For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Longing to know you.........

Rolf and Trientje (Saathoff) Habben - 1892
There is something to be said about "willy-nilly" searches, typing in names into your search engine to try to locate any crumb of information you can find on your ancestors - it can be successful. I caution you though to thoroughly verify the facts stated by comparing them to your known facts. You can also be led astray with reputable ancestry sites as well especially with family tree's. The biggest problems I see with family trees is that if one person has incorrect information and you take it as fact and record it into your tree the problem snowballs. I have found my Grandfather B. on many family trees - but the parents listed are not his parents. All his facts; date of birth, place of birth, death dates etc are definitely him - but this is not his family. I have his records of birth, baptism and confirmation so I know the information I have is correct and of course the information that he relayed to the family. However, the "willy-nilly" can work - just be cautious. But I'm getting off the topic of my success story for today.
My Great Grandmother Trientje was born in the Village of Moorlage, Germany in 1868. She married my Great Grandfather in 1892 and 3 days after their wedding emigrated to Nebraska, USA. Trientje had a sister and two half brothers. Trientje was diabetic and when my Grandmother was just 2 years old her mother died. Of course at such a tender age my Grandma really didn't have any memory of her Mother. Only a few things that her father told her. He said she was a lot like her mother, loving and fun to be with.
Loving a mystery I felt I just had to find out more about Trientje and her family. I was fortunate that my Great Aunt had taken the time in 1980 to record our family genealogy. So armed with that information I began my search. I knew that Trientje's half brother had emigrated to the US and in my Aunt's records she noted that the last known place of him was in Oregon. It was also recorded that the family had lived in California before moving to Oregon. So I started searching through census reports. Fortunately I had enough information to know that I had found the right person. From that census report I learned all the names of his children. Since there are no census reports available after 1930 (yet) my lead may have ended there. However, I knew they moved to Oregon and it only seemed logical to me that some of the children probably moved there also. My hunch paid off and I located one of his sons in the same town in Oregon. I obtained a phone number and placed a call. I was hesitant to call because this cousin was in his 80's and I was afraid he would think my call a scam or prank and I didn't want to alarm him. After all he didn't have a clue who I was - what to say - what to say? I practiced a little spiel - "Hi, my name is - I'm working on family genealogy - and um I think we may be cousins." Kind of lame huh? His response was - a long oh - and how so? So I told him what I knew: his fathers name, grandmother's name and etc. His response ----- well hello cousin! We chatted for nearly 3 hours - it was just wonderful! I learned so much about his family (mine too) but was disappointed that he really didn't know more about his fathers family. He informed me that his father had a lot of bitter feelings about Germany and never really talked too much about those years. My heart was a little broken at this point - I thought maybe he could give me more insight about the family. But, I was thrilled nonetheless to know him. He thought that possibly his Uncle and Aunt who remained in Germany probably died during the war because he didn't know of any communication after that time.
I wasn't about to give up though. I located the Ostfriesland Genealogical Society website and left a message of who I was looking for in 2007. I had actually forgotten that I had left a message there when one day in July 2007 I received an email from a gentleman who claimed to have some information for me. I was a little skeptical though - because you never know who is reading these messages. I decided though to take a chance and respond - the information he sent seemed pretty legit to me based on what I knew so....... He provided me with a great deal of information on my Habben family and some on my Great Grandmothers. We went back and forth for a while and then I didn't hear from him for several months. And then "The Ties That Bind" began to come together.............

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy New Year

I keep hitting the rewind button for a review of the two day Christmas celebration of 2008. Much of it is a blur - rushing around trying to locate just the right gift for that hard to buy for person, wrapping presents until 1:00 am, baking cookies, setting up tables for 16 people to eat Christmas dinner and rechecking my list over and over and still I forgot to make the tortilla roll-ups. Not to worry though my daughter took care of it! Thank goodness for adult children.
As far back as I can remember my family always attended the Christmas Eve services. This year's sermon was especially poignant as the Pastor reminded us of the importance of a hug. He talked about never having hugged his father until one visit when he had come home and walked over to greet his father, put his arms around him and began to give him a long tight hug. His father apparently didn't know what to make of it and stiffened up like a board. It reminded me of a few members in my own family, in particular my Grandfather E. My father was in the Air Force for 21 years so when we took vacation we always went to Nebraska to see my Grandparents. Grandpa E. would always extend his hand as a greeting, but I was use to hugging and I would grab his hand and put it around me and give him a big hug. This man was of the old German school and brought up not to show emotion, so hugging was just something he didn't do, however, he always hugged me hard and I could feel him not wanting to let go.
As the service continued the flood of memories over took my emotions and I sat through most of it with tears streaming down my face. You see this year my father was not sitting with us in the pew because of illness and all I could think about was that he probably will never be able to again. I had just regained my composure when the lights went out in the church and the ushers started the lighting of the candles that we each held. Softly at first the organ began with the melody of the familiar "Silent Night". The glow of the candles filled the church as the congregation quietly began singing - "Silent Night, Holy Night! All is calm, all is bright." It's my very favorite part of the service! After the service we joined my father, who was waiting for us, at home. We shared a wonderful soup supper, prepared by my sister-in-law and Mother - and enjoyed just being together.
As we approach the changing of the year to 2009 my wish for you is that you will find joy in the smallest of pleasures. I hope you will reach out and hug someone in your life that may be waiting for you to make the move or that you receive the hug you are waiting for. Take time out of your schedule to make a phone call to someone who may love just hearing your voice. I hope you will let "The Ties That Bind" make your heart light shine for all to see.........
Happy New Year and God Bless you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Wishes

As I walked to my car after completing the last of my Christmas shopping (hallelujah!) a tiny bit of snow began to fall, you know the kind that just teases us, makes the windshield wet but really doesn't amount to anything, I thought to myself now it's Christmas! I kept thinking this is perfect a little snow to watch out the window while I start making some cookies and goodies for Christmas day, wrap presents and listen to my favorite Christmas Cd's. It's funny how smells or a song can trigger so many memories. One of my favorite songs growing up was "Winter Wonderland" (I liked the part about getting married in the meadow by Parson Brown), my Mom would play it on the piano and I would belt out the words.
When my Mom was growing up in the 1920's in rural Nebraska there weren't a lot of presents. They would travel to town for Christmas Eve services and after church go to her Grandparents home for dinner. Usually the children would each receive a small bag with fruit, a few pieces of candy and maybe some sort of small toy. The Christmas tree would be lighted and they would sing Christmas songs. She tells that one year shortly before Christmas her only doll disappeared, which she was sure her brothers had hidden from her, Christmas morning the mystery was uncovered. It had been her mother who had taken the doll and made all new clothes for her. A very special Christmas indeed!
I hope that you have fond memories of Christmas past and that you are able to create a special Christmas memory for someone you love!
May God's blessings flow to you this Christmas and in the up-coming new year! May God's light shine upon you and give you peace.
Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Letter to Nebraska 1899 from Germany

It's been 109 years since my Grandfather, Gus Bebensee and his Mother, Maria wrote this Christmas letter to her son Hans. Hans and his father Paul Gustav Bebensee had emigrated to the United States in November 1898 leaving his wife, son and two daughters behind. Unable to care for three children Maria had allowed her son Gus to go and live with her husband's sister, Pauline in Schwerin, Germany. Schwerin is a distance away from Hamburg so visiting him there was not always an option. If you can imagine being 9 years old that having your father leave for a foreign country and then also being separated from your mother then you can understand how lonely he must have felt. Only the first few sentences were written by Gus the balance of the letter was written by his mother.
This letter was translated by a Bebensee/Rebensdorf cousin who was able to read the script writing that was discontinued in 1936. The letter had been kept all these years by my family, never knowing what it said or who wrote it. Last February the letter was translated and emailed back to me. It brought great joy having something written from the heart by my Great Grandmother and finally have some sense of her. So this Christmas I'd like to share with you the Christmas of 1899.
"My Dear Brother Hans;

"I had to wait quite a long time for your letter. I understand you all feel quite well and I enjoyed your letter. I am doing well too, although sometimes we must do without things. Grete and little "syropstummel", like to eat a lot. It is very cold here now. Momma hasn't sewn too much, because everyone is cutting down on the costs - Send many greetings to Papa. The rest of the paper is for Momma. Thank goodness we all feel well. The piece of paper is nearly finished and the rest of it I have saved for Momma to write."

"I have longed to see my little Gustav again and Uncle and Aunt have always written that I could come and how pleased Gustav would be that he would jump for joy to see me. So I wrote that I would like to come and that I decided to travel. When I arrived at the station I saw my little Gustav, Uncle and Aunt Pauline. Gustav started to cry so terribly, that my heart was bursting with pain. So I thought that he was unhappy here and I asked him to tell me why. His answer was, "I have no reason to complain, Momma I always like to see you." Then we celebrated Christmas Eve and had a delicious meal and afterwards the Christmas tree was lighted and Gustav got his presents. He got a drum with screws, skittles and a suit and I myself presented a play for riding a bicycle, so we all were pretty pleased. Gustav wanted to sleep with me. In the morning little Emma joined us and the children went wild. At another holiday celebration we went to a special club where Uncle Hans was a member. There Gustav got a pencil box, exercise books and nuts. We did not get home until three o'clock. I don't want to write too much so will write to you sometime later if you have grown up. I stayed here until Gustav's birthday and then we got a letter from you. Gustav meant, please don't write to Papa if he wants to come home. I would like to see him again and he cried and I felt sorry for him, but I wouldn't show it because I started to cry too and so I started to say cheering words - hope Papa will come to see you on Easter."

"My dear Hans, I have to close my writing because the clock shows 12 already. Hope my letter will meet you well and in best health. Your little "syropstummel" now is a funny one. One night she had to dance with Grete only dressed in a night dress and when dancing her little thick legs were flying around and she started to speak too. When staying on the steps she is screaming so very loud for Grete because she feels hungry. Send many good greetings to Papa. Also greetings to Uncle Lou and Aunt Emma and the children."

I'm sure you probably can feel the pain in this letter written so many years ago those are "The Ties That Bind." Gus Bebensee never saw his father again. He emigrated to the US in 1906 at the age of 16.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and I hope "The Ties That Bind" our hearts always remain strong!
Aunt Pauline, Gus Bebensee and Uncle Hans

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Will Find Her - continued

In 1997 I wrote to the Lutheran church in Wadsbek, Germany. After almost 6 months with no word back I had given up on hearing from them. Along with my letter I sent a photograph of Grace, hoping they might pass it among the churches members. I finally did hear from the church, but they had no further information about her.

Most genealogy sites have forum's and/or message boards where you can leave notes about looking for ancestors etc. And I have many out there looking for any information on Grace that is available. I have learned that there is a group of genealogist in the Hamburg area that are working on a data base which will provide information, however, it can take years and years for this work to be available. I did find an approximate marriage date for Grace, but still no information on her spouse or children.

As I mentioned in my last post, I check every site for "Bebensee" that I come across - surely there is mention somewhere. Then it happened in January 2008 I found a Bebensee link - not Grace but my Great Great Grandmother's family the Rebensdorf's. I had not been looking for her but there she was - Elisabeth Dorothea Frederika (Rebensdorf) Bebensee. My first thought was can this really be happening - my Grandfather's grandmother? Oh my! I was additionally excited to find contact information for the person that had recorded the information. In less than two minutes I was sending an email off. And by golly shortly after I get an email back saying "YES - WE ARE RELATED!" My newly found cousin, Manfred - his Grandmother, Charlotte was my Grandfather's cousin. We have corresponded and exchanged information over this last year - and I now have my Rebensdorf ancestors back to 1746. The picture shown here is of Manfred's grandparents - Charlotte and Johann Bünning, which I restored and colorized. Manfred has also been extremely helpful to me and has been kind to translate a few letters for me. One I will share in another post that is a real family treasure. In sharing information I also learned that Manfred's wife Doris was confirmed in the same church as my Grandfather, Gus Bebensee in Schwerin, Germany. Oh "The Ties That Bind" continue to be a blessing!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Will Find Her

Margaretha Anna Johanna (Bebensee) Effinger - Where are you?

I'm absolutely certain that my family is destined to find Margaretha (Bebensee) Effinger. In our family we only knew Margaretha as Grace which was the name my Grandpa, Gus Bebensee, called his sister. You may wonder why I'm so convinced that we will find her? Well from time to time little clues will come from unexpected sources. In the early 1990's a young girl named Suli came to the US to work as a Nanny for a family in my folks' church. Befriending her were my Aunts and my Mom because they had heard she was from the same city in Germany as their Father - Hamburg, Germany. When Suli returned to Germany in 1994 she promised to go the the Lutheran church in Wandsbek/Hamburg and see if she could find any information on the Bebensee family. She had every ounce of information that we had on the family. As luck would have it the church records had just recently been returned from the local government where the information was being recorded. It took some time to find the information, but in 1995 we received a package in the mail with all the information the church had. That was when we found that our Aunt Grace was not named Grace but Margaretha. My Mom knew that her married name was Effinger and that Grace had two children, a boy and a girl, that she was aware of. The trail seems to come to a dead end at that point though. Unfortunately we do not know the names of her children nor her husbands first name so that is another stumbling block in the way.
Do you think I can find her? I search every genealogy site I find for her, including sites that I use that are German based. "The Ties That Bind" are strong. I have not found her yet but unexpectedly I did find.........

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First Discovery Continues with more good fortune!

When I discovered the full and given names of my Watermann ancestors I was fully armed to research more efficiently. It appears that few of the Watermann's actually went by their given names, but rather one of their middle names as was the case with my Great Great Grandfather who went by the name of Adolph, however, his full name was Fredrick Herman Adolph. This can produce quiet a challenge when searching through ancestry records. Now when the Watermann's emigrated they settled in Missouri (by the way Missouri has great access to records for free). We assume that after they arrived at the Port of New Orleans that they traveled up the Mississippi via paddle boat to St. Louis and then to Herman, Missouri via the Missouri River. These are all guesses at this point but that was what was typical during the 1840's. Later they farmed in Bland, Missouri. During one of my many searches for this family I discovered my GGGrandfather's sister Charlotte had married a man by the name of Pope. And at that point I had the good fortune to find a descendant of her husband. Charlotte died in 1878 leaving him with 8 children. He later remarried and had more offspring. Good fortune struck when I found his descendant in Texas and she shared some photographs of Charlotte's tombstone and the family bible with me. So again "The Ties That Bind" reunited me with more family. I'm still searching for more of the Watermann's.......

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coming Soon!

Over 300 pages of restored and colorized photographs, brief family histories and genealogy information on three generations of the Habben/Ufkes family will soon be completed. This is a 13x11 hard bound book printed on 80# paper and includes the children and grandchildren of brothers Rolf and Habbe Habben.
photo - copyright©2008terrikallio
do not use without permission

Photo's of Langenholzhausen, Germany

Click on the arrow to see slide show

slide show copyright@2008terrikallio

Music by Enya - (Watermark)

First Discovery Continued

My good fortune did not end with the web site discovery. My German cousin traveled to Langeholzhausen and took many pictures of the village my Watermann ancestors lived in. Today it is still a small community and many of the homes are in part from the structures built in the 1800's. I was able to discover the address of my Watermann family and my cousin was able to locate the house that my family lived in. (Pictured in my first post.) The house has been remodeled and added on to but it appears that parts of it remain. One very interesting thing I discovered was that my Great Great Great Grandfather's last name was not Watermann it was Mühlenmeier - it was custom to take the last name of the owner of the home - and since it was the home of his wife's family his name was changed to Watermann.

The Watermann home in


Today the Reformed Lutheran Church that my family belonged to in Langenholzhausen still stands. With the assistance of my cousin who dug through the old church records I now have information on my Watermann family back to the 1600's. To date I have been unable to find any Watermann relatives that remained in Germany and possibly they all emigrated, but that remains to be solved. I'm sure when the time is right for discovery that "The Ties That Bind" will reunite us.

First Discovery

Every time my husband and I take a road trip across this country I think about those pioneers who crossed this country in the "prairie scooners". Traveling down the road at 70 miles an hour and covering several hundred miles a day it's hard to imagine that those pioneers traveled all day and were lucky if they made 10 miles a day. Some of my family first emigrated to this country in the 1840's from Germany a trip that took 3 1/2 months in horrible condition's in what was called steerage. Now steerage was a place in the lower portion of the ship, it was lined with long bunk type beds, down the center of the area was a long table where the passengers would eat their meals and spend most of their day. Rarely were they allowed on deck because of the danger.

I started searching for family a number of years ago and have been very fortunate to find many of them. I had a lot of partial clues that had been left in the past by family members but nothing I could call solid information. I was determined though to find where my "Watermann" family came from. Every thing I had from old census reports indicated Baden, Germany. Why that was put down I'll never know. During one of my searches I came across the ship manifest for the "Barque Siberia" and there was the name of the town that they lived. Unable to read it because of the handwriting I forwarded it to a cousin of mine in Germany. He and a friend of his determined the name - "Langenholzhausen". I was shaking at the news and quickly typed "Langenholzhausen, Germany" into my search engine. I located a web site that actually listed all the people from this town who emigrated to the United States. Lo and behold there they were, my entire family laid before me - birth dates, baptism dates, death dates, confirmation dates, who their godparents were. At long last I was reunited with my Great Great Great Grandparents - they were waiting for me - "The Ties That Bind".


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