02 February 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Reviewing my own journals

I came across some old journals while cleaning this weekend and decided to go through them. Over the years I have used my journals as a notebook when out and about, a record of genealogy notes, a simple diary, a writing journal and finally a place to vent. My reason for going through them is actually two-fold: first, to make sure I have gleaned all possible genealogical information from them; second, to make sure I remove the venting entries so they are never seen or worse taken the wrong way if left behind. 

The earliest I still have in from 1992, the year I got married. The first entry is dated 25 October 1992, a Sunday:

“Today is hubby’s parents’ 42nd anniversary. They got married at a JP in East Petersburg, Lancaster County, in 1950. … Father Fiore said mass this am. Good sermon too. He talked about prayer and how sometimes it’s not that God doesn’t answer or that He ignores but rather that we simply don’t pray right or don’t as for the things we really need.”

I wish I could honestly say each entry is that profound but sadly, I doubt I will find too many like that! My entry the next day is pretty long, as most are after I would visit someone! We (hubby and I) went to visit my paternal grandparents and show them the wedding photos that had just come in. The date is Monday, 26 October 1992. 

“Today was Michael’s ninth birthday. He was born in 1983. He is the first of Eileen and Kenny’s six kids. I don’t see how she does it – six kids and a LT in the 35th District of Phila … Sunday night took wedding photos over to show Baba and Gigi and to pick their brains about the family.” 

The highlights of that entry are: her parents (pictured at right) came over separately and married in Reading, Berks County. After John Kurenda passed, Frances married Frank Keshuta. They had no children and it was, according to Baba, a marriage of companionship. Baba was pregnant with Uncle John at the time. Since then, I have learned where they came from in Poland, that Frank went to the same church and that not too many family members were thrilled that Frances remarried. That same entry revealed a bit about Gigi (my grandfather) as well.  

“Both Gigi and his father worked in Bethlehem Steel until it closed around 1944. After that his father went straight to Lukens. Gigi tried his hand at railroading until, he said, he saw someone cut in half.” 

Baba said she was one of seven kids: Peter, Mary, Katie, a boy who died on Christmas eve, a boy who died on Christmas day, Baba, and Paul. Now I have one of those boys as John. John was born between 1911 and 1917 and died before 1935 since he was not included on his father’s naturalization paperwork. He other boy must have the same date range.  

Baba and Paulie
In this same entry, Baba and Gigi also spoke about Paulie. Paulie is my Uncle Paul, Baba’s brother (Gigi also had a brother Paul). Paul fought in World War II and died as a result.  

“Paul died while in service during the War. He served in England and contracted Gall (sp?) Consumption. He was 1st brought to the gov’t hospital in Martinsburg WV then transferred to Valley Forge. Gigi said in Paul’s letters he would write that all it did was rain in England. Sometimes it was hard to find a dry place to sleep. … Before Paul was drafted he worked at Bethlehem Steel and Lukens. … Before Bethlehem Steel, Paul worked at home on the farm. When Paul passed away, Baba and Gigi missed him by five minutes or so. When they got to the hospital morgue his body was still warm. Gigi said that was the only time he was shook up by death.” 

The entry switches back to Gigi’s side of the family and he talked about his older brother. This had been the first he ever mentioned an older brother. I remember asking my father about it and he had no clue. I am so excited to note here that I was able to document and confirm the brother and I have his death certificate and place of burial. He died of pneumonia in 1918 and is buried at St Stan’s cemetery near Coatesville in Chester County. 

I think I might, for the next few weeks, continue going through my journals. Having glanced through them, not every entry is such a gem. Some are the standard diary entries we all have. Some go into detail like this one did. 

Your turn:
Do YOU keep a journal? If so, do you use it just as a diary or do you write about your family and your research as well? 


Amanuensis Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.