“There is no escape from the family…We were all independent…we were somehow spinning out there in the world without any connection whatsoever…Which is ridiculous…you could be the most outcast orphan and yet you are still inevitably connected to this chain. I’m interested in the family’s biological connections and how those patterns of behavior are passed on. In a way it’s endless, there’s no real bottom to it.”
–from The Cambridge Companion on Sam Shepard
My love of family stories comes from two people: my grandpa Fred and my dad. That’s them pictured top photo/above (with my aunt Barb) in front of Fred’s liquor store during the Great Depression, one of several ventures in which my grandpa was involved. Below that is a photo of me circa mid-1970s standing (with them) in front of the prairie farmhouse in which grandpa Fred was born. They had stories. So many stories. And I loved them all. This photo at the Otte family homestead in Scottsbluff, Nebraska is one I hold close to my heart. I still remember this day roaming around, digging, and gathering, before the old homestead would soon be demolished forever. (This might explain a few things about my life’s path.)
In 2012, long after both my grandpa and dad had left this realm, I started blogging about my genealogical research… I can’t exactly remember why I started writing about my family. Perhaps a latent need to write. Perhaps it was easier to put myself out in public in this format. During the time I was fairly housebound, and my world had grown smaller and smaller as an enormous fatigue took over my yet-to-be-leukemia-diagnosed body. I couldn’t do much. Ancestry research and writing gave me something to focus on. If nothing else, I found solace in the fact I was surrounded by family. And I found a world larger than I could have ever imagined.
Ancestry.com became an obsession. Once it starts…once you start digging into your family history…it becomes never-ending. There’s always something more to learn. And before you know it, you have more information than you know what to do with. Ultimately, the journey of family discovery has really become one of self-discovery. Placing my ancestors’ lives in context with world events has and continues to be truly illuminating.
I have learned quite a lot in the intervening years. One thing is that people take what you write–the stuff you send out in blogs–very seriously. It has been fascinating to discover that when others are researching their family roots, this blog comes up in their searches. Because of this, I have “met” a number of “cousins”–those individuals related to me through great-great grandparents going back multiple generations. I love that we have connected through time and space. It is quite inspirational. But I would like to add a caveat for those reading my genealogy posts to track down or confirm roots that we have in common. While I do my best to present correct information, I cannot guarantee all of the information I present. Sometimes it is an educated guess. Which seems to me what this whole world of genealogy is all about…finding the needle in the haystack, sharing information with others, and hopefully finding the trail of bread crumbs that leads you to your next discovery. If you find something that doesn’t make sense to you, please let me know. Perhaps together we can solve the mystery.
Otte, McGuffin, Schank, Kaasch, Springman, Weidenhammer, Wood, Bott, Sollman, Lorch, Briscoe, Teachout, Busch, and Zartman (just to go back 3 generations.)
My husband’s family: Herr, Diller, Dickson, Matthews, Masson, Ross, Rutter, Musser (Barr, Neff, Baer, Kendig… many of the Lancaster PA intertwined Mennonite lines), Eckert, Yount
If you have a question or just want to connect: