Are You Leveling Up Your Genealogy Research?

Do you follow Dutch Genealogy blogger Yvette Hoitink, CG? If you don’t, you should as many of her tips apply to non-Dutch genealogy research.

I’ve been intrigued by many of her posts, one of which is her determination to prove by modern standards her descent from Eleanor of Aquitaine (who happens to be one of my ancestors, too.)

The other is the subject of today’s post – “leveling up” our genealogy research, as Yvette describes it.

The process is simple. I think when everyone starts digging into his/her family history, we are excited by the discovery of names because names identify those who came before us.

However, name collecting, as exciting as it is adding to the numbers in our family tree, tells us nothing about what the lives of our ancestors were like.

Yvette’s Level Up challenge adds details to the stories of our ancestors.

Yvette’s Levels

Each level is easily understood, ranging from 0, when even the ancestor’s name is unknown, to Level 4, by which time the ancestor’s name is known, vital statistics have been found, and occupations, residence and family members are identified along with religion, property ownership and military service.

Level 5: Genealogical Proof Standard is asking whether the pieces of documentation of the ancestor’s life meet today’s standards of proof. Are there documents proving each of these facts or is something just family lore?

Level 6: Biography is the last step, whereby the information can be assembled to tell the ancestor’s life story.

For several years, Yvette has been reviewing her own progress in her Level Up challenge, as she works through each member of her family tree, which extends back eleven generations.

As I am working through my own genealogy software clean up project – my major goal for 2023 – it’s not just errors or source citations that catch my attention.

I am also tracking down missing details that are part of the Level Up challenge to expand my knowledge about the lives of each of my ancestors.

I highly recommend that you, too, try the Level Up challenge!

Thank you, Yvette, for sharing an excellent research and documentation process!



Patorai/Patoray Family of Udol, Slovakia & America

This family is part of my one-place study of St. Dimitry’s Greek Catholic (today Byzantine Catholic) Church parish, serving Udol and Hajtovka, Slovakia, covering the years 1827-about 1920. I will be sharing family records, roughly once a week, until all families in the parish are posted. Be aware that ages at marriage and death frequently don’t match baptismal records, when found. If you have ancestors who lived in these two villages and would like to receive an invitation to a shared Dropbox folder, please leave a comment and I will contact you.


Patorai recte Mikulik, Andrew & Maria Janoskova, Ujak, GC – See Mikulik.

Patorai, Anna, Ujak, GC

  1. Elias, born 14 March, bp 22 March 1868

Patorai alias Knap, Elias & Susanna Csanda, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. John, born 1 January, bp 3 January 1896
  2. Stephen, born 30 July, bp 1 August 1898

Patorai recte Mikulik, John, born c1811 & Anna Szurgent, born c1815, married 22 November 1836, Ujak 1 & 38, GC, GC – See Mikulik.

Patorai, John & Anna Mikulik, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Anna, bp 24 August 1842

Patorai recte Mikulik, John (18 March 1849-1898+), son of John Patorai recte Mikulik & Anna Szurgent  & Anna Fecsisin (25 May 1852-1898+), daughter of Peter Fecsisin & Susanna Petrisin, married 27 January 1873, Ujak 1, GC, GC – See Mikulik.

Patorai, John & Maria Hrinya, Ujak 1, GC, GC

Note: America

  1. Maria, born 12 December, bp 17 December 1907

Patorai recte Mikulik, Michael (bp 4 July 1851-18 October 1902), son of John & Anna Szurgent & Helen Miklus (c1857-1897+), daughter of Michael & Susanna Pathanej of Ujak 47, married 9 February 1874, Ujak 1 & 17, GC, GC – See Mikulik.

Patorai, Michael & Maria Heloncsik, Ujak 1, GC, GC

  1. John, born 28 April, bp 29 April 1913; died 29 April, buried 1 May 1913, aged 1 day
  2. Peter, born 3 July, bp 9 July 1916
  3. Michael, born 27 October, bp 3 November 1918

Patorai recte Mikulik, Peter (born 3 February, bp 10 February 1856-1894+), son of John Mikulik alias Patorai & Anna Szurgent & Maria Buk (26 December 1862-1894+), orphaned daughter of John Buk & Maria Miklus of Ujak 27, married 7 February 1881, Ujak 1 & 2, GC, GC – See Mikulik.

In spite of Patorai descendants today, I think that the surname, by DNA lines, is actually Mikulik. It appears that Andrew Patorai and Maria Janoskova, both born in the late 1700s, either had no surviving children, or at least no sons to carry on the name.

John Patorai who married Anna Szurgent in 1836 is noted in several records as “John Patorai recte Mikulik,” as are two of his children. John Mikulik may have taken the alias Patorai in order to continue on the family name.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Basic Facts for an Ancestor

It’s time for one of my favorite activities – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings. He issues some great challenges every week and I like this one:
1)  Pick an ancestor, any ancestor.  What do you know about them?  What source type(s) do you have for each item? Answer the 20 questions below about your chosen ancestor.
I’ve chosen my paternal Rusyn great grandmother, Anna Murcko.
)  Ancestor’s birth name:   Anna Murcko [church record, census, marriage record, death certificate]
2)  Ancestor’s parents:  John Murcko and Maria Szova [church records for baptism, marriage and burials]
3)  Ancestor’s birth date and place:  23 May 1872, Hajtovka, Slovakia [church baptismal record]
4)  Ancestor’s baptism/christening date and place:  26 May 1872, Ujak, Slovakia [St. Dimitry’s Church baptismal record]
5)  Ancestor’s spouse birth name: Michael Scerbak [marriage record]
6)  Ancestor’s spouse parents:  John Scerbak and Maria Patorai [church records]
7)  Ancestor’s spouse birth date and place:  17 February 1868 [baptismal record]
8)  Ancestor’s spouse death date and place:  16 March 1932, Ujak, Slovakia [church burial record]
9)  Children of Ancestor and spouse:  a)  Helena (Julia) Scerbak b) Michael Scerbak c) Peter Scerbak d)  Maria Scerbak e)  Infant f)  Michael Scerbak  g)  Stephen Scerbak [church records]
10)  Ancestor’s death date and place:  28 June 1967, Udol (formerly Ujak), Slovakia [death certificate]
11)  Ancestor cause of death:  old age [death certificate]
12)  Ancestor’s burial location:  St. Dimitry’s Church cemetery, Udol, Slovakia [Find A Grave]
13)  Ancestor’s occupation(s):  Private farm peasant [death certificate]
14)  Ancestor’s  military service:  None
15)  Ancestor’s residences:  Hajtovka and Udol, Slovakia and Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey [church records and census records, death certificate]
16)  Ancestor’s land records:  Michael earned enough money in New Jersey to buy a small piece of land in Udol, Slovakia [Anna’s death certificate]
17)  Ancestor’s probate records:  None
18)  How do you keep track of this information?:  RootsMagic software.
19)  What records do you need to find?:  None
20)  Have you written an ancestor genealogical sketch about this person?:  Yes.

Genealogy Tips & Family History