Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blog Challenge- Poor Man's Orange - Making do and my relatives

In an earlier post, I mentioned a challenge thrown out among one of my genealogy groups. The challenge, mentioned in Family Tree Frog's blog, used the movie Poor Man's Orange which centers on a Catholic Irish Family.

When I went through ideas regarding a post, One of them was a post regarding the small statement "Have you got a tale of making do?" which ties in with the Curator’s notes which I quote "The title Poor Man’s Orange refers to having to make do with second best." Again this would be interesting to see the differences in the many generations within my family of doing exactly this - making do.

Both sides of my family just had to make do. This includes things from surviving with food and a roof over your head to being able to speak your own language and even to to school. However, I'm a true European as all of my ancestors can be found directly there and my DNA even shows this to be true. 

On both sides we are Polish. On my maternal side, from back grandmother backwards until the 1700's we are Polish and come from Poland. On my paternal side, my grandmother there backwards until the late 1800's (I haven't been able to go back any further due to limits to budget and language barriers, but as soon as I can I will!) again all come from Poland. I'm leaving this as generic due to the many different attacks and border changes that happened within its history. 

During my grandmother's time, Poland didn't exist - it was Russia or USSR with Polish towns. When she was first born, there was no school and, during her growing up years, there were times she couldn't speak her own language - she had to speak Russian or German depending on who occupied the neighborhood - and there was no school. In fact, they hung on to what they could for owning a farm and having her grandmother, at least, owning a business in town (Mill). However, when soldiers came into your house, stole whatever food they wanted, and sometimes had your women and killed your husbands/sons/workers, you had to hold your breath to see what they left you with when they left. Sometimes as they were leaving they would set your house on fire and would leave you with nothing. 
Newspaper Article from 1905 regarding rights of Polish people

Again, we are fighters. People would hide anything of value or food by burying some of it, so you could eat at least. However, if you were caught, you or family were killed or again would lose your house. This was why when my grandmother and great grandmother arrived in NY, in September 1920,  they were in sad shape. I've been told by my father his mother (my grandmother) was in such bad shape she had to relearn how to walk
The Minneapolis Journal on March 18 1905

The family they left behind still did fight the evil that was in Europe - with Hitler. My great grandmother's family, paid for many children to be put in the orphanages with fake papers. The adults would come to them as well for papers due to them being part of the resistance in Poland. If they were found, everyone could have been killed in the family, but thankfully no one was. I have found that side of the family a few years ago now. 
Letter of thanks to my great aunt's family who helped the Jewish in WW2

Note given to my great aunt's family who helped the Jewish in WW2

My maternal side, faced just as much as my paternal side, but they were workers and didn't have land. They were part of the workers that were mad about how they were being treated and those types were finding themselves killed, so they left Poland for NY in 1905. 

On my maternal side, we come from Belgium/France. This is my mother's grandfather's side backwards until the early 1700's. I had to make this duel due to the border changes back in time. The family moved around a bit over the generations but still live throughout the countryside today. 

Taken from Wikipedia

With Napoleon attacking, it seemed like between him and the French armies, they railroaded right over the land to get to the rest of Europe. Belgium is a small landlocked part of Europe compared to some of the other countries. Even after Napoleon, there were struggles. 
From the Belgium Archives regarding my 2x great grandfather's draft into the service

One of them was when Belgium wanted its own military and they drafted people - a huge consequence in my family. Why? Because my 2x great grandfather was drafted into it (he was number 8) and served. Along his way, he met up with my 2x great grandmother and left her - pregnant after probably 1 night. She was a servant back in the late 1800s and lost her job when it was known of her condition. That condition was my great grandfather Jules, who was born without a family and illegitimate. Once my 2x great grandfather and 3x great grandparents found out, they were married - about 9 months after Jules was born. By the time Jules was almost an adult and would be put into the draw, along with some political views changing where the church was losing its political hold, they left Belgium for the US in the late 1800s. 
Again from the Belgium Archives about my great grandfather's birth and his parents marriage

It doesn't sound like much, but I believe Jules being born illegitimate was huge and had huge fallout within my family which goes to today's generation. Jules met, married, started a farm and then a family. However, at least two of his sons he had major fights with and kicked them out. My grandfather was 14 years old. His brother was thrown out too but was a year or two older. Within a few years, my grandfather was back on the farm with my grandmother and son with him. This didn't last long and they moved out and my grandmother was doing everything and anything to raise their children while he did everything in his power to spend the money he made and give his wife and children not much. This had major impact my mother and my uncles with the way they act and do things even to this day. In fact, some of the things my mother did when I was growing up are because of her upbringing. Like I said, we are all fighters. 

Last bit on my maternal side and this was in a tiny town called Alrup in Denmark. This is my mother's grandmother. I haven't had time to look into this side of the family - much. I did find something within the family happened quickly as I have found the family of father, mother, Annie, her sister, her brother and her grandmother. However, within 10 years herself and her brother were servants on a farm. Within a year after the census, I found she was on her way to the US. 
1880s census with the family listed in Denmark

Annie was fighting even before she arrived in the US with her being a servant. Now add to this arriving in a foreign country with everything different and she ends up in the Midwest - St Louis. She then meets up with my great grandfather and they go to NY and start a farm and a family. 
1890s census in Denmark listing Ana or Annie as a servant.

When my great grandfather is sick, too busy or back in Beligum visiting, the farm is left to her - including the milking which she got hurt at and getting sick even ended up costing her her life. Upon talking to my cousins, I found my great grandfather wouldn't allow her to have a coat so she didn't
Newspaper article in 1917. 
have one and ended up coming down sick even after her daughters put money together and bought one, but it was too late and she was too sick. Annie even had a daughter which contracted polio and wouldn't allow her to grow up mentally. Instead Annie had her follow her around the farm and help her out where she could. 

However, after Annie's death, she was sent away to a home and within 6-9 months, she too, was dead due to mistreatment because my great grandfather sent her to the cheapest place he could find. This too, sounds like something my mother has done - get the cheapest thing even if it wouldn't fully do the job type of thing. 
Annie's daughter's headstone who had polio. She was shipped off to a home where she died 6-9 months later.

My paternal side was from Germany. My grandfather left Niedermendig or Mendig and came to the US in the 1926. He did go back a few times to visit, but he lived and died in the US. This is a bit more of guesswork due to not having the time to go and research this as yet. Add having little to no knowledge of the language and its an added complication but not a big one as its basis language hasn't changed like others in the family has. 
From his Naturalization papers - notice the eye?

I think my grandfather was a bit of a fighter as one of this pictures for his naturalization papers he has a black eye in it.  On one of the manifests, it lists him with a stub on his left middle finger and left ring finger missing. It does say he was a carpenter so I'm thinking this was a work accident. 
From his ship manifest in 1930s reporting this injury

Today's family
My father was kidnapped when he was a baby and was slated to be in Hitler's next generation of fighters. Thankfully the Department of State came in and brought him back to the US, so even as babies we were still fighting. 
My father before he was kidnapped

My generation fought to survive through what I will term the social norm differences. We grew up in a military household and back in the 1950-1970s households were different than what they are now. Then add the military to them and you can imagine what our lives were like and it certainly wasn't an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" that's for sure. But we managed and moved on even with the scars. Again, you did want to had to do to survive and you did it the best ways you could. 
My siblings growing up
Today's survival is more financial due to my job loss from budget cuts over 4 1/2 years now. I've been looking for work, but no one is willing to hire or even letting people temp. I have tried everything I can think of to get back into to work - to no avail. I'm frustrated and mad, but am still fighting - barely. 

As you can see, there's been a lot of just making do to survive. I do have to admit, even with out stubbornness to do right and stay put, we do have the will to figure out how to survive. 

In some societies they might call us scrappers, but I just call them my family. And we survive.