In the last two months I have spent countless hours squinting my eyes, trying to connect names, birth dates, addresses and pictures with these stories I have in my head. While the journey has been amazing and made me cry sometimes. It has to have been the most infuriating task I have ever attempted. But infuriating in the most successful and emotional way.
As I have said in previous family literacy posts this was not a section of my family that I had the luxury of pushing the tiny little leaf off of ancestry.com. Instead, I drew the tree and added branches and sometimes even took them away. I have confused father for son and daughter for mother. Almost all of my piecing together has come from obituaries and whatever I could flesh out of the archives in my search.
Now I have sat here all day trying to tie up lose ends and organized this pile of papers that is now (and I am not joking) 500 pages thick. I wrote notes off to the side, I printed whatever I could, I saved whatever I could not print and I still feel so overwhelmed. I know the awesome story that lies within these papers, and I know the awesome story I have within my head from family stories. I know the scholarly research I did to back up what I could and now I say, “How the heck do I put it all together?”
I know it will come to me and I know I am overwhelmed because this story has not really ever been told. But I know the importance of sharing it. I know the happiness it has brought me when I hit pay dirt and the sadness I felt when my info well ran dry.
In the beginning I wondered how my family could not tell their story. I questioned if there was some big deep dark secret that must be kept quiet. But now that I am on the other side I find myself extremely protective of this story. And I am writer and story teller so I know the importance of carrying that on. But I want to do it respectfully in a way my own children will be proud but also, my dad, my grandpa and his relatives. All I have are these memories of an 8 year old, but now I have newspapers that fill in what they did, and interview questions that share a little more. It all tells a mostly complete story. I just have to do it justice.
Now it is time to begin to write. Though normally at this point it would get easy for me this project not so much. It is hard to put it all together and to know what is important and where. But I know after a few hours alone with my research and work beside me it will come together. The hard part is going to be figuring out who is Frank, Francis, Frances, Joseph, Josef, Marie, Mary and Mary Rose because all these names seem to be used interchangeably with one another.
I am gonna share a few of my major finds because of either extremely sentimental reasons or because I cracked another language.