Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite

Dear Myrtle ( issued a challenge designed to encourage genealogists to realize that "we are bigger than our genealogy programs." Instead of habitually plugging data into our programs, the challenge encourages us to use put the concepts we've been learning in Mastering Genealogical Proofs into practice. She calls it the Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite. Use 3 documents, write 2 paragraphs (at minimum), and tell about 1 event, citing our sources. Ragu because "it's in there." What follows is my attempt at this challenge.
I never met my grandfather, who died when my father was a child. Family lore says he was an orphan born in Brooklyn who lied about his age to join the Navy, and had an older sister, Helen Carman, who lived in California, now deceased. My research challenges some of those assumptions, but supports the basic facts and answers the research question, When and where was the birth of Albert H. Pastoor, who was living in Peekskill, New York, in 1940? Who were his parents?
Although more documents and paragraphs will be required to fully answer my research question, to meet this challenge, I've decided to use the following three documents:
1. The U.S. Navy personnel records for Albert Herman Pastoor;
Compiled service record, Albert H. Pastoor personnel file, service no. 1521327, (discharged 1921); Official Military Personnel Files, World War I; Enlisted Personnel, 1885 - 1951, United States Navy; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis; photocopies supplied by Center without citation. Above photo, from the service record, is the affidavit of Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, sister to Albert Herman Pastoor.

2. The marriage certificate of Albert Pastoor and Margaret Westerman;
New York Borough of Brooklyn, New York City Department of Health, marriage certificate 15863 (1920), Pastoor-Westerman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. The birth certificate of Andrew Pastor;
Borough of Brooklyn, New York, birth certificate no. 1312 (1898), Andrew Pastor [Albert Pastoor]; Municipal Archives, New York City.
All three documents are original records. The Navy personnel records contain Albert's original enlistment papers of 7 Jun 1915. His sister, Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, signed an affadavit stating she was his sister and guardian and that Albert H. Pastoor was born 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. Elsewhere in the document, the names of his parents were listed as unknown. Although the information here is primary, meaning it is eyewitness information, I use it guardedly; Helen was older and likely present at her brother's birth, but she would have been very young and her information would therefore be questionable. However, the fact that it is a notarized affidavit, sworn to before the United States Navy officer performing the oath, gives it a bit more weight. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.
The second document, the marriage license and certificate, is dated 17 Nov 1920. Albert H. Pastoor and Margaret Westerman were married in Borough Hall in Brooklyn by the deputy city clerk. Although the clerk officiated the ceremony, Albert is likely the informant, making the marriage information primary; but his birth information is secondary since he couldn't have been an eyewitness at his own birth. However, the information agrees with that on the Navy records. This document also names his parents as Albert [the surname Pastoor is implied] and Anna Kolb. His sister, Mrs. Helen Carman, is a witness to the marriage. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.
The third document, the birth record, at first glance appears to be unrelated because of the different given name of Andrew instead of Albert. However, Andrew "Pastor" is the third child born to Anna Kolb on 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, NY. Albert "Pastor" is named as the father. The date and location of birth, as well as the names and ages of the parents agrees with that given on the marriage license. The physician who attended the birth signed the certificate as the informant, presumably with information given to him by the mother and/or the father, making it eyewitness information or primary information about the birth.
There is an obvious conflict with the given name of this child. Further research (beyond the scope of this challenge) has revealed that the parents, Albert "Passtoor" and Anna Kolb, had a daughter who was born and died in childhood. She was born before Helen, which is in agreement for Albert (aka Andrew) as the third child named on the birth certificate. The 1900 census information (see below) for the Albert Pastor household, living at the same address as that of the 1898 birth record, is also in agreement concerning the name and date of birth of Albert (son), the names of his parents, and the number of childen born to the mother. No other candidate for Andrew Pastor has been found. This birth record provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor, aka Andrew Pastor. (The conflict in the 1900 census of the given name for Helen as Engalena has been resolved and is for another challenge.)
1900 U.S. census, Kings, New York, population schedule, New York City, Borough of Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 166, sheet 15A, p. 190 (recto), dwelling 89, family 289, Albert Pastor household; digital images, ( accessed 6 Nov 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1,050.
All documents are in agreement with the birth date and location of Albert Pastoor. Although his enlistment papers state that the parents are unknown, the other two documents naming the parents are in agreement. It may be that in the enlistment papers, Albert and Helen omitted the names of their parents for personal reasons. Reseach has revealed that their mother had died six months before Albert joined the Navy, and their father had died four years earlier in an institution, under what would be considered shameful circumstances at the time. They likely did not want to reveal such personal information so soon. Since they obviously knew the names of their parents (as shown on the 1920 marriage certificate), it calls into question the reliability of the Navy affadavit despite the agreement of its information.
The conflict regarding Albert's given name is more of a mystery. It is possible that the name was recorded incorrectly on the birth record because of a misunderstanding (German was their native language) or it is just as likely that they decided to call him after his father and neglected to change the name on the birth record. I think the fact that my grandfather used the same given name as the father named on the birth record and marriage record lends credibility to the idea that he was named after his father.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 First Quarter Checkpoint

Earlier in the year, I came across a blog by Janine Adams called Organize Your Family History, in which she mentioned how she decided to break the year into quarters and research one branch of her family each quarter. I thought her idea was wonderful so I incorporated her ideas into my research goals for the new year. Now that the first quarter is over, I'm reviewing my progress.

I decided to research my mother's side of the family first since both of my grandparents were Polish and I didn't know much about their families. I created a notebook in OneNote for the two surnames of interest, Chrzanowski and Dabrowski. I've decided to keep separate correspondence logs for each surname, so the first thing I did was create a log and start collecting vital records. Then I decided to use the notebook system to file my hard copies using the marriage record identification numbers, or MRIN, generated by my Legacy program. The scanned copies are filed in a surname folder on my computer after I add the citations electronically to them and then I link them to the appropriate citations in my Legacy program. I'm trying to decide if I want to create a virtual notebook in OneNote like my hard copy notebook where I would store my photos, scanned documents and research notes.

In focusing only on my Polish branches this quarter, I was able to make lots of progress. I've received all the vital records available for everyone, except for two. Since my great-grandmother, Stanislawa (Makowski) Chrzanowski, died in 1981, her death is too recent for state law to allow me to get her death certificate. I am also unable to find the marriage record for my Dabrowski great-grandparents, who were supposedly married in Connecticut. Their first three children were born there, so I suspect they were married there, though I need to consider they could have been married before they arrived in the United States. I did find ship manifests for my both my Chrzanowski great-grandparents, and also for my grandmother, Genowefa "Jean" Dabrowski, but so far the Dabrowski's remain mostly elusive.

I split my time between research, organizing my files and entering data into Legacy. I now have a research plan for each direct ancestor, complete with research questions--something I never wrote down before. Each direct ancestor also has a biography (their story so far) and a research log in the research notes section of the Legacy program.

In addition to working my genealogy files, my other genealogy goal was continuing education. For the past 10 weeks, I've been part of a study group working our way through Mastering Genealogical Proof. This has been a great complement to this year's genealogy goals because I'm incorporating what I'm learning into my genealogy research. As I obtain a new document, I spend some time analyzing it. Each ancestor's research notes has information about the record: whether it is an original or derivative, whether the information is primary, secondary or indeterminate, and whether it is direct, indirect or negative evidence. I then write about my observations and my opinion about it. I also enter them into a new program, Evidentia, which will eventually help me write my proof summaries and proof arguments.

I am grateful to Janine Adams for her wonderful idea. It has really transformed my genealogy research. I feel on top of my research and I've made enormous progress in just one quarter. Just knowing that I will get to the other family branches helps me focus on my current tasks. While I still have some odds and ends to do on my Polish family, I'm tucking them away and moving on to my father's paternal side, those elusive Germans. With this system, I know that those odds and ends won't be lost; I will be returning to them next year.