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Old 03-26-2012, 07:40 PM   #136
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Interesting thread, and I am envious of those who have great and extensive details of their grandparents lives.
My Dad was from a coal mining town in PA. His father as far as I know worked the mines for a short time, didn't serve in WWI, and raised three boys. He was a lineman for the utility company until his retirement. He died when I was 12, and my Dad was not one to talk of his Dad much. Grampy had one incredible talent, and that was calligraphy. When I was little and he would visit he'd always have his pens and ink and write beautiful script on little cards and give them to me. I have one with my name on it that he wrote for me and have saved it all these years. I think him and my grandmother both enjoyed the sauce, according to my Mom.

Maternal grandfather I know more of even though he died when I was 6. He and his wife raised 7 kids at the height of the Depression, in an unheated house in Woburn. You have to tip your hat to folks who survived those times, but Granpa was a nasty bastard that beat his kids and took no shit from anyone. He was a conductor for the railroad and in later years a gate operator at the Woburn train station. My Mom said he was as cold as ice. On July 4th each year, the family fireworks consisted of Grandpa going out in the backyard and firing a single round from his .38 into the sky. My mom's late sister inherited the "cold as ice" genes ( what a freaking bitch she was) but my Mom turned out like her Mom, a living saint, gentle, decent and loved by all who know her. Grandpa died when he had a stroke on a cross country train ride to California. My grandma and he were just retired in 1963, and my grandma had never been to the west coast, so they went by train. He was stricken on the journey and there was a doctor on the train that tended him until they got to Salt Lake City, where this doctor lived. They took him off the train, realized there wasn't much they could do to save him, and this kind doctor got back on the train east and stayed with Grandpa all the way back to Boston, and got him home in his bed where he died a few hours after arriving. My grandmother never did get to see California.
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:36 PM   #137
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:09 AM   #138
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Both sets of grandparents were immigrants to the US.

My paternal grandparents came from a little town named Cugnoli in the Abbruzzi region of Italy. My grandfather Giovanni was born in 1877 and my grandmother, Carolina, in 1881. They entered the US at Ellis Island in July, 1909. They had 2 children at that time, but they are NOT listed on the ship's manifest. They settled in the Italian community in Niagara Falls, NY, but my grandparents became seasonal farm workers in a little town about 50 miles south, North Collins, NY, for several years. They wintered in Niagara Falls, and apparently my grandfather found permanent work there during WW I, making enough money for them to buy a small farm in North Collins in 1919. They had 9 kids in all, my grandfather raised livestock and grapes, and my grandmother raised vegetables for food and for sale. She had a large greenhouse with an ingenious elevated water tank to store water for her garden. The farmland is still in the family, although the original house, barn, and outbuildings have long since been cleared. My cousin built a log house on it in the 1980s.

My maternal grandparents came from Poland, but I know a lot less about their backgrounds than the Italian lineage. They came to the US at different times. My grandfather, Kasper, was born between 1880 and 1887 somewhere in Poland. I recently found a clue, in the form of a letter from the 1950s-1960s in an old family photo album, to the town he's from but since I don't read Polish, this is still a work in progress. He came to the US about 1910, settled in Buffalo, NY and worked in various factories until he retired. He died in 1959. I think of all my grandparents, he had the unhappiest life in the US. He was a farm boy stuck in the city, and he hated it, which is probably one of the reasons that he ended up an alcoholic, although not a very bad one in that he could hold a job and limited his drinking to week-end binges.

My grandmother, Marianna, was born in 1902, again somewhere in eastern Poland. Her immigration path is impossible to trace because she came into the US using somebody else's name. Apparently, a family in her village was all set to emigrate when one of the daughters died. Being frugal, they didn't want to waste the ticket and paper work, so my grandmother came under the dead girl's name as my grandmother was one of six sisters.

Marianna's family were converted Jews, but we don't know if it was my great grandfather or great-great grandfather who converted. I believe my great grandfather's name was John, which would probably mean he was baptized a Catholic. The family surname, however, was definitely Jewish. All of my grandmother's siblings were murdered in the Holocaust. My uncle, who served in Europe in WW II, apparently talked to people from the village where they had lived and found out that they had all been lined up against a barn and shot during the early part of the German invasion of Russia.

My maternal grandparents married in Buffalo about 1920. Shortly afterward, they moved from "Polonia" as the heavily Polish East Side Buffalo neighborhoods were called to "the 'burbs" of Black Rock, a neighborhood in the NW corner of Buffalo where my grandfather worked in foundries. They had 6 children but only 4 survived infancy.

In the 1930s, my grandmother, kids in tow, worked as a farm worker in North Collins, just up the road from my paternal grandparents' farm. That's how my parents met: he was about 15, she was 11. My grandmother used her earnings from summer farmwork to invest in real estate, buying two family homes where they lived in one flat and rented the other. Eventually, with my grandfather earning good money during WW II and her kids grown up, she was able to buy a small grocery store which she operated, with my mom, until she died in 1952.

As the unofficial "family historian" for both sides of my family, I can't tell you how important it is to find out as much family history as you can from your parents/grandparents/great grandparents while they are alive. Even your oldest aunts and uncles can be invaluable sources. Unfortunately, I was "too busy" doing other things when I was younger and these relatives were still alive to pass on their knowledge, so mostly I've had to piece together my family history from public records and family legends.

Last edited by kinzua; 06-13-2012 at 09:14 AM..
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:30 AM   #139
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When trying to find where in Poland someone was from, it's always good to look in Germany and Russia as well, since the border of Poland has changed so many times in the past few hundred years. Hope this helps
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:38 AM   #140
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:34 PM   #141
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This is probably the best thread ever.

Awesome stories.

I have recently been investigating my great grandfathers, and great-great grandfathers.

I may have to post some stuff here soon.

I have a great grandfather that fled Holland during the Nazi occupation.

I have a great-great grandfather that was a preacher for the Episcopalian church, but was ousted form the church because he impregnated a 17 year old girl. He was 40-something and married.

My grandmother was shocked to find out, because she had always been told that he was ousted from the church for unorthodoxy. Noone ever told her about the scandal.

When you hear the stories of your forefathers (and mothers), it makes the stories of these Hollywood twits look even more contrived and petty.
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Old 08-21-2015, 02:23 AM   #142
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Well my one Grandfather worked for Chrysler for 45 years and retired with a sweet package. The other...Honestly I don't know. He was retired by time I was old enough to ask and when I did he would say he "took care of problems."
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