Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What a Group Sheet Tells Me About My Grandpa

My dad's father was John Ludwig Margheim, born in Wakeeney, Trego County, Kansas March 15, 1900. He was born the youngest of 9 children of German parents who had immigrated from Russia to Kansas in December, 1886. I recently spent a three week period trying to keep working on my genealogy research without using my laptop computer. I printed out the group sheet showing my grandfather as the child in his family and I sat down to read it thoroughly. I love reading family group sheets! I enjoy interpreting the stories they tell.

My grandpa was a quiet man. A gentle, hard working man who grew up on farms in Kansas and worked at farming, carpentry, on the railroad, and as a school custodian in his later years. He had a very pleasant demeanor. I was fortunate to live with him and my grandma as a toddler and grew up only 10 miles from their home. We visited frequently and spent a lot of time together.

As I studied his parents' group sheet, I established this timeline that revealed many of the life experiences that surely defined him as a man.

At age 12, his father died.
At age 20, his mother died.
At age 20, he married my grandmother, Amalia Koleber.
At age 21, his first son Ernest was born (my dad).
At age 23, his second son Alfred was born.
At age 26, his older brother Alexander was killed in a car wreck.
At age 27, his older sister Lena died.
At age 29, his wife gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
At age 33, his son Alfred died at age 9.
At age 34, his brother Fred died as the result of what the family considered a murder, but what was ruled a suicide.
At age 46, his older brother Jacob died.
At age 50 his older sister Eva died.
At age 53, his older sister Mary died.
At age 62, his brother George died.
Grandpa Margheim died in 1978 at age 78.

My Grandpa's life was filled with family deaths and tragedy--they were frequent! Knowing that has made me more aware of the great strength of his character. Through all of that, he remained a strong Christian, a very pleasant, positive, loving and gentle man. He was not bitter, not resentful, and never exhibited any feelings of self-pity. I admire that. It was only after I studied these details on that group sheet that I was fully aware of the sorrows that Grandpa faced as he grew up. Oh the stories a Family Group Sheet can tell!


Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

I loved this post, Becky. Many of our ancestors suffered through deaths of children, spouses and siblings. I admire them for their strength and courage. Your grandfather sounds like he was a wonderful man.

S. Lincecum said...

Very nice post. I now feel the need to go back and thoroughly read some family group sheets!

Janet Iles said...

I like to do timelines but I haven't set it up in the way you have done with your grandfather. It helps paint a fuller picture of a person's life when you relate to others in the family.

Thanks for painting this picture of your grandfather by studying his group sheet.

GrannyPam said...

A great example of looking at the person who lived a life, instead of a set of facts.

Delia Furrer said...

This is a great example of why we do our genealogy so that we can know our ancestors lives whether through the good or bad times. Your Grandfather sounds like he had a strong, but quiet countenance that was a part of him. It is heartbreaking the losses, but I am sure the good things in his life is what kept him going and his Christian faith. Great blog! Makes you stop and think a bit.