Albanian Family Mystery

Though I’ve never met my grandfather (my mother’s father), I’ve heard a great many things about him including stories of wartime exploits overseas and the interesting artifacts he discovered during his days as an excavator on archaeological digs. What I never knew much about was his family tree, where his descendants originated from and what kind of people they were. But thanks to passenger lists obtained through public family records found online, and a little bit of luck, I’ve discovered a tidbit of information that could lead me to the first big piece of the puzzle.

My Grandfather’s family, the Vranici’s, are said to have come from Albania in the late 1880’s, a time where Albanian moral was at an all time low. The Berlin treaty of 1878 denying their independence, Many Albanians decided to flee the country, most of whom left for other Balkan countries, but some to America. Such was supposedly the case for the Vranici family, Or at least what we assumed was the case. My mother and her sisters had heard many stories during their youth, tales recounting how their grandparent’s family had fled to America to start a new life, leaving behind a chaotic world of fear and persecution. What they didn’t know was that these stories were actually partly false, a little yarn to hide some secret, dark or otherwise.

My interest about the subject arose due to a report I had read about the sheer lack of known immigrants leaving for America in and around those times. Numbers were shown displaying a mass exodus during the wars of 1877-1878 to countries like Serbia, Turkey, and Greece. My journey towards the truth began with the help of passenger lists and records of landed immigrants between 1880 and 1900. I began looking online, perusing family tree sites that might guide me in the right direction. I assumed I would find nothing, and was pessimistic that any of these sites really had anything of use to offer. At first I found nothing at all, nothing at least to prove the point that the Vranici had come over in the late 1880’s. Basically after sifting through countless passenger lists and family records, the Vranici name did not surface. I knew that there was a strong possibility that their name had been changed to hide their identity, so I was still not convinced of anything, one way or the other.

Finally though, after looking a little farther ahead (lists made from 1900-1920) I discovered some telling information. 6 Persons with the name Vranici, landing at Ellis Island, on the 27th of July, 1908. Where they had come from exactly was uncertain. When I showed the names to my mother, she could barely believe her eyes: it was indeed her father’s family! Why this fact had been hidden from her all these years was mysterious, but also a little distressing. During a time of war and even ethnic cleansing, my great grandparents had concocted a story that seemed to only to negate any involvement they may have had with that time. What were they really doing? What kind of people were they? Thanks to the help of online public family records, I’m a little closer to the truth.

Buckman Family History


For the last few years I have been investigating my father’s maternal line and, to my dismay, the information I’ve received has been quite unsatisfactory, even with the few certificates I have been able to obtain… I fear that due to the fact that I am Canadian and never owned a British passport, I have not been able to peruse the same information afforded to British citizens.This is why I’ve decided to reach out here, in the hope someone from the area will be able to help me find the answers I’m looking for. This is the story as I understand it…

Johnson Buckman (1867) was born in what is now referred to as the Ribble Valley district of Lancashire, England, the son of Douglas Buckman, a fruit merchant. From the documents I was able to obtain, I construed that The Buckman family resided in the Ribble valley for at least 50 years, beginning in 1832 and continuing on into at least the mid 1880’s. From the information I found, there was no way of proving if they were there before that timeframe.

Johnson married Mary Butler Monroe (Born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Lancashire) on 2 November 1889 in All Saints Church, Manchester. The home address is given as 24, Sackville St.

They had four children, Mary Elizabeth (1891, Manchester), Lionel, Paul (My Grandfather) and Harriet.

I have perused the various UK census and ancestry registries chased down various leads on birth, death and marriage records, but to no avail.

I remain unconvinced by any likely matches… So I would be very grateful if anyone has any suggestions, or (even better) any possible matches in your own research for any of the above details with leads into the Buckman family.

The family is first recorded in the England 1901 Census in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Lancanshire. Mary Elizabeth is shown as born in Manchester, England (1891) and the next child Lionel was born in September 1892 in Chorlton-on-Medlock… So for at least two-and-a-half years the family is in Manchester, but then the trail goes cold.

Lionel died of pneumonia in the early 20’s (according to my family) and my grandfather came over to America with Harriet in the late 40’s. For some reason Mary Elisabeth got lost in the shuffle or was not accounted for in passenger lists.

My grandfather has been dead for many years and he was the only link to the old world that I had.

My last gasp now is actually making the long haul from Canada to Manchester, and digging around over there. Maybe people would be more forthcoming in person than over the phone, I don’t know, but I feel like my family tree is missing integral ingredients that need to be unearthed.

That said, I would be grateful if some kind-hearted individual out there might be able to gain access to the 1891 Census and could take a peek for Douglas Buckman (circa 1840?), or Johnson Buckman (1864) and his wife Mary Butler Monroe (1867), and possibly daughter Mary Elizabeth (1891)…

Also, a shout out to my cousin Mark McIntyre who runs, where he reviews everything from fat burning supplements for men to hair restoration products.

Uncle Where Art Thou?

It has recently come to my attention that finding information about my family tree is now easy and affordable. For the longest time I assumed that I would have to jump through hoops to learn anything about my ancestry.

Now with Public Family Tree I’m finding things I never thought possible! For example, I’ve learnt some amazing new details about my great uncle Harry Lefferty on my father’s side, whom we lost track of in the late sixties.

The last thing my dad had heard about Harry was that he had left the civilized world behind and gone into the woods to lead the life of a hermit. This was around the year 1968. We had always been under the impression he’d simply vanished into the wilderness then, lost to us forever.


Uncle Harry

My dad’s family attempted to locate Harry on many occasions, but never could pick up a trail, or at least the right trail. It was evident after a while that Harry did not want to be found, and he seemed to always know when we were close.

So, after many years of trying and failing, my family simply gave up on Harry, and pretty much wrote him off for dead, an integral piece of our family tree, vanishing into thin air.

That is, until I decided to dig a little deeper. It occurred to me, sometime ago, that though Harry went off into the woods to lead the life of a recluse, it was not entirely impossible that he wouldn’t have met a woman during those backwoods adventures, and even had a family!

I knew that the only way for me to potentially track down this man wrapped in an enigma, was to maybe by chance stumble upon some family records, a new family that no one until now had known about. So I went online and lo and behold, found this family tree site.

I knew the cities and towns around where he had disappeared were in the south of Alabama, namely in and around the counties of Mobile, Washington and Baldwin. The searching capabilities were quite advanced on this on-line family tree archive, allowing me to search by state and county.

So off I went, looking for a needle in an enormous haystack. Still, it was a worth a shot, and I had nothing to lose. The name Lefferty turned out to be less common than I imagined though, at least in these counties. 10 names popped up in Mobile, 5 in Baldwin and none in Washington county.

I picked up the trail in Mobile, 2 children born in 74′ and 77′ respectively, along with a woman changing her name to Lefferty in 81′. If Harry had been trying to hide the location of his whereabouts in the beginning, he must have assumed we had given up on him (and we had) by 1981.

Well Harry hadn’t imagined the power of technology and public family tree sites, because I found one of his sons! Dexter Lefferty lives somewhere in Mobile, Alabama, and I plan on finding him, hopefully forever unraveling the mystery of my uncle Harry.

I hope this story is an inspiration to you, and that you never lose faith in completing your family tree.

Building My Family Tree

I have recently begun to investigate my family tree as my children are getting to the age where they want to know where their family comes from. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of disagreements on both sides of my family and my parents have not kept in touch with a lot of their brothers and sisters. To make it even harder, the same happened with my grandparents generation with brothers emigrating to the US never to be heard of again.

As you can imagine, it can be hard enough finding genealogy information, but even harder when your source of information – your parents – have no idea where their relatives are or where they went.

It wasn’t until a friend suggested that the easiest way to discover my family tree was looking on the internet that I made any headway. It was a bit overwhelming with so much information available and so many websites to look through. Instead of searching for genealogy or family tree I was trying to search by their names and I got disheartened with the amount of results that came up for social networks, forums and loads of other sites. I wasted hours and hours with no results.

What a relief to have found out about public records searches – finally, I don’t have to trawl through thousands of web pages with no results. It’s quite addictive as well. Although my family tree starts in Spain, I have already been able to information on a great-uncle and an aunt on my father’s side.

If you had asked me a couple of months ago what genealogy was I wouldn’t have been able to tell you and now I am building my own family tree!