This and That Four

So many things going on!
Job hunt, flat hunt, newly discovered archive materials, crazy brewing projects involving catnip… I haven’t even had a chance to think about the upcoming trips!

I have started on a portfolio of sorts! Any advice on which website is good for architectural portfolios would be much appreciated. So far I have Deviant Art but I don’t really like the layout. Not enough customisation. The idea is to eventually create a website of my own but I need something quick so this might have to do for the moment. I just wish the site ‘daportfolio’ didn’t make me sound so gangsta!

Another piece of news, and this might come as a surprise to some, yes Chmeli you, is that we are moving flat again. Our landlord decided to increase our rent by two hundred quid and the agency has been absolutely rubbish to deal with from the start. I’m quite looking forward to writing bad reviews once we’ve got our deposit back. If we get it back that is. We’d like to stay in Marchmont but the area is getting expensive, I personally think we might have raised the attractiveness of it and now it’s backfiring! So we are looking although I don’t even know if I’ll be in the country once the lease runs out in July. With Britain having no architectural jobs available I’m now considering Sweden or Norway. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

My mum found a website which hosts documents from back in the days of Austria Hungary, same ones as those in the archive. Unfortunately there is only one collection for Parnica (Births and Confirmations between 1839 and 1886) which is very hard to use as there is no Marriage collection to cross reference with. The moment you think you found someone, bang… you find another four people of the same name. Still it’s good to be able to view it in our own terms and actually have time to pay attention to helpful little notes on the side. I already found a few things that baffle me, for example, Jan the firstborn of Jan Micik and Katrena Haklik was born at no. 88 (the place where Zuzana Harmaniakova, the woman that was to become Jan’s wife after Katrena’s death lived) instead of their family house no. 139. Were they good friends, staying over because their own house was too crowded after they got married? Would that explain why Jan and Zuzana married later? Were her three illegitimate children Jan’s too??? We can only guess really. I did confirm though, that Zuzana Harmaniakova indeed married Adam Janci and had a child with him before he died in 1887. Jan Micik then did marry Adam Janci’s widow, the fact that confused us.
All I want to do now is go through all this properly, and the collections from my grandfather’s village too, but there’s portfolio work to be done first. *sigh*

In other news, catnip beer is underway! Well, I have planted catnip! We shall see what happens! The aroma is meant to be one of peppermint crossed with skunk!
The whole experiment is meant to provide a beer we could use for a fundraiser (or awareness raiser) for the endangered Scottish Wildcat.
I like my beers to be thematic… This is why I have made a diabolical beer for when Diablo III comes out in about three weeks time. The batch has been fermenting since this weekend so the game better take a very long time to finish!!!

Ancestral certainties!

The second and third archive visits from yesterday and the day before shed more light on the mysteries described in Ancestral conspiracies! and Ancestral confirmations?. It turns out my whacky theory was almost completely right, with the exception of the mysterious sister having been Katrena Micik. The baby actually died at six months of age, preceded by her mother by about two months. Jan Micik remarried in 1889 and exactly 10 months later, like a good girl, Zuzana Harmaniakova gave birth to my great grandmother Maria. A slightly puzzling fact is that apart from Jan (*1877) she had another son, Ondrej (1881 – 1893) about whom we knew nothing and as far as we know, Jan’s father was unknown, as so was Ondrej’s. Nevertheless her marriage certificate says she was a widow of Adam Janci. Was he the father of the two boys? Would they have lived together without getting married? Or did she marry him after her two kids were born?

And there is still no sign of the mysterious aunt of my grandma! Could it have been the wife of Andrew’s brother John? I’d thought I had found John’s family in Illinois, but his wife’s name is supposed to be Elisabeth (Alzbeta), while according to the archive it should have been Zuzana. Then again, who knows with so many Jan Miciks. Maybe it will be clearer after June 26th and 27th, the next archive stop.

I have also started a 14 day free trial on Geni and merged my two trees, the Micik’s and ours.

I now have 43 ancestors in my family tree, going as far back as 1700’s (ok, it would be more like 1799 but that’s still 1700’s so shame!) and all the way to my fourth great grandparents. Maybe I should start working on my dad’s side of the family now and look for those elusive Jews!

Ancestral confirmations?

In one of my previous posts, Ancestral conspiracies! I discussed the possibility of Jan Micik (father of Andrew) and Jan Micik (father of Maria, my great-grandma) being the same person. It has indeed been confirmed to me that Maria’s mother Zuzana had a son by an unknown man before she married Jan, which is what what we’d assumed after finding the records of Maria’s birth. I have also found out that Maria’s son Jan was born in 1887, about three years before Maria. So the assumption that he would have been closer in age with Andrew’s sister Katrena, born in late 1885 than to his own sister Maria was also correct. As he was less than three when his mother married Micik, he would not have realised that his older sister was not really a blood relative. But I’m back to speculations now.

What we know for sure is that Andrew’s parents lived at Parnica no. 139. This is one important piece of information that my mum squeezed out of the birth records of not only Andrew, Jan and their two sisters but also Pavol Micik (*1858) who we think might have been Jan’s brother and Andrew’s uncle.
My mum has also done some on site snooping around however and made her way to Parnica last weekend. From old maps, as well as from what my grandma remembers of the old time Parnica, she has located the site of no. 139:

The house where Andrew was born is not there. All that’s left is a little hole in the ground. It used to be a hole directly in the floor of the house, through which they would pour potatoes into the cellar. It was probably only roofed over after the house has been destroyed, presumably during the Second World War, when the front lines swept across the village. A lot of the houses burned down then, including no. 99, where my grandma was born. They all hid in the cellar and came out to a burned down house with nothing left but the clothes they were wearing. One of the things that burned in the house was the “bible,” the chronicles that my great grandfather kept, supposedly beautifully written and containing a lot of information on births, deaths and marriages, a family tree of his own.
Maybe a similar cellar still exists under that little roof at no. 139.

But let me get back to the point. That house at the back of the site is what my grandma remembers as the house of Jan Harmaniak, the half-brother of her mum’s. Is it a confirmation of my theory that he built his house on the property that belonged to the man who would have brought him up? Jan and Zuzana would have married before Jan was two years old so he would have been brought up by Jan as his father. It would make perfect sense for him to stay nearby and care for his ageing parents.
It could also have been a coincidence of course, but it’s only a week until archive time and if it turns out that Maria Micikova was born at no. 139 it would be a much stronger argument. I’m also hoping the marriage records will yield information and I will be back with more next week!

Ancestral conspiracies!

Archive Day has come and gone and finally, a week later, I am writing a post! This is because I have been kept busy by a competition in office hours and by sports of all kinds (ice hockey, gym, Order & Chaos) in the evenings. It’s also because I’ve been wanting to draw a little tree so my crazy theory is easier to understand.

In darker shades it shows the people we started from: Andrew, his wife Susan, my great grandmother Maria, her half brother Jan and their mysterious sister in the US.
Lighter shades are all the newfound people. The dashed line means I’m not entirely certain about that connection. In this case it’s because my mum only found it as she was getting kicked out of the archive at closing time. Pavol, born in the same house as Andrew but obviously a generation before was most likely his father’s brother but we still need to double check this. Should this prove correct, Pavol’s parents would also be Andrew’s grandparents!

Just a quick recap about the mysterious sister. When my grandma was a child they used to receive boxes of presents from someone in the States. These boxes would go to her uncle Jan Harmaniak, his ten kids would pick their presents first and Harmaniak would then take the leftover presents to his sister’s house for her children. It was Harmaniak who once told my gran that they were from ‘her aunt in America’. Her own mum never spoke about it though I’m not sure if it was a secret or just lack of interest.

Now here goes my crazy theory:
What if the two Jan Miciks in the middle row were the same person? If Jan’s wife Katrena died sometime after the births of her last child  in 1885, he would be very likely to remarry soon, it was a common thing for widowers to do. Back in those days both parents were necessary to bring up a family. Jan would have been left with four kids, all under the age of 10 and even a single mother like Zuzana Harmaniakova would have been good enough for him in this situation. I assume she would have been just as keen to marry.
We still have to check the date of birth of Zuzana’s son, Jan Harmaniak, but I assume he could have been of an age with Jan Micik’s youngest daughter Katrena. Katrena would have been five years old when my great grandmother Maria was born. The three of them (Jan’s daughter Maria died at the age of 6, before great grandma was born) would have been brought up together, possibly largely oblivious of the fact that they are but half/step siblings.
Ondrej and Jan were a bit older however and wouldn’t have been very close to their siblings. They both emigrated to the US in early 1900’s. So what if Maria’s mysterious sister who used to send presents from the US was actually her half sister Katrena. She could have emigrated herself (after she got married as I didn’t find any documents on Katrena Micik), it would have been easier for her with a little help from one of her brothers in the beginning.
To be sure, Jan Harmaniak never mentioned Ondrej or Jan to my grandma, when he said the presents were from ‘her aunt in America’ but she might have been the only one of his step siblings he’d kept in touch with. If my assumption about his age is correct, he would have been of an age with Katrena but only about 10 years old with the two left the country. They also wouldn’t have been sending presents to their baby step-brother some 30 years later. But Katrena would have left in the late 1910’s or 1920’s and her attachment to her family back home would have been much stronger.

Sounds plausible? The truth is the names in these small villages just keep repeating, its all Jan, Ondrej, Maria, Zuzana over and over again. It’s possible it was a completely different Jan Micik. On the other hand, there is another Jan Micik in that generation. The father of Zuzanna Micik (1887-1966? whom I originally found and thought was my lost second great aunt) and the husband of Zuzanna Chilka who also emigrated to the US as a widow in 1921, supposedly to join her daughter? That’s three Jan Micik’s in that generation. Still possible I guess, but hopefully less likely…

Jeez our ancestors had no imagination whatsoever when it came to names. I wish they were a bit more Jewish and thought it bad luck to name children after living relatives!

I’m looking into some cheap tickets for the next archive slot: April 18th and 19th. The things to look up (for this particular branch) would be:
– Jan Harmaniak’s date of birth
– Jan Miciks’ birth certificates
– Jan Micik and Katrena Haklik marriage certificate
– Jan Micik and Zuzana Harmaniak marriage certificate
– Katrena  Micikova Haklik death certificate
– Katerna Micikova’s marriage certificate
– maybe look for Andrew and Susan’s daughter Anna again? My mum didn’t really find anything on her.
– I also want to see if I can find an Emilia or Emil Micik as Andrew seemed quite keen on those names. Or maybe this was from the Michalic side of the family?

A huge thanks to my mum Jelena who did all this research and some more!!!

This and That Two

I have severely neglected my blog in the last week. This is due to a short trip back home to Slovakia and the fact that I couldn’t directly upload a ‘Picture of the Week’ from my new iPhone. Yes, that’s right… iPhone! I feel cool! And technologically challenged, but thats beside the point.

Even now, I am still unable to find the iPhone pics through my work Mac but if I do figure it out I will add the picture in question for the reminder on the week. The lit up centre of my hometown Zilina.
Since this blog is introduced as ‘Kat’s blog of cats (and other less important things) and marsupials’ I will add an album of cats! I took a lot of pictures of three cats on my last trip home but I’ll just upload one of each, which will be tough! You will find them here!

In other news, I finally got a hold of one of my possible distant relatives in the United States, well I guess that was a few weeks back.
First I got a reply from Cathy Micik, daughter of Emil and she referred me to Susan Micik, daughter of William.
I had also previously tracked down Mildred Micik Zamfino, who is still alive and just turned 104 last week but her grandson has not yet replied to me, Facebook fail methinks.
Also, my suspicion that John is Adolph and that Jean is Mary have proved correct, yet still no sign of Kathryn.

My grandma (above) said that there was another Micik family in Parnica in her time, but I believe that they were probably distantly related anyway. I guess we will, or not, find out after January 24th when my mum and her cousin Eva are scheduled to visit the National Archive. Exciting!

Bill Bailey rocks! Dandelion mind…

History week…

I have randomly come across the information that there is a free search week on Ancestry (thanks Facebook), only because my family tree website Geni has restricted its viewing and editing options and I wanted to find out what the hell was going on (so thanks Geni too I guess but I still hate you)…

I have finally looked into what has been bugging me ever since I started building my family tree… ancestry found a mention of a certain Zuzanna Brasen on the New York passenger lists but they are normally only accessibly for a fee. I have indeed found the Zuzanna in question but she seemed to have been a generation younger than my great great grandmother.

The idea that followed was to try and discover the identities of the family members that have reportedly emigrated to the US and haven’t been heard from much since. My grandmother tells a story of a sister or half sister of her mothers who left chasing the American Dream and she also recalls the letters this aunt had been sending to her brother Harmaniak, my gran’s half brother. Apparently they contained ridiculously small amounts of money and silly gift, such as chewing gum. Not knowing whether this great great aunt was a Micik(ova) or a Harmaniak(ova) or even her first name, I started looking blindly for someone… anyone…
Eventually me search lead to a girl of about the right age (born in cca. 1887) called Zuzanna Micik, an 18 year old servant girl who took passage on Kronprinz Wilhelm from Bremen to New York where she landed on January 16th, 1906. What caught my interest was that she, one amongst numerous other Miciks, came from Parnica, a little village in Slovakia, then a part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which coincidentally is where my grandmother comes from and where I assume her mother came from before her…

Along with Zuzanna who reported to be going after her sister-in-law in Chicago, came Jan (cca. 1870) and Ondrej (cca. 1876) Harmaniak and Jan Suvada (cca. 1888), all from Parnica. There was also a certain Jan Chilka, whom I have never heard of before but a 51 year old widow Zuzanna Micik-Chylka from Parnica took passage to Boston, MA in 1921. I assume all these Parnica families are somehow related, if a few generations back.

Out of interest I tried to look up other people from Parnica and I came across Andrej (Andrew) Micik (born May 9th, 1877) who traveled to New York with $15 in cash to join his brother John Micik in Port Chester, NY in 1903/04 and became a naturalised American later on. His wife ‘Susan’ was also form Austro-Hungarian Empire and they had 6 children together (at the time of the issue of the naturalisation documents in 1924): Mildred (1907), Mary (1913), Katie (1915), Emil (1918), Adolph (1920) and William (1922). Once again thanks to facebook I have been able to track down their direct descendants. I have contacted one of them yesterday, hoping that she will be able to help fill in the gaps, but haven’t heard back yet. I have a strange feeling that we are related to this family, Andrej Micik from Parnica and my grandmother Maria Micikova were probably more than namesakes… cousins maybe? uncle and niece?

I am hoping to find out more from the archives of Parnica when I get a chance  —>  TO DO List!