Surname Saturday – Wasik Family

Surname Saturday looks at the history behind our family names.


Stanislaw “Stanley” Wasik second from left. Zofia Szczerba is to his left, and Katie Wasik to his right. With Adam and Sophie Wasik. 14 November 1937.  Cherry Valley, Pennsylvania.

“Wasik Name Meaning. Polish (Wasik): descriptive nickname from a diminutive of was ‘moustache’ (see Was).Polish and Ukrainian: from a pet form of the personal name Wasyl, Polish form of Greek Basileios (see Basil). Eastern German: nickname from Sorbian wasik ‘crawler’” [Source:].

There are two common versions of this surname in Poland, the way it is spelled in our family’s lineage, Wasik, and also the ogonek ą in Wąsik, which may give it a more nasal sound. According to a compilation of Polish surnames by Kazimierz Rymunt published in Krakow-Chicago 2002, the surname Wasik had 2,879 residents and the surname Wąsik had 10,631 [Dictionary of Surnames in Current Use in Poland at the Beginning of the 21st Century].

Stanislaw or Stanley Wasik was born in the small village of Berdechów, which is in southern Poland about 50 miles south-east of Krakow. His mother was Apolonia “Pauline” Olszewski Szczerba Wasik. Apolonia was my great-grandmother. When my grandmother, Zofia’s, father, Piotr or Peter Szczerba died in 1882, Apolonia then married Laurentius or Walter (Wawrzynia) Wasik in Berdechow. Stanley had a twin named Jozef. He also had an older brother Jan “John” Wasik (1887-1934). It is possible that Jan also had a twin.

After John and Stanley emigrated to the United States to work the coal mines in western Pennsylvania, they in turn married sisters from a neighboring Polish village called Falkowa. John Wasik married Katarzyna “Katie” Bronczyk shown above in the photo. They had twelve children. Stanley Wasik married Jadwiga “Jennie” Stoklosa, and they had nine children. Confused yet? My sister and I were always in a state of confusion until we went to a Wasik family reunion. That helped a lot. We also heard that another Wasik sibling may have married another sister of Jennie and Katie.

John Wasik died in Smith, Washington County, PA in 1934. An interesting note is that on his immigration record from 1910 John Wasik said his nationality was Austrian (Poland was part of the Austrian Empire then), but he was ethnic Ruthenian. The Ruthenians are also called the Lemkos. You can click this link to read more:

Stanley Wasik died in McDonald, Washington County, PA at the age of 79. Here are his daughters below with his wife Jennie.

Jennie Wasik with her daughters.

Jennie Wasik with her daughters, from left to right: Virginia, Julia, Stella, Helen, and Chris. Photo from Chester Wasik.

Another sweet photo of Jennie Wasik and children below. Chester Wasik is sitting next to his mom. Standing are his siblings – Steve, Chris, Virginia, and Helen.


Jennie Wasik with two of her sons and three of her daughters. Photo from Chester Wasik.

I never met Jennie Wasik, but I love this quote from her daughter, Stella, to my mother:

“Mom and Dick are pretty good at present but Dick is failing more and more each day. He is 71. Mom is 69 but claims she is going to stay 39, she has more pep than her daughters. [written 9 Nov 1968].

After Stanley Wasik died, Jennie married Edward “Dick” Klimas, and Jennie lived to the age of 96! Sto Lat is a favorite Polish song meaning may you live to be one hundred. Jennie came very close.

As you can see twins do run in the Wasik family. This photo below is of Stella Wasik Teyssier with her husband, and their twins.

Eugene and Stella Teyssier with their twins.

Eugene and Stella with their twins.

Chester Wasik while serving  in the Navy is shown below.


Chester Wasik during WWII.

Some of John and Katie Wasik’s children are shown in these two photographs, taken near the Wasik family farm. Thank you to all of the Wasik family for your military service! So happy that I got to talk with so many of the Wasik family. It was especially nice to hear Sophie talk about her aunt Sophia, my grandmother, and how much she loved her. Sophie (in the white sweater) is next to her sister. Helen kindly shared family documents.



The photo below is of Adam Wasik taken in 1942.

'Adam' - 1942

‘Adam’ – 1942

The photo below is of Stanley Wasik in 1942.


“Stanley Wasik and his friend.”

This photograph was with other Wasik ones, but I don’t know who these two are.

"This picture was taken last summer"

“This picture was taken last summer”

"Wilfred. He looks like the Wasik's, don't you think? 1948"

“Wilfred. He looks like the Wasik’s, don’t you think? 1948”


The Wasik farm in Washington County, PA, taken during a family reunion Ho-Down.

You can search on our Genealogy Sisters blog for other postings about the Wasik family, and enjoy some other photographs. My sister and I always love hearing from the extended Wasik family!

Surname Saturday is a blogging post suggested by Geneabloggers. Take a look at the website for more genealogy information:

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Berdechow au Bobowa, Blog Prompt Series, Blogger, Family Names, Family research, Maryann, Mirota, Olszewski, Pennsylvania, Poland, Sczcerba, Surname Saturday, Washington County, Wasik | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

James Alexander Doran – Born 1913 in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland

James Alexander Doran (1913-1982). Photograph from Maire McKenna.

James Alexander Doran (1913-1982). Photograph from M. McKenna. Copyright 2016.

This photograph of James Alexander Doran was possibly taken for his First Holy Communion at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. The picture is from his daughter who has been trying for a very long time to find out more about her father, and her grandparents. She has asked Genealogy Sisters to try and help in her family research.

James Alexander Doran was born on November 30th, 1913 in Belfast to James Doran and Sophia Doran, formerly Smyth. They lived at 51 Fifth Street in West Belfast. So far we have not been able to find the marriage record of his parents. After his parents weren’t able to raise him, the priest from St. Peter’s RC Church in West Belfast, placed him with a family called Hutchinson, when he was around three years old. These sisters raised him along with Mary Elizabeth O’Neill and Angela Brown, two other young children in need of a home. James Alexander Doran married Theresa Graham in Belfast. She was born April 8th, 1918 in Belfast. They raised a family and eventually emigrated to the United States. James Doran came in 1953 to Detroit, Michigan from Belfast, and in 1955 Theresa Doran came with their children. James Alexander Doran died in Sarasota, Florida on January 7, 1982.


Birth Record for James Alexander Doran – Source:

The Doran family had a birth record for James Alexander Doran, and he always used the birthday of November 30th, 1913. So far we haven’t been able to find a baptismal record. It is possible that Sophia Smyth was a Protestant and there was conflict in her family about her marriage to a Roman Catholic, or vice versus. Since we can’t find a marriage record there is uncertainty as to what names his grandparents went by.

From the 1911 Irish Census it looks like the Hutchinson family lived at 12 Sevastapol Street, West Belfast, in the heart of the area called The Old Pound Loney. This neighborhood was near St. Peter’s twin spires that dominated the landscape. My Doran family also lived in this neighborhood, but so far we haven’t found a connection between the families. Jane Roach Hutchinson was the matriarch of the family, and her unmarried daughters – Ellen, Ann Jane, and Maggie lived with her. Jane’s husband, James, had died previously. They also had at least two other children – James and Henry Hutchinson. The Hutchinson’s had a niece Maria Carney or Kearney that also helped raise James Doran. This photograph below shows them together.

James Alexander Doran with Maria Kearney taken in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photograph from Maire McKenna.

James Alexander Doran with Maria Kearney taken in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photograph from M. McKenna. Copyright 2016.

Young boys often wore toddler dresses, along with the girls. After they were toilet trained they were considered “Breeched” and then often wore short pants or knickers, until about the age of ten when they started wearing trousers. Young James Doran is so adorable and by comparing the first photograph you can see he became a fine looking young man.

Maria Kearney did give the Doran family a few more nuggets of information. When James was very young she took him to the Banbridge Market in County Down. James remembered a young woman coming up the hill and speaking to his aunt Maria. She said he looked small for his age compared to her brothers, who were all big. After she left, Maria told him that that lady is your mother. Also living with James Alexander Doran after he was placed with the Hutchinson family were two other girls. Mary Elizabeth O’Neill was born in the Belfast Workhouse and the priest at St. Peter’s also placed her with this family, along with another young girl named Angela Brown. James was the oldest, then Angela, and then Mary.

It is unclear who Sophia Smyth Doran’s parents were. There were quite a few Smyth/Smith families from the Banbridge and Gilbert areas. It also is unknown if she went by her maiden name or Doran, after she left her son in the care of the priest at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. The only other fact known is that she had red hair.

Looking into the name Sophia Smyth, there was a child born in 1892 in Gilford, County Down to Isaac and Annie Smyth. This Sophia had a twin named Alexander. Sadly this Sophia died at the age of three from croup in 1896. Isaac Smyth had a brother, Francis Smyth. Francis and Elizabeth Smyth also had a child named Sophia, born 1 February 1884 in Banbridge. This Sophia Smyth married Robert Burns in 1907 in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland. These two Sophia Smyths were baptized Protestant in the Church of Ireland. Another Sophia Smith was born 21 May 1889 in Holywood, County Down to John Smyth and June Mulloney. She was Roman Catholic. Looking at birth records from these are the only Sophia Smyth/Smith birth records for the counties of Antrim and Down during this time period.

Next we looked at the 1911 Irish Census for Sophia Smyth. There was a Sophia Smyth, age 27, single, working at the White Abbey Girls School in the White Abbey District of County Antrim. But there was also a Sophia Smyth, in Belfast living at 8 Derby Street, in the Smithfield District of Belfast. Sophia Smyth was 21, single, could read and write, RC, occupation seamstress, and lived with her father, John Smyth, age 46, a widower, and two siblings Sarah – age 19 and Edward – age 14. Sophia, and her father, John, were both born in County Down, and her two siblings in Belfast. It is possible she had more siblings that had already moved out. This Sophia Smyth/Smith seems to match the one born in 1889 [Source:

Searching for the James Doran that was the father of James Alexander Doran is a more difficult task. The name was very common in both Antrim and Down counties. First I looked for any James and Sophia Doran families in the 1911 Irish Census, and found none. In County Antrim, during the 1911 Irish Census there were eleven matches for James Doran. Some were infants or young children, and of the rest, most were married with families. There was one that seems a possible match. This was James Doran, age 25, single, RC, could read and write, occupation a laborer, born in Belfast, living at 11 Oakfield Street, in the Clifton District of Belfast, in County Antrim. He lived with his mother Mary Doran, a widow, age 55, occupation of weaver, and she was born in Ballynahinch, a town in County Down next to Banbridge. She had had two children with only one living.

Looking at Irish Birth Records for any James Doran born in Antrim or Down gave four matches, one of which we have previously researched. James McCann Doran was born 10 May 1886 in Belfast to Patrick and Minnie Ohagen Doran. They lived at 58 Raglan Street, and this James was baptized at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. Another Doran researcher, Eileen, had previously looked into this James Doran and it is thought he emigrated on 11 October 1909 from Belfast to the United States, and settled in Kansas City, Missouri, were he died in 1961.

Also listed: James Bernard Doran, born in County Down on 20 December 1886, and baptized Roman Catholic in Annaghlone, parents Patrick Doran and Ellen McClory; James Patrick Doran born 18 March 1886, baptized Roman Catholic at St. Peter’s, parents Edward Doran and Elizabeth Conway, living at 7 Cairns Street, Belfast; James Dorrian, born 22 October 1885, Civil Record, parents John Dorrain a Sailor and Elizabeth Whiteside, living at 31 Hillview Street, Belfast. Looking at the years before and after 1886, there was a James Doran baptized on 26 May 1887, Roman Catholic, parents James Doran and Mary Magee, no address, Parish of Clonallon, County Down. It looks like Clonallon is near Warrenpoint. In 1885 there was a James Doran born  on 20 April, 1885, Roman Catholic, parents Hugh Doran and Ann Mackin, address of Lurganreagh, Parish of Kilkeel, Upper Mourne, County Down []

I think you can pick almost any year during the late 18th century in the Belfast area and find at least one James Doran born!

There were so many James Dorans that died after 1913 in the Belfast area, that it is hard to pin down which could have been the father of James Alexander Doran. He may also have been in ill health, or enlisted in World War One and killed or disabled, or unable to care for his son.

If anyone has any information on this Doran family from Belfast, please share with us, and we will in turn pass on the information. The Doran clan believes in hope!

Doran Irish Crest

Doran Irish Crest

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Doran Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Banbridge, Belfast, Birth, Brick Walls, Churches, County Antrim, County Down, Doran, Family Locations, Family Names, Ireland, Locations, Old Pound Loney, Research, Smith, Smyth, St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church - Belfast | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Coming to America – Bernard Doran – 1910

S. S. Columbia - Anchor Line Ship

S.S. Columbia – Anchor Line Ship

The S.S. Columbia is the ship that my grandfather, Bernard Doran, came over from Northern Ireland to America in 1910. I found a really interesting webpage with vintage brochures from some of the ships that sailed back and forth from Europe to the United States. This ship was part of the Anchor Lines fleet. Here is the link:

The brochure has photos of the ships in the line and some descriptions of what to expect on your voyage. It was written in 1912.

“The Twin-Screw Steamships CAMERONIA, CALEDONIA, COLUMBIA and CALIFORNIA, forming the regular weekly service of the ANCHOR LINE, are the largest, finest and fastest sailing between New York and Glasgow via Moville (Londonderry). These Steamships are fitted with Bilge Keels to ensure steadiness at sea, are equipped with Marconi Wireless Telegraph, and are modern and up-to-date in every respect.

CALEDONIA’S fastest passage between Moville and New York is 6 days 20 hours; COLUMBIA’S, 6 days 22 hours between New York and Moville; CALIFORNIA’S, 7 days 12 hours, Moville to New York. CAMERONIA is equally as fast as CALEDONIA.

CAMERONIA, CALEDONIA and COLUMBIA land passengers at Glasgow and New York regularly on Sunday and the CALIFORNIA on Monday.
Read more: Vintage Brochure – Anchor Line – Information For Passengers – 1912
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I don’t think I had ever heard Londonderry called Moville. There was a railroad line running from Belfast to Londonderry in Northern Ireland. I’m sure that is how my grandfather went from his home in Belfast. He left Londonderry on October 1st, 1910 and arrived at the Port of New York on October 11th. He was listed as 19 years old (but was really 20), single, and he had $10 of spending money. He was traveling by himself. He was a British citizen with Irish nationality. Bernard was 5 feet 4 inches with a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, and no identifying marks. He could read and write English and his occupation was general laborer. His closest relative in Ireland was his sister, Elizabeth Doran Rafferty, living at 51 Springfield Village, Belfast. He was going to his other sister, Ellen Doran Smith [Smythe], living at 120 Odgen Street, in Newark, New Jersey.

My sister and I had found Bernard Doran’s immigration record from the S. S. Columbia at the National Archives in New York City in 2000, by looking through the ship’s passenger indexes. We thought it was a minor miracle that we found the right record. Now the record can be found at with ease [Source: Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.Original data – Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service].

My family has only a few photographs of Bernard “Barney” Doran. After coming to America he lived the rest of his life in New Jersey. Unlike his siblings, Ellen “Nellie”, Elizabeth, William, and Joseph, we think this was the only journey he took. His siblings took more trips back and forth from Ireland to New Jersey, but they all died in New Jersey. Bernard Doran died in Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey on April 11th, 1947, and cause of death was oedema of lungs due to bronchitis. He was only 57 years old. My grandmother, Mary “Mamie Mahoney Doran, was 52 years old and never remarried. The photograph below was taken in the early 1940s. You can click on the images to enlarge them.

Bernard and William John Doran, on Hamilton Street, in Harrison, New Jersey, circa early 1940s.

Brothers, Bernard and William John Doran, on Hamilton Street, in Harrison, New Jersey, circa early 1940s. Bernard is on the left.

If your family member came through Ellis Island in New York City, like my grandfather did, you can also search at their website for free and see images of the ships:

Good luck with researching your ancestry!

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Doran, Family Names, Harrison, Immigration, Locations, New Jersey, Newark, Research | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments