Is it just me, or do you love when you have one of those, "A ha!" moments? That happened to me two nights ago. I've been looking for information on an ancestor I've been recently tracking, Victoria (Szerejko) Radziewicz. After much hunting I finally found her in the 1900 U.S. Census.
Radziewicz is another one of those names for which spelling variations are endless. Doing a Soundex or "sounds like" search hasn't been helpful because any kind of a "sounds like" search returns too many results. Very frustrating. Victoria was related to my grandfather Adolf Szerejko somehow. My best guess is that she was either his aunt--the sister of Adolf's father Leonard Szerejko--or a cousin. Two cousins, both fellow genealogists, and I are currently trying to figure out how Victoria and Adolf were related to then trace our family origins back in Poland.
I have Victoria's marriage record from the Schuylkill County Courthouse. According to the certificate, Wiktorja Szarejko married Stanislaw Radziewicz on October 15, 1891 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Apparently Radziewicz is a fairly common name, and their were lots of Radziewicz's living in Shenandoah around 1900. Until now I haven't been able to find Victoria in the 1900 census. I did find her in the 1910 census. In 1910 Victore (Victoria) Radziwicz was living in Dudley, MA with her children--Helen age 16, Alex (Alexander) age 14, Stella age 12, Vera age 9, and Charles age 6. Also listed are Victoria's daughter Mary (Maryanna), age 18 and her son-in-law Dominic Pasky (correct spelling Piascik or Piasczyk) age 21. All of Victoria's children were listed as born in Pennsylvania. What happened to Stanislaw? The notation on the census is unclear, but may indicate Victoria is a widow at this point.
If Victoria was married in Pennsylvania and her last son Charles was born in Pennsylvania in 1906, it makes sense to me that they were probably still living in PA for the 1900 census. I searched Heritage Quest, Ancestry, and the Family Search pilot. I tried Radziwicz, Radsavage, Radzewicus, Ruscavage--all variations on the Radziewicz theme. The spelling for Radziewicz was probably so mangled by the census taker I'd never find it by the last name. I decided to try searching by first names. I tried Stanislaw, Stanislav, and Stanislow. I tried Stiney, Staney, and Stanny. How about Victoria, Wiktoria, or Wiktorja? Or Victore or Vickie or Stan? On the verge of a Dr. Seuss moment I gave up. I was exhausted. I needed a cup of tea.
Then on Tuesday night it happened. I found them! Bingo, just like that! Well almost just like that. I had a brilliant thought. I decided to try searching for Victoria's kid's names. First I tried Stella on the Family Search pilot. No luck. Then I tried Alexander. No luck again. Then I tried Alex. Bingo! There they were, the Radzavoge family, and they were living in Shenandoah! Listed were Shiney (Stanislaw), Amelia (Victoria), Mary (Maryanna), Ellen (Helen), Alex (Alexander), and Astella (Stella). All the other particulars were correct so I knew I had the right family! I did learn one new piece of information. The immigration date for both Victoria and Stanislaw was listed as 1883. Up until now, my cousins and I believed they immigrated in 1891.
From what I've read about Shenandoah, at the turn of the century there were more people people in Shenandoah per square mile than New York's Chinatown. My guess is that some poor overworked census taker, with little or no knowledge of Polish and Polish names, went from house to house. Whatever a name sounded like, by the resident answering the door and with a heavy Polish accent, is what was written down. It was the census taker's best guess so to speak.
Anyway, I'm thrilled to have finally found Victoria and Stanislaw, or Amelia and Shiney as I now like to think of them. I'm currently trying to find Victoria in the 1920 census, so far she has remained elusive. I'll keep trying though. Victoria, Wiktoria, Wiktorja...
Surname variation in my records include: Radziewicz, Radziwicz, Radsavage, Radzavoge, Radzewicus, Ruscavage.