Posted by: Laura Aanenson | February 6, 2016

Maria Bukmakowski; My 2nd Great-Grandmother

Much of Maria’s life remains a mystery.

Surname Saturday - BukmakowskiYou’d think such a unique surname would help in my search, but I’ve always gotten the the same results: Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Then today with my swanky new subscription to, I did a global search for that German? Russian? Polish? surname.

Imagine my surprise when I actually got some hits!

The first thing I saw was this legal notice:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1912 07-15 Decatur Herald pg 7

Bukmakowski 1912 07-15 Decatur Herald pg 7

I was so shocked to find an article containing Maria’s surname that at first I thought the Bukmakowskis were contesting Meyer Heilbrun’s will!

Closer inspection revealed Meyer’s estate was suing the “above named defendants”, presumably for defaulting on a mortgage.

Could the parties in the suit have lived near one another? I located Meyer in the 1900 census; he was a 63-year-old widowed clothier who appeared on image 27 of 48. But alas, no Bukmakowskis were listed on that image or any other of the 48 pages. Hmm.

What about the others named in the suit? Like F. H. Julius and Maria Krouse for example.

A marriage announcement for Mary and Julius appeared on page 8 of the Decatur [Illinois] Herald page 8, July 7, 1905:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1905 07-07 Decatur Herald pg 8

Bukmakowski 1905 07-07 Decatur Herald pg 8

Ah ha, so Maria was a Bukmakowski! Not my 2nd great-grandmother, but with that surname, she has to be related, right?

Apparently this Marie had planned to marry once before:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1904 11-24 Decatur Herald pg 1

Bukmakowski 1904 11-24 Decatur Herald pg 1

But didn’t:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1904 12-01 Mattoon Commercial pg 6

Bukmakowski 1904 12-01 Mattoon Commercial pg 6

Wait a minute – did that “Weddings Today” article say Mrs. Marie Bukmakowski?

Could August have been Maria’s first husband?

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1904 01-05 Decatur Herald pg 10

Bukmakowski 1904 01-05 Decatur Herald pg 10

And Harold her adopted son?

Bukmakowski 1901 05-09 Decatur Herald pg 6

1901 05-09 Decatur Herald pg 6

I stumbled upon this blog post during my search for Harold. Like Sean, I had also found references to [in my case Albert] Bukmakowski being shorted to Buckman:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1903 01-18 Decatur Herald

Bukmakowski 1903 01-18 Decatur Herald

And remember how Maria Bukmakowski was appointed administratrix of her husband August’s estate? The article below does much to tie Albert, August and the names Bukman and Bukmakowski together:

2016 02-13 Bukmakowski 1903 11-28 The Daily Review pg 5

Bukmakowski 1903 11-28 The Daily Review pg 5

The articles shown here provided some wonderful clues about the Bukmakowskis, but they left me with more questions than answers.

Number one of my top 10 questions; how are these Bukmakowskis related to “my” Bukmakowskis?

I guess that’ll be research for another day!

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | February 5, 2016

Find A Grave Contributors Answer More Questions

In December I posed three questions to Find A Grave contributors whose virtual preservation work I admire:

  1. How did you discover Find A Grave?
  2. What motivates you to contribute?
  3. What is your favorite way to contribute (i.e. photos, vital information, obits etc.)?

Answers to those first three questions are posted here.

In January I asked three more questions:2016 01-01 Find A Grave 2

  1. On average, how much time per week do you devote to Find A Grave-related activities?
  2. What do your family/friends/co-workers think of your passion for Find A Grave?
  3. Have you ever been approached (or reproached) by someone while taking photos in a cemetery? What happened?

IMHO, I believe the use of Find A Grave ebbs and flows, the same way genealogy research does. We get completely hooked and work into the wee hours of the night for weeks [or months!] at a time. Then something interferes (poor weather, work demands, health issues, family commitments etc.) and “hobbies” get pushed to the background.

In the case of Find A Grave however, pulls to return are everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to drive past a cemetery without wondering if the residents have been memorialized!

But I digress, let’s get to the comments shared by other contributors!

Question # 1: On average, how much time per week do you devote to Find A Grave-related activities?

Answers to this question ranged from ‘an hour or two a week’ to ‘several hours a day’.

One of my favorite responses was; “If I was to be honest and give you the real answer, you would tell me I am obsessed and to get a life. Let’s just say I am very dedicated.”

Me too.

Like several other Midwesterners in my survey, I take photos when the weather permits and edit/upload those photos when bad weather keeps me indoors. This means I can pretty much get a daily Find A Grave fix year round.

Despite our current bad weather, I have to admit I recently stopped by my favorite local cemetery.

Where I learned I’m not the only one waiting for spring.


Question # 2: What do your family/friends/co-workers think of your passion for Find A Grave?

Answers included, ‘They think I am crazy’. ‘Off my rocker.’ ‘It varies; surprise and/or appreciation.’

‘My family thinks I am bonkers. My friends are more relaxed – had me make sure that their loved ones have a memorial.’

‘Once I explain my graving and why I do it, they usually find it very interesting. When my co-workers find out, they usually want me to hunt down graves for them.’

As for me, I’m lucky that my husband is also a Find A Grave aficionado.

And I’m pretty much used to the head-tip response from new friends and co-workers.

2016 02-05 Find A Grave huh

Question # 3: Have you ever been approached (or reproached) by someone while taking photos in a cemetery? What happened?

Most of the respondents said it’s unusual to see anyone else about while they’re taking headstone pictures. On the rare occasion someone notices them, the response tends to be curiosity, not reproach.

The overwhelming majority of headstone photographers also mentioned relocating when they saw visiting loved ones at the cemeteries in which they were taking pictures.

I agree; we need to keep a respectful distance from those grieving the loss of a loved one. We can provide comfort to virtual cemetery visitors without compromising the feelings of physical visitors.

During my last visit to Evanston Illinois I encountered another Find A Grave contributor at Calvary Cemetery who was filling a photo request. That was the first time ever that I had run into someone doing what I was doing and I’ve been at this for more than seven years! 

Most of the initial survey respondents said headstone photography is their favorite way to contribute to Find A Grave. 

Which brings me to the next three questions for my Find A Grave series:

  1. What equipment [photographic and otherwise] do you use to take headstone pictures?
  2. Do you have a personal policy regarding the use of the photos you take?
  3. In what ways have you evolved as a headstone/cemetery photographer since you first joined Find A Grave?

Many many thanks to everyone who contributed to this second in a series of posts about Find A Grave. Your time and your thoughtful answers are very much appreciated!

The invitation to participate in future posts in this series is open to everyone, so please share your thoughts! Send your answers to the questions above via email to where 2 look 4 ancestors AT gmail DOT com, with no spaces, and punctuation symbols for AT and DOT.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | February 3, 2016

Wednesday’s Child: The Birthday Girl

2016 02-03 Happy Birthday to Me!


February 1960.

The 34th president of the United States, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was in office.

People were listening to Running Bear by Johnny Preston.

Our Man in Havana, directed by Carol Reed, was one of the most viewed movies released that year.

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury was one of the best selling books.

But the big news for me was my birthday party!

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | February 2, 2016

Mother and Son

What happened in January of 1890 to cause the deaths of both Claudine and her son Henrik Fjelde?

2016 02-02 TT Lakewood Cemetery

Headstone of Claudine and Henrik Fjelde – Lakewood Cemetery Minneapolis MN

Could it have been the flu pandemic that killed nearly a million people worldwide in little more than a year?

2016 02-02 FS index


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | February 1, 2016

Mystery Monday: Death Certificate 6872

Such a tragedy!

2016 02-01 Death Certificate 6812

I’m not related to the Morgans, but I would like to solve the mystery of where this child was laid to rest.

Can you help reunite this baby with her family here or on Find A Grave?

Thank you for taking a minute or two to honor this short life.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | January 31, 2016

Chicago Obituaries: January 30, 1894

The following obituaries were transcribed from page 6 of the January 30, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News;

2016 01-31 CDN snip“BAER-Jan. 2[8?], 1894 FRANZ BAER, beloved father of Mrs. Wendelin Seng, Frank Baer and Mrs. Nicholas Hansen, aged 77 years. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, from his late residence, corner Clark-st. and Ridge-av., at 9 a.m., to St. Henry’s church.”

“BOERNER, Jan. 28, 1894, GEORGE [H.?], beloved husband of Augusta Boerner. Funeral to take place Wednesday, Jan. 31, from late residence, 11 Felt-ct., by carriages to Wunder’s cemetery: friends of family invited.”

“BROWN, At 3156 Allman[?]-st., Sunday, Jan. 28, 1894, WILLIAM, husband of Rosa Brown (nee Colo), and father of Mrs. Luke O’Toole, Mrs. John Flanigan, Mrs. Thomas Egan, Mrs. Thomas Norton, and Thomas, Katherine and Mrs. Rosa Brown, aged 68 years, born in County Westmeath, Ireland. Funeral from above number, Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 9 o’clock a.m., to St. Bridget’s church, where high mass will be celebrated, thence by carriages to Calvary.”

“BURNS-At her residence, 885 W. Monroe-st., ANN, widow of the late James Burns and mother of Charles F. and Anne M. Burns. Funeral Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., to St. Malachy’s church and by carriages to Calvary. No flowers. Montpelier (Vt.) and New York city papers please copy.”

“COLEMAN, Jan. 29, 1894, Mrs. KATHERINE, beloved mother of John and Jerry Coleman and Mrs. John Maloney of Green Bay, Wis., and Mrs. P. Cullen [?] and Mrs. John Malley of Chicago, aged 78 years. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 9 a.m., from her daughter’s residence, Mrs. John Malley, 166 W. 18th-st., by carriages to Sacred Heart church, thence to union depot by Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul R. R. to Calvary cemetery.”

“CALLAGHAN, Monday, Jan. 29, 1894, at his residence, 2962 Indiana-av., BERNARD CALLAGHAN, aged 71 years and 6 months. Funeral Thursday morning at 10 o’clock, to St. James’ church, thence by carriages to Calvary; friends are requested not to send flowers.”

“CARLSON-At Wilmette, Jan. 27, Mrs. C. O. CARLSON (nee Swanson). Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.; train for Wilmette leaves C. & N.W. depot, Evanston line, at 1 p.m.; train for Rose Hill cemetery leaves Wilmette 2:52 p.m.”

“DAL, On Sunday, Jan. 28, 1894, CHARLES E., son of Charles and Emma Dahl, in his 18th year. Funeral services will be held at his late residence, 5206 Dearborn-st., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. Interment at Oakwoods.”

“DANINGER-ROSIE, beloved daughter of Lorenz and Mary Daninger, aged 9 years and 6 months. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m., from residence of parents, 165 28th-pl., to Graceland cemetery.”

“FARRELL, Jan. 28, 1894, IANA [?] A. FARRELL. Funeral Tuesday, Jan. 30, from the residence of Thomas Duane, 408 [?] S. Morgan-st., to Holy Family church, at 10 a.m., by cars to Calvary, via Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway.”

“KANE-Jan. 26, 1894, JOHN, husband of Mary Kane (nee Tulley), and father of Loretta, Katie and Irene Kane. Funeral from late residence, 521 S. Union-st., Sunday, Jan. 28, by cars to Calvary.”

“KENNEY-JOHN, beloved son of Timothy and Mary Kenney (nee O’Brien). Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m., from late residence, 3344 Ashland-av., by cars to Mount Olivet.”

“LONG-Jan. 29, 1894, EDITH LILLIAN, youngest daughter of Alfred and Anna Long, aged 14 months and 12 days. Funeral Wednesday at 1 o’clock from parents’ residence, 28 St. Clair-st. Burial private.”

“LAFFEY-ELLEN, beloved wife of Edmund Laffey (nee Higgins), aged 36 years. Native of Cararakeablo [?] Parish of Agt. Mass, County Mayo, Ireland. Funeral from her late residence, 163 Larrabee-st., to Church of the Holy Name, thence by cars to Calvary.”

“MEEKER-At the residence of his son, 250 Townsend-st., LORENZO MEEKER, aged 65 years 11 months and 20 days; father of Frederick F., Robert B., Eugene Meeker and Mrs. J. L. Hudson. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 1:30 p.m., by carriages to Graceland. Oswego papers please copy.”

“MENGER-Jan. 29, 1894, GEORGE MENGER, aged 41 years and 2 months. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m., from his late residence, 1113 W. North-av., thence by carriages to Rose Hill. Friends invited.”

“M’GRATH-Jan. 16, 1894, at Ballyengarry, County Limerick, Mrs. ELLEN M’GRATH, mother of Hanora, Mary and Daniel McGrath and sister of Michael and Joseph Sullivan.”

“PARKER-Jan. 29, 1894, Mrs. ADELIA A., widow of the late Police Officer William A. Parker, aged 18 years. Funeral Wednesday, 10 a.m., from late residence, 140 Walnut-st., to St. Columbkill’s, thence by carriages to Rose Hill.”

“SCHMITT-At his residence, 78 Larrabee-st., Jan. 27, 1894, 2 p.m., PETER, beloved son of Jacob and Catharine Schmitt, aged 24 years 3 months and 22 days. Funeral from late residence Wednesday morning, 8:30 sharp, to St. Joseph’s church, thence to St. Boniface.”

“VICEVICH-MARY, beloved daughter of Frank and Mary Vicevich, aged 13 years 1 month and 14 days. Funeral Thursday, Feb. 1, from late residence, 34 23d-pl., by cars to Mount Olivet.”

“WALSH-ELLEN, beloved wife of Edward Walsh. Funeral Wednesday, Jan. 31, from her late residence, 30 Cologne-st., by carriages to Calvary.”

“WILSON-On Friday, Jan. 26, GEORGE, beloved husband of Nellie Wilson (nee Cooney). Funeral will be from late residence, 102 Center-st., to St. Vincent’s church, thence by carriages to Rose Hill on Wednesday at 10 o’clock.”

“WIXTED-Jan. 29, WILLIAM, beloved husband of Ellen Wixted (nee Sullivan); native of Newport, County Tipperary, Ireland and member of high court No. 1 C. O. F. Funeral Wednesday at 10 o’clock, from his late residence, 149 Washburne-av., to the Jesuit church, thence by C., M. & St. P. R. Calvary.”

“WETZEL-At her residence, 61 Washburne-av., our beloved mother CAROLINE WETZEL. Funeral Jan. 31, 1894, 1 o’clock p.m., to Waldheim; friends invited. AUGUSTA MORITZ., daughter.”

“ZOSCHKE, ROBERT, beloved husband of Frances Zoschke (nee Meinkow), aged 24 years 1 month and 24 days. Funeral from late residence, 3653 Lundy’s-lane, Jan. 31, 1 o’clock, to Oakwoods cemetery. Gone to meet his darling son.”

My transcription above is exactly as the notices appeared on page 6 of the January 30, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News with the exception of quotation marks at the beginning and end of each obituary.

Abbreviations, capitalization, grammar and references to people, places and things are indicative of the era in which this information was first published.

When possible, the deceased have also been memorialized on Find A Grave.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | January 29, 2016

Family Photo Friday: Colonial Williamsburg

An “educational” vacation that turned out to be fun. Who knew?

2016 01-29 FPF Williamsburg VA

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | January 28, 2016

Westlawn Cemetery Norridge Illinois

It seemed like the main gates were closed every time I drove past Westlawn Cemetery. I really wanted to see this cemetery and I had hoped to fill a photo request for Find A Grave.

This trip was no different – the cemetery gates were closed as usual so, a little disappointed, I went to one of my “regulars” and took headstone pictures in Acacia Park Cemetery.

Way in the back of Acacia Park is a gate. Westlawn is on the other side.


Just between you and me….it was an easy gate to slip through. :)

As the Westlawn Cemetery website says, the cemetery is “meticulously maintained”.

I took several rows of headstone photos in this lovely peaceful setting and then remembered I was there to fill a photo request.

On the way to do that, I saw this:

2016 01-28 Westlawn Cemetery 01

And under the Shady Rest roof there was a plaque.

2016 01-28 Westlawn Cemetery 02

I’m so glad I ducked under that gate.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | January 26, 2016

Hexagon Headstone in Wisconsin

This beautiful hexagon headstone is in Forest Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Madison Wisconsin.

2016 01-26 01 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Six members of the extended Whitaker family are interred here.

2016 01-26 03 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Mary Whitaker Sandford 1910-1952

2016 01-26 02 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Bessie Sayles Whitaker 1880-1951

2016 01-26 04 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Henry Charles Whitaker 1874-1930

2016 01-26 05 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Robert Charles Ellis Sr. 1895-1981

2016 01-26 06 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

Dorothy Whitaker Ellis 1907-1957

2016 01-26 07 Forest Hills Cemetery Madison WI

and Henry Whitaker Ellis 1939-1990.

All have been memorialized on Find A Grave.



Posted by: Laura Aanenson | January 23, 2016

Catherine Brun; My 6th Great-Grandmother

Her son’s 22 Nov 1774 marriage record reads in part, “Christophe GROS fils majeur et légitime des défunts Nicolas GROS en son vivant laboureur de WIRMING et de Catherine BRUN…”

Which [in English] reads, “Christophe GROS legitimate son of age [of majority] of the late Nicolas GROS, plowman in Wirming when he was living, and of the late Catherine BRUN…”

This is how I first learned the name of my 6th great-grandmother. I’d like to know more about the late Catherine Brun.

On closer inspection, I realized I had incorrectly estimated Catherine’s date of birth on the pedigree chart posted here. If her son was at the age of majority [at least 21 years of age] in 1774, he would have been born in the 1750s. And Catherine would have been born at least 21 years before that, or the 1720s to 1730s.

I thought it might be easiest to start with her death and work my way back. Since there was a reference to Catherine’s husband having lived in Wirming [now Virming], I went to my favorite French web site to look for a record of her death there. No luck, there are no records online here for Virming or Wirming.

Hmm. Another look at the marriage record.

2016 01-23 MR Gros and Houpert

The marriage banns had been posted on three consecutive Sundays in the parish church of Léning and in the church of Wirming. Could the Léning records provide information about Catherine’s death?

I’m in luck, there are two parish books that cover the time period prior to 1774:

2016 01-23 Snip from Lening Archives

baptêmes, mariages, sépultures = baptisms, marriages, burials

I started at the 1773-1782 book. And then read the 1765-1772 book. No luck in either.

I tried Francaltroff, Grostenquin, Hellimer. I was feeling pretty discouraged.

Then a funny thing happened.

The Moselle Departmental web site was completely revamped!

Virming and Obrick, previously unmentioned, are now listed among the town names. Neither has records online – yet – but there is hope.

In the meantime, I may have to look for Catherine Brun the old fashioned way – at my local Family History Center:

2016 01-23 Surname Saturday; Brun 2

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 301 other followers

%d bloggers like this: