22 January 2013

The One with All the Polish People

Three days off work, and what's a girl to do?

Play on the internet for the majority of the day? 

Ok. I'm fine with that. 

After getting tired of facebook and twitter in about five minutes, I was looking for something else to entertain me. A commercial came on for Ancestry.com during the reruns of Law & Order I had on as background noise, and it got me thinking. 

I've researched my dad's side of the family - they've stayed in the same Sullivan/Steelville/Tea/Huzzah area in Missouri since God created the earth...aside from one distant relative from Virginia or Kentucky or something who served in the American Revolution, giving my sister and I the excuse to join DAR. 

But that's another story. 

Here's what I'm really excited about: 

I've been tracing my mom's side of the family. I never really knew that side growing up - they were all in Indiana and Michigan while I was in Missouri with the crazy Eatons.

You all know it's true. We put the word fun in dysfunctional.

Sure, we took lots of trips to see Grandma and Grandpa in South Bend, fostering my love and devotion of All Things Notre Dame.

But where was the rest of the family? Grandma and Grandpa had lots of brothers and sisters, but I don't really ever remember meeting them. 

So thanks to a long day with nothing to do and Ancestry's 14-day free trial (someone remind me to cancel before they charge me in two weeks!), I did a little digging on the name Cukrowicz. 

And Sieroslawski. And Demakowski. And Paprocki.

Can you see where I'm going with this? 

We're all just a bunch of awesome Polish people. 

I'm just praising God that my mom married the guy she did, or else learning to spell my last name in kindergarten would have been really, really annoying. 

(Thanks to joejurczyk.com for a lot of these...I totally can relate!)

  •  You occasionally add the suffix “-ski” to English words for no apparent reason (e.g., “I’m gonna go put the car-ski in the garage-ski”).
  •  You call your grandma “babcia” or “busia” and your grandpa “dziadzia.” You know how to dance the polka, but you only do it at weddings after kicking back a few generous shots of vodka.
  • Your grandma wears a babushka and galoshes every single day of the year, as well as a lot of jewelry and too much makeup.
  • Your grandparents and parents have at least one crucifix or religious picture mounted on a wall in their house with palms tucked behind it.
  • You like to put sour cream and horseradish on everything you eat.
  • You always prefer rye bread to white or wheat. (This is totally my mother!!)
  •  You have waited in line at a church or bakery to buy pierogi or paczki.
  • You frequently add “dere” (there) and/or “ya know” to the end of sentences. 
  • Words like kiszka, kielbasa, and kolaczki actually mean something to you
  • You walk into a crowd of people you don’t know and talk to them like they’re your best friends in the whole world.
  •  You collect “prayer cards” from funerals
  •  You often visit cemeteries, light votive candles for dead relatives, and generally spend an unhealthy amount of time obsessing about death (might also be because I grew up in a funeral home...)
So far I've traced my roots as far back to my great-great grandfather on my Grandpa's side, Wojciech Cukrowicz, who was born and raised in Poland, and my great-grandfather on my Grandma's side, Tadeusz Sieroslawski, who was born and raised in Austria. 

According to RootsWeb, Wojciech was born in Witaszyce, Poland. He married Antonina Rauchut in 1877. Wojciech and Antonina immigrated from the Port of Liverpool, England on February 25, 1881 on the vessel SS England, and arrived in the United States on March 14. By 1900 they had moved to and settled in South Bend, Indiana. Wojciech later changed his name to Adalbert. 

One of Wojciech's sons was Nicholas, who was the father of my grandfather, Robert. 

Wojciech, Nicholas and my grandmother Irene are all buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery in South Bend. It's so incredible to think of all the generations within those gates. 

Me and my sweet dziadzio!

Now, on to my Grandma's side. Grandma was born Irene Sieroslawski in 1927. Her daddy was Tadeusz, who also came over on a boat. 

We have the actual original documents framed at my parent's house. 

Tadeusz was born on October 24, 1884, and his last residence was in a town called Lodz, Austria. He came to America on the SS Maine by way of Bremen, Germany. 

He applied for his Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen on May 13, 1919. 

He wasn't granted citizenship until 1934, and carried his naturalization card with him at all times. 

I've had a fun day looking up my family history. I'm proud of my strong heritage. I have a long line of people up in South Bend, Indiana as well as middle Missouri. 

My Grandma Cukrowicz used to make the best sausage and sauerkraut and my Grandpa Cukrowicz taught me a strong work ethic - he and his daddy before him both worked for Studebaker. 

My Grandma Eaton taught me how to make homemade chicken and dumplings from scratch (we still don't have the recipe written down) and my Grandpa Eaton taught me how to catch rainbows in my hands. 

We're all immigrants. We all come from somewhere. 

I could go on a big rant about how we need to treat each other equal and that Jesus loves us all and hears our prayers in a million different languages, but I'll save that for another day. 

So, where do you come from? What heritage are you proud of? 

Today I love: Memories of my grandparents and a strong family legacy that spans generations.

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