Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Poland Sept

Poland looms ever closer. On Monday, March 9 I take a bus to Fiumicino Airport in Rome and check in to my hotel room in order to catch my early flight to Krakow on Tuesday. I’m winding things down here. Trying to get all my ducks in a row. I want to be completely organized since I’ll be gone for three weeks.

I’m getting additional Italian lessons from my tutor so I can keep studying. I’ve got some work-out regimens from a buddy of mine since won’t have access to a health club. And I’m trying to do more research.

A short while ago I had decided not to do any more research online for Poland because I had reached a dead end. I then figured I would just wait until my arrival in Krakow at which point I reasoned I would be able to continue with my search.

The man who is renting me my little flat has been a wealth of information. He’s gone beyond the call of duty in giving me information on town names, geography, etc. Aleksander is very thorough.

Maybe too thorough. I’ve found out from him that the town I believed to be the hometown of my grandma probably isn’t. In searching around, I found a town with virtually the same name as my grandmother’s maiden name save for one letter. Yet all this hearkens back to a posting a few weeks ago where I discussed the difficulty of researching genealogy in Eastern Europe.

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is shown as “Dlugdszowa” on my grandfather’s death certificate. Yet on her death certificate the maiden name shows “Dlugdsz”. There is a city halfway between Warsaw, Poland and Vilnius, Lithuania named “Dlugosze”. Possible typo? Was her father’s family named after the town in which they lived? Was the town named after the family?

But then I found another town named “Dlugosz” farther south, closer to Krakow. Damn! How many of these towns are in this nation? At first I thought it was a mistake. Then I realized that Poland is a nation of 35 million people. It is entirely possible that there could be more than one town with the same name. How many Salems, Portlands and Springfields are in the United States? If there truly are more than one town with this name, I will focus on the one near Lithuania and the one near Krakow. I think those are my best bets.

Could either of these be the birthplace of my great-grandfather, Basili? He was born in Olesku, Poland according to the death certificates I have. There is an “Olecko”, Poland a few miles away from Dlugosze near Lithuania. Possibly the same city? Coincidence? Common sense tells me to focus there.

Yet, there is an “Olesku Castle” near Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv is the birthplace of my maternal grandfather. I think this might be more of a long shot. I will focus on my maternal grandmother’s family in Poland and leave Ukraine for my maternal grandfather’s family.

Is this getting confusing? Imagine how I’m trying to figure it out in my mind. I’ve got my maternal grandmother’s family in one country (Poland) and my maternal grandfather’s family in another (Ukraine). And, as I go back a generation, I start dealing with my maternal grandmother’s parents (my great-grandparents) and my maternal grandfather’s parents (my great-grandparents). And where were they from? Lviv and Krakow are within a few hours apart.

I am preparing for the very real possibility that I will run into brick walls everywhere. How many records have been preserved? Even with records, will I have much in the way of information on their lives or living conditions? I suppose I can research living conditions in the area from that era and, from there, extrapolate what their lives were like.

It gets daunting. Trying to compartmentalize all the work I have to do, all the information I need to find and then trying to separate out my grandfather’s family from my grandmother’s. Sometimes my head swims.

Truly, I pray that I can get enough information to create some sort of family history. My brother is jazzed about my efforts and that propels me. Since I’m writing a book, I want it to be compelling enough to interest people. Nevertheless, I know that the readership is going to be limited because I am unknown. At most, I can probably expect about as many sales as from the first book. Maybe more, but I doubt it.

Sometimes it gets me down. It just seems like there’s so much information to find and so little time. How did Alex Haley do it? I understand he had financial backing from Reader’s Digest, a deep-pocketed publication. I don’t have that. My resources are limited and so is my time. But then, my story is not as crucial as the author of Roots. He chronicled the slave trade and deftly wrote about the life of slaves and the environment of that era, something we never learned about in school.

My story is just that of a person seeking more information about his genealogy. Yet, I’m not obsessed. I’m just interested. I’ve come to grips with a lot and I know that this part of the journey holds nothing more than fascination for me and my brother and that’s enough. I don’t expect earthshaking revelations and I’m not looking for them. I’m just enjoying this journey.


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