Sunday, July 15, 2018

Genealogy On The Road #3 - Finding Ancestors in Antique Shops

Welcome back to Genealogy On the Road!

I just returned from another trip to Western New York for work. My latest adventure was doing some shopping at one of the local antique shops in Corning, NY. I've been to a few shops over the last year and bought a few treasures along the way, some of which I'll highlight here.

Outside entrance of local antique shop (one of my favorites!) in Corning, NY



There are a number of things that you can find in an antique shop that may be of interest to you.

1. Photographs

I was amazed at the different types of photographs left "orphaned" in the stores. I even found a wedding picture (below), which made me sad that a family didn't want to keep in their family photo collection.


Wedding Picture - Unidentified Couple. Found in Corning, NY Antique Shop. 


I plan on starting to date them and hopefully re-unite them with a descendant. I'll be posting these photos on sites like deadfred.com. If you have any clues on possible descendants, please contact me at shamrockgenealogist[at]gmaill[dot]com.

2. Military Antiques

I feel like I'm finding a gold mine when I can locate military antiques such as medals and pins. These items are tied to specific wars and sometimes specific regiments. Imagine holding a medal like one that your ancestor was given for their service?
Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal (WWII)
3.  Miscellaneous Documents

One of the latest documents I found was a memorial card for a young man who died at the age of 19 years old, Reuben Stiles.  This would be something that would be created for a church service. The back of the memorial card says Geo Mitchell, Manufacturer of Fine Memorial Cards in Middletown, Ohio. One might think that the person died near Middletown, Ohio but we need to remember it was found in an antique shop in Steuben County, NY.  We can't discount where it was found.

Reuben Stiles Memorial Card 1893, Steuben County, NY
I did a search on Ancestry.com to see if I can find Reuben Stiles and I think I located him. He was the son of Albert Stiles and Nancy Leach, born on November 19, 1873. This birth date matches up perfectly when compared to the age on the memorial card which lists his date of death as November 16, 1893 where he was listed age 19 years, 11 months, 27 days. A mere 3 days before his 20th birthday. According to his Find a Grave memorial, he was buried in Chenango Cemetery in Troupsburg, Steuben County. I'm confident that I will find a descendant of the Stiles family who would like to add this to their collection.

Frank B. Hower Scottish Rite Cathedral Consecration and Dedication Booklet
I also found a small booklet for the consecration and dedication of the "Frank B. Hower Scottish Rite Cathedral" in Corning, NY in 1921. It includes several pictures and a history on the project. The masonic temple was closed in September 2005 and items were auctioned off to make room for a smaller facility. I wonder if this booklet was one of the items auctioned off and sold to the antique shop. Or perhaps a former member's collection was donated after they passed. I will be doing some research and following up with local archives in Steuben County to see if they would like this part of their collection. I think it's a very valuable document for local history as well as genealogy for members that helped found the masonic temple.

Here are my tips to make the most of your time in the antique shop:

1. Be prepared to spend some time poking through the shelves. Some of the biggest finds were items that I found tucked away from the clothes, hats, and toys that were for sale.

2. Bring cash - a lot of store owners will appreciate cash (less fees for credit/cards).

3. Buy some orphaned photos - they are usually a few dollars each and you may be able to reunite with a family member

4. Make friends with the owners - a lot of them are interested in history and genealogy!

What kinds of treasures have you found at an antique shop? Did you strike gold with finding something that belonged to one of your ancestors? Share in the comments below.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Chasing Great Grandfather Anton Gailunas Across the Ocean

I've been on the hunt to find out more about my maternal great grandfather Anton Gailunas. If you've been following me on Twitter, I have been sharing some of my recent findings while reviewing ship manifest records. My grandmother has asked me to assist in finding out more about why he left for America and left his mother and father behind, to help fill in his immigration story.

Here's what I knew about Anton when I first started researching: He was known to others in the family as "Eddie Gail" and was a jewelry engraver.  He was born on August 23rd. His wife's name was Mollie. 

One of the first documents I found was his petition for citizenship.  That's how I found his birth name "Anton Gailunas". He is listed with my great grandmother Mollie (whose birth name was Mathilde Siegel) as well as my grandmother, Dorothy, living at 467 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY. Anton listed he was born in Riga, Latvia. This has been a subject of debate as several census records list his birth country as Lithuania. 

I knew I found his naturalization petition for the following reasons:

1. Lists his name in America that family knew him as (Eddie Gail)
2. My grandmother is listed along with his wife Mathilde (and I have reviewed her citizenship petition)
3. Occupation of engraver is correct
4. Brooklyn, NY address was confirmed with my grandmother
5. One of the witnesses was Rose Lubinsky (sister-in-law to Anton, Mathilde's sister)

Anton's Declaration of Intention (with picture!)

Anton's Petition for Citizenship


After confirming the petition was accurate, I went one page ahead and found the declaration of intention and found a picture of him listed. The declaration also listed Mathilde's maiden name "Siegal" and her name she was known as in America "Mollie". His description was listed: blue eyes, brown hair, 5'5" tall, 145 pounds with a birth mark on right side of neck near jowel. Address was listed at 374 2nd St, Brooklyn, NY. 

Recently, I was researching his immigration to America. I found a 1915 ship manifest record that showed an Anton Gailunas listed as a sailor heading to NY from Hull, England (which is where Anton was listed as sailing from on his petition for citizenship). However, what was significant about this record is that the line is crossed out. In speaking with other genealogists, this indicates that Anton probably didn't make the boat and was struck out to keep an accurate record of crew members.


1915 Ship Manifest for S.S. Novgorod - shows Anton Gailunas' record crossed out


I went back to the petition for naturalization and focused on looking for the ship manifest for the S.S. Northwestern Bridge arriving in New Orleans on April 26, 1920. No records came up. I was stumped - did they not survive? Then recently several of my genealogist friends pointed out it was probably a merchant ship (similar to the 1915 manifest). One of my good friends found the ship manifest record for the Northwestern Bridge. The name wasn't very precise but that looks to be Anton listed as "A. Golnar". His rank was listed as "A.B.", able seaman.

1920 Ship Manifest Arriving in New Orleans from England - A. Golnar appears to be my great grandfather

What's next to find about Anton?

1. Ship manifest from Latvia (or nearest port) to England. I did find a possible manifest from the Hamburg passenger list record. I need to review this document further.

2. Research his father a bit further and see if I can find any details about him in Riga. It might necessitate an email to the archives there to see if they can find anything.

3. Research more about Anton's employment as an engraver in the U.S.

If you think you may be related to Anton, please contact me at shamrockgenealogist[at]gmail.com. I would love to connect with Gailunas relatives.