From as far back as I can remember I knew that my fathers family emigrated from Poland but that is the extent of the information I had. As with most kids I was curious but did not actively pursue additional information from my grandparents. When we did ask Grandpa about his family he and Grandma were quick to change the subject. I have never discovered why! Grandpa would, on occasion, speak to someone in Polish but that is the extent of my exposure. The chance to pursue getting information from him is gone as he passed in 2003.
My Grandfather was born in Hoquiam, Washington on 6 May 1906 (I always though he was born in Poland – Discovery #1). He moved his family to Spokane, Washington in 1946. The only other relative that I knew of from Hoquiam was my Grandfathers sister Mary and she passed in 1994. Mary was born in Sanok, Poland in 1903 and emigrated to the United States with her mother Agatha in 1905 when she was just 2 years old. Her father John had emigrated in 1903 and he likely had never seen his first born child until they arrived in Hoquiam. My early research discovered that my Grandfather had 6 siblings and many of their families appeared to still be living in or near Hoquiam. As part of my research I contacted the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society and requested materials (obituaries etc…) on Boreks from Hoquiam.
About 3 weeks later I get a call from Bonnie J. and she is bubbling with excitement. She had found numerous articles in the local newspapers and burial information from the funeral homes in the area. She went on to ask if I knew Mary Borek (It turns out that she personally knew Mary). Then she asked if I knew of a Rose Borek (Discovery #3). That name had not come up in any of my research so I was immediately interested in seeing the information she had found about her. It was then that she sprung the surprise….Rose Borek was alive (Discovery #4) and living in Hoquiam. As exciting as that was I still had no clue as to how or if we were related. She gave me Rose’s phone number and we were able to arrange a meeting. When we showed up at her house in Hoquiam the house was filled with her relatives. Sons, daughters, grandchildren…….and her older sister Annie (Discovery #5). After spending the better part of the day sharing stories we determined that Rose and Annie are my Grandfathers youngest cousins. The youngest children of Felix Borek, my Great-grandfathers brother. They produced numerous treasures including pictures of all of my Grandfathers siblings and their father’s baptismal certificate from Poland (Discovery #6). Now I know where my family originated from (Lubatowa). Also listed on the baptismal certificate were parents and grandparents (Discovery #7)! They also had copies of letters from Poland written to my Aunt Mary with names and addresses of living relatives (as of about 1985 anyway).
This has been an exciting and emotional journey for me so far and I look forward to continuing the search. I have begun to learn Polish and am tentatively planning a trip to Poland in the summer of 2013. I have friended numerous Boreks on Facebook that currently live in Lubatowa. Communication so far has been sketchy but I am slowly collecting information that I can use while I am there. I have learned that there are over 30 families of Boreks currently in Lubatowa, a small town of about 5,000, and I am hoping we can find some solid connections while we are there.
Stay tuned for part 2 after I return from Poland