Archive for May, 2010

Nine Questions with Kim Stankiewicz

Monday, May 10th, 2010


On Mondays, I frequently publish brief e-mail interviews with some of our lookup providers. This week’s interview is with Kim Stankiewicz, whose Genlighten username is — you guessed it — kimstankiewicz.

From kimstankiewicz‘s profile

Kim’s been doing genealogy research for herself and others for the last ten years. She’s located in the Chicago area and has access to the Great Lakes Region NARA facility, the Cook County Courthouse, the Wilmette LDS Family History Center and numerous Chicago libraries. She can retrieve Bohemian obituaries, criminal court records, naturalization records, probate records and wills. She participated in ProGen2 and is a member of the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists and the Polish Genealogical Society of America. She’s committed to treating your ancestors as if they were her own.

Nine questions with Kim

1)         How did you get started doing genealogy research?

After researching my own family history, friends and acquaintances started asking me to help them with their family histories.  I found that I enjoyed researching others’ ancestors just as much as my own and I learned so much through the process.  I get just as excited when I find good information for others as I do for myself!  Solving a genealogical puzzle is always fun!

2)      Do you have a genealogy “superpower”? If so, what is it?

One of my strengths is my persistence in attempting every avenue I can think of to find elusive ancestors.  Sometimes people just can’t be found, but I will always try every trick in the book to track people’s ancestors down.  I do this through a step by step process of searching different records that are available in the Chicago area.

3)      Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?

I recently had a client that wanted to find out what happened to her aunt’s baby after her aunt’s divorce.  This divorce took place many years ago and no one ever talked about it and the aunt had since passed on.  After pulling the divorce records, it was discovered exactly where the child was placed and what the child’s new name was.  It was very exciting as my client was able to reconnect with this new found cousin!

4)      What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request?

It is helpful when a client can give as many details or stories that they’ve heard about their ancestors.  Sometimes the littlest details can be the biggest clues for looking for documents in the right place.

5)      What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?

My favorite repository is definitely the Cook County Archives.  I enjoy searching court records for either criminal cases, general lawsuits or divorces.  Many people have very interesting stories and so much can be gleaned through these records.  Their narratives are all documented via court records and their testimony.  It’s almost as you can hear them speaking when you read their 100+ year old testimony word for word!

6)      What technical tools do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?

I have a new hp computer and a new scanner so that I can easily upload documents and deliver them digitally to my clients.

7)      Any new lookups you’re considering offering?

I plan to offer wills and probate look ups, divorce, law and chancery case look ups and obituary look ups from newspapers that are not yet on-line.

8)      What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?

One needs to first start off by offering their favorite look ups so that they will find it fun, fulfilling and interesting.

9)      What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups?

I like running, reading, going to the movies and spending time with my husband and five kids.

Lookups kimstankiewicz Offers

Surname Saturday: Swetland

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


Here’s what I know (or believe I do) about my SWETLAND line.

1. Dean Richardson

2. David Richardson, born 17 Nov 1935 in Erie, Erie County, PA; died 16 Oct 1998 in Stanford, Santa Clara County, CA

3. Owen Richardson, born 02 Dec 1899 in Baltimore, Baltimore County, MD; died 05 Dec 1993 in Edinboro, Erie County, PA

4. Louise Grant Smith, born 01 Apr 1861 in Detroit, Wayne County, MI; died 01 May 1941 in Saybrook, Ashtabula County, OH

5. James Thomas Smith, born 1834 in Waterville, Oneida County, NY; died 18 Feb 1863 in Detroit, Wayne County, MI

6. Marcia Mahala Swetland, born 1808, Sangerfield, Oneida County, NY; died 05 Jun 1885 in Chicago, Cook County, IL

7. Benjamin Swetland, born 29 Sep 1756 in Bolton, Tolland County, CT; died 29 Sep 1819 in Waterville, Oneida County, NY

8. John Swetland, Jr. born 1708 in CT; died 16 Mar 1783.

Some of the data above is from “Memories”, a typescript family history compiled by Louise Grant Smith. Other details (including the image of Benjamin Swetland’s music, copied into his Revolutionary War roster book) is from “Chapter Sketches” as referenced below.

Bibliographic details from Google Books:
Chapter Sketches: Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution; Patriots' Daughters
By Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution,  Mary Philotheta Root,  Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution
Published by Connecticut chapters, Daughters of the American revolution, 1904
Original from the New York Public Library
Digitized Feb 26, 2008
390 pages

Follow Friday:

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


The folks at have been our booth neighbors this week in the NGS Exhibit Hall. It’s their first genealogy conference as an exhibitor and they’re getting an enthusiastic response from attendees. I’ve only got a few early impressions of their startup at this point, but from what I’ve seen, I think they’re building something that’s going to make a big impact in the online genealogy space. Here’s why:

  • AppleTree is aiming to build a single comprehensive “family tree of the world that “we all belong to”, echoing the vision of NewFamilySearch and several private companies.
  • Their founder Scott Mueller is a serial entrepreneur, the veteran of several startups that have seen successful exits.
  • AppleTree has earned venture backing from a top-shelf VC firm, which gives them the runway they need to hire talented people and develop crucial features at a rapid pace.
  • AppleTree’s business model appears to involve a combination of advertising and paid media hosting, while the basic tree functionality will be free to users for the foreseeable future. This differentiates them from Geni, which has pursued a slightly different freemium / virtual goods model and largely avoided ads to this point.
  • They appear to be working hard on integration with NewFamilySearch, claiming “We are the only way to link media with people, events, locations and sources in New FamilySearch.” The folks at Photoloom would dispute that point, but such competing claims are to be expected.

I’m excited to see energetic and visionary new startups tackling the goals that AppleTree is going after. I think they’re worth paying attention to, and they’re my Follow Friday recommendation for this week.