Everyone should know what a doppelgänger is...hopefully. If not, here is a general definition of what a doppelgänger is: a look-alike or a double of a living person, mainly thought of a harbinger of evil, that is considered to be a paranormal phenomenon.
While I was doing my research on the FILIPEK line one day, I found some family photos of the original FILIPEK family. I was so excited that I had found some old photos of my ancestors! I was filled with butterflies, knowing that I finally found out what my family from Czechoslovakia looked like. I did not know what to think! I was quick to save the pictures to a flash drive that way I would have them to look at later.
Later that night, I went through the pictures that I saved to my flash drive to take a closer look at my ancestors. Then, that is when I noticed the doppelgänger...
Here is the conversation that I had with my mom that night:
"Hey Mom! Come over here and look at this!"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"Who does this look like to you?"
I couldn't believe it! I found his doppelgänger! Not only does this show I had the right family, but there were be two more sets of doppelgängers within my family.
Now, time to reveal my family member (right picture) who is the doppelgänger of the man in the picture above to the left, who is Josef FILIPEK (one of my 2nd-great uncles): my own father!!!
I showed the picture to my father, and asked him who Josef looked like and he said, "I don't know." I then told him that both myself and my mom said that Josef looked like him. He then said, "Okay, I can see a resemblance."
Now like I said earlier, there were two more sets of doppelgängers that would pop up during my research. Here are those pictures:
First set of pictures: my Uncle Preston FILIPEK and my biological grandfather Raymond FILIPEK
Second set of pictures: myself and my mom, Linda DEBE
You will never know if you have doppelgängers in your family until you find picture of the ancestors and compare them to your current living family.
Now that I am a new genealogist, I wanted to do more with my family history. Since my mom was doing her side of the family for the past 30+ years, I needed to do my father's family.
Ever since my grandmother became apart of my life, I found out that my father came from my grandmother's first marriage. But I didn't know much about that family history, so I started digging. My first task was to gather basic information from my grandmother about the family. She told me that her first husband, Raymond FILIPEK, was my biological grandfather. My grandmother gave me as much information as she could about Raymond's family and her parents. I had my first lead: find out more about the FILIPEK family.
I had no idea where to start, so with the help of my mom, she showed me how to use Ancestry. I searched for Raymond FILIPEK, and of course the US census came up first (the latest one, 1940s). My eyes grew with excitement, as I had just found my grandfather. I compared the information that my grandmother gave and the census record, and was convinced this was him. I followed the family name back to a John FILIPEK, who immigrated to the US from Czechoslovakia. This John FILIPEK was my triple great-grandfather. I was excited that I had start to my family tree.
I continued doing family research on the FILIPEK name, finding mostly census records, and writing down the information I found. I also gathered information on the wives and their families, that married into the FILIPEK family. I kept my family tree written down on paper and everything was written in pencil, which smudges very easily. Then one day my mom introduced me to a family tree program called Legacy. She was using it for her family tree and was a part of a Facebook group called Genealogy Do-Over. She learned how to properly source the documents and information she had on her family and decided to show me. Knowing that I now had a proper family tree program to use, it would be easier to do my family research on a computer rather than on paper.
I started learning how to source the census records, since those were really the only records that I had. I also learned the biggest reason for my country lifestyle growing up: my father's family were farmers and lived in a small town just like me.
Seeing now that I started my family tree, I needed to find other records to prove that I had the right people...and then next chapter of my research came to light.
Now that I have learned what microfilm is, I was intrigued by what this new life of being a genealogist would be like. I would ask my mom if we go to library again to do more research on the microfilm machines. So, almost every Saturday, we would head to the Charlotte Public Library to look up people in the obituaries of the newspaper that relatives had requested. I enjoyed helping my mom with her research for looking up requests for family members who were not in the Charlotte area.
Let me take you on a journey to my first genealogy road trip with my mom...where I experienced my first encounter...
Back in 2010, after my first year of high school, my mom and I went on a road trip to the North (Ohio and then to Niagara Falls). Our first stop was to a small town in Ohio named Massillon. There we researched my mom's family who has settled in the town many years ago when they first arrived to America. We made the discovery that my mother's triple great-grandfather, Jacob Debe, was one of the founders of the local church, who also helped build that same church. I helped my mom with her research on the family as best as I could. I managed to learn German for a matter of a day to help decipher a German church record from the same church that was built by Jacob Debe. We spent what seemed like a whole week in the local library doing research on the family.
While during our research in Massillon, we went looking for our ancestor in Massillon City Cemetery, where we passed a massive Gothic-inspired looking church. I had never seen a church like that ever before until this trip. When we finally got the cemetery, we went to the section that Jacob and his wife were suppose to be, and spent most of the afternoon looking for Jacob and his wife...no luck. I was getting cold and wanted to get my jacket from the truck, and my mom was getting a little frustrated at her triple great-grandfather. She shouted out "Alright, Jacob! Where the hell are you?? I've been looking for you and cannot seem to find you. So stand up and show yourself to me!" My mom then started walking to the truck, and when we turned around to continue looking for Jacob, I came across to older headstones...there he was, Jacob and his wife. We had managed to park in front of the graves without noticing it.
This was an encounter that I've never experienced before; having the dead literally stand up in front of you at their grave. No matter what you believe, I believed that as new found genealogist, that we have to power to call out to find our ancestors.
On the final morning of our stay in Massillon, we wanted to get a picture of the massive church, which we learned was St. Mary's Catholic Church. We pulled over and got our pictures and then we were off for Niagara Falls.
There is something inside everyone that pushes them to do what they love for a living, and for me, that is being a genealogist. Let me tell you a story about the eight year old who was bit by the genealogy bug.
Way back when during the mid-2000s, my mom was a volunteer for a group called Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, where you would go and look for relatives who had past away in your area for random people across the US. So one day, my mom has a stack of requests of people who wanted family members' obituaries from the Charlotte area and tells me, "Elizabeth, come on! We are going to the library to do some research for fun!" and of course as an eight year old, I complained about not wanting to go to the library. Finally, we got into the car and started on our way to the Charlotte Public Library. Once in downtown, my mom parked the car and paid for the spot for the day and we started walking to the library. We would go up to the third floor of the library where the research was done.
My mom asked the researcher at the desk where the microfilm machines were and they took us to the back corner to these huge machines that had very large screens to view the microfilm on. At first was I was a little nervous to use a big machine like this, as I had never even seen a microfilm reader. The researcher asked, "Do you know how to use one of these?" to my mom and she responded, "Yes. I'll be fine." My mom then started to explain how to use the fiche machine to me, and that I needed to pay close attention to the obituaries, and make sure that I find the right relatives that we were looking for. She then explained to me where I needed to go to get the fiche and that I needed to write down the box number, the person's name, and the page number of the newspaper. This was my first experience with sourcing!
After my mom explained the basic information about microfilm to my eight year old brain about two-three times, I was given a roll of dimes to print out the obituaries that I found. She assisted me with finding the first few obituaries on the list of names that we had brought in with us. After the first few that we worked on together, my mom sent me on my way to finding the requests on my own. If I had a questions about how to do something or if I found the right person, my mom would help me out in any way she could. A few hours would pass, and I was getting hungry, as any eight year old would. So we would go get something to eat real quick and come back to finish the stack of requests.
When we finished finding everyone that we could from the large stack of requests, I thought that we done for the day, but little did I know that I barely scratched the surface of the genealogical world as an eight year old.
I am an amateur/novice genealogist, that is just going through life while doing family research. I was "bit" by the genealogy bug at young age by my mom. Once I was bit, there was no turning back.