The primary reason I started recording family history was to document what my parents knew. Several of their older siblings and cousins had died, and I knew that much family knowledge was in danger of being lost.
I also wanted to make sense of who was who! My dad had six living brothers and sisters, and some of their children were his age, and had offspring who were the same ages as my sisters and myself. My mother’s family had first and second cousins of various ages. As children, we called all the adults aunt and uncle. It was not until I was older that I realized that not all of them were my parents’ siblings. How were we related?
In 1991, I tried to make sense of family relationships with a program called Brother’s Keeper on a personal computer. My parents and aunts told me about their aunts, uncles, and cousins. There were a lot of cousins! I began calling and writing, and found that each branch of the Szczepański family had someone who was interested in their family’s history and was willing to share the information with me. Corresponding back and forth filled in many blanks in the family tree.
My father was one of the thirty five grandchildren of Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska. He died in 1995, and in going through his papers, I was astonished to find his grandfather’s original naturalization certificate from 1887. What were the odds that over a hundred years later, the certificate would come into the hands of the great-grandchild (of 106) most interested in family history? In 1997, I included a copy of Martin Szczepanski’s naturalization certificate in the book I wrote about the Descendants of Martin and Anna Szczepański. Because I had been blessed to learn so much, I felt an obligation to honor my father and our immigrant ancestors and to share the story of their descendants in America.
Born between 1907 and 1939, here is a timeline of the thirty-five grandchildren of Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska.