Week 6 52 in 52: Favorite Name

Hmmm. Should I go  for the most used: William.? Maybe the most unusual, Jordanka? The most “fractured” or mis-pronounced in the 1930 census: Eula: Arla. My favorite character on the pedigree tree is “Mattie.” She is my paternal grandmother. Her last name is Kelsey and she is the key person to my DAR Patriot. Thomas Kelsey. By following her line, and proving the relationships required by DAR, I was able to join the Santa Clara Chapter of DAR. Being in that active group and contributing to all the Vet programs has proved to be educational and heartwarming.  Checking out the Facebook page for that chapter will give a picture of the contributions of this chapter.  Mattie Kelsey’s line went back to 1633 when George Kelsey emigrated to the new land from East of London.

I am sure there are many stories in the Kelsey line as there have ben in others.

You can see Mattie here on the far left, in this Christmas, 1947 picture. I am the baby in the arms of my Aunt Clara. She had blue hair later (blue rinse.) She used to drive here “old ladies” to dance at the Lawrence Welk shows. She lived in Hemet. My mom, Eeula Marie is in the front center. My grandfather Nathan is behind Mattie and my uncle Bill is behind my mom and Aunt Clara. Clara is the youngest of the Robbins brothers and sisters



52 in 52: #5 What’s in the Census?

Bulgaria:group in the Forest, Yakima Washington 1933?img166.jpgIn researching ancestors and using the census, I always marvel at the misspellings of names. My mother, Eula, was Arla in several census reports. Also fascinating and revealing are the names of neighbors which usually are other members of the family, siblings or cousins living nearby.  That often happened with immigrants living near each other to preserve culture and language.  My mother’s parents lived in a Bulgarian community in Yakima, Washington (Porter the census said). It was a Native American Reservation. The Federal Government often used Native American lands for incoming immigrants. Periodically, this group of Bulgarians would meet on a Sunday, in the Forest for a picnic. My grandmother, Yordanka, is in the first picture and is second left with the hat on her head. Grandfather, Todor is second from the right. In the second picture, Yordanka and Todor are on the right. These pictures were taken about 1930-33.

52 in 52 #4 What ancestors would you invite to dinner?

On the maternal Bulgarian side it would be interesting to talk to the entire family on both sides. My grandfather was a truck farmer in Yakima, Washington, arriving in Ellis Island in March of 1914. He was on a train immediately for Yakima. It would be interesting to know why he came to the USA and why he never went back to Bulgaria even though his family and my grandmother’s begged him to return. WWI started in August, 1914 and my grandmother was stuck living with the sister-in-law and their 7 children. Food was scarce during the war 1914-1919 in Bulgaria. My grandmother went to bed hungry on many nights, saving the food for the children. She learned to grow a garden for her and the family and things got better. Soldiers marched past the house where they lived.  It was a scary time. The house is a folk museum now and still there in great shape as a museum.  I got to walk through it. It is included in my photo gallery. It would be interesting to talk to my grandmother’s brothers who were all in WWI and came back. One of them started an egg business and made a lot of money. I would like to talk to my great grandmother and find out why my grandmother married my grandfather. I suspect it was an arranged marriage. They were 24 when they married in January 1914 and my grandfather left in February, 1914 for the United States at the encouragement of a cousin. Life was not easy in Yakima. They were poor. It was the depression. The story of their lives during those years was painful and we never learned much until I started doing genealogy and ready the letters left form over 100 years ago. I would like the conversation around a table of fresh grilled meats, salads, yogurt and fresh baked bread.  Bulgarians are the best farmers and bakers in the world. My favorite is marble rye.  Bulgarians that came into Pittsburg ended up in Homestead in the steel mills but they soon began their own bakeries. In an 8 block area, there were 33 Bulgarian Bakeries, each making a specialized bread. My favorite is marble rye. The Carnegie Museum Cafe has the best! In Pittsburgh, there are over 75 ethnicities represented. It is delight to visit that city. The Bulgarian-Macedonian Cultural Center is in Homestead. It is one of the few cultural centers in the United States that owns its own building. They teach Bulgarian, folk dancing and have many events in the center. They rent it out to other organizations. They also make the best Bulgarian soup. They sell it on Saturdays. It is a wonderful contribution to all those hard working people who don’t have time to cook! People love the variety of soups. Here is the url for the Center. Enjoy browsing the site and checking out the soup menu. Yum!        http://bmnecc.org/

30 January 2018, The Pittsburg Gazette published an article about Patricia Penka French and how the Bulgarian Cultural Center was started by her mother. Penka helped me understand Bulgaria before I traveled there with my son on a genealogical trip to find records in the Museum in Popovo. The genealogist director of the museum gave us a tour and showed us the records for my grandfather and great grandfather. He had saved the birth/baptismal records from the church for the 1800’s. The renovation workers were going to throw them out! Enjoy the article about Penka. She is a marvel, a treasure, a gem. Her service to the community has been remarkable. Bravo, Penka!




Poems by Pulitzer Prize winning Mary Oliver


Mary Oliver

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver
The Swan
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

52 in 52 Week 3: Longevity

Longevity: How far can we go back in genealogy? FTDNA gives us this answer:

How many generations back does mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing trace?

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing covers both recent and distant generations.

  • Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years.
  • Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight generations. That is about 700 years.
  • Matching on the Mitochondrial DNA Full Genomic Sequence test brings your matches into times that are more recent. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5 generations. That is about 125 years.

Mitochondrial DNA testing at Family Tree DNA also includes haplogroup testing. Your haplogroup represents your ancestral origins.  (FTDNA)

The earliest migrations and expansions of archaic and modern humans across continents began 2 million years ago with the migration out of Africa of Homo erectus. This was followed by the migrations of other pre-modern humans including H. heidelbergensis, the likely ancestor of both anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals. Finally, the recent African origin paradigm suggests that Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa around 100,000 years ago, spread across Asia approximately 60,000 years ago, and subsequently populated other continents and islands.

Knowledge of early human migrations, a major topic of archeology, has been achieved by the study of human fossils, occasionally by stone-age artifacts and more recently has been assisted by archaeogenetics. Cultural and ethnic migrations are estimated by combining archaeogenetics and comparative linguistics.  (Wikipedia)

For myself, I tested in 2011 with National Geographic. It was in the beginning of DNA testing. National Geographic, like Ancestry does not keep the samples and I was not able to get the full range of possibilities that are available today. It did give the Haplogroups. The migration route out of Africa where we all began, is pictured in this gallery. LONGEVITY. Yes, recently, I have also tested with FTDNA and 23 and Me. These companies keep the samples so I can upgrade. My parent’s engagement picture is there also. They were married 60 years. LONGEVITY. My son and I were able to travel to Bulgaria to research our maternal line. It goes back 45,000 years with ancestors along the Danube River where my grandmother was born. LONGEVITY. All the pictures in the gallery here are examples of longevity. Some are in Bulgaria, the maternal line and some in Scotland which is representative of my paternal Scottish lines. The photos represent the journey of our ancestors from the beginning of time, throughout the history of Europe and eventually emigration to America. For our paternal line, our ancestor from Scotland, born in 1627 in Blair Athol, Scotland. Daniel Robertson Robins was shipped from England as a prisoner in Cromwell’s Worcester Battle, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1651 as an indentured servant at age 24. He served his time with the Nathaniel Foote family in New Haven, Connecticut, stayed 3 more years with them and married Hope Potter, one of the cousins. They moved to New Jersey and had a total of 9 children. We are part of the descendants of this line. Our maternal line is represented by the Bulgarian photos. Our maternal grandfather emigrated to Yakima, Washington in 1914. WWI started in that year and our grandmother could not emigrate to America until 1921. It was a long hard time for her to be stuck in Bulgaria. Our grandparents survived that hardship and descendants thrive today. LONGEVITY.


Week 2 of 52 Weeks of Ancestors: Photo

Week two of the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks is to attach a photo and write about it.Where did we find the photo?  What information do we know about it.The photo is of my maternal grandmother, Jordanka,  Her real name is Alexandria but she had three brothers and the oldest was named Alexander. It is common in Bulgaria, according to our translators, Zack and Vera, that women would use Jordanka as an alternative name.  My grandparents were married in January of 1914 but my grandfather, Todor, left a month later to travel to the United States. He had a cousin who convinced him to move.  My grandmother was supposed to follow but WWI started in August of 1914 and it became too dangerous for her to travel at that time. Soldiers were marching to a destination in front of her house which was a main road.  It was terrifying. Because the Ottoman Empire had ruled for 500 years, the culture was such that the rules were, if a woman was married, and the husband was not there, the wife had to live with in-laws.  The photo of the house is where my grandmother had to live with her sister-in-law, her husband and their 7 children. There wasn’t any food during the war so many nights she would go to bed hungry. She eventually put in a garden in the back for the family and at least they all had vegetables to eat. My grandmother’s letters, written in Cyrillic and translated by Vera, were letters of  loneliness and sadness. She wanted Todor to return to Bulgaria to her but he never did. She was finally able to travel in 1921 and joined him in Yakima, Washington where other Bulgarians had been sent by the government. Many immigrants were sent to Native American Reservations. The picture shows my grandmother in her best outfit. She had the same coat 20 years later. It was well made. I was told that in Europe, the houses were painted, but in the USA, this was a typical picture of a house with bare boards and not painted. It is a typical western house.  My grandmother’s ticket on the Cunard Line was $5.00 to NYC, Ellis Island. The travel route from Bulgaria to Yakima was by train, ship, train. When my grandfather left, he and Jordanka were both 24 years. They were 31 when they were reunited. My aunt was born in 1922. Another daughter, was born in 1924 but she died within 2 months. My mother was born a year later. In 1934, my grandmother jumped into the Yakima River and perished. She was 40 years old. I think she had depression from low Thyroid. My mother had the condition. I had two friends that had it also and they both felt suicidal because of the fatigue, confusion and horrible feelings of constant exhaustion. Jordanka’s daughters were just 9 and 12. It was so sad for them to lose their mother. Todor managed to move with the girls to Ventura County, CA and they continued to live there. The girls graduated from high school, went to college, married and had families. It is a success story generations later. Jordanka and Todor would be proud of their descendants. Immigrants are so strong, to move, make a new life, overcome language difficulties and raise families. I give them a lot of credit for being so strong.

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