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

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quest of a Genea-holic - Part 1

I'm a genea-holic! Are you?

You can determine if you are a genea-holic very simply - these are the known symptoms:

If there's a burning in the pit of your stomach, an ache in your heart and if the mystery of that elusive ancestor engulfs your every thought – then you are a genea-holic! We genea-holics search every available genealogy record we can find. A census report provides a map of clues into the life of our intended quest. We dig through court records, newspapers, periodicals, county history books and oh yes we even travel into the graveyards where ghost's and goblins hide. We read and reread old letters to search out any morsel of information we can find or have missed. Like a book you can't put down – we swear just one more chapter and we'll go to bed. But then we run across a tidbit that looks promising so we dig, dig, dig until that little glimmer of hope burns out and the trail again runs cold. So we slump off to bed – tired, exhausted and disappointed. We try to sleep but our mind keeps circling – round and round – trying to capture that keyword that we are overlooking. I am a genea-holic and I search for my ancestors that refuse to be found. But know this - I am persistent! – I will find you – if not today – then tomorrow.

I have been fortunate to have multiple success stories in my search for my ancestors. Many I credit to the kindness of strangers who offer help through message boards. Some finds have just been luck, the right keyword and unexpected finds. I've been fortunate to find entire family links that I wasn't even looking for. But, through all my successes and the thrill of finding those elusive ancestors, I still walk away disappointed because in my quest I have been unable to locate the three people that have initiated most of my finds. Don't get me wrong - I'm ecstatic to have found my great great great grandparents and cousins I didn't know existed – but................ There is something different about these three people for me – I have such a longing to know what became of them and their families. It tugs at my heart strings and puts my mind on overload trying to find the right path to go down. Sometimes I think the world must have just swallowed them up or possibly an alien ship came down and whisked them away. Surely somewhere there is a record that indicates they existed?

Gustave Bebensee was born in Wandsbek, Germany, a suburb of Hamburg, on August 23, 1863, he married my great grandmother, Maria C. A. Sievers in 1888 in Wandsbek and they had 4 children together. In 1898 my great grandfather and his eldest son, Hans, emigrated to the US. They then traveled to Elk Creek, Nebraska where his sister, Emma, lived. Gustave left his 10 year old son with her and traveled west to find work – to my knowledge he never returned and I do not know if he communicated with his son after that.

Over the last 108 years various members of my family, some long gone now, have searched for my great grandfather. His last known residence was San Francisco in 1906. To the best of my knowledge the last word from him was when he sent money to my grandfather in Germany to help pay his passage to emigrate. The plan, as I understand it, was to meet my grandfather in Chicago where they would then travel by train to Elk Creek, Nebraska. My great grandfather never arrived – was he killed in the disaster of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake? For years my great aunt Emma tried to find him and there has been someone in every generation since that has looked for him.

I joined the search years ago when I wrote to the California Vital Records Department to search for a death certificate - I had them search a 20 year range (1906-1926)– to no avail. I contacted the San Francisco Historical Society – nothing. I've searched through numerous 1906 earthquake websites – nothing. Then about 2-3 years ago I stumbled across the 1910 California census report for Los Angeles, California.

Join me again as I tell of my remarkable find. A find that not only made me do the happy dance of joy but also brought sadness.............


  1. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this story!

  2. Terri,

    Just wanted to stop in and say how much I enjoy your blog! You are a great mystery writer! I am always eagerly awaiting your next post to see what happens next.

  3. Terri,

    Good job hooking us into your story. And it sounds fascinating but sad.

    Yea verily, I too am a geneaholic... see

    Cheers -- Randy

  4. I absolutely am a geneaholic too!

    Your blog is terrific!



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