares.  To me this sounds like a very practical solution because someone will have to look after the payment of taxes and the upkeep and maintenance of the property.  I think you will all agree that your father is the proper person to do this.

Will you talk this over with your wife and if such an arrangement is agreeable, let me know at once, and I will prepare the required papers for your signatures?

Very truly yours,
Walter W Kaczmarek

WWK: eml"

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Post is Brought to You by the Letter "Q"

My grandmother Mary Ann Brown nee Quirk not Zuirk!
I had been telling myself that I was going to write a blog post about the change regarding teaching cursive to children.  I kept wanting to do it and wanting to do it, but I just never sat down and wrote the blog post.  Well, one morning I saw a post on the National Genealogical Society's blog (which you can read by clicking here).  It caught my eye and spurred me to at least get started on the post (and obviously finish it).

I learned cursive when I was in 3rd grade, or at least sometime around 3rd grade.  Before that, we naturally concentrated on printing, and we were graded on our penmanship.  Then we were taught cursive.  Oh how intimidating it looked at first when you're supposed to learn something that you can't even read...but it all worked out. We learned cursive....and survived [gasp].

My oldest son is in 5th grade.  He too learned cursive in 3rd grade, but he can't write in cursive.  Why?  Well, because they learned it and never used it again!  Yep, they were taught and then they ignored it like a dirty little secret...let us not speak of this "cursive" thing again!  Well, it's really funny, but I thought educators would realize that if you don't use don't reinforce will forget it.  You see when I learned cursive we were told, "Great!  Now you know it so write in it!" and we were from that point on forbidden to print.  That was how they reinforced it.  It's not like they had to continue spending time in class to teach it.  The teaching was done and we were supposed to use what we had learned.

You know when you use something you've learned, you tend to get better at it.  Sure it was slow going at first, but so is printing everything!  At the beginning of 4th grade I realized that while my son had learned cursive, he wasn't using it.  I asked him why and he told me that the teachers don't want them to.  Well, then why did they teach it?

I'm not saying that they shouldn't have taught it, I was just amazed that they taught something and then told the kids not to use it.  What was the point and why does no one else around me think this is ridiculous?!?!  I talked to my son's 4th grade teacher about it.  I even talked to his 3rd grade teacher about it (an awesome teacher, by the way) and I talked to other parents, friends and family about it.  I just didn't understand what was going on!

My youngest sister is 17 years younger than I am.  She's in law school right now [gosh I'm so proud of her...sniff] and she told me that when she started college that she retaught herself cursive so that she could take notes faster.  I was stunned that my sister hadn't even been taught, and it's been a little while since she was in 3rd grade!  So this trend is actually not new at all, but it's getting to the point where they want to take it away completely and no one seems to care!  Some of the parents and friends that I spoke to use the nonsensical explanation that students need to learn keyboarding because computers are what's important today.

Will future generations know this was a "Q"?
Really?  OK, allow me to find the crack in your stained glass window of logic regarding what society needs.  I took this little thing in junior high school called Keyboarding Typing.  We used these dinosaurs called typewriters, but we learned to type.  I'm actually a pretty darned fast typist.  I would freak out some of my fellow cadre members when I was a Drill Sergeant because they would come in to talk to me and I was able to hold a conversation with them, looking at them, and typing at the same time.  But my point is that I learned both and I still use both.

Sure we're entering a more technologically oriented generation and change is to be expected, but sometimes I wonder about the change that gets made.  There aren't computers at every desk in elementary school, middle school or high school.  Every student that goes to college doesn't have a laptop to take to class so they can take notes!  Sure many do, but some people are struggling just to send their kids let alone sending them with a computer that needs replacing every few years!  So how do these people take notes?  Printing?  That's not the most efficient method.  A voice recorder?  Again, if you're having financial difficulties this is a luxury that all will not have.  It's just plain silly!

Cursive is also a means of expressing oneself.  I know my handwriting doesn't look anything like the prim and proper cursive I was taught.  Most of us changed our writing style to something that suited us, to something that expressed a sense of art and creativity.  Who can forget the loopy y's, the hearts dotting the i's and j's and the long lines crossing the t's?  Slanting to the left, to the right or straight up and down.  Our handwriting told a little bit about ourselves and now even that small bit of creativity is taken out of the classrooms (just like Art you know that there is no Art class in my son's school?!?!)

Yes the lower case "D" looks like a "g"!

A little Russian tidbit that I'd like to share as well.  When I learned Russian not only did I have to learn their "crazy" alphabet with all those backward R's and squared-looking D's in the printed language, but I had to learn to write in their version of cursive!  Do you know what else?  My teachers were natives and they would tell us on a regular basis that YOU DO NOT PRINT!  Why?  Because in Russia if you printed instead of writing in cursive your were stereotyped as being stupid.  I'm serious.  We were told this on numerous occasions.  Were they pulling our legs...well, I never did quite get Russian humor, but I doubt it.  Have times changed and do they still view it this way?  No idea, but is this lack of cursive just another way of dumbing down?  How does it make us look in a global economy...because we are global.

Old cursive Q
We as genealogists sit here gnashing our teeth together because in our profession and hobby we actually need to know cursive.  We know that cursive has evolved over time and some of those documents are pretty hard to read for those of us that have been using cursive for decades!  Case in point, my hometown newspaper put together a hardcover book awhile back and they had a chapter for each decade in the 20th century.  My grandmother's senior class picture was in there.  I was tickled when I saw it because I've seen this picture many times (in fact it's the one at the top of this post).  I knew it was her...despite what was written below it. What was written below it?  Well, my grandmother's name was Mary Quirk.  What was written, however, was Mary Zuirk.  Remember those old Q's that looked like 2's?  Well, the person that read the names off the back of the original class picture thought the Q was a Z.  She is now immortalized in print, by the wrong name...and this was by people that DID learn cursive!

What will it be like for our children, grandchildren, etc who pick up our work and try to take over where we leave off?  How will they even begin to try to read those documents?  What will future generations of historians do?  Learn cursive as a subject in college?  Has our cursive become some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics on the wall?  Will our descendants not even be able to read the Declaration of Independence when they view it in a museum?  Not only do we lose the ability to research when we don't teach and reinforce cursive...not only do we lose an outlet of personal expression when we become so complacent and neglectful of something so vital, but we lose a part of our culture.  I've already purchased a book of cursive worksheets on and I intend on plaguing my children's summers making sure they don't miss out on this skill.

Keyboarding be damned.  My super-power is writing in cursive!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - The Unknown Collection

Kellmer's of Hazleton, PA
Trevaskis of Hazleton, PA

Well, nearly.  I'm continuing on with my album of unknown photos.  This is, once again, taken from my Quirk family album of "who the heck are these people?"  This time a double-whammy of sorts.  If you look, the pictures are of the same gentleman, but taken by different photographers in the same city.  It's even the same pose.  I don't know the timeline for Hazleton, Pennsylvania photographers, but what I will have to do is research these two in particular.  Perhaps one took over or branched off from the other and they had the original to make copies from.

Also, a little research may be in order as to what the young man is wearing.  A priest perhaps?  I think so. Maybe finding out who this person was may not be an impossibility then.  Either way, my ancestor had more than one picture in the album and we did have some priests in the family.  Any ideas about the time frame for this photo?  I'd love any hints!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - The Apple Doesn't Fall Far, Part II

There was one other letter from my great uncle Adam Tabor Jr to my grandfather, Clarence Tabor (a.k.a. - Corp).  It's short and sweet and somewhat concludes the estate battle...or at least it does pretty much what Adam Jr said he would do.

"July 5, 1960
Scranton, Pa

Dear Corp

Sorry I could not send you the money any sooner.  I had attack of the virus, and had to stay home a few days.  Enclosed is a check for $300.00 and a judgement note; for your and Flossie to sign.  In that there is proof you received the money from me.  Please have you and Flossie sign the note and send it back to me.  I hope you have good luck in N. Jersey to procuring work.

Your Brother,

So my grandfather was looking for work when all this happened.  Obviously in financial need with a wife and 2 kids.  I don't know if the job in New Jersey ever panned out, but I know my father and uncle never moved from Hazleton, PA so if the job worked out, my grandfather must have commuted.  Not really feasible at the time.  It would be a long commute.  Something someone might do today, but not back then (I suppose).

Another thing that I find crossing my mind is why does uncle Adam keep referring to having "the virus"?  I know he lived for another 25 years so whatever it is is certainly a mystery to me.  I may have his death certificate.  I'm not sure.  I will certainly be looking though.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

A little regional humor from Jeff Walker and the Whackjobs. Jeff Walker is a DJ from 98.5 FM in northeastern Pennsylvania and one of their albums from years ago is a song about "The Leprechaun".  There were (and are) lots of Irish in NE PA and this song pokes fun at my hometown (Hazleton) in the last bit.  How true it is too.  Hazleton can sometimes seem to be stuck in the 1980s.  Enjoy the song, but you truly have to be from the area to appreciate it fully. Just click the play button below to go to The Leprechaun's page for the song!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Ready for Saint Patrick's Day?

[This is was originally posted in February 2011 in preparation for Saint Patrick's Day.  I've made just slight changed (none to the recipe) and decided to share what is hopefully becoming a family tradition.  It was a great hit last Saint Patrick's Day!]

Last February with Saint Patrick's Day coming up (and me being 50% Irish), I had begun experimenting with various recipes so that our annual celebration doesn't resemble the dreadful corned-beef-and-cabbage-makes-me-want-to-vomit meal from Saint Patrick's Day of 2010!  I had wanted to make a good Irish stew in my slow cooker but frankly all of the recipes looked like they may lack a little flavor so I switched to recipes for Guinness stew and after reading several and not finding one that really suited me, I decided to use my new found research of these recipes and create one with bits from all and add a little me to it.  I tried it out before the big day and it was very good.  I served it over regular mashed potatoes instead of rice or noodles (that's why I didn't include any potatoes in the stew), but it will be served over Colcannon on the big day.

The Colcannon recipe was created in 2010 and it was the only really edible thing from that meal.  I took the recipe from my "Little Irish Cookbook" and screwed it up when I did my shopping.  Well, it wasn't really a screw up.  I bought bacon for it thinking that the bacon was supposed to be in there and when I opened the book to start cooking realized I was wrong.  Instead of saving the bacon for another occasion I used the philosophy that "everything's better with bacon" and it turned out to be so true! :)

This wasn't a family recipe in the sense that it was passed on to me, but I'm making it because of my love for my Irish heritage and wanting to start a tradition with my children that I can only hope they will share with their families as the grow up.

Guinness Stew
(the measurements are approximate but should be close.  Season to your taste!)

4-5 lbs beef stew meat 
1 c. flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp beef broth (I used 4 tbsp water and added a scoop of beef paste since I don't keep stock in my house)
1 bottle Guinness (yes I used the whole thing)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp thyme, dried
1 tsp rosemary, dried
1 large onion (it was a monster.  Probably the size of 2 mediums...maybe 2 cups), chopped
1 (2 lb) bag of baby carrots
1 lb of mushrooms, quartered (or more if desired)
1 c. sour cream

Trim meat of any large pieces of fat (if desired) and place the stew meat in a large bowl.  Mix together the flour, salt and pepper.  Add to the beef and toss to coat.  Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil.  When hot add the beef (in batches, if necessary, adding more oil if needed) and brown.  Place browned meat in the slow cooker (don't cook the meat all the way through.  You just want to brown it.

Add the onion and carrots to the slow cooker.  In a bowl mix together the tomato paste, beef broth, garlic, thyme, rosemary and beer.  Pour over the meat and vegetables.  Set your slow cooker to low to cook (my slow cooker's lowest setting is 10 hours).

About 1 hour before cooking is done add the mushrooms to the stew (they came out perfectly). Tested it and adjusted seasonings to taste (I personally added a little additional garlic powder since the fresh didn't pack enough punch and some onion powder). Five minutes before serving I stirred in 1 cup sour cream.


8 med potatoes, peeled and chopped (The smaller the pieces the quicker they will cook)
1 bunch scallions, chopped (abt 8)
1/2 c. milk
1 small head of cabbage, shredded then chopped (discard stump)
1 lb bacon, cut into pieces

Place the potatoes into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Shred and chop the cabbage.  Add to a pot covered with water and bring to a boil.

While the potatoes and cabbage are cooking cut the uncooked bacon into pieces; fry until done.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Remove cabbage and potatoes when done (a fork will easily pierce a potato that is easily cooked).  Drain.  Return the potatoes to their pot to keep warm and for some of the water to evaporate from the potatoes.

While the potatoes are losing some of their moisture add the scallions to the milk and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Mash the potatoes with the milk and scallions, adding salt, pepper and butter to your taste (you know best your you like your mashed potatoes!).  Add the cabbage and bacon and serve.

NOTE:  If the potatoes are too wet simply place the mixture into a pot on the stove to evaporate some of the moisture.  You can simply add the milk a little at a time to avoid this, but ensure that all the scallions get in and aren't left behind in the milk if it's not all used.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Those Places Thursday - The House That Caused the Fuss

This is the house that cause all the fuss with my grandfather and his siblings in my previous post.  It's still standing in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Knowing that it was Adam and Jadwiga's house, I wish it was still in the family.  They were the first immigrants in that line so it is meaningful to me.  If nothing else, I wish I could see inside it, although I'm sure it's changed.

I wish I had a better picture.  I was sure the picture that I had wasn't this bad, but the one I'm looking for may be at home on my backup drive.  I guess I'll check again after spring break when I get home!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - A Murky Piece of Family History

My grandpa during Army days
My beautiful grandma with my dad & uncle

My grandparents were Clarence Paul Tabor and Florence Genevieve Bronsavage, and I had always been told that Florence was pregnant when they married.  I always believed it, and it is still possibly true but the story is a bit murky.  It's a bit off.  A little history.

Clarence had married Catherine Gluoknis on January 14, 1931...and divorced in October 1935.  I had been told that she was a mean, nasty person, but I have to look at this with a grain of salt.  We all know how people tend to view their exes.  Either way though, Clarence was apparently unhappy with his choice of bride.  As far as we know Clarence and Catherine didn't have any children together although I don't have any confirmation of this.  They were married for four years so children are possible.  

Clarence, now a single man, met Florence and they fell in love, but being Catholic, Clarence wanted an annulment so that he could remarry in the church.  I was told that Clarence paid approximately $500.00 for an annulment that never came to be and that it was because of the lack of annulment (and Florence now being pregnant) that caused them to leave the Catholic church to be married.  Then I found this Certificate of Marriage as I was sorting files.

Sure it's possible that Florence could have been pregnant when they got married.  It would certainly be close.  I know this without calculation because I got pregnant beginning to mid-May with my oldest and he was born on his due date in January and his due date is one day before my father's birthday.  So yes, she could have been pregnant and gone into labor early (not the norm for first children, however, but it is possible) or she would have been just pregnant and unless they were already planning the church wedding and just sped things up the story doesn't make complete sense.  As you can see from the marriage certificate they were married at Saint John the Baptist Polish National Catholic Church.  Yes this isn't the Roman Catholic Church, but it not only is a "Catholic" Church (broken away from the Roman Catholic Church), but it is a Polish National Catholic Church and to the best of my knowledge, Clarence's parents, Adam and Jadwiga, went to a PNCC.  

So why the big family history story?  Perhaps Florence wanted to get married in the Roman Catholic Church?  She was Roman Catholic.  But my father wasn't raised in a PNCC...or a Roman Catholic church.  He was raised Methodist, so Clarence and Florence changed churches, and religions, for a second time.  Perhaps there was no PNCC in Hazleton.  There is one there now although I don't know how long it's been there.  In fact, I believe, my uncle (Clarence and Florence's 2nd son) goes to the PNCC in Hazleton. So I'm not sure why the change in religions...or why the annulment story.  I may have to do some more research into the PNCC and see if perhaps they permitted divorce/remarriage without an annulment...and as for Florence being pregnant, well that would be hard to disprove, but it would be close.

So the family history surrounding their wedding and the change of faiths that my grandparents had is made murky by a little piece of paper.  A little piece of paper that I should have given a closer look about 5 years ago!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - A Face and Final Resting Place

I wasn't going to do a "Tombstone Tuesday" post today, but since I mentioned my great uncle Adam Tabor Jr in yesterday's post (and since I'm in Colorado Springs for Spring Break with the family).  I thought I'd share a little more about the writer of that letter.

Adam Jr was the 3rd of 4 children born to Adam and Jadwiga Tabor nee Paszkawicz.  He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 21, 1913 and as far as I know he lived there all his life.  He died on May 16, 1985 and is buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery in Chinchilla, Pennsylvania (just outside Scranton).  Adam never married.

Even though I knew that Adam Sr, Adam Jr and Jadwiga were buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery, it took me a very long time (and I'm talking years of searching) to find it.  You see they were said to be members of the Polish National Catholic Church and when I couldn't find the Lithuanian cemetery, I started looking through the PNCC cemetery.  Then one year before a trip home to Pennsylvania, it turned up in a Google search (and I swear it never did before).  Then with the help of a GPS I finally found it.  I'd driven past it several times when out searching and never saw it.  It's small and just off a narrow, winding road.  If you miss it!

Every time I look and see that Adam Jr died in 1985 I'm stunned by the fact that I never met him.  We never went to the funeral.  I was 13 when he died and I could have had memories of this man, but have none.  Sad.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

Back when postage was 4 cents!

Page I
As I was organizing my files the other day, I came across some papers that were passed on to me by my uncle regarding our Tabor side of my family.  I had given them a quick read when I first received them, but really nothing more.  I knew they were in reference to the death and estate of my great grandfather, but I didn't realize remember that there was drama involved.

Part of me was giggling as I transcribed this letter for this post.  Why was I giggling?  Because as I read it, it sounded all too familiar.  My father certain unnamed member of my family is all about the quick buck.  This letter was written to "Corp" from Adam.  Adam is my great uncle Adam Tabor Jr and "Corp" was the family nickname for my grandfather, Clarence Paul Tabor.  Apparently when Adam Sr died, my grandfather wanted his share and wanted it now...and he didn't really care about the inconvenience or hardship that it would cause his siblings.  The letter doesn't exactly say that, but let's just say that Adam's reply to a letter that my grandfather apparently sent is dripping with disdain for his request.

The inflation of the value of Clarence's portion of the estate and the immediate gratification are things that I can see were passed down to his oldest son.  The difference is Adam responded to his brother in a way that I wish I had seen more people respond to the apple!  My great uncle Adam was always this odd-looking man that I'd only seen in pictures.  I have new respect for the man I never met!  Great job, uncle Adam!

Page II
"June 22 - 1960

Dear Corp.

Sorry I could not answer your [sic] any sooner.  The day your letter arrived, I had the virus.  This letter is going to disappoint you, as you read later on I'll answer this letter in a forum bases so it will be plain and explained in a easier way.

I.  I have talked to Lillian, Stan, Aldona; and Leo, and they cannot in a way, see it your way.

(a) Zentar's [sic] still has mortgage on their house, as they have done some extensive repairing on their house.

(B) Ruminski's can't get that much money together.  Carolyn just graduated from Central; and is going to nurses Training at the Mercy Hospital and that takes a little money.

(C) If I (Adam) had money I would not be driving around in a 1951 jalopy.

II.  If we were to go and borrow money from the Bank to buy your share, who is going to pay the interest on the loan.

Page III
(A)  If we take a mortgage on the house, who is going to pay the interest and principal back to the bank.  If a prospective buyer knows there is a mortgage on the house will practically set his own price.

(C) To buy your share of the house, we have to hire a lawyer to change the will, and go to court to have it legalized.  Would cost $100.00  I know because I have inquired about that.

III.  If you want to I have the consent of the Zenters & Ruminskies to send you $300.00 no more and that amount to be deducted from your share when the estate is sold.  Is that fair enough

Now you say your share of the estate is $4500.00 which means it is worth $18000.000 to you.  If you can get a buyer for the property at that price you bring him or her to Scranton to show them the property, at my expense, and if they buy I will give you from my share as a bonus $500.00.

Now I have explained the best I know how.  And I hope you can see our side of the situation.  I am still waiting for a thank you for the check for $250.00 I send last Christmas time.

Page IV
Your brother


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Be Careful What You Say

John Trunzo
This is actually a very sad story.  John Trunzo was the 6th of 8 known children of Raffaele and Giovanna Trunzo nee Ferraro.  He was also my step-father's father.

The news article below doesn't tell all the details of the story.  It mentions a heart ailment that John was suffering from, but my step-father believes that his lungs were also affected.  He told me his memories of the event...what he may have remembered and what had been told to him by his mother later.  His father worked at the Royal Battery Company, and I'm told that he never wore his protective mask at work, which means that he was exposed to all the chemicals in the air at the factory.  My step-father recalls that this is what caused his hospitalization.

I had been concerned that he had been scalded with battery acid or something along those lines, but I was told that all of his injuries were internal.  He looked fine on the outside and my step-father remembers visiting his father in the hospital.

What caused John to jump?  Was it really that his recovery was going too slowly?  Family history leads us to believe that it was something else.  John's parents were immigrants from Italy and they spoke Italian at home.  As a result John and his siblings also spoke/understood Italian.  So when some of the other men were standing in the hospital, perhaps in what they believed to be out of earshot, and began speaking about John's condition in Italian, he not only heard them, but he understood them.

John Trunzo and unknown woman
What were they talking about?  What did they say? According to my step-father they talked about how hopeless his condition was.  How he would never be the same and how he'd be scarred for life.  Do you know any Italian men?  I do.  The thought of being "scarred" or somehow "weak" or permanently disabled is a pride-crippling thought. And John apparently felt that this was the only way to restore that pride. To take his own life rather than wither away and perhaps not be able to support his family.  So he jumped.  He died.

It makes me sad...pride.  Had it not been for pride and the stupidity of those gentlemen standing around talking, my step-father may have had a much longer time with his father.  My baby sister may have known her grandfather.

Everything happens for a reason though.  John's wife, Frances, did remarry and she had many more sons and daughters for my step-dad to grow up with and enjoy his adult years.  I wish I could have had the opportunity to meet John as well, but I am grateful for the wonderful step-family that I have and I love them all.

Life.  Sometimes things absolutely suck but without it, we'd be different people.  Without it there never would have been those other children.  We're in pretty good hands after all.  Rest in peace John Trunzo.

Unknown NJ newspaper
"Hospital Patient Jumps to Death

John Trunzo, 29, Sick in St. Peter's 3 Months; Dies Instantly [hand-dated Dec. 17, 1939]

Despondent over his slow recovery from a heart ailment, John Trunzo, 29, of 23 Hardenbergh street, jumped to his death from the second floor of St. Peter's Hospital early last evening.

Trunzo has been a patient at the hospital since early in September.

Early last evening he was administered oxygen and given a cup of tea by a nurse.  She left the ward for the chart room and upon her return, she found a wind open and Trunzo missing from his bed.

The nurse peered out the window and saw the body of Trunzo on the concrete pavement below.  She spread the alarm and hospital attaches rushed to the aid of the patient.

Death Instantaneous

Carried into the hospital, Trunzo was pronounced dead.  It was announced that death was instantaneous.  Mrs. Trunzo was summoned shortly after the accident.

Coroner William H. Jaqui was called and after an investigation, he removed the body to his morgue.

Detectives Charles Reilly and James McCormick of the local police and Detective James Bates of the prosecutor's office made an investigation.  Statements were taken from the hospital attaches and ward patients who saw Trunzo leap to his death.

Death was officially given as suicide.

Trunzo had been a resident of this city for the past few years and before his illness was employed by the Royal Battery Company.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a three [crossed out and hand-written in four]-year-old son, James.

No arrangements have been made for the funeral."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Society Saturday - Texas Relatives? Don't Miss This!

Say "Cheese!", Amie!
East Bell County Genealogy Society held a meeting on February 21st and had an excellent speaker in Amie Oliver.  Amie is the Coordinator for Use and Access Services for The Texas Collection at Baylor University.  She gave a wonderful and information presentation, “Genealogical Resources at The Texas Collection.”  All I can say after hearing everything The Texas Collection has to offer, is that I wish I had ancestors that lived in Texas!  If you have ancestors that lived Texas, you don’t want to miss out on this collection!

So what exactly is meant by a “Special Collection”?  Well a special collection is a library or archive devoted to one specific type of information, in this instance, Texas history.  The Texas Collection is a closed stack library, which means that someone will retrieve the books/materials that you wish to look through.  And just like in other closed stack libraries and archives, you can submit a request for materials to be pulled before your arrival so they’re waiting for you!

Some of the information in The Texas Collection that you can peruse includes:

            -135,000+ volumes of printed materials on Texas, both rare and current and approximately 150 books are added each month!

            -Microfilm (a genealogist’s bane true love)!  Seriously, though everything isn’t on line so good old-fashion microfilm scanning is essential and The Texas Collection is not lacking here.  They have the census records, both microfilmed as well as electronic versions.  Another neat aspect here is the Regional Historical Resource Depository (RHRD).  What’s that?  Well, they are county records!  Of Texas’ counties 167 have chosen to have their records microfilmed.  There are 25 RHRD depositories in Texas and The Texas Collection at Baylor University is one of them!  More awesomeness needed?  Well most microfilm is available through Inter-Library Loan (ILL).  So if you find something you’d like to take a look at and you don’t live near one of these depositories, you can make a request through ILL.  If it's not one of the items that is available through ILL the worst you'll hear is "no", but nothing ventured nothing gained! Records that may be found in the RHRD include, naturalizations, vital records, muster rolls, voter registrations, probate, divorce records, etc.  Criminal cases (sadly) are not microfilmed, but tax records from the formation of a specific county through 1910 are!

            -Various area histories (an often neglected resource)

            -Biographical Gazetteer of Texas – This is unique to the Texas Collection.  Almost 200 books with biographical sketches were taken, gone through and a database was created so that you can search for a person’s name and find which books they are mentioned in.  The database can even be searched via their website!

            -Telephone books and City directories – they have been digitized through 1923 and as copyright limitations expire, more will be added!

            -Periodicals – There are over 100 genealogical titles

            -Vertical Files – These are cataloged, not digitized.  The files are on specific people, places, or events and many have family history data in them.

            -Church histories of all faiths – sure the South is known for Baptist churches but The Texas Collection has church histories for all faiths.  These histories may include membership information, baptisms, cemetery records, births and information on the clergy.

            -Family histories – these can be found in books, vertical files, and oral memoirs.  Family histories can be difficult to come by because when someone publishes theirs, they tend to only make enough copies for immediate family.  Is your family from Texas and do you have a family history that’s been published (bound or digitally)?  Send the Texas Collection a copy.  Trust me…the want it!

            -Funeral home records – Always a great source of information and while some of the information may also be found on a death certificate there may be other tid-bits that you don’t want to miss out on, including who paid for the funeral.  That may help you demolish a brick wall or two!

            -Military records – Lots of Civil War records here, and the military records are in both book and microfilm form.  Some of the information includes, County rosters, cemeteries, branch of service, pension applications, muster rolls, etc.

            -School annuals/yearbooks – All levels here from Kindergarten through college.  If you have an old yearbook that you’ve been looking to get rid of send it to The Texas Collection!  Does your child’s school have extra yearbooks that they’re looking to get rid of?  Send a copy to The Texas Collection!

            -Cookbooks – All kinds from church to business to family to school.  An often over-looked source of family information, these cookbooks can include genealogical gems and pictures!

            -Manuscript Archive – Filled with diaries, letters, photographs and more.

            -Oral Memoirs – Some have even been digitized and may be available online!

            -Newspapers – OK, maybe you anticipated this one, but they’ve got more than just Texas newspapers!

            -University Archive – Includes university records, policies, organization, planning, decisions operation, procedures, etc.

            -Photographs – An estimated 250,000 images!

            -Maps, Maps, Maps! – 14,000+ including historic Texas maps, highway maps, urban renewal and topographical.

Now that you know why going to Baylor University’s Texas Collection is well worth your while, here are some good things to know before arriving:
            -Photo ID is required
            -All bags must be placed in a locker (you can keep out your paper, pencil, and laptop)
            -No food or drink in the reading room
            -Please take all cell phone calls outside (don’t you just hate it when someone doesn’t!)
            -You can bring a thumb drive and scan items instead of making photocopies.
            -Copy orders can be filled for you for a cost.  You do not make your own copies.
            -Bring a sweater, because it’s cold inside!
            -There is no trained genealogist on staff.

You can follow the Texas Collection on Facebook by clicking here, on YouTube here, their blog here or on Twitter @texascollection. You can check out the Texas Collection's website by clicking here.

Now if you've got Texas roots, get on out there and get researching!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Unknown Collection

Back of photo
Edward Joseph and Charles Hambright

Another photo from my scrapbook of unknowns.  Always hoping for a genealogically connected angel to swoop down and help identify some of these pictures!

What I know about the pictures is pretty obvious from what can be seen on the back of the card.  The boys are apparently Edward Joseph and Charles Hambright and the photo was taken by J.E. Sonnenberg in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, but I don't know what these boys are to my family. Relatives?  Friends?

Now this scrapbook was from a member of my Quirk line and my family is all from the Hazleton area of eastern Pennsylvania and this photo was from Allegheny City in western Pennsylvania.  I do know that there was at least one family member that moved to the Pittsburgh/Allegheny area from this side of the family.  Perhaps there were more?  Did my ancestors move from the Pittsburgh area and then to eastern Pennsylvania?  Possibly, but most likely these relatives moved from eastern to western PA.

I may need to do some research on Joseph and Charles Hambright.  Perhaps they lived close to my Lee relatives.  Always neat to realize that there may be other ways to get through brick walls...and maybe, if I'm very lucky, I may find out who Edward Joseph and Charles Hambright are to my family!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, OVER???

Sorry military humor, but this kind of chapped my booty a bit.  I had requested a tombstone photo through FindAGrave for my step-father's 1st cousin, Kathryn Clements nee Sonni.  A kind-hearted genealogical angel set out to fulfill said request and posted that there was a problem...

"Please contact the cemetery office for the name of the section that she is buried in as this is a very large cemetery.  Due to privacy issues, the office will not give out burial information to non-family members."

You've GOT to be kidding me.  Not to be rude, but what privacy issues?  She's dead!  So you've got to be a relative to visit someone that's died?  So much for visiting a friend or a random act of genealogical kindness!

So apparently I'll be attempting to call Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park in Clearwater, Florida this week to get the information and ask "Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, OVER?"

Nonsensical silliness...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Crime to be Catholic, Part 1

It's no secret that the Catholic Irish and Protestant English/Irish have been butting heads for centuries, but I really didn't understand the depth of the persecution until very recently. Heck, I most likely still don't grasp it fully, but I did receive a bit of a wake up.

For Lent I made the pledge to recite my rosary daily.  I have a very old family rosary that was passed on to me (which I blogged about previously), and this was the rosary that I would use to pray. I really didn't know much about it apart from that it was passed down through our ancestor William Quirk.  It was obviously hand-carved and the date 1816 was carved into the back.  There had been some various people that tried to help me discover the origins of the rosary, but as I didn't even know the origins within Ireland of William Quirk, I have had to take everything with a grain of salt.  Placing the rosary in a specific location doesn't lock in where William is from, but it could be a clue.  Either way, I still didn't know much about it.

So I typed in "19th century Irish rosary" into a Google search and came to a site called the  There as I scrolled down the page was a crucifix that looked almost exactly like mine...including a carved date on the back!

It was called a Penal Cross, so the first thing I thought of (before reading just a little further) was "Did this mean one of my ancestors was a criminal?"  Talk about adding some spice to my Irish line!  The answer was no...and yes.  An explanation, because heaven knows I needed one!

I have no proof that William Quirk or any of his family were criminals, but they were guilty of criminal actions.  What were their crimes?  They were Catholic, and apparently this at one point, became a crime punishable by death.  They couldn't pray openly so they prayed in secret and this is where the Penal Cross comes into play.

A Penal Cross was usually attached to a chaplet (one decade of a rosary) and a metal ring on the opposite end.  The ring would be slipped over the person's thumb and the Penal Cross and chaplet were concealed up the person's sleeve.  They would pray a decade of the rosary and then move the ring from their thumb to their index finger and then so on as they completed each decade.  This is how they kept track of where they were in their prayers.  The Penal Cross was designed with shortened "arms" of the cross because if they were any longer they would break off.

Many of these Penal Crosses/Chaplets were purchased during a pilgrimage to Lough Derg in County Donegal and the date on the back of the cross was to indicate the year of the pilgrimage. I don't know if this goes for all Penal Crosses and my research is certainly incomplete.  I would find it difficult to believe that these crosses only were received/purchased if you made a pilgrimage.

Some differences with my rosary and the chaplets I've found...well, my obviously Penal Cross doesn't have the symbols that often come on the front of the crucifix.  This doesn't mean that it wasn't a Penal Cross (it obviously least obviously to me) but it's not "typical".  Also on the back of the cross I do have a cross carved onto the top of an "H" and then the date, but the "IHS" is not there...just the "H" and frankly it doesn't appear that the "I" and the "S" were worn off.  My Penal Cross is attached to a 5-decade rosary...not a chaplet and it is missing a center and the first 5 beads that should be just above the cross.  I have no idea why it's different.

So more mysteries attached to the rosary.  While I didn't concretely locate it's origins, it did open my eyes to what my ancestors had gone through.  While on I read the following and tears ran down my face:

"In 1726 the Lord Chancellor, Richard West, declared that: 'The law does not suppose any such person to exist as an Irish Roman Catholic'.  The right to vote was removed from Catholics by act of Parliament in 1727.  Other Penal Laws included the closure of Catholic schools (which forced education of Catholics underground) and the barring of Catholics from entering a profession, the army, or attending Catholic worship - however they were required to attend Anglican service." (

I knew there was hatred, and I knew that the majority of the Irish Catholics were the poorest and worked the land.  That the rents were raised and they were run off the land and left without means to exist, but I didn't realize that through legal means that it had made it illegal to be Catholic and to force them to even pray in a church not their own.  I gripe about my church often enough (especially right now with the whole birth control garbage going on), but this really made me appreciate how strongly my family had to have felt about their faith.  They were persecuted for it and gosh darn it they weren't going to give in.  No English-made law was going to keep them from their faith.

Even though this rosary isn't a Penal Chaplet, the Penal Cross on it reminds me of what they went through to keep their faith despite great odds.  Somehow saying my prayers on this rosary has taken on a deeper meaning.

Since I originally began writing this post, I have been in contact with some wonderful people at Lough Derg.  Lough Derg made my week by telling me that this is indeed a Lough Derg Penal Cross.  You can be sure that I will be putting a pilgrimage on my to-do list when I get to finally visit Ireland!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Prior Mohan and Maureen!  If you would like to find out more information about Lough Derg you can check out their website by clicking here.  You can also LIKE them on Facebook here!