Celebrating Easter with our Ancestors

Easter was an important celebration for my Polish ancestors, and I find it exciting when I feel I have found a way to celebrate it with my deceased ancestors.

The season begins long-before Easter Sunday with zapusty or pre-Lenten traditions. Do you remember when the nuns at your school sat us down to list what we were giving up for Lent? Candy was a popular item on my friends and my list. I also remember Sister Valentine marching me and my fellow first-graders to a pew in the Church on Ash Wednesday to be marked with ashes on my forehead. Over the next few years, I understood the symbolism of this ritual. Adults in various countries made their lists, but they came together at Mardi Gras or Carnival for a tremendous round of merrymaking on the days. I never experienced a Mardi Gras-type celebration, but I remember the careful steps the nuns had their students do in preparations for the Lenten season.

How can we come closer to our ancestors during the Easter season?

  • Enjoy a special snack with our family eating the traditional Paczki on Fat Tuesday.
  • Make egg decorating a family activity with both the simple one and two-color eggs and some family members trying to make the intricate Pisanki eggs.
  • Have our Polish priest bless willows and hang over our doorways.

Most importantly, celebrate our Easter family feast with traditional Polish foods such as the traditional egg slices, sausages, pierogi, soups, vegetables, and a chocolate egg hunt for the children. (In 2021, the size of this gathering should be smaller, but the use of virtual devices could have our normal attendance using multiple locations.)

Always, celebrate our Polish heritage of traditional holidays and let our children and grandchildren learn about their ancestors.

New Book, Irish Immigration to America

My new book, “Irish Immigration to America,” is now available on Amazon. This should become a great resource and a must-have when writing your Irish family history. When did your Irish ancestors immigrate, where did they leave, why did they leave, how did they get here? The author hopes you find the answer to some of these questions. The book will give insight into the immigration of your ancestors. Irish immigration had many factors, and the Great Potato Famine only magnified the main causes.

 

Available on Amazon

Who are Your Ancestors?

After all your work finding genealogy documents, what are you doing to save them? Will your family keep them or throw them out when you are no longer here? Most family members do not understand our charts and family trees, but they love the stories. Find the stories in your documents. Dig out the details. What was the address of the house – find a picture to see how large it was. Where did they work? Who were their neighbors? Where did they shop? Find photos of the neighborhood.

How are you saving the stories? You can publish a newsletter and send out regular issues to all your family members. You can create a blog or do videos. I publish family history books with narratives that tell a story and include many pictures from the family albums, copies of all of my documents, and some family trees.

Who will do it if not you? Save the stories for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Let them know their ancestors.

Haller’s Army during WW I

 

Here is a must-see video for all of you who had relatives serving in Haller’s Army during WW I. The video tells the story of one man’s search for information about his great-grandfather’s service. He found many pictures and films showing many details beyond what you have read in the past. It covers the formation, training, and post-war service in Poland. The video may not be about your ancestor, but it will give you fantastic insight into what they experienced.

Watch the video

Christmas Suggestions for Your Czech Friends and Relatives

Why is the Immigration Story Important?

Our immigrant ancestors are:

  • The foundation of our roots in the United States.
  • Do not underestimate their sacrifices and contributions.
  • Consider their role in the factories and farms of the U.S.
  • Their work and lives were building blocks in the growth of their new country.

 Each immigrant has a unique immigration story. Record the narrative passed down by our parents and grandparents. Then dig out the details from all resources and match the historical reasons to the family oral history. Unlock more stories by looking at the documents, photos, family stories, and social history. Find out how do they relate. Do the work, add to your Family Histories, and honor your ancestors.

Remember, Genealogy Begins at Home!

You may have a treasure trove of family history hidden in desk drawers, file cabinets, and shoe boxes. Look for old papers, letters, and old photos your parents saved when they cleaned out the homes of your grandparents. This step is especially important if your parents or grandparents were immigrants.

Also, determine who was the caregiver when your immigrant ancestors died and pray that they saved the old paper in the shoeboxes. Once you find the caregiver or their descendants, contact them immediately to see what they kept. The caretakers may have sorted through the shoeboxes and saved the treasures you need. If you find documents with other relatives, ask for copies, and offer to share the results of your research.

If you are lucky, you will find their baptismal certificate, exit visas, and photos of your ancestors who stayed in Poland. These documents will contain more valuable information on your family history than any gold watches or jewels inherited.

Write down brief notes of the oral family stories and visit the cemeteries where your ancestors are buried to record the grave marker inscriptions and take pictures. At family gatherings, ask your siblings and other relatives to add what they remember about where your ancestors left.

Another critical step is to ask your siblings and cousins for their personal memories of their time with your grandparents. Carefully write their memories down and add their words to your family history. These are personal words that will be treasured by future generations.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

Great News! Legacy Family Tree Webinars us celebrating their 10th Anniversary and are unlocking for free viewing of their top Webinar from each of the past ten years.

https://familytreewebinars.com/top10

Polish Immigration to America – a basic outline

We need to find the answers to the following questions to unlock some elements of our family history:

  1. Why did our Polish ancestors immigrate?
  2. When did they leave?
  3. How did they get here?
  4. Where did they settle?

1608 – Polish craftsmen were among the workers recruited for Jamestown to manufacture:

  • Glass for export
  • Tar and resins needed to repair the ships.

Partitions (annexation) by Prussia, Russia, and Austria from 1772-1795 removed Poland from the map of Europe. Emigration did increase at this time, but partitions set in motion events that increased the Polish nationalist pride which along with economic and political problems caused the wave of emigration that start about 1850.

1850 – 1914 – “za chlebem …” or ”… for bread…”

It was not easy to immigrate to America. Those who left saw immigration as their only chance to escape the poverty of their life in Poland. In the last half of the 1800s and the early years of the 1900s, the forces motivating the Poles to leave their homeland can be divided into “Push” factors and “Pull” factors.

 1850s – From the Prussian Partition starting with from Silesia (Families emigrated)

1880s – Austria – the Galician Misery- (Single men/women or young, married couples)

1890s – Russia – (Single men/women or young, married couples)

Push factors were forces that drove them out of their home countries such as:

  • poverty
  • a shortage of land
  • the military draft
  • political or cultural repression
  • religious discrimination

Pull factors were:

  • the promise of jobs in the new lands
  • cheap farmland in America and Canada
  • the magnetic pull of “chain “

Irish Immigration to America

Why did your Irish ancestors emigrate? The majority of Irish came to America during the Irish Potato Famine and in the years afterward. However, the reasons for the immigration was more complex than the starvation conditions they were suffering in Ireland before they left. Their reasons were based on conditions caused by British Penal Laws passed in the 1600s and 1700s. These laws set the stage for conditions that made possible the devastation the Irish suffered during and after the Potato Famine of the late 1840s.

The answers to why they left differ and are related to the sharp religious divisions between Irish Catholics, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and the Anglican English. These tensions seem to be the cause of many to begin leaving Ireland in the 1700s and early 1800s and appeared to magnify the well-known effects of the Irish Famine.

Religious and political freedom were among the early reasons. However, poverty, especially at the time of the Great Famine, was also high on the list of reasons to leave. The religious divisions and tensions in Ireland go back to the conflicts between Catholic Irish and their English Protestant rulers. The end of the Nine Years War in 1603 added another factor to the tensions when King James gave Irish lands to Scottish Presbyterian.

When the Irish lost the war, King James VI of England confiscated the land on the rebellious Irish lords. King James then recruited Scottish clansmen to populate the confiscated land. In 1609, he began the systematic resettlement of the Plantation of Ulster with recruited English and Scottish Protestant settlers. However, the English did not honor their early promises to the Scots, and soon the Presbyterian Scots felt the discrimination that the Catholic Irish felt. They began leaving Ireland for America and other countries about 1730.

The leading cause of the tension among the Presbyterian Scots and the Irish Catholics was the pressure from the English to support the Anglican Church. Only Anglicans could own land and be members of the local government. This situation produced much of the poverty that both groups suffered, and felt the need to leave. Over time the difference in economic levels became more extensive with the English or descendants of the English being very wealthy and all others suffering marginally to extreme poverty. The English landowners also encouraged growing of the potato, and it became the major food crop throughout Ireland. When the potato blight began, the English government did not bring in an economical substitute causing much of the starvation felt by the poor. Also, the fail of the potato crops gave the landlords reason to evict many of their tenants and convert the lands to pastures or larger fields that they harvested using farm implements.

Remember that each immigrant has a unique story. Our challenge is to dig out as many details of their immigration saga as we can for our family history. This search includes matching when they came and where they left for possible reasons occurring around them.

Our immigrant ancestors laid the foundation of our roots in the United States. Our lives would be much different if they did not endure the challenges of emigration from Ireland. Do not underestimate their contributions. They performed vital roles in the development of America. Many of them cleared fields on the frontier and worked on the farms. Many of the Irish were unskilled and toiled constructing the canals and railroads or in factories. Their lives became building blocks in the growth of their new country.