About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

I recently received from Texicanwife, the following:

As a recipient of this award I’m supposed to list ten things I have learned about any of my ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened me and pass along the award to ten other bloggers whom I feel are doing their ancestors proud.


This is a welcome surprise! And now the task at hand: listing ten things that have surprised, humbled or enlightened me:

1) The shyster. My g-grandfather - Fritz Mueller - who allegedly was the scribe on Sherman's March to the Sea (Civil War, 1864-65) as an immigrant who served as a substitute soldier. What I discovered: he served under his own name as a volunteer who immigrated in about 1855; he volunteered in 1861 and was discharged in 1862 due to "a rupture" (hernia) acquired from the "excessive marching." No scribe. No March to the Sea. No substitute. Is lying genetic? I am enlightened.

2) The Revolution. According to my father, none of his ancestors was in America before 1800. Tell this to the 2 direct line ancestors - Isaac Freeman & George Youker - who served in the American Revolution. More enlightening plus surprise.

3) The Winthrop Fleet. Same line, same claim. No doubt a surprise to John Gallop, who arrived on the Mary and John with the Winthrop Fleet. Still more enlightening and surprise.

4) Friends. My 10th great-grandfather, John Gallop, was friends with my husband's 7th great-grandfather, Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island (ah, if they only knew what would happen in a scant 300 years - give or take - later when their respective descendants met & married. Enlightenment and surprise continues.

5) Courage & survival. My great-grandfather, John Adam Hollander, who made his way to the US in 1856 after the death of his widowed mother, learning the barbering trade from his NY brother-in-law, moving to Wisconsin, volunteering for the Wisconsin 24th Infantry (with the war hero, Arthur McArthur, boy general), overcoming typhoid fever and influenza, serving on the March to the Sea (documented), and returning to his sweetheart, left in Wisconsin, to create the first ladies hairdressing and (unisex) wigmaking establishment in Milwaukee. I am humbled.

6) Sojourner extraordinaire. My 2nd great-grandmother, Irene Freeman Wilcox, who married the boy next door (Nathan W. Wilcox) and moved 1500 miles over the course of the next 45 years: NY to MI; MI to IA; IA to TN (at least 4 different cities across the state); and TN to TX. While doing this, she gave birth to, and buried, children (birthed 6 or 7, 3 of which lived to adulthood). Continuing to be humbled and enlightened.

7) Engineer & soldier. Husband of #6 - Nathan W. Wilcox - who followed the work. As a carpenter, joiner, and architect, he left NY state to forge a new life for himself, his wife, and the rest of his family, behind in NY. Once settled in Michigan, the rest of the family joined him and settled in Van Buren County, Michigan (many are still there). After settling his father's estate, Nathan moved to Iowa with wife and 2 children, becoming one of eight carpenters in their village. He signed up for the Civil War, becoming a recruiter in the Iowa town for Bissell's Engineering Regiment of the West from Missouri. He was instrumental in the regiment, being one of the few experienced engineers. After discharge, he continued to work under contract to the US, working in Tennessee and eventually moving to the state, sending for his family. He moved throughout the state where work beckoned until his body gave out at the age of 63 (I hope to have a monument erected at his grave in Nashville later this year). I am enlightened (and, I confess, very proud).

8) A fire leads to a need. Great-grandfather John Johnson (aka Hans Hansen) moved to Oconto County, Wisconsin shortly after the area was devastated by fire (The Peshtigo Fire, 8 October 1871). Did he move to help rebuild the area? He was a lumberman by trade but died an early death (age 41, leaving very few records). I am enlightened (and understand why my mother was so

9) Wife abuse knows no class distinction. Great-great-grandmother left her abusive husband and 5 children in Bonn, Germany to remake her life in America in 1864, accompanied by a family friend. It took 10 years to get her daughters to join her (her 2 sons stayed in Germany). She married the family friend (prior to the deaths of either's spouse) in 1865. Had she not "left Germany under the cover of darkness," I would not be here, writing this today. I am humbled by her sacrifice and forever grateful for her courage.

10) Realization of relationships. "My great-grandmother was disowned by her parents when she married a commoner," said my mother. But, once I inherited the photos, documents, ledgers, diaries, and letters, I discovered that that great-grandmother (my 2nd g-grandmother) - Maria Theresa Knoetgen Trapschuh - had continuous communication with her brother in Bohemia who kept her informed on the entire family. Her father also sent her a letter, just a short while before he died. And photos were included of the family business, the community, and the various relatives. She never returned to Bohemia, but she never lost contact, either.

My ancestors have provided me with examples of courage, survival, sacrifice, intelligence, and talent. They also provided me with examples of abuse, deceit, and apathy. Indeed, my ancestors were human and I am grateful for every one (even the wife abusing great-great-grandfather whose actions drove his wife to America where her daughter joined her, married a shyster, and parented my opinionated, obstinate, cantankerous grandmother . . . whom I miss terribly! How I wish I'd listened to her stories!).

OK, 10 bloggers who continue to keep the ancestor stories and honor for forebears alive (as the one who sent this to me, this is a difficult part as there are so many . . . but certain ones come to mind quicker . . . if I have omitted yours, please do not take offense):

1) Gena Philibert Ortega's Gena's Genealogy
2) Diane Shockey Wright's The Graveyard Rabbit Travels Wright
3) Storycorps
4) Susi Pentico's Susi's Chatty Performances on Genealogy
5) Footnote Maven
6) Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings
7) Pat Erickson-Richley's Dear Myrtle
8) Arlene Eakle's Genealogy Blog
9) A. C. Ivory's Find My Ancestor
10) Julie's Banjos and Baby Dolls

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the award for my "Banjos & Baby Dolls" blog. I appreciate you thinking of me. Now off to narrow it down to 10 things I have found that surprised me!


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