Last week I was reminded to check out NewspaperArchive.com as I read a post by Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy. I'd looked at it in the past, but it's always good to go back and check later when more items have been added. To my delight (and amazement!) I found that many newspapers have been digitized and added from my hometown of Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas. I first searched for newspaper articles with ny reference to my maiden name, Margheim. I found a lot of them. When I found a newspaper report about a "suicide" in the family back in 1934, I was hooked on searching. What other juicy bits of my family's history could I discover?
Next I moved on to surnames in my mother's family, mainly the Flanders family, her parents. I quickly found the article pictured above titled: "Seventy five attend the Flanders family reunion". To you there's nothing striking about a family reunion attended in 1973 by 75 people. They happen all the time. But I was dumb-struck. And here's why.
When my twin brother and I were age 2 my mother left our family and her marriage to my Dad and moved to another part of Kansas. She remarried and had a family in Wichita, Kansas. Since she abandoned us, she didn't have legal custody of me and Dennis, and we visited her according to a court order, but only for days or weeks at a time until we were 12 years old. We were not allowed to visit her again until we entered college at age 17. During the following years, until her death in 1990, we had occassional visits, enjoyed some good times together, and spent valuable time with other members of her (our) family. But for reasons only I could speculate, she just never could get it right as far being in the"mother" role to me and Dennis. Consequently we didn't get very well acquainted with her extended family.
You might understand that Dennis and I always desperately wanted a close and loving realtionship with our mother. I particularly always felt a great need "to matter" to her. That need was never met. Disappointment visited me frequently as I'd hear of her visits to her family members in my hometown of Great Bend, or of her yearly visits to family graves in a cemetery only 2 blocks from my home when I was married and the mother of her oldest grandchild, and only grandson.
As I was reading this newspaper article this week which reported on the family reunion of her family, that childhood feeling of disappointment that I had become so accustomed to re-visited me. The reunion was held in a small town only a few miles from where I was residing. Probably held on a Sunday afternoon. In 1973 I'd been married only 2 years, had no children and had Sunday afternoons free. How I'd have loved to have been there...to even have been invited. I wasn't a genealogist in 1973 (nor 1983 or 1993!), but I was a Flanders descendant and these were my relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. I loved them all. I missed them all. I needed them all.
As I thought about this over the last few days, I realized that the fact that a reunion was held with that many people in attendance told me that FAMILY was of great importance to this Flanders bunch. The final paragraph of the article states that the afternoon was spent looking at photographs, visiting, and updating the family tree book. It was decided to meet again on the 2nd Sunday of July the following year. I wonder for how many years those reunions were held. I was never notified of them. Now that I'm doing genealogy, I'm wondering who ended up in possession of the Family Tree Book! I'm wondering where all those family photographs are in 2009?
As I've dealt with those feelings of loss and disappointment this week, I've also become aware of how natural it is that I've developed this passion for genealogy! The Flanders family has a long tradition of preserving their family history. Edith Flanders Dunbar wrote "The Flanders Family From Europe to America" back in 1934. And I knew my mother, Ruby Flanders Margheim Craine, well enough to know how she treasured her family's history and the relationships in her family (her ancestors more than her descendants obviously). How I wish I could have shared this interest, this passion, this blessing with her. But I'm grateful to at least have the newspaper clippings! I'll get over the disappointment again. I have too much in my life for which to be grateful. NewspaperArchive.com, for one! And Lorine Massey for reminding me to start searching again!