Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Ancestor #10: Aunt Rose


As we move through my Twelve Most Wanted for the upcoming year, the last three ancestors are slated for research projects on my paternal line. This is where plans get difficult. Unlike my mother's line, which reaches back to colonial times in America, or likewise with my mother-in-law's lines, the ancestors connected to my father's side of the family form an impenetrable roadblock only three generations back.

You may recall my research difficulties with this side of my family. My paternal grandfather, for whatever reason, was adamant about never revealing his roots. He came to the United States as a child—though I have yet to find his name in passenger records—and by the time he was working in New York City, he had concocted a story about his ancestry which was far from the truth. He stuck with that tale until his dying day and brought the true story with him to his grave.

DNA, of course, tells a different story, and we've explored that genetic narrative from time to time. That has become the bridge helping me overcome the family legend and lead me in the right direction. But even that new sense of direction runs me into problems. There are only so many generations I can go back in time with the Polish records in the small towns where our Puchała family lines originated—at least, with the ones I can find online.

With such limitations, I feel as if there is nothing more I can research on my father's heritage, leaving me with the dejected feeling that this year, I'll only be able to list nine instead of my usual Twelve Most Wanted.

There are, however, other tasks which can be attended to. For the end of this year, I'll be looking much closer to the current generation. To start these last three months of research plans, my focus for Ancestor #10 will be someone the family called Aunt Rose.

For the longest time, I thought perhaps Aunt Rose was simply a moniker for a family friend, not a relative at all. Over the years, though, it occurred to me that perhaps Aunt Rose was much more than a devoted family friend. I've learned some details about her—for instance, the name of two of her three husbands—but there are many other aspects of her lifetime which still seem mysterious. Being the last twig on her branch of the family tree provides no extra help in this situation, either.

I'd like to devote a month—mostly of scouring local newspapers and other out-of-the-way resources—to see if I can remake the image of Aunt Rose from a very carefully posed two-dimensional snapshot to a living, breathing three-dimensional portrait of her life. 

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