This Bear was doing some internet research on my family name. During previous searches I knew that my long-ago ancestors were instrumental in founding a large city in northern Europe. Tonight I wanted to clarify some details of that adventure. Here's what I know.....
My dad always talked about his Mother and her recollections of life in the area that is now northeastern Poland. Before my grandmother and her family left this area, sometime around the turn of the century, this countryside was sometimes Poland, sometimes Russia, sometimes Germany, sometimes Lithuania. That much I knew. But there is more, from way, way back.....
In 1437 King Casimar IV of Poland ceded a large chunk of land to my family. This land, located along the Bialka River, was given by a King who was ruling Poland, and later Lithuania. (One of King Casimar's sons would later be canonized as Saint Casimar.)
That land became a village, then a city, known as Bialystok. It now is a larger city, with a central city population of 291,000 and a metro urban population of 350,000.
You all have enjoyed a polio preventative poke.....Albert Sabin, famous for his polio vaccine, is from Bialystok.
If you have studied any history of concentration camps and urban ghettos that contained Jews during World War II, you know of the burning of the "Great Synagogue". Nazi exterminators moved 3000 Jews into the largest wooden Synagogue in Europe, locked the doors from the outside, and set it on fire. That horrible scene became the "logo" of the much-acclaimed television series many years ago, "Holocaust".
Bialystok is not my family name, but I do feel a certain kinship to this place. Perhaps there was also a lumbering bear-like family member, bringing smiles to the faces of friends and neighbors, all along the banks of the Bialka River.
What say you? Know anything about your long ago and far away ancestors?