Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Frustration then a Happy Dance

I mentioned yesterday that I was meeting a lady at the library today to help her find her mother's immigration record. I don't have a lot of experience in searching passenger lists, but I figured that using the skills I've learned about name spellings, birth years, and birth places would help me out a bit. It did, but it took a while to find the right combination.

My new friend was right on time, and I was able to connect my laptop to the Internet on the library's wi-fi system (but not back in the genealogy area for some reason!). She was looking for her mother - named Katarina Lev (or Levova) from Bohemia, born in 1883 in Bohemia, and she thought that her mother immigrated in 1907, since she married Charles Sindelar in 1908 in Chicago.

We started in the Immigration databases on - using wild cards for Kat* and Lev* and didn't find any "low hanging fruit." So we looked for combinations of Kat* and Cat* and Lev*, Liv*, Lov*, Sev*, Fev*, etc., still with no matches. I then looked for Kat* and Cat* alone and added a birth date of 1883 +/- 2 years,an immigration year of 1907 +/- 1 year, and origin Bohemian and checked out all Lev* and then all Kat*, still with no matches that worked. Frustration!

I decided to look in the census records, and easily found Katie Sindelar with her husband Charlie and children in the 1920 and 1930 census in Montana - right where my friend said they were, and where she was born. The 1920 census said she immigrated in 1907 and they were both naturalized in 1913.

We were wrapping up, and I said "let me try one more thing" and input Kat* as a given name, 1883 +/- 2 years, immigration date 1907 +/- 1 year, but left out the origin - and there was a Kathi Lew who emigrated in 1907 (born in Hungary it said, but Bohemia was right below her entry), with Josef Sindelar in Fort Atkinson IA (her fiancee's brother) as the contact person who she was going to live with. Bingo! Happy dance! What a nice way to end the session.

When I got home, I searched for the Sindelar family in the 1910 census, but they seem to be well hidden. I also found Karel Sindelar's passenger list entry and his World War I draft registration card.

My friend doesn't have a computer, but her daughter does and I promised to download the images at home and email them to her daughter. The daughter can print them out. Or I can print them and mail them to my friend.

So it was a good day. Perhaps I've lit a spark in a lady interested in her Bohemian ancestry. Perhaps she'll join our society. She said "this is so much fun ..." and I agreed!

As I mentioned yesterday, doing consultations like this that help someone without much research experience to find something meaningful on the Internet, is a great way to bring new genealogy researchers into a society.


Anonymous said...

I have been doing a lot of research on my father's family. I just came across your article referencing the name LEW or LEV. I have also just found information with this name in much detail. The name that your friend was searching was not listed in the information that I currently have. Though it does show at some point in time in Bohemia/Czechoslovkia the name's spelling was changed from LEW to LEV sometime between 1825 and 1858. My information leads me from Jakub Lew father of Waclaw Lew father of Anna, Vaclav & Anezka Lev. If you still have contact with this other person in search of Lev history I would love to learn and share with them. Please contact me at Thank you for your posting!

HMS said...

Hi There-
just wondered in this post when you mentioned Karel Sindelar's "Passenger List Entry" if it was the same entry listing for my father aboard the "Castel Bianco" departing Naples, Italy
26 Sep 1949 and
arriving Sydney - Australia
24 Oct 1949. If it wasn't, it would certainly be an amazing coincidence. I hope you're not under the impression the man on that passenger listing was the same man whose draft card you also found as I don't think they're the same man. My name is Helena Sindelar, daughter of Karel Ludwig Frantisek Sindelar, born March 18th 1918 in Brno. The man (my father) on board the Castel Bianco was obviously too young to have been in WW1. It would be great to hear back from you.

HMS said...

Sorry-should leave my e-mail!-It's

Looking forward-I'm an only child with not much contact with much of my extended European family-This is fascinating!