Why My Name Wasn’t Changed at Ellis Island (And Neither Was Yours)

From Shepherds and Shoemakers

One of the most persistent myths in American culture is that our family surnames were changed at Ellis Island.  Just how ingrained is this myth?  Well, when my younger two children were in 5th grade, their school included an Ellis Island simulation as part of a learning module on immigration.  After learning about the “great American melting pot,” the economic and social factors that prompted immigration, and some of the contributions and impact that immigrants had on American society, the students capped off the unit with an Ellis Island Day immigration simulation. Prior to the simulation, students were assigned names and identities (hypothetical, not historical) of various”immigrants” from the late 19th century. They created costumes that would have been typical for their assigned immigrants and when Ellis Island Day came, these “immigrants” were “processed” by teachers and parent volunteers posing as immigration officials.  Processing stations included mock health inspections and…

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Klan vows renewed push in Ohio, other states

This news story is extremely troubling to read about.  I am simply sharing to make others aware.

“Amanda Lee says she is building an army and Ohio plays a key role in her plans. As the national imperial commander for the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Lee predicted last week that 2017 will bring a resurgence of her group’s activity — public rallies, widespread pamphlet distribution, greater recruitment efforts — and a push in several targeted states, including Ohio. “We have people all over Ohio already. There is a large membership of Loyal White”

Source: Klan vows renewed push in Ohio, other states

Security camera shows latest vandal damaging Green Lawn Cemetery

Yellow caution tape flapped in the wind, crisscrossing the entrance of a mausoleum erected nearly a hundred years ago. It’s the latest sign of harm to Green Lawn Cemetery by vandals who have already marred more than 600 grave sites and caused more than $1 million in damage in the past two years. No one has been arrested despite a $1,000 reward. The latest incident happened on Jan. 9 when a man entered through a broken fence and damaged a mausoleum and eight grave sites before

Source: Security camera shows latest vandal damaging Green Lawn Cemetery

“Grandma said she was from Poznań”: Decoding Stories About Ancestors from Poland

From Shepherds and Shoemakers

Most of us use family stories as the starting point for our genealogy research. However, the truth can sometimes get distorted, and it’s our job as family historians to sort out the historical fact from the fiction.  With that in mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions based on common misinterpretations, to help you decode those family stories and understand what Grandma really meant.

Story:  “Grandma said she was from Poznań.”

Analysis:  Most of our ancestors were from small villages, not big cities, so in all likelihood, Grandma didn’t mean she was from the city of Poznań proper.  Often an immigrant would generalize her place of birth to the closest big city under the assumption that her listener wouldn’t recognize the name of whatever small village she was actually born in.  We still do this today:  if I’m talking with someone who’s not familiar with Western New York, I might say, “I’m…

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