This is a guest post by Jennifer Holik-Urban*
My grandmother told me a story about my cousin Frankie Winkler. She said Frankie came ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 29th Infantry Division. He died on 24 June 1944 of head wounds received on D-Day. When his remains were returned to Chicago, his uncle and father viewed the remains and did not think it was Frankie. I listened to this story, took notes and left it at that. It wasn’t until many years later in my research did I seek out Frankie’s story.
When my parents traveled to Europe in late 2009 they visited a U.S. cemetery in Ardennes. They met a Marine named Michael who worked for the American Battle Monuments Commission. Being the only visitors to the cemetery that day, Michael gave them a two hour guided tour. My mom told Michael about Frankie and he told her about a military file called the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). An IDPF was created for each service man or woman who died during service. It provides information on their death, personal effects, interment overseas, some files contain letters from the family, disinterment information and reburial information.
Michael also gave her the name of the historian, Joe Balkoski, for the 29th Infantry Division in Maryland. Armed with this information she emailed me as soon as she could so I could start the process of tracking down the IDPF and contacting this historian. We both wanted to know what happened to Frankie.
I had very little information on Frankie’s military service. From his grave and the Honor Roll of Cook County I obtained his unit information. His sister provided a copy of his Purple Heart certificate and a photograph. I had his obituary and the cemetery record that indicated his burial was in 1948. He was buried in Chicago four years after he died. Why?
While MyHeritage.com was at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois, chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz had an opportunity to visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
I was part of a detailed tour of the facility with Gwen Podeschi, history reference librarian.
Opened in October 2004, the library is maintained via state funds. Its main goal is to collect and preserve family and personal (non-official) correspondence and material of Abraham Lincoln and other Illinois state personalities. It holds more than 12 million historical items including 1,100 oral histories, 2 million manuscripts and 3,000 old and contemporary maps.
Collections also include early Mormon history, anti-slavery, coal miners’ accidents, train accidents and the 1893 World Colombian Exposition.
The library is home to the largest Lincoln documents database and such items as the documents of trials in which Lincoln was involved. The legal collection is fascinating as it also preserves the lists of juries in every case tried. If your relatives lived in Springfield, this can be a good resource as they may have served on one of those juries.
The law practice collection is not open to the public, but librarians are more than happy to help visitors find the information they seek. Appointments are suggested, and the collection is searchable via the Internet.
In this very informative video, John Deeben, Archives Specialist at The National Archives in Washington DC, describes how compiled military service records can be used for genealogical research. Using some great examples of past genealogical research, John shows how even the most amateur genealogist can benefit from microfilm, textual and digital records.
This video is part of the National Archives' Know Your Records program.
MyHeritage.com's resident experts have mapped out their speaking stops and conference appearances over the next few months.
Both Daniel Horowitz and Schelly Talalay Dardashti will be speaking at RootsTech. A week later, they - along with UK genealogy advisor Laurence Harris - will speak at the "Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE" family history fair in London.
We're all looking forward to greeting MyHeritage users, and encourage you to drop by the MyHeritage booth to say hello, or attend other events in your community.
For the detailed list of locations and talks by Daniel and Schelly in the US, UK and Canada , click to see this post on the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog.
Do people have trouble saying or spelling it?
If so, you might enjoy this post that appeared earlier this month in the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog.
They look at your name, stammer, and ask "how do you say that?" What do you do?
Do you patiently spell it several times? Will you, as I often do, spell it out as in "D as in David, A as in Apple, R as in Robert".........
Do you break the name down into syllables for the other person? Do you give up and say, "Call me by my first name!"
People look at DARDASHTI and their eyes glaze over. "Is that two Ds and two As?" asks the person on the phone or in a store. I usually break it into three syllables: Dar-dash-ti. For TALALAY, strangers usually put the accent on the wrong syllable, and say Tah-LAY-lee, instead of TAH-lah-lie. To confuse matters, one family branch uses TALALAY in English, but pronounces it Tah-la-lay.