No, but it's winter--prime time to slow down and do lazy research online, talk with relatives, hear new stories, and clarify old ones if possible ☺.
This week, I talked with Irene, (of Seven Dauds fame). We caught up on family news. She asked what I know about Anton Otremba's Pilgrimage Diary, since she'd been contacted by Agnes, an Otremba descendant, who'd been searching for the diary for years. That diary was an obsession for Larry and me, too. We did find out what happened to it, and I called Agnes to let her know. Here's the story:
In 1883, Anton Otremba willed the diary to his year-old granddaughter and goddaughter, Theresa Hesch, who eventually became Sr Laura. As mentioned in the clipping highlighted above, she read it often and thought of it as a prayer book as well as a family legacy and a lovely bit of history, too. When she realized she was ill and old, she gave the book to the next Hesch who visited at the mission. That happened to be Uncle Tader...so the book went back to Montana with him and his family. When he and Aunt Millie retired, it went with them to Wisconsin, and it spent years in their bank safe deposit box there, too. When they died, the box went to their daughter who also lives in Wisconsin.
A couple years ago, she and I were talking on the phone, and the diary came up in conversation. (I had no idea where it was--I just mentioned it in passing). She said wow, that was most likely the book that was in a zip-lock bag in their bank vault! Written in old German script, it was indecipherable to her, but not to worry, it was safe in the bank. Whew. I asked if I could maybe come and copy it, page by page, say at Kinko's, and then return it to the bank box. That seemed ok...until I called back weeks later to set up a time to drive over there. She told me that "we didn't have to worry about that book ever again...not in our life-times". OMG, I asked if she'd destroyed it?? But no, she would never do that, she said. She just didn't want to be bothered about it....didn't want the responsibility.
I assume she consulted her priest or something, and "willed" it to a museum or institution. At least, that's what I hope...
It's an interesting dilemma, truly. Which family member should possess such a treasure? Shirley's retired, pushing 70, and it sounded like someone else had asked her if she knew anything about it. It's written in a language and script that few people can still read, and those who can are dying off. It's the account of a pilgrimage made over 150 years ago by a young Polish guy, a devout Catholic who made a penitential or devotional pilgrimage and who had an adventure doing so. Maybe Anton is somehow running this affair--seeing as how his simple diary is creating animosity among his descendants, perhaps it should stay "lost" for a few more years. Who knows?