04 March 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Bessie and me

My great grandmother Bessie Matys Hruszczak holding me.
Wordless Wednesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Fearless Females: Bessie gets married

Lisa A Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist started the Fearless Females prompts for Women’s History Month. Throughout March, each day will feature a different female ancestor. Today’s prompt is: Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one. 

I have a (very poor) copy of my great grandparents’ marriage record from the Church register. Panko Hruszczak and Bessie Matys married on 24 July 1915 in the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Coatesville, Chester County. She would have been 20 at the time. 

My late cousin Catherine Matys Rothermal was one of the flower girls at the wedding. Catherine would have been seven when Panko and Bessie got married.

Bessie had arrived in Coatesville just three years before that, in 1912. Bessie had lived with Catherine’s family before she married.  

Fearless Females is a daily prompt throughout March celebrating Women’s History Month 

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Alabama man lynched

An Alabama man has been lynched, reported the Shenandoah Evening Herald On This Day in 1892. George Adams assaulted two white women near Rivington, Alabama. A posse caught him. On the way back to the jail, the officers were overtaken and Adams was lynched.

He – Admas that is – had gone to a farmhouse where the two women were home alone. He demanded money. They refused and he beat them “into insensibility.”  

The evening herald. (Shenandoah, Pa.), 04 March 1892. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87078000/1892-03-04/ed-1/seq-3/> 


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.                

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

03 March 2015

Fearless Females: Unique names and naming patterns

Lisa A Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist started the Fearless Females prompts for Women’s History Month. Throughout March, each day will feature a different female ancestor. Today’s prompt is: Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree. 

To my knowledge, I am the only Jeanne on either side of my family. Mom said she chose my name because it had to smooth the rough sound (her words) of Ruczhak. It also (I was raised Roman Catholic, Latin Rite) had to be the name of a saint or a derivative of one. Jeanne d’Arc was the natural patron saint then. She lived a short life, 1412 – 1431. When I converted to Orthodoxy, I chose St. John Climacus, also known as John of the Ladder. His Icon speaks volumes to me. I have a small one on the wall above my desk. 

Two of my three girls were named for family members. Our oldest – Mary Theresa – was named specifically after my maternal grandmother Mary Rose Welsh Still. Theresa was a favorite saint (St Theresa the Little Flower), as I was still Catholic at the time. Anna Mabel is named after my paternal grandmother, Anna Kurenda Ruczhak, and hubby’s grandmother, Mabel Eckman Eckman.  

Our other daughter – Zorina Katherine - has a unique name. I was so sure the twins were a boy and a girl that we had a boy’s name picked out. We had agreed on Joseph Frank. Joseph is the name of both my dad and his father. Frank is my father-in-law’s name. I did not like the name Frances Josephine even though both are family names. Frances is Baba’s mother, who I never met and Josephine is the name of hubby’s aunt. Frances also made me think of the talking mule! She was “Baby B” up until the SSN paperwork had to be filed. Hubby picked out Zorina from a character in a book he liked. Katherine was one of the names we had discussed for the child we lost. It also flowed well with her first name. 

The girls all had saints’ names without trying. Mary of course is the Theotokos. Anna is the mother of Mary. Zorina is a derivative of Zoe - St. Zoe  Zoe means “life” so it seemed fitting on that level as well. 

You would think that Zorina is the most unusual name in the family. However, hubby’s great grandmother is Apolina Morrill. According to a baby name site, Apolina means “gift from Apollo.” The most unusual name on my side is my 3rd great grandmother Knapy Penelope. Knapy was the name listed on her daughter’s - Anna Keating- death certificate but it is the only place I have been able to find the name Knapy. 

What is YOUR most unusual name? Have you come across mine in your travels or searches?


Fearless Females is a daily prompt throughout March celebrating Women’s History Month 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Ella Doner Eckman

Her stone, which sits next to her husband Darius Eckman, is a simple one. It reads: “Mother. Ella Eckman. 1873-1939.”  

Ella is the daughter of Abraham and Esther Ann Brubaker Doner, of Salisbury Township, Lancaster County. Abraham was a farmer there. She was one of at least six children. She was born 26 July 1873. 

She and Darius Eckman married 2 November 1897 and they lived in Lancaster City. She died of cancer on 29 December 1939. She was buried on 1 January 1940 at the Zion UCC Cemetery is New Providence, Lancaster County 


Tombstone Tuesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Philly cop acquitted of murder

The Lancaster Daily Intelligencer reported, On This Day in 1881, that William Shields, a Philadelphia policeman, was acquitted. He had been charged with the murder of Francis Burk, who died as a result of being shot by Shields last May. 

Image: Chronicling America, Lancaster Daily Intelligencer, 3 March 1881

On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.


© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

02 March 2015

National Archives provides info on Civil War soldier

My 4th great uncle, Benjamin Franklin Vanhorn served in the 90th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry. He is a collateral relative but he fascinates me, being the only family member thus far I can confirm actually served during the Civil War on my side of the family.

A single man, he would have been 20 years old when he enlisted on 2 September 1863 as a Private. The 90th PA Infantry spent its days in Virginia. He fought at Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, the Spotsylvania Court House, Petersburg, and the Weldon Railroad. It was at the Weldon Railroad, on 20 August 1864, that he was captured, taken prisoner, and confined at Liberty Belle Island in Richmond. 

The National Archives recently shed a little more light on that day. 

Benjamin was admitted at the Regimental Hospital on 18 August 1864 for “diarrhoea”. How embarrassing right? I suppose though it would be hard to march or fight while you constantly stopping to go to the bathroom. In any case, he was cleared to return to duty on 20 April 1864. 

He did survive the War. He was released from Liberty Belle Island on 15 June 1865. 

He came home to Pennsylvania. He married a Margaret Hensel. They moved first to Virginia then made their way west, settling in San Jose, California.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Dr. Seuss Reads Across America

Today we celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, he was an American writer and cartoonist. He created The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch as well as many other beloved characters. He first used the pseudonym “Seuss” while attending Dartmouth College. By the time he passed in 1991, he had written and illustrated 44 children’s books. 

Children around the world love his books and their characters. It is no wonder then that National Read Across America Day occurs on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  

The National Education Association (NEA) in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, celebrates the 18th annual “Read Across America Day” today. It has grown, according to the NEA, into the nation’s largest reading observance with more than 45 million participating. It is sponsored by NEA with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Random House, and more than 30 national partners. 

For more information about NEA’s Read Across America, visit www.nea.org/readacross 

On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

01 March 2015

Fearless Females: Margaret Still

Lisa A Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist started the Fearless Females prompts for Women’s History Month. Throughout March, each day will feature a different female ancestor. Today’s prompt is: Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check. 

I’m not sure that Margaret Still is my favorite female ancestor but she is certainly the one I obsess over the most.  

Margaret is my 4x great grandmother. She got pregnant out of wedlock and her father, Charles Still, put her out on a farm in Goosetown, East Fallowfield Township, in Chester County. In a nutshell, I want to know who got her pregnant.  

What I know:
Margaret was born in 1788 to Charles and Margaret Rhoades Still, of Uwchlan Township, Chester County. She has three brothers: Charles, Henry and Jacob.
1788 - born in PA
1808 - son George born May 3rd
1823 - son David born
1827 - court records show David Phillips committed fornication against her.
1828 - as per Sheriff Deeds (online) she purchased 3 lots from the Kennedys in East Fallowfield Twp.
1830 - son George marries Sarah BING Dec. 30th
1830 - land records show Margaret sold son George 37 acres, a bldg, a horse and a cattle
1845 - son David marries Agnes Armstrong April 16th
1850 - census shows her living w/David and his wife and their son William in East Fallowfield Twp.
1851 - 23 Jan. she sold George land purchased on 2 Feb 1829
1870 - census shows her living w/David in Marshalton, East Fallowfield Twp.
1871 - 4 Dec wrote will
1872 - died in East Fallowfield Twp., Chester County, PA
1872 - 15 Aug. will executed 

I want to know who fathered my 3rd great grandfather, her son, George David Still and his brother, David Still. I want to know who my 4th great grandfather is. I also want to know more about Margaret’s parents and brothers. 

Potential Sources:
The Chester County Archives and the old local newspapers may be of great help. 

Fearless Females is a daily prompt throughout March celebrating Women’s History Month 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Genealogy Do Over Week 9: Cluster research

This week’s prompt is conducting cluster research. Cluster research, as defined by Thomas MacEntee is, “When you research the friends, associates and neighbors (aka F.A.N. club) who were part of the community of your direct line ancestors. Most times this means focusing on the geographical area where your ancestors lived or the locales from and to which they migrated.” What a great definition!

I did this without even realizing it when I started researching my Hruszczak line and my parish family. Many Ukrainians in Coatesville lived in Rock Run and many of them worked at the steel mill together. In this particular case, it helped me more understand the family dynamics within my parish more so than any specific information about my family. 

For example, the 1930 census shows my great grandparents and their family living next to the Zydnsky family. They lived next to the Urbans who were next to the Maskulas. I did find a nephew living with the Maskula family who I had not hear of before – a Joseph Dakrun. Literally the sheet could be a church membership roster instead of federal census.  

Looking back at this small sampling, it does also remind me of one very important thing I gained from cluster research. The names I mentioned – and obviously mine – are all very ethnic names. Since I know the other names (the families still attend the same church, just as I do), the cluster research helps decipher spellings and names. 

Looking back:
Week 8 – The value of collateral research
Week 7 – Software and digitizing
Week 6 – Evaluating Evidence
Week 5 - Research and Citations
Week 4 – Managing projects
Week 3 -  tracking research and conducting research
Week 2 - set research goals, self interviews, and family interviews
Week 1  


Genealogy Do-Over is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.  
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: The First Census is authorized

Today is a very special remembrance for genealogists! It was On This Day in 1790 that the first United States census was authorized. Enumerators – those going around and taking down the information – asked simply for the name of the head of the household and the number of free white males aged 16 and older, number of free white males under 16, number of free white females, number of all other free persons, and the number of slaves. The US is actually the first country to have regular censuses. 

For example, this image at right shows John Eckman in Strasburg Township, Lancaster County. He has living with him one free white male under 16, two free white person over 16, and two free white females. There was a total of five in the household. It also states he has no other free persons and no slaves.


On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Sunday’s Obituary: Clara Eckman

Clara Eckman, the daughter of John and Catherin Cresswell Eckman, was hubby’s 2x great aunt. Her brother Charles was his great grandfather. In every census record, in every church record, and even on her death certificate she is referred to as Clara - Clara E. Eckman. That is, until I found her obituary in the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer.

Her death certificate shows she died on 4 March 1927. On that day, Friday, 4 March 1927, headline reads: Laura E. Eckman dies early today in New Providence. Laura? 

The obituary reads:
     Miss. Laura E. Eckman, daughter of the late John and Kathryn Eckman, died this morning at 4:30 o’clock at her home in New Providence following a three day illness.
     She was a seamstress all her life and was a member of the Zion Reformed Church of New Providence.
     She was a direct descendant of John Eckman, the first settler in New Providence, who arrived in the year 1732 from Germany, and resided on the land given by patent in 1735 by William Penn.
     The following brothers and sisters survive: Mrs. Estella M. Eckman, New Providence; Darius J. Eckman, of this city; Miss. Winona S., Miss. Bernice and Oscar D. Eckman, all at home; and Mrs. Edith Costello, of New Providence.
     The funeral will be held Sunday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock with all services at the home.
     Internment will be made in the Eckman plot in Zion Reformed Church.  

Why – in her obituary – was she suddenly called Laura?


Sunday’s Obituary is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

My Family Calendar This Week

Happy birthday, Merle Peters, Matthew Smith, Issac Webb and Shannon Wheatman. May God grant you all Many Years.  

Memory Eternal
Today is the 20th anniversary of the passing of my Aunt Helen (at right with her sister). Helen Mae Gould Still, daughter of Franklin Still and Sarah Jennie VanHorn, was one of the first to encourage me in this research that has become more like an obsession. She was born on the family farm in East Fallowfield in 1903 and lived there her entire life. She was the wife of Elwood James Webster. 

Today is also the 39th anniversary of the death of Marie J. Rogers Angell. She is a granddaughter of my 2nd great grandparents, Dennis and Martha Durkin O’Flaherty. Her parents are Patrick Rogers and Mary T O’Flaherty. Marie married Truman Angell and they had three children. She died in 1976 in Philadelphia. 

Little Ulysses S Eckman was just 18 days old when he died in 1873. On Tuesday, it will be 142 years since he died. He is the son of hubby’s great grandfather Aldus John Eckman and his first wife Amelia C Kunkle. He is buried alongside his mother, who died two days after giving birth to him. They are buried at the Zion Reformed Church in New Providence. 

Wednesday will be the 93rd year since Katherine Dee O’Flaherty passed. She is the wife of my 2nd uncle, Hugh O’Flaherty (son of Dennis and Martha Durkin O’Flaherty). Katherine was born in Ireland in 1875. She immigrated in 1884 or 1885 and married Hugh here in 1904 in Phoenixville, Chester County. They had six children. 

Wednesday is also the 88th anniversary of the passing of Clara Eckman, who is covered in today’s Sunday’s Obituary. She was hubby’s 2nd great aunt. 

It will be seven years Thursday since my Uncle Nick passed. Nicholas Ruczhak, son of Panko and Bessie Matys Hruszczak, was one of my grandfather’s brothers. Born in 1921, he lived 86 full years. He served in the Pacific during World War II. After the war he came home and married Ann Petro in 1948. They had three daughters. Aunt Ann passed last year. 


My Family Calendar This Week will be a weekly feature.  
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015