Relationships key to finding the Stelmaszewski’s

Genealogy Tip

Relationships key to finding the Stelmaszewski’s 

A very good friend of mine has been doing genealogy for a while ran into something of a brick wall.  He found his family in the 1940 Census and even his great-grandparents in the 1930 Census, but he was not finding anything for them before that.  We were pretty sure that they arrived at Ellis Island on 20 Jun 1892, so they should have shown up in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses as well.
I did a quick look on Ancestry and on Family Search and wasn’t successful finding anything either. I know that if you asked several people how to spell Stelmaszewski you would receive several different spellings. Trying to figure out how the surname is spelled in a case like this can be daunting. So I took a surname unknown approach.  I used Ancestry.Com because both my friend and I have subscriptions there.
Next, I took stock of a few things we did know.  His grandmother’s name was Priscilla Helen Stelmaszewski and her parents were Frank (or Franz) and Katherine.  We knew Priscilla was born in 1907 in Minnesota.
On Ancestry.Com I went immediately to the 1920 Census records via the Card Catalog (Search | Card Catalog | 1920 United States Federal Census). 
First & Middle Names:  Priscilla Helen  

Last Name: (Left Blank)

Birth:  1907   Location: Minnesota
Then down to family members,
Father:  Frank
Then I added another 
Mother: Katherine
Bang.  Second entry:
A review of the record confirmed that was them, right age for mother, father, and daughter. Right places of birth.  And wow.  Not only them but eight siblings for Priscilla.  
Then I tried the same kind of search in the 1910 Census records.  Boo-hoo no luck.  
I tried several other combinations and didn’t hit on a combination that found them (remember, I’m not using a last name).  
I tried using Frank/Franz with a child named Victoria (usually quite readable and spell able). 
That gave me about 126 thousand responses and none on the first page that looked right.  I knew from the 1930 census that Priscilla’s older siblings were also born in Minnesota so I figured that they might have been in Minnesota in 1920 as well. Also Frank had been born in Poland about 1864 so I went with that too. 
Still too many records (I hate going down to a second or third page).  They lived in Pine County in 1930, maybe they did in 1920 also.  I added that as exact.
Again, there they were.
I used a similar technique to find them in the 1900 Census.
Because I know that Minnesota had an 1895 and a 1905 census I was able to search (leaving out the last name) and including either relationships to children or the location of Pine County to follow the family and see the spellings used for their surname.
1892 – Stelmaszewski (Ellis Island Passenger Record)
Stillmaziski (1895 Census) via Ancestry.Com
1895 – Stillmaziski (Minnesota Census)
1900 – Stetmaszewski (US Census)
1905 – Stelmazewki (Minnesota Census)
1910 – Stelinaszewski (US Census)
1920 – Stetenzki (US Census)
1930 – Stelmaszewski (US Census)
Stetenzki (1920 Census) – via
1940 – Scelmaszewski (US Census) (Living with daughter and son in law)

Although the name changed many times in the census schedules, we were able to fill in the entire census record of the family based upon relationships and locations without using last names at all.

© copyright 2014 – Don Taylor’s Genealogy

52 Ancestors: #2 – Henry Wolcott

Biography – Henry Wolcott (1611-1680)
The earliest immigrant I’ve been able to find in my family is my 10th great-grandfather, Henry Wolcott. Now, I  know that I have 512 10th great-grandfathers and that Henry is only one of them, but I can’t imagine an ancestor any more illustrious life than Henry.  

Henry was born on January 21, 1610/11.[1] When I learned the date, I wondered why the date seemed unsure. Was it 1610 or 1611. I had seen some other dates like that and had wondered, but with Henry, I had to understand.
I thought about it and recalled my American history and knew that something was weird with the calendar.  For example, I know that George Washington was born on Feb 11, 1731 but we celebrate his birthday as February 22, 1732.[2]
The reason why is that in 1752, England changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Because they hadn’t been doing leap years correctly the calendar jumped 11 days. So, the day after September 2nd, 1752 was September 14th, 1752.[3]  I’m sure the intent was to further confound genealogists today, the years were shifted as well. I’m not sure I get all the nuances in shifting the dates and years, but the bottom line is that when Henry Wolcott was born the Julian Calendar was in use and the year was 1610, looking back on his life, we users of the Gregorian Calendar would say his was born in 1611.
It is so awesome to find a book about an ancestor’s life. Chandler Wolcott, published a book about Henry’s life in 1875 which is available on Amazon.Com.  Much of the information I have about Henry’s life came from that book.
I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly research when Henry came to America, but it was before April, 1634. We know that because, on April 1st, 1634, Henry was “admitted a freeman” by the General Court at Boston (Suffolk County, Massachusetts).  A “freeman” at that time was a person who was given the right to vote because they were over 21, had property worth a certain amount, and fulfilled some other requirements including being adjudged such by the court. When Henry was adjudged a freeman, he was a member of the Dorchester Church. The family, didn’t stay in Dorchester long and in 1636 the family moved to Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut along with the Congregationalists to get away from the puritans. 
On 18 November 1641 Henry married Sarah Newberry. After 14 months, their first child, Henry, was born. Their third child, Samuel Wolcott, was born in 1647 and died only seven months later, on May 10th. 
In the spring of 1654, it appears that Henry returned to England for business.  
On 30 May, 1655, Henry’s father Henry (senior) died. His mother, Elizabeth Saunders Wolcott died 6 weeks later on 7 July, 1655.  Henry was the oldest living son and received the family land in England as well as Henry senior’s two “Books of Martyrs.”[4]  Henry was also the overseer of the will.
Following the sadness of 1655, my 9th great-grandfather, Samuel was born. Samuel was the first boy child born to the Wolcotts after the death of their other son Samuel and was given his name. Another son, Josiah, was born after that.
Henry entered politics. In 1660, Henry was elected to the House of Delegates. 
Courtesy: Bauman Rare Books
In 1662, Connecticut received a charter from His Majesty, King Charles, II. The document was more than a just charter, it was a constitution. It was the first constitution in the colonies and gave the colonists many rights including the right to hold popular elections.  It also provided for checks and balances of the government. Another action was forcing the New Haven colony to become part of the Connecticut colony.  Had that not occurred, who knows, there might be a state of New Haven today – Possibly three little states in a line, Connecticut, New Haven and Rhode Island.  In that original charter document Henry Wilcox is one of the nineteen people identified  as one of the appointed founders of the colony. 
The 1662 Charter of Connecticut is an extremely important document, so much so that Connecticut is know as the “Constitution State.” So, when ever I see a Connecticut license plate that says “Constitution State” I will think of my 10th Great-grandfather, Henry Wilcox and remember our family was a big part of Connecticut history.
Henry Wilcox served Connecticut in the House of Magistrates from its founding in 1662 until his death, 12 July, 1680.
I haven’t had time to check or verify other ancestors of the Wolcott family.  I have seen on the Internet that Sir. John Wolcott was mayor of London in 1403 is an ancestor and that another Sir John Wolcott, of Wales in the 11th century may be our earliest known ancestor.
Because of our family’s relationship to Henry Wilcox, there are several lineage societies that we may be eligible to join including:

Daughters of the American Colonists (Females only)
Order of First Families in Connecticut 
Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford (Probably not. I think this is for Hartford only and not Hartford County.)

I have much more research to do on Henry Wolcott and the Wolcott line. His life alone could be the subject of a complete book. 

Our Great Lineage:

Arthur Durwood Brown’s mother was
Marion Sanford, whose mother was
Mary E. Parsons, whose father was 
Chester Parsons, whose mother was 
Mary Wolcott, whose father was 
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also 
Samuel Wolcott, (yup, four of them in a row) whose father was
Henry Wilcott 


[1] The Family of HENRY WOLCOTT by Chandler Wolcott  is available on Amazon.
[2] Confirmed on the National Archives website,
[4] The Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs by John Foxe was an extremely important book in its day.  It is still a classic and highly recommended for Protestants who wish to know about early Christian and Protestant history. 

52 Ancestors: #1 – Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wisemen Darling

Ancestor Sketch

Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wisemen Darling

The Challenge: 

Thanks to Caroline Porter’s blog,, (A blog I subscribe to and read daily.) I learned of a blogging challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog to post each week – that is 52 ancestors in 50 weeks. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, or an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on a specific ancestor. I thought that I’ve been kind of trying to do that but I haven’t been as successful in keeping up that schedule.  So, I decided to take the challenge.  I thought I’m probably good for now, I just blogged about my grandmother. I looked back at my blog and realized that I wrote Donna back on the 31st.  Closing out the year with Donna’s vaudeville activities was a great ending to the years.  I still have literally hundreds of documents and artifacts and gazillions of research activities I need to do to write her story, but, I didn’t want to ignore the other stories.  So, with the Donna blog last year and it already the 7th of January, I need to get busy.  Who to blog about was the next question.
To help me with that I’ve decided to continue my past practice and write about someone whose birthday is within the following week. I also believe I have enough known direct ancestors that I can keep to direct ancestors and not need to do uncles and aunts. So, I opened up each of my research trees and printed a calendar for the next three months identifying the birth dates for direct ancestors only.  On weeks that I don’t have an ancestor whose birthday I know I’ll blog about the challenges in researching someone in particular.  This week, week 1, I start with:

Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wiseman Darling

Elizabeth Jane Swayze with born on 13 January 1818 in Rushville, Ohio.  She was the oldest of eight children born to David and Catherine Swayze. Her paternal grandfather, David Swayze (senior) fought for the revolution serving as a private in New Jersey.  Her parents had moved from New Jersey to Virginia and on to Ohio, where she was born.  In 1818, Ohio had been a state for about 15 years and had a growing population of about a half a million in the entire state. Rushville wasn’t yet a true village, but, it’s the first church, Methodist, had been built as a log cabin eight years earlier and it was growing.  Actually, we aren’t really sure if she was born in Rushville or if that is where later documents indicate she was born because it was the closest town.  She may have been born in New Salem, Ohio, about eight miles away.
In any event, in 1820, the Swayze’s lived in what is now New Salem, Ohio. Sometime before 1841 the Swayze’s moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1841 Elizabeth married Isaac Wiseman. By 1841, the Swayze’s were prominent in Kalamazoo. By 1846, Elizabeth’s father had been the treasurer for the Kalamazoo County Bible Society, on the Board of Directors for the First Methodist Episcopal Church, a member of the Kalamazoo Clay Club (a political party named after Henry Clay), a village trustee, and an “Overseer of the Poor” for the Village of Kalamazoo.
Isaac married into a prominent family and things were looking great for the couple. Their daughter, Mary Catherine Wiseman (Kate) was born to them in late 1841.  Isaac died in 1845.
Elizabeth quickly remarried. On August 27th,  1846, she married Rufus Holton Darling.
Rufus was an up and coming young man from Rome, New York.  In the couple years Rufus had been in Kalamazoo, he built and opened the first store in Kalamazoo, the “Darling and Goss General Store.” Also, in 1945, Rufus had received a contract from the Michigan Central Railway to build the railway from Michigan City through to Grass Lake.
Their first child, Abner C. Darling, was named after Rufus’s father and was born shortly after the marriage. In September 1847, a daughter was born (I’m sure to just confuse genealogists) that they named Elizabeth J Darling. In 1850, Elizabeth’s father, David, died.
Picture adapted from a screen shot of a map available for sale from
In 1852, the couple experienced the joy of having twins.  Eva and Emily were born on the 24th of July. Only a year later, in 1853 tragedy struck; the twins got sick — deathly sick. I believe that it was tuberculosis. Eva died and Emily never fully recovered. Emily was frequently sick and bedridden; she lived with her mother for the rest of Elizabeth’s life.  Although Rufus fathered a son, Rufus Harry Darling on June 20th, 1857, Rufus’s (senior) remaining life was that of a sick man. Rufus senior died two months after Rufus junior’s birth of consumption.
Elizabeth’s mother died in 1868.
In 1869 Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth married Melville James Bigelow, a former grocer, windmill manufacturer, and then founder and vice-president of Kalamazoo National Bank.
Sometime before 1880, Elizabeth’s older daughter, Kate, moved home to help take care of Elizabeth and Emily.
In 1881, Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth, died.
(Photo thanks to Find-a-Grave)
Elizabeth, the mother, lived at the northwest corner of Rose and Cedar from before the Civil War until her death, March 25th, 1896.  She, along with Rufus Holton, Emily, Eva, Elizabeth (the daughter) and Rufus Harry are all buried at Mountain Home Cemetery, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Because I upgraded from FTM Mac 2 to FTM Mac 3, my sources for this article are jumbled and corrupted.  (See my blog article.) It will take quite a while to correct the files, or else I will need to go back to FTM Mac 2 and lose any work I’ve done over the past few weeks on this tree.


Donna in Grand Rapids, MI, at the Powers Theatre – Feb 20-21, 1920

Donna in Grand Rapids, MI, at the Powers Theatre – Feb 20-21, 1920

Via Pinterest -
Hotel Herkimer abt 1912
Via Pinterest from eBay

No great birthday celebration for Donna for her twenty-seventh birthday.  She was working as the Chin Chin cast were opening at the Powers Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The cast, probably stayed at the Hotel Herkimer, a “refined home for professionals” a few blocks away.  The Herkimer was a regular accommodation place for vaudeville shows. This was a return engagement, so most of the cast knew where things were in town. “Chin Chin” spent two nights at the Powers Theatre. Articles, press releases and advertising were scant in the Grand Rapids [evening] “Press,” but this city of about 135,000 had three other newspapers, the morning “Herald,” the evening “News,” and a weekly, the “Chronicle.”  Pre-show newspaper articles in the “Press” indicated that they had new scenery and new costumes since the previous season’s showing in Grand Rapids.  Between the first and second nights, the paper called out Donna by name.

“Chin Chin” on Return Date at Powers
“Chin Chin” at Powers Saturday and Sunday is not the “Chin Chin” of yesterday, but many who viewed it were apparently satisied. Walter Wills and Roy Binder, as Chinese clowns, are the heart of the show. Tom Brown’s clown band under the leadership of Lew Gould, and radiant Donna Montran as the “goddess of the lamp,” are also shining lights of comedy.

I hope she had a happy birthday celebration after the show.  

The Powers Theater

Construction of the original Powers’ Opera House began in 1873 and the theater opened on 12 May 1874.  The original theater had a seating capacity of about 1300. The main floor was above ground level. That building succumbed to a fire in 1892 that gutted the interior, The interior was rebuilt and new four-story with rounded bays was added to the east end of the building.  On September 13, 1901 the theater was again aflame. This time, the fire totaled the building which caused it to be rebuilt completely as the Powers’ Theater.  The rebuilt design put the main theater floor at ground level and increased capacity.
Powers Opera House
Courtesy: Grand Rapids Historical Commission 
In 1914, the old facade was replaced with a new brick and terra cotta facade. The Powers’ Theatre was the largest theatre in Grand Rapids when Donna and Chin Chin played there in 1920. Grand Rapids had a population of about 135,000 and the theater had a capacity of 1,619, which means that more than 1% of the city’s population could attend a show there.  The stage was very large, sixty-six feet wide and forty feet deep. Backstage was also spacious with sixty-five feet up to the rigging loft. The 1913 Theatrical Guide indicates that it used 110 volt direct current for its illumination. Don’t know when it’s DC system was replaced with alternating current (AC).
The theater underwent several additional renovations and another fire, and renovation, in 1942. In 1944, it opened up as “Foto News” and ran newsreals.  The theater was remodeled again in 1948 and converted to become the Midtown Theater which it stayed as until 1972 when it closed.  It was rented for a few concerts and other activities for a few years, but when renovation costs got to be too much it was torn down in January of 1979.
Today the location is a parking ramp.


Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI), Feb 19, 1920 – Page 6,  via  Genealogy Bank
Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI), Feb 23, 1920 – Page 6,  via via  Genealogy Bank
Website: Powers behind Grand Rapids – Powers Theatre 
Website: History Grand Rapids Org. – Early Grand Rapids Halls and Theaters by Albert Baxter.
The Cahn-Leighton Official Theatrical Guide – 1913-1914 

Review – Family Tree Maker Mac 3

Review – Family Tree Maker Mac 3

I should know better.  Paying good money to purchase Ancestry’s Family Tree Maker for Mac 3.0 was a bad, bad idea.  Again they released what I would think of as beta software and they hope that many people won’t notice.  Had I not had existing files, I might not have.
I purchased the upgrade version. Installation is a bit different than most Mac software. Download the file, then executing the DMG file doesn’t open and execute the installation, rather, it puts a device on your desktop.  You then need to execute it from your desktop to install the product.  If you aren’t a big desktop user, you might not notice the additional icon.  I didn’t because my desktop was already full and double stacking icons. There is not message that it has done so.
Once installed, and program key entered, the initial screen is like the 2.x version except some things are moved from the right side of the screen to the left.  It is still focused on “getting started” and doesn’t have an option to open your last file.  
Once you import a file from version 2, or otherwise have a file you will enter the “Plan” view.  It contains the same information that version 2 provided, but again, it is shuffled around like they think if they move it we’ll think it is new.  “Trees” moved from this page to the menu which was very good. However the space dedicated to the “Ancestry Web Dashboard” was expanded from what was about 1/6 of the screen to a good 1/3 of the screen. Like the previous edition, you can’t change the size of any of the “Plan” window elements.  It is obvious they think that what my activities are are at least 1/3 of all that is important to me.  Sorry, not true.
I will again say they attend a Trees selection to the menu bar so it is available on any page.  That is one of the few changes that I think are good. 
Their advertising mentions they added an “Export Branch” feature.  It is okay. It allow you to select a person from your tree and then export just the ancestors & descendants of that tree.  In actuality it just creates a backup file of that line.  It would be nice if you could export a branch then delete that branch from your existing tree, but that is only a hope for me.  If you export a branch you will need to delete the individuals from your old tree individually or have duplicate entries in two different trees.  Once exported, you will need to effectively restore that backup and then export that branch in another format if you so desire. 
In the Media section it is now possible to select more than one media at a time.  This is great because it makes it much easier to apply categories and do other actions to media in bulk.  There is also a new utility to “find missing media” which is a great addition.  It allows you to much more easily reconnect media that has become disconnected.  For example, I renamed a directory that had media in it to support some other actions I was doing with the media.  This utility will help clean up that type of action more easily.  
Family View Report
New in FTM-Mac-3
Reports look about the same. There is a new “Family View Report.” It is a simplified family sheet, showing couple and children with a pedigree chart above. I like it and may use it in the future, but otherwise, the reports appear to be the same as in Version 2.x. 
Now the reason I’m unhappy with FTM-Mac-3.  Sources.  The import process just trashed the sources.  It sometimes moved source citations to another source title.  Some sources appeared to vanish. However, when I created a new Source Title with the same name as before, they magically reappeared.  Sometime the citation detail was now blank but the citation text was still good. All in all, it appeared to trash the database. 

I use different files for my various projects.  I converted two of my projects to FTM-Mac-3 and am very unhappy with the results with the sources becoming corrupt.  I am so glad I have paper copies of most everything important so I can reconstruct the sources and source citations as I com across them.  In the meantime, I will continue using FTM-Mac-2 for all my other work and projects until they do an upgrade that fixes the problems.  Maybe, I’ll just return to Reunion or Mac Family Tree next time.  Maybe even Heredis if they have fixed the name issue
I recommend saving your money and continue using FTM-Mac-2 until they, at least, correct the sources import issues. If you are new to FTM and aren’t converting files, FTM-Mac-3 is great software and I recommend it.

– Don Taylor