Category Archives: Zinsk

Swiss family Zinsk

Letter Z: Last of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Crossed the finish line today! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

The Swiss family Zinsk was a late arrival on my family tree . They showed up unexpectedly while I was investigating my paternal Charbonneau ancestors — and restored Switzerland as a long-forgotten source of my family’s roots.

http://backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/search?q=Otter+Lake+Community+Church
Otter Lake Community Church (2015). My Swiss ancestors, the Zinsk family, attended services here when it was St. Trinitatis — a German Evangelical Lutheran parish in Hawkinsville, Oneida County, N.Y. The church was later moved to its present location on Route 28 in Otter Lake, where it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Photo by Tom/The Backroads Traveller

I was excited about our Swiss ancestry because my family was completely unaware of this heritage  — or so I thought until I called my dad to tell him the breaking news.

“You know, I seem to remember hearing something about that,” Dad said thoughtfully, while I rolled my eyes and had a face-palm moment at the other end of the phone.

Yet in some ways it’s understandable how awareness of our Swiss heritage might have faded with each succeeding generation, given how challenging it was to find details about these elusive ancestors.

Seeking Ursula’s maiden name

My first hint of our paternal Swiss ancestry came from the 1900 U.S. Census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. The record for my great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau (spelled Charbono), who emigrated from Quebec to New York’s Adirondack foothills, listed his wife Ursula — born in Switzerland.

To learn more, we needed her maiden name — always a challenge. So Dad and I added this to the list of goals for our next pre-Internet family history road trip in August 1992.

We examined Laurent’s tombstone in Beechwood Cemetery, Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., but the inscription was no help. All it said was “Ursula, His Wife.”

Then Dad and I found Laurent’s obituary in the Irwin Library and Institute in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — but Ursula’s name did not appear in that, either, much to Dad’s chagrin.

A census breakthrough

Clearly, we needed more to go on. So back I went to the census, where the various spellings for Charbonneau (such as Charbono, Charbonno, Sharbono and Sherbenon) slowed my microfilm research.

But one evening — while browsing door-to-door through the 1870 U.S. Census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — I found Nicholas Zink, 84, and Barnard Zink, 40, (both from Switzerland), living in the home of Laurence Sharbono (from Canada) and his wife Angeline [Ursula](from Switzerland). This looked like the breakthrough we needed on Ursula’s maiden name!

There were more surname variants to come — from Zink to Sink to Zingg  to Zinsk — which eventually led to records that clarified our Swiss ancestors’ family relationships and even identified the church where they worshipped, shown above.

Best of all: I found my ggg grandfather Nicholas’s naturalization papers, on which his signature confirmed Zinsk as the correct spelling of the surname — opening the door to future research into my family’s once-hidden Swiss heritage.


With this post, I have completed my first April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme Ancestors From A to Z. I made it! I’m thrilled! And I can’t wait to order my tee-shirt!

Coming soon – One-stop summary: Ancestors from A to Z Please stop back for the victory lap.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Yes! Almost there!

Letter Y: Twenty-fifth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me as I cross the finish line!

Yes! One more day and Molly’s Canopy will cross the finish line of the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge — to the roar of a virtual crowd and the sound of imaginary hands clapping (or tapping, as they finish up that last challenge post)!

Fireworks. Yes! Tomorrow I will make it to the end of my first April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, crossing the finish line with the Zinsk family — my Swiss ancestors. By: Nigel Howe

Now that I am nearly there, I confess that I did not do the sort of pre-challenge preparation one should do before a marathon — even missing the Theme Reveal.

Because it was my first time blogging from A to Z — and I only decided at the last minute to accept the challenge — when the flag went down on April 1, I wondered if I would be just an April fool or make it all the way to the end.

So I sprinted through week one, getting a bit winded and sleep deprived. Then I settled down during week two for the long haul — writing and commenting and meeting new bloggers as I went.

And that turned out to be the best approach — even allowing me some spare time to weigh in at the weekly #azchat on Twitter to see how others were doing.

Tomorrow I will dash across the finish line — hand in hand with the Zinsk family (my Swiss ancestors) — to round out my theme of Ancestors From A to Z.

But today I just want to enjoy the feeling of knowing that I am almost there and Yes! I will finish.

Up next: Swiss family Zinsk. Please stop back for my challenge finale.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Research, repositories and relaxation

Letter R: Eighteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Research, repositories and relaxation are three words I often think of in combination, because just the idea of going to a repository to do some leisurely family history research brings on a deep sense of relaxation — like a form of meditation for the family historian.

By: mrgarethm
National Archives and Records Administration Building, Washington, D.C. Research, repositories and relaxation are three words I often think of in combination, because just the idea of going to a repository to do some leisurely family history research induces a deep sense of relaxation — sort of like meditation for the family historian By: mrgarethm

I began doing genealogy research in earnest when I was living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s.

Back then, the National Archives building on Pennsylvania Ave. was open most nights until 9:00 pm — so if I was having a hectic week and needed to unwind, I would head over there for a couple of hours.

Microfilm meditation

In those microfilm days, there would be researchers at readers all over the room meditatively scrolling along looking for ancestors — and once in a while, you would hear someone exclaim happily when they found a record they needed.

Sitting in that huge space, I found my maternal immigrant ancestors, who lived and worked in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y., in census after census —  because once they settled there, they put down roots.

My paternal ancestors, who had been in the U.S. much longer, offered many more relaxing hours of research because they moved around quite a bit.

After a night at the archives, I sometimes called my dad for tips on where to look next — and one night surprised him with the news that we had Swiss ancestors.

“You know, I seem to remember hearing something about that,” he said thoughtfully after I read him the census entry from Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y.

“Really?” I asked. “Why didn’t you say something?” But in retrospect, I’m glad he didn’t — because it might have spoiled the relaxing evening I spent unearthing that discovery, which I will write about for Letter Z.

Brain-healthy browsing

Although many records are now digitized, with more coming online each day, most materials still exist in non-digital form at government offices, libraries, archives and other repositories.

It’s easy to bemoan this reality and feel frustrated that the ancestral records we want are not instantly available, or just an Internet search away.

But once you realize that research and repositories lead to relaxation, you can tap into the brain-healthy meditative state that accompanies your heritage search — and that can be a good thing!

Up next: Susquehanna River reflections. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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