Saturday, August 26, 2017

Blogging challenge: Matriarch in your family that inspires you - Genowefa M Wojtkowska

There's been another Blogging Challenge by Family Tree Frog. This is part of their Family History month which is August here in Australia. 

They posted this on their blog and the challenge: 
"All the Rivers Run - Nancy Cato's saga spanned eight decades and four generations.  Your blog post doesn't have to do that but was there a matriarch in your family that inspires you?  Or maybe you want to focus on a particular river that played a part in your ancestors' lives.  Where will your imagination run to??" 

My 1st challenge:
My next challenge was who to choose from? I knew it was going to be a woman as I've had so many inspirational women in my ancestry. Choose the servant who had a child out of wedlock and for that child to end up in the US?Or the Ancestor who lost her parents, grandparent and siblings within 10 years to head off to the US and end up married to a farmer in NY? Then there are the many Polish women who have survived and flourish. The woman who had a family who all fled to the US who was a nurse, had more children who she watch some die, got sick with Hodgkin's and eventually die? The woman who grew up with a father who was charged with a crime and they all changed names to get rid of the stigma before finding a man who ended up treating her badly, and who's mind finally snapped but she still fought even through all the medications they gave her? And the list is endless...

However, there is only one that I mourn every year and for me, this was a no brainer. Even more so, its in perfect timing as August is always a introspective month for me. Why? Because this is the month my paternal grandmother was born. Also, later I found it was at the end of the month she left her native Poland for the US. At first this wasn't a major event, until I started to look at exactly what was going on during this time. I'll explain below. 

Matriarch that inspires me
My paternal grandmother was born Genowefa M Wojtkowska. 
This a picture I have of Genowefa undated. 

She as born Genowefa M Wojtkowska born on 10 August 1910 in Wojtkowice Dad, Poland. I believe it was probably a home birth as its in a small country town/village and the people there knew when she was born. I got this from statements of others. However, she went by Gennie, Jennie, Genevieve and finally Jean when she married. Upon coming into the US, she went by the last name Wotjkowski and not Wojtkowska due to following the male name which is different in Poland. 

A snip from Jean's Naturalization papers regarding her birth and parents.

From a statement of Czeslaw Wotjkowski given 20 March 1943 enclosed in Jean's Naturalization papers

From a statement of Vincent Wojtkowski given 17 March 1943 enclosed in Jean's Naturalization papers.
This grandmother humbles me because after reading what was going on around her during her growing up years and into what she had to put up with to leave her own country most adults couldn't understand or comprehend. However, she did it with style, even malnourished and lived a full and complete life.

Note: I have made the following map huge so you can see it in detail. 
From Google Earth. Plots out fighting in July & Aug 1920 Jean and mother would have had to deal with. Line is start and journey to finish point in Danzig/Gdansk. Yellow is residence, Red is fighting, Star is capital city, small red dots are larger towns.
I remember once I asked her who all the people were in the pictures in her dining room side table. She told me "These are our family who died in the past." Then when I asked where they were now, she replied "They are all dead and gone. Mostly during the last war." and it was said in a very sad and resigned voice. The last war she meant was World War 2 as this was in the mid-1980s. 

She pass away in 1988 believing this was so. I wonder what she would think about me finding her aunt's family in the past 2 years and finding they were healthy and happy and still in Poland. I know this for a fact as we've had too many papers and events match not to be family. This includes a cousin sending me a picture asking me if I knew who it was. I didn't, but thought it might be of my great grand uncle. I asked my father and was told it was of - HIM! Imagine my shock.  
Picture of my father taken in NJ and sent to Poland. Discussed above.
Important Rivers
In fact, the challenge quote even mentions maybe talking about focusing a particular rivers. I can do this as well, because my grandmother always mentioned to me growing up how her and her cousins always played in the rivers. It was one of the few times she slightly smiled when she brought up this time in memory and I could tell it was very special. 

The Nurzec River is a tributary of the Bug River in north-eastern Poland. This is a major river within Poland. I have found on her maternal side, the names and documentation of the names span from where my grandmother stated she grew up up towards one of the main towns - Malkinia or Malkinia Gorna. I have placed my grandmother, great grandmother and my great grandmother's family to this point in 1919 and 1920 in documentation. 

Marriage Certificate of great aunt and uncle in 1919. My great grandmother and grandmother probably would have been in attendance.

A picture of a fundraiser in 1919. Could one of these be my great grandmother? We don't know. 
1920 Ship manifest cropped to highlight my grandmother and great grandmother's travels. Notice the place of residence is Malkin.
Movie VS DNA
Imagine taken from the IMDB
In fact, what's really interesting, is the correlation between the movie All the Rivers Run (as quoted from the original post) and even our DNA. The movie, as stated above, spans several generations within it. 

My father's DNA, which I've done Mtdna on it, I can span several generations using history as a guidance. How you might ask? 

I've been watching my father's DNA with confusion but interest over the past few years. To be truthful, DNA always confuses me unless I can trace the line back to a last name or area I can connect with. Usually this is when I contact the person asking questions and I haven't done that much either. 

My father's DNA make up from FTDNA - notice the green over Norway/Finland
Anyway, in the past few months, I've been getting Danish/Finnish type of last names within the Mtdna then upon talking to the hubby, we agreed it was like there was a Viking attachment. This sent me off on a research binge as it does for anyone who does genealogy. I've never heard of Vikings within Poland but anything's possible when it comes to reasoning. 

You should have seen my shock and glee when I found out about the Vikings in Poland and it goes back to the 8th-11th century. Yep, its not widely known or studied but it has happened. For me to find clues within the Mtdna which pointed me to these facts overwhelmed me to no end. It gives me another avenue of reading and researching to do. 

Note: I have made the following huge so you can read the words. For more use this link.
Taken from Wikipedia
What does or can your DNA say about you?