Today’s Tip is thanks to Robert Frost, the American poet. Pretty impressive given that I am not a big fan of, nor particularly understand a lot of poetry! So thank you, Mr. Frost.
In the Frost poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ the poet speaks of the fact that taking the road less traveled ‘made all the difference’.
I believe in our genealogy research and family tracing the same can well hold true! Taking the path less traveled can make all the difference!
Case on point: Early in my genealogy efforts, I realized that I did not know the home village of my Vicha ancestors. All I had was a single penciled note, of unknown origin or time, that said “Joseph Vicha, Pisec’ (sic).
While some of my efforts to find my ancestral home in Bohemia did indeed take the path ‘more traveled’ such as talking to elders in the family, looking at Ancestry.com, and other major resources, it was not until I got into the often ‘less traveled paths’ that I made any progress, plus some great things happened to me along that unworn path.
I will admit to feeling a bit of pressure as I undertook this effort, as it was at the request of my then 90-year-old Mother, so I wanted to be successful and never thought twice about taking a less worn path several times.
Luckily Vicha is a relatively rare surname in the Czech Republic to this day, so I had a friend send me a listing of all the Vichas that are in the phone directories in the Czech Republic. I wrote a letter of introduction and explanation, had it translated to Czech and then proceeded to personalize and send them to every one of the 310 families in the book. While this did not result in my finding a direct descendant, I did get dozens of really wonderful letters and emails back from the Czech Republic and a few even said my letter had caused them to think about beginning their own research!
I approached cousins and distant family members that had become silent over the years for whatever reason, and reopened lines of communications. Didn’t result in a village name, but one cousin took it upon herself to search her mother-in-law’s scrapbooks and come up with four newspaper clippings on my great grandfather, who happens to be my personal biggest brick wall in my family tree to this day.
I read and read and read history books about Bohemia to better understand what the life was like at the time they left for America.
I searched out every single lead I could find on the early Bohemian immigrant community of Cleveland that I could find. Best part, I met some truly wonderful people during this portion of the search. One turned into my mentor and several are still close friends-in-genealogy.
I almost (emphasis on almost) made a terrible pest of myself with the local archive, probate court, cemetery officials, and funeral home owners.
Then I struck gold! I found a marriage in Bohemia referred to in a listing of passengers coming to the States. There, the grooms’ family had several villages listed. So I followed up on every one of those!
With the final aid of a professional researcher in the Czech Republic, I found Milevsko!
So …. take that path less traveled! It truly can make all the difference in your family search!
Onward To Our Past,