Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Some Things, You Just Can't Plan
So much for good intentions. I'm planning an upcoming trip to Florida to interview some cousins about their recollections of their most senior relatives, and I only have a few days to prepare. After all, when one takes a glorious week to attend SLIG, one doesn't do much else but focus on class. The window between arrival home from Salt Lake City and departure for Orlando was quite slim, indeed, but I knew that. I could do that.
Sometimes, things happen that we didn't plan for. Like coming down with the flu. Even writing on my computer in bed was too exhausting for this go-round. I think I managed to send out two emails over my phone yesterday, and slept the rest of the day. Advice: don't do this. At least, don't do it if you haven't already been smitten and can take a flu shot.
There are other surprises that popped up yesterday. Thankfully, even though these occurrences also can't be planned for, some of them were delightfully received. For one, I heard from a distant cousin in Poland, one who is related to my paternal grandmother's line.
Although not as difficult a line to trace as my mystery grandfather's line—the man whom she married here in the United States—Sophie Laskowska's line was also a challenge to research at first. Laskowski is apparently a fairly common surname in Poland. It certainly is in America. That's why I sprang for following her father's mother's maiden name. Thankfully, it was recorded in Anton Laskowski's death certificate: Gramlewicz.
This is where the unplanned part comes in: cousin bait. You just can't predict when you'll hit the jackpot with cousin bait.
Many years ago, I had posted a query on an online forum, mentioning Elżbieta Gramlewicz's name. Fast forward a few years and, unlike what happens in today's preferred Facebook groups for genealogy, someone actually found my post. Fortunately for both of us, it was not only a bona fide cousin on my Gramlewicz side, but a relative who was able to tell me the rest of the Gramlewicz story. Evidently, the reason the family disappeared from census records in New York after 1910 is because they decided to return to Poland—-and after that point, had a son who became this woman's grandfather.
From the point of the first contact with this Gramlewicz cousin, we exchanged emails. Her information was so helpful and thankfully, I could piece together a fuller picture of what this Gramlewicz tree looked like. Apparently, when Elżbieta's son Anton moved his family from Żerków in Poland to New York City, so did some of his relatives. Anton's sister Marianna, who married a Gramlewicz man, had a son who followed his uncle Anton to that same harbor. That son turned out to be the one who, with his family, decided to go back to Poland around 1910.
It may have been exciting to connect with a distant cousin over the Internet, but though we had a few years to correspond, I eventually lost touch with her. We'd connect, and then, she would disappear again. I always wanted to ask her more questions as I made discoveries over the information she had just given me.
After years had passed, just a few days ago, I found someone with the same name had a tree on MyHeritage. I was elated! I sent a message, but got no answer. Then I was off to SLIG. And upon my return—straight to bed with the flu—what should show up but a message from my long lost Gramlewicz cousin?!
There is no way to predict these serendipitous discoveries, but I'm still glad they happen. One thing I realize is that they can only happen because someone had the foresight to set up a system to enable such surprises. And when such systems eventually become seen as "old fashioned" or not high-tech worthy and are dismantled, we all lose.
That, however, is a topic for another day. For now, I'll be retiring for some more much needed rest. For the next few days, apparently, this will be my latest plan.