U-Turn: Markoskis

I’ve discovered a few things about the Markoskis during the 1930s since I last wrote about them.

One is about great-uncle Stephen Markoski. I wrote that he moved to Springfield, MA in 1931; at least, that is what the 1931 Holyoke Directory said. I don’t actually show him living in Springfield until 1933. My mom, in talking about my grandfather’s Brooklyn years, maintained that the family moved to Brooklyn to be with Stephen. So perhaps he was the one who led the family out of South Hadley.

The second item is about Doris. I found out when she married John Mieczianka: November 26, 1933 in Suffolk County, NY (which is where Riverhead is). So it is likely through Doris’s marriage that the Markoskis made their connections in Riverhead.

This map of Long Island shows Brooklyn in the west and Riverhead in the east. Beers, Comstock & Cline. Map of Long Island. [New York: Beers, Comstock & Cline, 1873] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2005625368/. (Accessed August 28, 2017.)


DNA: The Results Are In!

This past Thursday I got the email from MyHeritage, saying that my DNA testing results were available. Excited, I logged in, clicked on “View Results” and waited for that little wheel to spin and bring up the page.

And there it was – my ethnicity estimate! This is my breakdown:

North & West Europe 50.9%

English 23.8%
North & Western European 17.4%
Scandinavian 9.7%

East Europe 49.1%

East European 46.4%
Baltic 2.7%


My Google Earth rendering of my ethnicity estimate.

Absolutely no surprises here (with the exception of no Irish or Scottish, but on paper, that is a small sliver of my heritage), this matches my paper trail, so I know I’ve been barking up the right trees, so to speak.

So do I match anyone in the MyHeritage DNA database? I had about 250 matches, all at about the fourth cousin or less level. (Some said first cousin twice removed or second cousin once removed, followed by “–fourth cousin”.) I filtered the matches by surname, and many that came up were my more common surnames — White, Williams, Scott, King. Most of the surnames went back to ancestors in the 1600s and 1700s, though! And nothing more recent than surnames of my great-great grandparents. Nothing in Poland or Lithuania yet (though I noticed in MyHeritage’s DNA Terms & Conditions that Poland might not be able to use MyHeritage DNA).

So my next step is to turn to GEDmatch. So far, I put my raw DNA in there, I just have to upload my gedcom. I’m hoping to find more relatives in that sandbox!

U-Turn: Ellis Island Research Room

Remember how curious I was about the Ellis Island Research Room, but really didn’t know anything about it? Well, I finally emailed the folks at Ellis Island, and now I’m glad that I did not take the time to check out the Research Room.

It turns out that it is just access to the Passenger Search Database, which we can access from home. And the “consultations” are just people there who can assist you with your search. I’m sure there are some folks out there that might like this. However, I’m glad that I saved $7 and a block of time that was better spent in the museum itself.

So now we know.

MyHeritage/Legacy Acquisition: Works for Me

I, like much of the genealogy community, was quite surprised by the announcement that MyHeritage was in the process of acquiring Legacy Family Tree’s software and webinar offerings. (See press releases here and here.) Before we go any further: I am a customer of both companies; because of this I’ve been thinking about what the acquisition will mean for me. I really can’t talk about others’ experiences or opinions, so I won’t. I can only share how this situation may impact me.


I’ve been a MyHeritage customer for about seven years now (since the time my interest in genealogy took off). I found it by searching for a place to keep track of my family tree for free. I knew nothing about offline software programs or even how to do genealogy the “right” way. I just knew I needed something and MyHeritage fit the bill. It wasn’t long before I outgrew the free 250-person level and I eventually became (and still am) a PremiumPlus member.

MyHeritage freebie from the Global Family Reunion! Author’s collection.

I enjoyed the few (at the time) SmartMatches that came up on my tree. I soon heart that MyHeritage’s SmartMatch technology was pretty accurate, compared to other sites’ hints and matches.

Back then, there were no record collections on MyHeritage. I think (and I may be wrong) that you could do some sort of a search that pointed you to other places that might have information on your ancestor, but it really was rudimentary. Also back in those days, there really wasn’t a way to cite your sources online (though the free software, Family Tree Builder, may have had a way). And speaking of Family Tree Builder, you originally could not sync back and forth between it and the online tree; you could only publish from FTB to the tree. Because of that, I didn’t use FTB until there was a two-way sync.

As time went on, MyHeritage made some great improvements: source citation spaces, improved SmartMatches, two-way syncing with Family Tree Builder, and RecordMatches with a newly-growing database of records (which I don’t subscribe to the paid portion, though the unpaid portion has proved to be a bit useful). Even an iPhone app had been developed, which is so handy! Ancestry it’s not, but today’s MyHeritage has come a long way from when I first used it.


Even though I had finally downloaded Family Tree Builder, I wasn’t too crazy about it. I wanted more functionality in my desktop program, but wasn’t sure which software to go with. Then one day I was watching a Legacy Family Tree webinar about some topic, and Geoff Rassmussen did a demonstration of how to use Legacy in regard to that topic. I really liked what I saw! Finally on a Black Friday sale a few years ago, I took the plunge and bought Legacy Deluxe, version 8. I’ve been using it ever since.

I love the features of Legacy; it really fits the way my mind works. What’s made it even better is that there now an awesome Facebook group where you can discuss new features with the Legacy community and staff. The one problem I had that the Facebook group could not solve was quickly resolved by the support staff via its website.

This past year, Legacy has come out with a version 9, but I’d held off on upgrading, waiting for any bugs to be worked out and for the financial time to be right.  Meanwhile, I hadn’t used MyHeritage all that much, but had not wanted to give up on it just yet.

The Acquisition

So now we’ve received news of the acquisition. Like other recent changes in the genea-world (i.e., microfilm rental ceasing at FamilySearch, Ancestry no longer developing the Family Tree Maker software), there has been quite the emotional reaction online. My personal tendency is more towards: slice it, dice it and analyze it. The following is just my preliminary reaction.

First, I hear that eventually there will be a sync available between Legacy and MyHeritage. For me, that would be awesome! My online tree is getting pretty out-dated, so this would solve that problem. I still have logistical questions on how it would work, but there will be plenty of time for that to be worked out.

Second, I think MyHeritage could benefit greatly by the outstanding customer service that Legacy has demonstrated. In fact if I were to advise them, I would tell them: let the Legacy people do the customer service. They are that good.

Third, I love MyHeritage’s free app so much more than the outsourced “Families” app that works with Legacy (and which I paid good money for). It’s much prettier and more flexible.

Finally, Legacy Family Tree is now having a big sale to upgrade to or purchase version 9! My penny-pinching heart is so glad – my upgrade time has come!

* * *

There are still so many questions to be answered by both parties (such as, will Family Tree Builder go away? Or will it be the free Legacy Standard version?). And I’m sure there are future developments on the horizon that we haven’t even thought of yet. My attitude is: let’s see what will happen and take advantage of the best that is offered!

DNA: Taking the Plunge!

For years, I’ve been hearing about the continuing advances in DNA testing. I’ve participated in DNA chats at #genchat and watched as my co-workers got their DNA tested. People always asked me, “Why don’t you get your DNA tested?” For a long time, I really didn’t feel the need for it. After all, the paper trail has kept me pretty busy!

Still I’ve been keeping my eye on the testing companies, seeing what they may have to offer and what is unique about each company. And now MyHeritage has entered the DNA game. I’ve had my family tree on MyHeritage for years and have been impressed with the improvements they’ve continued to make. Would they, as DNA newbies, be able to build a significant base of testers? It seems that they are certainly getting there; not only that, but where their testers are located kind of sets them apart. MyHeritage has always been a highly used program in the non-US community, and that is proving to be the case with DNA as well. And from what I’ve seen around the internet, the ethnicity breakdown appears to be more detailed too.

For these reasons, I’m hoping that testing with MyHeritage might help me with my Polish & Lithuanian roots. At the very least, I will at least become more conversant about DNA as I add “centimorgans” and “segments” to my genea-vocabulary! Finally, the long-standing sale price for MyHeritage DNA testing will be going up after tomorrow, so I figure that it’s now or never. Let’s see where this leads!

Woman Scientist. , None. [Between 1909 and 1923] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/npc2007018584/. (Accessed July 23, 2017.)

Samuel Grumman: Revolutionary and Genealogy Hero

As I’ve written about before, I love to attend Norwalk’s “Let Freedom Ring” program on Independence Day. This past 4th of July, the program included a special wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Samuel Grumman, who was in the militia during the Revolutionary War.

After being led across the Mill Hill cemetery by Boy Scout Troop 222 color guard, we opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and listened as historian Madeleine Eckert told us the story of Samuel Grumman.

Following the Color Guard down the Norwalk River Valley Trail. Author’s collection.

The following are some of the highlights:

  • Samuel was born in 1725 at the site of 93 East Avenue in Norwalk.
  • He married Elizabeth Keeler and they lived where 74 East Avenue is today.
  • He owned a mill located on the Norwalk River, where 40 Cross Street is today (right around the corner from me!).
  • He was the Town Clerk in Norwalk during the Revolution until the time of his death in 1804.
  • In 1776, he enlisted in the 9th Regiment of the Connecticut militia under Jabez Gregory (who is also buried at Mill Hill), but never saw any military action.

Jabez Gregory’s grave. Author’s collection.

  • Samuel served on various Revolutionary War committees during 1778-1779.
  • In 1779, when Norwalk found out that General Tryon would be attacking them, Samuel had the foresight to hide the town records in a safe place, protecting them from the Burning of Norwalk. Descendants of colonial Norwalkers owe a debt of gratitude to him.
  • He died in 1804. Both he and his wife are buried at Mill Hill Cemetery. Elizabeth’s stone is broken in half, but is still legible. Samuel’s original stone has deteriorated with age.

Appropriately, current Town Clerk Richard McQuaid had the honor of laying a wreath at Samuel’s grave. Behind the decayed stone is a new marble marker for future generations to enjoy. “Taps” was played by Norwalk High School trumpeter Victoria Russo.

Richard McQuaid lays the wreath. Author’s collection.

Samuel Grumman’s new grave marker. Author’s collection.

The program continued indoors at the old meeting house, where Mayor Harry Rilling remarked how much we owe to the patriots who fought back in the Revolution, right up through present times. Connecticut Senator Bob Duff pointed out how interesting it was to hear the stories behind the names of our current streets. He also marveled at the sacrifices our forefathers made, all due to following their passion to be free. Because they followed their passions then, we are able to follow our own passions today.

Richard McQuaid, in period dress, read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, followed by the thirteen rings of the bell by Senator Duff as Mayor Rilling read off the names of each of the thirteen original states. Catherine Robinson, of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, then sang the National Anthem in a beautiful contralto voice.

Mayor Rilling and Senator Duff let freedom ring! Author’s collection.

If you’re ever in Norwalk, take some time to pay respects to some patriots here! The Norwalk River Valley Trail now runs through the Mill Hill historical site, and the path goes right past Samuel Grumman’s grave.

The meeting house at Mill Hill. Author’s collection.

What’s Next?

I’ve come to the point where I’ve blogged about all my direct ancestors for whom I have solid (and sometimes semi-solid) information, including quite a few collateral relatives. Right now, I feel the need to slow down a bit on the blogging. If I have more time for research, I’m sure I will come up with material for future stories.

In fact, one of my ideas is “u-turn” posts where I would return to discuss new discoveries (already there have been a few). I may also share some cool things learned during #genchat. Maybe I can get some inspiration from various blog prompts, too. These are just a few ideas.

Bottom line, I’m not going anywhere, just slowing down a bit. Stay tuned!