Saturday, December 29, 2012

Surname Saturday - Dork and Kopkau

My great-great-grandparents were Otto Carl Dork and Wilhelmina "Minnie" Kopkau. They were both born in West Prussia and came to America in the 1870's and 1880's. They, and many other Evangelical Lutherans from the area, settled in Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan.

The spelling variations are numerous:

  • Dork
  • Doerk
  • Derk
  • Durk
  • Dirk
  • Duerk
  • Durke
  • Kopkau
  • Kopkaw
  • Kopka
  • Cupkaw
  • Cupke

The Kopkau's were listed as Hopkau on their passenger list, so finding them was a challenge!

Here are links to their villages of Charlottenwerder and Peterkau in present-day Poland.

Have a connection? Let me know!

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Friday, December 28, 2012

Get With It!

New Year's Eve is fast approaching and with it the time-honored tradition of making resolutions.


But seriously, it is a good idea to formulate some ideas and improvements for 2013. This is especially important for me and my genealogy.

I tried writing down some goals and ideas last year [see post] and it worked...a little. I didn't really refer back to the post so much as carried it around in my brain labeled "for future use". I'm still not sure when that future is...

I have been slowly working on my webpages [see here...if you dare!]. I'd like to get those synced up and tweaked in a way I can be happy with.

I did pretty well with this blog and content last year. I created 108 posts, being most faithful to "Tombstone Tuesday". I sure hope you like gravestones, because I've still got a whole lotta photos to post! I'd like to have a little more focus on my blog content. Maybe mini-biographies of ancestors and their locations? How about my kids' running photos? No? I digress.

I acquired some more technology in 2012 that I need to put to better use in 2013. My fancy new PDF scanner has only been used a couple times. THAT has to be remedied!

My filing pile is a little bit smaller, so that's good. My workspace situation has not changed, but there's not a whole lot I can do about that, short of winning the lottery and building a dedicated genealogy room.

I will never be one to write a list and check it every month. Just putting pen to paper, er, fingers to keyboard will at least keep my ideas outside my brain.

For now, I will just keep plugging along, and get distracted by a surname or a new database and run off to check it out, and...enjoy 2013! I hope you do, too.

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Scotland to Braidwood

Oakwood Cemetery in Braidwood, Will County, Illinois, is the burial place of many Scottish immigrants who came to work in the local mines. Several gravestones are engraved with the country and even town of birth. My own Kerr family came to Braidwood from Kilbirnie, Ayr, Scotland, as did their in-laws, the Allen's. I often wonder if these families knew each other in the mining communities of Scotland before they came to the US.

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Surname Saturday - Dork

One of my maternal lines is Dork - really. My great grandmother Lucy who, as a kid, I always thought was Lucille but is really Louise, was born Louise Wilhelmina Dork in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan in 1895. She is of full German descent, and more specifically, from a tiny village in Kreis Rosenberg in the eastern edge of West Prussia. It took me a long, long time to pinpoint her family, but it became a wonderful case study in my personal genealogy lessons.

Lucy's father, Otto Carl Dork, came to Michigan as a child in 1882 with his mother, grandmother, and siblings on the ship Braunschweig (see, really German!). They settled immediately in central Lansing, among many other Prussian families.

The surname itself has many iterations, which I suspect vary due to spelling and pronunciation differences from the German language. I've seen:
  • Dork
  • Doerk
  • Dorke
  • Derk
  • Durk
I tend to stick with "Doerk" in my database, only because that seems to be the most encompassing spelling. My intuition is that it was spelled D-o-e-r-k and pronounced "Derk" but in America with the "o" first, just became "Dork".

Of course "Dork" has an unlikable connotation in today's society. My own children are at least vaguely familiar with their backgrounds and know that there is a Dork lineage. I tell them that if anyone ever calls you a dork, you can reply, "Yes I am"!

reprinted from 9 June 2012
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Scenes of Oakwood

Oakwood Cemetery in Custer Township, outside the city of Braidwood, Will County, Illinois, is a scenic country cemetery. It is the home of many Scottish and English immigrants who came to work in the coal mines of 1870's Illinois.

 grave of original miner James Braidwood

many lots still have concrete borders intact


oaks, sand and scrub cactus all in Illinois
beautiful scroll knot atop gravestone


© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Field" Trip

One of my most favorite places in the whole (well, my limited view of the) world is the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. This is really history! I recently spent a leisurely afternoon at the Field and brought along my camera. Come along as I share some of my favorite things at the Field.

Thank you, Chicago!

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Carrie Derk

I have written a series of posts about my Dork / Doerk / Derk family in Lansing, Michigan. [Older posts here] The mother of the large sibling group I am researching is Caroline Papke Doerk. Here is her gravestone photo from Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan. She is buried in the "singles" section, or the individual graves, rather than in a family lot.

Carrie Derk
Mar. 15, 1900
61 Years
Our Mother

There are several good clues here. First, she clearly made it to America with her children. Second, it is engraved "Our Mother" so I know she had more than one child. Finally, burial in the singles section makes me think she was widowed or even that her husband never came to America. She was probably the first of the family to die, before a family lot may have been purchased.

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dorks Across The Pond

I am pretty lucky to have an ancestral name like Dork.

Recently, I wrote several posts about my success trying to locate and piece together the various siblings of my great-great-grandfather, Otto Carl Dork in Lansing, Michigan. [Old posts here]

Otto's marriage record stated his parent's name were Carl Doerk and Carrie A. Popka. Otto was the last of his siblings to marry, and as luck would have it, older records didn't ask for parents names. But this record is a great start:

My next step was to search for immigration records. It took some creative searching due to name variations. I found the following family members on the ship Braunschweig that landed in New York on 22 April 1882.

page 16
Caroline Dork, 42, Prussia
Johanne Dork, 16, Prussia

page 21
Wilhelmine Derk, 19, Prussia
Maria Derk, 11, Prussia
Otto Derk, 8, Prussia
Rudolf Derk, 4, Prussia
Otto Derk, 5 months, Prussia
Auguste Papke, 64, Prussia

Ooh! These are clearly the right children. And their assumed mother, Caroline Dork, is the adult/parent of the group. Notably, there is no male parent and no older son Herman. Did one or both come ahead of the rest of the family? I have no idea who the baby Otto is. And who is Auguste Papke? Papke sure seems similar to Popka. A grandmother, perhaps? There are answers from the passenger lists, and now I have even more questions.  

To be continued...

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm Back!

Did you miss me?

I took a short break, knowing I wouldn't have the time needed this fall to dedicate to my blog and genealogy.  Honestly, I was having withdrawals!

My break was due to my kids making their own family history.  I previously posted briefly about my sons and their running exploits. My younger son, an eight-grader, helped his team qualify for the Illinois Elementary School Association state cross country finals for middle school. His team placed third and he finished as a medalist in 21st place. He is the most dedicated runner I know and was brought to tears realizing he won a state finals medal.

My older son, a senior in high school, had lots of talent but many physical setbacks.   He and his team also qualified for the Illinois State High School Cross Country championships. The team finished 16th of the big schools and my son finished in 74th place with a 19-second personal best time over his Sectionals race time - that's 15:13 for 3 miles! He also was invited to and participated in a senior all-star meet in Dayton, Ohio. Let the college recruiting begin!

I am so proud of them and their teams. Cross country is such a great sport, and is extremely competitive, especially in Illinois.  And don't worry, I have lots and lots and lots of photographic documentation :)

© 2012 Sally Knudsen