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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seavers Saturday Night Fun

It time for Saturday Night Fun at Seaver's Place - Genea-MusingsTo play along this week, follow these instructions:1) Go to your My Pictures folder (or the equivalent) and pick out the 6th item in that folder. Then pick out the 6th item in that folder, and so forth, until you get to an actual picture.2) Post that picture to your blog with an explanation of what the picture depicts, including place and date.
This is my 6th picture in the folder - it is a photograph of my brother, Bob taken in about 1956. We were visiting my Grandparents in Nebraska on vacation. Bob was always good at standing on his head! The little girl chasing after her Daddy is me. - ha - Just a few years ago - OK 52 years ago......... yikes!

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Searching" - Part VI

When I first started my book project I kept my Mom busy digging through her hope chest where she kept bits and pieces of the past. Tucked inside an old spiral type notebook were a few old letters. The letters dated 1887 were written in German and signed by Lina Ufkes. Mom and I tried to pick out some words, but it was impossible. I knew that Lina Ufkes was the great great grandmother ( I think I put enough greats?) of my distant cousin Michael. I had discovered Michael's blog site, , several years before while Googling for my Habben family. I forwarded the letters to him to see if he knew anyone that might be able to translate the old German writing. The wonderful thing about sharing information is the joy for both parties. Michael now had letters that his ancestor wrote and he in turn shared the translation with me. Plus, Michael was able to share the letters with the Ufkes family at their 2008 reunion -"wundervoll" as my German speaking ancestors would say!

The letters were filled with the goings on of daily life. But there were a few glimpses of the language of 1887. Comments like - "I take feather in my hand in order to write some lines to you..." Feather? You mean the Bic pen had not been invented yet - haha?! If you notice the letter was written in red ink. That surprised me, I guess I just assumed the only color ink available would have been black. I also got a kick out of reading how they "were in the pink" - meaning they were all healthy. I have several old letters that my grandfather wrote and one common thing that farmers seem to write about was the price of the crops they are growing. In Lina's letters she tells that wheat is 69 cents and pork is 4 1/2 cents.

The old letters provide a sense of who the person was and the things that were important to them. And of course helped add a lot of flavor to my family story book.

"The Ties That Bind" are all about sharing...........

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Searching" - Part V

Ginger, Janice and Grandpa Fred

When I first saw the photo of my cousins Ginger and Janice I was surprised to see how much Ginger looked like my Aunt Lee. At first I actually thought it was my Aunt, but I had never heard any stories of the two families being together. Ginger and Janice grew up in Minnesota and my Mom and her sisters grew up in Nebraska.

Lee and Lucille

While restoring my ancestors photographs I've seen many resemblances between family members. For example I see a lot of similarities between my great grandfather Rolf and my cousin Steve.

In 1991 Ginger had her Mother Leola and her Aunt's Freda and Alyce, make a video. The video contains stories of the Aunts growing up years as well as stories about their parents. I'm sure when Ginger made the video in 1991 she would never have thought the information would be used to write a family history book. The girls parents, Fred and Tina, were married in 1888 in Nebraska and had a homestead in Cheyenne County. Droughts and grasshopper plagues forced the family to leave the homestead. The stories told of the loneliness of living on the homestead, Indian attacks and working for Buffalo Bill Cody. The video is so much fun to listen to and I was just thrilled when my cousin Brenda shared it with me.

In the early 1900's all children needed for entertainment was an imagination. One summer afternoon Freda and Leola drug an old wooden washtub to the watering pond thinking it would make a great boat. Leola jumped in and Freda pushed it into the water and then she jumped in. It wasn't long before the wooden tub filled with water and the girls were drenched. The old washtub didn't make a good boat but the girls had fun trying.

The Nelk sisters video is truly a family treasure and an idea I hope I can talk my own Aunts into. Many of their stories sounded similar to ones I've heard from my own family.

"The Ties That Bind" hold many memories...........

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank you to "The Educated Genealogist"

I just wanted to take a break from my "Searching" series to thank "The Educated Genealogist" for her blog called "What Happens to my research when I'm gone?"

It was kind of funny when I read the blog, because earlier in the day I had been chatting with a friend about the same subject. I had gone to an estate sale earlier in the day and was just horrified when I saw this woman's family was selling her graduation certificates from college, personal letters from the 1940's, photographs and her digitized family tree files.
It made me wonder, since I have no children, who will want all my research? I could just picture it all being shredded or sold to strangers. I actually felt a little sick. So many hours of searching for documents and personal ancestry histories all gathered for that one descendant who will want to know 60 years from now. Oh my! I have made it my goal to self publish my work in my book series "Searching" and make it available to family members that are interested in their ancestors, because I believe that these people should not be forgotten. But, still there is the volume's of information that I have gathered - what to do with that?
I found the suggestion that "The Educated Genealogist" made were an excellent choice for me and intend to make provisions for my work in my will.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Searching" - Part IV

I have been somewhat surprised at how attached I've become to many of my ancestors. As I worked to restore the old faded photo's, trying to remove the grim of time and the ravages of deterioration, I found myself talking to the images that now occupied my computer screen. I know it sounds like I need to be locked up in the loony bin, but you have to remember that some photo's were so badly damaged that I would spend up to 12 hours with one individual photo. As I colorized the photo's I couldn't help but notice how strong the hands of the men were and how delicate and small some of the women's hands were. The simple yet elegant Confirmation dresses that the young women wore made me wonder where would they have purchased such beautiful material. The intricate embroidery work that was done was amazing - I'm wondering if the hand work was done by their mothers or did the mercantile carry such beautiful materials? As I worked on a photo of Grandma at age 4, I was transported back in time when I had asked her why she looked so mad on the photo. She told me that she was mad - she had been playing and when her step-mother called for her to come in to get dressed up for the photo she didn't want to. She hid in the barn because she did not want to have her picture taken and did not want to get dressed up. Of course when she was found in the barn she was in trouble. Grandma stayed mad and you can sure see it in her little face in the photo. It seems like only yesterday when she told me this story, while we sat in her basement looking at photo's, and not 40 years ago.

I think the reason I've become so attached is because I've had a chance to learn about these peoples lives, their accomplishments, disappointments and their losses. I couldn't help shed a tear as I colorized the photo's of children that died very young, like Nettie Habben who died at 15, she was such a pretty girl with long brown hair and big eyes. Netties brother Frank died just a few months later at age 19. Frank was the only son of Henry Habben. He was engaged to be married at the time of his death. As I worked on the photo's of Nettie and Frank it was difficult for me not to feel the sadness that their families must have felt.

The Ties That Bind are not without sadness sometimes.........

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Searching" - Part III

Henry Habben Family

Something really incredible happened in the quest to identify the above photo. My Cousin Brenda had forwarded it to me to see if I could identify any of the people in the photo, which I couldn't, so I showed it to my Mom and she didn't seem to recognize anyone either. At that point Brenda forwarded to another cousin, but that cousin didn't seem to know either - but that cousin forwarded it on to a cousin in Nebraska (Am I confusing you yet?). The cousin that was finally able to identify it was Jennifer who I just met and who had copied the 1980 Ufkes genealogy book. Good grief - I didn't even realize that Jennifer was my cousin - how sad is that? What really made this terrific was that now Brenda had a picture that included her Great Grandparents when they were younger! And what made it fabulous for me was that now I had two Habben cousin that I never knew before - and beyond that both of them enjoy family history - a bonus in my book!

I now had a photo of the Henry Habben family and of his sister Trientje Rose for my book. Plus I had all the photo's that Jennifer had copied for me - or so I thought. In the past I've had some luck with paper copies of photo's and the quality of the photo's Jennifer had done for me was pretty good. I kept my fingers crossed as I began scanning them, but, as luck would have it they were terrible. Every picture was full of the texture of the paper - I call it the "black blog disaster". Now what? I really hated to contact Jennifer and ask if she would scan all the photo's and email them so I had a workable copy. I thought about it for a few days and decided that all I could do is ask. I explained how I was making this book and was trying to include every Habben that I possibly could. I was thrilled when she emailed me back saying she would do it - no problem.

I guess I should explain that this book is of three generations of Habben family members - my great great grandparents, great grandparents and grandparents - not the entire Habben clan - yikes that would take volumes! To further clarify it includes the children and grandchildren of two brothers - Rolf and Habbe Habben. The book also includes some of the Ufkes family - because Rolf and Habbe married sisters.

Copying all the pictures seemed to make Jennifer curious about her ancestors too and she started asking her father questions. Another bonus, because now the information has been handed down another generation - and a huge bonus for me because Jennifer shared all that information with me for my book - woo hoo!!

The old saying - "blood is thicker than water" is a fact in my book!

"The Ties That Bind" - to be continued -

(please ask permission before using restored photo's on this site)

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Searching" - Part II

I was so fortunate to have had relatives that also wanted to see the family history and genealogy information preserved! In 1980 a booklet was produced by a distant cousin on my Ufkes family and simultaneously another booklet was prepared by my Great Aunt Rosetta (pictured here) of my Habben ancestors. I mentioned this in my earlier post also. The treasure trove of information that these two works included was fantastic. I'm still amazed that they were able to gather so much information in a time when you actually had to go to the court house, libraries and other record keeping facilities to obtain the information. Now in the age of Internet many of these records are available online.
Having this information proved to be invaluable especially when I was trying to track down the females in the family. Without the married names of these woman sometimes the trail just hits a brick wall. I'm not sure that I would have found my cousin Brenda without it. Oh, eventually possibly, but it sure sped up the process. On my first encounter with Brenda we not only found that we had the same g-g-g-grandparents but we discovered that we had many things in common. Number one was a passion for family history. I believe that we lit a fire in each other to find out more about these remarkable ancestors. Brenda began quizzing her family and searching through old photographs that her parents had and I continued my search for more relatives.
My father's family has a reunion every year in Nebraska and we planned to attend the July 2008 celebration. While there we took time to visit with our Habben cousins in the Wilcox/Hildreth area. We had a wonderful afternoon visiting with them and sharing a meal at the local diner. After our lunch we were invited to our cousins home for a little desert and more visiting. Cousin Mary had pulled out her copy of the 1980 Ufkes genealogy book. Expecting to just see a copy of what I already had you can imagine my excitement when I opened the book and discovered they had actual photographs and not photo copies. Knowing how badly I wanted copies of the photo's, Mary suggested that we take the book to Jennifer at the insurance office and have her copy them. Jennifer graciously copied all of them - I was so excited I was almost giddy. What I didn't know was that Jennifer was also my cousin and I would not realize that for a few weeks.
Something very special was discovered in my cousins copy of the 1980 Ufkes book. There was an 8x10 photograph, very damaged as it was I still wanted a copy. My cousins did not seem to have any idea who the people were in the photograph. When we returned home I thought I would forward the photo to another distant cousin, Michael Neill, who is a professional genealogist. I had a notion that Michael may be able to identify these people. I asked if he would put it on his website and see if any other family members might know. I know many family members that visit his site regularly so I thought there would be a good chance someone out there would know. I had a strong feeling that it was the Rolf Habben family. Michael answered me that he was sure he had seen the photo before and promised to get back with me. It took him a little while to find his copy of the photo, but when he did my suspicions were confirmed. It was the Rolf and Christina (Ufkes) Habben family. I estimate the photo was done around 1874. Now this was incredible - now those names and dates have a face. Names and dates are great to have but when you can put faces to that information these people suddenly become real.
While Brenda searched for photographs she ran across one of a family on some unidentified farm and all that was marked on the back was - "Henry Habben". I could figure out which one was a Habben right away but who were the rest of these people? So while I was away Brenda searched for the answer. After we returned from our family reunion trip I had received an email from her with an attachment. It was a copy of an email identifying all the people in the photograph - when I read the name of the person who had identified this "Henry Habben" photo I knew "The Ties That Bind" were on a roll..........
(please do not use restored photographs without permission)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Searching" -

A couple weeks from now will be the anniversary of the day I began on an unexpected adventure in my genealogy research. I think most of us have a box or more of old photo's around the house that we store on a shelf or in a storage chest somewhere in our home. Several years ago my Mom had sorted through a large box of old photo's and put them into smaller boxes so that if she wanted to find a picture of someone it would make the search a little easier. I had asked to borrow the box of photo's of my ancestors so that I could add them to my family tree maker files. I absolutely love making the new hard bound books that you can do digitally so I thought it would be nice if those same pictures could be shared with family instead of just sitting in a box. After all Great Grandpa deserved to be out of the box and into a book so that his great great great grandchildren could see what he looked like. I don't have a lot of memories of my Great Grandpa as we never lived close to them, but, I do recall that mustache of his and how it would tickle my nose when I'd give him a kiss.
When Mom gave me the pictures to scan she also gave me a genealogy booklet that was done in 1980 by a distant cousin and an addition to the booklet that was done by my Great Aunt. I'm sure this booklet was a tremendous project at that time. Now with the Internet the world is at your finger tips in 1980 information was much more difficult to obtain. As I looked through these two works of genealogy I not only found names and dates but a little family history and a few pictures of relatives scattered through the book. Photo copiers in 1980 could not produce the quality photo's that we can achieve today with our all-in-one printers - oh what I'd give to be able to scan the originals of those photo's. I made a few phone calls to people I thought might have a book with originals but no luck. I tried scanning some of the photo's but all I got was a black blob. So I pretty much gave up the idea of adding any of those photo's to the book.
I started this project while I was actually concentrating on another book with photo's of my brothers and I growing up so when I needed a change from that project I would work on my outline for the ancestry photo book.
Right from the start of the project I knew what I wanted the title to be. "Searching", would be the title, because that is what I seem to be doing most of the time - searching for that elusive ancestor that just does not want to be found. Once I had completed my project of family photo's I began concentrating solely on my ancestor book. Many of the photo's had some deterioration from age and required extensive restoration. Fortunately I have a program that I can do this restoration myself. In the process of the restoration I wanted to bring new life to the photo's themselves by colorizing them also. It's a long process to restore photo's, taking out all the little nicks and scratches, repairing damaged dresses and trying different shades to get the flesh tones and then shading the photo so it doesn't appear flat. But it really has been worth the time and now most of the photo's look like they might have been taken yesterday instead of a 100 years ago in some cases.
Wanting to include additional data in my book I turned to my web site and began searching for unknown relatives. In June, 2008 I found my distant cousin Brenda who had a family tree that included many of my family names. I contacted Brenda and we began exchanging information. And then "The Ties That Bind" really took hold.........

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pay it forward - Part V

Gretchen Buntjer Bieber
Gretchen died in 2000 on her 88th birthday.
I hope that you have enjoyed the search for Gretchen. It was a unique experience for me and I will continue to help her grandchildren and her son LT to discover the history of the Buntjer family. The family that began their American experience in the early 1900's in the little farming community in Blue Hill, Nebraska has spread far and wide. Something seems to be pulling them all together and I'm glad I could lend a hand in their search.
May "The Ties That Bind" our hearts in love grow each day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pay it forward Part - IV

My suspicions were correct that Gretchen's husband was a military man and confirmed when I found a ship manifest for the ship "General William O. Darby". This was a military transport ship and was also used to transport military families. In 1949 Gretchen and her children were on the "General William O. Darby" and the ship would dock in San Francisco from Honolulu. I was sure it was our Gretchen because it indicated her birth place as Blue Hill, Nebraska. But a new clue emerged as the manifest also showed that all of the children had been born in Washington. So now we had a state to work with which helped narrow down an area to thoroughly research.

After checking numerous sites that I use regularly and not coming up with any additional information I thought - well maybe she is still living! So now what? Oh ya - the white pages - duh. You could have knocked me over with a feather when her name came up and a town in Washington where she lived. But the stupid site would not give me her street address or phone number without paying a fee - and then who knows for sure what you're paying for. So I called Lori and she decided she would pay the fee and find out what was there. Unfortunately the information led no where. But it was worth the try - we now had hope that she was living. Although she would be 97 years old it was still a possibility - after all she was born in Nebraska - and Nebraskans are notorious for living long lives! LOL

Our hopes of finding Gretchen alive were dashed away today when Lori contacted the Seattle, Washington Library and an obituary for Gretchen was located. Gretchen passed away on January 24, 2000 in Washington. It was a very disappointing find and an overwhelming feeling of loss swept across the miles. A few tears were shed for the woman that will not be known to Lori's family. I think Lori and I were wanting her to still be living so badly that we had convinced ourselves that she was. The discovery was kind of like preparing for Christmas and then within hours it's over.

What must be remembered is that from December 31st to January 7th we found an entire family. Tracking down census records, military draft cards, birth certificates, ship manifests and family history. Folks that's 7 days to find such a wealth of information - that in itself is fantastic. We have also made contact with family members that are anxious to share information, photographs and additional family history and that is a blessing. And not only that but I made a new friend and over the course of the search feel a real bond to Lori and her family and that is another blessing to celebrate! Alex Haley said it all in this quote:

""In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage,
to know who we are and where we came from.""
Author: Alex Haley

Afer chatting with some of the Buntjer family I think that "The Ties That Bind" will join the descendants of this family and many days of joy will be ahead to share!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Something To Remember

You can have everything in life
you want if you will just help
enough other people
get what they want.
Author - Zig Ziglar

Pay it forward - Part III

You can learn a great deal of information from census reports and once I found the 1930 census report for Blue Hill, Nebraska I could get some of the ingredients needed for further searching. The report indicated that Gretchens father was Anneus "Andy" Buntjer and her mother was Augusta. They lived on Cass Street in Blue Hill. They had 4 children, Adolar, Bernhardt, Gretchen and an adopted daughter Wyonna Jean who was born in South Dakota. The other ingredient that I could learn from the census was an approximate year that Gretchen was born - 1913. What was interesting was that she was attending school, could read and write and had an occupation listed as "theater". hmmmmm

Knowing all the siblings named also helped in my search because when I couldn't find what I was looking for on Gretchen I could then check for family trees with the other names there. As I was searching I found that Gretchen had given birth to a son in 1936 - bingo! I quickly copied the record and shot it off to Lori - who confirmed that was her father-in-laws name - so now I had found LT. So at this point I suspect, but not confirmed, that possibly she had not yet decided about giving him up for adoption.

I sent an email to my cousin, CB, who grew up in Blue Hill and who is an avid genealogist with a great deal of information on the area. I gave him everything I now knew about the family. And by golly if he didn't come up with the history of the Buntjer family. It included a picture of LT's great Grandfather Harm Buntjer (pictured above). It appears that 5 of Harm and Gertie's children had emigrated prior to their parents and two of their siblings originally to Rosemont, Nebraska. Harm emigrated from Wymeer, Germany in 1903 and settled in Rosemont where he set up shop as a shoemaker. Something else that was fun to know was the the Buntjer brothers spent their summers traveling with a show through Nebraska doing a tight wire walking act - I would love to find out more on that. How fun is that?!

With the additional family members names I was able to track down a family tree that included some of this family so I sent an email to Brian. A day later I heard from Brian and it turns out that he is related to another part of this family, however, Brian would provide me with an obituary of a cousin of Gretchens. Oh my, one thing about obituaries is that they list the survivors - now we had a contact to try directly. I sent off the information to Lori and urged her to call them. The next day I get an email from Lori - "call me" - she had called one of the women listed in the obituary and found out that Gretchen had been the maid of honor at this woman's mothers wedding................ Oh WOW - this is huge is all I could think! And it was because when this woman called back to Lori the next day she told her she found a photograph of Gretchen and some information her mother had written down about Gretchens children......

While we waited to hear more from this newly found cousin of LT's I kept searching. To my surprise I found another child - Sandra - birth mother's maiden name - Gretchen Buntjer. Now this is big - really big - because now we have a married name for Gretchen too!!! But is it the same Gretchen Buntjer? Another email to Lori to give her the information and what do you know but the newly found cousin has told Lori that it looks like Gretchens married name is Bieber - oh my, oh my, oh my - it is the same. But I'm curious - this daughter was born in Kentucky. I thought Gretchen sure moves around a lot - I wonder if her husband is military?

So last night I began searching for her with the confirmed last name of Bieber - but you will have to check back to find out what I found - oh my.........

I've never had so much luck finding genealogy information, usually it takes months and years to fully track down so much in just a few days. At times I feel a little nudge pushing me forward to locate this woman - do you think there are Angels that are helping - or do you think it's just dumb luck? Although there is no relation between our families "The Ties That Bind" go beyond their boundaries.........

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pay it forward - Part II

The 1930's were tough years for most people living in the Midwestern states and through out the US. The stock market crash in 1929 sent most people into financial ruin. The dirty 30's as they were called were literally dirty. It was bad enough that most people were struggling trying to survive the bank closures but now to have their farms wiped out by dust storms too - it was all just too much! Unless you were living at that time it is hard to imagine these dust storms that would darken the sky and bury the crops, piling up against the house like snow drifts would in the winter. If you're interested in seeing some fabulous pictures of what these storms looked like check out Wikpedia - I couldn't believe it when I saw them.
We live in such a different time than the 1930's, we don't think to much about people getting divorced or young girls having babies out of wedlock. We accept these things as just part of life taking most things in our stride. Not so in the 1930's when LT was born, the young mothers would usually go to homes that were set up for young girls to stay until there babies were born and those children were almost always put up for adoption. Their absence at home was explained that they are staying with a sick Aunt in another state or some reason like that. Sometimes even the closest family members were unaware of the baby.
The laws governing the privacy of adoption are pretty strict and usually the birth mother has no idea who the adoptive parents are nor do the adoptive parents know who the birth mother is. It appears that Gretchen may have known the adoptive parents of her little boy because she wrote letters to the family expressing her concern for her son. She wrote of how she wished she could have kept him. Can you imagine the ache in this woman's heart to hold her little boy? From all accounts though she gave him to a family who loved him dearly and who were very good to him. So hopefully she found some peace with that knowledge.
There's something about that blood bond though that is unbreakable and now almost 73 years later "The Ties That Bind" drive this man's son and daughter-in-law to find Gretchen and his roots for him. With a little help from new friends and recently found relatives they will have their answers - I just know it!!
(Come back and visit my blog again to see the amazing amount of information that has been located about the Buntjer family of Blue Hill and Rosemont, Nebraska....)

Pay it forward........

I don't know if you are a believer in God or not, but I am. And I believe that sometimes He puts us where He thinks we need to be. It may be because we need to experience something in our lives that will teach us something; or maybe we have a special talent that is needed at that moment; or know how to do something that some one else doesn't. Or maybe, just maybe "He" knows why and we never will know for sure.
I've mentioned that I leave messages on genealogy message boards in my previous posts. And I've mentioned the help I've received from complete strangers. But I haven't mentioned that I also read other peoples messages, especially if they are in the areas my family is from. Last summer I purchased copies of the OSB books from Wiesens and my Cousin DD took the time to copy about 500 pages from the Aurich-Oldendorf book. If your not familiar with what an OSB book is I'll tell you - they are books that have been compiled from Church records of everyone that was born, died, married or was baptised from that area. I've heard that some of them have taken 14 years and more to compile. Any way - if I notice someone on the message board that is looking for family from the areas I have OSB books from I try to help by looking up the family in the book. Plus you never know there may be someone out there looking for my family - hmmmm....
So a couple of days ago I was scanning through the Ostfriesland Society website when a very familiar town caught my eye - "Blue Hill, Nebraska" - hmmm - what's this about I thought ??
"Searching for ANY information on the Buntjer family. -----from Germany and moved to Nebraska to Webster Co, in Blue Hill. I am seeking any information on a lady named Gretchen Buntjer. ---------the purpose of my search is for a dear family member that would finally be at peace with some unanswered life's questions. "
I had to try to help, after all this family was from the same town that my Grandma E was born and raised. Maybe she was friends with their kids - she would want me to help - and I knew that in my heart. So I gathered the information that was left in the message and started searching the records for Gretchen. I was actually kind of surprised when she popped up right away on the 1930 census report. So I checked the dates of how old she would have been in 1930 and that seemed to match- yes she had a brother named Adolar - hmmm - father Anneus - occupation - tailor
Things seemed to be matching up with the items that were listed in the message. I made copies of the records and emailed them off.......... The next day I get a message from Lori - well at first I was thinking my niece Lori - she usually sends me up-dates from her blog so I didn't even open it right away. But when I did and read what she had to say ---
"He is 72 and was given away as a baby (and raised by wonderful parents) but is now with the gloom of wondering about his birth mother."
As any one who reads my blog knows - yes - tears ......... Now I'm on a mission to try to help however I can -and I have a source that I'll tell you about later - so check back as the story unfolds.
As I learn more about this family and the quest to find Gretchen I know that "The Ties That Bind" are pulling on this family.........

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Longing to know you - part 3

Before I continue my story I want to stress the importance of sharing your photographs, stories, old letters, etc. with your family. Not only is it great back-up in case something happens to your only copy but the joy you may bring to that person might be more than you can imagine. OK I'll get off the soap box now.....

For me waiting for a response to an email is like a 5 year old waiting for Santa Claus - excruciating! I knew that my German cousin could not speak English so I carefully choose my words being careful not to include words like "isn't" or "it's" - because it's just too hard to translate. I also didn't want to write any thing that might come off offensive. I was lucky to have my "almost-cousin" to help pass the time with me (even though it's long distance- yahoo for yahoo) so I kept pretty busy answering her emails asking if I had heard anything yet - LOL
The first email from Cousin DD finally arrived and included all the niceties - what his name was, how old, occupation and that he lived in Berlin but also maintained the family home in Moorlage, Germany. Now Cousin DD is the same generation as I am from our Great Great Grandparents the Saathoff's and coincidentally he and my "almost-cousin -Karla" are the same from the Cramer side- funny weird huh? I informed Cousin DD about Karla and was it OK to give her his email address also.

In a later email he asked for my mailing address he had some pictures to send - so now I'm at the mail box waiting - my oh my I do a lot of waiting! LOL

And then the package arrived - there was so much tape on it I couldn't just rip it open - where's a scissors or knife a letter opener anything to get it opened!!! Fortunately my calm collected husband was nearby or I'd probably would have ripped it open with my teeth at this point. I know you probably think I cry a lot, but when I saw the face of my Great Grandmother Trientje's sister and her beautiful children - well dog gone it - you'd cry too!

Her eyes were deep set just like Trientje's and she was so little.

I wanted to know everything about her, but, again not much

was known about her. It's funny though how someone else's curiosity spreads like a flame and sparks interest. Cousin DD has been digging through all the old boxes and trunks at his home in Moorlage for more clues about the family. A couple months back he sent another packet of pictures, but this packet contained some things that caught me totally off guard. They were pictures of my Grandma, a confirmation picture, a picture of her and Grandpa that was probably taken around 1919 sitting on the front porch of her parents home, pictures of my Grandma's sisters. ?? I'm guessing that my Great Grandpa Rolf kept in contact with the family after the death of Trientje - I don't know why that would surprise me, but I'm glad that he did. Apparently he understood the importance of "The Ties That Bind" too!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pay it forward.....

Just a little tease - I'm working on something right now to "pay forward" the help I've received from complete strangers - as the story develops I will
include it in my blog if I get the families approval.....

Longing to know you continued....

The information my new German friend had provided me included the married name of my Grandmother Trientje's sister. Having this information opened up more doors for me to open and look for her family. I think when I first typed in her husbands name in the search box on I really didn't expect to find anything. But for luck I typed it with my fingers crossed - slowly one letter at a time "C R A M E R". As the search engine worked its magic and I sat waiting, I knew it was a long shot and probably I would again be confronted by a locked door, so I wasn't really expecting to find them. I think I was actually in shock when up popped a tree posted by another German native - oh my gosh - she was there too. Now sometimes on people leave their website address and this particular one included that information. In searching through Klaus' site I was thrilled when I saw Altje Saathoff Cramer and information about my G-GGrandmother as well. I could match the information there with my known facts - I quickly shot off an email to Klaus and he returned an email with additional information. I could not wait to tell my Mom that I found her - the feeling for me was indescribable. For me finding these people is like having a loved one return home after years of not seeing them, although these people have been gone for many years somehow for me it is as if they are now home - safe and sound.
Now loaded with more information I could try another search for the Cramer family and that is when I found the family of my GGAunt's inlaws who had emigrated to Nebraska. It was kind of funny they had lived in the same town in Nebraska that my Grandpa E. was born - how odd was that? Any way, I shot off an email to this stranger to find out what she might know about my family and that's when I discovered a kindred spirit. Karla and I share the same family but there is no blood between us - she is on the paternal side and I the maternal side. I call her "my-almost-cousin" - we continue to search for a blood relation because we're too much alike not to be blood - LOL. We exchanged information and I gave her Klaus' website so she could pull off that information and make contact with him also. We sent many emails back and forth, sharing family history and stories and learning about each other also.
Then it happened - I get an email from my German Gentleman - oh my - the words jump off the page - "I have found your family - and they would like to make contact with you." Oh my gosh, oh my gosh - can this be for real? "Absolutely - yes! - was my response to his email. Then I quickly sent an email to Karla to share the news with her. And then came what seemed to be endless days of waiting for another email from him - I must have checked my emails a hundred times a day. Waiting, waiting, waiting - and then finally the email with the names, addresses and email addresses came.
As I typed that first email to my cousin in Germany a kind of peace came over me as I felt "The Ties That Bind" putting my family back together once more..........


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