Friday, January 23, 2015

Brick Wall - Jacob Huber (bef 1860--?)

By – Don Taylor

I know that “crossing the pond” can prove frustrating in genealogical research. Jacob Huber really brings that point home clearly to me.  I know virtually nothing about him.  When I first began working on my wife’s genealogy, I was so happy to learn that her mother had some family photos of the Hubers from the turn of the previous century (my guess) and, most excellent, the photos included names on the back. 

"The Huber Family"
"Back of the Huber Family"

Then, when I found John Huber marriage record entry which names his father, it clearly collaborated what the photos indicated.  I also knew from several records that John Huber was born in Windlach, Switzerland, I assumed that Jacob lived there. 

I then began my regular process to find information regarding Jacob.  I found nothing.  In my searching, I found another person researching the Hubers in Windlach.  Although his or her Hubers certainly were not the same ones I’ve been seeking, a response to his post on Ancestry Message Boards suggested ordering parish records for the Canton through the family history library. 

What a great idea. Maybe there is a hole in the brick wall. I searched the Family Search catalog and found three entries for Church records in Zurich. Of course, most are in German.  The first one appeared to cover 1600-1700, outside of my search area. The second one related to Immigrants in 1859 -- Also outside of my search area. But, the third one “Die Pfarrbücher der Züricher Landschaft als bevölkerungsgeschichtliche und chronikalische Quelle”-- what might that be?  Thanks to Google Translate, I learned it means, “The parish registers of Zurich's landscape as historical population and chronical source”  Perfect.  Could it be exactly what I’ve been looking for. I then saw it is a book, not so good, then I found a call number and then the disappointing words, “availability: missing.” There is a link to see if the book is available anywhere else through World Cat. Sadly, it isn’t available anywhere else. Also, World Cat has a note saying, “The use of parish registers as a historical source in the rural areas of Zürich, Switzerland.”  Clearly, a better translation than what Google provides. I was afraid of that. The book isn’t the parish registers; rather, it is a book, in German, about using parish registers.  Not of any help to me.

So the hold in the brick wall that I thought I had seen wasn’t really a hole.  Maybe just a crack in the mortar but it does provide a new set of angles to work on.  I’m sure I’ll find a way to see the parish records without going to Switzerland.  I’ve just got more to do. So, I guess I'll suggest that when you hit a brick wall, don't despair.  Poke around a bit and you should get some ideas. As long as you have further actions to do it isn't really a solid brick wall. There is still a hole you can work through. 

Bio – Jacob Huber (bef. 1860 – bef. 1960)

Jacob Huber was born in Switzerland[1] sometime before 1860. (That assumes he was at least 20 when his son John was born).
He married Kath Struckland[2] sometime before 1879. (That assumes Jacob & Kath were married when their son John was conceived.)

Family oral history indicated that only John Huber left Zurich, so it is assumed that Jacob died and was buried in the Windlach/Stadel bei Niederglatt area.

Further Actions:

  • Search for sources of vital records for Windlach/Stadel bei Niederglatt in the canton of Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Search for and contact people with the Huber surname in the Windlach area of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Visit Windlach and Stadel bei Niederglatt, Zürich, Switzerland (or entice another family member to visit it and do some research while there.)

List of Greats
1.     John Huber
2.    Jacob Huber
3.     Jak Huber


[1] 1910 Census, Census Place: Elberta and Josephine, Baldwin, Alabama; Roll: T624_1; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0013; FHL microfilm: 1374014.
[2] Wisconsin Marriage Records, Johana Huber and Bertha Trunpe, 02 Mar 1905. groom's name:  Johana Huber. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Feb 13, 1920 - Chin Chin Plays Myers Theater in Janesville, WI.

Donna in Janesville, WI, at the Myers Theater – Date: Feb 13, 1920

Donna and the cast of “Chin Chin” completed their one night stand in Eau Claire and headed for Janesville, 180 or so miles to the south for another one-nighter.
Preshow advertising began with an announcement on February 7th in the Janesville Daily Gazette by the theater manager, L. C. Hensler, that a Charles Dillingham show was returning to Janesville for the first time in more than ten years for “one night only.” The announcement mentions “Chin Chin” and the “Famous Clown Saxophone Band.”[i]
Source: Newspapers.Com
Janesville Daily Gazette
(Janesville, WI) 11 Feb 1920, Pg 6
Leading Comedians, et al
The advertising continued with another announcement on February 10th that mentioned both the size of the company (65) with 40 Girls and 35 men back of the scenes.  (I know that adds up to 75 people.) It also mentions “two car loads of scenery” and some of the acts as well as the hit songs from the show, including:
                  Good-bye Girls I’m Through,
                  Violet, Violet,
                  The Pekin Patrol,
                  Love Moon,
                  The Chinese Honeymoon,
                  Temple Bells,
                  Bally Mooney, (etc.)
The Daily Gazette of February 11th  showed a graphic of the two male stars, Roy Binder & Walter Wills as well as 12 of the women in the show.  Certainly, Donna would have been one of those 12, however, the quality of the on-line image isn’t high enough to determine which one is Donna.
After the show a short article detailing the non-existent plot and the characters of the show including the role of the Goddess of the Lamp, the part played by Donna.

Myers Grand Opera House

Interior of the Myers Theater - Post 1929 "Moorish" remodel
Photo Credit: [Janesville Daily] Gazette File Photo
When “Chin Chin” played at the Myers in 1920, it was old.  It has been built in 1870 as the Myers Opera House.  A fire in 1891 caused the Opera House to be rebuilt and renamed as the Grand Opera House. It was a modest sized, ground floor, theater held about 1000 people – 400 on the main floor, 293 in the balcony, and 300 in the gallery. The stage was 32 by 30 feet in size.[ii]

In 1920 the 50-year-old theater, managed by Peter L Myers, was sold to the Janesville Amusement Company[iii] who installed L. C. Hensler as the theater’s new manager.

In the late 1920s the theater changed from live performances to movies and was remodeled into a “Moorish” style movie place to show Hollywood films.[iv] [v]  The theater remained open until the mid 1970s. Finally, in 1977, demolition began on the building and the site became a parking lot for the Rock County National Bank. [vi]

Further Research
  • Review another source for the Feb 11, 1920 issue of the Janesville Daily Gazette for a higher quality image.
  • Besides the “Gazette,” the Cahn-Leighton Theatrical Guide mentions the Janesville “Recorder” as a daily A.M. paper. I can’t find an on-line edition of the “Recorder” on line. Annually see if it becomes available.


[i] Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) · Sat, Feb 7, 1920 · Page 6
[ii] The Cahn-Leighton Theatrical Guide – 1913-1914.
[iii] Hedberg Public Library Local History Database Search results for" Myers Theater
[v] Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history (1998), pg. 182. See:
[vi] Hedberg Public Library Local History Database Search for Myers Theater

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bazsika & Kocun - Tragedy on Iron Ore Road

[Previously I posted a poem by Jenne M. that related her mother's line through poetry. Here is the same story in prose.  I think it is one of the best examples I've ever seen that tells the same family history using two very different mechanism. After you read this version, go back and read (or reread) the poem.  You will gain new insight into her family's story. Hopefully, you will also consider a new way to tell your own stories.  Poetry can be an incredibly  powerful tool.  - Don Taylor]

Bazsika & Kocun

by Jenne M. (guest blogger)

I first knew I had to embark upon ancestry work years ago – back in 2001, after my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer. “The house of your ancestors is falling into ruin,” the dreams whispered, showing me visions of a ramshackle Cape Cod, with the stars and space lurking behind the rotted floorboards.

Frank Bazsika and Marie Kocun on
their wedding day,
with Victoria Kocun at left.
With a broad face and a ready laugh, Marie Kocun Baszika seemed to defy the circumstances life brought her. Born Mary but baptised as Marie, she had a twin brother, Stephen, who was a talented musician that died relatively early. A car accident, my grandmother told me once; illness due to a weakened constitution from drinking, my mother countered. He died at the age of 46, four years before my birth.

Marie, called Mae by her friends, was a small, merry woman, the daughter of Slovak immigrants. Swept up by the times, at the age of 16 she married a handsome Hungarian soldier: Frank Baszika, one of many to bear that name in his family. Once, she told me that she and her husband were advised not to have children – ostensibly because Usher's Syndrome, a form of deaf-blindness, ran in their lines. I haven't been able to ascertain whether that was the truth, but half of her children ended up having the disorder.

But that was the least of Mae's trials. Behind that long, handsome face of her tall, burly husband lurked the Fomhoire.

The beloved first son of his daughter-heavy family, Frank was heavily spoiled by his shopkeeper parents, who pampered him in every way, and looked aside when he beat his sisters with the fire poker. Violent and charming by turns, he dressed impeccably as a young man and, like so many of his generation, ended up drafted during World War II.

He served in Edinburgh in Scotland for at least some of the war, as a mechanic. At some point during his service, he fell in love with a Frenchwoman – named Marie, like my grandmother – whom he had to leave behind. Perhaps this ideal paramour made his own Marie seem so small and provincial, unwanted and vulgar. Perhaps this other Marie existed only in his mind, which danced on a narrow floor of sanity, dipping into periodic chasms of violence and despair.

When he returned, the darkness – the one that had always been with him, according to his sisters' testimony – rose up and swallowed him, coloring his fantasies with rage. Gone were the smart suits and the smile, eradicated by a love of vulgarity and sadism. Continuing his work as a mechanic, he also dabbled in get-rich-quick schemes, running the gamut from gas stations to chicken farms, none of which he ever put his own hands to; rather, his wife and children were the laborers. Parasites who didn't earn their keep, he thought, and had his wife shovel chicken shit the morning after giving birth. His family lived in squalor and fear, while he spent their meager earnings on himself and his pleasures: cars, sweets he wouldn't share and, finally, the rifle that would prove his undoing.

He confessed to the priest and nuns that he had long smelled his own flesh burning in the fires of hell, and gleefully shared fantasies of beating his wife and torturing his children – which he enacted daily, with creative flair.

Frank was, in short, a born psychopath.

Marie fled often, but to her husband's family and not her beloved twin and parents, fearing that he would exact his vengeance on them. She left her children behind to fend for themselves. Following the advice of the nuns and priests, she always returned, until the cycle became unbearable once more. Frank and Marie existed in a strange dance of hatred and need, circling around one another, lunging in for blows and pain.

Frank Andrew Bazsika
served in World War II
The blast of a shotgun ended the dance.

Frank's eldest son and namesake took his father's gun, and waited with a sniper's patience for his father to return home from work. A flash of light, a blast, and the red blossomed from his chest, mingling with the mud. Marie ran to him, frantic. My mother – then 16, a year younger than the namesake – watched. Her elder brother fled, but was caught later by police, tried and sentenced for homicide and spent many years in prison. In those days, no one cared about child abuse and its impact on the generations beyond.

Marie never remarried, and sold off the chicken farm piece by piece. Eventually, she left the house on Iron Ore Road, living on the hillside behind it – and then, Iron Ore Road entirely.

While abuse shaped her life, Marie was more than the blow she received. During World War II, she worked at General Cable, testing field wiring for Army teephone lines, and later worked at her husband's tire store. After selling the business, she then worked as a waitress, the first on the New Jersey Turnpike. She converted to the Jehovah's Witness faith, enjoying mission trips and cameraderie. She greeted death – and the union with her God – as a friend.

[Jenne M. is a Guest Blogger.  If you wish to contact her, please use the comments form below and I will forward your request to her. - Don Taylor]

Friday, January 9, 2015

Genealogical Ethics?

Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more emails and other information regarding collaboration. It often makes me a bit concerned.  Nevertheless, as I do more and more of it I’m beginning to develop security standards.

I mentioned briefly in a note in my last blog, I am uncomfortable in posting or providing anything that might be personally identifying information. Mostly, it is the kinds of things that various security systems would ask as a challenge question.  Things like a person’s mother’s maiden name or linking a living person with their school (and thus school mascot which I’ve seen several times as a security question).  

Many people have trouble or concerns regarding social security numbers.  I don’t so much.  I can understand SSNs being kept private for three to five years. The biggest reason for that is to allow a person’s estate to get through probate before someone could easily use that person’s SSN for identity theft. In that amount of time, the powers to be should know that the person is dead.

I was recently asked by a researcher for the names of the children of someone in my tree. The wife of one of my wife’s Grand Uncles was a cousin of this researcher.  I had the names for these people but suspect many of them are still alive. They were born in the 1940s.  So, do I give the information or not?

If I got the information from a private source, then I would say no. I would not provide the names.  However, if I got the information from a public source, then why not?  I wrestled with the question for a bit and concluded that I would not give the names and relationships directly. Rather, I would provide a source citation that gave me the information I analyzed and incorporated into my family tree.   In this particular case, I gave the link to an obituary for the ancestor that listed the living children.  I don’t have an ethical dilemma providing publicly accessible information.  Maybe I should, but I don’t.

This brings me to the point of this posting.  I’ve seen and read many sets of ethics for genealogy.  However, in all of my reading I am yet to see a set of ethical rules about what should or should not be shared with other researchers or people or with the public.  The closest that I think I’ve seen is from the Board for Certification of Genealogists that states, “I will act, speak, and write in a manner I believe to be in the best interests of the profession and scholarship of genealogy.’  Pretty vague; not much guidance there. 

If someone knows of a rule list about the kind of information that we should not publish or provide publically, I’d like to know of it. (Please use the comment form below.)  If there isn’t such a list, shouldn’t there be one that is clear and more effective than just privatizing living people.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The wife of my Brother-in-Law

Sometimes I just enjoy the search.  I like to take a person, plug them into my process and see what spits out.  As a former Project Manager (PMP),  I am all about the process. I thought I'd share a bit of my process here.

Recently, I was talking with my sister in-law.  Well, I think of her as my sister-in-law, although in reality she is the “wife of my brother-in-law.” (She is my wifes’s brother’s wife).  Anyway, we had a delightful lunch with her and her husband the other day. As is often the case when I’m involved in conversation, talk moved to genealogy and family history.  As we chatted, it became clear that she was extremely proud of her parents and their stories.  She knew that one side had been in Maine for many generations.  On her paternal side she had some Greats that "came from away," one from Ireland and another from New York.  As we chatted, I know that I wanted to know much more about her family, and subsequently more about who her people are and what made the kind of person that she is. As we chatted she gave her permission to do some research on her family. 

From discussions long ago, I had a couple tidbits of information. I knew her parents names and where they lived (Auburn, Androscoggin County, Maine). With that information, I started with my basic “getting to know you” process.

My process begins with Ancestry.Com. I have a paid subscription and I highly recommend having one. If you can’t afford a subscription, the “library edition” is available at most libraries and at all Family History Centers.  I use Ancestry.Com to “pick the low hanging fruit.” I quickly found her father, her mother, where they were married and then both of them through the 1930 and 1940 censuses. I found her father’s parents names in the 1930 census but could not, for the life of me, find them in the 1920 census. I found the grandparents in the 1910 census, but  still nothing in 1920. I continued my Ancestry.Com searches and found many city directories that showed where they lived ever two or three years from after World War II until into the 1950s.  

My next important search location  in my process is Find-a-Grave.  I used to go there second but now Ancestry.Com searches provides links to Find-a-Grave, so used that feature and easily found the Find-a-Grave memorials for her parents. Looking at markers, I saw immediately that her father had been a World War II veteran. Good to know -- I'll look into that more late.  The markers also provided solid evidence for both their birth and death dates.  All the censuses and other records I found were consistent with that date. Thanks to Find-a-Grave, I also learned of a brother that was born before my sister-in-law and died that same year as an infant.  

I then switched to Family Search – an awesome free resource.  If I didn’t have an Ancestry.Com account, Family Search would be my first place to look.  Any records that have images through Ancestry and not Family search I would save to my “Source Box.”  Later at a library or family history center I’d use that source box records to save image files to my thumb drive. 

Anyway, some kinds of searches work really well on Family Search.  I searched for her father’s first name only, and added parents first names only, leaving the surname blank.  I also added the state, Maine; bang there it was. Severely misspelled surname but the right family, parents the right age, siblings the right ages, location in the right town and state.  Only the surname was off.  Not much else on Family Search that I found in a number of quick searches.  A deeper dive will most likely yield more information.

A search of Google News found their marriage announcement.  In it several other bits of information were provided. Where her father and mother graduated from High School. Where her mother went to college, what their occupations were.  Even info about other relatives that attended the wedding.  Those are really good bits of info to know and I input everything into my records.  Sometimes just knowing that a person was alive, still unmarried, and living at a specific city can lead to marriage and other records.

Then on to my newspaper resources.  My search in Genealogy Bank found a French language article about her father from 1939. Thanks to Google Translate, the article said:
Two dogs Eskimo, owned by xxxx xxxxxxx, of Fletcher Street, Kennebunk, harnessed to a sled, made the trip entire Biddeford and Kennebunk in 90 minutes…  
I’ll bet a native French speaker can tell me if “firent le trajet entre” means round trip or one way – Google's translation is unclear but it is a good first cut on translating almost any language into almost any other language.  That the article was in  French was interesting as well. It made me wonder if he was bilingual. I know his wife spoke both English and  French.   

I didn’t find anything on Newspapers.Com or through regarding the family

Because of my findings on Find-a-Grave, I went back to Ancestry and searched for military records for my sister-in-law’s father. Sure enough, several documents were there.  I learned he enlisted in early 1941 long before Pearl Harbor. I also found the document where his widow applied for a veteran’s marker.  That was cool because there was a color copy on-line and the form was clearly in her mother’s hand.

Bates College students burying a stuffed bobcat to
Commemorate the demise of the Bates humor
magazine: The Bobcat
Photo Courtesy: Bates College
I wondered if the Maine State Archives had a copy of the wedding certificate on line.  No such luck, but it did confirm the date and provided instructions on how to order one from the state. (I think I'll ask my sister-in-law to do that.) The wedding announcement mentioned that my sister-in-law's mother had attended Bates College. Hummm.  I wondered if a yearbook might be available on line.  Yup.  Archive.Org had a copy on line. I REALLY love Archive.Org.  They are high on my list of places to search for people and documents.  Of course “mom” was there, a graduation photo and it showed her involvement and interests in school life.  She had earned an apprenticeship in French, she was a member of the French Club, and the Glee Club, and much more.

In just a few hours I found 18 sources of information about my sister-in-law’s father and just a many regarding her mother (there is substantial overlap).  Actually, I found the information in an hour or two, documenting it took several times longer than finding the information.

I could do a lot more to get to know my sister-in-law’s parents. But this is a good first beginning to get to know my sister-in-law’s people.

My process includes doing general searches using:

  • Ancestry.Com(Find the person in every census they were alive for.)
  • Find-a-Grave
  • Family Search and
  • Genealogy in Time (which is really Google but more focused)
Then I search newspapers.

I also check TheAncestorHunt.Com for any recommendation Kenneth has based on appropriate states and dates.  His blog/website is an awesome resource! 
Logo of Archive.Org

Finally I do focused Searches based upon previous findings which generally include

  •       Google Books
  •       Google News
  •       Archive.Org and various 
  •       State Resources

That is kind of the start of my process.  I think that it provides enough information to know a bit about a person. Enough to begin to ask more questions and focus my further research.

Note:  Due to privacy issues, I have intentionally left out names and personally identifying information in this article/blog. As matter of policy, I do not publicly write about the specifics of individuals or couples who have been dead less than 25 years.

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