29 December 2006

Relative Claus

A Christmas card addressed to Stephen Votruba in Winona, Minnesota was somehow mistakenly delivered to the home of Frederick Novotny on Long Island in New York. In the letter accompanying the forwarded card, Novotny told Votruba that his great aunt had been married to a man named Votruba. Noting that the New Yorker is a possible relative, the Minnesota resident calls it a "Christmas miracle." “For all I know, he could be a distant relative from Ellis Island.”

Bzzzzzttttt. Your Votruba ancestors, Mr. Votruba, have lived less than a mile from your Minnesota home since at least 1880, having arrived in the U.S. some 20 years before Ellis Island opened in 1892. Novotny's uncle's family arrived in New York around 1902.

So the two Votruba families were not separated at Ellis Island, but what are the odds that the two men are related? Since Votruba is a not-uncommon Bohemian name and Novotny doesn't even profess any Votruba ancestors, I'd say the odds are just a little higher than for any two men of Czech ancestry.

Christmas miracle? Humbug.

10 December 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick's Sooner Ancestry

Jeane Kirkpatrick died last Thursday. The former United Nations Ambassador left a rich political legacy. I guess those who help make history don't necessarily know history.

Kirkpatrick once said that one of her grandfathers was in the Oklahoma "Sooner run for land." The first and most famous land run in Oklahoma was in 1889. There were a few more in the next few years but they were over by 1895.

Kirkpatrick's maternal grandfather was Henry Kile. Born in Tennessee in 1871, he never made it to Oklahoma. He spent most of his adult years farming in Texas where he died in 1951.

Kirkpatrick's paternal grandfather was Lee Frank Jordan, also born in Tennessee in 1871. In 1900, the family was in Texas, but by the 1910 census they were in Oklahoma. Their children were all born in Texas, except the one-year-old who was born in Oklahoma. BLM land records indicate he took out homestead papers there in January of 1910.

Looks to me like Kirkpatrick's grandfather missed the Oklahoma land run by about 20 years, but he got there sooner or later.

03 December 2006

Silly Genealogist: "Greifeld" Is Italian, Not Irish

The London TimesOnline was not surprised when the genealogist hired by Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld was unable to find all that many Irish ancestors.

Maybe they think with a name like Greifeld, he can't be all that Irish. I wonder if they really understand the term "melting pot" or if they think that a person's ancestors all had the same last name.

Greifeld should have a goodly share of Irish ancestors. The parents of his paternal grandmother Celia were Patrick and Mary Gannon. Mary was born in Ireland as were Patrick's parents. That means that Greifeld is a quarter Irish.

But Greifeld's mother's maiden name is Cafasso and all her grandparents were born in Italy. Therefore, Greifeld has twice as many Italian ancestors as Irish ones.

Maybe Greifeld's genealogist would find more ancestors by looking near Palermo.

To round things out, Bob Greifeld is an eighth German -- from the Harz Mountains of Saxony -- and an eighth Swedish.

~ via Genealogue