In the course of the following months I learned a few more details about them. My great-grandmother Rozalia Bryjak was from Dlugopole, my great-grandfather Jacob Rol from the nearby village of Banska. He died in August 1894 at age 35 years in Dlugopole. Some years later my great-grandmother remarried, had two more children, and died in January 1954 at age 89 years in Dlugopole. They are both buried in the nearby Ludzmierz cemetery. Their three children, Jozef, Franciszek, and Karolina emigrated to the United States.
I have yet to track down my great-grandparents’ marriage record and their children’s birth and baptism records. My grandfather’s sister’s birthplace is incorrectly indexed as Dlugopole in the ship manifest. Later records indicate that all three children were born in Budapest, where I assume my great-grandparents went in search for work when they were young. Budapest was a booming city at that time that attracted countless numbers of people from nearby towns and rural areas to work in industry and construction. However, the family must have returned to Dlugopole at some point of time. My great-grandfather’s death record indicates that their residence was at house no.7 in Dlugopole when he died in August 1896. I don’t know what happened that he died at such a young age and why and when the family returned to Dlugopole. Their daughter Karolina’s baptism record that I received recently lists the district they lived in in Budapest, so I have to continue my research in Budapest some day. But that’s another project.
Finally, after many years of search, I have answers to my questions about my birth father and my paternal grandfather’s origin, and thus my own ancestry and identity. I have over 6,500 individuals in my family tree so far, and the research goes on. During the last years I have focused my research on the region in South Poland known as Podhale where I know my paternal grandfather’s ancestors lived and are buried. Learning more about what their life must have been like back then helped me to understand why my grandfather and his two siblings, like many others from this region, left their home village and family in order to find a better life in America for themselves and their children.
I see my father’s face smiling at me from a photograph on my desk and wish I could tell him about it. And I close my eyes and see my German grandmother’s dear face. Her patience and unshakable love helped me to find my way in life, and I am deeply grateful to her. If only I had one more chance to thank her and to tell her how much I loved her, to ask her all the questions I didn’t ask when I was young and that I don’t find answers to today. I know it’s too late, and I can do no more than remember the ones I loved and have lost and appreciate what they did for me. I don’t want them to be forgotten.
Ute H. Wyatt,