My search for Agnes began in October, 2009. Agnes is my maternal grandmother who lived a horrendous life yet managed to live to be 89 years old. I knew bits and pieces of her life, but not many specific details. My sister and I went to visit my aunt in an assisted living facility on that day in October and that was the beginning of my addiction. Aunt Mary was 90 years old at the time of the visit and readily shared her memories with us. We hung onto every word and I even thought of pulling an envelope out of my purse to take notes. That was a smart move as I would have forgotten some of the things our aunt shared with us that day.
As we were leaving her room, we agreed that we needed to start a search for the story of our grandmother. We went to the cemetery and took pictures of her headstone as well as the headstones of our 2 oldest uncles.
I took the notes and put them in narrative form. In writing it down, I cried realizing the tragedies that colored my grandmother's life. She was orphaned at 4 years of age, placed in an abusive, neglectful foster home with the local priest's housekeeper, and eventually was able to leave Croatia for the US.
She met my grandfather who was a coal miner in Pennsylvania. They were parents of 12 children, 10 of whom survived. They moved often to places in PA and Ohio where they finally settled. (They were following any job my grandfather could get) Tragically, in 1929, my grandfather was struck and killed by a car on a dark country road. He left my grandmother a widow with 10 children and a widow's pension that barely covered the rent on the farm which was $25.00 per month.
Since I started my search, I have enlisted the help of my 7 siblings and many of my cousins to recall things they had heard from their parents or remembered about our grandparents. I have an amazing amount of recollections, pictures, census records, obituaries, etc. that are adding to the story of our grandparents.
I have hit several brick walls which I will list in my next post. With a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I am getting closer to having many elusive documents in my posession.