Have you ever counted your family? Where do you begin? Why would you do that? What does it tell you?
This past couple months I have been in contact with a part of my family I didn’t know. I have four parts to my historical family. There is my dad’s side, which consists of my grandfather’s family, whose history and many of the people I know well. My paternal grandmother’s side is not as well known, and it will be next on my learning curve. Then there is my mother’s family. I know a lot of history about maternal grandfather’s family, and I know many of those relatives. My maternal grandmother’s family is more of a mystery to me.
A couple months ago, while in Arizona, I was contacted by someone who was a DNA match to my maternal grandmother’s family. We met up and had a wonderful time. This got me more curious about this family. In the meantime, another cousin from this family mentioned he was on a business trip near our home. So, we got together for lunch. Then the following week, he was back in town with his family, and we had a wonderful time getting to know one another. As we visited, we started listing all the family members that descended from my great grandparents. This cousin I met with is 17 years younger than me, but my great grandparents are his grandparents! It just shows how these families had children far apart from each other, and then the younger ones were older when they had their children, thus the age gap and generational gap.
I started a spreadsheet with my grandparents, Eva and Peter Vrazsity. Their name has been spelled several ways, Vrasic, Vrazsich, other spellings found on documents, and the one Peter settled with—Vrazsity. It is hard to find any of their family since European immigrants were known to “Americanize” their names, or the Immigration agent at their port of entry misspelled their names. Thus, I started only with Peter and Eva. They had four daughters and four sons.
This Serbian family originated from Nemes Militics, Hungary, which later became part of Serbia. Peter came to American twice before he brought his family over. He entered Ellis Island in 1905 on a ship named Ultonia, and in 1909 on a ship name Potsdam. He then came through Ellis Island with his wife, Eva, and four of their children, in 1910 on the ship, Carpathia. The children that came were Appolonia (Pauline), born 1900, who
was my grandmother; Rosalia (Rose) born 1902, Bonaventura (Barney) born 1906, and Simon (Sam) born 1908. Barney died at a Tuberculosis Home in Granite City, Illinois in 1937 just one day short of his 37th birthday. He never married. Eva and Peter had four more children born in the United States—Veronica, born 1911; Julia, born 1913; Michael, born 1915, and George, born 1916.
As I made the list of this family, I added their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. I don’t have all the information, but so far, I have 128 descendants of Peter and Eva. They live all over the country, and many are just meeting each other over social media. As much as I dislike some things about
social media, such as political jibber-jabber, I love the fact we can connect with distant family members, plan get togethers as we or they travel where the others live, and get to know them through their families’ photos.
Once I have my spreadsheet complete to my satisfaction, the next step will be reaching out to all these cousins and ask for additional information on names, birth and death dates, and where they are currently located. Maybe if there is enough interest, and help (I cannot do this alone), we may plan a family reunion, get to know each other, and appreciate the sacrifices that Peter and Eva made moving their young family to America.
I don’t know much about the history of the Vrazsity family. I am looking forward to hearing from other family members about this family. I am sure it is like all families—there were be good stories, and not so good stories. The important thing to remember, though, is that our ancestors sacrificed a lot to make a voyage to America. Their life was tough here, but it must have been tougher where they came from. I hope all the stories are not lost. Unfortunately, none of their children are living, the youngest who would be 103 years old today! The only stories we may have are those that have been passed on to the grandchildren.
As I have said before, if you have older generations in your family, get their stories. Many times they don’t think those stories are important, but they tell us who we are. Hopefully, years from now, you won’t say, “I sure wish I asked about their life.” I know that even though I have my parents’ stories, I think of more questions that I can no longer ask.
Our families’ stories are a rich history. Find those old photographs. Learn who these folks were. Embrace your history. No one has your story but you. Don’t forget to share your story with your family. As you go down through my blogs over the past couple years, you will see that I have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, and sometimes the funny stories of my life and of my ancestors.
I really love to hear the stories of my ancestors. My paternal great grandmother came to America in her 70’s and she was deaf and spoke only German, and yet I loved being in her presence. Her son, my grandfather, was a prisoner of war in Russia during World War 1. My maternal grandmother eloped at 14 only to live in the home of her mother-in-law, who treated her like a slave. My dad came to America through Ellis Island when he was 10 years old. While my paternal grandfather was in America, settled, and sent for the family, my maternal grandmother came alone on the ship, not only with my 10 year old dad, but also four other little boys, the youngest being just over a year old. When my mom was 16 years old in 1935, she and her mother were in an automobile accident that three passengers of their car died instantly, yet my mom and grandmother were practically unscathed. Oh, and two of those who perished were newlyweds of less than 24 hours. Our families have had conflicts, and I have almost died. These are all a part of my family history.
Click on any of these links above to enjoy these particular stories of my ancestors. Maybe it will inspire you to start researching the stories of your family. Maybe it will help you start to write your personal stories.