- Talk to your elder family members. Maybe they have memories never shared with you: foggy memories of arriving by ship from Asia or Europe, or by foot from Central America. Or by raft or canoe from somewhere?
- Get out those family papers that may have been lying in a drawer for decades. Handle with care! The paper could be brittle with age.
- Talk to an expert.
Actually, my brother recently visited the Reecks' former village in Poland but regrettably found no evidence, neither past nor present, of any Reecks. Evidently, when the Poles reconquered the area they displaced the remaining Reecks or absorbed them into Polish culture. Friendly young Poles told my brother that the Germans still living in the area were "ethnically cleansed" after WW II. It took me no time at all to conclude that my ancestors made a great decision to leave in the 1870s.
Get out those old family papers if you have some tucked away in storage. If you don't have them, one of your relatives might. They are a treasure.
(Not my ancestors. Or are they? What's their last name?)
For me, maybe I'll never find more about the deep background of "Reeck". It's okay. What I know is enough for me. I'd probably rather visit the Michels in Brienz, Switzerland (my dad's mother's family and birthplace) than get frustrated trying to find Reecks in northwest Poland.
For you, good luck on your search!! A bit of knowledge about your ancestors will give you a better sense of your location in the grand history of peoples on earth. And I do hope the stories of my search will help you on your search.
And oh! I forgot to mention that in Manzanita, OR, Lucy and I walked past a house and read a sign: "The Reek House." I met the owner, introduced myself by last name, and asked him about the name "Reek House."
"Oh, we're Scottish. In Scottish, Reek means 'smoke.' Our fireplace is smoky. We named the house for the smoke." I wonder what Reek or Reeck might mean in other languages. This is how the name game is played. You get the name, you chat with people about the name, and you get more and more confused, confounded or comforted, depending on what you learn.