Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yum Yum Christmas!

Christmas is coming and everybody wants a new recipe for a delicious dish.  I have a couple of good ones for you--I have made both of them, and they are really good.
The first is a gingerbread cake that is out of this world.  I found it in the New York Times last month and made it for Thanksgiving.  It was a big hit, and I made it again.  Again it was great.

Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

  • Time1 1/2 hours plus cooling
  • Yield8 to 10 servings

Photo:  Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times 


  • 2 cups/8 ounces/266 grams fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 stick/4 ounces/113 grams unsalted butter
  • cup/133 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters whole milk
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters maple syrup
  • ¼ cup/60 milliliters molasses
  • 1 ½ cups/185 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon/5 grams ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon/1 gram ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon/3 grams baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon/3 grams kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon/1 gram baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon/14 grams grated fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch square or round baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together cranberries, granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir the cranberries over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and cranberries form a sauce that is syrupy and bubbling thickly, about 10 minutes. Aim to have about half the cranberries broken down, with the remainder more or less whole.
  3. In a separate saucepan, stir together the butter, brown sugar, milk, maple syrup and molasses over medium heat. Bring it to just barely a simmer and then remove it from the heat. Do not let it come to a boil, or the mixture may curdle.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda and black pepper. Beat in the butter-maple syrup mixture and then beat in the eggs. Stir in the ginger.
  5. Scrape the batter into the pan. Drop fat dollops of cranberry sauce onto the surface of the cake batter. Drag a long, slender knife through the batter in a swirly design, as if you are marbling a cake. Transfer the cake to the oven and bake it until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire baking rack and let the cake cool completely before eating it.
One note:  It was suggested in the comments that a 9 inch spring form pan, instead of the 9x9 inch square pan would work well in this recipe.  I tried it, and liked the cake better baked in the spring form pan.

Chocolate almond shortbread
The second recipe of from the Chicago Tribune, and is for chocolate almond shortbread.  Another winner, in fact this recipe won  second prize in the Chicago Tribune Cookie contest in 2012. I found that these cookies are easy to make and come out crisp and delicious.  I chose to make the cookies using a star shape cookie cutter.

Chocolate almond shortbread
Second place: Betty Koenig
Prep: 45 minutes
Chill: 30 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 dozen cookies
"I love that they're not too sweet, and they seem like they'd be a really good dunker," Angel Food Bakery owner and pastry chef Stephanie Samuels says of Betty Koenig's chocolate almond shortbread cookies. In testing, we found the dough rolled out better when chilled for at least 30 minutes.

4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond meal or very finely ground unblanched almonds
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond meal or very finely ground unblanched almonds

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer. Add the vanilla and salt; beat or mix to blend. On low speed, add the flour, cocoa and almond meal, mixing well.

2. Divide into 3 pieces; wrap in plastic wrap and chill, 30 minutes. Roll out dough, one piece at a time, on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters; transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

3. Bake, in batches if necessary, until slightly firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool on racks. Store in airtight containers. Can be frozen for months.

Nutrition information per serving: 133 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 26 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Monday, December 7, 2015

Where Were You on December 7, 1941?

Today is the 74th  anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, an event which brought the United States into World War 2.  This event changed profoundly changed the lives of all Americans.

Where was I?  I wasn't born until 1946,  but my parents were adults, their answers to the question were:
My father was at home recovering from a hangover--he attended a party at the University of Minnesota Graduate Students Club the night before.
My mother was at church, where she was every Sunday.
My in-laws had been married since October, 1941, my father-in-law was at a Chicago Bears Football Game, held in those days at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
My mother-in-law was at home.

To people in my generation--the  life changing event was the assassination of President Kennedy.  The question for us was "Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated?"
I was visiting a college in Pittsburgh, PA.  I thought it was a joke--for a few seconds.
My husband was in a class at school, the students in his class had the same reaction as I did.

To young adults, the life-changing event was 911 and the question is "Where were you when you heard about 911?"
I was teaching a class at school, another teacher came in and told me what happened.  I turned my radio on, and the story was confirmed.  My lesson plan was trashed and we spent the rest of the class listening to the radio.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Yum Yum Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins at sunset Sunday December 6, 2015.  Hanukkah, like other Jewish holidays involves celebrating with family and eating special  holiday foods.
In the United States, it is favorite holiday of many Jews for many reasons; the fun, the  giving of gifts and the food.

Although it is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, it has become a very important Jewish holiday in the United States.  Hanukkah is a happy holiday, commemorating an historical event, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C.E.  The Syrian king Antiocchus Epiphanes sent soldiers to Jerusalem, abolished Judaism, giving Jews  the choice: convert or die. On the 25 day of the month of Kislev, a group of Jews, led by the Maccabees family, although greatly outnumbered, defeated Antiochus's army in two decisive battles.  Now that the Jewish people controlled Jerusalem again, they proceeded to rededicate the Temple.  The ner tamid, the eternal light, was rekindled, using oil from the only remaining jar of oil.  Normally, a jar of oil lasts for only one day, but this jar lasted for eight.
The holiday lasts for eight days  and is centered around lighting the Hanukkiah, a candelabra with eight branches and a shamash, the candle used to light the others.  Special foods are served and gifts are exchanged.  Many of the foods are cooked in oil, a way to remember the miraculous oil that lasted for eight days.

In my family, three foods are always served: brisket, latkes and sweet and sour meatballs.  I am sharing the family recipes for two of these delicious dishes, sweet and sour meatballs and brisket.
My sister-in-law, Sheila helped me write out the recipes, since the cooks in the family prepared these foods from memory.

Sheila’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

A delicious appetizer for Hanukkah or any holiday.

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs
½ tsp dried garlic powder
½ cup matzo meal
1 ½ to 2 cups water

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
½ onion, chopped
1 C. brown sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 to ½ tsp sour salt (citric acid)*Add this to taste, since it is very sour.
salt and pepper

1.     In a large bowl, mix ground beef, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper and matzo meal together, until combined.  You should be able to roll a small ball from the meat mixture—if not, add more matzo meal until the meatballs hold together.
2.     Roll the meat mixture into small balls and set aside.
3.     Add about 1 ½ cups water to a 4 quart pot.
4.     Add onions and tomato sauce. 
5.     Heat until the mixture comes to a low boil
6.     Drop the meatballs into the water. Some may fall apart, this adds to the flavor of the sauce.
7.     Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 5-10 minutes
8.     Add the brown sugar, lemon juice and sour salt.
9.     Continue to simmer for 10 more minutes on a low heat.
10.  Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sour Salt can be found in Kosher grocery stores, or in grocery stores that sell kosher foods. It is also available online from The Spice

Tasty and Easy Beef Brisket
1 3-4 pound beef brisket, flat cut with extra fat trimmed off. You can ask the butcher to do this for you.
1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1 onion chopped
1 bottle beer, any kind. You can use red wine in place of the beer.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. Heat a large frying pan and brown the brisket on both sides, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Remove the brisket and put in a roasting pan.
  3. Cover the brisket with the chopped onion.
  4. Pour the entire bottle of chili sauce over the brisket.
  5. Add the beer to the pan.
  6. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, making sure that you have a good seal.
  7. Put into preheated oven and bake for about 2 1⁄2- 3 hours until tender. Stick it with a
    fork to test for tenderness.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the meat rest for about 10 minutes. The meat
    should be very tender, almost to the point of falling apart.
  9. Save the pan sauce, separate the fat from the sauce, discarding the fat. Add salt and
    pepper to sauce to taste. Keep the sauce warm in a small sauce pan.
  10. Slice the brisket against the grain.
  11. Serve the meat with the sauce.

Friday, November 13, 2015

World War One Memorials in Chicago: The Elks National Memorial

The Elks Memorial in 1926, the year of its dedication.

One of the most magnificent war memorials in the United States is the Elks National Memorial in Chicago, Illinois. The domed building was built by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, an organization committed to providing charitable services and building stronger communities. It is located across the street from Lincoln Park and a short distance from Lake Michigan.

The building, dedicated in 1926 is a "Tribute to the bravery, loyalty and dedication of the thousands of Elks who have fought and died for our country."

After World War One, there was a strong desire on the part of Elks members to build a memorial to members who died in the Great War.  In 1920, the Grand Lodge of the Elks med to plan and design the monument.  They decided to hold a competition to select an architect to design the monument.  Edgerton Swarthout, a New York architect was the winner.  Construction was begun in 1923 and the building War was dedicated on July 14, 1926 to the "memory of the more than 1,000 Elks who lost their lives in World War One."

The beaux arts style domed building was built from marble,  granite and limestone, with sculptures and paintings decorating the interior. The art works were inspired by the Four Cardinal Virtues of the Elks, charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity. The scupltures are by Adolph Weinman, James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser. Paintings and murals are by Edwin Blashfield and Eugene Savage.

Brotherly Love and Fidelity are two of the Four Cardinal Virtues of the Elks.

Inside the Memorial Rotunda of the Elks Memorial. Sculptures representing the Four Cardinal Virtues of the Elks are on the first level, 12 allegorical murals illustrating The Beatitudes by Edward Savage  are on the second level.

"They Shall Inherit the Earth"
"Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven"
"They Shall Obtain Mercy"

"They Shall See God"

The Grand Reception Room  
"The Armistice", painting in the Grand Reception Room
'Paths of Peace" in the Grand Reception Room

The building was rededicated in 1946 after World War 2 , and 1976 in memory of Korean War and Viet Nam War members.  It is also the national headquarter of the Elks.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Kristallnacht: One Boy's Story revisited.

Monday, November 9 is the seventy-seventh anniversary of Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Holocaust.  This post is in remembrance of the night that changed life for Jews in Germany and Europe.

Late in the afternoon in Trier Germany,  November 9, 1938, there was a bang on the door on the Klepper home.  Outside were 5-6 young men in their late teens and early twenties who pushed Otille Klepper aside and barged in. Her husband wasn't home, she was with her small son and their maid Anna.   The men were armed with large sticks and tire irons.  As they pushed past Frau Klepper, they hit the mirror of the hall tree, just inside the front door and shattered it.  Frau Klepper grabbed her five year old son, Manfred and ran out the back door, down the stairs and into the cellar.  They were joined by Anna and the upstairs neighbors. Otille locked the cellar door from the inside, and waited.

The Klepper family about 1934.   Otille, Manfrred, Charlotte and Moritz.

Kristallnacht, November 9 and 10, 1938, the night of the broken glass, marked the beginning of the Holocaust.  On the night of November 9, gangs of young men broke into and destroyed the homes of Jewish families all over Germany. On November 10, Jewish Temples and businesses were destroyed.

Manfred,  known today as Manny, heard the furniture being thrown around and glass breaking in their home for what seemed like hours.  The noise let up for a few minutes then the gang went up the stairs and destroyed the neighbor's home.  After about 40-45 minutes, the noise stopped.    Frau Klepper and her neighbor unlocked the door and went upstairs.  When they entered the Klepper home, she exclaimed, "Our place is a total disaster and so is our neighbors."    The floor was covered with broken glass and dishes, not a single dish was left.  Their dining room  buffet had glass doors, which were shattered, the drawers were pulled out and the silverware was dumped on the floor.   The furniture was broken, the beds were ripped apart, Glass shelves in the bedroom were torn down and the china and glass figurines were thrown on the floor and smashed to pieces. Nothing  was usable. The Klepper home was uninhabitable.

Shortly after the noise stopped, there was a knock on the back door. Mrs Klepper slowly opened the door and saw four nuns from the Convent behind the Klepper's home. As she let them in, they said that they had heard the noise, and wondered what happened. They took a look around and left. Soon  four more nuns came in with brooms, shovels and buckets.  Manny's mother, her neighbor and the nuns began to clean up the mess.  It took them all night and part of the next day to clear out the debris from the two homes.  Manny and the neighbor children stayed in the cellar while the cleanup was taking place.  When the  two places were cleaned up, the nuns brought  food and new dishes for the families.

Trier is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The Porta Negra is an ancient Roman building in Trier.

Manfred Klepper,  Manny, as he is known today, was born in Trier on November 18, 1931.  He lived with his family Mering, a small village outside of Trier, where they owned a general store. Most of his family was in the farming business, one side of the family raised cattle, the other side owned vineyards. 
In 1937, Manny and his parents moved into to Trier. They lost their business to the Nazis, so they moved in with the grandparents. Since the Nazi party and Hitler took control of Germany in 1933, life for the Jews became difficult.  There were boycotts of Jewish businesses and Jewish people were continually harassed.  In 1937, a large Nazi Rally was held in Trier making their  situation more and more dangerous.   The Kleppers had relatives in the United States, so they decided to  leave  Germany and come to America.  But US foreign policy made it difficult for Jews to get permission to immigrate and it often took a long time to get the paper work together.  Manny's grandparents' and sister's papers came through first, and they left Germany in 1938.

Nazi Rally in Trier, 1937
Manny Klepper is my brother-in-law.  He frequently  speaks about his Kristallnacht experiences  in  Lousiana.  His story continues in my next blog entry: After the Kristallnacht

Friday, October 30, 2015

World War One Memorials in Chicago: Soldier Field

Source: Chicago Tribune

Source: Huffington Post

One of the the grandest memorials of World War One in the Chicago area is Soldier Field.  It is a stadium, located on the shore of Lake Michigan, originally seating 74,280, and was eventually expanded to seat 100,000 people.  The structure was designed in classic Greek and Roman style and opened on October 9, 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium. In 2004 Soldier Field was completely rebuilt and renovated, changing it's character, and retaining only the original facade. The renovation included several memorials to veterans and soldiers who lost their lives in wars, expanding  Soldier Field as tribute to the armed forces who served in war and peace.

In 1920, Chicago was a growing city, second in population to New York City, a transportation and financial center, but without a large gathering place for its residents.  In  Daniel Burnham's Plan for Chicago of 1909, a municipal stadium was planned for the area south of downtown, approximately  where Soldier Field was eventually built.  Burnham's plan was never implemented, but the need for a stadium was still there.   In 1920, a competition was held to design a municipal stadium to be built on the south end of Grant Park, behind the Field Museum.  The winner of the competition,  Chicago architects, Holabird and Roche, produced the design that was built in 1924. Soldier Field was listed on the National List of Historic Places in 1987.

Winning plan for the Municipal Stadium, a combination of the
Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Source:
Grant Park Municipal Stadium opened on October 9, 1924, as a memorial to soldiers who had died in wars.  The name was changed to Soldier Field in 1925, as a result of a campaign by the Goldstar Mothers, a group of women who had lost their sons in World War One.  It was renamed and rededicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1925.

Soldier Field was opened in October 1924.

In the early years, Soldier Field saw a variety of uses.  It hosted The Roman Catholic Eucharistic Conference in 1926, which drew over 1 million people; the Tunney-Dempsey Heavy Weight Fight in 1927; Charles Lindbergh in 1929,  and the opening of the World's Fair in 1933.  It also was the site of  talent shows, rodeos, ski jumping contests and auto racing. Fourth of July fireworks, All City Music Festivals,  and Chicago Public League High School championship games and all star games also took place there. Match lighting ceremonies started the Music Festivals in Soldier Field. 
Many famous people spoke at Soldier Field including Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, as well as General Douglas MacArthur. Dr Martin Luther King Jr.  spoke  there before 70,000 people in 1964.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at Soldier Field in 1964. Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Many sporting events were held there:  Notre Dame Football, The first Special Olympics  in 1968,   The 1994 World Cup Soccer quarter finals, Women's World Cup Soccer in 1999, The Chicago Black Hawks Winter Classic, and a New Zealand All Blacks Rugby game in 2014. In 1971, Soldier Field was renovated and remodeled as the new home of the Chicago Bears Football Club, and remains their home today.
Soldier Field  in the 1950's, before remodeling and renovations.

Soldier Field was completely renovated in 2004 by the Chicago Park District for the Chicago Bears.  The interior was demolished and replaced by a new structure which included a new playing field, seats, luxury boxes, and scoreboards.  This rebuilding was controversial, and because of it, the stadium lost its landmark listing. One part of the  plan proposed that the naming rights to the stadium be sold, which would result in dropping the original name.  Veteran's  groups protested this idea, and it was decided to keep the name of Soldier Field.  In addition, funds were set aside to commission several works of art that would honor veterans.  A sculpture of a World War One dough boy, by E.M. Viquesney, damaged by graffiti, was restored and installed at the South entrance of Soldier Field.  This sculpture honors the original name and intent of the stadium, which was to honor those American soldiers who lost their lives in World War One. Twenty eight benches were installed, at at gates 1-28, each with a patriotic quotation. Several new works of art were installed outside Soldier Field to honor veterans and members of the armed forces, making the stadium a tribute to United States servicemen, past and present.

Renovated Soldier Field, with the remaining original colonnade. Source: Wikipedia.

"Spirit of the American Doughboy", by E.M. Viquesney. Located near the South entrance to  Soldier Field.
"Tribute to Freedom" 2003. Bronze bas relief by Anna Koh Varilla and Jeffry Varilla, located near the North entrance to Soldier Field.

"Water Wall," 2003, also by Anna Koh Varilla and Jeffry Varilla.  The Water Wall includes nine bronze medallions, each representing one of the branches or organizations of the United States Armed Forces.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

War Memorials on Chicago's North Shore: Highland Park Illinois

The World War One Memorial in Highland Park Illinois. Source:

Located in Memorial Park in Highland Park Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago, this memorial is a combination of a bronze sculpture mounted on a granite background. It was dedicated on November 14, 1926.  The funds to build the monument were raised by residents of Highland Park.
The sculpture, designed by James Cady Ewell, a Highland Park  artist and resident, depicts a female figure  representing World War One.  On either side of the figure, mounted bronze tablets list the names of  278 Highland Park men and women who served in the War.  On the arch behind the figure, "Peace Victorious" is inscribed. The back of the memorial is inscribed "For your tomorrow, They gave their today ."
The list of is long, surprising since the town of Highland Park is not large today, and was even smaller during World War One.

Memorial Park is near downtown Highland Park between Laurel, Prospect and Linden Avenues.

I came across this World War I memorial on my way to a local rummage sale.  I tried to take a picture of it with my phone, but the lighting was poor, so I decided to use the snowy picture above instead.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Paul Niznik and Anastasia Justina Romanowicz:Family Genealogy

Paul Niznik married Anastasia Justina Romanowicz in June 1864.  They are my paternal great-grandparents.

Marriage record for Paulus  Niznik and (Anastasia) Justina Romanowicz, June 1864. Their rrecord is the second one on the page. Source: Metrical Books 1837-1882, Greek Catholic Church, Pomorzany (Zborow).  Original manuscripts of the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv. Filmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Vol. 201-4A/4642.

Paul was 29 years old when he married, and is listed with two occupations: pelleo (person who works with skins and hides) and artilleryman in the service of Duc Leopold of Bavaria. He may have been involved in the the Second War for Italian Independence in 1859. His parents, Ivan Niznik and Maria Gudziak were deceased at the time of the marriage.  Both the Niznik and Gudziak families were in  the skin and hide trade.

The victorious French watch the Austrian Armies retreat after being defeated in the Battle of Magenta, June 1859. The Austrians are on the bottom right of the painting by Ernest Meissonier. One group of Austrian artillery are pulling a cannon as they retreat.
Anastasia Justina Romanowicz was 19 when she married Paul Niznik.  Both her parents, Ivan Romanowicz and Agatha Pauluk,  had passed away.  The Romanowicz family were also pelleony.  From what I have found in the Metrical Records, marriages were common between families in the same trade.  Paul and Anastasia were also distant cousins. Permission to marry was given by Andreas Nisnik and Andreas Romanowicz.

After their marriage, Anastasia and Paul went to live in his father's family home, number 287 in Pomorazany. Although Paul's parents were deceased, his stepmother, Maria Materko Niznik was still living in the house.  This home belonged to the Niznik family since 1837, according to the earliest records in the Metrical Records, and probably longer that that. 

Village house, similar to the house in Pomorany where Paul and Anastasia lived when they married.

Since the Metrical Records include only deaths after 1865, I know only one of Paul and Anastasia's surviving children, my grandfather, John Nyznyk, born in 1878. Three of Paul and Anastasia's children died in childhood: Peter,  was born and died on July 15, 1867; Anna, born in 1871, lived for six months; and Varvara, born in 1873, lived one year.  There were most likely more children, but there are no records of their births available at this time.

When I first looked at the marriage record, I wasn't sure that Paul's bride was the same woman listed on my grandparent's marriage license, since her name was Justina, not Anastasia.  A volunteer at the Family History Center told me that when I found a birth record for a child of Anastasia and Paul, her correct first name would be listed.  After searching death records, I discovered that Anastasia used one or both of her given names.  She is listed as Justina on the marriage record; on the death record of son Peter, she is listed as Anastasia, and on the death record of daughter Anna, she is listed as Anastasia Justina.
According to the Metrical Records, the Niznik family name changed spelling three times.  In the oldest records, it is Nisnik.  In the 1850's it is spelled Niznik,  with an umlaut over the z.  In 1867, it is spelled Nyznyk.  In the Metrical Records, the first name was written in Polish, the last name in Latin.  But by the late 1860's the priests were recording names with Ukrainian spellings.

I have a few more Metrical Records for Pomorzany to study.  The records for Ozerna have arrived at the Family History Center, so soon I will begin to research the Kociuba (Koshuba) family.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pomorzany, Pomorany Ukraine: Looking into the Past


When I was growing up, I assumed that finding my family history in Eastern Europe was impossible.  I believed that because of the wars, many records were destroyed and when Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union in 1939, all remaining records were either destroyed or were impossible to access.  Believing this made discovering my family history impossible.

I did have some basic information, my maternal grandmother gave me the names of her grandparents and aunts and uncles, and some information about her childhood.  Her sister wrote a wonderful memoir about growing up in a  Ukrainian village.  Since I had that, I was able to piece together a basic history of the Rychly family in Ukraine.  My maternal grandmother, Pauline Rychly Koshuba Haydak gave me some information about my maternal grandfather's family, the Koshubas.
I had very little information about my father's family, the Klak and Nyznyk families but when my father had to find information in order to get a US passport, he found the names of both his paternal and maternal grandparents. Now I had something to look for.

The Nyznyk family of Pomorzany or Pomorany, is the family about which I know the least.  I have researched my grandfather,  John Nyznyk in New York, but the search information about him goes cold after 1940.  I decided to go back in time and find out about two of my grandparent's families, the Nyznyk and Romanowicz families.  I was lucky that the Family History Center has the Metrical Records from the Greek Catholic Church of Pomorzany from 1837 to 1862 on film.   I have found  have found a lot of ancestors on these films , but I still can't  fit the puzzle pieces together yet.  What I can do is tell about life in this village during the twenty five years between 1837 and 1862.

The Metrical Records are easy to read, since they are written in Latin and arranged in columns.   In 1793, after the First Partition of Poland, the Austrian government required that vital statistics be kept in all areas acquired in the partition. Local Roman and Greek Catholic churches served as recorders of all vital statistics and that two copies of every record be made, one to stay in the church, the other to be kept in another place, in this instance in the city of Lviv.  All birth, death and marriage records were kept by the Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches at first, eventually Jewish synagogues and other Christian denominations were also able to  record and kept vital statistics.  The LDS Church has filmed vital records in many Ukrainian villages and towns  which are kept in Salt Lake City and  are accessible  at  Family History Centers all over the world.
The birth record in Latin and English

Every record includes names, dates and places where the life event occurred.  Sometimes parent's names are included and occupations are noted as well.  Since local clergymen wrote all the information with pen and ink,  they give a look into the past when beautiful penmanship was necessary and appreciated.  First names were recorded in Latin and surnames were listed in Polish.  "Conditio" which means occupation in Latin is noted on all records.  Agricola was the Latin word for farmer, and the most common occupation.  Nyznyk and Romanowicz family members were listed as pelleo, or persons who worked with skins and hides.  Other common occupations were sutor or sudor, shoemaker, and fabrile, a person who works with metal.  In the 1850's laborers began to appear, and mendicane, or beggar was also listed.

Marriage records contained the most information; the names of the persons to be married were listed along with their ages and occupation for the groom. His  parent's names and occupations followed, sometimes the grandparents were also listed with their occupations.  The bride's information was listed in a separate column. The information was similar, but women did not have occupations.     Both the bride's and groom's house numbers were listed.

A example of a marriage record. Source Stumbleblock.wordpress
When a birth was recorded,  the name of the father was listed first, the mother's first name was listed, followed by "daughter of" and her father's first and last name and occupation. The date of birth was listed, followed by the dates of baptism and confirmation. The house number listed where the birth occurred, which was not always in the home of the parents.  Married couples went to live with the husband's parents, so the first child was usually born in their house. A different house number might be listed for the birth of a second child, because the couple now had their own house. In an illegitimate birth, only the mother's name was mentioned. Second marriages were also recorded, but not as much information was included. A death record included the person's age, date of death and burial, and cause of death.

Example of a birth record from 1907, column headings are in Latin and Ukrainian.

In the 1830's, most causes of death were listed as  "ordinario" or ordinary; later,  specific diseases were listed.  In a death entry, a man's name stood alone, but a woman was listed either as "daughter of" followed by her father's name if she was not married,  or "wife or/widow of" followed by her husband's name.  The house number was always included.  From information in the Metrical Records, many more children died than adults.   Very few people lived to a great age, most died in their fifties or sixties.  Common causes of death were convulsions, epilepsy, consumption (tuberculosis), pleurisy, fibrio gastris and cholera. In 1850, eleven people died of fibrio gastris between  the beginning of September and the end of October, mostly adults.  1855 saw a cholera epidemic between July and September.  59 villagers died, mostly children at first, adults later.  In the Gudziak (cousin of the Nyznyk and Romanowicz families) home, four family members died within days of each other, first two daughters, then the father and grandmother.

Death record from 1838.  Source: Kowalfamily.wordpress

Pomorzany grew; in 1837, there were a little over 300 houses, by 1859 there were over 700 houses in the town. Most people stayed in the town, and I saw the same surnames repeated over the 25 years. Cousins often married cousins. Sons followed their father's occupation. Most people married people with the same occupation. The Nyznik  and Romanowicz families worked with leather, and their sons and daughters married children of other leather workers.  When a young married couple could afford their own house, they often moved, and this shows up in a new house number. One change in the records during the 25 years I studied was in 1855 when the column headings were in both Latin and Ukrainian.  The next year, the Ukrainian heading disappeared. In the birth record example above  from 1907, the heading were in both languages.  In  the earliest records, the family surname was spelled Nisnik. In 1856, the spelling changed and it was spelled Niznik.  There were trends in first names: John was always popular for boys, Maria for girls.  Anastasia and Tecla were also popular for girls.  Rarer first names were Erasmus and Procopious and Parascevia and Michalina.
There is more to be learned about Pomorzany, and there are still hundreds of records to be reviewed.

Wooden Church in Pomorzany. Source: