15/10/2013 08:57 BST | Updated 15/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Genealogy Efforts Beyond Your Family: Consider Expanding

Genealogy Efforts Beyond Your Family: Consider Expanding

For years I have enjoyed pursuing my genealogy and family history career as a genealogical historian. Perhaps most importantly, it has given me a deeper and more thorough understanding of myself and my family. It has also provided me with historic insights and knowledge that have helped me find and meet family far beyond that which I thought was the only family I had as a youth. It has also been a fun and rewarding journey.



Additionally, I appreciate being able to share my knowledge and my passion with others who are seeking their roots and genealogy and helping them to weave a more complete tapestry of their family history.

Writing about genealogy, family history, and ancestry is also one of my greatest joys. It combines my love of family, my true passion for genealogy, along with my deep interest in history. It is truly a blessing to be able to write about what I love so much!

Recently I started thinking more and more that I needed to expand my efforts to something even broader. I wasn't sure what it might be, but I knew I was developing an itch to take a step up and undertake a project something that would not only meet my interests, but also to make a difference to folks far beyond my direct reach.

My first step in this direction was when I came across the long-lost works of Hugo Chotek, the Czech-American newspaperman and author who wrote about the earliest Czech immigrants to Cleveland, Ohio. It took well over a year and a half, but my firm, Onward To Our Past® successfully completed the translation of Chotek's book from 1895 as well as a second work, which was included in the Czech journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. We then complimented these two works with one from 1878 by fellow Czech-American Vaclav Snajdr. The English translations of these works are now available on our website at no charge to anyone who has an interest.


As I was working on this project, over and over I kept hearing the same question being asked in my head: "I wonder if there are any descendants of these first settlers and if so do they know of their historically and genealogically significant roots?" The longer I worked on the project the more often I seemed to be hearing this question.

Finally I realized that there was only going to be one way to answer it. I would undertake the effort to begin to connect this piece of genealogical history with modern times.

I have now scoured these three documents for any mention of the names of anyone in this very first group of settlers. I now have a list of 16 names and I am beginning to conduct exhaustive genealogy research on each of them.

The first such settler I have begun to research is a fellow by the name of Leopold Levi. Leopold emigrated from his home in Bohemia and while headed originally to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, stopped in Cleveland, Ohio and decided to stay.

I have already discovered many interesting aspects of Leopold's life, especially since he was Jewish and evidently was one of the founders of the first Temple in Cleveland. Add to this the fact that it is reported in these early works that Leopold was so kindhearted that he became the focal point for all subsequently arriving Czechs by inviting them to live at his home until they got themselves established in their new land.


Now I am beginning the truly exciting part of trying to follow the genealogical trail of Leopold to any present day descendants. The good news is that I am on to a hot lead and am hopeful that my letter and phone calls will result in a terrific connection!

You will be able to follow my progress at Onward To Our Past® and I'll be sure to report back here as well.

So I encourage anyone and everyone who has a love of genealogy and family history to consider expanding your efforts beyond your family tree into a new 'orchard' that just might bear fruit for untold generations to come!

Enjoy the journey as we all go Onward To Our Past®