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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fearless Females 31 March 2016: Mini-Profile

The prompt for 31 March 2016 is to is write a mini-profile of the female ancestor of your choice.

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I decided to write a profile for my grandmother's sister, Anna Fencsak Bavolar.

Anna Fenscak Bavolar


Anna Fencsak Bavolar was born on May 15, 1893 to Ilona and Mihaly Fencsak in Freeland, PA. She arrived in America in 1911, and was matched for marriage to George Bavolar by her sister, Mary Ceyba. Not long after the birth of her first daughter, Mary, Anna returned to Slovakia to care for her mother, who was ill and now re-married to Mihaly Zelenak. During that time Anna experienced conflict with her step-father who was a possessive person and did not want Anna there looking after her mother. Ilona died in 1917, but World War I delayed Anna’s return home until 1920. Anna and her husband eventually had four more children. Anna’s son George was killed trying to jump on a moving truck.

Anna died in 1959 from “myocardial infarction,” and “congestive heart failure.”

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fearless Females 30 March 2016: Words of Wisdom

The prompt for 30 March 2016 is to share any words of wisdom you received from your mother or another female ancestor.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

Lisa Alzo with Anna Alzo, 1999

My mother taught me to believe in myself and that just because someone else had more money, more advantages, or more opportunities that I shouldn't feel they were better than me, or that this made me less of a person. She also taught me not to give up just because something seemed difficult or impossible to accomplish. Mom was a very smart woman and while at the time I couldn't understand the lessons or principles she was trying to teach, I can truly appreciate them now.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fearless Females 29 March 2016: Honoring a Female Ancestor

The prompt for 29 March 2016 is to honor a female ancestor with a tribute page, trading card, or using some other format of your choice. 

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 (formerly Footnote) Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your ancestor.


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

Fold3 Memorial Page for Elizabeth Alzo

I chose to create a free Fold3 Page for Elizabeth Alzo (my grandmother). I used data from the Fold3 database to help build the page - there are links to the 1930 census entry for her and to her naturalization petitions. I also added an image of her obituary, and plan to add some stories, and more information down the line.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Case You Missed the Live Webinar: Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp to Go Now Available for Purchase

Do you struggle with project management?  Want to collaborate with a cousin on your genealogy research or a colleague on writing a book or managing society activities?

Trello has changed the way I organize my personal to-do list, plan my posts for this blog, approach my genealogy projects, and my brainstorm ideas for writing.  It truly is my "whiteboard in the cloud."





During the recent Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp I presented on Saturday 19 March 2016 with Thomas MacEntee of Hack Genealogy, I demonstrated several different ways to use Trello for genealogy and family history.

If you missed out on the Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp, now is your chance to catch up and catch on to this versatile application with the digital download.  Click here to purchase now.

What's Included?

Below is a description of what was covered in the live session as provided by Thomas MacEntee and Hack Genealogy.

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If you were unable to attend the recent Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp this past Saturday,  you’re in luck! We’ve packaged the entire event – webinar video, handouts and freebies – into one product! We had a enthusiastic crowd with Lisa A. Alzo presenting a fun and information-filled webinar!

Getting Started with Trello


Have you ever wished for a whiteboard in the cloud where you could generate ideas, organize your genealogy research tasks, or storyboard your family history writing? Then, say “Hello” to Trello—a free project management tool to help you streamline your genealogy projects, tackle your  “to-do” lists, and improve your workflow.
Here’s what you will get with the Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp:
  • Learn how to set up a free Trello account and create your first project board.
  • Discover Trello’s easy project management system of boards, lists and cards and how to customize them for your personal to-do lists and genealogy/family history projects.
  • Learn how you can share your Trello boards and cards to collaborate with relatives, fellow researchers, and society colleagues.
  • Get tips on using the Trello app to sync your boards on multiple devices to take your work with you wherever you go!
  • View a variety of sample projects, and much more!
You’ll have unlimited access to these materials, with no time limit, and learn how to finally get organized! Price: $5.95!
Click here to order the Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp.
For more information and to purchase a copy of previous Hack Genealogy Boot Camp materials, click here to visit the Hack Genealogy Store.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved




Fearless Females 28 March 2016: Best Friend

The prompt for 28 March 2016 is to write about either your mother's or grandmother's best friend. 

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


Image credit: Pixabay

My mother's best friend growing up was Dolores. I don't want to infringe on her privacy so I won't post her last name or a photograph or any more details. But I know that my mother was very close with her. While Dolores moved to another state, the two still kept in touch over the years with letters and Christmas cards. Many years ago, when I threw a surprise party for my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I invited Dolores and she came! My mother was so surprised--the two hugged and cried and spent the weekend sharing memories. I know it meant so much to my mom to have her best friend there. It was one of those extra special moments in time that you will always remember. 

I'm not sure about my grandmothers. They were close to many of their neighbors and women they knew from the churches they attended.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fearless Females 27 March 2016: Immigration Story

The prompt for 27 March 2016 is to tell a female ancestor's immigration story.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

The immigration story of my grandmother Verona was what prompted me to begin my genealogical research. She was the last of her siblings to immigrate to America, arriving at age 22 with her niece Mary, who was 16.

Verona Straka and Mary Straka


She was detained for several days at Ellis Island for medical reasons. I wrote about her experience in my March 19th "Fearless Females" post, "Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? " and posted an image of the ship's manifest that documented she was detained.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fearless Females 26 March 2016: Education

The prompt for 26 March 2016 is to write about a female ancestor's education.

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother graduated from high school but did not go to college (her parents could not afford it). Mom was very smart and good at math. But she went to work after high school and after she married my father worked part time. I think she sometimes regretted not being able to go to college, and she worked very hard to make sure I was able to, and was so proud that I went to graduate school to earn my M.F.A. degree.



My grandmothers each had what was likely the equivalent of an 8th grade education, but by no means were they unintelligent women. They were at a disadvantage being immigrants and, but somehow they managed their households, raised their children, were able to hold down jobs speaking very little English.


Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fearless Females 25 March 2016: Women and Children

The prompt for 25 March is to describe a female ancestors interactions with her children.

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

My mother was loving and supportive, but also taught me to have respect for others, especially my elders. My mother was strict but I always knew she loved me and had my best interests at heart. 

Me with my mom, Anna


Now that I am adult I can really appreciate my mother's style of parenting. I also thank her for always believing in me and supporting my goals. She was my role model, especially with the way she cared for her own parents. I followed in her footsteps, caring for her and my father during their respective illnesses. My mother taught by example.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fearless Females 24 March 2016: Shared Traits

The prompt for 24 March 2016 is to list and physical or personality traits you share with a female ancestor.


March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

I inherited fine hair and fine eyebrows from my paternal grandmother--this trait appears to run on her side of the family. My three aunts had fine hair and eyebrows too. 

Elizabeth Alzo

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In terms of personality, I tend to take after my mother. She was a generous lady who always tried to see the good in others even if they were not always good to her. I think in many ways, however, that I am tougher than my mother because I don't let people take advantage of my good nature.  I also have inherited my mother's "worry" gene. I tend to imagine the worst and often worry about things that are beyond my control. I have been trying to do better in this area.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fearless Females 23 March 2016: Create a Timeline

The prompt for 23 March 2016 is to create a timeline to highlight events in a female ancestor's life.

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines.

Below is a one of my timeline images for Elizabeth Fencsak Alzo (using Our Timelines) that spans from 1897 to 1915 (the date of her marriage).


Timelines are a great way to get a bird's eye view of a female ancestor's life.  They will help you see the gaps in your research and give you ideas of where to look next for more information.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved












Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fearless Females 22 March 2016: This is "Her" Life

The prompt for 22 March is to imagine that a movie is being made about one of your female ancestors and to describe what the story would be and to select the actress you imagine starring in the role.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I could only hope for a chance to bring the life stories of my grandmother and mother (from my book, Three Slovak Women) to the big (or even small) screen.

Anna Alzo


I never really thought about who would play my grandmother in the movie version, but I have thought many times that I would like to see my mother portrayed by Catherine Zeta- Jones .


Copyright, 2016, LIsa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fearless Females 21 March 2016: Tender Moments

The prompt for 21 March 2016 is to write about a special or tender moment you remember about a female ancestor.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.


[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


Verona Figlar, c. 1983


When I think of tender I think of my Grandma Verona. While Grandma shared kisses and hugs with us, she didn’t overdo it on the affection. But, she had this quiet way of letting you know how much she loved you. Things like letting me have the last slice of lemon pie, baking me my own small paska bread for my Easter basket, or slipping a few dollar bills into my pocket when my mom wasn’t watching when she knew there was a toy or treat I wanted. Whenever we would all gather at her house on Friday evenings, or on holidays, sometimes she would sit quietly in her chair and just watch all of us. We were a large, noisy bunch, but she was always delighted to have her children and grandchildren around. When you walked in that door you just knew you were welcome and that Grandma was truly happy to see you.


My grandmother has been gone for nearly 32 years and I still miss her very much.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fearless Females Blog Post: 20 March 2016: Elusive or Brick Wall Ancestor

The prompt for 20 March 2016 is to write about an elusive female ancestor in your family tree.


March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.


I've actually been pretty fortunate that my female ancestors have been fairly easy to trace. This is in part due to the excellent collection of microfilmed records available from the Family History Library --church and census records from my ancestral villages in Slovakia. I would like to learn a bit more about my great-grandmothers if possible. In particular, I'm hoping to learn more about my paternal grandfather's mother, Borbala Manovsky Alzo.


Borbala Manovsky Alzo


I know very little about her so hope to find out whatever I can. She died in 1961--the same year (just a few months apart) as her son (my grandfather), and I thought this was an interesting coincidence. I have her marriage record thanks to my cousin. I also have some pictures from her funeral. From family I learned that she had several sisters so I'd like to learn more about them too. I am in the processing of doing more research and am hoping to obtain a copy of her death record from Slovakia, and hopefully will be able  to find some other documents, as well.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fearless Females 19 March 2016: Surprising Fact

The prompt for 19 March 2016 is to write about a surprising fact you uncovered about a female ancestor.


March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out? 

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

One of the more interesting facts I uncovered was my grandmother's hospital stay upon arrival at Ellis Island in August 1922. I first learned about this from the story my mother told me over 20 years ago,when I first began researching my family's history--that my grandmother was suspected to have tuberculosis (she did not--she suffered from asthma most of her life). I then saw a notation "hospital discharged" on the passenger list. Then, I found her listed on a "Record of Detained Aliens."

Record of Detained Aliens, Verona Straka, Year: 1922; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3155; Line: 1; Page Number: 83; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, US, accesses March 2010. 


Of course it's a relief to know that my grandmother was eventually released. I can't imagine how she handled that situation, or how she did not catch TB from being in the hospital ward!

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved




Friday, March 18, 2016

Fearless Females 18 March 2016: Shining Star

The prompt for 18 March 2016 is to write about talented female ancestors in your family tree.


March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


I always said that my mother should have opened her own bakery. She was a great cook, but she had a real talent for making cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Her specialty: Lady Locks--dainty puffed pastry with creme filling. She made them for every wedding, baptism, graduation, and other special event in our family and they would disappear from the cookie table in a flash! Making these cookies requires patience and precision and I remember watching my mother labor for hours--working to get the dough just right before wrapping it around the special pins, and then after they came out of the oven would carefully fill each one using a pastry bag, and then delicately coat them with powdered sugar from her "magical" powdered sugar can.

Anna Alzo (right) with her cousin Mary, baking cookies for a family wedding.

They weren't just cookies--they were works of art!

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fearless Females 17 March 2016: Social Butterfly?

The prompt for 17 March 2016 is to write about a female ancestor's involvement with a social organization and what role she played in that group


March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother and grandmothers socialized mostly with their neighbors or friends they knew from church. My mother belonged to the Ladies Penna. Slovak Catholic Union and the Roman Catholic Parochial Beneficial Society of Rosary of the Blessed Virgin.



When our immigrant ancestors arrived in the New World, they often settled in enclaves within cities and towns and tended to cluster in specific regions in the United States. It was common for immigrants, particularly those who did not speak English, to travel together and put down roots among relatives, friends, or neighbors from their native land. These so-called “cluster communities” offered a place where the immigrants could transplant and preserve their culture, lifestyle and traditions as best they could in their new surroundings. Seeking to keep their culture as it existed in the homeland, immigrant groups frequently founded their own churches, schools, boarding houses, and other institutions, as well as forming their own academic, athletic, or charitable groups, and fraternal, occupational, and social organizations. Many also established their own ethnic presses that published newspapers and histories to highlight specific communities. In the late 1800s, fraternal organizations became very popular. 

Employed largely in difficult and often dangerous industrial occupations, immigrants sought financial protection for themselves and their families. As a result, they established their own fraternal/benevolent organizations to provide mutual insurance and to foster camaraderie and social interaction, and some even as a way to keep ties to traditions or ways of the old country. Today, we have the Internet and social media. For my parents and grandparents, these fraternal benefit societies and lodges provided the “social networking” opportunities.


Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Last Chance to Register: Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp – Saturday, March 19, 2016

Have you ever wished for a whiteboard in the cloud where you could generate ideas, organize your research tasks, or storyboard your family history writing? 

Trello is one of my favorite free project management tools. I use it for daily to-do lists, keeping track of my research projects and writing assignments, organizing my travel plans, outlining blog posts, and much more.

If you are curious about how to use Trello, join me for a mini boot camp this coming Saturday, 19 March 2016 hosted by Thomas MacEntee and HackGenealogy.com

Here are the details to reserve your spot.



Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp – Saturday, March 19, 2016

Have you ever wished for a whiteboard in the cloud where you could generate ideas, organize your genealogy research tasks, or storyboard your family history writing? Then, say “Hello” to Trello—a free project management tool to help you streamline your genealogy projects, tackle your  “to-do” lists, and improve your workflow.
Here’s what you will get in Trello Mini Boot Camp:

  • Learn how to set up a free Trello account and create your first project board.
  • Discover Trello’s easy project management system of boards, lists and cards and how to customize them for your personal to-do lists and genealogy/family history projects.
  • Learn how you can share your Trello boards and cards to collaborate with relatives, fellow researchers, and society colleagues.
  • Get tips on using the Trello app to sync your boards on multiple devices to take your work with you wherever you go!
  • View a variety of sample projects, and much more!

Bonus Handout: In addition to the webinar handout, attendees will receive free bonus handouts including a Trello blog post planner board template.

Sign Up for the Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp Today!
With the Getting Started with Trello Mini Boot Camp you’ll receive 1.5 hours of educational content for a special low price of $7.95! You’ll receive an extensive handout, a special “freebie” created by instructor Lisa Alzo, as well access to the recorded version of the webinar!
Click HERE to register!
Register by Thursday, 17 March 2016, and receive $2 off the registration price for a low $5.95! Space is limited and if you register but can’t attend, you’ll still receive the handout, the freebie and access to the recording!
Saturday 19 March 2016
Duration: 1.5 hours
  • 11:00 am EST /10:00 am CST
    Getting Started with Trello
    Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.

Presenter/Moderator Bios


Lisa Alzo – Presenter
Lisa A. Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and writing coach with over 26 years’ experience in the field of genealogy. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of ten books, including: The Family Tree Polish, Czech, and Slovak Genealogy Guide, Finding Your Slovak Ancestors, Writing Your Family History Book, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women. Lisa has written hundreds of articles and her work has appeared in Family Tree MagazineFamily Chronicle/Your Genealogy TodayInternet GenealogyAPG Quarterly, among others. An internationally recognized speaker, Lisa blogs as “The Accidental Genealogist” http://www.theaccidentalgenealogist.com, where she has hosted the popular “Fearless Females Blogging Prompt” series each March since 2010. For more information see http://www.lisaalzo.com.
Thomas MacEntee – Moderator






What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, marketer, network builder and more.
Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started building his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He’s also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.”
How to Register
Ready to join in this great educational event? Here are the details on the registration process:
  • Click HERE to register. Once you register you will need to make payment via Paypal. You do not need a PayPal account to make payment.
  • IMPORTANT: If you use a different email address for Paypal than your normal email address PLEASE LET US KNOW! We need a valid working email to send you reminders and the follow up materials after the webinar! Email us at hackgenealogy@gmail.com.
  • Once payment is processed and received, you will receive a confirmation email. You will also receive a link to access the webinar on Saturday, March 19th.
  • Then you’ll be reminded via e-mail at least one day prior to Boot Camp.
  • Within 24 hours of the start of Boot Camp, you’ll receive the links to the handout and freebie so you can review them before we start.
  • After the webinar, all registrants will have access to the recording for personal use. The recording will be hosted on Vimeo and a password will be required to access the video pages.
Questions? Email us at hackgenealogy@gmail.com.
Terms and Conditions
Please read the Terms and Conditions for all Hack Genealogy Boot Camp events before you pay and register! Click here for more information.
©2016, copyright Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee, All Rights Reserved


Fearless Females 16 March 2016: Let's Do Lunch

The prompt for 16 March 2016 is to write about a lunch date you would like to have with a female family member or ancestor. 

March 16 — If you could have lunch (or another meal) with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I would like to spend the day with my mother Anna, my grandmothers, Elizabeth and Verona, and my great-grandmothers--Ilona, Borbala (Barbara), Maria, and Anna—all together in one place. I imagine we are in Slovakia – in one of my ancestral homes. Of course we would have Slovak food! I picture us sharing a traditional Easter meal: paska, hrutka/syrek (Easter cheese), hrin (beets & horseradish), klobassy, ham, hard-boiled egg--each food symbolic.   



I would understand and speak the Slovak language so I could listen to their stories and their wisdom and help them prepare all the delicious foods. My family dream team!

Recipes and information on Slovak Easter traditions are included in my book, Baba’s Kitchen: Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes and Traditions.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fearless Females 15 March 2016: Six-Word Memoir Tribute

The prompt for 15 March is to write a short (six-word) tribute that characterizes a female ancestor.

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

This exercise is based on the book, "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure."

Here is mine for my grandmother.


Elizabeth Alzo. Photo privately held by Lisa Alzo

Elizabeth Fencsak Alzo (paternal grandmother): Fine hair. Tough as nails. Enigma.

I wrote six-word memoirs about some of my other ancestors too. Click here to read more.


Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved