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 in 2015, 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.
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.
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).
From upstate New York right after the Revolutionary War to Chicago and northern Wisconsin in the twentieth century. Brief section on the Delanos.
Begins with Peter Spawr and Elizabeth Messer’s arrivals in McLean County, Illinois, in 1827. Includes James and Catherine Neighbarger and John Griffith.
Norwegian ancestors back to the Næs/Næss/Nes farm.
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. Of course the Internet changed everything about 1998, and I have been able fill in much more of the history through sites such as FamilySearch and contacts with cousins I never knew I 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.