My Family

I’m a Brill… In the areas of Virginia and West Virginia my paternal grandfather is from, Brill is a fairly common name. My father’s father was born in Lehew, West Virginia. Surnames on this branch of my tree include Spaid, Reid, Orndorff, Fry, McMahon, Bruner, Anderson, LaFollette, McKee, McKeever, Swisher, and variations, to start.

I’m also part of the DeBaise family, on my paternal grandmother’s side… to clarify, there are some elders in the Italian side of my family who insist that anyone who is descended from my great-grandparents, who immigrated in 1904, is a DeBaise, as is anyone who marries any of those descendants. DeBaise was originally DiBiase/DiBiasi, and other known surnames in the family tree include Cefarelli, DellaVecchia, DiChello, Pascale, and variations.

And I’m also part of the small Rykas family. My mother’s side is quite a bit different from my father’s, but of course of equal significance. Unfortunately, this family did not keep Bible records, did not take many photos, did not tell many stories – even immigration stories like the Italian side told, and over time through tragedy this family became quite fractured. I care deeply about this side of my family, for what was and what was lost, and it does make up half of who I am, after all. My mother was a Rykas, which was the name my maternal grandfather changed his name to, from Rykaczewski (a brother of his changed his name to Rykoski). Other known surnames on this side of my tree include Zembrzuski, Kolano, Zbikowski, and variations.

Other names I am researching:

On each of these branches there are of course many other surnames I am researching. On the Brill branch, many of these are known and well-documented, on the other branches these are not all yet documented with absolute certainty.

On the Brill side ~ Mentz, Clauser, Kale / Kehl, Pugh, Minthorn, Ferguson, McIlwee, Hawk, and others.

On the DeBaise side ~ Florio, Felce, Fiorillo, Porto, and others.

On the Rykas / Rykaczewski side ~ Kuzma, Konwerski, Cieplik, Buczek, Klamra, Kamienski, Wilkowski, Roman, Lubienski, Czaplicki, Brudnicki, Szlaski, Milewski, Dlugolecki, Bartolt, and others.

9 to 12 Generations back

Like many others who research their family history, I have names tentatively penciled in for the generations that are farthest back in the records. I am not including these folks in this brief overview, but am always intrigued by new leads or solid clues.

If you are researching any of the above branches or names, please feel free to reach out and say hello. We could be connected! Even if we aren’t actually related, we might be able to learn something from each other.

~ Nellie