Archive for May, 2012

Diary from the Past

My mom recently lent me a journal she said my grandfather called one of his most prized possessions. The journal was written in 1822 and 1823 by John Swinney. When I started reading the journal, I didn’t know who John Swinney was. I knew there was a Swinney line in my grandfather’s family tree, but the information I had ended with a Rees A. Swinney (the father of my Civil War ancestor), who was born in 1811 in New Jersey and died in 1873 in Indiana. I had no records for a John Swinney.

After reading some of the journal, I tentatively decided that John was Rees’ father. There are several mentions in the journal of “Rees came home from school” or “I bought Rees a hat,” so it seems like a good assumption. Also, there are lots of names and places mentioned, which helped me determine that John was living in Cumberland County, New Jersey. That also fits with what I know about Rees.

John and Rees Swinney are included on a few family trees on Ancestry.com. The one with the most information has the Swinney line going back to another John Swinney, who was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1673 and died in New Jersey in 1756. He would be my 8x great grandfather! The tree does not cite any sources, but if I can confirm all the connections, this is quite a find!

For now, I’m reading through the diary and typing it up. In the first entry, John says he is writing “to record common and extraordinary occurrences that come to my knowledge or transpire within my reach of things.” I have already learned a lot about John and his family. He records his mother’s death and burial, the text used in each Sunday’s sermon by Elder John Davis, the amount of money in the treasury of the Missionary and Bible Society, his daily tasks on his farm and much more.

I can understand why my grandfather thought this book was so special. I do, too.


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In honor of Memorial Day, I thought I would say a few things about the military history in my family. There isn’t much, actually (as far as I know), and it is all on my mom’s side.

Harold Albert Rork

My grandfather, Harold Rork served in the Army during World War II. He was stationed at Fort McClellan in Alabama. According to his army diary, he proposed to my grandmother while on leave in 1943. His diary entry simply says, “Fern got a ring while I was home.” After they were married, my grandmother moved to Alabama with him. This is my favorite picture of the two of them:

Charles Edward Rork

Charles was my great-grandfather and Harold’s father. Charles served as a private in the Army during World War I.

I don’t know much about his service, but I have a copy of his draft registration card, which I found on Ancestry.com:

Daniel Webster Swinney

Daniel was my 3x great-grandfather, and he served in the Union Army’s 123rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. He lived until 1914, so I know he survived the war. I don’t know much about Daniel’s service, but I know from searching in the National Parks Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System that his regiment was involved in the Atlanta campaign and also fought in North Carolina. He is on the left in this picture, which was taken in 1873.

This is obviously an area of my family history that needs more research, but this is what I have so far. Do you have any interesting military history in your family?

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My humble little blog has been included in the weekly New Genealogy Blogs post on GeneaBloggers.com! If you found your way to my blog because of it, thanks for stopping by. If you are interested in finding other genealogy blogs to follow, GeneaBloggers.com has a great directory. You’re sure to find something that interests you there.

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Czech Research Update

My contact at the archives office in Třeboni, Czech Republic graciously transcribed the birth record for my great-grandfather, who was born in the town of Tábor in 1871. Now I have the full names of both of his parents and all four of his grandparents! I also have the names of the towns where each of these six ancestors were born, so I can continue my research with the appropriate archives offices.

Father: František Hromada, shoemaker in Tábor, son of František Hromada, miller from Dobronice and Anna Novák from Lom

Mother: Marie, daughter of Jan Pekárek, blacksmith in Nĕmčice and Marie Jun from Bohdaneč.

Godfathers: Václav Studenovksý, shoemaker in Tábor and Anna Pokorná, wife of the constable from Tábor

Here is my newly updated Hromada family tree: Joseph C. Hromada Vertical Pedigree Chart

I also have contact information for the archives office where my great-grandmother’s birth record should be available. Stay tuned for more developments!

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A Surprise in My Inbox

Almost a year ago, I found an e-mail address for an archives office in the Czech Republic, in the district where my great-grandfather was born. I sent an e-mail requesting any birth records that might exist for him. I knew his father’s name was Frank, but I didn’t know anything else about his family in the home country. After waiting a few months for a reply, I decided to try again, but use Google Translate to send my e-mail in Czech instead of English. A few more months went by, and I still didn’t receive a reply. I had pretty much given up hope, so imagine my surprise when I found this in my inbox the other day:

What, you don’t read Czech? Thanks to Google, I was able to figure out that this nice person was sending me a link to the digital archives which hold my great-grandfather’s birth record. I was able to find his page in the book of Tábor births for August of 1871. Click on the image to enlarge it. There is also a smaller shot of his line in the book.


The handwriting is difficult to decipher, but this is what I have been able to figure out (with the help of Google Translate):

  • He was born on August 23, 1871.
  • He was baptized on August 25, 1871.
  • His family was Catholic.
  • He was legitimate.
  • His family lived in Tabor, No. 131 (I don’t know if this is a district or house number).
  • His father was Frantisek Hromada, who was a shoemaker in Tabor. Frantisek’s father, who was also named Frantisek, was a miller.
  • His mother’s name was Marie. I can’t quite make out her last name, so I’ll have to work on that. It looks like her parents’ names are also given.
  • There are two names listed as godparents. The handwriting on those is also difficult to read. (If anyone out there is a handwriting expert, feel free to help me out.)

So, I’m now able to add a generation to my family tree! Very exciting! I’ll have to see if my new friend can get me any other information.

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