I’ve gotten sucked down the rabbit hole again this week. It started when I saw a patient in my office with the same last name. We talked about possible relatives for a bit, and when I got home, he had sent me an extensive genealogy of his family. It turns out that his grandfather and my grandfather were brothers.

I had been on for a while, but gave it up a few years ago. Well, this spurred me on to get to work.

So far I’ve traced the Meske side of my family (Meske is my birth surname) back several generations, to my great great great grandfather in one branch, and 5 times great grandfather in another, he was born in 1712 in Germany.

We haven’t known much about my mom’s side of the family past her parents and grandparents. I was able to find the ship manifesto from when they came to this country in 1905. They were the last of the family to come over, It was my grandfather Johann, grandmother Josefin, daughter Antonina, and another daughter Gladys, who is on the ship log as Wladyslawa, I think. It’s hard to read. She was 14, and a big line was drawn through her name, with a notation that says “trachoma”. She was not admitted, and was sent back to Europe. Can you imagine that? We had heard this story before, but had not seen paper documentation of it previously. No one in the family knows what happened to her.

Here is a photo of the document.

Johann Podensky

Click on that to make it bigger. Their names are right where that dark horizontal line sits. One of the challenges of finding relatives is that a lot of names got changed when they came to this country. And there may have been multiple alternate spellings in old birth records and baptisms, etc.

I just need more hours in my day. I’m still knitting, but everything looks about the same, so no new photos.



Ancestors — 5 Comments

  1. I find genealogy fascinating but cannot trace ancestry back very far. Many Chinese families in the villages burned the ancestry books as a safety precaution when the communists were advancing through China.

  2. Going down that rabbit hole is something I would really like to do. One of my husband’s aunts traced his paternal side of the family to coming over to the US in the 1600s.

  3. That is so exciting! I get sucked down that rabbit hole occasionally, genealogy can be so much fun! I also have some Chinese ancestry that is going to be a challenge to trace.

  4. On one of those genealogy TV shows Yo-Yo Ma traced his family way back, like maybe a thousand years. In some village in China they found really old ancestry books. Then they had an actor on with Mexican ancestry who had a Chinese immigrant in his tree in the 19th century and it turned out he was a distant cousin of Yo-Yo Ma. Fun! Those Ma’s get around.
    I have a cousin who traced my father’s family a ways back from the village of Leer on the border of Germany and Holland. German speaking, but below sea level with windmills. My great grandfather made porcelain stoves. You make a fire in one end and close the door. The whole thing heats up, warms the room, and the other end is a bench where you can sit and warm up your butt. Good solution for a windy, wet, cold, miserable North Sea wind swept climate.
    Julie in San Diego where we had single digit humidity for a few weeks (hence the fires) and my sinuses are killing me. 27% today, so they should calm down soon. One day we had 2%!

  5. Someone in my very extended family made a family tree back in the 1970s or 1980s that traces our branch of the family back to its beginning in 1498 in Switzerland. (I did a blog post about the origin story here: Since I have little interest in exploring genealogy that was enough for me. But I understand the detective urge 🙂