…but not for the reason most people think that about themselves. It’s because, someday, when/if I decide to get married I’m hesitant to give up my last name. If I do things the traditional way my children will not carry my father’s name, they will carry my DNA but that is all. Anybody who meets them will not know that they are a Schwartz. The first time I had this thought was way back in high school. At that time, I was actually convinced my brothers might not produce a worthy enough heir to my family name and my heritage, at least the most obvious part of it, would be lost forever. (I can at least now retract that statement)
I am extremely attached to my family and its roots, so I suppose I should understand that my children will be proud to carry their father’s name as well. But, what about mine? The truth of the matter is I’m not just a Schwartz. I’m a Schwartz, Taplin, Johnson, Haiar, Hoepner, Mangler, Gerdts, Weisler, Haye, Kuhl, Batey, Grossman, Cook, Flor, Weimerskirch, Manders, and on and on and on. You may call me Schwartz, descendant from the island, Fehmarn, off the shore of Germany but actually, I’m thousands of amazing people all rolled into one. Literally, a piece of each of them lives on through my DNA. Think about that. That’s genealogy.
A week or so ago I was extremely blessed to receive 148 pages of information pertaining to my paternal genealogy. I took a chance by e-mailing a gentleman whose website had been closed down for several years and was lucky enough to hear back from him immediately. What I received was an ahnentafel (German for “ancestor table) record covering (to me) 20 generations back to the beginning of the 1400s. These records are derived from 30 years of research by the man who sent it to me, 40 years from the man who gave it to him, and before that the brotherhood records straight from the island which, if I understand correctly, are no longer available to the public. Instead of being listed like a family tree diagram this is a fixed sequence numbering system of ascent. If I am 1 then my father is 2 and my mother is 3. my paternal grandpa is 4 and grandma is 5, maternal grandpa is 6 and grandma is 7. Men are always even, females are always odd (Haha!), forgiving the subject no. 1 of the record that is. It’s a whole mathematical formula that is actually quite interesting, but I won’t take the time to fully explain to you here. Google it.
I finally broke down and got the Family Tree Maker software because the data was just getting to be too much to sort out on my own. It’s pretty amazing, glichy and slow at times but it makes up for it in all the different reports, charts, etc. you can publish. I have been finding a lot of interesting things, like my 3rd great grandmothers were sisters… what can I say, we’re German. Keeping the lineage pure and stuff. Chances are there will be more personal genealogy posts in the future.
Aside from my own stuff, I’ve been conducting a lot of research at work for individuals from afar about their genealogy and it has presented a lot of frustrating, interesting, time consuming, yet enjoyable mysteries. One woman from British Columbia is just trying to find where her great grandfather is buried. I spent last Tuesday morning walking through a pioneer cemetery in -7 degree weather, by myself, some where in the north of Boone County. It was sad, beautiful, and peaceful. Other than my own, the only footsteps to grace the freshly fallen snow were those of the deer and an occasional rabbit. I walked from stone to stone, plenty belonging to infants and young children, admiring the shapes, decorations, and inscriptions, many of which were illegible. I did not find Richard Berry. Our last records of him are in an 1885 census and 1887 history as the Chancellor of a local Knight of Pythias organization. Was his 6 year old granddaughter, who died of (at the time rampant) diphtheria buried next to him? She was originally listed in one cemetery but actually rests in another. Though some graves were moved in 1896, that was also the year she died, hard to believe they buried her and moved her shortly thereafter. There is plenty of space around her plot in the new cemetery but no markers to be found marked with Richard’s name. He has no death record, no cemetery listing, no probate record, no obituary. He just disappeared.
These are the interesting mysteries of genealogy. I’m sure I will come to that place in all sides of my family when some piece of information just simply can not be found, either because the records were destroyed or because they were simply never made. That being said, I’ll keep trying.
Having *really* started delving into genealogy about 4-5 years ago I’m likely one of the youngest genealogists in existence. That being said, I’m happy to help others get started as it can be a little overwhelming. My end goal is a hard bound book with fold out trees, stories, photos etc. with three discs in the back, a dvd of home movies, cd of family oral histories, and a cd of family photographs. I hope to have a copy for each family member. This will happen quite a few years down the road. I wish somebody would pay me to retire and work on the project full time right now.
Side note: driving around the countryside usually poses at least a few beautiful views and interesting sites. Notice the creative sculpture on the left side of the structure. It’s a deer skull with an arrow through it, oh Iowa.