Way Back When

I have a friend who has been working on her family genealogy for many years, and has traced her husband’s family’s history back to the 1100s and her own family history, at least on her mother’s side, back to 1024. She has learned amazing things in the process. It is, she says, a process that continues to go on and on.

Alas, there have only been rudimentary attempts at tracing ancestral history on both sides of my family. However, our recent reunion seems to have attracted some interest in our family’s history by a few of my maternal cousins.

Genealogy, like gardening, is something I wish I liked to do. I simply haven’t the patience for it. On the other hand, I am interested – fascinated, really – in learning about my family’s roots. The furthest I have gone is to visit Ellis Island’s web page from which I have been able to find a bit of information about my paternal grandmother’s and grandfather’s immigration  to the United States from Switzerland. Here, for example, is a photo of the ship, appropriately called America, on which they traveled the Ocean Blue to America…..


From that website, I also learned that my grandfather indicated his occupation in Switzerland as being a farmer. Seriously? A farmer? Who knew? I only knew him as a baker. The powers-that-be at Ellis Island also mistakenly put my Aunt Myrta’s name as Martha, although admittedly Martha might be the American version of her Swiss name.

Charles and Anna Micek on their wedding day.

Charles and Anna Micek on their wedding day.

On the other side of my family, every time I’ve visited my maternal grandparents’ gravesite in Columbus, I have noticed that in addition to my grandmother’s and grandfather’s graves, there has been an additional grave for someone named Balbina Micek. At the reunion, I learned from one cousin that Balbina was my Grandfather Charles’ sister, who died at the young age of 15. Another cousin indicated she had been told that poor Balbina’s father wouldn’t pay to have her buried (and it seems like there would be a story THERE), so her brother – my grandfather – had her buried in his plot.

Yet another cousin found this obituary in a long-gone Columbus newspaper dated September 1911 that stated:  “Belle Micek, a fifteen year old daughter of Philip Micek, who lives on the island, died suddenly Saturday from an attack of heart trouble.  The funeral was held from the house of her brother Charles Micek Monday morning, with interment in the Catholic cemetery.”  

Ah ha. And at the risk of being accused of using what the nuns used to call the lowest form of humor (that being puns), I must say, THE PLOT THICKENS.

It is probably safe to assume that Belle is a nickname for Balbina. But what does an attack of heart trouble mean, and even more puzzling, where is the island? It’s Nebraska, for heaven’s sake. Landlocked, people!

Yet another cousin seems to have the answer to that puzzling question. Apparently there was a time when the Wood River and the Platte River came together, thereby forming an island of sorts. According to this particular cousin: It was once a very large “island” in the Platte River, prone to flooding, but very fertile. ….. It is where the Pilsno Church and Lone Star Bar are still located, …. there are still Miceks that own and farm what was probably the original homestead.

And it should come as no surprise to anyone that what would remain would be a Catholic church and a bar. Enough said.

I eagerly await my cousins’ further investigations, as I am clearly too lazy to undertake the task. Still, it is like a detective story, which, of course, is why it peaks my interest.

Stay tuned…..

6 thoughts on “Way Back When

  1. Didn’t reading this info make you want to go back to that area and check it all out? And then have dinner at Husker House because duh!
    Also the name Belle struck me because Maggie considered Bella when she was pregnant with Lilly. Can you imagine our Lilly not being Lilly? That would just be “yucky”!

  2. So wonderful that you are chronicling this, Kris. Even though I read the emails, it was great fun reading it in your voice. We have the McArdle’s & Gelston’s (Dad’s Mom’s family) traced back to Queen Mary’s time in Scotland/Ireland. It is a fascinating read. Another aspect is our Great Grandfather, John Francis, who was a writer and who idolized his father who was a drunk and spoke harshly of his mother for keeping the family going. I’ve been working on a piece or poem about “Immigrants” because I exceedingly resent the notion that in the US white population our forefathers didn’t have to work their way up. They did, as is demonstrated in your stories of emigration in the Micek/Gloor family.

  3. The older I get the more interested I become in history, all history-family, US, world. We might find skeletons in our family history we wish we hadn’t disturbed! Oh well… I hope you are able to find out lots more about yours!

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