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The Extended Descendent Family Tree of Ignacy Kowalski

Updated November 2, 2006

My maternal grandfather, John Joseph O’Brien, died five years before my birth. Of him I recall hearing only of his physical appearance and where he worked. My other three grandparents didn’t tell me about their early lives, their parents, the work they had done, their emigrations or the countries in which they were born. The little I know of these things is from the oral histories passed down from my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Even Mom’s mother, who died when I was 13, related little of the background of her family. I do remember her telling me that she was one of 13 children born to her mother, one for only 3 who survived to adulthood. And, I was fascinated to hear from her that her mother bore five children in one year! Triplets and twins born within a 12-month period. While remarkable, this is scant information indeed for me to pass on to my grandchildren.
.............Well, that's the way it was, until recently! A trip to the Boston Public Library turned up the obituary of my maternal grandfather, and I now know more about him. And, the tireless efforts of cousin Wayne Covell have put us in touch with our cousins who live in California and Poland. My second kuzyin Ireneusz Bulski, son of a Polish war hero, descends from my paternal great grandparents. He lives with his family in Warsaw and has studied the genealogy of our Polish family for 30 years. Through this connection, Aunt Helen Murphy now corresponds with her first cousin in Poland!! A miraculous Family Cyber-reunion has taken place!!

Once we reach adulthood, most of us assume we know all there is to know about our parents and families. However, if you take the time to ask questions and actually listen to the answers, you may find that there is still much to be learned about people so close to you. Oral histories are a dying art, which is sad indeed, for they show appropriate respect for the lives and experiences of those who have come before. And, just as importantly, they “document” those remembrances; for once those lives are over, that personal knowledge is lost forever. Unfortunately, we live in a time when everyone seems to be solely looking ahead, as though we deem nothing in the past worthy of our attention, and the oral histories are being lost. The future is always fresh and exciting, and it has a pull on us that times-past simply can never muster. Yet it may well be that our greatest wealth as human beings can be “discovered” by simply looking behind us. To understand where we are going, must we not first know who we are and from whence we have come?

Thus, I have put together a written history of our families as best I have been able to reconstruct it to date. This must forever remain a work-in-progress, for more research by others yet to come can improve the record I have collected, and the history continues to be written as each day passes. There is a richness in the story of our shared past that should not be forgotten. When you learn that my grandfather was born in the Village of Babice, in the city of Osweicim in the Kingdom of Poland, only five decades before Hitler’s troops would translate the name of Osweicim to Auschwitz, and the character of the region to the unthinkable, you can’t help but feel differently about your origins. Or, read the story of a man who probably was my wife’s 10th great grandfather, Samuel Weaver, who emigrated from England in 1621 to the original Virginia Colony at Jamestown, arriving on the ship “Bonny Bess” as the indentured servant of William Harwood, who would become the Governor of the Colony. Samuel arrived shortly after the March 22, 1622 massacre at Martin’s Hundred by the Powhatan Indians, and was counted amongst the living in the 1624 census conducted by Captain John Smith.
I provide here a place to begin your own research.
Edward F. Covell

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