May I Introduce To You . . . Kathy Laprise

Kathie Kolodzinski Laprise - 2012

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Kathie Laprise and her blog, Ancestors and Cousins.

In Kathie’s photo, she is wearing a straw boater hat from the early 1900’s, “. . . Needless to say genealogy has triggered an interest in vintage clothing!  This was brought on by trying to identify the dates of older pictures.  One thing leads to another doesn’t it?”

How Kathie Got Started in Genealogy

“Officially researching my family tree and genealogy began in 1999.  This is when I actually started keeping track and writing down information in a logical way but I was always asking where did my family come from, who were they, tell me their stories.

When I started I did not care to purchase a genealogy program and designed my own Excel spreadsheets.  This lasted about two months!  Within that short period of time I knew I needed help and purchased one of the ‘Dummies’ books for genealogy.  There was a free CD included which allowed me to try out several genealogy programs.  I found one that suits me and have been purchasing their upgrades ever since.

My paternal grandparents had died years before my parents had married and even though I loved to listen to the stories my dad, Edward Kolodzinski, would tell me about his parents, Michael and Maryanna, I had never really thought of researching beyond their lives.  My paternal aunt and godmother, Mary Kolodzinski Porebski, had always been interested in locating her roots in Europe.  My maternal grandfather, Stanley Szostek, died when I was five so the only grandparent I could ask questions of was my grandmother, Mary Inda Szostek.  She did not know much about her parent’s lives in Poland.

In 1993, my late husband, Robert Laprise, and I purchased a building in our city’s downtown area to house my store.  It was an old fairly decrepit building nestled in the midst of the Registered Historic Downtown of Manitowoc, WI.  To be able to renovate the building we decided to research its history finding it had originally been built in 1873.  Seeing the fantastic information I could find on the buildings history without too much problem triggered the hidden yen to find out about my past, my bricks and stone so to speak.  This began a quest that continues to fascinate me.”

Kathie’s Thoughts on Blogging

“My first blogging attempt began about five years ago.  Please note the key word attempt.  I composed two or three posts and then the host decided to stop hosting any blogs so I never wrote another blog post until 2012.  Why did I start?  So many people are interested in who there family is, where they came from, the lives they lived.  I do not feel what a person finds about their family should be kept in a closet.  It is meant to be shared with others, both cousins and ‘almost cousins’ and people who may enjoy the stories but not be related to the people we write about.  I have given out many CDs with copies of my work to people who are interested and then I started a page on Facebook.  Seeing the interested response among the people I know there was the final trigger.  I have started writing about my direct ancestors but eventually will continue to add stories about collateral relatives, history and traditions of our European ancestors and probably share some of the old family recipes which have been passed down over time.”

Kathie’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Just do it.  You can write a few minutes a day or a week.  Posts do not need to be long they just need to be out there.  One of the things that tickle me is writing a story and within a few days finding I can place the name of the person I had written about in a search engine and it will come up! Share the stories; share the love you felt knowing or getting to know your ancestors.  You are the one to preserve the stories and some of the stories will help us to know who we are.”

Kathie’s Favorite Ancestor

“That is a hard question to answer since I have so many!  My paternal grandmother, Maryanna, My Elusive Babica, Maryanna Kolodzinski, would probably be my favorite on my dad’s side.  I have been compared to her a lot by both my dad and aunts.  My likes, looks and even the sound of my voice I had been told was reminiscent of her.  Even though she is one of the most frustrating people to research (I always felt she was an independent, loving person).  Her independence was a role model for me when I was a teenager.  She immigrated to the USA by herself, working as a servant.  From there she traveled to Chicago without having relatives living there.  She was a victim of domestic abuse in the late 1900′s and in 1913 filed for divorce from her husband.  At the time she did not speak English and would need to support her 3 children on her own.  All of this at a time when women did not even have the right to own property or vote!”

How Genealogy Has Improved Kathie’s Life

“Genealogy has been my own private time traveling machine!  It has taken me to other lands and other times and helped make me more appreciative of what we have today.  I have enjoyed meeting many cousins and ‘almost cousins’ (I had best explain that one, it is a termed several cousins and I made up referring to others who we are quite sure we are related to but have yet to prove it).  History and geography were probably my least favorite subjects in school but now I pour over books and maps, they contain my family history!”

What Kathie Loves Most About Genealogy and a Time Capsule Message

“I have helped others get to know their ancestors also.  Finding family for others has made me feel wonderful.  Oh, I do not believe genealogy should just be names and dates but we should aim to find out who our ancestors really were, we need to find their dash.  The following was posted on a genealogy message board when I first started researching.  It was written anonymously therefore I would like to share it with you:

‘SPENDING YOUR DASH?

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning . . . to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years, (1930 – 1998)
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth . . . .
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars . . . the house . . . the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard . . .
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile . . .
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s action’s to rehash . . .
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?’”

* * *

Please take a moment to head on over to Kathie’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Kathie, it’s great to have you here!

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven grandchildren!

Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

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