Monday, February 13, 2012

Who am I and why am I here?

I grew up 400 miles from my parents’ large families.  We’d visit every summer when I was small, so I heard the names and a few of the family stories, but I never had a chance to truly get to know my cousins and their parents.  And by the time I was 12 the trips “back home” had stopped except for funerals.

All four of my grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early to mid 1880s.  They met and married in the US.  That’s why I’m here.  And I’m happy to be here.  I’m so grateful that I wasn’t born in war ravaged Poland during World War II.

Where and how did my great-grandparents live in Poland?  What did they do there?  Who where their ancestors?  What conditions caused them to leave their homeland?  Why did they choose to settle in St. Paul, Minnesota?

I do think I know part of why they left their native land.  Although they all considered themselves to be Poles, Poland did not exist at that time.  Poland had been partitioned for the third time.  They were living in Prussia when they left home.  The US was the promised land.  But even so, millions of Poles chose to stay in Prussia.  How I wish I could understand the circumstances that caused these four families to pack up and head across the Atlantic.

Michael and Elizabeth Schipp brought my maternal grandmother, Stella (Stanislawa) Schipp

Ignatz Ganas came to join his mother and step-father, Marianna and Edward Kowalski

Stanley (Stanislaus) Dachtera was 5 years old when his parents Joseph and Maglalena Dachtera landed in the US.

Tekla Reczynska arrived with her mother Lucia Matykiewicz,

Who I am is the result of all of those genes and the ones that came before them.  Who were they? 

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