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A gift from the past
25 Dec 2007 | New Jersey
The last few days have been overwhelming. My brother-in-law's ancestral home is in Calatafimi, Province of Trapani, Sicily. At Christmas 2002, he wrote down the exact address for me. The last time he was there was just after World War II. I lost the paper it was written on. Last year I asked him to write it down again. I wanted to locate it on Google Earth and present him with a aerial photo of his ancestral home. But he could no longer remember the address. For some reason, on Christmas Eve, 2007 I was compelled to look through my desk for that lost piece of paper. Within 5 minutes I found it. A few minutes later, Google Earth yielded the aerial photo I was looking for, including a slightly blurry roof top view of the family house. I then googled Calatafimi, and was astounded at the amount of information on that small town, including photos and a complete history. Out of curiosity, I then googled my maternal grandfather's ancestral town (Szilberek) in what is now Serbia.
This led to a forum that included a relative doing genealogy. I emailed her. On Christmas Day I received not only an email reply, but also excited phone calls from two genealogy researchers who happened to be related to me.To make a long story short, I am now surrounded by ancestors. My grandparents' ancestral home was Backi Brestovac (previously called Szilberek). One of my new relatives sent me an email which included the following : "Donauschwaben -- that was not how our family members were known when they left what was then Austria-Hungary. But that term was later used to identify those German settlers who came down the Danube and settled at the invitation of the Hapsburgs in the 1600 & 1700's." I've already received a Bruder (maternal grandparents) family tree lineage dating back to 1753. I will probably being getting further information extending the family tree lineage to 1715. There are no breaks in the lineage. There may be as many as 26,000 ancestors that have suddenly been dropped in my lap. I now know the name of my great grandmother (Katharina), and my eyes have seen her face for the first time ever. I have photographs of my grandfather's ancestral home town. My ancestors are now speaking to me through an avalanche of information engulfing me like a Christmas blizzard."My best Christmas ever". That is how I will remember Christmas, 2007