So the decision has been made...do a genealogical search in order to reclaim my heritage. This is a decision much easier said than done.
An immediate question came to mind. Where does one begin?
Yes, I had done a successful search for my birth parents and learned some research techniques. Could I use these in this type of search?
I went to the library to check out books concerning genealogical searches I also utilized the Internet. I found most the resources either too technical or showed ways to just put together a family tree.
I did not want my research to result in your typical genealogy fact sheet filled with just names and dates of a family tree. I wanted to do more than put together a family tree. I wanted to find relatives that might still be alive. I wanted to see pictures. I wanted to hear stories. I wanted to find out all that I had missed out on. I wanted to be able to reclaim the heritage I had so long been denied.
This became even more important when I decided to create a web site with a section devoted to my family genealogy. I wanted to not only share many of the search tips I picked up along the way but also I wanted to share my family's story.
I did not have the resources most raised within their natural family had to begin such a search. I would have to start from scratch and develop my own list of search techniques.
I had my great grandparents names. I knew they were Polish but did not know if they were born in this country or had immigrated from the old country. I knew where they lived. That was the extent of my information.
I knew my grandfather had been born in 1902. I decided I would begin my research using the Federal Census. A census had been done two years earlier (1900). This would be my starting point.
I would end up checking all the census records back to 1880 as well as forward to 1930. I would also find a separate Michigan state census of 1884.
I would have to go through several "Passenger Lists" to determine when they came to America as the census did at least tell me they were immigrants from Poland.
Death certificates would be requested which would provide information regarding my great great grandparents.
Many hours would be spent searching through a variety of data bases on the Internet. I became active in several genealogy discussion groups on the Internet so I could ask others if they could provide information. I became acquainted as a result of this with two very hopeful woman who over time were able to provide an abundance of information as they also were doing research of Polish ancestors in Bay City. Thank you Judy and Fran!
I ended up taking a two week vacation in Salt Lake City, Utah so I might be able to go to the LDS Family History Library. There I was able to go through many rolls of film, microfiche, books and other records that provided tidbits of information I would find nowhere else.
It would even take trips to Bay City, Michigan before I could begin to put together the story of the Piechowiaks Come to America.
I won't enumerate all the resources used to discover the information that has resulted in the next chapter. I have just mentioned a few here at this point. I will mention others as I create new chapters. It is my intent at the conclusion of this section of the web site to create a chapter entirely devoted to listing all the ideas and tips I have discovered that one can use for genealogical research.