Thursday, September 5, 2019
When in Doubt, Head to Poland
(Figuratively Speaking, of Course)
I'm stymied by lack of response from any family members descended from the Samuel and Annie Tucker whose family portrait I found in a northern California antique shop. I'd love to return the photos to someone in their family, of course, but who that candidate would be or how I could send the photos homeward has yet to make itself known.
I don't do waiting well. Nevertheless, I'll have to give the project some time, in case the second person responds affirmatively to my message—but once another week or two goes by without any answer, I do have a third contact to try. In the meantime, waiting doesn't make for scintillating conversation, so let's switch tracks and pick up on another topic we've lately put on hold.
With this latest discovery of yet another DNA match on my paternal side, it looks like this is a good time to delve back in to that paternal Polish heritage. There are many barriers to such research—I am here, while the paperwork is there, for instance (and I have no plans for traveling to Europe any time soon)—but there are still many armchair-researcher tasks that can be accomplished long distance, especially given the number of Polish websites coming online to speak to this research need.
Plus, researching a heritage I've previously been unaware of—my father, and his father before him, were always very reticent to say anything about their ethnic origin—requires an immersion in a history and culture I never grew up knowing. Cues from the broader picture of a national or ethnic heritage can add so much to understanding the experiences of a smaller family unit coming from that background. But before I can benefit from that understanding, I need to learn those basics.
It seems research comes in waves. We find a branch of the tree with many clues, and we rush headlong into the success of finding so many helpful documents, photographs, letters, even ephemera to help us learn more about that family line.
And then, we get stuck. We park our notes in a file, or a box, or within an account in the cloud, and wait. Waiting for the appropriate time to pick up a research thread once again can mean having a sense of timing which relies on stuff that is seemingly invisible. How can we know that now is the time when more documents in our specific line will show up, easily harvested with the click of a mouse? But then the next wave comes in and lifts us higher and then we can see that the time is right.
My wave this time is labeled DNA, and apparently, I have some more matches on this branch of the family. One tiny bit of information can provide the clue to lead to a second answer, and then a third. That is what is happening with this latest DNA match: figuring out this match's family enabled me to spot how that person connected with another DNA match. And then, filling out the pedigree chart in even more detail is leading to other clues. It's a chain reaction, all from one research step at a time.
Let's take a look, tomorrow, at this latest DNA match, and what it tells me about the extended Laskowski family from a little town called Zerkow in Poland—as well as what the differences between DNA testing companies can yield the persistent researcher.