Translate

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Back to the History Books



My quest for my children’s paternal Filek ancestors has me back to countries with elastic borders. 

The bad news is that I do not know exactly where they lived.  I am trying to narrow it down by using Google Earth to locate ancestral towns of other immigrants named Filek hoping that they will be clustered fairly close to one another.

This particular family emigrated from Bohemia. But exactly where were Bohemia’s borders when they lived there?

Conquests and royal intermarriages seemed to modify borders with each new king, There were dynasties, duchies and kingdoms. In more modern times there was, of course, the Hapsburg Empire, and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Small nations like Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia disappeared and reappeared depending on who ruled where.

There’s a great deal of information on the internet but the most comprenhensive I’ve found so far is A History of the Czech Lands edited by Jaroslav Panek and Oldrich Tuma


One of these days, I’ll make some progress.




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Next stop: Bohemia



My focus is shifting from my Polish ancestors to the Bohemian ancestors of my children’s father. There’s a brick wall here because the usual sources have not, thus far, identified immigration or naturalization information for their Filek ancestors.

The history of the Czech lands of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia shows that boundaries changed fairly often as various kings ruled that part of Europe. US census records show this Filek family’s homeland as Bohemia; but what was the land called when they emigrated?  Other searches for Filek show origins as Austria or Hungary. Some say just Czech.  Yet it is possible that many of these people lived in the same region.

I’m studying the history and maps and getting clues from the Facebook Czech Genealogy Group.  Anyone out there have Filek in their family tree?







Sunday, January 10, 2016

Heritage or Lineage?




Is genealogy about heritage or about lineage?  Short answer: Yes.  It is about both. They are related but not the same. My main interest is heritage.

My ancestors were Polish peasants. For most of my lines, I trace ancestors back to the 18th century. (There are still a couple of brick walls in the 19th century.)  I know who they were and how they earned their livelihood.  I study the history of their times to learn what shaped their daily lives. Their lives then helped shape my life now. As much as I’d like to know the names of my more ancient ancestors, that is not necessary to understand how peasants lived in their time.

There are some gaps that need filling; but my current thinking is that I’ll not try to go back any farther in time with my ancestors now.  I will concentrate on the heritage for now and perhaps get back to lineage some time in the future.

There are stories to write and research to do. Life in Prussian Poland.  Traveling steerage class to the USA in the 19th century.  Settling in a new land.  Life in the US at the turn of the 20th century. Subsequent generations and how they/we fared.

My lineage projects will focus on my ex-husband – my children’s father whose paternal ancestors emigrated from Bohemia. I’ve found no passenger lists, no immigration papers, no nothing before they arrived in Chicago in the 1860’s.


2016 will be a challenge.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Migrating away from Family Tree Maker




FTM??


Yes, I know that Family Tree Maker (FTM) isn’t going away soon.  It will be around for as many years as its loyal users are willing to hang on to it.  But it will be static. Future improvements in technology and database design will not be reflected in FTM. And, according to the December 9, 2015Ancestry.com blog post, there may be “degradation of features over time”. I compare it to driving an Edsel or a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. They may still be drivable, but they’re pretty much obsolete.

Technology comes and goes. Does anyone but me remember 8” floppy discs?  How about Lotus123?  Word Perfect?  

Ancestry’s announcement timing was extremely poor for the abandonment of FTM.  The news came out less than 30 days from the withdrawal of the product!  That is ridiculous.  There would have been much less commotion if they’d announced it in September or October. I have great empathy for those who purchased the product as Christmas gifts.

As a replacement, I’m looking at both Legacy and Roots Magic software. It will take a while to learn each one and decide which I prefer. Maybe I’ll end up using both.








Thursday, December 10, 2015

Irony?



For the next several days, I’ll be spending a lot of time on Ancestry.com in spite of my opinion of the company.

Until now, I haven’t felt the need to follow up on all those shaky leaves – they’d still be there when I got around to them.  But now I intend to migrate completely away from Family Tree Maker so I need to get all the information I can get before my final FTM/Ancestry sync. My current (one month) subscription expires on December 31. The plan is to be mostly fluent in either or both Legacy and RootsMagic software by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

I’ll decide later whether to prune my Ancestry trees down to just cousin bait.



R.I.P. Family Tree Maker


Ancestry.com’s December 8, 2015 announced decision to retire Family Tree Maker (FTM) software has their users in an uproar. Many of us have used this genealogy software since long before Ancestry bought it.  Many have used nothing else to document their research.  Responses range from anger to dismay, a feeling of betrayal of trust, and downright begging for a reversal of this decision.

On December 9, 2015the Ancestry blog posted a second message that was meant to be reassuring, but seems to have had the opposite effect.  It read like a patronizing pat on the head telling us that everything will be OK. 

User comments are scathing!  

In an earlier post, I noted my disaffection with Ancestry.com.  That disaffection grows.

At the bottom line, Ancestry.com is a big business. The goal of any business is to maximize profit and keep revenues growing. They are working hard to achieve those goals.  The redesign of the website is aimed at users of mobile devices.  They need to keep up with the marketplace in order to attract and keep new subscribers.

Existing users and subscribers who cannot or will not move at Ancestry’s pace are simply collateral damage.  It is strictly a business decision.

We are assured, however, that FTM will be supported through the year 2016 and will continue, after that, to run as it does now barring the user upgrading to a future Operating System that may not support its aging design and structure.

Really???

That assurance is belied by this quote from the December 9Ancestry blog post:
Q: “What happens to the family tree I’ve created using Family Tree Maker? Will it continue to be accessible?
A: “You will continue to be able to access your data through the desktop software beyond Jan. 1, 2017, however over time there will be a gradual degradation of features. You can always export your tree and save it.”

Gradual degradation of features?????

I’ve been half-hearted in my efforts to learn the Legacy family tree software I bought a while ago; and RootsMagic has made an offer I couldn’t refuse so I’ll be trying that, too, as a replacement for FTM.  It has always been just too easy to keep using the old familiar stuff.

Online, I’ll probably keep my trees on Ancestry.com but maybe not update them there. I’ll bring my online trees on MyHeritage.com up to date. I don’t like the online sites where other people can change my data.

I will continue my policy of buying a one-month subscription to Ancestry.com when it seems useful. My December subscription will allow me to investigate my shaky leaves and get everything I can into FTM before migrating to new software.

Change happens.




Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Love/Hate Computers




I had a catastrophic disc failure this past week.  

  My laptop was at least 5 years old so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that it finally gave out.  When the technicians opened it they also found internal damage resulting from several overheating events over the years.  Looking at the cost of a new disc plus labor to get it working again was discouraging.  My solution was to purchase a refurbished laptop for just a little less than the estimated cost of repair; and send the old one to the scrap heap.

Fortunately I’d done a backup about a week and a half earlier.  Backup is one thing, restoring is something else again.  It worked – mostly.  I seem to have most of my critical data. The key word is “most”.

“Hate” isn’t really the right word. It’s more like frustration and anxiety. How much will I have to recreate from scratch?  Do I have all the CDs I need to get back to where I was? Did I save all the .exe files for software I downloaded?

The answer to that last question, unfortunately, is no. There are a couple I didn’t save so I’ll need to go back to find the right IDs and passwords so I can download them again without having to pay for them again. Lesson learned. ALWAYS save it locally.


It has been a few very frustrating days but I think I’m mostly back in business. Today is Sunday – I think I’ll just watch football and play solitaire.