11/10/06

Searching for the past

I have been doing some geneology research. My DH's grandparents, George and Mary Jenco came here from Czechoslovakia in the 1920's. George came first in 1923 and Mary waited patiently in Czech. for 7 years until she could join him in 1930. Mary past away in 1959, one month before my Mother-in law, Fran (her only daughter after 3 boys) graduated from high school. George died 10 years later in 1969. Fran never knew their wedding anniversary date or which ships they came on, which ports they left/came through or when they were naturalized. Their papers were lost somewhere in the shuffle. Fran thinks they may have been in a slovak bible that her Dad gave away after Mary had died.

I looked on ancestry.com to find some answers a couple of years ago and found George's SS death index papers, but that didn't give me much to go on. I also got a peek at the 1930 census where I found out that at that time, George and Mary went by the last name, 'Jenks'. at that time, you could sign up for a 2-week trial of ancestry.com free. You can still do that, but you must sign up with a credit card and after the 2-week trial, if you don't cancel, you'll be charged $14.95 a month or $150 for a year! What a rip-off! The 1930 census was released to the public after the 72 year statute ran out, but ancestry.com bought all the rights to it. I think you can also find it at the National archives, but you have to pay for info there, too.

I also searched the records at Ellis Island, but always came up empty-handed. I tried all variations of the name Jenco I could think of... Jencho, Yencho (that's how it sounds in Slovak), Yenco, Jencho, Jenks, Janks, etc. They even offer a 'soundex' search at Ellis Island, but to no avail.

I have since given up on ancestry.com myself, but Fran's nephew was searching for information, too. He found the naturalization papers for their county were available online at the county clerk's website FREE! There, we found a WEALTH of info! The papers had everything; another last name (Mary's last name was listed as "Jancova", which ships, which harbors, dates, anniversaries all of it!

George came over on the Westphalia from the port of Hamburg in 1923. He was 26 and arrived through Ellis Island. I went right back to Ellis Island and I entered the name of the ship and the last name starting with JEN and it popped up... "Jury Jenco Krojanein"! he was a 26 year old male, the date of arrival matched, etc. I clicked on the button to view the ship's manifest and found that it was indeed him! His closest living relative was listed as Mary Jenco still living in Czech.! He listed his destination as his sister's house complete with address, he had $30 in his pocket upon arrival and was in good health. I couldn't believe all of the stuff we found out! They also had a picture of the ship and you can buy reprints of the picture and a certificate with his information on it. I added them to my cart to see what the prices would be knowing I wouldn't be buying them, but a few days later, I received an email worth 10% off the items I had in my cart. (Not a bad deal, but I'm still not buying them.)

Mary's information is harder to find since immigration laws changed in 1924 and Ellis Island was not used to "process" immigrants as it had been in the past. The ship she came on , however, turned out to be a famous one! I recognized the name Olympic, but her ship was the 'S.S. Olympic' and the one I knew of was the 'R.M.S. (Royal Mail Ship) Olympic'. I did a simple search on my handy-dandy computer and found that they were one in the same! Mary had sailed to America on the sister ship of the Titanic! I found all kinds of info on Olympic and I'm still browsing all those sites.

I hope to put together some scrapbook pages with all of this for my boys to have when they are older. My family history is much harder to come by since they are mostly rural farmers and the history was not passed down as to who came from where. I know there is some German relations in there somewhere, but we are from Amish country, so German may not mean that they came from Germany.

Hope this helps anyone who may be doing similar searching.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I LOVE genealogy and have been researching my family and my hubbies families for years. Sometimes you hit a "pot 'o gold" at other times brick walls and then all of a sudden something opens up. The history is fascinating. So happy you found what you were looking for. God Bless!