Thursday, January 31, 2019

Finding My Roots in the Frigid North

Hey.  I am still here.  I have not frozen yet, though as I sit here typing I must say that my fingers are cold.  The official temp right now outside is minus 9 F.  That is bone-chilling cold.  All the schools are closed, mail delivery has been cancelled and because of an explosion at a gas transmission center yesterday, we have been asked by the utility and the Governor to keep our thermostats at 65 F.  I normally keep mine at 66 F during the day and 62 F at night so, fortunately, I am used to cooler temps indoors.  I haven't left my house since Tuesday noon when I went out to bring the trash can back inside.  And then I nearly froze my face 'cause I forgot to wrap my scarf around thinking it was just a minute to walk to the street and back.  It looks nice out, but truly, looks can be deceiving.

So, what else have I been doing all month?  Finding my roots.  I have made inroads.  An Ancestry member in Australia sent me info from a Polish website and I have traced back to my paternal great-great grandmothers and grandfathers in northeastern Poland.  Finally, after much searching, my cousin in New York (who I never knew about until last year) and I figured out that our grandfathers were born in Zapieczne, Poland - a small village in the Lomza province.  Yes, Lomza, not Lodz as I was told, but one can understand the confusion.  We think they were first cousins based on family lore.  Unfortunately, folks who remember this connection, including my mother who kept in contact with his grandmother, are all deceased.  I am still hoping that an uncle may have some old family records from my grandmother.

My paternal aunt, who is 90, says she never really was interested in family history.  That just is mind-boggling to me.  I have had several people tell me they have no interest in who their ancestors were or where they came from.  To me, that is the epitome of thinking you are the most important person in the room, JMHO.

Anyway, I am making headway.  I found a distant cousin on my mother's side of the family who actually visited Cordenons, Italy to search old records.  Interestingly, he and I are not DNA matches, but I am a match to his brother.  He grew up in Fort Frances, Ontario, where my grandparents went when they came here from Italy (even though we have no Italian DNA, lol).

The search is made even more interesting by names.  Using the same first names for children born in each generation is a real nightmare on the English and Irish sides of my ex-husband's family.  In my family, it is the changing of a Polish first name from Wladislaw to 'Steve', 'Ladislaus', 'Walter', or whatever for example.  Then on the Italian side is the spelling of last names.  The Marius family in the USA is the Mariuz family in Canada.   I am thinking that the use of the letter 'Z' is more in keeping with the Hungarian background we seem to have.

And ages.  We always used to laugh about my paternal great-grandmother's age because no one seemed to know how old she really was.  Her funeral card says she was born in 1883.  If that were true, she would have been eleven when her first child was born.  I think not.  Going through old census records and her three immigration records of her arrivals in the USA (yes, she travelled back twice to Austria), it seems she was likely born in 1874, somewhere near what is now Nadolany, Poland in the southeast part of the country.  But hey, I also found older men who fudged their ages on marriage licenses when they were marrying younger women, lol.

One of my favorite shows is 'Finding Your Roots' on PBS.  Every week I am amazed at what celebrities find out about their past.  Often you hear a celeb say, 'I was told...'  NOT.  So, yesterday I called my sister and asked her where she heard that some members of my mother's family left Canada to go to South America.  She could not remember who said it, but does remember hearing it.  Well, I did too.  But, when I searched immigration records, I could find no evidence to support it.  I did find records showing them crossing from Fort Frances, Ontario, to International Falls, Minnesota.

So, did they go south to America? and not to South America?  Sure seems like it.

I hope to solve more mysteries about my roots.  I find it fascinating.   Already, one of my sons has had his DNA done.  I am thinking of using 23andMe to find more matches.  It is an adventure right on my computer and who knows what lies in store.  We'll see.

Thanks for stopping by and stay warm if you are living under this air mass that has broken off from the polar vortex.


16 comments:

  1. It is fascinating to read what you are discovering about your roots. When I was younger, I didn't have an interest in ancestry. The older I get I find I'm more interested, but then of course those who might know something have already passed.

    Stay warm if you can! That is bone chilling cold. Of course there always seems to be a disaster like the gas explosion when the cold weather hits. It happened to us once when we lived in Medford, Oregon and had a cold snap coming in. Some gas line got cut by accident and that reduced severely the amount of heating gas available. Thankfully we had a lot of space heaters. One must be prepared I guess with alternate fuel sources when living in colder climates I guess.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, even the electric utility has asked folks to turn off lights and appliances not in use. And they are also concerned about water main breaks. Just have to hope for the best.

      Delete
  2. I love what you are finding it about your ancestry. I love Finding your Roots and would love to meet Louis Gates and wish I could be on that show but, alas, I am not famous. I was shocked about Milne who always thought he was Italian and he wasn’t because his beloved grandmom had an affair with someone. My father’s family, on the paternal side, came from the Prussian side but the Maternal side came from Austro-Hungary and probably Polish. I have no idea and trying to get some info from the Ancestry website has been tough because I only find out things when there are free moments to look stuff up. My grandmother’s name was misspelled so often..typical. I actually just sent off my spit to ancestry.ca. Funny, I recently watched an episode from Marketplace about these kits. The reporter is an identical twin and they got different results but the better one was Ancestry and another one that I can’t recall. The worst was 23 and Me. You may want to watch the episode. It does depend on what DNA they have to compare plus there are many other things that one has to take into consideration. If they say I am Italian and have no German in me, I know it will be a total sham.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to check out that episode. Finding stuff on Ancestry is very time-consuming.
      And folks who post on their family tree are not very careful. I could do an entire post about that. I've mentioned before that my mother's family lived in what was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but eventually became part of Italy. Speaking of twins, have you seen the CNN movie 'Three identical Strangers'?

      Delete
    2. Your fsamily came from South Tirol it sounds like to me which is now part of Italy. I have not seen this movie and now I am curious

      Delete
    3. My great-grandfather died working in the Tyrol Mountains as a matter of fact.

      Delete
  3. Hi Denise - it's great you're finding out so much. I think genealogy can be interesting ... and I only got interested once I'd started blogging ... though there's quite a lot of history in the family - others of earlier generations had done much for us later relations. Just keep digging and enjoying the trails - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hillary. I've downloaded the book 'The Hardings in America' to research my ex-husband's side of the family. It goes back to the 1500's in Northamptonshire, England with the Hardings arriving here in 1623. I hope that having the book will make it easier to research.

      Delete
  4. South to Minnesota, that's very different from South America! I'm not surprised your paternal aunt - my older relatives did not like to dwell on earlier stories, especially those that occurred in Europe or shortly after their arrival in the USA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but my aunt was born in Detroit. And she said she knew that her mother kept in touch with relatives in Poland.

      Delete
  5. I started researching my family history on our cross-country trip last summer. We went to Salt Lake City and visited the Family History Center run by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I was so gung-ho that when we returned home, I found there was a Family History Center here in Nashua, NH. I have found out a lot of info, but there is much more to unearth and unfortunately my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles are all gone. My immediate cousins don't share any enthusiasm so I have stalemated a bit, but plan to resume in the next few weeks. My family roots originated in Italy, the home of all my grandparents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also found that there is a center here in Bloomfield hills, MI. While my mother's family all lived in northern Italy, it seems their roots were probably in Hungary primarily. I have a few cousins on Ancestry who are building trees, but not many.

      Delete
  6. We suffered through the same bone-chilling temperatures as you last week. Glad you survived without too much agony! After a couple of spring-like days, we're now "enjoying" some freezing rain. Can't win! :P Your ancestral quest sounds fascinating, Denise! It'll be interesting to find out what the DNA test comes up with. So many people are doing that now, with a few surprising results! My father's uncle traced his family to southern Germany. They came over here in the late 1700s and settled in Quebec, Ontario and Michigan, so we're bi-national as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did Ancestry DNA and found relatives I didn't know I had. I have hundreds of distant cousins.

      Delete
  7. You certainly can get addicted to looking for your roots, can't you, Denise... When I read Lodz up there all kinds of bells went off in my head. I realized I'd read an autobiography of a woman whose family was there during the holocaust years. I forget how old she is now, but Lodz recently had a big celebration about the survivors or something (it's been a while since I read it), and she was asked to come. I'll have to go through my books and see which one it was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lodz has a large Jewish ghetto. I spent most of today trying to decipher old Polish church records. My cousin is trying to contact someone in Poland that he found on Facebook. Same last name in the same area.

      Delete

I love to hear your comments and will try to reply on this blog and visit your blog when available.