I’ve spent a lot of my research time focused on direct ancestors. This is only natural because those are the ones that we want to know about and finding one leads to another. However, what do you do when you get stuck? You seem to have tried every possible route to find some missing information, like a birthdate, birthplace, or in my case, the home village back in Europe.
So here is the tip for this week, in case you don’t want to read the rest of the post, check the collateral lines of your direct ancestors. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, even cousins may lead you to some information about your direct ancestor that you just cannot find while staying true to your line. I have done that with my maternal grandfather, Joseph Lucas. Here is how it has helped me so far.
My Lucas line has proven to be a very tough nut to crack. My grandfather was killed in Germany just after the end of World War II, when my mother was just 9 years old. So, there are not many memories of him or of his family. His father, Raymond Lucas, died in 1921 as I have recently found and wrote about in this post, Death Certificate: Raymond Lucas. His mother, Katie Lucas, remarried after his death to a Frank Goodman but apparently he died or left at some point before my mother came along because she does not remember him. She had very faint memories of her grandmother; remembering that she spoke Polish a lot and lived in the same building when my mother was very small. She believes she died about the time that World War II began.
I can put my great grandparents, Raymond and Katie, in Massachusetts starting about 1906. The census records and birth indexes have helped me do this. Their first known child, Marvella, according to the census, was born in Massachusetts about 1906. Their second child, Joseph (my grandfather), and their third, Edward are also listed as being born in Massachusetts, about 1907 and 1909. I have tried to confirm the exact birth date of my grandfather for years, but it still eludes me. I have lots of information on him with a couple different dates, all in December of 1907, so at least I can be pretty confident of the month and year. However, I am digressing and the search for his birth is for a different post.
One of my research goals is to identify where Raymond and Katie were born and their home village in Europe. From the census and other documents I have been able to conclude that their nationality and language was polish and they were born in Russia. If you study a little about the changing Polish borders and areas in Europe, being Polish and Russian is a very real possibility. The census also tells me that they immigrated about 1901. However, the search for any immigration records, either arrival, departures, or naturalizations have been fruitless. It is almost like they just appeared out of thin year, which I am sure, many of you have encountered with your at least one of your ancestors.
I was at a dead end trying to find Raymond and Katie and additional information about my grandfather. So, I took some advice that I heard, and the same advice that I am giving today, check the collateral lines. I decided to see what I could find out about my grandfather’s brothers; Edward, Teddy, and Anthony. My mother said that Edward and Teddy never married, at least not that she was aware of. However, Anthony was known in the family, he was Uncle Tony. I remember talk of him as a small child. My mother remembers him and his family well. So, Anthony was my next search.
From the census records I knew that he was born in Detroit, Michigan so that is where I started. I searched the normal birth and death records first. I was successful and found his birth record and death record but neither provided any new information about his parents. Along with my own search, my mother was in touch with her cousin, Anthony’s daughter, and asked if she had anything about her father. I wasn’t expecting the information I received.
She had the baptism certificate for her father, but it wasn’t for Anthony Lucas, it was for Anthony Luksys! The parents were Roman Luksys and Catherine Paskruba. Everything but the surname Luksys matched the birth record of Anthony. I was a little surprised and excited, maybe this is the breakthrough I needed.
I have yet to make a certain breakthrough with this information but it has led me to more clues which I would not have without the name Luksys. I knew my grandfather and his brother were born in Massachusetts but not quite sure where. With the new information I can search for a new surname and I was able to find a record of Edward Luksis born to Raymond and Katie Pascrumba in Northbridge, Massachusetts on 14 August 1909. I have also found a record for my grandfather from the church records in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, part of Northbridge.
Although I have yet to find any arrival information for Raymond and Katie, the name Luksys is in the same area of Massachusetts at the same time. I have found naturalization and other records for a Samuel Luksys and although I cannot make a connection between the families there are too many similarities that I cannot ignore. Samuel lived in Upton, Massachusetts, right next door to Northbridge and he worked in Whitinsville, part of Northbridge. These are the same places where my grandfather and his brother were born. Samuel worked at the Whitins Machine Works and Raymond (great grandfather) is listed as a machinist in the birth record of his son, Edward.
Even though I have not achieved the breakthrough I am looking for, the moral of this story is that if I had not gone to my collateral lines, I would not have the additional clues to follow which I am confident will lead me to that breakthrough.
Do you have any collateral line success stories? Share those on your own blog or in the comments section here.
Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.
Photo Courtesy of: Leigh Marriner.
© 2014 Copyright, Christopher Shaw, All Rights Reserved.