I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Bulak Family from Newark, New Jersey - Mystery Monday

Lillian (Uskoski) Bulak
(Digital Image.  Photo Used With Permission from Cheryl [LAST NAME WITHHELD]; Text Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia Shenette)

I was recently contacted by a reader named Cheryl who wanted to know if my aunt Helen Bulak was related to a woman that she was looking for whose name also happened to be Helen Bulak.  We exchanged a few e-mails and quickly discovered that my Aunt Helen was not the Helen Bulak Cheryl was looking for. Nor was my Bulak family the Bulak family that she was looking for.  The Bulak family that she is looking for once lived in Newark, New Jersey not Worcester, Massachusetts.  Cheryl is not a genealogist, but has done some genealogy research in an effort to reconnect with family.  With her permission I offered to share her story here in the hope that someone reading this might be able to help to solve a 60 year old mystery.

Cheryl's aunt, Lillian Uskoski, was born on September 10, 1921 in Hazelridge, Manitoba, Canada.  Lillian married a Felix (sometimes known as Philip or Phil) Bulak in Toronto, Ontario on November 20, 1949 when she was 28 years old.  In February of 1950 Lillian and Felix left Toronto and moved to 117 Pulaski St., in Newark, New Jersey to live with Felix's family.  Eight months after Lillian immigrated to the United States she gave birth to a daughter, Mary Ann, in October 1950.  Sadly, Lillian died a few months later on January 2, 1951 at the age of 30.  Felix was not able to care for baby Mary Ann.  Cheryl's family remembers there was talk of Felix giving the baby to his sister Helen to care for or to adopt.  Cheryl's family does not know what happened to Mary Ann.  They have not seen her in over 60 years.

What do we know about Felix's family?  Felix's parents were Paul Bulak (1890 - aft 1951) and his wife Mary (abt 1892 - ?).  Paul and Mary had three children: Casimir M., (abt 1917 - ?); Felix (20 April 1921 - 29 January 1984); and Helen J. ( abt 1928 - ?).  They lived in a multifamily dwelling at 117 Pulaski St. in Newark, New Jersey from 1929 until at least 1951 and possibly until 1954 or 1955.  Some of the Newark city directories on Ancestry for the 1950s are missing or missing information, but by 1955 the family was no longer listed as living at 117 Pulaski St., and one apartment was listed as vacant.  Other residents that lived at the address for a long time or were there around the time Mary Ann was born were:

Adam Adamoski, 1947-1955
Anthony Addotta 1940-1955
John T. Brzezinski, 1955
Edwin Byk, 1930, 1955
Charles Caruso, 1947-1955
Mrs. Rose Charzewski, 1955
Mrs. Julia Jacek, 1940-1955
Joseph M. Sak, 1940-1955
Andrew Trela, 1947-1955
Joseph W. Wortolec 1947-1955

Given that some of the people who lived at 117 Pulaski St. lived there for quite a while, someone might remember the Bulak family and might still remember what happened to Mary Ann.  Does anyone who lived at 117 Pulaski St. in the 1950s remember a story of a tiny baby girl being left without a mother? According to a Newark city directory a Helen J. Bulak married a Michael Bilby in 1951.  It is possible that Mary Ann's name might have been changed from Mary Ann Bulak's to Mary Ann Bilby.  Felix Bulak died on January 29, 1984.  He is not buried with Lillian, and a friend, Faustino Tavaner, is listed as the next of kin on the funeral record.  Felix appears to have died without family.  Faustino has also died.

Lillian was sometimes called Lily.  Lily could be spelled Lily or Lilly.  Her maiden name was Uskoski, but was also spelled Uszkowski.  She was described as being 5'8" tall, with a fair complexion, and hazel eyes. Her daughter may have a similar appearance.  According to her immigration document Lillian's last known address in Canada was Drurie (sic), though probably Durie, St., in Toronto, Ontario.  She immigrated to the United States from Canada via the Niagara Falls, New York border crossing on February 4, 1950.

Cheryl and her mother, Mary Ann's aunt, would very much like to hear from her or her family.  If you are Mary Ann Bulak, know Mary Ann, or remember the Bulak family from 117 Pulaski St. in Newark, NJ, please contact me at cshenette at gmail dot com.  I will forward your contact information to Cheryl.  All information you share with me will be kept confidential.

Other Posts You Might Like:

A St. Joseph's Day Celebration  - Wordless Wednesday
A Window In Time, April 11, 1940
Send Up a Flare, Mystery Bride Identified! - Mystery Monday
The Opal Ring 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Oh, The Places I'll Go! Or My Fourth Blogiversary

(Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia Shenette) Where has the time gone?  I can't believe I've been blogging for four years.  And yes, I'm still here, in case you were wondering...

While I may not post quite as often as I use to I don't intend to quit blogging anytime soon.  I struggle to find time to write, but the rewards of blogging are too great to stop though I think my days of writing a hundred posts in a year are behind me.  Between work, family, and volunteer commitments I'm at a point in my life where there aren't enough hours in the day.  Finding ideas on what to write about has never been a problem for me.  Finding the time to commit those ideas to paper (or on my blog) is.  My goal for this year--to write one solid blog post a month. That shouldn't be too hard. Should it?

In looking over the last four years' worth of posts, I'll be the first to admit not every one is a gem, but a few do stand out, and my readers seemed to enjoy them as well. If you are reading my blog for the first time here is a baker's dozen of my favorite posts, in no particular order:  

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3)
Presenter Interview: Colleen Fitzpatrick, Forensic Genealogist
Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)
Analyzing A Photo: The Holiday Party
More Than Meets the Eye - Tuesday's Tip
A Window in Time, April 11, 1940
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...
A Comedy of Errors: My Family In the Census (Part 1 of 3)
Reflecting on My American Experience This Thanksgiving
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...
Advent Calendar, Food: What the Dickens or How to Blow Up a Duck
Chopin Rising

The last four years have been a journey.  I've made great friends and amazing discoveries.  It might sound silly to say, but blogging has taken me places I've never expected to go. I know my blog has a pretty narrow focus and may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's okay with me.  

If you've read any of my posts, taken the time to comment, or contacted me by e-mail about one of my posts, thank you.  It means more to me than I can possibly say.  As for my short term goal of one post a month, will I succeed?  (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)! 

So with apologies to Dr. Seuss...

To write about the family
I love and I need.
To have someone actually
Take the time to read
What I write is a gift.  
Today is my day!
Thanks for sticking with me.
So...I am on my way!

Other Posts You Might Like:

A February Bride - Wordless Wednesday
Fascinating Ladies
Send Up A Flare, Mystery Bride Identified! - Mystery Monday
Reading the Classifieds - Amanuensis Monday

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Purgatory Chasm, Middletown, Rhode Island - Those Places Thursday

(Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia Shenette) What a difference a century makes!  Well, maybe not exactly a century, but pretty darn close to it.  The original photo was probably taken about 95 years years ago, in the late 1910s.  I wrote a post about it back in April 2012.  At the time I wasn't sure where the photo was taken, but with a little research and a whole lot of luck discovered it was taken at Purgatory Chasm in Middletown, Rhode Island.

My family and I go to Newport every once in a while, and last November I managed to talk my husband into stopped at Purgatory Chasm which is a couple of miles from where we spent the weekend.

It's amazing how different things look now.  It's hard to see the ocean with all of the trees and brush in the way.  I wondered from what vantage point the original photo was taken. Now I know.  There is a footbridge over the chasm.  I took my photo from the same spot.

There's also another lookout over the rocks to the left of the chasm.  See all of the dots in the surf? Crazy people Surfers in the cold November water. Brrr.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Baby It's Cold Outside - Wordless Wednesday
Circus Girls Are "Normal" - Amanuensis Monday
The Death and Funeral of Charles Senecal - Amanuensis Monday
More Than Meets the Eye (Again): A Tuesday's Tip Follow Up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Aboard the C.G.C. Tamaroa - Military Monday

(Text Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia Shenette) One of the things I love about blogging is when I take a single item or record and try to do a bit of research on the item before I write about it.  I am fortunate in that I have so many letters, photos, and pieces of memorabilia as part of my family history collection, but sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees.  Take this Christmas 1951 program from the United States Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa which I recently looked at for the very first time.

My uncle Robert Szerejko (1929-2012), my mother's brother, spent time in the Coast Guard.  I don't know too much about his time in the Coast Guard, other than he spent some time in Greenland and stayed in touch with his Coast Guard skipper, "Skipper Gray" for decades.  My Uncle Bob was like that.  He was the kind of guy who made an impression on people, who people wanted to stay in touch with, whether it was an old friend from his Coast Guard days or someone he built a post and beam house for as part of his house building business. When I asked my cousin if her dad ever mentioned the Tamaroa, she didn't remember the Tamaroa specifically, but since he is listed in the program as one of the men who present for Christmas in 1951 we can probably assume he spent some time on the Tamaroa.

What did I learn about the C.G.C. Tamaroa?  The Tamaroa was launched on 9 October 1943 and saw action in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, including being involved in Marianas, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima operations. She was the first cutter on sight after the sinking of the Andrea Doria, and most surprisingly was the Coast Guard cutter made famous in Sebastian Junger's book, The Perfect Storm!  The crew of the Tamaroa saved the crew of the Satori, a sailing vessel in distress 75 miles off the island of Nantucket, during the 1991 No Name Storm.  You can read an excellent article, The Perfect Storm, 20 Years Later, on the Coast Guard Compass: The Official Blog of U.S. Coast Guard.  You can also read more about the Tamaroa herehere and here.

I love this program!  It's amazing how one little thing can say so much. Now I know where my uncle was, who he was with, and what he ate on Christmas day in 1951!  Even the menu takes us back in time.  How many people still put peanut butter on their holiday table! 

If you served on the Tamaroa in the 1950s, recognize any of the names listed in this program, or remember my uncle Bob Szerejko I would love to hear from you!





















Thompson, Warner K., Jr., CDR, USCG   Lutzi, Philip C., ENS, USCG
Hinkleman, George C., LT, USCGR    Bassett, Raymond C., Jr. ENS, USCG
Krause, Herbert, LT, USCG             Beach, John W., BOSN, USCG
Treib, Seymour L., LTJG, USCG         Mears, Grayson J., MACH, USCG
Gendler, Irvin, ENS, USCG

Enlisted Men

     Emery, Otis W., CSC                    Dunhour, Joseph W., ENC
     Frey, Leo (n), ENC                       Kirkman, George R., EMCA (P)
     Tarr, Howard R., Jr., BMC (P)        Lucey, Christopher J., QMC

Aery, Walter H., EN1 (P)                    Anderson, Gilbert C., SN
Avedisia, Harry (n), SN                       Berry, Leo D., SN
Berni, Albert J., FN (EM)                    Bledsoe, Marvin R., EN2 (P)
Casale, Robert (n), RM1 (HF)             Cleavenger, Jack R., EN3 (P)
Colegrove, Howard C., FN                  Colford, Sidney J., Jr., SN
Cooper, Grady (n), FN                        Cotton, Paul S., SD3 (P)
Czapski, Alexander (n), SN                  Fallo, Charles C., Jr. FN
Fasano, Lun A., RM2                          Feierabend, Richard F., SA
Gaines, Eugene C., SD3 (P)                 Fulton, William D. QM1 (P)
Grinage, James R., EM2                      Gilmore, Marshall C., QM2
Harris, James (n), TN                          Grogan, John J., EN3 (P)
Hildebrand, Richard E., SA                  Hendricks, Robert N., SN
Jones, Russell W., DC3 (P)                  Hymers, Douglas J., YN1
Kerbel, Stanley E., SN                         Keister, Gerald J., EN3 (P)
Lake, Henry E., RM3                          Lopez, Jose L., EN3 (P)
Lewis, Alfred F., FN (EN)                   McDermontt, William G., HM2
Masker, Raymond E., CS1                   Mendicino, Vincent T., SN
McDevitt, Joseph j., SN                       Moran, James F., DC1
Menge, Fred W. , EN1                         Noorman, Jack M., SA
Nicolaus, James E., SA                        Owen, Urel P., Jr., YN3
Oreck, Marshall B., SA                        Paul H., SK1 (P)
Palicia, Leo (n) EM3 (P)                      Pospisil, George H., RM3
Petkovich, Charles R., SA                    Rossi, Ralmonde (n), ET2
Rappaport, Isaac I., SA                        Sciarrino, John F., SA
Sanders, Luther (n), CS2                      Sensenig, John H., Jr., FN
Seibel, Herman (n), GM3 (P)               Smith, Clifford E., BM3 (P)
Shortt, Harry R., SN                            Spahr,     John E., BM3 (P)
Smith, Norman C., SN                         Steindler, "H" K., ET3
Standaert., Richard E., SN                   Sward, Gordan A., SA
Stroud, Myrel E., BM3                        Szerejko, Robert A., SN
Switzer, Dean W., SA                         Theriault, Joseph L. P., SN
Thomas, Sydney W., YN3 (P)             Travis, Charles W., SA
Walker, Clifton B., Jr., QM1                Watson, John T. EN2
Wilson, Sidney A., F N                        Wood, Alvin C. RD3 (P)
Yost, James C., FN (EN)

Other Posts You Might Like:

Analyzing A Photo: The Holiday Party
Christmas in Poland, 1929 - Wordless Wednesday
Fun on the Slopes - Wordless Wednesday
More Than Meets the Eye - Tuesday's Tip

Thursday, December 26, 2013

95 Years Ago Today: WWI Pass To Paris - Treasure Chest Thursday

(Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)                    

A. P. O. 702.
December 26th 1918.
Pvt lcl Adoplph Szerejko, 1269507 has permission to be absent from this post from 9:00 AM until  10:00 PM this date for the purpose of visiting PARIS. Regulation Uniform.
Off the streets of Paris by 9 PM          H.C. Rasmussen [signature]
                                                              Commanding Officer.
                                                              Capt. Air S.

Last summer I finally emptied the last carton of stuff I saved from my mom's house after her house was sold in 2004. At the bottom of the box I found this certificate. It's a day pass giving my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, permission to visit the city of Paris on December 26, 1918.

I couldn't believe such a small, seemingly inconsequential, scrap of paper survived in my family for 95 years!  I love it when I discover exactly where one of my ancestor's was on a particular day in history.  It's like I've been given the gift of sharing in their day from long, long ago.              

Other Posts You Might Like:

Doughboys with their Flu Masks - Wordless Wednesday
Their Flying Machines - Wordless Wednesday
Veteran's Day: The Life of a Doughboy, 1918
A Postcard From Paris, 1918 (Part 1 of 2) Those Places Thursday

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Product Review: Saving Memories Forever

(Text Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)

Saving Memories Forever ( www.savingmemoriesforever.com )
     Free Membership: Free!
     Premium Subscription: $3.99 monthly / $40.00 annually

A while back the folks at Saving Memories Forever asked me to write a review of their product system for recording, saving, and sharing stories. The system consists of two parts--an app and a website. According to the the website "...the app provides great mobility for interviewing and easy uploading to a secure and private storage on the website."  There are two levels of membership--a Free Membership and a Premium Subscription.  I am evaluating the Premium Subscription for my review.

About the product: The free app is available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. Before I downloaded the app to my iPhone I decided to check out their website to learn a little more about the product.  The Saving Memories Forever website is neat and easy to navigate.  On the left-hand side of the screen there are three sections: Start Here; Helpful Tips; and Free vs Fee.  All three sections are helpful.  The Start Here section has easy step-by-step instructions.  I like their suggestion that I interview myself to get the basic feel for the interviewing process. Being a newbie to interviewing I also like the practical suggestions offered in the Helpful Tips section. Finally, the Free vs Fee section clearly outlines the benefits of each type of membership.

The product is essentially an audio scrapbook for saving family memories. To get started you need to downloaded the app.  A User's Manual is available, but the app is pretty simple and self-intuitive for those who prefer to jump right in.  You can create and manage multiple "storytellers" and have the option of uploading photos to each storyteller's profile.  The "Helpful Tips" section on the app is short but helpful. I like their idea for keeping stories short, five to ten minutes.

Stories are organized by storyteller.  A series of prompts are provided and the prompts are organized into broad categories: Childhood (0-12); Teenage Years (13-19); Adult (20-25); Adult (26-40); Adult (41-55); Adult (56+); Jokes; Philosophy; Religion; Other Stories and Songs.  You can create multiple stories for the same prompt.  The ten or 11 prompts in each age category are pretty basic, such as "Describe you mother and father" and "Describe your childhood home" in the Childhood (0-12) category, and "Describe your family" and "What did you like to do?" in the Adult (41-55) category. You can tag stories to make them searchable.

Saving Memories Forever allows you to share your stories with others, but anyone you share a story with must create an account before they are able to access the stories you've uploaded.  Sharing stories is a key feature of the product, but the user manual points out that you will share ALL your stories with everyone.  You can also put story notifications on Facebook to let the rest of your family know that a new story is available for listening.  At the end of a story you press a button on your phone, and your story uploads to the website.  You can use Saving Memories Forever in conjunction with Skype for interviewing family long distance and can download stories to your computer using a zip file.

The Saving Memories Forever Privacy Policy states that "..all content will be made public 100 years after the date of initial creation." I think this is important to note given that you are gathering stories from other people and that your storytellers' privacy, even a hundred years down the line, may be important to them and/or to you.

Finally, a bonus included with the product is a copy of Thomas MacEntee's Preserving Your Family's Oral History and Stories which is available with the Premium Subscription in .pdf form or as a webinar.

What do I think?  Saving Memories Forever is a nice product.  The phone app aspect of the product is particularly handy.  No special equipment is required, just your phone and your computer.  Most people have their phones on them all the time, so there isn't special equipment to remember. You put your phone down on the table, press record, and forget about it! It's that simple!

I do have a couple of suggestions though.  Before I reviewed the product I read Jennifer Wood's review of Saving Memories Forever on her Climbing My Family Tree blog. I agree with her suggestion that it would be nice to be able to add/change/customize the interview prompt questions/titles. I also hope this will be available in a product update down the line.  Some of the prompts are pretty basic and a bit limited in scope, like having the question "Who did you date/marry?" in the Adult 20-25 category and not again in any of the other adult categories.  

While you can add and search tags, it would be nice to have a tag list/cloud to select from.  I know from experience with my blog that sometimes it's hard to remember all of the tags that I have assigned my various posts over the years, and the tag list is an incredibly helpful reminder when I am looking for something specific.

What's the bottom line?  Saving Memories Forever would make a great gift for the genealogist in the family, but you don't need to limit your purchase to just gift giving or genealogists.  It would also make a great purchase for anyone with an interest in saving stories or family history. Imagine being able to listen your adult children telling stories recorded when they were young or to your grandparents' voices and stories long after they have gone. Saving Memories Forever truly has the potential to be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

[Disclosure: I was not paid for my review of Saving Memories Forever but was contacted by the company and offered free access for a year to the Premium Subscription in exchange for my honest evaluation of the product.]

Other Posts You Might Like:

Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Presenter Interview: Colleen Fitzpatrick, Forensic Genealogist
A Window in Time, April 11, 1940

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Helene, In Color AND Black and White - Those Places Thursday

(Digital Image. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)  This is a photo of my mom's sister, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle (1923-1955), taken at Tumbleweed Guest Ranch in Westkill, New York in 1943.  Which photo do you like best, the one in color or the black and white?  It's kind of interesting comparing one to the other.  I think there are advantages to both, though I prefer the one in black and white.  The details in the black and white are more defined and the image of Helene seems more real for some reason.  The hand-colored photograph is interesting but appears harsh.  Some of the details in the background seem lost, but the colored one does pick up one interesting detail. Look closer. Helene is wearing red fingernail polish!

If you have a minute take a look at my recent post, Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, August 1943.  If your or your ancestor spent time there, especially during the 1940s, I'd love to hear from you!

Other Posts You Might Like:

Grandma, Two Kittens, and One Little Boy - Wordless Wednesday
Memories of the M/S Pilsudski? An Author Wants YOU!
Happy Labor Day!
Tombstone Tuesday: Jacob Riis, Riverside Cemetery, Barre, MA