All posts by gchaid

New Haven, Connecticut, New Jersey,North and Kershaw, South Carolina, Walker County, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Prescott, Arizona, Los Angeles and Orange, California. In Europe ancestors are from Perth, Scotland, Ulster, Ireland, Tutrakan and Popovo, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian-Macedonian Cultural Center in Homestead, Pittsburgh is a gem.

52 in 52: Week 13: The Old Homestead

House in Popovo where my grandmother stayed 1914-1921DSC_0242 2Bulgaria:Grandmother house:outside:Popovo

Bulgaria Map
Popovo, Tutrakan, Tarnavo, Varna, Sofia

This is the “old homestead” for my grandmother, Yordanka Kosta Stanchoff during the period of 1914-1921 had to live with her “in-laws.” It was an Ottoman Empire” Turkish requirement for married women whose husbands were not present. Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottomans for 500 years so Turkish rules became the norms in Bulgaria. My grandfather, Todor had left for Yakima, Washington in February of 1914. WWI began in August of 1914. My grandmother was “stuck” with the sister-in-law and family of 9 in Popovo. Yordanka was afraid to travel because troops were marching to and from battle right in front of this house. It was on a main road in Popovo, a crossroads for troops to travel to all other countries. It was a fearful time for all.  My grandmother did not often eat and went to bed hungry many nights because she wanted to keep the food for the 7 children in the family. She cried almost every day. She finally was able to grow a garden behind the house and provided food for herself and the family. This house is a museum because the oldest daughter, Mara, was like Norma Rae here in the USA. She was an advocate for textile workers. Mara tried to improve working conditions for them. Mara was hanged in 1942 by the invading Nazi and Fascist troops. Mara is a hero. Because of that, this house has been preserved all these years and made into a museum. The two remaining original pieces of furniture are the large brown chest and the blue bed. The rest is decade representative.  This house has 2 bedrooms upstairs and one large room, or a 1/2 basement below.  It was remarkable to visit where my grandmother had lived for 7 years while she waited to travel to the  USA to meet with her husband. They had married January 24, 1914 and he left for the USA by February, 1914.  The USA was in WWI from 1918-1919 but Bulgaria was in the war from 1914-1919.  It was a long time to be in fear, starving and be exposed to battle all those years.


52 in 52: Week 12 Misfortune

Forced Emigration: These pictures are from Scotland.  My son, his girlfriend and I traveled there April, 2018 to research Scottish Ancestors, the first people and the clearances.  The clearances occurred 1650-1890 as landlords threw people off the land.  People are expensive and as populations grew, the workers were no longer affordable to the landlords high lifestyle. At first, landlords paid passage for people to go to Northern Ireland (Scots-Irish), to Canada and to America.  As time when on, landlords just burned people out or as in a couple of cases, they just shot them.  At first, Scotland ignored this terrible time in history. Now, books have been written about it and there is a “Timeline” museum which tells the story. These pictures are from that museum. Various rooms are set up to show what people were leaving in their homes in Scotland. Kitchen, bedroom, work rooms are set up to show the 19th century items. People had to leave all this, pack a small bag, get on a boat and travel to a new land with no guarantees.  In the beginning, some were able to get land in America. Our country is one of immigrants from all over the world. Whatever their circumstance, moving from homeland to a new land is never easy. Our heritage  in America comes from these strong, brave people who overcame misfortune to begin a new life here.  All of us come from people who migrated here. Our beginnings are from Africa. All of our ancestors migrated out of Africa. People walked out and spread out all over the world. They overcame misfortune to make life better for the next generation. Tenacity and fortitude are our heritage from our ancestors. Bravo and thank you to them.

52 in 52: Lucky

This is a tough topic. There are many things to write about luck and none. Certainly our family is lucky in the pioneers and hardy ancestors we have. When thinking about all they had to endure to survive in past times that were not so kind in terms of medical and health issues. Moving across the Earth in many directions out of Africa through Iberia into Brittany as Celts and then developing as farmers and herders in Scotland took a lot of fortitude. Surviving capture in Cromwell’s second war in Worcester, England and then thrown into prison in London and then shipped to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1651 as a 24 year old indentured servant, had to be traumatic for our ancestor Daniel Robertson/Robins. And yet, he was lucky to be purchased by Nathaniel Foote jr, age 31 of New Haven Connecticut. In trying to put the flesh on the bones, I believe they had a relationship that was more “brotherly” than of servant and lord.  Daniel stayed 3 more years after his “servitude” ended to stay with the Foote Family, taking care of the herd as he had done in Scotland on the property of the “Duke” in Blair Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland. Daniel married one of the cousins, Hope Potter, they bought land in New Jersey territory in 1665 from an English Duke.  Hope and Daniel ended up having 9 children in Monmouth, New Jersey. Our family is lucky to have a strong and stable beginning even before we were a country. Our heritage has deep roots.fullsizeoutput_1a17

52 in 52: Strong Women

Week 10: Strong Womenfullsizeoutput_1d85fullsizeoutput_1d14

My grandfather’s niece was Mara Taseva who was an activist for textile workers in Bulgaria. She was imprisoned a number of times.  Towards the end of her life, she was imprisoned and tortured. She never gave up and was an inspiration to workers

to the end of her life. She was hanged in Popovo in about 1942 when the Facists and Nazi’s were there. She was a threat to them. She was the first woman in Bulgaria,
to be killed by the Facists and Nazis during WWII. She was considered a martyr for decades. Her story is on internet sites. There are streets, restaurants and landmarks named after her.  There is a monument for her and they keep her house as a museum in Popovo.  Pleman, the museum director,  had a lot of information about her and he takes care of the house where she lived with her family. My grandmother stayed with the family from 1914-1919 when my grandfather

came to Yakima Washington.We went to see the house when we visited Pleman and his wife in Popovo. Zack and Vera set it  up for us to visit. They had translated the letters from my grandparents during WWI. They were separated for 7 years. The first picture above is of her tape measure when she worked in Textiles. She was a strong woman, like Norma Rae, in the United States who was an activist for workers.She tried to make life better for the workers. Strong women.



52 in 52:Where There’s a Will

Week 9: Where There’s a Will, from Amy Johnson Crow
I’ve been asked if this theme means a will (as in the probate document) or will (as in being determined or strong minded). My answer is: Yes. 🙂 Use this prompt however you are inspired to. Maybe you’ve come across an interesting will. Explain it like you would to a non-genealogist. What story does it reveal? You could write about an ancestor who was determined to do something. (Or maybe you have an ancestor named Will!)
In researching our ancestor, Daniel Robertson/Robinson/Robins from Blair Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland who was an indentured servant to the Nathaniel Foote Family in New Haven Connecticut.,_Connecticut
I assumed he was purchased by the elder Nathaniel Foote.
Recently, I was able to access the probate records on the Connecticut Genealogy website:
I pictured an older gentleman who had my ancestor take care of the live stock for the family.  It turns out, by reading the will and probate records we discover Nathaniel Foote Sr. died in 1644.  When my ancestor, Daniel ended up in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1651, it was Nathaniel Foote Jr at the age of 31 who purchased Daniel who was 24 at the time.  The whole story of my ancestor changed. Daniel stayed and extra 3 years with the family after his 8 years of servitude. I had questions about why he stayed but it makes more sense knowing he and Nathaniel were closer in age.  They were probably friends.  Daniel married Hope Potter in 1663. She was one of the Foote cousins.  Daniel and Hope has 2 children in New Haven.  They purchased land from the Duke, in New Jersey territory in 1665 and moved.  Eventually, they would have a total of 9 children. Their family members would move out into the world.  Our line moved to Rutherford, North Carolina then to Walker Georgia, then to Prescott Arizona, then to Olive, Orange, California.

52 in 52: Heirloom: “The Canoe”


Most people have a small heirloom, a pair of sewing scissors, a picture, a pitcher or something small that reminds them of their ancestor.  I have a 14 foot dug-out Mahogany canoe made by Panama Native Americans in 1902.  My father “liberated” it in 1945 from a beach in Panama during WWII. It was abandoned and not in good shape.  He brought it back to California and brought it back into shape. Painted it white on the outside to protect it.  We spent many happy hours in that canoe as I was growing up.  We would take it to Catalina or to Santa Cruz Island and use it to go into caves to get lobster or abalone. Later, when my dad was in his late 80″s, he and a friend took the white paint off, and worked on bringing the original wood out to its beauty. When I moved to my new home in San Jose, a friend’s son, who does original artistic welding metal work, made the “buffet cradle” for it. It is now proudly in my living room. Guests and I enjoy having potluck meals off the buffet. It is truly unique.  Quite an heirloom and a reminder of great memories of weekends and vacations in the Channel Islands National Park.

52 in 52: Valentine


Eula Marie Stanchoff and Nathan Leo Robbins were married June 30, 1946. This is their engagement picture. My mother had moved from Yakima, Washington some years before to Oxnard, CA. She graduated from Oxnard High School, getting high marks in her studies. She began to attend, UCLA. One morning she was walking to school.

My dad had already graduated from USC with a degree in music. He played violin and viola. He played music in the movie stage orchestra to make money so he and his brother, Bill could build ‘The Island Belle.” It was a “Block Island” hull from back east: Block Island. It was a strong boat to match the challenges of  the East Coast weather.  Block Island is near Rhode Island/Connecticut area.

Back to the walk to school, my dad was driving by my mom and he stopped and asked if she wanted a ride. She accepted. Three weeks later they were engaged. Three months later they were married. They were married 61 years only parting when my dad died in 2007. That is a Valentine Story!