Monday, January 20, 2020
And Now, for the Next Trip
If this had been a month in the summer, it would be one of those times when you could say I don't let that green grass grow beneath my feet. But since it is wintertime, that grass wouldn't be growing, no matter how long I dallied between assignments—if, that is, I had any time to waste in between scheduled trips.
As it turns out, I'll have less than a week until I'll be off for another research trip to Florida. This time, my quest will take on more of a personal tone: I'll be visiting with cousins I haven't seen in a long time. As one cousin put it recently, I'll need to set aside enough time to "talk about old times" and not be so quick to rush off to the next visit.
There is a melancholy ring to such a plea. That is the generation which, sadly, is shrinking every year. The generation who can tell me about relatives I never got to meet—with stories of their own memories of my own grandparents on my dad's side. People who were gone before I even arrived on the scene. The oral histories provided by these cousins are my only recollections of the anecdotes of everyday life, the keyhole to peek at the everyday life quirks of the kind of close relatives everyone else takes for granted.
Job number one for me this week thus becomes getting my head around the immediate family trees of my cousins. One cousin from my paternal side has been in communication with me over my discoveries, last summer, of our connection to a place in Poland once known as Pomerania. Apparently, those are our common roots, though I know so very little about that line so far. Of course, that is the branch I think belongs to the mother of my mystery paternal grandfather; I have yet to decipher where that woman's husband originated. The only thing I can tell so far is that he didn't come from the same place where she grew up. So much for the notion that people in the "old country" stayed in the same place for hundreds of year. Sometimes, family trees are quite messy.
The other cousin connection will be a visit with a relative from my mother's side of the family. Though I have been able to trace that Florida line back a few generations—my third great grandfather George McClellan's family supposedly came from a place in South Carolina called the Barnwell District—the family's rich heritage in the state tells me I need to keep looking for more information. And my mother's cousin is more than willing to make sure I know all she can tell me about these McClellans.
Despite the opportunity to glean the details of our family's oral history from these two willing research partners, I can't just walk in and spend the time chatting. I need to refresh my memory with what we've already discovered, so we can take a few steps forward from that point.
So, for this week, I'll be using this time for a refresher course on not only that maternal McClellan line, but the latest discoveries on my paternal Puchalski (a.k.a. Puchała) line and my paternal grandmother's Laskowski line, as well. At least, by this point, I've learned enough facts about each of these families to run the risk of forgetting some details. It's nice to realize I've come that far, but important to not lose the momentum by neglecting that due diligence of refreshing my memory in preparation for these visits.