Ancestors Project

Jim explores his ancestors and collects stories
When and how did they come to the United States?
What can I learn to celebrate and enrich my own life?

All of my ancestors have come to the United States from Northern and Eastern Europe from 1633 to 1875. At first most lived in New England and later moved to Kansas and Michigan. Most of my ancestors were farmers; a few were town leaders or teachers. My own Father was a General Contractor and my Mother ran the accounting side of the family business.

I was born in Northern Michigan and lived in small towns or in the woods until I was 15 years old. When I was 12 years old we started to build our house. We cleared the land and aged the wood for 4 years to make wood paneling for the inside. Meanwhile we started to build the foundation. For the first year – our family of seven lived in a small trailer – 4 boys in one bed, my sister in her bed and my parents in one bed. It was basic living. It was hard for Mom to cook outside on a fireplace when it was raining since the tarp often blew in the wind. We still ate pretty well, although I do remember one meal which consisted of two pieces of wet burned toast.

The closest neighbor was 3 miles away. We were the first to be picked up on a school bus which took us on a drive for 40 minutes. There were 80 kids of my age in the whole county at the high school. Eventually four of them went to college. I was one of them.

I went to small Community Colleges and then later had a miraculous entry into the University of Michigan. Once admitted for Literature & Arts, I always studied in the Law Library. I felt at home with all of the wood which reminded me of the tall hardwood trees where we built our house. However, that begins another part of a long story.

Photo by Dominic Bow

The largest law library building in the world, Gothic-structured University of Michigan Law Library has a 50-foot cathedral ceiling, huge stained-glass windows, oak wainscoting, and cork floors. Renovation in the 90’s added more spaces for books containing for up to 475,000 volumes. The Jackier Rare Book Room alone shelves up to 25,000 volumes of old books!

Details of immigration
of direct ancestors

1633 England to Massachusetts, Samuel Hall

1635 England to Maine, Roger Garde
(wife Philipa Gist died in 1634 in England)

1638 England to Massachusetts, Richard de Newton

1639 England to Connecticut, Richard Webb

1641 Sweden to Delaware, Peter Cock

1653 England to Massachusetts, Walter Powers, Jr.

1677 England to Pennsylvania, John Grubb

1681 Wales to Pennsylvania, Hugh Ap Griffith

1726 Ireland to Virginia, Edward Nugent

1850 Germany to Kansas, John Warning

1873 Poland to Michigan, Jacob and
Catherine (Kujawa) Skiba

1875 Poland to Michigan, Piotr and
Konstancja (Lipinsky) Misiak