Saturday, July 18, 2015

Have you Climbed your Family Tree ?

Hello There My Little Gum Drops !

It's Le Weekend...... Are you enjoying yours ?

Have you ever wondered about your family background ? I get a mixed reaction out of people when I ask that questions. Some people want all the information they can get their hands on and spend lifetimes seeking it, while others don't really have much interest.

I want to know where my family has come from, and I have been lucky in getting that information for the most part. My mother's side is all from Austria, and I have been in contact with them and visited the land of Mozart numerous times. My grandmother, aka Oma, didn't speak English which forced me to learn German, since my mother didn't teach me.

My father's side is American. His parents were born here in the US, and his mother's side is American with roots that date back to this country and Canada for a couple of hundred years, and I have been lucky that my grandmother has been able to tell me a lot about her side of the family, and luckily it has been easy to trace through She is now in her nineties and her mother lived to be 102, so I have been fortunate to hear stories from both of them, and that long life is in our bloodline.

It is the family of my father's father that has been a mystery. Meaning, I have been told little tidbits of information here and there, and while some of it is consistent, I have not been able to verify really anything on or Ellis Island.

Growing up I have heard that my great-grandparents immigrated to this country through Ellis Island. However, when I looked through the database, their names and any variations of it could not be found. That was 6 years ago, and luckily my brother finally found the ship that they arrived on, but not much more. I guess that is a good starting point, which I should continue to follow-up on.

My father's sister has been very instrumental in providing me information to follow up on. She handed me down a lot of letters my great-grandmother used to write as well as correspondence between family members. A favorite past time of mine used to be googling their addresses to see where they lived and the surrounding areas via Google Maps.

I had two addresses for my great-grandparents, yet when I typed them in neither of the places existed anymore. One addresses was newer apartments, while the other address was an empty lot. It kind of broke my heart a little. You hear stories from your family without being able to verify anything, not even the last places they spent the rest of their lives.

A couple of weeks ago, my Aunt sent me an old picture of my great-grandma Paulina from Russia, probably one of the last pictures taken of her. Paulina and Morris did not have easy lives. They really embodied the immigrant experience of the turn of the century. Their family was run out of Russia for being Jewish, and some landed in Europe, while others like my great-grandparents ended up in the United States. They had five children and worked very hard. I wish I could say that they were a loving family and that their hard work paid off and that they were able to retire comfortably, but that wasn't really the case. They struggled until the very end of their lives. But what they did do was get out of a country that didn't want them anymore, and they survived. Sometimes that is all we can do, and we are lucky for it, even if that's all we end up doing.

From the stories I have heard, she was a little abrasive and feisty, a real ball-buster. She wore the pants in the family and really rode my great-grandpa hard. There really isn't anything warm and fuzzy to say, but she was a survivor.

I think I may have inherited some of her feistiness.

Like I mentioned earlier, while they ended up here in the US, others ended up in Europe. I recently met my distant cousins in France, and it really is fascinating what you can find with a little research. And thank goodness for social media to keep us all in contact.

Anyway, here is her picture below, it's funny, I tend to cross my arms the same way.


Jimmy's Journal said...

I've traced my maternal side back to Paris, France. They came to America in the late 1600s. My Irish side was bit harder to figure out (go figure) but my current records show my paternal side to be in America in the early 1700s but no record of when they came to America.

So by surname, I'm French-Irish with the usual sprinkling of woodpile denizens.


Ileana said...

I loved your Oma stories. Your great-grandmother, Paulina, may not have been warm and fuzzy but there's a lot to be said about hard work, and it's always nice to wear the pants!

Both my parents have Spanish roots de Galicia and my father has some French in him...where the Prosper comes from, apparently. I'd like to learn more about my family history. Maybe I'll pop into one of these days.

Ciaosito, niña! xo

Big Mark 243 said...

...that is pretty cool that you have so much of your family history in you and that it has had a profound influence in your character..! In fact, I am a little envious of you, and I sort of wish that I had such stories and family history to share with my daughters of my family background...