I come from a rather large extended family. Both of my parents families were founding members of the communities we called home in northern wisconsin. Our roots go back to the 1880’s when people were leaving Europe to seek their fortune in America where all dreams are possible. My great great grandfather and three of his brothers came over from eastern europe – what many would consider Poland today – but has had a lot of change of hands over the centuries. These 4 boys set down roots in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The little community of Sugar Camp Wisconsin, nestled in the norther lake country of Oneida county was where my great grandfather chose to put down roots. When he came, he had three children already in tow, one of them being my Great Grandpa Lewis. In total Lewis had 13 brothers and sisters by the time they were done. The other brothers were also prolific and settled their communities – some of them also in Sugar Camp, but some of them in other parts of the midwest. As does happen, years go by, families move for one reason or another, and sometimes when you are this large and in the 5th generation (or even the 6th) since Great Great Grandpa set foot in America, you loose touch with some family members.
I was reminded of the smallness of the universe this week when I had an unexpected visitor at my desk at Organic Valley where I work on the budget, finanical forecast and financial reporting of the business. She introduced herself as the wife of one of our board members and started a conversation with the words, “my maiden name is Stefonek”. We had a fun time linking our family lines, finding family members in common and getting to know each other. Her line extends from one of the brothers of my Great Great Grandpa Anton.
I was so excited, I immediatly e-mailed my father with the news to share with other Stefonek’s in my home town. This simple introduction has renewed my committment to finding these missing links, re-establishing contact with my roots, and planning one heck of a wild Stefonek Family reunion sometime in the next 5 years.
Family is where we get our values, our beliefs, our support. They should be treasured, valued, honored and loved always. Thank you Terri for re-connecting us and our families. I look forward to sharing in your life and learning more about your family to share with mine.
Here is a video of my cousin – enjoy