Barbara Wolanin

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My immigrant great-grandfather Marotske. Both of my father’s grandfathers came to America from small towns in Prussia, then part of Germany, now in Poland. I learned about Gustave Marotske’s life for this project even though, if my father had not been adopted by his mother’s parents, I would have had his last name. He was the 11th child in his family in a tiny town of 300, and may not have had any schooling. German was always his first language. Landing in New York in 1884, he settled in St. Paul, Minnesota and soon married. Sadly, he and his wife outlived all but 2 of the 8 children born to them and even the granddaughter they raised. He worked as a laborer in a quarry and towards the end of his life as a grave digger in the cemetery where he himself would be buried. He and his family lived in the house he purchased early on. His story seems very similar to that of the many immigrants today who work hard at physically demanding jobs to provide homes for their families.