Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Truth About John T.


Ever since the advent of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, there have been adherents who didn't expect to discover what they subsequently learned about their parentage. When I explore the true story about my paternal grandfather, I feel a kindred spirit with everyone from adoptees to those who unexpectedly uncovered the identity of their actual parent. The only difference is, I already knew my grandfather was not going to turn out to have the same identity he wanted everyone to think he had.

John T. McCann, the man I knew as my paternal grandfather, was a soul in need of a disguised identity. While I am still firmly convinced he was, indeed, my father's father, he spent his adult life ensuring that no one learned his true identity. There were only two problems with that lifelong strategy: his mother, and his sister. Factoring in his wife—and the fact that as a young married couple, John and Sophie lived in New York City with her parents—his documented life leaves us a trail which begins to tell the story he never wanted anyone to learn.

I've worked on the story of John T. and his family for a long time. While I still don't have a completed dossier on John's sister Rose, I've traced enough of her life story to connect her to a "F.A.N. Club" of possible future suspects on this paper chase—not to mention, a few helpful hints that pointed me in the right direction. As for John's mother, Anna, the twists and turns in her own life story sometimes leave me stumped, but give me at least enough detail of her identity to confirm important connections.

John T. himself turns out to originally have been bestowed the Polish equivalent of the name Theodore—presumably represented by the "T" that he subsequently carried around as his ever-present middle initial. The facts of his existence in New York gradually were augmented with details which showed our family a clearer picture of the story our grandfather never wanted anyone to know: that he wasn't born in Brooklyn, New York, as his death certificate declared, but somewhere in the former domain of a now-banished country known as Prussia.

It was over two years ago when DNA matches at various testing companies pointed me to further connections for John T. I learned that Theodore—the "T" in John T.—was likely born in 1876, son of a woman named Anastasia Zegarska, for which Anna was a shortened, Americanized nickname, and a man by the name of Thomas Puchała, the very man whose roots I am pursuing this month.

Even last year, plugging away at this perennially plaguing research problem, I attempted further progress on Anna, herself. Again, DNA helped identify familial connections back in a specific region within the current country of Poland: a place historically called Pomerania.

The beauty about researching genealogical documentation for roots in Pomerania is that I now have an online resource to consult: the Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne (Pomeranian Genealogical Association), or PTG for short. While the website only provides volunteer-entered transcriptions of their local records, not the digitized documents themselves, that is more than I had before discovering their website.

Exploring the PTG entries for baptisms, marriages, and deaths, I've discovered that John T.'s—Theodore's—paternal grandparents were probably Johann Puchała and Susanna Radomska.

Now, the question is, what else can I uncover about that couple? As far back in time as I can reach on this database of transcribed records, it's time to explore the possibilities and cluster the family names in my John T.'s ancestry, all apparently found in one specific location in Pomerania: the village of Lubichowo.

Above: Readout of search results at the PTG website for baptisms in the Pomeranian village of Lubichowo for children born to Johann Puchała and Susanna Radomska.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...