Without a doubt my mother was my inspiration and the driving force behind my interest in genealogy. She had so many questions about her parents, questions she'd asked them but they'd refused to answer. Which raised even more questions. Why the secrets? Why wouldn't her father tell her anything about his family, not even if he had any brothers or sisters? And why did her mother protect his secrets insisting that she never again ask about her father's family back in Poland? How did her parents come up with the money to start a baking company when so many other immigrants were merely day laborers? And why did they choose to go into the baking business of all things? So many questions, so much mystery just waiting to be solved.
I'd known about the mystery for years before I got involved with genealogy, however. Believe it or not (and it's not hard for people who know me well to believe) getting a copy of Family Tree Maker software was what ignited my interest and launched the quest that became my family history research. I don't even know what version of FTM is was back then (1996-1997), I'm thinking maybe 3.0 but I honestly don't remember. It may sound strange to pick up a hobby from a piece of software but it's happened to me several times, most recently getting me started with digital scrapbooking.
Over the years there were significant others that helped me find success with my research. One author in particular comes to mind, Rosemary Chorzempa who wrote Polish Roots. Polish Roots was more or less the bible of Polish genealogy research back in the early days of my research. Rosemary covered all the basics in a very readable and concise way and she gave me direction when I had no notion of where to begin. I would highly recommend her book even now that there is so much information readily available on the internet.
And then there were a couple of fellas who were a great help to me with my research. I met Jan Zaleski at my local Family History Center. He was very helpful with suggestions. He'd been into genealogy for years and was kind enough to share the wisdom of his experience with me. I met Jim Tye at a Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan meeting. Jim is a walking encyclopedia of Polish-Detroit history and he has come through for me with with details/facts that have made all the difference in my being successful with my research.
When it comes to "putting flesh on the bones of my ancestors", I have two cousins who were able to help me understand a great deal about the life and times of my ancestors in Poland. My cousin Piotr Mizera has been a godsend to me. I value the countless hours he has spent online with me answering my questions about my maternal grandmother's family, photographing the villages where the family was from, and telling me what they endured during WWI, WWII, and the Russian Occupation of Poland. My cousin Henryk Lisowski did the same for me regarding my maternal grandfather's family in Poland. He has been beyond kind and generous to me.
And last but not least, there is Ks. Niemiec, a parish priest from Zgorsko, Poland. He not only sent me everything I ever requested from him in the way of documents and such but he sent me photos of the village church and cemetery of my paternal grandfather's family and a copy of an entire chapter of a local history book describing the village. That was no small thing for him to do and it was greatly appreciated.
I'd like to say thank you and publicly acknowledge these wonderful people who have helped me so much with researching my family history. Bardzo Dziekuje!
Who's helped you with your genealogy research? Five days until the deadline for submissions for the next Carnival of Genealogy...