note: This is the first part in a series about a family research trip to Dynów, Poland in May 2013.
This was our second trip to Poland. Last year (2012) I went with Audrey in 2012 for a few days to present at a software conference called PyCon Poland. We stayed for a few days afterwards in the eerily familiar Krakow, always conscious that my family heritage was perhaps just hours away. You see, my mother and father's family come from Jews who emigrated to the USA respectively about 110 and 90 years ago. Unfortunately, for many reasons boiling down to time, resources, and contacts I held off from exploring my family roots, promising myself I would return one day.
Now I was back in Poland, with both the time, resources, and contacts to make it possible to explore at least a portion of my family roots. This year I would get to research and visit where my grand-father's roots in south-eastern Poland. We blocked out some time, made various reservations, talked to family members such as my mother and Aunt Bernice (who wrote about her trip in 2006), and leaned heavily on the graces of close friends Tomasz 'Tomek' Paczkowski and Alexandra 'Ola' Sendecka.
We knew we were in for an uphill battle researching the family. You can't just go to a computer and search. In fact, as of the summer of 2013 there isn't really a central database of information for Jewish ancestry - what exists is still under construction and rather incomplete. That means you have to go and look at old documents yourself, which are incomplete and hard to find. You see, over the decades various documents have been destroyed by accident or war, meaning that the old property/census/tax documents are either incomplete or broken up into parts seperated by hours of travel.
Getting to Dynów was a matter of renting a car and having Tomasz drive us from Krakow. Most of it was on a pretty new highway and we zipped along at a rapid pace. Once we got to Rzeszow and the highway ended, we were on the winding country roads that make up most of Poland. While unbelievably scenic, the country roads make Poland feel much larger than it seems; explaining why we would not be able to accomodate the requests from various family members and friends in the USA to visit the villages of their ancestors.
More about the trip is forthcoming later in the series. In the meantime, here are some things still being edited: