Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Search for Aunt Rose


With the start of a new month, we move to a new research goal. Not only that, but we shift from researching my father-in-law's Irish ancestors to delving into an entirely different side of the family tree. The last three months of each year I dedicate to discovering more about my own father's well-hidden Polish ancestry. And that is no small challenge.

Not that the past month didn't present its own roadblocks. I actually wasn't able to complete my intended task, and gave up the chase about halfway through the month. The switch to reviewing some DNA matches for the last two weeks of that month certainly proved to be a productive move. Though I no longer worked on my father-in-law's tree—which still stands at 34,019 people, same as two weeks ago—I did manage to add 546 documented names to my mother's tree, mainly by linking ThruLines DNA matches to that tree. That tree, expectedly, swelled to 34,523 individuals in total by the end of this past two week period. Cleaning up ThruLines suggestions, while sometimes tedious if coupled with the demand for documentation, can certainly be a helpful review—one I'd like to work into my monthly routine for the upcoming year.

Next month won't be seeing such vigorous research action. I won't have a handy path to follow, like the one offered through's ThruLines tool for DNA matches. In fact, even though I've already uncovered facts on my secretive paternal grandfather's true origins, progress has been painfully slow. For one thing, I'm hampered by the language barrier; there is only so much that can be done by learning Polish phonics or becoming familiar with handwriting styles in 1800s Prussia. But another challenge is simply tracing the life trajectory of relatives, even after they've arrived in the United States.

My focus for this new month is to learn what I can about one such relative who, to the rest of her family younger than she was, was known simply as Aunt Rose. This October focus is among my Twelve Most Wanted for this year for one specific reason: sometimes I see her in records, but other times, well, she seems to do a disappearing act. I know she was married at least three times, but of those three, I only know certain details about the middle marriage. For one husband, I only have a surname. For the other, the man seems to have simply disappeared after uttering those fateful words, "I do."

Whatever became of Aunt Rose, I cannot clearly say. I believe she had no children, so there's no chance to run into distant cousins through DNA testing. I can't even say with certainty where Aunt Rose was buried. All I know is that she ended up in New York City from her native Poland. I still have a lot to find, and a whole month in which to dig through newspapers and documents to see if I can piece together any sign of her day-to-day life.

To research someone who was the last leaf on that branch of the family tree may not seem a worthwhile project for some, but I like to recognize the inherent worth in each individual, including those who never had children. After all, stories are stories, and that is my primary goal in researching family for this blog. But in Aunt Rose's case, it may take digging deeper to seek out the details of what life was like for those who, like Aunt Rose, made their new life in a city such as the one which this immigrant woman eventually came to call home. More than just a month to dig for the dates and details of one woman's life, this might be a call to dig deeper into the social fabric and historical context of the broader picture of the life which surrounded this one family member.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...