Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chasing Elusive Ancestors and Learning History While You're At It (1)

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When it comes to reading or learning about City, State, or American History in an overall sense, many people comment that it is oh hum "boring." The women would rather be watching their soap operas, Gray's Anatomy or shopping at the malls till they drop. The men that are more into sports, would rather spend the time watching baseball, or the super bowl relishing in their gigantic subs. While others prefer to browse the internet. As for the dedicated premature-gray genealogist researcher, in their never ending pursuit, the chase of the Elusive Ancestor has become easier, thanks to the use of the personal computer and benefits that have been provided through the internet. Vital records information is now available to the public through designated websites. These can at times be accessed for free, or at a reasonable monthly fee. Some major websites such as will provide a larger area of information on a yearly subscription. "Mega-databases, like those at, allow users to perform nationwide and even worldwide searches for their ancestors by performing a Global Search, which may turn up ancestors in unexpected locations."

The tedious task of finding elusive ancestors is time consuming, frustrating, expensive and requires a great deal of patience. Between stamps, photo copies, stationary, subscriptions, travel, and rental of micro-films at the Family History Center one can tally up quite a bill in the line of expenses, without even getting close to any positive results. Trying to keep up with elusive ancestors is like being in a marathon. Just when we think we have caught up with them, they would suddenly bolt like a rabbit and start running again, disappearing without leaving a trail of dust behind, for us to continue sniffing. Honestly I do believe they were Olympic champion runners back then. I wonder if Nike or Adidas sneakers were around or something similar.

Papa was my elusive ancestor. I spent many weeks and months with micro-fiches and micro-films at the local Family History Center, searching and scrutinizing every single entry, hoping that I didn't miss anything vital that would lead to papa and his whereabouts. He was such a mystery to all of us, and since he died when I was very young, genealogy was the furthest thing from a child's mind. Mama who was Papa's third wife, didn't help matters, by throwing away all his belongings and papers after he died. Even as an adult, it didn't enter my mind to pursue my father's past until years later after mama's death. I was angry with myself for never questioning mama or any of my relatives that knew papa before he died.Now they are all deceased, and the dead can't talk. My brother Barney, who is the oldest was able to find out through my godfather, where papa was born and wrote to the representative of Croatia,requesting documentation of his birth. Papa was born in 1896 during the time of the Austrian Hungarian Empire. Now I know why papa had such a strong German accent. His English always sounded mish mashed. It turns out that my godfather was born in the same island that Papa was born. What a small world. The Island of Privic Luka in Croatia.

To be continued: Chasing Elusive Ancestors (2)


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