Finding Antoni Horosiewicz’s birth record from Poland

A photo of Antoni Horosiewicz from his 1937 Declaration of Intent to Naturalize.

Over the years, my genealogy research has ebbed and flowed.

One area where I made a lot of progress, but also was stymied, was with my Grandma Becker’s parents, Antoni Horosiewicz and Stefania Klekotka.

Stefania Klekotka and Antoni Horosiewicz marriage photo, May 14, 1912.
(The witnesses on the church marriage record were Roman Simicki and Francisca Nowak. Possibly these are the two other people in this photo)

Both were immigrants from Poland who met and married in St. Louis, before later moving to Granite City, Illinois.

One of my early finds was their church marriage record from Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in St. Louis. This included the names of their parents. Antoni’s were listed as Stanisław Horosiewicz and Marianna Mościska.

My last spurt of discoveries came in 2018, when I obtained Antoni’s citizenship-related documents and Social Security application, all from 1937-1940. Those new documents, together with a passenger manifest I had obtained previously, made it seem likely that Antoni was born in the village of Kossaki, Poland, close to the Bug River and near the town of Nur.

I took a break from research for a bit, and began picking up the threads again this week.

With help from a genealogist from Poland named Lidia Zawrot, I obtained Antoni’s birth record in the Nur parish civil register. He was indeed born in Kossaki, and the document includes the names of his parents, as well as some witnesses who were surely family friends.

It’s hard to overstate how excited I am about this discovery. It’s the first time I have found vital records from overseas that I am certain belong to members of the Horosiewicz or Becker branches of my family.

Church records at that time were written in Cyrillic, since that part of Poland was under Russian control. Here is an English translation of the text of the document:

It happened in the settlement of Nur on the fifteenth / twenty-second of March one thousand eight hundred and eighty-four at two in the afternoon. Stanisław Chorosiewicz, twenty-five years old, a farmer living in Kossaki, in the presence of Justyn Mościcki, thirty-eight from Tworkowice in the Grodno Gubernia, and Józef Chorosiewicz, fifty-four, living in Kossaki, farmers, showed us a male infant and they stated that he was born in Kossaki yesterday, at eight in the morning, by his legal wife Marcyanna née Bartnikowska, twenty-three years old. This child was baptized today by us with the name: Antoni and his godparents were Justyn Mościcki and Paulina Bocian. This deed was read to the illiterate father and witnesses and only signed by us.”

Fr. Jan Szostakiewicz
Vicar responsible for keeping civil status records

Birth record for Antoni Horosiewicz

Upgrading the “Nail Station”

In December 2017, Yoli painted Jadzia’s fingernails with a St. Patrick’s Day motif.

From the time she was little, Jadzia enjoyed having her nails done. She liked watching videos with Yoli to see different techniques and patterns. Then, one year, Nan gave the girls a “Salon Nail Station” made by “The Color Workshop.”

The Nail Station was a plastic storage compartment with a battery-powered fan for drying fingernails after they’ve been painted with polish. The kit included several bottles of nail polish.

The Nail Station includes a storage compartment for nail polish. And when you want to dry your nails, you put your fingers under the compartment, pushing down on the sticker that says “press here.”

The way the station was designed, Jadzia would place her fingers on a shelf under the storage compartment and press down. Pushing continuously on this shelf would cause the fan to blow on her fingers and dry the nail polish.

It seemed great in theory. But when Jadzia tried to use the Nail Station, she had great difficulty keeping the button pushed down. Her fingers were thin, hypermobile, and weak because of Marfan Syndrome. So after a few uses, the Nail Station was set aside for many years.

This year, Yoli began painting Josie’s nails regularly, and they got out the old Nail Station. Josie had stronger fingers and was better able to push the button. But she complained about it, too.

So Yoli came to me with a request: Could I hack the Nail Station and install an on-off switch, so the fan could blow without requiring the girls to push anything continuously.

The upgrade

This was a pretty simple upgrade: Disconnect the bottom button, cut a hole for a switch, then wire the switch.

The Nail Station is disassembled, and the location of the new switch has been marked.

I had an extra toggle switch left over from the time I fixed our Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, so I didn’t need to buy any additional supplies.

The main thing I had to figure out was where to mount the switch. My original thought was to put it under the compartment on the bottom shelf, but that was a dumb idea: not enough clearance, and it would be in the way of the girls’ fingers. I considered putting it on the back which would keep the connections closer to the motor. But ultimately I mounted it on the very top. The plastic was a bit stronger there, and it’s easy to access.

I used my Dremel to make a hole in the top. Then I removed some material from the top two internal supports, to make room for the nut that screws onto the switch and secures it.

The new switch is installed.

Finally, I wired the connections between the switch, batteries, and motor, and soldered them. My soldering leaves a lot to be desired, but it was good enough for this simple project.

A few hours later, Josie gave it a try. It got a thumbs-up from her and Yoli.

Josie dries her nails in the upgraded Nail Station.

It’s World Press Freedom Day — and National Teacher Day

Most readers of this blog are already familiar with the story.

Last year I was persecuted politically by our state executive after I reported on Missouri’s failure to protect teacher information.

So today is an interesting convergence for me: It’s both World Press Freedom Day and National Teacher Day.

I’m not alone — and other journalists have certainly suffered far worse than me. I think of the situation in Russia, or the brave reporters in Ukraine.

But we here in the U.S. can’t ignore what’s happening in our own backyard. Public officials increasingly misuse their power to intimidate or attack journalists. Across the country, we see our public discourse is infected with demonizing, dehumanizing rhetoric.

Anyway, whereever you are, please support your local journalists. Subscribe to news outlets here in St. Louis (even if it’s not the Post-Dispatch).

And when you hear about situations like mine, please speak up. Make your voice heard.

For my part, on this day I’m also thankful for the many teachers who have helped shape my four kids. And I’m proud of family members and friends who heard the calling and chose to become teachers.

Farewell, Nan

Josh opens presents with Nan, including a Tomy toy computer.

Growing up, it felt like I often had to start over — moving to new houses, switching schools, losing grandfathers.

One of the rocks I could cling to amid the sea of changes was Nan.

Her house at 5118 Village Lawn in San Antonio was like my lifelong second home. I can’t think back to a time without it, without her.

Continue reading “Farewell, Nan”

Revisiting my dot-matrix EV3 Lego printer

This photo shows v3.0 of the Viper Printer.

This year I decided to revisit the dot-matrix Lego printer that I first built and programmed in 2017. The original design was the result of a lot of iterating, but it still had some significant problems. I wanted to try again, with a focus on eliminating errors and printing very consistent images.

You can download .LXF and .IO models of v3.0 of my LEGO printer, plus Python code for the printer, from the Viper Bots’ GitHub repo.

Keep reading to learn more.


Continue reading “Revisiting my dot-matrix EV3 Lego printer”

Morels and more

A few of the morel mushrooms I bought at the farmers market.

This morning I saw morel mushrooms at the Ferguson Farmers Market. I had to buy them.

It goes back to an experience I had last year.

It was March. For the kids’ spring break, we asked Aunt Marcy and Uncle Ken if we could stay a few days at the clubhouse near Clearwater Lake, and they said yes.

The weather was cool and the lake was high, but that was fine by us. We just wanted a safe escape from the pandemic with no worries of running into other people.

Continue reading “Morels and more”

A tree for Jadzia

We pose for a photo with Jossie, Rochelle, and Kai at Jadzia’s tree in January-Wabash Park.

We were surprised and pleased to learn that the Ferguson Swim Team had arranged to dedicate a tree in Jadzia’s memory at January-Wabash Park. Earlier this summer, they also made a team T-shirt to honor her.

This morning, the Parks and Recreation Department held a short dedication ceremony for three families’ trees at the Ferguson Community Center. Afterward we went with Jadzia’s friends Jossie and Kai to see the tree at January-Wabash. It’s positioned on the hill overlooking the water slide at the pool, not far from where Yoli and I liked to sit with Jadzia when we watched home swim meets. Keep reading to see a short video.

Continue reading “A tree for Jadzia”