Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Lithuanian Notes


One benefit of discovering such an archived historic newspaper resource as is that its collection includes all those small neighborhood newspapers that family history researchers might otherwise not even know about. For instance, in searching for mentions of Uncle John's Aktabowski in-laws with their alternate identity, the Hark surname, I found some entries about social events involving several of the Hark brothers.

The location of those newspaper entries was in one interesting column, a resource I'd have hardly expected to find in any of the well-known New York City newspapers, such as The New York Times or even the Brooklyn Eagle. On the pages of the Queens Ledger, a paper devoted to only one of the five boroughs of New York City, I found a column with the title, "Lithuanian Notes."

Written by columnist Josephine Zembrosky, each edition was filled with snippets of social interest. Notes of birthday greetings mingled with reports of local bowling leagues and news of those returning home from military duty overseas. Included in that media melange for one edition in 1945 was the following entry:

Mr. and Mrs. William Hark, Jr., of 52-71 66th Street became the parents of a son, William Peter, on August 27. Grandpa William Hark, Sr., and great-grandpa George Belinski of 69th Place are busy receiving congratulations.

It was interesting to find that entry in a newspaper column for Lithuanian social notes. After all, Uncle John's heritage was Polish. That, however, did not mean that his wife's family shared that same origin. In fact, searching for Bronisława Aktabowski, Uncle John's wife, had always been challenging—and not simply because she chose to change her given name to Blanche. In census records which asked for such information, the Aktabowski heritage was represented variously as Polish or Russian, probably depending on the correct political designation of the region at the time in which that information was gathered in records regarding their family.

However, with this recent discovery of the family mentioned in a newspaper column focused on a heritage from Lithuania, was that revealing a hint as to the true origin of the Aktabowski surname? Or was it a hint of the ethnic heritage of yet another family line which had intermarried with the Aktabowski family?

I have yet to pinpoint that detail, but it is the tiny clues available in local newspapers such as this discovery of the Queens Ledger which bids me to keep searching a bit further in this record resource at 

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