Well, I give up. It had been an evening of desperately reading tutorials on how to fix a problem that I never asked for, with apparently no success. The problem: I can't comment on my own blog. Other blogs? Sure, I can blather on to my heart's content. But this one? I'm bound and gagged—unless, of course, I'm writing my own post.
How this occurred, I can't fathom. Sometime after switching to a new computer—of a different stripe, I might add—the glitch showed up. But only on the new computer. If I switched back to my old computer, I could talk again. Until, that is, my old computer was attacked and killed by a routine program update by the issuing company which shall remain unnamed. Once I doled out the bucks to get the thing resurrected, I went back to my blog on the old clunker in high hopes of once again being able to talk to the world, but no results.
Yes, I've gone through all the tutorials. Yes, I've followed instructions. All to no avail. This will remain a mystery for a far more savvy computer geek than I ever hope to become.
That said, rant over.
As far as unanswered comments go, here's my workaround: respond here in a post. I so appreciate when my fellow bloggers stop by to respond with encouragement, suggestions, and additional insights. Miss Merry is always there to be my cheerleader, providing encouragement to push onward in the perpetual search, and sharing examples from her own experience. Blogger—and artist—in search of family history which almost seems to parallel my own story, Lisa Jeffers Fulton finds and tugs on the heartstrings hidden in my family's stories with her own resource suggestions. Kathy Duncan, who most recently added her tips to my post about finding Aunt Rose in newspaper clippings, was one step ahead of me in mentioning the, um, quirky but enormous digitized newspaper collection at the Old Fulton New York Post Cards website—which, by the way, contains far more than just New York newspapers.
But today, it is mainly a question posed by Teresa of Writing My Past which I wanted to respond to. Teresa, who recently wrote her own post on tips for capturing newspaper clippings to add to family history articles, asked on "Polish Heritage—a Strictly-Kept Secret" if I knew why my grandfather hid his true Polish origin.
That is an important question to ask, and it has both a short answer and a longer answer. In short: no, I don't know why he hid his national origin. But I can guess—and that's where the longer answer comes in.
I never met my own paternal grandfather, mainly because of the "long" generations in my family. My dad was nearly fifty when I was born. His father died a few years before my birth. The only details I know about the man come from my much-older siblings and cousins, who knew him personally. They all assured me, the incessantly inquisitive budding family historian, that the man would not budge about his secret, whatever it was. Though never to his face, after I was old enough to do something about the questions I had, these relatives and I began prodding for answers on our own. Together, we've compared notes, trawled through memories, and looked at the man's life in the context of the broader history of his lifespan. Over the decades, we've been able to find far more than we would ever have dreamed could be accessible.
So many details pointed to a story far from the one my grandfather maintained: that his father was Irish and his mother, German. Perhaps the "German" was closer to the truth, but there was no Irish to be found. The name he chose for his newly-reinvented self certainly sounded Irish, but there was no basis for that selection.
As to Teresa's question, I can guess what might have contributed to that decision made by my grandfather. While I don't yet have any documentation to show when he first arrived in New York from his homeland—that's what I'm hoping Aunt Rose might reveal as we pursue her own story—I know he was a young boy when he did come to this country, as my cousin and brother have told me he didn't speak with an accent.
Considering he was born about 1876, that gave my grandfather plenty of time as an adult to become established in a decent-paying job in the city before tensions built up leading to the first World War. However, with the outbreak of the war, and limitations on freedoms of German-born aliens—as well as those from the countries swallowed up in Germany's control during that time, including the territory we now know as Poland—I believe my grandfather decided he could better fly under the radar if he simply changed his identity.
I actually had not been able to trace my grandfather's family back through time beyond the 1920 federal census and the 1915 New York State census. It was only with the help of other family members' research that I found the family in any census records before that time—and with a Polish, not Irish, surname.
Whether the issue of maintaining freedom during wartime, or holding on to a good job in the interim was the prime motivation, I can't tell. That is simply my guess, based on extenuating circumstances.