Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding "new" family members

Asking the relatives
Recently, I found a whole section of my mother's family - the Jagodzinski or Jagodrinski side - that I never knew anything about which is really sad. I always knew my mother grew up and came from Pennsylvania but never knew anything else as my mother won't talk about her family history at all. Then about 2 months ago, I got curious about that side of the family and I went looking.

On the information trail
I found my mother on census', so I knew where her mother was born - Pennsylvania (below).
Taken from 1940 NYS census - Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Highland Falls, Orange, New York; Roll: T627_2708; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 36-28.
 Then there was the family story that I was told growing up. The story went like this:

"My mother [my grandmother Janet] was born near Warsaw in Poland. She got married to a potato farmer and they had a son. Then they lost the crops, then she lost her husband and then infant son, through disease. She was about to be thrown off of their land, and she didn't know what to do. Then the Quakers traveled by and she ended up traveling to the US with them. Then she found someone else and had a family with them which is where we came from."

This was one of the few times my mother would talk about her family history and it was repeated to me more than once in my growing up years. Imagine my surprise when I found my mother, her parents, and brother on a census and it said my grandmother was born in Pennsylvania in 1911! I accepted it and asked my mother about it and then I was told that she would no longer talk about her family or their history - case closed.

Taken from http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.co.uk/time-zone/usa/pennsylvania/map/
The year before my grandmother was born, the population was 7,665,111 in the entire state based upon what has been resourced in Wikipedia. Polish persons here are among the top ancestry groups.

Of course, I let it alone for awhile but then I got curious - why had I never known them? I did know she talked about her Aunt Honey and was quite fond of her. However, I do know OF Aunt Honey (the other side of the family called her Aunt Fifi) and have a very brief fuzzy memory of her. The questions remained - why and are there more relatives out there? So I went looking....

Researching the missing family
Aunt Honey picture I found when I went looking Credit: Jversweyveld
In 2013, I found another long distance relative who knew of my grandmother and my great aunt. My great aunt was her aunt, so we had a connection. However, after talking to each other, she didn't know much more than what I knew, but said she would contact her cousin for me. She did backup what I
thought and had heard from people. It was a start! I now knew my great aunt's name was actually Genevieve and I was starting to find out information.

I did find out a bit about them out of Pennsylvania, which was interesting - all in Newburgh, New York. I thought the only one around the area was just my family and that was wrong I was finding out. I did come across an obituary of my great grandmother Beatrice. This shed some light and more names and locations - and some of the locations were in the area I was looking for - Pennsylvania! Off I went searching again...
Part of my great grandmother's Obituary Credit: Times Herald Record Newspaper 1964

Limited Success
Since then, I found a whole side of the family I never knew about.  I asked my oldest sister about what she knew about relatives and Pennsylvania and she didn't know ANYTHING.I have found a bit about the family living, and that have died, there and know where to start looking. However, I have tried to reach out to them and my maternal grandfather's side of the family, without success at this point. Have I reached the end? Of course not. I will let them and others know I am here and am willing to talk and catch up with them if they want - all they have to do is ask.

I do know I will not get some or all my questions answered as all of my grandmother and grandfather's generation has no passed away, which is sad, as I would have liked to meet them and got to know them. However, the next generation IS there and I'm hoping they are willing to contact me and get to know this part of the family.

Lessons Learned
Don't hold back on what you know or getting to know others. Everyone is different and has their own journey to fulfill in their own way. We have all had struggles, losses and wins they are just different and classified differently as we are all different and our ways of looking and dealing with things are different as well. We need to be treated with respect, but at the same time, reserved but willing to meet others and talk about what you have in common like ancestors. You never know - you might actually end up with more family or at least a friend then when you started. 

Many times we just have to sit down and ask the questions that we have, but are held back because we think they won't be answered. However, I have this question for you to think about - how will you know if that question will be answered unless you ask it? Asking questions does not hurt as the person has a choice to answer it or not answer it. The part that hurts is when the person asking the question, won't take the answer that is given as valid even if it is no. My mother won't answer questions and that's upsetting but fine. It would be more distressing for my mother if I kept asking the questions. I can obtain the information from different ways, so that's what I will do. It will just take me longer.