Where We're From – The Unknown

This post is the last of my posts on this subject. It's also going to take on a different form, because I've got no specific locations to point to with these. The locations in this post are either family rumour, my own conjecture based on names and locations, or my assumption based on the origins of certain groups.

I'll start with the Galician Jews. Though I've nothing before my great-grandparents' births in the late 1800s, most Galician Jews were German or Russian Jews. Because of the location and names involved, I'm inclined to say that my family were German aka Ashkanazi Jews. I don't know how many generations they lived in Galicia, but they probably migrated there at some point between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, as that seems to be when most migration from Germany to Galicia took place for the Jews. And whoever my original Jewish German ancestor might have been probably came to Germany with the migrations from the Middle East in the tenth or eleventh century.

There's also the Hilinger/Hillinger family, whose origins seem to be from Austria, though I have not specific connection to my family as of yet. Nor do I understand how the Austrian Hillingers might have ended up in Galicia, if they are connected.

The next family origin I've speculated on is my Northern Irish roots. Three of the four names I have for those families are what we in America call Scots-Irish, meaning those Gaels who lived in Scotland but were transported out of Scotland and settled in Northern Ireland. Of the four names I have for my family (Curran, Park, Dunlop and Blair), only Curran is a well-known Ulster-based name. The other three all have strong origins in Scotland, leading me to believe it quite likely that at least one line, if not all three, probably trace back to Scotland, though as of yet, I have no proof. I guess time will tell.

The final and most-murky family mystery line is that of the possible Huguenot origins of one of my Welsh lines. I've only recently learned about this one, and though I have some speculation about which line it might be, it's really too soon to tell. But if that's so, that means at least one of my lines originally has origins in France. Which is one of those places I always assumed I had no connection to before this, which I find amusing. And goes to show—you should never just assume anything.

And really, that's it. I'd love to be able to prove even a tiny fraction of any of the above speculations, but that's going to take a lot of digging, and many more generations before I can prove or disprove any of them, so I guess I'll just have to wait to find out.

Thank you all for reading along (if you did), and if you have any insight into any of the above locations, I'd love to hear about it. Particularly if you have any connections to any of the following families: (Galician) Seneft/Senft, Hilinger/Hillinger, Kresch, Reich, (Northern Irish) Curran, Park, Blair, Dunlop, (Welsh) Jones, Griffiths, Gabriel (I believe this is the Huguenot line) /Howel/Howells, Roberts.

* The History of Jews in Galicia
* The History of Eastern European Jews
* Ulster Scots People (aka Scots Irish)
* Huguenot

Where We're From – Galicia

One of the biggest discoveries I made in the past year was the location of my great-grandparents' birthplace. My Grandfather was a German Jewish immigrant who came here in the 1930s for the obvious reason. His father's businesses had all failed because of the Nazis, and he took that as a sign it was time to leave. Because of their life, my great-grandfather never talked about his past to his children. He was a very busy man, and once they arrived in America, he grew sick, so there was never a lot of chance to talk about where he was from.

When my grandmother passed last year, I received a number of their papers—including my grandfather's birth record, which I was shocked to find listed not only his own information, but all of his siblings and his parents as well. It was a godsend. We knew that one or the other of them had been born in an area that was now Poland, but I knew nothing beyond that until I saw those papers.

After finding them, I began to do research. Galicia was a German/Austro-Hungarian state in Eastern Europe that passed through a few hands, but in the 1800s was an especially poor place to live for many. One Polish nickname for the area can be translated as "Naked- and hunger-land." Many Jewish peoples were settled in the area, but starting around 1880 or so, pogroms began to drive them out, and they fled to other places, my great-grandfather's family among them.

When World War I ended, the state was disbanded, and the area my great grandparents lived in became part of Poland. Many of those remaining Jewish towns were later razed by the Nazis in World War II. You can read more on the country here at Wikipedia.

I've despaired of making sense of all this, given those facts. But I do keep trying. I'm fairly certain I have my great-grandmother's birthplace located, but I have since discovered there are several possible towns that might be where my great-grandfather was born. I've marked them all on the map, so people can see them.

A map of the locations:
View My Galician Ancestry in a larger map

1. Czudec, Galicia (now Poland)
This is where I believe my great grandmother, Dora Kresch, was born. I know almost nothing about her life here, only that her father was a teacher (and possibly a rabbi) in the area, according to my grandfather's papers. I believe her father may have died here as well, though her mother later came to live in Frankfurt to be near her daughters, where they moved after World War I.

2. Sedziszow, Galicia (now Poland)
This one I am much less certain of. My great-grandfather's birthplace is listed as Sedziszow, but looking up the location both on Google maps and at JewishGen, I've discovered at least three possible locations for him, and I'm unsure which is the proper one, though at the moment, I'm inclined to believe it's the location several miles north of Krakow. What little I do know is that Alex and most or all of his siblings were born in this town, and that when he was young, his father decided to move the family to England, likely to find a better life for his family.

And really, that's all I have right now. Hopefully someday I'll have a good deal more, but really, I'm even amazed to have this and to be able to find possible locations at all.

Next up: Conclusion – "Pre-history" (ie, where my family might have come from as well)

Where We're From – Waystations

So if I'd been thinking, this post would have been about any place in countries that had only a few locations, particularly those where we didn't settle. Canada nearly fits—the Howells lived in Saskatchewan when they first came to Canada, and later settled in Winnipeg, but all moved on to other places—mostly around Vancouver. Vancouver is the only place where we have more than living or marriages listed in Canada. The Britsh Isles are another—all the England locations were only waystations, as was the Isle of Man.

However, there were enough locations in England that I felt it deserved it's own post, and Vancouver had two generations of my mother's family born there, so I felt it deserved it's own post.

But that still leaves two other places where my family settled for a short time, and should I find more, I will add them when they are discovered. Which means this one will be a short one, but still, both were very instrumental in my family's journey to where they settled.

A map of the locations:

View Waystations in a larger map

1. Paris, France
The Hillinger family left Germany and settled in Paris in the early 1930s while my great-grandfather Alex sought asylum from the US. They stayed there for a year, and my grandfather learned a good bit of French while they were there, even picking up a job as newspaper boy to make a bit of extra money for the family. He later used French and German as a translator in the US Army during and after the war.

2. Antwerp, Belgium
My great-grandfather's father decided to move the family here when my great-grandfather and his brothers were still young. The fishing in the Lofoten Islands was in decline at the time, so he and his brother decided to find new avenues. He moved his family, and his brother stayed behind, between them setting up a relay of goods from one are to the other. Unfortunately, at the time, there was a good deal of animosity toward the British in Belgium over the Boar war, and our name, Bordewich (later changed by my great-great grandfather to Bordewick) sounded very English to them. They were shunned and even in one particular instance, spat upon, so after only a short time in Belgium, they moved again—to England.

And that's it, until I learn more about my family tree. The last two posts will focus on Galicia, which I have only learned of this past year, and the places my family may have come from in even earlier generations which I have yet been unable to conform.

Next up: Galicia

About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.