Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have You Had a Serendipity Moment with Your Research?

My Serendipity Moment
  Serendipity is a word that is fun to say. Like the character of Penny on the television series The Big Bang Theory, she liked saying "schnapps." I like saying serendipity particularly since it is essential in this significant discovery. 

by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
noun: the occurrence and development of events 

     I used the word serendipity in a prior post to describe how I found the death date and burial location of my great grandfather Johan.

                              The story of this serendipity begins here.

Johan and his second wife Marianne

* Johan was married twice.
* Johan had 6 children: five daughters and one son.
* Other children did not survive.
* Two daughters and one son came to America.
* Johan traveled back and forth from Croatia to America.
* When in America Johan lived in Baltimore MD, Reb Lake MN, 
    and Hand County SD near his daughters.

* In the recent blog post "What Was Your Spark to Your Passion" I referred to what I call sidestepping in research. I sidestepped from my grandmother Anna Marie to her half sister Katherine. I used Katherine's life information to research their father Johan. 
Johan at top, Katherine in middle and Anna at bottom of chart

* In Katherine's documents I found 2 newspaper clippings to which I had not paid much attention.  
* The first clipping mentioned that Katherine visited her brother in law Josef in a small town in Ontario, Canada. 

* Katherine left Yugoslavia before Teresa married Josef.
* She never met her brother in law.
* Teresa, Josef's second wife, remained in Yugoslavia.
* Josef moved to Canada (no information whether Teresa came to Canada.)

Katherine's visit to Ontario, Canada to meet Josef

* A second clipping told of sisters from Germany visiting Josef in Canada. 
*These sisters, Eva and Teresia, were daughters of Josef and Teresia. 
*This clipping mentioned the surname we will identify as "H"  for privacy reasons who lived in this small town in Ontario, Canada.

Teresia and Josef's daughters from Germany visit Josef in Canada.

* I sent postal queries "shotgun style" to a few "H" families in the small town in Ontario, Canada
* One of my letters was forwarded to an "H" who was a  relative.
Subsequent information netted me this information:
* The name and address of cousin Teresia in Munich, Germany, daughter of Teresia.
* The address of cousin Franjo of Zagreb, Croatia, grandson of Elizabeth and
* The confirmation that Teresa and Elizabeth were daughters of Johan.
Chart of Johan's daughters Teresia and Elizabeth

In 2012, I visited Munich, Germany and met 88 year old cousin Teresia.  
* With her boxes of photos laid out on the kitchen table we verified our relationship. She showed me the photo of Marianne, her mother,  who was my great aunt.
* I brought a copy of the same photo from America.
* Teresia had no information about Johan.

Cousin Teresia in Munich, Germany
 In 2013 I visited Croatia and met cousin Franjo and his family. 
Franjo's grandmother was Elizabeth. He verified the connection of his grandmother to Katherine and thus to my grandmother. 

Cousin Franjo in Zagreb, Croatia

* We sat at Franjo's kitchen table and drew out a rough family tree.
* Franjo had no additional information about Johan.

I take a moment here to mention Marion another of Johan's daughters. This daughter married and remained in Europe.  She  played a significant role in my hunt for Johan's information. 

Read on...


   A representative of a German Bank was in contact with Franjo  conducting research on Marion's estate. 
* Franjo mentioned to the representative that an American cousin, me, was researching Marion's family.
* In March 2015, the bank representative working on the estate  contacted me asking certain questions about our family members.
*  I wrote back the answers to his questions. 
*  I also asked a few questions of my own.

   In the give and take of emails between us, the bank representative provided me with the death date and burial location of Johan.

And finally here is the original document...

Original document of Johan death in Palesnik, Croatia

 And here is its translation...
 Johan's death certificate translated by German bank translators
  The bank representative's continued work on this case has provided me with additional documents and sources.


  Tell me about your serendipity moment. 



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