Happy 100th Birthday, (Great-) Grandma Naomi

Today, Naomi Ann Snyder would have turned 100.

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.

Naomi Ann Snyder with her first husband James Dallas Christman, presumably around 1940.

Remembering Our Ancestors: Naomi Ann Snyder

Remembering Our Ancestors: Grandma Naomi

Unsung Heroes: Anna Kothe

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.

Anna Kothe around 1940, archive signature 6/FOTB062392
This picture is a link to the Archiv der Sozialen Demokratie der FES and shows Anna around 1946.

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’.

Remembering Our Ancestors: The Small Things

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.

This must have been around 1950.
The smile on his face…

Remembering Our Ancestors: William Andrews

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.

founders monument
Founder’s Monument Ancient Cemetery Hartford, Ct

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.

founders bridge plaque
THE FOUNDERS BRIDGE: This plaque and a second one commemorate the men and women who traveled there in 1636 with the Rev. Thomas Hooker to found the City of Hartford.

Remembering Our Ancestors: John Chris(t)man

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.

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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.

waldgang insta

 

Remembering Our Ancestors: Paul Heinrich Bücker

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.

Paul with 2 grandchildren

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-und-anni-1975
Paul with his wife Anni on a visit to Bremen, Germany, around 1975

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.

buecker hain grave 7-12-2020
Here, Paul and his wife Anny lie buried, together with their son-in-law Ingo Hain, whose 51st birthday it would have been on the day this picture was taken, 12 July 2020.

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.

paul-buecker-1982
Paul liked to visit the harbor in Bremen. Here he is watching the ships being loaded and unloaded, in 1982.

 

Remembering Our Ancestors: Donald Eugene Denney

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:

national guard newspaper clipping

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.

Donald E Denney 1975
Donald E. Denney in 1975

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.

Donald E Denney 1990
Donald E. Denney all dressed up in 1990

 

Remembering Our Ancestors: Litha Jane Lehew

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.

leitha fouts grave marker

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.

neighbors

 

 

Remembering Our Ancestors: Mary Gardiner

Mary Conkling, daughter of Lion Gardiner and our 9th and 10th great-grandmother, passed away this week 293 years ago.

Mary Gardiner, our 9th and 10th great-grandmother in the Mulford line, was born on 30 August 1638 in Old Saybrook, CT, to Lion Gardiner, 1st Lord of the Manor on Gardiner’s Island, and his wife Marielven Willemson Deurcant, quite obviously of Dutch descent.

It is safe to assume that Mary and her two siblings, her older brother David and her younger sister Elisabeth, grew up on Gardiner’s Island.  Lion Gardiner purchased the island the year after Mary’s birth, in 1639, and gained the “right to possess the land forever” from the King of England.

Mary was named after her mother, whose Dutch name quite plainly translates to ‘Mary’, and we do not know much about her life until in 1658.  In that year Mary’s sister Elizabeth died (in February), and Mary married Jeremiah Conkling, most likely in East Hampton on Long Island, NY, where they then lived and raised their family.

20200618_121223 - Edited

Their first child was a daughter and they named her Mary Gardiner Conkling, thus giving her her mother’s maiden name as a middle name.  This was not altogether uncommon, it seems:  It happened in the same way to Elizabeth Wise Speer and Sally Wise Felton in the Denney line of our family tree.  Mary Gardiner Conkling went on to marry into the Mulford line, and there you have three prominent names of the 17th century Suffolk County together: Gardiner, Conkling, Mulford.

Altogether, Jeremiah and Mary had five or six children, accounts vary, and they appear to have stayed in East Hampton where Jeremiah was an upstanding member of the community.  He passed on 16 years before Mary, in 1711, and she followed him on 15 June 1727 when she was 88.  She was laid to rest with Jeremiah in South End Cemetery in East Hampton.  The inscription on her tombstone reads:

Mary Gardiner gravestone inscription - Edited
Here lyeth the body of Mary Conkling wife of Jeremiah Conkling who died June 15, 1727

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandma Conkling.  To have lived to the ripe old age of 88 in 17th and 18th century colonial America is quite the achievement!

 

Remembering Our Ancestors: Mrs. William Hall

This was one of the little genealogical surprises that you stumble upon every now and then in your researches.

susannah hall 86th birthdayMrs. William Hall – this is how she was called in a newspaper article about her 86th birthday which she celebrated on 12 September 1959.  Under the same name, we find her obituary:  On 11 June 1966, this week 54 years ago, Mrs. William Hall died at the age of 95.  Obviously, Mrs. William Hall’s birth date is not quite settled, at least not for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette where both articles appeared:  If Mrs. William Hall turned 86 in September of 1959, she was born in 1873.  In that case, however, she would only have been 93 by the time she passed away in June of 1966.

On her grave stone, the year 1870 for her birth has been chiseled.  According to some census data we have gathered, she was supposed to be 22 in 1900 (and already married for 11 years, so someone mistook a 7 for a 2 here, it seems), 37 in 1910, 47 in 1920, 57 in 1930, and 68 in 1940.  If her birthday was indeed in 1870, she was 18 when she married her first husband on 29 Mar 1889 in Clearport, Ohio, and not just 15.  Hence we will assume that her “86th” birthday was, in fact, her 89th!

So, who was Mrs. William Hall to us?  No other than (2nd) Great-Grandpa Harvey Hamilton Lindsey‘s wife Susannah Long!  Harvey Hamilton passed away 23 years before Susannah, so after having been a widow for 10 years, Susannah married again, this time William Hall who had himself been widowed twice by that time.

As you can see if you look at the names of the birthday guests, the last name Lindseyobit susannah long abounds, including of course our dear (Great-) Grandma Irene Denney.  But the second marriage lasted only for 6 years after which William died.  By the time Susannah celebrated her 86th birthday that was actually her 89th, she was already widowed a second time.

This week, we remember Susannah Long.  Her obituary also mentions her as Mrs. William Hall, but she lies buried with Harvey Hamilton, and they grave stone says Lindsey.  We assume her second husband was buried with his first or second wife.

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandma Lindsey.

 

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