Each part of my family immigrated from different parts of Europe in the 19th century. Unfortunately, this is the principle reason I have few artifacts or links to my family roots. My mother’s family came mostly from Ireland, Germany, and England, and I have nothing that links me to their past. My father’s family was German and Italian and while I have nothing from the Italian side of the family, I do have a couple of artifacts from my paternal grandfather’s heritage. One interesting item I have is a family tree that was drawn by an unknown relative, sometime in the 19th century. It was brought over by my great great grandfather, Franz Kern, who came to this country in the 1870’s.
The family tree was drawn on parchment paper. It looks to be a combination of charcoal and watercolors. The tree itself seems quite old with green growths of life coming out of pruned branches. In the upper right hand corner there is a bluebird with a branch of his beak ready to add new life to the tree. The pruned branches of the tree show where there is death or where a line of the family ends. There is even a blackbird perched on a small dead limb, symbolizing death. My family believes that this branch was an infant who died in childhood.
The tree also reminds you of the passage of time. There is no name on the tree that I recognize or to whom I have any memory or relationship to or with. It chronicles families that have lived long ago but for one reason or another is the reason I’m here.
– Jack Kern