Happy Birthday, (Great-) Grandma Naomi Ann, or Aunt Na’, as you were called by your nieces and nephews. Had you lived, we would have had quite the party today, no doubt.
Requiescat in Pace.
Today, Naomi Ann Snyder would have turned 100.
There are those without whom things would have been very different in life for a lot of people, but who are very quickly forgotten by ‘the public’. Anna was one such person.
Anna Kothe was a good friend of my father Jupp Kappius from 1944 until his death in December of 1967, and continued to be a friend of the family until her own death on this day, October 24th, 26 years ago. Here is a little bit of her story.
Born into a Lutheran family on 26 May 1898 in Hemelingen which later became part of the city of Bremen, Germany, and daughter of Johann Hermann Hinrich Kothe and his wife Elise nee Blohm, Anna Gesine Elisabeth Kothe learned home economic and trained to be a cook. She became politically interested and involved, and in the 1920s and 1930s kept house for various ISK members who shared flats. We have good reason to believe that she joined the ISK in 1925 because it was then that she left the Lutheran church, something that was required of ISK members.
In 1934, she started running one of the vegetarian restaurants the ISK owned and used for centers of information exchange and contact among group members, the VEGA in Hamburg. When the ISK group in Hamburg got caught by the Gestapo in December of 1937, Anna lost the restaurant by order of the Gestapo in May of 1938, was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison in Berlin and Luebeck for two and a half years, from 17 March 1938 to 22 September 1940. Being a vegetarian like all ISK members, times were doubly hard for her there, but apparently she was able to steal some of the candy she and the other inmates had to pack at the Luebeck facility to beef up her portions (pun unintended) and survived, her spirit unbroken.
After her release in September 1940, she started to work for Ernst Volkmann and his wife in their house in the Burgstrasse 15 in Bochum, the very same house in which my father was later hid when he entered Germany clandestinely in 1944, and where Anna continued to live for a while after the war. When the war was over, Anna joined the new-formed SPD and later the AWO, an organization concerned with the well-being of workers. In both organizations she was an active member for well nigh 45 years. Otherwise, after leaving the household of Ernst Volkmann in Bochum, she kept house for Willi Eichler in Koeln and Bochum, and after his death continued to live with Willi’s wife Susanne Miller until her own death on 24 October 1994.
Requiescat in Pace, Anna. The public might have forgotten you, but we surely have not. We owe much to you and are grateful for the friendship and support you have shown Jupp as well as us even after Jupp was long gone. The featured image shows Anna with Jupps son Peter in 1978 during a visit in Bremen.
Everyone who knew Anna and talked about her praised her strength of character and her steadfast conviction – and her cookies. During the war, she was the living chronicler of the ISK, knowing everything about everyone, where they lived, what their history was and their family situation, and how they were doing. She was also the one who kept contact with the ISK members in Switzerland and made sure Aenne (as “Jutta”) knew where she would find a comrade when she traveled into the Reich in 1944 and 1945.
To illustrate how Anna once managed to dissuade a Gestapo infiltrator and thus saved not just my father’s skin but that of several others as well, we shall quote from a letter Jupp wrote from London on 10 May 1945:
The Story of Gerda
About the middle of January, 1945, in fact the same day Jutta (i.e., Aenne Kappius) arrived in Bochum, a courier came from Hamburg warning us of arrests of friends that had taken place in Berlin, Hannover and Goettingen. These friends were members of the ISK who had formerly been imprisoned for illegal activities. As the friend I was living with (i.e., Anna Kothe) had been involved in that and furthermore had recently been in communications with some of those arrested, we had to expect a visit from the Gestapo. Therefore we moved Jutta and myself out of this place, decided to keep her in Bochum and send somebody else to do her round of visits with a view of trying at the same time to find out what had happened. While this courier was on his way a woman turned up at the Burgstrasse one late afternoon. She pretended she had come from Berlin to warn our friends of the arrests that had taken place, giving to understand that she knew the people arrested and also knew about their connection with our friend she was talking to (i.e. Anna). Our friend, however, was wary, did not deny to know those arrested but pretended she couldn’t think of any reason why they should have got into trouble with the Gestapo. The woman visitor then suggested it might have something to do with Jutta, of whose former visit she knew, of whose impending visit she was informed she said, whose real name she actually mentioned and whom she pretended she was very much concerned to warn of the danger she was in. Our friend, however, didn’t let on anything, pretended she had never heard of Jutta and anyway, didn’t see at all what the other woman was getting at. This woman then tried to make our friend more confident, telling her she was on the move herself to avoid arrest, saying she had been staying with a friend in Duesseldorf for the past fortnight and that she had really hoped our friend would be so kind and put her up for a day or two. This our friend flatly refused to do, claiming it was not her house and not her flat so she could on no account dispose of the flat without permission of her employer (i.e. Ernst Volkmann) and, anyway, she would have nothing to do with anything that would get her into trouble with the police. She stuck to this line, although all the time her own mind was troubled lest she might be wrong and the visitor was really genuinely trying to warn her and she was turning her out of doors (it was bitterly cold). Still she stuck to it, and the visitor turned away, complaining of her disappointment to find such inhospitable people when she expected to meet real solidarity. (…)
Gerda had no success in the Ruhr nor at any other place. Perhaps our friend in Bochum had really convinced her she didn’t know anything, for we never noticed anything suspicious in the way of watching or shadowing; the Gestapo must have dropped the thing.From: Martin Ruether, Uwe Schuetz und Otto Dann (Hrsg.): Deutschland im ersten Nachkriegsjahr. Berichte von Mitgliedern des Internationalen Sozialistischen Kampfbundes (ISK) aus dem besetzten Deutschland 1945/46. K.G. Saur Verlag, Muenchen 1998, pp. 50-51.
Pictures of a younger Anna and of her friends and comrades can be found at the Archiv der Sozialen Demokratie der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn, Germany. They can be viewed and ordered online. Please click on the thumbnail above to go to their photo research page, query ‘Anna Kothe’.
There is so much to know about our ancestors, and the small things are often the most wonderful.
Recently, I was gifted a bunch of old family pictures, in digital format. Wonderful! Here are two that seem particularly noteworthy.
Haven’t you also found that when it comes to genealogy, it’s the little things that tell you the most? Oh yes, there is lots to glean and surmise (and imagine) from census data and other collections of dates and places, and we have done so countless times. But the two pictures below have told me more about my father than any data: Jupp and Aenne loved little feisty dachshunds. The more, the merrier, it seems. How wonderful.
William came with the company of Rev. Thomas Hooker to the colonies in 1624 and started the Andrews family of (what was to become) Hartford, CT.
1595 and London, England: That should bring at least two things to mind, Shakespeare and the Black Death. I guess some people think London was plagued by both – not I!
Regardless, our ancestors where there, in and around London during Shakespeare’s time, and surely they were bothered by the plague, among them our 12th and 13th great-grandfather William Andrews who was born in that year, 1595. 19 years later, however, we find our dear William quite far away from London, in the company of Thomas Hooker (as depicted in Frederic Edwin Church’s painting that you see featured, slightly cropped) in the colonies far west of England, and on their way to what would become Hartford, Connecticut. William Andrews was one of the founders of that town.
William married in the New World, as far as we know, and sources differ whether he was married once or twice. It is pretty sure that he married Abigail Graves in 1632, the year our 11th and 12th great-grandfather John Andrews was born also. Some sources say William also married Mary Savage (which would have been in the old world) and there is conflicting information because they, too, had a son called John, albeit born a good bit before ‘our’ John. Chances are more than one William Andrews lived in London at the time, and possibly even made it to the colonies before 1700.
Our William and Abigail had eight children together, if we are correctly informed, firmly establishing the Andrews clan in the Hartford area where they stayed for many generations, until the early 19th century. We have already portrayed several members of this branch of the family; they must have been an interesting and rather hardy bunch. Eventually, the Andrews branch of our family tree joins the Christman branch with our (2nd) great-grandparents Dallas Christman and Alice Andrews.
William Andrews passed on at the age of 64, on 3 August 1659, this past week 361 years ago. His wife Abigail lived on for 22 more years, and as far as we know, she married again, one Nathaniel Bearding.
Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandpa Andrews. We do not know where exactly they have laid you to rest, but it is believed than you lie in the Ancient Cemetery in Hartford where the above monument bears your name along with those of other founders.
Our 4th and 5th great-grandfather John was a real Christman: He was born on 25 December 1763.
The Christman’s, who for a few generations spelled their name “Chrisman” but have the “t” added back in again by now, at least in our branch of the tree, are of German origin. The “Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County” (Chester Co, PA, that is) says the following about them:
The family is of German origin, tracing its ancestry back to the Fatherland, from whence came Daniel Christman in the good ship Alexander, William Clymer, master, ” from Rotterdam, last from Cowes,” as the vessel’s report shows. He landed in America September 5, 1730, and settled in Worcester township, then part of Philadelphia county, but now comprised in the county of Montgomery. He afterward removed to Frederick township, Montgomery county, where he died. He was a fanner by occupation, a member of the Lutheran church, and his remains lie entombed at Leedy’s burying-ground in Frederick township.
His children were : Anna E., married Johannes Grobb in December, 1749, and lived in East Coventry township, this county ; Felix, born in 1733, and removed to Vin- cent township; Elizabeth, born in 1734; Jacob, born in 1737, and died February 27, 1804; George, born in 1739, was a farmer, and lived in Frederick township, Montgomery county; and Henry , who was born in Frederick township, that county, in 1744.
Daniel Chris(t)man’s son Felix was our 5th (and 6th) great-grandfather, and today, we are remembering Felix’s son John, our 4th (and 5th) great-grandfather. Before the Chris(t)man’s immigrated, they lived in southern Germany, in the Kaiserslautern area in Rhineland-Palate and in north-western Bavaria.
John Chris(t)man’s parents Felix and Rebecca had seven children altogether, as we have found out recently, and John was their third child and second son, the first son having been named after his father. John was born on Christmas Day in 1763 in Chester County, PA – how very fitting, given his last name!
When John was 13, the colonies his grandparents had immigrated to turned into a nation, and his father Felix helped to bring it about, luckily surviving the Revolutionary War.
When John was 17, his mother Rebecca died, and when he was 31, his father passed on as well. Until then, John had not found a wife, but in 1797, he married Jane Baer (or Blair), and the two still lived in the far south-eastern corner of Pennsylvania, in Chester County.
John and Jane had six children, and they consistently spelled their name “Chrisman”, it seems. Would be interesting to research how many branches of the Chris(t)man family spell their name without the “t” until this day, much like the Denney’s with and without the second “e”, but we’ll leave it to another day. Our direct ancestor in the Chris(t)man line is John’s first son Daniel, named (apparently) after his grandfather.
We do not know what John did for a living, but he stayed in the area with his family, for he died on 1 August 1830, tomorrow 190 years ago, in Vincent Twp. (not sure if East or West), Montgomery, PA, and he lies buried in Vincent Baptist Churchyard in Pikeland, Chester Co., PA. From what I can see, that’s all rather close together.
Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandfather John. It’s good to know that at least one member of the Christman family was born on Christmas Day.
John Case, our 10th and 11th great-grandfather in the Snyder line, immigrated to the New World in the first half of the 17th century.
John Case was born on 25 Jul 1616 Aylesham in the Dover District in England, that’s tomorrow 404 years ago. We don’t know much about his childhood, but the Case family, father, mother and four sons, left Gravesend, England, bound for Boston on the ship Dorset, of the Winthrop fleet, in 1635, when John was 19 years old. The father William (properly John William Richard) died en route in September of that year, but the rest of the family settled largely in what today is the area of Hartford, CT.
John married Sarah Spencer, whose family had been living in the colonies since the 1630s as well, around 1655, and in 1656 their first daughter Elisabeth was born. Nine more children were to follow. In the early years of their marriage, John, Sarah and their children lived in the settlement of Massacoe which had 13 permanent residents in 1669. People appeared to be have been hesitant to settle there in the first years. John was appointed to the position of constable of the ‘plantation’, this being the first recorded civil office held by residents of the area. John also appears to have been instrumental in the process of turning the settlement into a town of Connecticut, which happened on 12 May 1670 when the plantation was ordered to be called “Simmsbury“. The boundaries at that time were Farmington on the south side and Windsor on the east side, with the extent of Simsbury running 10 miles north of Farmington and 10 miles west of Windsor.
One can surely say the family were American pioneers, and it appears that for most of his life, John played an active role in the community life of his plantation / village / town.
Following Sarah’s death on 3 November 1691, John married Elizabeth Moore, the widow of Nathaniel Loomis, but they had no children together, Elizabeth already having had 14 children by her first husband.
John in turn died on 21 February 1704 in Simsbury and it is believed that he was buried next to Sarah in an unmarked grave on Simsbury Cemetery.
Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandpa John. It’s hard to imagine what life must have been like for your family, setting out into the New World and losing the father before you even got there, and then going on to build a community where there had been uninhabitable wilderness before. On your shoulders we stand, and we hope to live in such a way that you do not have to be ashamed of us.
Last Sunday 37 years ago, (Great-) Grandpa Paul passed away in Gütersloh, Germany.
When Paul Heinrich Bücker was born on 26 January 1911 in Balve in the German Sauerland, both his father Josef Bücker and his mother Anna Hotmaker were 35 years old. He had many brothers but only one sister, Auguste, or Gustchen for short, and she died fairly young. They all missed her terribly; Paul named his first daughter after her. From the quiet and beautiful Sauerland, the family moved into the Ruhrgebiet during the 1920s, most likely because Paul’s father had to find work in the city to feed his big family. Times were hard in the Weimar Republic.
There, in the city of Dorsten, Paul grew into a man and married Anna von Hinten on 23 January 1939. Paul moved his family out of the Ruhrgebiet to the more quiet Gütersloh close to the Teutoburg Forest – yes, the same area where the Cherusci Arminius (or rather, Hermann) beat the Romans in 9 AD -, where he worked for a private rehab clinic as a physiotherapist. They had two daughters, one at the onset of WWII and the other when the war was over. During the war Paul served in a medical unit in Danzig.
In the late 1940s, Paul’s mother Anna, then widowed, lived with them for a few years in Gütersloh before she died in 1950. His older daughter remembers well her ‘Strickoma’, and the time spent together. Paul worked at the same place until he retired when he was 70 years old, so that would have been in 1981.
Paul died of a heart attack only roughly two years later, on 12 July 1983, in Gütersloh, and lies buried there, see picture below. His wife Anny followed him fourteen years later.
Rest in Peace, dear Opi. You had a big heart, and from you, I first learned about Goethe’s Faust, the music of Richard Wagner, and why it is a good idea to eat smoked ham sandwiches with knife and fork. You also were the most cunning Easter-egg-hider in the family!
We love you, and we miss you.
Time is an odd thing: Some things feel close and remote at the same time.
This week, we remember Donald Eugene Denney, our father and grandfather, who passed away 24 years ago, on 11 July 1996. That sounds like a long time ago, just under a quarter of a century, and a lot has happened since then, but at the same time, it feels like it was only recently.
Donald Eugene Denney was born on 22 February 1934 in Fairfield County, OH, third child of Lorain and Irene Denney, and their first and only son. He grew up on his father’s farm. Below is a pictures of him in his 20s at National Guard Camp during the Korean War in the 1950s. The photo was in the local newspaper in August of 1956; Donald E. can be seen on the right:
Another somewhat public photo from the 1970 you can see below. It was published by the Sixth Ave. United Methodist Church, one of the clients for whom he did janitorial work at the time.
Life didn’t always hand Donald Eugene lemons, but he surely didn’t have it easy either. When the economy tanked in the 1980s, he lost his long-time job at Alten’s Foundary and never found a job that would last again. Mind you, he never had a shortage of odd jobs, but the economic situation in the 1980s wasn’t a whole lot better than it is now and there were many like him who basically had to retire when they were in their 50s.
Donald E. died on 11 July 1996 at the age of 62, he was laid to rest in Saint Paul Lutheran Cemetery in North Berne, Ohio. He was the first of his immediate family (not counting in-laws) to pass away, after a short and rare illness. His father followed him about half a year later, his mother lived for another twelve years, and his three sisters are all still alive, as well as his wife Karen and their two sons.
Requiescat in Pace, Dad. We think of you every day.
If the ancestor with the most spelling variations in their first and last name won a prize, our 3rd and 4th Great-Grandma Fouts would be a good candidate.
Litha/ Leitha/ Letha Jane Lehew/ LeHew/ Layhew was born on 15 June 1829 in Bloom Township, Ohio. Her birth date is actually inferred from her grave marker which notes how old, or rather, how young she was when she passed on: 25 years and 16 days.
Online records list Moses Lehew from Front Royal, Frederick County in Virginia as her father and Isabella Clark as her mother, but in other records, we do not find Litha among their children, so we are not sure about the connection.
As far as we know, Litha lived her life in various counties in southern Ohio. If Moses and Isabella were her parents, she lost them both within two weeks in May of 1839 when she was 9 years old, and she would have had four siblings to share her lot, two older and two younger than she was.
At the age of 21, we find Litha marrying William J. Fouts on 25 March 1851 in Morgan County, Ohio. They had two sons during their marriage, Edward and Jedidiah, the latter being her death, it would seem: Litha died on 1 July 1854, a month after giving birth to her second son, while Baby Jedidiah lived for another month before he, too, passed away, leaving William Fouts and two-year-old Edward behind.
William does not seem to have married again and passed away 23 years later, while Edward went on to become our 3rd and 4th great-grandfather. Litha, William and Jedediah all rest in McConnelsville, Ohio, in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.
Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandma Fouts. You are not forgotten, neither are your husband and sons.
The Phillips family had been in the New World for two generations already when John was born in 1776: The first Phillips of this line, James, immigrated during the first decade of the 18th century from Suffolk in England.
Did you spot it? Did the dates ring a bell? Our 5th and 6th great-grandfather John Phillips, whose great-great-granddaughter was our (great-)great-grandmother Goldie Fouts, was born during the Revolutionary War and died during the Civil War. But let’s not jump ahead too far.
John Phillips was born in Hagerstown, Washington Co., Maryland on 26 June 1776, today 244 years ago, just eight days before the Declaration of Independence. The town was called Elizabethtown at the time: Jonathan Hager, a German immigrant, had bought 200 acres of land in the Great Appalachian Valley in 1739, called it Hager’s Fancy and named the town he founded there in 1762 after his wife Elizabeth. In 1814, it was renamed Hagerstown, following popular use.
But by that time, John Phillips was not living in Hagerstown anymore. We are not sure when he left the area, but records show that his parents already went west towards the Old Northwest, with little John and his siblings no doubt.
By the beginning of the 19th century, we find John marrying west of the Ohio River in Barnesville, today located in Belmont Co., Ohio. Funnily enough, Barnesville was named after one James Barnes who happened to have been born in Maryland and was the first settler in the Barnesville area. Go figure.
Regardless, John Phillips married Catherine McFarland, daughter of Irish immigrants, in Barnesville on 12 September 1809, at a time when warriors of Tecumseh’s Confederation, armed by the British, hoped to rid the territory of American settlers and increasingly raided their towns and farmsteads. John, by then father of two and the third on the way, enlisted in the War of 1812 on 4 September 1812; the necessity to defend his homeland surely did not need to be impressed on him, but we do not know any particulars about his life as a soldier. He survived the war, this much is sure, and the family stayed in Barnesville where six more children were born to John and Catherine.
John Phillips passed away in his 87th year on 9 June 1863, smack-dab in the middle of the American Civil War. His life was indeed framed by armed conflicts on American soil.
Requiescat in Pace now, Great-Grandpa John.