There is a story about nirvana that rolls around and around in my head.
A student asked the teacher whether there would be guards and gates by nirvana. The second student added his concern that the gatekeeper would quiz them and they could possibly fail. The third student was taking a picture of a squirrel with a squirrel filter on Snapchat and missed all of this.
The teacher answered with silence and continued walking.
When they crossed a stream and sat down the first student asked about gates again; the second student asked if there was a study guide or quizlet; the third student was texting their mom about needing gas money and missed all of this.
The teacher final spoke. “There are two questions at the end. Did you find what you were looking for? Did you learn how to let it go?”
The students answered with silence and they continued walking.
I am at the point of finding enough data in my research of Jean/John Soldani that I’m just about ready to let it go.
Last week I turned my research towards Jean’s brother Peter. I read and reread the 5 pages of family history attached to Peter and it verifies things that I already knew but leaves other things unanswered. I was going to write a nice article verifying how my data lines up with what I read in this document – maybe one day I will.
Recent documents indicate that Jean/John’s greatgrandaughter daughter left all his papers and correspondence with the Jackson County Missouri Historical Society. Apparently they’ve been hiding there in plain sight this whole time. I hope to confirm their existence and pay them a visit, but until then, I need to stop chasing Jean and get back to helping my students with their research.
But first, let me show you the single biggest piece of treasure I found: a one page typed letter from John/Jean to Peter’s children after his death.
His story in his words
I’m typing it exactly as it was written except for fixing capitalization.
Kansas City, November 7, 1893
Dear Nephew –
Your letter received today in regard to your father’s history. P. Soldani born 1831 Sept 18 in upper Engadan Canton Grison Switzerland and lived at the age of fifteen with his parents and then he was sent to Hungary to learn the Confectionary trade and after four years he went to Germany and travelled for that business till 1855 and then he embarked for America and landed at Independence Jackson Co. Mo. and clerked for myself and Joseph until 1861 and in 1862 he enlisted in Capt Axlines Co on the 11th of August he was taken prisoner and paroled by colonel Jeff Thompson of St Joseph Mo and after that he went to Jefferson barracks and got his discharge and soon after that he got married and went to Leavenworth and tended bar at the Planters Hotel. He stayed there a short time and then he got a position in the Sutlers store at Fort Larned and he remained there until he bought the farm that you live on at the present time. That is about as near as I can give you.
This leaves us all well hoping this will find you all in the same blessings. We all extend our sincere sympathy to you all in the loss of your father. That is something we have no power with only to submit to it we felt very bad that we that we could not come to the funeral but my circumstances would not permit me nor my health neither but you all share a warm place in our hearts and hope that kind Providence will watch and guide you all in the right way and you will live for one another as Brothers and Sisters should do. Will close this time by sending much love and good wishes to you all.
Ever your uncle and aunt until death.
(Below the letter is a picture of a fieldstone schoolhouse with “Soldan School south of Brookville Kansas with no explanation at all of how it connects with Jean/John or Peter. Dammit.)
There we have it.
The Soldani’s were from Switzerland just like the census said.
“Jean Soldani” from Switzerland who lived with Peter Soldani in Kansas City Missouri in the 1860 census just wrote a letter to that same Peter’s kids and signed it with his Americanized name -- John Soldan.
I found his secret.
In his own words.
Now I can let it go.