I stood motionless, my feet melting into the cobblestone walkway. I was transfixed. Dusk was descending and thousands of candles began to punctuate the darkening path, blinking quietly on the ground. The tiny flames illuminated rows of gravestones. I’d never before felt such a strong sensation of peace and calm in a cemetery.Read More
At the beginning of September, I began a journey. Though I didn’t have many tangible expectations for the outcome – I was more interested in the process of journeying itself – I did have one goal. To backpack across Poland and visit the towns where my great-grandparents came from. In the end, I returned to Wroclaw having reached five out of sevenRead More
Family stories have always suggested that my great-grandfather Makowski grew up on a farm, somewhere in central Poland. According to the stories, the farm was huge. According to the stories, the Makowskis had tons of children. According to the stories, there was tangible communication between my great-grandfather’s new family in America and his oldRead More
I’ve never been a big fan of cemeteries. But in Poland – small towns and big cities alike – cemeteries are part of the fabric of life, linking life to death through tangible markers. Physical representations of memory in stone, they are central to annual Catholic holidays and, for some, chances to heal through action, tending to the flowers and earthRead More
There is a piece of lore floating in my family history that one of my great-great-grandfathers was connected to a family of royal nobility in Poland. Indeed, they share the same last name – Potocky. And one branch of the noble Potocky family owned a small town in southeast Poland called Rymanow – the same town listed as my great-great-grandfather’sRead More
Genealogy research is all about connecting the past with the present. There are two main angles from which to seek this connection. The first is through oral history: family stories, folklore, legends, tidbits. All can lead insight into where ancestors came from and why.
The second is through writtenRead More