Who are you? Or better yet, who am I? That’s the quintessential question, isn’t it? And I think every one of us is searching for that elusive answer, despite how confident we might be.
Who am I, indeed? What makes me ME?
One of my biggest regrets is never preserving each of my four grandparents’ stories…their backgrounds, families, cultures, heritages, and what made each of them THEM.
Sure, I talked with them a bit when I was young, but I don’t remember much of anything because I never took the time to write anything down.
That part of my story, their individual stories comprised of their contributions to my genetic blueprint, is forever lost.
I do recall being told over the years that my heritage includes Russian, English, German, and a tad bit of Irish.
Tad bit of Irish? With my connection to all things Ireland over the past 3 years, I longed for more than just a “tad” bit of Irish in my background.
So, last summer, I decided to see if I could find out exactly that that “tad” was comprised of.
Three weeks before I left for Dublin, I began researching my genealogy hoping to find an Irish connection, specifically through my Grandpa C. He never shared much of anything about his background or family, but I vaguely recall him saying there was Irish mixed in with his mostly English heritage.
Our local library offers free Ancestry access to anyone with a library card, so I spent a few summer afternoons playing detective as I tried to uncover at least one Irish link. The more I searched, the more discoveries about my family heritage I made, but with each click ahead I fell further behind on making a concrete Irish connection.
All in all, I ended up learning a lot, but I was unable to confirm or deny what it was that brought me to the library in the first place.
For starters, I found out pretty quickly that my supposed Russian heritage was perhaps incorrectly attributed.
The line in my heritage through my father’s mother’s family provided very quick and solid information. Grandma C. always said that she was Russian, and she even knew how to speak it. However, I think she might have been mistaken. On every census and official document I could find on her family line, the home country of her parents, J and E, was different. The earliest I could find from the early 1900s listed Galicia (not the one in Spain) as their home country, and that changed over the years to Austria, Poland, and Russia.
I unearthed more information about Grandma C.’s line, and my mother’s parents and their lines, but the line from my dad’s father gave me the least amount of data. All I found was Grandpa C.’s marriage certificate to Grandma C. (the one with parents from Galicia), which included both of their parent’s names, one entry in a census report from 1940, and his birth and death dates.
When he heard I was trying to learn about our family, my Uncle G (Dad’s brother) gave me a red binder filled with photos from Grandpa C.’s side and obituary clippings and memorial cards from many members of his family. I meticulously went through the album hoping to find a link to Ireland, but I came up with nothing. Most of the pictures didn’t have names, and the ones that did were people who both my Uncle and I had never met or really heard of before.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to confirm anything Irish in my heritage. Drats.
I traveled to Dublin in August, unsure of whether or not I had any legit ties to what has become one of my favorite places in the world. That trip changed my life in so many ways regardless of whether I’m truly Irish or not.
When I returned from my trip, the frenzy of back to school hit hard, and I abandoned my genealogy research for the time being. I instead focused on my novel, my writing, and my responsibilities. Another summer would be here, soon, with time for me to once again pursue learning about the origins of my heritage.
Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!