Monday, November 16, 2015

Seeing Greece the Best Way

One of the greatest joys of the journey to learning family history is meeting fellow travelers. Never has this come so clear as when we (my husband and I) visited Greece this September of 2015.

Map of Greece from CIA World Factbook,
 22 August 2013,
gr.html, Wikimedia.

I first met Margarita Thomakou on in 2008 (before the site was purchased by Ancestry) when she responded to my query about my Greek Flessouras family. In her response, Margarita said she lived in Athens and enjoyed helping Americans look for their Greek roots. We e-mailed occasionally over the years, just to keep in touch. About eight months ago, I let Margarita know that we were planning our first visit to Greece. She was as excited to welcome us to her country as we were to visit!

Our tour was part family history, part Greek history and a whole lot of Hellenic hospitality. Margarita met us at our hotel in Athens, and we planned our itinerary. First we would go to Pigadakia, the ancestral village of the Flessouras clan, which is in the Peloponnese between Tripoli and Sparta.

By Pitichinaccio (Image:Peloponnese relief map-blank.svg) [GFDL 
(, CC BY-SA 3.0
 (, GFDL
 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0
/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We had rented a car, and Margarita suggested that we follow her. It was good to have two cars because sometimes Margarita would have some business to conduct (she is in the real estate field) while we did some sight-seeing.

 “The cradle of civilization” is a phrase many of us heard in history class applied to Greece. The Greeks are very proud of their history, including their painting, sculpture, theater and poetry. But they have a special reverence, as Margarita attested to, for the honor, courage, and fighting prowess displayed over the eras by those who have inhabited the Greek land.

Our first visit was a day trip out of Athens to the town of Marathon. Many Americans, even those who participate in running marathons, may not know where the word comes from. Well, now I do. But first some history. Margarita took us to the site of the Battle of Marathon that occurred in 490 B.C. when the outnumbered Athenians repelled the Persians.

The battle field at Marathon as it looks today,
9/6/2015, taken by Bert Schuster

Battle field relief, taken by Bert
Schuster 9/6/02015
Then she gestured to a huge hill behind us. This large mound is the final resting place of the Greek soldiers who gave their lives in the battle.

Burial Mound at Marathon, taken
by Bert Schuster 9/6/2015

And how did the modern marathon come from this historic battle? After the Greek victory, a messenger was dispatched to take the news to Athens – running all the way. The modern contest is a little over 26 miles, the same length as the distance from Marathon to Athens. 

The day after visiting Marathon, we started our trip to Pigadakia. The chance to visit one’s ancestral village is a rare and precious gift. Just before reaching the village, Margarita introduced us to a small restaurant all by itself on the side of the road, a treasure as it turned out that you would never find unless you had a wonderful guide. We sat eating and discussing Pigadakia and the Flessouras clan. A neighboring diner had been listening to our conversation and pointed out, in Greek of course, another departing diner: “There, there is a Flessouras.” Well, luck, happenstance and chance are welcome companions on any ancestor-hunting trip.

Street in Pigadakia, taken by
 Bert Schuster, 9/6/2015
Margarita followed the man thus described and struck up a conversation. And most certainly, the gentleman was a Flessouras from Pigadakia! He came with us to show us the small village and talk about his family tree. As of right now, my Flessouras tree is short – it starts with my great grandfather, Peter (Panoyiotis.) I am still working on going further back.

Street in Pigadakia leading to small shrine,
taken by Bert Schuster 9/6/2015

After Pigadakia, we headed to the Mani, Margarita’s ancestral homeland. She is proud to be from Maniot stock, and she knows the history of the land.
By al-Qamar (File:Peloponnese relief map-blank.svg)
 [GFDL (],
 via Wikimedia Commons
We saw a lot of historical towns and villages, but two places stand out in my mind.

First, is Aeropolis (see map above), where, as Margarita told us proudly, the Greek War of Independence started in 1821. We stood in the very square where Petros Pierrakos (his birth name), later known as Petros or Petrobey Mavromichalis, declared war on the Ottoman Empire which had ruled Greece since 1453. In addition to the historical significance of Aeropolis, the village has much natural beauty and traditional houses.

Petrobey, a Greek Hero,
in Aeropolis taken
by Bert Schuster 9/9/2015

Typical Aeropolis street, taken by
Bert Schuster 9/9/2015

Still life, Aeropolis, taken
by Bert Schuster 9/9/2015

A second Mani destination with fascinating history was Vathia with its breathtaking sea views, century-old towers standing proudly next to new models, and acres of carefully dug terraces by farmers of old.

Sea view from Vathia, taken by
Bert Schuster 9/9/2015

 Margarita explained that the towers were built not only to protect the residents of Vathia from attacks from foreigners but also from the onslaughts of feuding neighbors.

Towers and terraces of Vathia, taken by
Bert Schuster 9/9/2015

After a few days of sightseeing, it was time for some rest and relaxation. Margarita took us to her favorite beach and hotel in this part of the Mani, the Alkion Hotel/Apartments owned by Yannis Bechrakis.

Beach in front of Alkion
Hotel/Apartments, taken
by Bert Schuster 9/10/2015

What a paradise! After a day at the beach or visiting nearby scenic/historical attractions, you have only a short drive to Gythio with its choice of restaurants.

Our week in the Peloponnese with Margarita came to an end all too soon. We left her to finish her business in the Mani, and we took off to Napflio and then to the islands of Naxos, Santorini, and Rhodes. 

Two weeks later on our last day in Athens, Margarita had a surprise for us. She took us to her favorite hair salon which is located in the upscale Divani Caravel Hotel.

Hotel Divani Caravel, Dimitris Kamaras,
August 21, 2015, Vasileos Alexandrou
 st., Athens, Greece,

Bert and I spent the next two hours in the hands of the talented staff of Yannis’ Salon:

Yannis -- the transformer of women, the man who makes music and miracles with his scissors.

Anna -- the lady with the colors and the styles right from the red carpet

Kostas -- the master barber who gave Bert the shave of his life

After this fabulous trip to Greece, I came away with a new awareness of  my Greek heritage and with a wonderful Greek friend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Destination: Greece

Well, the time for our departure to Greece is coming closer. Now we’re getting out the checklists to be sure we have everything we need for a comfortable trip, including medicines, electronics, and travel clothes. But what helped us reach this point where we feel nearly ready to head for Athens?

By Gilberto Gaudio from Rome, Italy (Athens (Greece))
 [CC BY-SA 2.0 (
licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First of all, this is not just a tourist trip but also a heritage journey. Thomas MacEntee explains what heritage travel is in his web article “You Can Go Home Again.” I am taking this trip in part to visit the home village of my Greek great grandfather, Peter Flesouras. He was born in a small village in the middle of the Peloponnese: Pigadakia, Tripoli, Arcadia, just a small dot in the mountains where he and his family herded sheep and goats. Pigadakia is 15 miles (24.3 Km) south of Tripoli.

"PeloponnesosMap". Licensed under Public Domain
 via Wikimedia Commons -

My first step in preparation for the heritage part of the trip (as I described in my Feb 6, 2015 post) was to find and hire a heritage guide to search for existing Flessouras records and possible living relatives. Through connections on the Facebook Hellenic Genealogy Resources group, I was introduced to Marina Harami, and we have been working together for several months. It has been frustrating for her because the economic situation  in the country has hit most sectors including the registry offices, church offices and other research centers. Staff has been reduced or put on really limited schedules, which makes it very hard to reach anyone and to try to locate information. But she has persevered, and we may have some success yet.

For my part, I have contacted Americans with the surname Flessouras on Facebook. Since this is a rare Greek surname and all the people of this name hale from the same area of Arcadia, we probably are related, but we don’t yet know how. Some of these Americans of the Flessouras name have relatives in Greece, and I have arranged to meet two of them.

Along with planning for the heritage side of our trip, we are also preparing for the tourist part. If you are considering a trip to Greece and are looking for travel guides, my husband and I have found three in print and on-line that we recommend. First, is Rick Steves’ Greece Athens & The Peloponnese.

Rick Steves at the Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald,
Switzerland, 20 July 2007, Andrew Bossi, Wikimedia.

 My readers may remember how much we relied on Mr. Steves’ book on Eastern Europe to guide us through the Czech Republic and to help make our trip more rewarding and memorable. We especially like the walking tours, complete with “concise and simple” “black-and-white” (p. 495) maps, to introduce each destination. My husband describes Steves’ books as full of practical, everyday necessary information.

One of my husband’s favorite books is Insight Guides Greece with its stunning color photographs of natural beauty, icons, and monuments. He says this guide has the best photographs and maps and comprehensive coverage of culture, history and geography.

The third guide that I found very engaging on the subject of the Greek islands is by D. Haitalis: Discover the Greek Islands. This book delivers with stunning photographs, that make you want to fly tomorrow. It also has a brief history and sightseeing section for each island accompanied by small maps. For more detailed information on the islands, I would pair this book with the Insight Guide referred to above.

Just by luck and the grace of google, I came across Max Barrett’s  (online) Greece Guides. What a treasure trove of information! Mr. Barrett arranges his site as a virtual book with chapters ranging from “Matt’s Essential Greece Info” and “Honeymoon in Greece” to “Travel Agents & Tours.”  This is where we found one of the best discoveries in our travel planning: Fantasy Travel.

Many of you may be familiar with working with travel agents and arranging tours. Throughout most of our travel, we have created our own itineraries as we are doing for the Peloponnese. But for the island part of the trip, we decided to work with a tour company. The first step in working with Fantasy Travel was to figure out which islands we wanted to visit and in what order on what dates. After looking through our travel guides, Bert and I came up with this itinerary.

First we will visit Naxos:
"Naxos8" by Ildebrando - Own work. Licensed under
 Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.
How could one miss the island described by in the Insight Guide as:
"the largest, loftiest and most magnificent of the Cyclades, replete with high, windswept ridges, long beaches, remote villages, ancient ruins, medieval monasteries or towers, and a fascinating history." (p. 249)

Next on our island tour will be Santorini or Thira as it is known in Greece. In his book Greece Athens & the Peloponnese, Rick Steves calls Santorini  "one of the Mediterranean's most dramatic islands..." and goes on to say  "...this unique place has captured visitors' imaginations for millennia...." and is " of Greece's most scenic spots." (p. 429)

Santorini Scene by Understandingmedia13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

 I am excited  because the island is what was left from a volcanic eruption around 1630 B.C. (p. 450) For fans of Pompeii, one can visit the city of Akrotiri that was buried under ash and was unearthed in 1967.

The final island we will visit is Rhodes.
Acropolis of Lindos on Rhodes by Norbert Nagel, 
Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (Own work)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (
by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I found great information about Rhodes and all the islands in Frommer's Greek Islands, our last print pick.
What does Rhodes have to offer? Here's what Frommer's has to say:

"A location at the intersection of the East and West propelled the island into the thick of both commerce and conflicts. The scars left by its rich and turbulent history have become its treasures. Hellenistic Greeks, Romans, Crusader Knights, Turks, Italians -- all invaders who brought some destruction but also left behind fascinating artifacts." (p. 332)

 In addition to detailed descriptions of the islands, the book also contains 60 pages on exploring Athens.

Once we had our schedule of islands to visit, we simply e-mailed this to Fantasy Travel. They arranged our rental car and all hotels on the three islands we are visiting.  Then they set up connections by ferry and air from one island to the other. Someone from Fantasy Travel will be meeting us at the airport. What royal treatment! It makes me feel like this:

HM Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Perth, Australia for CHOGM,
 taken by Andrew Taylor, Oct 26, 2011, Creative Commons,

Traveling for heritage and/or tourist reasons can be made easier and more productive with the help of excellent heritage guides, travel books, tour companies and websites. I’ll have a lot more to share when I return from Greece.

Categories: genealogy tools, genealogy professional

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grave Disturbance in Early Chicago Cemeteries

It always amazes me what a rich resource we have in the genealogy community-- the people who generously share the information they work so hard to find. I am continually on the lookout for information on my Irish Chicago ancestors. Any records of these people from the nineteenth century are a godsend!

A few years back, I heard about the removal of many of the early Irish interred in the late 1800s in the Old Catholic Cemetery in north Chicago to the new Calvary Cemetery. I can’t remember which part of the genealogy community clued me into this resource. Did I hear this from the Chicago Genealogy group on Facebook or the Cook County message board or from one of my dear genealogy friends and mentors? I’m not sure of the origin of this record description, but I do remember accessing some names of the “removed” and writing them down.

As we often do with research, I put this list away and forgot about it.
Recently I have been researching my Carney/Duffy family again and re-discovered this Old Catholic Cemetery Removal list of names.  What a potential goldmine this was. Since recording the names, I have identified more cohort families. I wanted to take a fresh look at the source of this list with the benefit of my additional knowledge. Some questions came to mind:
  1. Where exactly was the Old Catholic Cemetery?
  2. When was it founded?
  3. Why were the bodies removed?
  4. What other persons of interest to me might be listed in addition to those I had listed?
I began investigating. First, I needed to return to the source from which I had copied the names. This was an article “Index to Part I of Removals to Calvary Cemetery,” published in the Chicago Genealogist, the journal of the Chicago Genealogical Society , Vol. 32 No. 2 Winter 1999-2000.  I was very fortunate that a digitized copy of this article was now on the Internet, courtesy of the Newberry Library. (Note that in the digitized list of volumes, there is no table of contents. For that, you need to go to the Chicago Genealogical Society.)

Newberry Library, TonyTheTiger, 2007, 
2.5-2.0-1.0), Wikimedia Commons.
To continue my search at the Newberry site home page, I clicked on the menu tab “Research.” Then I followed these steps: When the menu drops down; click on “Digital Resources and Publications.” Scroll down the page until you see “Chicago Genealogist” and click on it.  When the next page comes up, click again on Chicago Genealogist. In the search box, I typed “Vol 31 No 2.” The next step is to click on the dropdown menu next to “view” and highlight “complete print version.” Then a PDF  of the complete journal contents appears, and you can search the Table of Contents for articles of interest.

As I scanned the Table of Contents, I saw “Old Catholic Cemetery” Records by Helen Sclair. In this article Ms. Sclair answered my first two questions:
Q: Where exactly was the Old Catholic Cemetery and when was it founded?

Ms. Sclair: “In 1843, a cemetery complex was begun near Clark Street and North Avenue. The city of Chicago opened 60 acres for the  ‘City Cemetery’, north of North Avenue and east of Green Bay Road (now Clark Street). The Catholic Church consecrated one block: Dearborn, east to State Street, and North Avenue, south to approximately Burton. Eventually both of these cemeteries would expand, the City’s to 120 acres and the Catholics’ to 5+ city blocks.” (p. 51)

I also learned that from 1858 people began making efforts to stop any more burials and any further expansion of these cemeteries. I presumed that this was because the city was growing and needed the land. A second reason could be that this burial area was very close to Lake Michigan which could cause water issues. But I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track. That’s where my third question came in: Why were the bodies removed? Professor Pamela Bannos answers this question in her website: “Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park”:

One of the most important reasons to move the cemeteries, according to Bannos, was that the land near Lake Michigan was below the water table.

By United States Geological Survey
 [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
 A concern at the time was that bacteria from decaying bodies could contaminate the city’s drinking water. Also when graves were dug, water would often times fill the burial pit. Another reason was that the citizens of the fast growing city decided that building a park (Lincoln Park) for the living could be more advantageous than using the land for housing the departed.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs:
Photography Collection, 
The New York Public Library. "Lincoln Park, Chicago." 
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Professor Bannos provides more historical background and maps of the old Catholic Cemetery on the section of her site “Mapping theCemeteries: Catholic Cemetery.” 

Now if asked “How does your country handle the deceased?” many of us would answer that there is great respect for the dead in our culture as evidenced by our funeral system and manicured cemeteries. But if we look a little deeper we find, at least in the instance of the early Chicago cemeteries, that concern for the departed sometimes gives way to the desires and needs of the living. On her site, Professor Bannos provides an eye-opening chronology of what happened to the remains of those buried in these early Chicago graveyards. She does this by presenting news articles from the time period. 
An article from the Chicago Daily Tribune issue of August 15, 1876 “Sad Scenes in a Cemetery”, truly captures the disregard given to the interred in the Old Catholic Cemetery as they are removed “…with a degree of recklessness almost criminal in its disrespect for the dead the laborers employed in the exhumation have scattered the remains of the late lamented all through the field.”

The whole removal process seemed slipshod from the first. Was it known exactly how many bodies were in the cemetery and exactly where they were buried? Was it a case of disrespect, indifference, lack of time, or poor records or a mixture of all three that caused many bodies to be left in their watery graves? What is known is that over the years and even up until this decade, bodies keep appearing when digging is done in the area. These occurrences Bannos has chronicled through more Tribune articles in the section "Hidden Truths: Catholic Cemetery." 

Now that I had learned about the history of the Old Catholic Cemetery, I wanted to return to the list of names of those who were fortunate enough to actually be removed and reburied in Calvary Cemetery. As I looked down the list, I saw the usual suspects: Carney/Kearney, Duffy, Cosgrave (Cosgrove), Devine, McKenna, Ryan, Sweeney, and Ward. This was another indication that these people were part of a community. 

This confirmation of the relationship of these families went along with the new information that I had recently found from studying pre-Chicago Fire maps, the 1870 Chicago Directory and Census and the 1870Chicago Illinois US Census. These records showed that members of the Carney, Duffy, Cosgrove, Devine, Sweeney and Ward families lived near each other on the Near North Side streets of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

By OpenStreetMap and edited by w:User:TonyTheTigerOpenStreetMap contributors
 [CC BY-SA 2.0 ( via Wikimedia Commons

On a final note, to get a great narrative and summary of Professor Bannos’ project, “Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park,” check out the article by Jessica Curry “What Lies BeneathLincoln Park” in Chicago Life Magazine.

Categories: genealogy community, genealogy tools

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Carded at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 
United States, West Front, right wing, CJStumpf, 2007, Wikimedia
In February of this year (2015) our close friends from California invited my husband and me to join them in Washington, D.C. for Spring Break (April 6-11.) Seeing our friends, the cherry blossoms, and several Washington museums were great draws. But as a family researcher, I was tantalized by the prospect of visiting the Library of Congress for the first time. As it happened, there was a book I needed that was at the Library of Congress.

During my research on the Hanneman family line (see my post of April 4, 2015), I found that the National Genealogical Society’s  (NGS) Annual Conference in 1997 had been held in Pennsylvania.

Image from page 4 of "National Genealogical Society quarterly"
 (1912), National Genealogical Society,
 nationalgenealog19131917nati, Internet Archive Book Images
A google search led me to which showed that the Library of Congress has a copy of this conference syllabus. Having attended NGS conferences in the past two years, I know how much information can be found in the syllabus. NGS always includes several workshops devoted to the city/state that is hosting the conference. I might find some real gems about Pennsylvania. So now I had a research need.

I have been accessing the Library of Congress Digital Collections section of the catalog at home to find wonderful photos for my blog. But I have never been actually in this historic building. Now was my chance. Since this was mostly a trip to see friends and go sightseeing, I didn’t really have time to prepare to do research. Usually I carefully study the museum/library/society that I will be visiting. This time I just checked the hours of operation and had the one resource that I wanted to request. This lack of planning almost proved to be my undoing and led to a few unwelcome surprises.

What????,  Robbie Grubbs, 2009,
We arrived at the main (Jefferson) building of the Library of Congress in the early afternoon. First we took a tour of the building, and this was when we had our first surprise. The guide told us we could look down at the Library of Congress Main Reading Room from the balcony but that only researchers could actually enter the room.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in the
 Thomas Jefferson Building, Carol M. Highsmith, 
LC-DIG-highsm-11604, Wikimedia.
In addition, the guide continued, a researcher could only access the room if he/she had a reader’s card. After the tour, I went to the information desk to ask where I could get a reader’s card.

Then came the second surprise. The staff member said that you had to go to the neighboring Madison Building,
James Madison Memorial Building of the
Library of Congress, Carol M. Highsmith,
 2011, Wikimedia
to the Reader Registration Station to apply for a Reader Identification Card. In order to get to the Madison Building, we were sent to the tunnel that joins the two buildings. The walk took about 10 minutes. 

Underground Passage, Tunnels connecting all main buildings
 of the Library of Congress, LilyyyB, 2012,
Once you get to the Station, the process of getting the card takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of patrons waiting. With our newly minted cards in hand, we trudged back through the tunnel. I was so excited to actually be on my way to the Reading Room at last.

Library of Congress Main Reading Room
 Entrance, brownpau, 2013, 
The last stop before the Reading Room is the  Researcher’s Entrance  where you sign in.
When you step through the door, you are actually in the anteroom that now serves as the Local History andGenealogy Room  which adjoins the Main Reading Room. I was fortunate to find a reference librarian able to assist me in looking up the resource I needed. He introduced me to the Automated Call Slip on the Library of Congress' Online Catalog. You can fill out your own Call Slip on your laptop or by using the computers in the Computer Catalog Center, across from the Reader’s Entrance. 

The whole process has been digitized:
  • You request the material online.
  • The Library of Congress receives the request online.
  • You are notified online when the material is ready to be picked up.
This is where the third surprise happened. I decided to ask someone at the information/materials pick-up desk in the Main Reading Room what average turn-around time is. The answer was from several hours to a full day!!

New Zealand road sign Section: Permanent Warning -- 
Miscellaneous Meaning: Other dangers, UserFry1989, wikimedia

My experience at the Library of Congress led me to two caveats for my readers:
  1. Get your Reader’s Card early.
  2. Request your material on the Library of Congress’ Online Catalog using the Automated Call Slip (you must have a Reader’s Card first) early; if possible, the day before you want to pick up the material.

The last day of our trip, I was able to pick up my requested material: The National Genealogical Society 1997 Conference in the States Program Syllabus, “Pennsylvania Cradle of a Nation.” I had completed the process.

For more information on the Library of Congress' research treasures, view a video at

Categories: genealogy tools

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tracking the Hanneman Family: Uncovering Local Resources in Pennsylvania

Questions, Oberazzi,  December 9, 2006,
Is it Henrietta Hausman or Henrietta Hanneman? What is the correct spelling of a target ancestor’s name is a question that faces many researchers. In this case, the person of interest bearing the mystery birth surname is “Henrietta Hausman or Hanneman Williams Kreis” who was born in Pennsylvania and became the second wife of my great grandfather, Henry Kreis. To answer this question, I needed to investigate Pennsylvania genealogy resources.

Map of Pennsylvania, National Atlas, public domain, Wikimedia.
In my Oct 19, 2011 post, I introduced my readers to Henrietta.

Received from granddaughter of Henrietta

At that time, I had a theory (this was early on in my research of this family) that “Hanneman” might be a variant or misspelling of “Hausmann.” The main reason for this belief was the close relationship between Henrietta and her father-in-law, John Kreis, that continued long after her marriage to his son ended in divorce. John had married two Hausman women; first Mary Hausman and after she died, Margarethe Hausman. Because of marriage patterns at that time and people having smaller marriage pools, it is probable that these two women were related. Furthermore, if these two Kreis wives were related to Henrietta, it would explain why she would include John Kreis in her household for twenty years.

Another reason in favor of the Hausman spelling is that the 1900 Chicago, Cook, IL US Census  gives Nettie’s (Henrietta) brothers’ surnames as “Housman” which could be a misspelling or an Americanization of “Hausman.”

I decided that I must delve deeper into family records in order to make a strong case for the true surname of my great grandfather’s second wife.

In my earlier research on the Hanneman/Hausman family, the seminal document I found was the 1880 Newark, Essex, NJ US Census. This showed Henrietta in her birth family with her parents, Fred and Emma Hannaman (spelling variant of “Hanneman” in this census) and her siblings.

In this early research phase on the Hannemans, I had concentrated on Henrietta, her brothers Charles and Frederick (as she lived with them in Chicago in 1900) and her twin, Louisa. Somehow brother Henry had slipped past my scrutiny. In these sibling searches, I found no indication of where in Pennsylvania any of them were born. Also, I found no Hausman/Houseman connection.

Months went by. In December of 2014, I decided to do some more research on the Hanneman/Hausman question. I returned again to the sibling list and realized I had ignored Henry.  He was listed as age 12 in the 1880 Newark, Essex, NJ US Census. I went to Family Search and searched “Henry Hanneman.” Well, that search turned out to be gold! The 1870 Texas, Wayne, Pennsylvania US Census came up.
1870 Census questions:  1870 Questionnaire, › History › Image Gallery.
The household of “FredK and Emma Hannaman” appeared with two children: Gusta, female age ten and Henry, age one. I had not seen this census record before. This one document gave me three new pieces of information:

    Carbondale, Pa., between 1870 and 1879,
    Fowler & Bailey, Boston Public Library,
  1. The birth place in Pennsylvania of Henry (and perhaps the other children): Texas, Wayne, PA (Texas township is near Honesdale and Carbondale, all of which are close to Wilkes-Barre and mentioned in different family documents.)

“An old bird-eye map of Wilkes-Barre,
 Pennsylvania, United States”, 
1889, Fowler, Downs & Moyer, 
 g3824w.pm008720, public domain, Wikimedia.

This corresponds with what Joan Van Hise Dirner, a granddaughter of Henry Kreis (and my cousin, now deceased) told me about her Hanneman family origins in this country. Joan heard a family story that the Hannemans were in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at one time before they came to New Jersey.

2. The name of another child of Frederick and Emma: Gusta.

3.The city/district in Germany where Frederick Sr. was born: Hanover.

This Wayne County, PA census record also told me that the family surname, as far back as 1870, was “Hannaman”, a spelling variant of “Hanneman.” It looked more and more like “Hanneman” was the family surname.

After this lucky break from Henry, I did more research and found him (in the 1910 , 1920 and 1930 Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, PA US Censuses) showing that, unlike his siblings, he returned to Wilkes-Barre as an adult and lived there the rest of his life.

Map of Luzerne County, PA, US with township and municipal
 boundaries from US Census website 
by User:Ruhrfisch, April 2006, Wikimedia.  

In the 1910 Wilkes-Barre Census, I found that Henry’s brother, Frederick, was living in his household and the surname for all was “Hanneman.”

Invigorated and re-energized by my luck with Henry, I wanted to know more about the Hanneman family. I started my search anew. In under “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” I found a listing for Heinrich Hanemann and his brother Friedrich, arriving in the US on 13 April 1866. This document was the oldest and closest to the old country that I had yet seen and thus the strongest evidence that the surname was indeed “Hanneman.”

Having done so much on-line research, I decided I also needed to consult some local sources. Since I live at quite a distance from Pennsylvania, I decided to follow my own advice from my Oct 19, 2011 post:

 “… when you are doing out of state research, someone actually living in that area can be very helpful.  That person can visit archives or other record depositories to search for information. An in-person search is much faster than ordering records by mail. Not all records have been digitized or are available on the computer. And a local person may know of places to research in the area that you have not thought of.”

Now that I had decided to go local, how did I find a researcher? A quote from my March 12, 2013  post gave me just the information I needed:

“…the next time you are researching an ancestor in a geographic area that is new to you, be sure to start with the Family Search Research Wiki. Not only will you find a thorough introduction to many records and where they are located for your target area, but you never know what hidden treasures are waiting for you.”

Family Search resources, Diane Cordell, June 25, 2012,

First I went to the Pennsylvania State Wiki at Half-way down the page is a map showing all of the counties. To see a wiki on any of the counties, you simply click on the county name. In my case, I clicked on “Wayne” as that is where Wilkes Barre is located. Below is a diagram of the county:

Map of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, United States, 
modified by User:Ruhrfisch in April 2006
 from US Census website, Wikimedia.

On the left side of the Pennsylvania State Wiki page, you will find a menu bar which lists major topics of interest, including church records, court records, history, and newspapers among others. But I was looking for local professional help. The topic “Repositories” caught my attention, and the subheading  “Societies” seemed a likely place to check.

Wayne County Historical Society, used by permission
The first institution listed is the Wayne County HistoricalSociety, located in Honesdale, the birth place of Henrietta’s brother Henry Hanneman. On the side bar of the first page of this website, you can click on “Genealogy,” and you will find the Professional Research Package. For a $40 fee, you can purchase two hours of research. The website lists many of the sources available at the Society. I discovered that the site makes it easy to order research services on-line when I made my request for two hours of research on the Hannemans. During an e-mail conversation with the researcher, I attached documents I had already found and a history I had written on the family. Unfortunately, the researcher could find no additional records of the family’s time in Wayne County.

Sysiphus, oil on canvas, 40 x 40, 2014,
 Milan Rynt, 15 September 2014, Wikimedia 

As you can see from this post, living far from a state where your ancestors once lived is not an insurmountable obstacle to research. Local societies often offer on-site services for a fee. And an easy place to locate these local institutions is the Family Search Research Wiki.

A lesson I re-learned again while doing this research (Hanneman or Hausman?) is to always check records for each of the siblings in a family. You never know what you might find. In this case, Henry Hanneman’s records, a brother of Henrietta, brought me information I had not found from my research on his brothers and sisters: his birth place in Pennsylvania and most likely the birth place of his siblings.

In conclusion, in order to answer the question, is it “Henrietta Hanneman” or “Henrietta Hausman,” I searched for documents on-line and enlisted the help of local researchers in Pennsylvania. Hanneman (or some variant such as “Hannaman, Hanaman etc.) appears on every record except the one census document which listed the family as “Housman.”  From all the records I have accumulated, the evidence strongly suggests that “Hanneman” is Henrietta’s correct surname.

category: genealogy professional

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wanted: Greek Research Guidance

Irish United Nations Veterans Association house and
 memorial garden (Arbour Hill), 
William Murphy, 2011, Creative Commons,
This is the story of how one resource can open the door to many research tools. It all started because of my Greek ancestors. My husband and I will be headed to Athens in the fall of 2015 for our next family history trip.

Athens. Panorama from Acropolis towards
 northeast and Mount Lycabettus,
2011, Wikimedia.
After traveling to the Czech Republic and Switzerland in 2013, I have some experience in getting prepared to make the most of my time in Europe. In my blog post of Oct 30, 2013, I discussed how I found my wonderful Czech heritage guide, Marie Zahn. The unforgettable trip with Marie to my grandfather’s ancestral village coupled with the genealogical information that she located before we arrived resulted in a very successful visit. This experience lead me to look for a guide in Greece.
But this quest proved much harder than I thought. I explored the subject of heritage guides in Greece in different google searches (trying to use just the right combination of words,) but nothing solid turned up. I e-mailed Rick Steves’ travel advisory site staffers, (a great site for travel information) but they had no leads either. 

Used by permission of publisher
On one of my google searches, I put “Greek genealogy resources” and a listing for a “Greek Family Research Toolkit” from Family Tree Magazine popped up. A copy of this issue is available at Family Tree Magazine's online store.

As I looked down the list of web sites in the tool kit, I saw this intriguing entry: Hellenic Genealogy Resources Facebook Group.

Facebook logo, 2013,
 Facebook, Inc., Wikimedia.

Now I had already searched Facebook groups under “Greek,” but I had not thought to look under “Hellenic.” The link in the Family Tree list (from 2012) was no longer active but now I had the name. I excitedly opened Facebook and entered the name I hoped to fine.

And there it was – the Hellenic Genealogy Resources Group!  (You must be in Facebook to see the group.) I saw that it was a closed group, so I clicked on “join” and the next time I checked, I saw a  welcome message from the administrator of the group, Dawna Stevens.

Listen, Ky, 2008, Creative Commons,
Having found the group, I could hardly wait to make contact.  In my “hello and thank you for letting me join message,” I asked if anyone knew of a Greek heritage guide. By the next day, Dawna Stevens had given me two possible candidates. This kind of treatment, of being heard, is something so wonderful to encounter when you are searching for information.
 I will write another post as I explore a research partnership with these new Greek contacts.

Another Facebook group I found in the Family Tree Magazine “Greek Family Research Toolkit” is Hellenic Genealogy Geek. I was intrigued by the term “Geek” – these must be very determined, focused researchers. Only a few weeks after joining this group, I received an e-mail announcing the “First NationalHellenic American Genealogy Conference” to be held in New York on Saturday April 25, 2015. This isn’t the first time that I have wished to live closer to New York City! The conference is co-sponsored by the Hellenic American Chamber ofCommerce and The conference syllabus promises an exciting, information-packed day. Not only are there some intriguing presentations, but the conference is free!

The conference opens with Peter C. Moskos speaking on “Greek Americans: Struggle and Success” which is the title of a book by the same title he co-authored with Charles C. Moskos.

A presentation by Dr. Louis Katsos, titled the “History of Hellenic Lands,” focuses on how research in Greek records is impacted by “geography, boundary changes and village name changes.” Herein lie the sand traps that befuddle many a genealogist!

Bunker, Michael Coghlan, 2009,
Creative Commons,

In the afternoon, Peter W. Dickson, a contributor to Greek Americans, will be speaking on “Using DNA in Greek Family History Research.” How DNA can help in family history research is one of my favorite topics!

I found another lead in the Greek Family Research Toolkit -- a link to Lica Catsakis’ website, Greek Genealogy - FamilyHistory, How to find Your Greek Ancestors. Dr. Catsakis is the author of Family History Research in Greece. This is a description of the book that appears on her website:

“Eleven Chapters: Beginning your Research, Sources for Genealogical Research, Greek History, More about Greece, Greek Migration, Locating Places in Greece (with details about various gazetteers – geographical dictionaries), Churches and Religious Denominations (with addresses of dioceses, and Patriarchate), Research by Mail (with form letters for civil and church archives in Greek and their English translation, and Family questionnaire for relatives to fill in information about common ancestors), Learn about Names, The Language (with basics about grammar and a list of words you will see in Greek records), Numbers and Units of Time. 
Two Appendices: Glossary (of Greek and English words); and Greek Given Names their Variations, their English Equivalents, and Name-days.
Pictures of ancestors and of the land, Maps, and photocopies of samples of Greek Records andCertificates.”

Isn’t it amazing how one resource, in this case Family History Magazine’s "Greek Family Research Toolkit," can lead one to discover all this:

  • Two Facebook groups on Greek Genealogy Research
  • Referrals to Greek Heritage guides
  • The Hellenic America Chamber of Commerce
  • The First National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference
  • A manual on how to do Greek Family Research by L. Catsakis
categories: genealogy tools, genealogy professional, genealogy groups