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Thursday, November 12, 2009 and a mystery solved

I've been working with the passenger lists and ship manifests from the Ellis Island website ( and, like many people, became just a bit frustrated with some of the inabilities of the search engine to find and sort the search results. Particularly, I wanted to find all of the people that came from a very small, mountain town in Hungary between the years of 1900-1920. It appears that most of the young adult men were leaving in droves, and all of them going to Milwaukee, WI!

So I switched over to Steve Morse's One-Step website ( Steve is this uber-intelligent computer programmer type of guy, that also got frustrated with the search capabilities of several genealogy websites, so he developed his own search engines for them. (Steve also has an incredible sense of humor, and can "Find Your Grandpa" in one-step, too).

From the website you can search a myriad of genealogically useful websites using many other variables, and your results tend to be much more productive. I was able to narrow down my search of the Ellis Island records by age, sex and town they came from, which helped me to find others from the families I'm truly interested, whose names were horribly misspelled.

So... part two here is that since "my guy" came from this small town, Zubak, Hungary, and headed for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I started googling around to see what I could find online, and what I came across was an absolutely WONDERFUL family history written about a family whose ancestor did the same - came from Zubak, Hungary in 1905 to Milwaukee, WI (The Misey Family of Milwaukee)

I contacted the website's author, Neil Boyer, just wondering if he knew anything about the reasons for this seemingly mass-migration, but he didn't either. He mentioned the fact, however, that he had been unsuccessful in finding his ancestor's name on any of the Passenger Lists or Ships Manifests at Ellis Island. So... because I'm just that kind of gal ... I told him about the Steve Morse website, and voila! Success for him! Here's his e-mail to me:

Hi, Tami --

I have to thank you profusely for turning me on to Steve Morse. I had not heard of that website or research function before, and it worked. Here’s what happened:

I looked at the list of Zubakians that you sent and was disappointed that John Misey was not on the list. I puzzled over it several times, with no good result, and then I decided to check out the list of birthdates, looking for 1888 when I knew he had been born. And there, in line 41, was “Janos Hiscsy,” born in 1888, traveled to America in 1905. Reference to the Ellis Island site showed on the handwritten manifest that his name (indeed, ALL of the names) had been badly scribbled. What was intended as the surname “Miscsy” had been copied out as “Hiscsy.” Janos Hiscsy of the manifest was indeed going to Milwaukee to see his uncle. Here he is on line 19 of page 474.

So I have worked all of this into my web page on the Misey family -- and I have you to thank for the great tip. I never would have guessed that an H was really an M. - Neil

There are many genealogical lessons to be learned here:

1. Look for creative ways to solve your problems - search for others who may be in the same boat (literally & figueratively) to see how they may have handled the problem.

2. Be open to the idea that your family's name may be horribly butchered during transcription or indexing. Read names out loud and listen to yourself - does it sound remotely familiar?

3. If at first you don't succeed, try

and finally, always my favorite...

4. Share your ideas and information with other people. Pay it backwards and forwards.

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