Coming to America

Rose Family Crest

I’ve often said, “Everyone has a story.” After spending months of genealogical research, I’ve discovered a lot of hidden stories belonging to people who are somehow attached to various branches of my family tree. I look forward to sharing these stories with you in this and future blogs.

Stories like the one belonging to Tormut Rose, the 9th great grandfather of the husband of the niece of my wife. Born in 1632 at Kilravock Castle in Inverness Scotland, he eventually became an officer in the Scottish Covenanter army and fought in the Third English Civil war which was waged in an attempt to retain the independence of the Scottish church and restore Charles II to the throne of Scotland and England.

During the Battle of Dunbar, the Scottish army discovered the whereabouts of Lord Cromwell’s forces but were advised not to attack by preachers due to it being a Sunday. This gave Cromwell an opportunity to launch a surprise attack and vanquish the Scottish defenders. Tormut Rose and others were captured. In order to prevent any attempt at a rescue, the prisoners were forced to march towards England under severe conditions. Most died of illness, starvation or exhaustion.

As a survivor, Tormut Rose was sold as an indentured servant to the Robert Ricks Iron Works in Braintree, Massachusetts and was shipped off to the colonies along with 271 fellow prisoners. There, he spent the next 7 to 10 years working off his “debt.”

In 1660 he, along with 15 others, made the decision to purchase Block Island, RI from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had claimed the land won by conquest of the natives who lived there.  It was there that he settled, married and re-began his life as a freeman. And that is the story of how this particular branch of the family came to America.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Jus Sanguinis

Group of cypresses, Tuscany, Italy

We watched an I Dream of Italy episode last night where the host of the show visited her ancestor’s Italian village in hopes to get information that would pave the way for her to apply for dual citizenship. I’ve been down that route.

About 7 years ago, I spent countless hours tracking down all the documents that would have been necessary to prove my wife’s claim to Italian citizenship via jus sanguinis. I got birth certificates from her father and mother; also from her grandfather and grandmother… no small feat as I had to hire a foreign genealogy specialist to visit my wife’s grandfather’s birth city (Palo de Colle, Puglia Italy) to obtain his birth records.

In the end, I came up short. In a heartbreaking discovery I found that my wife’s great grandfather, Francesco, became a naturalized American citizen on the eve of her grandfather’s 18th birthday… while my wife’s grandfather was still a minor. According to Italian law, this meant that her claim to Italian citizenship would have been disavowed as the citizenship “chain” had been broken. If only he had just waited one more day, my wife would likely have had citizenship privileges.

It was a bitter pill to swallow after investing so much time into gathering all the needed papers. Fortunately, bitter pills go down a lot easier with a glass of Italian wine… and you don’t need to be a citizen to know that.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Honoring Thy Parents


The Bible says it is the first commandment with a promise:

“Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12

That’s a great promise, but, even with putting that aside, it is a great way to live one’s life… by bestowing honor on those who had the care of you during your formative years.

One way to honor our parents and grandparents is to let their life stories live on after they have passed. There are cultures who get this. They embrace their ancestral histories. They have oral traditions; stories that continue to be told generation after generation, educating their young of the heritage that is theirs.

We happen to live at a time when what has been called “the greatest generation” will come to an end. Sometime during our lifetime, we will hear that the last WWII soldier is no longer with us. At that time, how many stories will we realize have been lost to us? How many lessons will go unlearned?

Our elders, who have already lived through so much of life, have a great deal to impart if we just take the time to give them the platform. And with today’s technology, their personal history can be recorded and stored for all time.

If you want to honor your parents (and it is still available to do so), do yourself a favor and record them as they talk about their life growing up. Their challenges; their experiences; their observations… Future generations will be thankful.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and offer a LifeStories service which is a video recording of a family member’s personal history. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit