Welcome back! This is Part 5 – of the icipici podcast on Getting Started with Genealogy. As you keep doing these assignments, you may be noticing that you are gathering some answers, but these may also be bringing some questions to mind. When you have a question, write it down! Maybe your questions have to do with why your family came to the place they settled. Why did they leave their country of origin? How did they travel? What was it like to be in a new place without extended family around?
Today’s assignment is for you to track down the full names and birthdates of your maternal and paternal grandparents. In fact, write down anything you know about them! Did they have siblings? What kind of work did they do? Did you ever meet them?
Once you start working on your grandparents and learning about their family of origin, you are starting to make connections with extended family. Are there people who are alive and in your family tree but you haven’t hardly heard a thing about them? Sometimes family members get lost when there is a death or divorce, but sometimes there are family disagreements. And, sometimes, there are situations that are so big and so unresolved that there is a permanent break in the connection. Of course, these people are still related, but there is no relationship. Unfortunately, these rifts can last for generations. Sometimes the separation is warranted. And sometimes it is just about some pride and stubbornness, and it completely changes the family structure. If you bump into something like this in your family, tread lightly but see if you can get to the root of it. If you are seeking to understand, you might get some answers. And if you want to do a little digging and reconnect, well, you might want to do that quietly at first. It may not be well received.
But, there may be some unexpected treasures in the hands of the siblings of your grandparents or their children.
Let’s say you have a grandfather and he had two siblings. It’s quite possible that photos of your grandfather or letters from him to his parents might be in the hands of the children of one of his siblings. Ask me how I know. If you tune into Episode 48 of the Hungarian Living Podcast Pictures and Old Letters you will hear about how we came upon some amazing treasures on my husband’s side of the family.
Of course, it is always tricky to be in the business of restoring family connections. But I think there can also be beauty in “burying the hatchet”. Sometimes the one who has done the offending doesn’t even know the extent of the damage they caused. And, true, they may not even care. But, it is just something to think about as you are working through genealogy things. You are bound to run into something like this in your family tree!
Be sure to check out The Hungarian Store for more resources as you explore your Hungarian heritage!