Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Night in the Smolenyak Smolenyak Household

My poor husband. How sad is it that my idea of a good time on a weekend evening is sitting in front of my computer solving mini-mysteries? And how lucky am I that I married a fellow who actually joins me?

Tonight I tackled a pair of mysteries that just came my way late today. On my primary website, I have forms where folks can submit brick walls, orphan heirlooms and the like. A brick wall submission came in late today. The stumbling block? A grandfather named Jacob Jasenzak. Where did he come from and what were his parents names?

I almost thought this was a joke. I know the Jazenzak name well because it's prominent in Osturna, where all the Smolenyaks come from. Osturna -- as in the village we just had a reunion for last weekend. And oh, by the way, we opened the reunion with a song from Michael Yasenchock -- one of the many variations of the Jasenzak name.

So what were the odds that I might be able to help out with this brick wall? Oh, about 100%. I just happen to have all the church records for this village back to 1787, as well as some census and other records. It took me maybe 20 minutes to track down the birth of Jacob and his alleged brothers (2 really were brothers, while one was a cousin who had grown up in the same house). And yes, no problem finding the names of Jacob's parents.

The woman who submitted is thrilled. She responded saying, "Are you kidding me?" And it's fun for me, too. It isn't often that I just happen to be sitting on top of just the necessary clues to crack a mystery in less than half an hour!

These evening weekend surfing sessions are sometimes accompanied by a little wine or beer, as was the case tonight. And I suppose in celebration over this unexpected connection, I made up a little Osturna-inspired ditty: "I'm gonna Tivo my pivo, so I can drink it all over again . . ." If you don't know any Slovak, here's a clue.

At this point, I decided to check one of my MyFamily.com sites, and found a posting by a second cousin once removed. Apparently, she just learned that she might have a half-sister through her father, so she was asking about courthouse research in the county (Luzerne County, PA) where she and I share our Smolenyak roots. She had no clues to go by other than this possible sister could have resulted from a first marriage of her father's.

I won't be going there for a while, so I decided to have a go with what I might be able to find online. Using a combination of mostly census, SSDI and newspaper records, I wasn't able to locate her half-sister (and yes, it appears she did have one), but I was able to locate a first cousin of this half-sister. So if she's feeling brave tomorrow, she just might just find herself speaking with her long lost sister. I'm crossing my fingers!

That's a good Friday night, so I'm calling it quits here!

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