Full family histories now available

UPDATED July 6, 2017

I have uploaded slightly revised versions of the following histories and updated the links below.

Barrows. Added photo credits in a couple of places.

Næss. Fixed typos in several places.

Seehawer. Updated the section on Rudolph Seehawer as a young man with information gleaned from his military record. (He really was in the Kaiser’s Guard!)

Spencer. Added  information on Jacob Spencer’s second wife. Added some text in the John and David Lewis sections about farming in Victorian times.

After years of collecting information, months of writing, and minutes of uploading, I now present histories of all the branches of my family tree. Unlike the data files I uploaded to FamilySearch and Ancestry, these are written histories in PDF format. I have tried to show our ancestors as living people using documents, records, family stories, memories, photos, excerpts from letters, newspaper stories, maps, and more.

The Spencers

From Jacob and Hannah Spencer in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, to Ralph and Gertrude Spencer in Oakland, Oregon. Includes James and Esther White, John and Elizabeth Lewis, and Samuel and Eleanor Watts.

The Seehawers

From the Seehawers in West Prussia in the 1800s to Rudolph and Mary Seehawer in Wisconsin. Includes John and Bridget Gormley and Charles and Alice Boesen. Shows the effect of the two world wars on the Seehawers remaining in Germany and has a section on “the Truth” (religion).

The Barrowses

From upstate New York right after the Revolutionary War to Chicago and northern Wisconsin in the twentieth century. Brief section on the Delanos.

The Spawrs

Begins with Peter Spawr and Elizabeth Messer’s arrivals in McLean County, Illinois, in 1827. Includes James and Catherine Neighbarger and John Griffith.

The Næsses

Norwegian ancestors back to the Næs/Næss/Nes farm.

The Busches

When images of the parish registers for Frank Busch’s hometown in Austria became available at FamilySearch a few years ago, I was able to find him in them and trace his ancestry back. Did you know the name was spelled Pusch then? This history also contains the family history of Frank’s wife, Elizabeth Gerritzen. Her ancestors came from Westphalia and Hanover.

The Helmses

Genealogy of Christian Heinrich/Henry Helms of Burdett, Kansas. What little is known about the family history of his wife, Marie Schmalgemeier, is included. They both had roots in Rahden, Westphalia.

My 1964-65 school picture. The horse pin from Spain, a gift from my Aunt Flippy Barrows, is what made me start asking about my family history. I learned I didn’t have any Spanish ancestry, but Norwegian, English, and German were just as special.

I started working on this in 1965, when I was 12, by quizzing my parents and writing to other relatives. I knew instinctively that I needed to get as much information as I could while they were still living and that the records would still be there when I had the time and money to travel around looking at them. Following that principle, I did travel to visit elderly aunts and to attend reunions.

After getting married in the 1970s, I began quizzing his parents and aunts about their history.

Of course the Internet changed everything in the late 1990s, and I have been able fill in much more of the history through sites such as FamilySearch and contacts with cousins I never knew we had.

Although I’ve spent countless hours researching online, I’ve spent even more identifying the people in the unlabeled photographs I’ve been blessed to receive. It is my pleasure to share them with you in these histories; perhaps they will help you identify some of your own old photos (and perhaps you will be inspired to share scans of them with me).

I am sharing these histories because I am starting to feel mortal and my husband and I do not expect to have grandchildren. I’ve seen so many people suddenly become interested in their genealogy after their elders have died. In fact, I hope you will enjoy some of the family stories you might have forgotten or never heard. These links won’t be here forever because at some point I’ll stop paying the domain fees, so please consider downloading the file or files for your branch(es) to share with your siblings, children, etc.

A few notes—

  • I’ve placed a Creative Commons license on the histories. It means that you’re welcome to copy them at no charge for any noncommercial use but please give me credit.
  • I’m not a fan of “creative nonfiction,” which is written by authors who think they need to make up things to keep history interesting. My intent with this work has been to present only facts, whether or not you find them as interesting as I do. You won’t have to wonder whether our ancestors really experienced something I’ve written about.
  • I’m proud of my research and have a source for everything I’ve included. However, it could still be wrong and naturally is incomplete. I welcome additional information.
  • Likewise, I don’t claim to be a designer, and Microsoft Word has to be the worst software in the world for doing this.
  • Most of the pictures are in poor condition after a century or more of being played with by children, stored in cardboard boxes under beds, and who knows what else. The only editing I’ve done has been cropping and, in a few cases, lightening.

The Doris diaries

I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties TeenI learned about Women’s History Month from author and journalist Julia Park Tracey, who has been transcribing and publishing her great-aunt Doris’s diaries.

Tracey didn’t know about the diaries until after Doris’s death at age 101. She was delighted to find how snarky, naughty and hilarious her great-aunt had been before she knew her. So far the diaries have documented Doris’s life as a teen in Portland, Ore., in the 1920s and a career woman in San Francisco in the 1930s.

I’ve been following “Doris” on Twitter, where Tracey posts well-chosen excerpts from the diaries. Doris also has her own Facebook page. Check her out—you may find her as lively (and modern) as any of your living friends!

 

Women were there, too!

2015 ThemeYou might have noticed the tagline for my blog begins, “Researching the housewives…” I say that because I fiercely believe my female ancestors are every bit as important as the males.

The theme of this year’s Women’s History Month, which begins today, is “Weaving the stories of women’s lives.” What better time to document the lives of my women ancestors?

I chose the word “housewives” for the tagline because that really is what most of my women ancestors were. Having been a housewife off and on myself (not a very good one), I know the work and skills required in that position.

As far as I know, none of my women ancestors came to the attention of the public or could claim any historical achievement. However, I know they were good, interesting people who had their own struggles and raised families who had their own families until I appeared.

I’m really not sure where I’m going to go with this. While I’d like to write about as many of my women ancestors as possible, I’m also thinking of women in history I admire. The fact that few of the latter come to mind is a perfect illustration of why we need Women’s History Month.