Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Sunday, April 30, 2000

And one last post before I hit the sack for tonight. I think I found another cousin last week. The short version is that I found the author of Stepping stones: Kiez-Zurbyk family history, 1899-1990. More about that later.

Posted at 12:53:00 AM Link to this entry


The Immigration and Naturalization Service web site claims that they have duplicate copies of all C-files (the entire naturalization file, including declaration of intent, naturalization petition, and naturalization certificate), and that they're all available through FOIA requests There is a form available in PDF format for FOIA requests.

Posted at 12:50:34 AM Link to this entry


The National Archives may have the naturalization records for Great Grandpa Horbal, since he was naturalized in the District Court of The United States rather than at a state or county court. The National Archives site lists the Records of District Courts of the United States as being Research Group 21.

Looking through the listings of available items on microfilm (divided by research group), it appears that no records for federal courts in Ohio are filmed. Records for the courts would be held at the regional National Archives site in Chicago, I think. In fact, among their holdings, they list:

         Indexes: 1855-1903
         Declarations of Intention: 1855-1943
         Petitions: 1855-1903

They even include instructions for how to get records, so I guess I don't need to fly to Chicago. :-)

The reason I'm interested in this is because, when reading Greenwood's book the other night, I noticed that the section on naturalization records said that the Declaration of Intent required that someone applying to become a citizen include a lot of information:

such information as applicant's name, age, occupation, and personal description; date and place of birth; citizenship; present address and last foreign address; vessel and port of embarkation for the United States; U.S. port and date of arrival in the United States; and date of application and signature. (footnoted as from the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, so it's probably on their web site as well....)

Needless to say, all this information would come in very handy, especially since Great Grandpa didn't seem to mention any of this stuff anywhere else. Much of the same information is listed for naturalization petitions, but the holdings listed for Cleveland only claim to have petitions up to 1903.

Hmmm, they even have a page to e-mail your inquiry....

Posted at 12:03:12 AM Link to this entry


Saturday, April 29, 2000

While showing Great Grandpa Horbal's Certificate of Naturalization to my parents Friday night, we speculated on whether or not Buscha had become a citizen or not. Given that she couldn't read, I thought it unlikely. But according to the National Archives page about naturalization,

"[D]erivative" citizenship was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens.

Given that Great Grandpa became a citizen on July 5, 1922, it appears that Buscha perhaps just beat the deadline. :-)

Posted at 11:55:08 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, April 27, 2000

In the continuing search for the church where Great Grandpa and Buscha Horbal were married, I've found the web site for the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. They list one Sts. Peter and Paul Church in their diocese, but it's in Philipsburg, which is in Centre County, not Blair (and besides, if they lived in Allegheny Furnace, which is basically the south side of Altoona, it wouldn't make sense for them to travel all the way up to Philipsburg, which I remember well from my days in State College, to get married).

Incidentally, the archives page for the Diocese of Pittsburgh is very nice; I was able to find out immediately that they didn't cover Blair County, and find out which diocese did cover the county. Their links aren't necessarily up-to-date, though; I found the Altoona-Johnstown site through a page about local Catholic web sites.

Posted at 4:29:38 AM Link to this entry


Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Today was a banner day in the mail department. I got two SS-5s and a set of marriage documents. The SS-5s were for my grandfather, Ralph A. Brandi Jr., and Angelo Brandi, who Aunt Lonnie says my grandfather referred to as his cousin. Grandpa's form refers to his father as Ralph Albert Brandi, so I'm starting to be convinced of that. It refers to his mother as Anna Wisinewski, but I think he just got the name wrong (the spelling of the last name seems wrong, too). The form was filled out on April 27, 1942, and lists his employer as Zenith Cleaners at 10510 Harper, so I think maybe that was my great grandfather's business, rather than Aunt Yola's. I wonder when my grandfather joined the Marines; he was 22 when he filled out this form in 1942.

Angelo Brandi's form is interesting. He worked at the same Chrysler plant on E. Jefferson that Great Grandpa Horbal and Vincent Sobol worked at; I wonder if he knew them? He might have known Sobol, since Sobol was a shop steward. I guess it's not likely; the plant was probably pretty big. Angelo was born on July 5, 1909, and gives his place of birth as San Potito Sannitico (Italy)! That's the first documentation I have of a Brandi in America coming from San Potito Sannitico. I haven't definitively tied him to my family tree, but it's interesting nonetheless. He lists his father as Salvatore Samuel Brandi and his mother as Raffaela Pito.

The marriage documents were very interesting. The first was a "Duplicate Marriage License" that seems to get some basic facts wrong, like listing Joseph Horbal and Victoria Mazur's ages both as "TWENTY-ONE", despite the fact that another document in the package lists them as 24 and 22 respectively. It gives the officiating minister's name as Rev. Julius Lauger; I don't know if that's correct, or if it's Langer.

The second document is a photocopy of their original Application for Marriage. The photocopy isn't terribly good, but I can make out most of the information. The copy came on two pages, as the prothonotary's copy machine seems to not do a very good job on the bottom of the page. I scanned in both pages and did a paste-together job in Photoshop so it all looks like one page, though.

Interesting stuff here: they both lived in Allegheny Furnace, Logan Township (closer look). Great grandpa's mother's name looks more like "Christine" than "Justine", but it's not that clear, whereas great grandpa's SS-5 is pretty clear. They claim to have the consent of their parents or guardians, which makes me wonder if they were in Pennsylvania. Neither had been married before. Great grandpa gives his occupation as [garbled letter] Helper South Altoona. I guess help includes making pierogies. Buscha's is given as "at home", which also makes me wonder if she was living with her parents. They're both listed as having been born in Austria, Europe. And finally, in the area for signatures, Buscha makes a mark rather than signing her name; I guess she couldn't read at that point. And great grandpa signs his name Jozef, although it's spelled Joseph on the application. Nine years later, when he was naturalized, he was signing his name as "Joe".

Social Security Applications

Joseph Horbal and Victoria Mazur

Posted at 9:30:14 PM Link to this entry


Just doing random searches for the name "Zurbyk" on the web tonight, on Hotbot I stumbled across a record on what appears to be the National Library of Canada web site for a 142 page monograph entitled Stepping stones: Kiez-Zurbyk family history, 1899-1990. I have to get a copy of this somehow....

Posted at 1:07:04 AM Link to this entry


Friday, April 21, 2000

One of the things li'l Grandpa's death certificate mentions is that he was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Saginaw. But that conflicts with the obituary information I found at the Saginaw Public Library obit database, which says he was buried at Calvary. Hmmm. Now I really do have to contact the Catholic Cemetery Commission.

The Saginaw County Cemeteries page at Rootsweb has this to say about Mt. Olivet Cemetery:

"Mt. Olivet Cemetery was established in 1910 and covers an area of 93 acres. It is located on Section 1, Washington Road at Albany Street. The cemetery is owned by the Catholic Cemetery Commission - Saginaw Catholic Diocese."

Posted at 10:58:23 PM Link to this entry


Ralph Sr.'s death certificate was in today's mail. Interesting stuff. It also says that his middle name was Albert. He was a self-employed tailor, which I knew. He didn't have a social security number, which I suspected, since he would have been about 67 years old when social security started. And, most importanly, it lists his father's name as Vincent Brandi and his mother's as Maria Rappa, two names I didn't know before.

Posted at 6:15:39 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, April 20, 2000

There's a site in Germany aimed at satellite enthusiasts that contains a massive database of place names around the world, similar to the World Gazetteer at, that could potentially be useful to genealogists. One nice feature is the "Neighbors" link in the search results that shows the names, coordinates, and distances to surrounding locations.

Posted at 7:05:04 PM Link to this entry


Monday, April 17, 2000

According to Quicken and my bank, the state of Michigan cashed my checks on Thursday, so I expected something soon, and today's mail contained part of it: my grandfather Ralph Brandi Jr.'s birth certificate. It says he was born at 2020 N. Fayette St, in the 14th Ward in Saginaw. MapsOnUs doesn't have that address, but shows N. Fayette as a relatively short street a few blocks from the Titabawassee River. It also says that if the birth was in a hospital or other institution, the name should be listed instead of street address, so maybe Grandpa was born at home. His mother is listed as Antonia Wisniewski, aged 35, so she was born around 1884 or thereabouts. She's one of the Bay City Wisniewskis, which doesn't surprise me, as I found a bunch of Wisniewskis there in the Saginaw Obit database a couple of months ago. I should probably contact the Catholic Cemetery Commission in Saginaw to see if I can pin down the dates. Interestingly, she was born in Bay City, so I should possibly be able to get a birth certificate for her; Michigan's records go back to 1867 at the state level, which is pretty good. The certificate says that Grandpa was her fourth child, and that now three were living. Presumably the one not living was the elusive first baby Ralph. I don't know if the three includes Aunt Yola or not; the mystery remains, and even deepens, perhaps.

Posted at 10:56:31 PM Link to this entry


Frank Mitchell told the Reunion-Talk mailing list about a page that lists a bunch of genealogy software for the Mac. There's at least one package with an update date in the year 2000, so it's kept up-to-date, but most of the packages seem pretty ancient.

Posted at 10:19:05 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, April 13, 2000

I learned a new word yesterday: "Prothonotary". I tried calling the Blair County government at the number listed on the Blair County page at Rootsweb, only to be rewarded with a message that the number had been changed to an unpublished number. What kind of government has an unpublished number? Well, not Blair County; I was able to find them through Switchboard. I called the Microfilm department to ask if they managed records of old marriage licenses, and the woman there replied that that was the Prothonotary and transferred me. I asked the woman there what the fee was for a copy of a marriage license. A bargain at $5! I had the address of the Prothonotary from Switchboard, but she told me to add "Suite 144" to the address. So today I sent off for a copy of Great Grandpa and Buscha Horbal's license, using the information from the church certificate that Paul sent me.

Posted at 8:24:50 PM Link to this entry


On Buscha Horbal's birth certificate, the name Bircza appears a couple of times at the top. It appears that perhaps this is the location of the office that has the original birth certificate. According to UK Multimap, it's not far from Przemysl. I can't find Lipa on Multimap, though. The map on the Calle World Gazetteer that I had pegged as the most likely Lipa in Poland looks like it's in the same area.

Going to Expedia and searching for Lipa didn't find the right one, but searching for Bircza, Poland, showed me a map with a Lipa very near by. This must be the one!

Posted at 6:00:12 PM Link to this entry


Tuesday, April 11, 2000

There's a museum in Altoona dedicated to the railroads (not surprising, given that railroads basically made Altoona in the same way that cars made Detroit).

Posted at 7:50:30 PM Link to this entry


Well, mom's cousin Paul came through in a very nice way; I got a package from him today with photocopies of death certificates for Great Grandpa and Buscha Horbal, the wedding certificate from the church where they got married, Great Grandpa's naturalization certificate from 1922, and Buscha's birth certificate. Interesting things learned from the documents:

Paul also sent a nice letter. He mentions that he and his wife Eileen took his parents up to Caro about 10 years ago, and they found the house and the schoolhouse (now converted to a house), both of which were still standing. Given that his memories are far more recent than mine (which say the schoolhouse had fallen down), I think I believe him over me. :-) Great Grandpa had a farm in Caro, and they grew sugar beets. I knew about the farm; I'm not sure I knew about the beets.

Paul also mentions that Buscha told him that "when they lived in Pennsylvania, Great Grandpa worked for a railroad. She said that one of his duties was 'cook' and he used to make pierogis for the crew." So apparently a taste for pierogis is hereditary.

Joseph Horbal

Victoria (Mazur) Horbal

Posted at 7:16:46 PM Link to this entry


Monday, April 10, 2000

Likely suspects (those churches with an 814 area code), with maps by MapQuest showing county names and boundaries, and county names specified via the MIT Geographic Nameserver:

Unfortunately, none of them is in Blair County, although there seems to be quite a concentration of Ruthenian Catholic Churches in Cambria County; I had no idea there were so many Ukrainians in the area. I thought most of the Ukrainians in Pennsylvania were up in the Wilkes-Barre area. Portage seems to be the closest to Blair County, but it's still not in Blair County.

Posted at 1:50:11 AM Link to this entry


My ever-loving sweetheart Laura found this list of Eastern Rite Catholic churches in Pennsylvania; now I just have to go through the list and see if there are any Sts. Peter and Paul Churches in Blair County (and unfortunately, they don't list the county on the page, just the city....)

Posted at 1:17:18 AM Link to this entry


Saturday, April 8, 2000

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America web site lists a Sts. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church at P.O. Box 147, Bakerton-Elmora, PA 15737 +1 (814) 948-6718. The MIT Geographic Nameserver places Bakerton and Elmora in Cambria County, not Blair County. It's hard to tell from the MapsOnUs map, but it looks like it might be close to Blair County.

Posted at 12:43:52 PM Link to this entry


Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Rather than try to explain the weird story that Linda passed along, I'll just quote Linda's e-mail about what her friend Marzanna told her: "The address of the Polish one [letter found at Grandma's house]-written in 1976-was from a town called Targoszyn which I found near a place called Legnica. I heard that town mentioned before by gramma but it's nowhere near the Ukrainian border. It's in the southern 'corner' near Germany. Marzanna said that it's near a place called Lwow or something [may actually be Lwówek Ilski or possibly Lwówek, or maybe even both] and that there is a local joke there that when someone says they are from Lwow that they don't mean they are from there but from another town in the Ukraine. I told her that people in Poland have a very strange sense of humor. Back before the war, the people living in the Ukraine knew they were going to be too close to the area of conflict in the border area and if they didn't move that they would be under Russian military rule. So, many of the inhabitants that were afraid to stay there, relocated en masse to the region of Poland near Legnica. Thus the weird joke."

Posted at 10:18:32 PM Link to this entry


The townships map of Somerset County hosted on RootsWeb shows that Windber is in Paint Township, at the northernmost limits of Somerset County, just south of Cambria County, where Johnstown is located. It's not really that close to Blair County. Maybe there was another church in Blair County....

Posted at 3:05:46 PM Link to this entry


The MIT Geographic Nameserver says that Windber in in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Hmmm....

Posted at 2:49:54 PM Link to this entry


I got more e-mail from cousin Paul last night. He has some documents, in particular, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Horbal's death certificates, their marriage license, and Great Grandma's birth certificate from Poland!

The marriage license says that they were married at Sts Peter & Paul Church in Blair County, Pennsylvania. I found two churches by that name, one in Windber and another in Homer City. Homer City is a good 40+ miles from Altoona, and definitely not in Blair County; Windber, on the other hand, is about 25 miles away, and definitely could be in Blair County. It's actually closer to Johnstown than to Altoona, which could explain the scattering of Horbals near Johnstown but none in Altoona. The church in Windber's address is 141 Hoffman Farm Road. I looked it up on Maps On Us and got a close-up map and a map from a bit more distance that shows it in relation to Altoona and Johnstown. Interestingly, the church is an Orthodox church (as is the one in Homer City). I think I remember Windber, but I don't remember if it's from my college days or if there's an exit off the PA Turnpike that mentions it that I've passed in recent years. Maybe next time we go to Columbus or somewhere we can see the town.

According to Paul, the death certificates don't have any useful information on them.

Great Grandma's birth certificate, on the other hand, does. It lists her birthday as September 17, 1890, which makes her a year older than Great Grandpa. Her father's name was Jozef Mazur, and her mother's name was Katarzyna Podgorska. She was born in Lipa, Rzeszow district, Przemysl province, Poland. I went to the World Gazetteer and found a bunch of Lipas, but the most likely candidate is about 15 miles west of the city of Przemysl, which is right on the modern day Polish-Ukrainian border. I went to the FEEFHS map library's 1882 map of Galicia, and it shows Rzeszow pretty much due west of Przemysl.

This is a lot of information, and definitely bears more research. Paul offered to send copies of the documents, so I sent him my address. I guess Governor Engler is going to have 13 dollars more than he needs, since I didn't really need to order Great Grandpa's death certificate. I hope he spends it wisely.

Posted at 6:02:01 AM Link to this entry


I got an e-mail from my mom's cousin Paul this evening, asking if I had any information about my great grandfather. It seems he recently got mail from someone in Poland named Emil Horbal wanting to know if he knew anything about a Jozef or Michael Horbal. My great grandfather is Jozef, although who knows if he's the one Emil was asking about. I was happy to tell Paul that indeed, I found the names of Great Grandpa's parents, Paul Horbal and Justine Wozny. Hopefully that will help narrow things down a bit to see if Emil is asking about the same person.

I also got mail from Vince's wife Linda the other day telling me about a couple of letters they had found in Grandma's house. According to Linda's friend Marzanna, one was in Polish and the other in Russian. The one in Polish was from a town called Targoszyn, which she says in in western Poland, oddly enough. There's a long story Marzanna told behind why that might be so, but it's late, so I'll enter that here in the next few days.

Posted at 12:00:39 AM Link to this entry


Tuesday, April 4, 2000

I sent away for a couple more Social Security forms on Monday. First was Grandpa Brandi, who just showed up in the Social Security Death Index. (Grandma Horbal's not there yet, despite having died only 8 days later.) I want to see who he lists as his mother, although his birth certificate, which I sent for last week, will be definitive on that. The second person is a bit of a stretch, Angelo Brandi. Aunt Lonnie mentioned someone by that name who Grandpa used to talk to, and who he referred to as his cousin. The implication here is that Great-Grandpa Brandi may have come over with his family, rather than all alone, as family legend has it (at least the version that I've been told). So if I can trace Angelo back to a common ancestor, I have an answer there. We'll see. What the hell, it's only $7, and I wouldn't take a flier on just any random name in the Death Index.

Posted at 12:45:06 AM Link to this entry