Barry's Relatively Speaking: Much More Than A Certificate

Posted on Nov 23, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on Ellen shares the following experience.

Researching my grandfather, Joseph Barcel (Barzl) proved very frustrating. I had never even met him, he died years before I was born. Aside from a small notebook he left with relatives'

names and birthdates, I could find very little about him. Even his birthplace (New York City) had no available records. From stories told by family members I learned he was a letter carrier. Most of his immediate family lived on a farm in Iowa while he returned to N.Y. where he met and married my grandmother. The only other information I had was that he was a Mason (membership confirmed), that he loved books and reading, and that his family came from Czechoslovakia in 1862 (no records found).

I had about given up, especially since the old house in the Bronx which had been the family home since the early 1900's had been sold a few years ago and cleaned out. Quite unexpectedly I made a major discovery, one that was to introduce me to my grandfather in a much more personal way. Since I'm somewhat of a book worm, when the old house was cleaned out, I received some of my grandfather's books - - travel books, photos of the Chicago World's Fair, etc. I had carefully examined most of them, but one travel volume I just never got around to reading. One Sunday afternoon, I idlely leafed through the book only to come across some handwritten, yellowed pages along with some pressed roses.

When I began reading, I recognized the handwriting. It was my grandfather's. I had found the journal in which he described his courtship of my grandmother, Anna Turek. It revealed a warm, sensitive and at times very unsure young man, hopelessly in love with a vibrant young woman. Even in the 1800's people skipped work to have some fun but my grandfather "Telegraphed" in sick so he could see Grandma. Only once does he mention the "hardships" of his childhood, the "struggle for existence" and the long journey "across the continent" to Iowa.

Mainly he talks about their plans to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, theatre trips, picnics in the woods and his deep feelings for my grandmother which he was not sure she returned. Despite knowing the ending I was hopelessly caught up in their story. I couldn't help but smile reading that she said "YES".

Well I still don't have his birth certificate but I have something much more valuable -him.

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