Monday, January 1, 2018

Discovering a 35 year old connection between 3 families

I’m easily amazed. And happily so. I love discovering connections as I do my genealogy research and am so often amazed by them. They surely have no significance to anyone else, but they expand my horizons and broaden my thinking. And they cause me to see the Lord’s hand in my life and my work.
As I’ve had vacation days through these 2017 end-of-year holidays, I’ve completed a scanning project of our family photos, to the tune of 2550 pictures. When I found this one of my son in the pits in front of a stock car, it brought back memories of the days when my son was small and our family attended Stock Car Races at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Kansas throughout the summers.
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In this picture, my son Matt Klein is standing on the trailer that bears the stock car #7 driven by Clarence “Clay” Bontrager. His dad, Bill Klein, is behind the car in the cowboy hat.
Clarence was one of our favorite drivers on the stock car racing circuit. The picture below shows Clarence giving special attention to a blind man. allowing him to become acquainted with the car through touch.
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At the time my family attended the races in the late 1970s and 1980s, the Bontrager name only referred, in my mind, to a favorite Stock Car driver in Kansas. But in the 1990s I learned of a new instance of the Bontrager name. I remarried in 1994 to Larry Jamison and learned that his former mother-in-law’s maiden name was Bontrager.  In the following years, I became interested in family history and have been able to prepare this brief chart to show that there is a close connection between Clarence Bontrager and Anna Mae Bontrager, Larry’s former mother-in-law. They are second cousins.
Bontrager, Ann to Clarence
Another fact that amazed me as I continued to research this connection is that Clarence “Clay” Bontrager just passed away December 16, 2017. Just barely over two weeks ago. I hadn’t thought about him or the stock car races for 30 years, and as I’m scanning pictures on Dec 30, I see my son standing by his car and then learn of his recent passing. I’m simply amazed. And easily so.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Are our Ancestors thinking about us too?

Handout Booklet CoverIt was exactly one month ago that I wrote a post on my blog about a presentation I gave to a group of women at the church when I’m employed. We talked about the importance of writing down the memories we have of our parents and grandparents so our descendants will know more about their lives after we’re gone. I gave each attendee a blank journal to use in writing their stories and memories. We’ll gather in October 2018 to share our stories with each other.

I’ve heard in recent weeks that many of the women are indeed writing their memories! And yesterday I received this email from one of those women.

You gave us "homework" in genealogy. Ok.  I started a little. Today I got a phone call from a man doing research in genealogy. He would be my cousin J------'s son. Haven't heard from that side of the family in 35 or 40 years. We spent some time -- and will spend more -- comparing notes! His grandfather was step-brother to my mother; his great-grandfather was my grandfather.  LOLOL! Yes, I'll include this in the book . . . .”

While this woman was certainly surprised to hear from a member of her family “out of the blue”, I wasn’t particularly surprised. I know this kind of thing happens frequently when we’re thinking and talking of our ancestors. It’s almost like they know that we have them on our minds and they want us to know we’re on their minds too. I’ve experienced times when I felt like my ancestors were right beside me after I’ve invested many hours studying their lives and their history. They’ve seemed to speak to me and observe my comings and goings at times.

I’m so happy for this woman that she’ll finally learn more of this side of her family and can share with her newfound cousin! And she’ll share this experience with us through the writings in her Journal!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Baby Shoes and More Baby Shoes

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Today I had occasion to put away some of the family heirlooms I had assembled to use for a display at a presentation I recently gave. While I had my collection of baby shoes out, I thought I’d put them all together and count them. Sixteen pairs of baby shoes that belonged to me and my twin brother, Dennis! Also shown here are other baby items my grandmother, and then my dad kept for me. You can see the pink and blue hair brush/comb sets, rattles, the banks, the silver pieces of drinking cups with our initials engraved, napkin rings, and silverware. I even have our pink and blue hot water bottles.
Here’s a picture of me wearing the white boots:
White boots (2)
I’m so grateful for a Grandma who kept these items and for a father who passed them on to me. To some people, these things are just “stuff”. But they show me the love that was held in the hearts of my family and I’m grateful!
LaVerna with Dennis and Becky Margheim, about 1951114 E. 6th St, Hoisington, KS (10)Ruby, Ernest, Becky & Dennis Margheim about 19492201 Jefferson (18)

Keeping our Family’s History Relevant: A Quick Review of My Recent Presentation

2017-10-30 14.27.35Earlier this week I was invited to present a program to a ladies’ group at the church where I’m employed. I had a year to prepare, and used every bit of it! I set up a Trello board (one of my FAVORITE apps) and added content to it as I came across appropriate material. Then last month I put the Presentation together and packed up the items I planned to display. I wanted to create the atmosphere of Family History so I displayed many of the “heirlooms” I own. Here are some pictures of my displays.

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I made table centerpieces with my Dad’s old books, topped by a pair of my baby shoes. One group was Bibles, one was high school yearbooks, another was German Lutheran books and the other table had school books on it.
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The Hostesses of the group meeting also decorated the tables in Halloween style, since the meeting was held on Oct 30.
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Here’s a portion of my presentation:
Handout Booklet Cover
I’m calling this presentation “Keeping my Family’s History Relevant” for a couple of reasons.
1. The word Genealogy is often used to describe the study of our Family History. I learned in Jr High that ‘ology’ at the end of any word meant “The Study Of” so we could interpret “Genealogy” as the study of our Genes. That’s growing in popularity today with the advances in genetic testing through our DNA. But that’s not what I’m talking about. And to call it Family History implies the connotation of HISTORY, which often turns people off. So I refer to it as my Family’s History, so then it’s about my family.
2. The word Relevant is defined as “of Contemporary Interest”. The facts and stories of my ancestors make up my Family’s History. I want my family’s history, their past, their story, to be of interest to those in my family today. I want my grandchildren to know who my grandparents were. Think about this. I’m a grandparent. I know who my parents were. I know who my grandparents were. It just happens that my paternal grandparents, my Dad’s parents, played a significant part in my early life. When my twin brother & I were just 2 years old, our mother chose to leave her marriage and start a new life with someone else. When she drove away, she took the only transportation Dad had to get to work, so he moved with my brother & I to his parents’ home 10 miles away. They allowed him to drive their car to his workplace and they gave us a HOME. In 1951 Dad remarried and in 1952 we moved back to the home we originally lived in. But those 3 years we lived with our grandparents, from age 2-5 were very formative years. The home was stable and our grandparents were very loving to us. I became very close to my “Grandma and Grandpa Margheim”.
Easter Sunday, abt 1952 in Hoisington, KS with Grandma and Grandpa Margheim
I know and love my children and my grandchildren. And I want them to understand the
effect my grandparents had on forming who I am today. I’m right in the middle of those 5 generations of Family. But those 5 generations can span a time frame of 100 years. My grandfather was born March 15, 1900 and my granddaughter was born exactly 100 years later, on March 16, 2000!
When I’m gone, if I haven’t told my children about my grandparents, they won’t be able to pass that information on to their children. And what my grandchildren will know of their ancestors will only consist of their parents and grandparents. Just 3 generations! It has been said it takes only three generations to lose oral family histories. We are the connecting link between our grandchildren and our grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. Objects, keepsakes, and artifacts can build those bridges in tangible, accessible ways that will make the memories feel more real to younger generations. There’s not just a story to tell or a photograph to look at, there’s a rocking horse, a silver spoon, a typewriter, or a quilt that can bring the stories to life. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I don’t in some way record will be lost at my death. That which I don’t pass on to my posterity, they’ll never have.
Family history isn’t just about looking at the past. It’s also celebrating and preserving the present for generations to come. After all, your adventures today are the family history of your descendants tomorrow! And no one can tell my story better than I can!
Research indicates that the more children know about their forebears—where they grew up, illnesses they struggled with, and tough trials they went through—the greater their self-esteem and ability to deal with life. Our grandchildren can learn helpful lessons from the lives of their ancestors. And don't we all want that for our grandchildren and great grandchildren?”
This is a brief summary of the sections in the booklet I handed out to the attendees:
Handout Booklet Summary
To wrap up my presentation, I gifted each woman with this notebook to use as their Journal in recording their memories, as we discussed at this meeting. We’re going to gather in October 29, 2018 and each woman will have the opportunity to share a Memory from her journal. We all look forward to a fun time!
Note Book
After the compliments and gifts I received in appreciation for my Presentation this week, I know our meeting next year will be one of the highlights of my year!
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Saturday, October 28, 2017

My First Society Conference

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I recently had the opportunity to attend “Conference for a Cause” sponsored by the Larimer County Genealogy Society in Loveland, Colorado.  The featured speaker throughout the day was DNA expert Blaine Bettinger, pictured with me above.

I’ve bought many DNA kits through for members of our family, and will buy several more at RootsTech next March. The Ancestry kits test our Autosomal DNA and give us potential matches of “cousins” and give us estimates of our original Ethnicity.

I own Blaine’s book “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy” and was fortunate to have Blaine autograph it while at the Conference. 

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 I won’t comment here on what I learned, except to say I understand now how much more I have to learn about the topic of DNA in Genealogy! I’m happy to follow Blaine’s instruction as posted on his Facebook group “Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques”.

Some memorable quotes from my notes:

“We never know which ancestors we’re getting our DNA from”.

“We don’t inherit DNA from every ancestor.”

“We don’t know which of our  DNA comes from which parent.”

“We each have two trees: (1) Genealogical Tree missing from my Genetic tree. We can’t predict our Genetic tree.”

“I have very little of my Ancestors’ DNA.”

And finally, Blaine advised us “If you see ‘Not Known’ as the name of a father on a Death Certificate, that’s probably not his real name!” Wise words.

My husband and I had so much fun during our weekend in Loveland. It’s a beautiful city. We had the chance to meet a longtime Facebook friend and enjoyed breakfast with her at the “always-interesting” Cracker Barrel restaurant. Attending this Conference was a treat for me. And now my husband and I look forward with eager anticipation to attending the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City, UT Feb 28-Mar 3, 2018. 

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Monday, September 25, 2017

I Never Tire of Discovering Cousin Connections

It was 9 years ago this week that I created this blog as a place where I could record my thoughts and share my discoveries as I research my family’s history. In observance of that “Blogiversary”, I will display a chart that I created Saturday evening after recognizing some of the connections in my mother’s family. As we research, we gather names and dates and record marriages. But without directly speaking to our ancestors, even parents and grandparents, we often overlook some of the meaningful relationships that they personally knew about. This chart displays some of those relationships that I just discovered two days ago, on the 9th anniversary of my establishing this blog.

Batchman, Stevenson, Becker, Margheim

I’m the person at the bottom left, M Rebecca Margheim. My maternal grandmother was Nannie Becker who married Milo Flanders, as you can see at left. I colored the Becker family members with blue frames or blue arrows. You can see that Nannie Becker had a sister Esta Becker, who married Elmo Batchman.  And the blue arrows at right show their brother J. Fred Becker, who first married Ethel Stevenson, and second, married Anna M. Steen. Nannie, Esta and Fred were all the children of my great-grandparents, Joe Becker and Emma C. Strait. Elmo and Esta (Becker) Batchman are pictured below.

Batchman, Elmo and Esta 1946

If you follow to the right of J Fred Becker and Ethel Stevenson, you can see that Anna May Steen was first married to George Rowe. George happens to be the great-grandson of Johann Becker and Anna Maria Martini, who were the parents of my great-grandfather Joe Becker. So Fred Becker and George Rowe were first cousins, once removed. When George passed away,  and Fred’s wife had died, Fred married the widow of George Rowe, his first cousin once removed.

Becker, Ethel & Fred

Pictured above are Fred and Ethel (Stevenson) Becker. Fred’s wife, Ethel Stevenson, had a brother named Marshall “Jack” Stevenson, who was married to Dorothy Batchman. Marshall is in the photo below, at far right.

Esther, Ethel (Mrs Fred Becker), Evelyn, Virgil, Marvin, Marshall Stevensen

In the chart at the top, you can see that Dorothy was a sister to Elmo Batchman, who married Esta Becker, the sister of Fred Becker and of my grandmother Nannie (Becker) Flanders.  So Fred Becker’s brother-in-law, Marshall Stevenson, was married to his sister Esta (Becker) Batchman’s sister-in-law Dorothy (Batchman) Stevenson.

Then you can see that Dorothy Batchman and Elmo Batchman also had a brother Alfred, who had a daughter Maxine. My cousin Don Haddon married Maxine. Don is the son of Ethel Flanders, my mother’s sister. The Alfred Batchman family is pictured below.

Alfred Batchman family

This isn’t really meaningful, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things. But I find it interesting and significant when I learn of family members who married and knew other family members, connected in such a way as these illustrated.

Here’s a chart I worked up a few months ago, featuring many of the same individuals.

Becker Steen Rowe marriages

Well, this is it for my celebration of my 9th Blogiversary. I’m happy that I started this blog all those years ago and have documented many of my findings and have related some interesting stories to my readers. I’d never have been able to remember them, so I’m glad they’re here where I can go back and enjoy them again.