It’s a Family Affair, and a Clue?

When I spoke to an agent about my idea to write something – an essay, a memoir, a book – about my search for my father’s father, she told me – rather, warned me – that I’d have to be all in. She was correct, and because of practical reasons (a job for one) I have not been able to be all in; progress is slow, but it’s progress nonetheless.

I learned from an aunt that nuns of the Society of Social Mission helped my grandmother after my father was born by caring for him until she had the stability to do so herself. The Society has no presence in Cleveland any longer. It is somewhat connected to the Social Mission Sisters, another Hungarian based order with a facility in Buffalo. I called the Social Mission Sisters and they provided an address in Budapest to the Society of Social Mission.

Finding family by finding family is an interesting subtheme that is emerging as I plod along. I reached out to a cousin who lives on the other side of the country and who I’ve not been in touch with for some time. She at one point in her life learned Hungarian, originally under the tutelage of my grandmother. I asked for her help in translating a letter I wrote in English to Hungarian. I wanted to send send it to the Society of Social Mission in Budapest explaining my quest. I would like to know about their presence in Cleveland in the 1920’s – under what circumstances did they arrive and then eventually leave. Did they aid mothers and children, or did they serve others in need? I suspect that my grandmother learned of these sisters through either her church, or perhaps through her employers, a family in Cleveland Heights. I’ve posted a snippet of the letter sent – many thanks Anne! I am still awaiting a reply.


One of my sisters and I took a DNA test through AncestryDNA for our ethnicity estimates. Although we were pegged as being closely related by AncestryDNA, our results were ethnically the same but proportionately different. We also have similar result with an aunt, my father’s sister. I reached out to another family member who I am intermittently in contact with, my older brother, understanding that a male descendant would give a better idea of our biological grandfather’s ethnic makeup. Again, we have similar ethnic markers, but the biggest difference is that he has more Scandinavian and Iberian-peninsula in him than any of us. He also has a smidgen European Jewish.

Clues? Perhaps. I experience autoimmune issues most commonly associated with people with northern European ancestors. My biological grandfather’s last name was Ross, which could be an Americanization of a Hungarian name, but has made some of us wonder about a Jewish connection. It’s all conjecture but it’s evidence of something, something to be determined. Any pointers out there? Please feel free to share.

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