September 29, 2008

The Big Family Secret UPDATED

I've got you thinking now, don't I...murderer? Transvestite? Dirty politicians? Torrid affair with the Reverend Dimmesdale? They bought brand name bread instead of store brand? I'm fairly certain numbers 1, 2 and 4 aren't true. Number 3 is up in the air and if they were all like my mom, number 5 is laughable.

No, the big family secret is that my family IS a big secret. Seriously. I kick myself daily for not grilling my grandmother more when she was alive to learn my paternal family's history. All I'm sure of is that her parents came from the Czech Republic sometime in the early 1900s. I know that my paternal grandfather's mother actually gave birth to him when she was 14 or something and so his grandmother raised him as her own, alongside his birth mother. His birth mother's name was Casey. Beyond that, and a couple great aunts and uncles, I know nothing of my dad's family.

And my mom''s less of a mystery but still pretty hazy. My mom was one of six children, five of whom lived to adulthood and four of whom are still here. Her mom is from Titusville and her dad is from my hometown of Conneautville. As of today, here's what I know:

- My maternal grandmother had a handful of sisters and one brother. None are alive now, including my maternal grandmother; she passed away in 1974. I know my mom had cousins on that side she was close with while growing up but she lost touch with them years ago and I've never met any of them.

- My maternal grandfather's family, well, I can trace them back to the mid-1800s, all of them in Conneautville. I've got a couple of surnames and burial records, but that's about it. My mom says my great-grandfather was an alcoholic (that's lovely to know) and he was a member of the CCC. He helped dig Pymatuning Lake as a part of that.

- A great aunt (which side, I can't remember) was married to the local district justice. She had two boys. Another great aunt was married to the town dentist.

And that's all I know. Sad, isn't it? It's nearly impossible to get information when all of my ancestors are gone. I've looked at census records and cemetary indexes, but that's where the trail ends. No one has any clear memories of the extended family. As far as I know, there aren't even any pictures. There's never been a family reunion on my mom's side. I've been to one family reunion on my dad's side but they either don't have them anymore, or once the connecting family member passes away, you stop getting invited.

Guess maybe the lineage will start again with me? I should buy one of those family tree programs or something. Paper would be better. I love computers, I really do, but sometimes things seem so much more...genuine on paper. You know what I mean?

So tell me, what are your family secrets? Anything juicier than a lack of family secrets?

Check this out! No wonder the Bay Area landscape looks like Sim City. New homogenous buildings everydamnwhere.


LazyCrazyMama said...

My mother's family is the same way. And me too, I wish I would have asked tons of questions of my grandma, great-grandma and great aunt while they were still alive. But I was too young to be concerned about such matters. And my mom just seems to be pretty clueless.
My husband has traced his family tree way way back. So at least we will have one good branch for the kids ;)

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