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For this week’s Genealogy and Family History Community “Open Thread” I’m going to offer something completely different.  I have no New England ancestors in my tree, so I’ll just have to “punt.”  But I trust that this somewhat bizarre family story will be entertaining in its own way.  Please follow me below the fold....

As a boy in St. Louis I heard quite a bit about my maternal grandmother’s father.  Adolph Moll, or “A. Moll” (as he liked to be known), was a very successful grocer.  His main Franklin Avenue store, shown below, is now the site of the city’s football stadium -- and thus has not existed on the site for many years.

A. Moll Grocer Co.
A. Moll Grocer Company before WWI
I even have a few souvenirs of this time, from over a century ago, when the A. Moll Grocery was known throughout St. Louis and beyond.  For the wholesale arm of the business had served several states....
A. Moll Grocer Co. jug
But my great grandfather died in 1898 at the comparatively young age of 64.  Worse yet, his eldest surviving son -- who had been groomed to take over the business -- himself died less than five years later.  Thus began a slow downward spiral that ultimately ended with the close of the grocery in the 1960s, by then in the hands of distant relatives.  Yet this diary is not about A. Moll, but about his wife’s family.

Emma Friederike Hedwig (Ballaseus) Moll lived from 1843 to 1926.  She was -- as is typical for most such immigrant women, I suppose -- overshadowed by her businessman husband. Here she is as a young married woman in the 1860s:

Hedwig Ballaseus Moll
And here she is as a matriarch:
Hedwig Ballaseus Moll
I never heard much about her, but knew that she and my great-grandfather had met shortly after her arrival in St. Louis in 1860 -- and that they were married within the year!  The next month two other German couples were married in the same church, in a double wedding: Ulrich Busch & Anna Anheuser, and the ultimately better-known Adolphus Busch & Elisa Anheuser!!

But I digress.  My great-grandmother was for all intents and purposes just a name to me.  I can’t remember hearing many stories about her.  The one tale that does stand out, however, is the one about her reaction upon seeing her first peanut butter sandwich.  When my mother came to the house with one in hand, she exclaimed:  “Ach, du Lieber!  Katzen Dreck!!”  Taken literally, she must have thought my mother was eating cat sh*t spread between slices of bread.  Immigrants, as we know, had a hard time in those days adjusting to their radically new environment....  

Then there was the other mental image that was passed down to me by my Mom.  The old woman took a great interest in her grandchildren, and watched them walk home from school each day from a second-floor window in her home.  A somewhat more dignified memory....

One thing that did set her apart, though I didn’t ponder it much as a child, was that somewhat exotic maiden name, Ballaseus.  I suppose I assumed it was originally a French name, as it was sometimes rendered by my family as “Ballaseaux” (and there are at least three other common spellings found in either Germany or America).  But she didn’t come from France, she came from the Baltic province of East Prussia.

What I didn’t know as a child was that the name was really a Germanized version of what had been an Old Prussian surname.  “Old Prussian,” as in a tribal group closely related to Lithuanians that had been subjugated by the Teutonic Knights centuries before.  And so we really aren’t interested here in all of East Prussia, but just the northernmost parts that now belong to Russia as part of the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Specifically, I later learned that the family had lived for a century in a small village just west of the city of Insterburg, the village of Gaitzuhnen....

area of Insterburg, East Prussia, Germany
Here’s a pre-WWI image of Insterburg:
Insterburg, East Prussia, Germany local festival
Gaitzuhnen, or what's left of it, has images you might find on the internet, but it’s a world that really doesn’t exist anymore in any form, since the Russians scrubbed the area clean of all Germanic influence after 1945.  The Germans refer to what transpired that year merely as “die Flucht” -- The Flight.

I’d like to tell you that I have established some contact with the family that remained in Germany, since I now know so much more about this branch of my tree than I did as a kid. Alas, the closest I can get is this:

My third cousin, member of the Waffen SS.
That’s my 3rd cousin, Manfred Wilhelm Ferdinand Ballasejus.  He was a Hauptsturmführer (Capt.) in the Waffen S.S., 4th SS-Polizei-Panzer-Grenadier-Division.  He was killed on the Russian front in 1944, and had begun his association with the Third Reich by joining the Hitler Youth in December 1932.  How do I know this?  It’s an irony of history that while I can’t find anything else much about the 20th century German relatives, I can get Manfred’s entire SS file from the National Archives files held in microfilm copy in Maryland!

But again, I digress!  This diary isn’t so much about the German family as it is about one of the American immigrants from that family.  And what a story it is!  It’s too bad I don’t have the nice visuals to illustrate this part of it.  You’ll just have to “paint the picture” in your head as you read on....

The common male ancestor that Manfred and I had five generations back was Kristions “Christian” Ballasejus, born in Gaitzuhnen in 1773 and married nearby in 1794 to a girl from another “Old Prussian” family.  He was, by my count, the fourth generation of his line to serve as the appointed mayor of this farming village owned by the Prussian king.  Kristions had at least three sons of whom I am aware, but the one who concerns me is my 2nd great-grandfather Johann Wilhelm Ballaseus (1803-1885).  It is his daughter Hedwig who came to St. Louis in 1860 and married A. Moll.

Johann Wilhelm should have become, by virtue of inheritance, an appointed village mayor in Gaitzuhnen in replacement of his father.  But it was not to be.  As can be seen from his birth year, he had the misfortune of growing up during the period of the Napoleonic wars.  And the clear implication is that the destiny of the family was changed forever by these overshadowing events.  While his wife and (one-by-one) all of his children emigrated to America, this poor man never to my knowledge made that journey.  

Seemingly haunted by what might otherwise have been, he chose to remain in Germany, becoming an Amtsmann (judicial court official) in Marienwerder.  I do know that he lived at the Hezner Hotel (opposite the court building), which was a large enough structure that it ultimately became the site of a military academy.  My impression was that this was a man struggling to project rectitude and importance -- very much the ideal Prussian!

He and his wife -- who hailed from Johannisburg in the Masurian lakes region of southern East Prussia -- had five children (two girls, followed by three boys), at least some of them christened in the Marienwerder cathedral, or so I was told by close relatives.  The eldest daughter accompanied the mother to St. Louis in 1857, but on the way over fell in love with a sailor aboard the ship.  As soon as he received his own ship to captain, the two of them were married and she returned to Germany.  

That occasioned the call for the second daughter to venture across the Atlantic on her own -- my great-grandmother Hedwig!  Not seven months after Hedwig married A. Moll, her mother died and Hedwig was the lone member of the family in this new country.  How frightful that must have been for a young girl of 17 years of age!

The three sons stayed with their father for some time.  Son #1 came over in 1865 as a sailor on his brother-in-law’s ship; he was only 14.  Son #2 also came over as a sailor, but only at the somewhat advanced age of thirty in 1883.  Son #3 did not wait so long, but arrived in St. Louis for his 15th birthday (in 1871) to live with his sister and work for his brother-in-law the grocer.  It is the middle son we now wish to follow.

Alexander Franz Hugo Ballaseyus was born by one account in 1852 in the area of Stettin, Pommerania (now Szczecin, Poland).  He was educated in the Stettin schools through age 17. Later he entered the Hamburg Musikakademie, where he studied under a famous lieder composer.  But from 1869 through 1877 he was a sailor, serving on several ships and working his way up to a German Naval Reserve Commission as an Unterleutnant (Lieutenant junior grade).  We know this because his seaman’s log was preserved by his family; it is mentioned in some detail in an article appearing in a 1986 issue of the Hawaiian Journal of History (of which more later).

We may think of this man as having followed a “career change” in his mid-Twenties, because once he chose to pursue studies at the Musikakademie it became clear from his next move that he intended to follow his musical interests in preference to the sea.  For when he came to America in 1883, via New York, it was to travel on to Chicago to accept a position as a church organist.  And four years later he moved to Vermillion, SD to assume the chairmanship of the music department at what would some day become the University of South Dakota.  He was there about four years, during which time he was naturalized as an American citizen.

Franz Ballaseyus married a German-American girl in Hoboken, NJ at the close of 1890, and then spent the next four years as a professor of music at the Hollins Institute at Hollins in Roanoke County, VA.  Following this they returned to Vermillion long enough for him to earn his baccalaureate degree from his former institution, in early 1897.  Soon they were living in New York City, in Manhattan, where he was the organist for St. Peter’s Ev. Lutheran Church. After arriving in New York their third daughter was born, the first two having been born while at Vermillion and Hollins.

But now his prior calling as a sailor shifted his course once again.  In entering the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy had a shortage of experienced seamen to send across the Pacific.  With ocean-going experience and a commission in the German Naval Reserve, Franz had a needed background.  And so it was that from June through late October, 1898, he served first as executive officer (Lt., j.g.) and then commander of the U.S.S. Piscataqua, an ocean-going tugboat.  

This was no small vessel.  Displacing 631 tons, it was fourth in size of the 39 commissioned tugs of 1900.  [Largest was the U.S.S. Iroquois, at 702 tons.]  At 1600 horsepower, it was second only to the 677-ton U.S.S. Potomac, at 2000 IHP, and with over twice the power of the #4 tug, at 750 IHP.  The U.S.S. Piscataqua, like other such tugs of the day, was a single-screw, steel-hulled ship, and it carried four deck guns (rated as “secondary” guns).  It was 149 feet long with a 12 foot draft and a crew of about 58 men.

With the quick American victory, however, his services were no longer needed.  His second “naval career” came to an end almost as soon as it began, and Lt. F.A. Ballaseyus was honorably discharged from service on 23 October 1898.  Still, the experience introduced a new musical horizon to him -- doubtless as a result of putting into port while traversing the Pacific to and/or from the Philippines.

“In July 1900 Ballaseyus accepted the musical director position at Oahu College (now Punahou School) in Honolulu. On September 13, 1900, the Ballaseyus family arrived in Honolulu. From 1900 to 1903, Ballaseyus worked for the college and lived on the college grounds. He also directed the Philharmonic Society, which had been founded in 1901.”
And here began his mark on history, that which places him as the subject of a biographical note to the Ballaseyus Music Collection at the University of Hawaii Sinclair Library (from which this quote is taken).
“In 1902, the Honolulu Symphony Society began as a men’s only club of amateur players. Ballaseyus was the Society’s first musical director. He only served in 1902, being replaced after dissatisfaction amongst the board of directors with Ballaseyus’s leadership.”
He wasn’t there long, it is true -- but long enough!   The title of the scholarly journal article in which he receives significant coverage is:  “Early Symphonic Music Organizations in Honolulu and Their Conductors.”

The further history of this man is much less grand.  Quoting again:  

“The Ballaseyus family moved to northern California and Ballaseyus worked as a high school music teacher in various locations. F.A. Ballaseyus died in 1922 in Alameda County California. He was survived by three children, one of which, Virginia, became involved in music as a composer.”
 
Sadly, there is some hint from further sources in California that either his marriage broke up or he may have become a bigamist.  This is inferred through a 1908 marriage record in Red Bluff, CA that appears to name him.  His last years were spent as a silent film piano accompanist in Berkeley, CA.

But the story doesn’t quite end there.  It continues with his middle daughter, Virginia Emma Ballaseyus.  As a composer, writer and educator, she merits mention in three editions of Who’s Who in American Women.  She received a B.A. in Music from the University of California at Berkeley in 1915 before going on to play with the San Francisco Philharmonic.  

Anya Laurence, author of Women of Notes: 1,000 Women Composers Born Before 1900, says of her:  

“After studying with Darius Milhaud, she taught at the Merritt School in Oakland, California, for many years.  Her works are listed in ASCAP, and include California, the state centennial theme song; Mother Goose on Parade (theme song of the children's village at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1939), and numerous other works.”
She never married, and lived most of her life in Berkeley.  As a newcomer to California, I take pride that my first cousin (twice removed) wrote my adopted state’s centennial theme song.  And, if I should have grandchildren, I’m sure they’ll be equally proud to claim their cousin’s “Mother Goose on Parade.”

And so here, in brief, is the story of a small number of ancestors and relatives the existence of whom was totally unknown to me in my youth.  How they could NOT have merited some comment escapes me, for truly -- truth is stranger than fiction....

Originally posted to Genealogy and Family History Community on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

    by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:00:18 AM PDT

  •  Fascinating genealogy journey (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you for posting it here.

    I've always been partial to investigating women in my family tree - even though the research is much more difficult.
    Virginia Emma Ballaseyus is quite a find.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:35:57 AM PDT

    •  You're welcome! (8+ / 0-)

      Actually, though, this all got started a few Open Threads back when the subject of veterans came up, and I thought I should write something about Spanish-American War vets.  My first thought was a guy from the Colorado infantry, but then I remembered this crazy ocean-going tugboat story.  The more I thought about it, it seemed the entire family was noteworthy for a variety of reasons.  So, being honest, the women's history angle didn't figure in my choice at all.  But, yeah, she seems to have been a remarkable figure and I still scratch my head to think that she went unnoticed by my branch of the family.  But the family members I knew had become conservative (and a bit self-centered or clannish) -- quite unlike the immigrant generations.  Discovery of some of these "hidden" ancestors and relatives has thus been liberating for me, in that I now have folks to whom I can relate.  A part of the reason I left Missouri was that I no longer felt any tie at all to the family remaining there.  The Bear Republic suits me just fine!!!

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:03:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cat Shit! (11+ / 0-)

    LOL!!!!!!!

    Peanut butter seems to be an American tradition that few others understand.  It reminds me (sadly) of the stories we heard of food shipments that were air-dropped to the people in Afghanistan when we invaded their country going after Bin Laden 12 years ago.  The food drops included packets of peanut butter.  Afghans had no idea what peanut butter was.  Children were tearing the tops off the wrapper tubes and squeezing the contents onto the ground.  A lot of food wasted.  Maybe, just maybe, would have been a good idea to find out FIRST what kinds of food made up the Afghan diet and air-dropped THAT instead!  But I guess that would have meant putting some thought into the project.

    Interesting what you say about losing track of cousins and their (or their descendants') accomplishments.  My husband never had contact with his mother's side, both she and my husband's father dying in 1937 (murder-suicide) when my husband was 15 months old and then raised by his father's brother.  So it came as quite a shock when we found out just a few years ago that his second cousin is Richard Parson, who used to be the Chairman and CEO of Time-Warner, also the recently retired Chairman of Citigroup, and now the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, who's working to resolve/settle the Donald Sterling "problem".

    Many other prominent people on that line of the family, and my husband was about 70 years old before he knew any of it.

    What a hoot!

    Wonderful, entertaining diary.

    •  The Donald Sterling "problem" (8+ / 0-)

      Hey, ask him to redouble his efforts!  I now read that the tarnished Sterling (heh-heh!) is digging in his heels -- refusing to pay the NBA fine and saying he'll not sell the team.  How'd you like to find out you were related to Sterling?  I'd go hide under a rock, even if I'd never met him and never been aware to the relationship before….

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:07:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I watched "12 Years a Slave" then read the book, (6+ / 0-)

        which contained a lot more detail about Solomon Northup, the abusive slaveowner Edwin Epps and others.  After I finished the book, I went onto ancestry.com and followed those who were mentioned.  It was pretty cool to link historical documents to those individuals.

        I found at least one family tree posted by an apparent descendant of Epps.  I had to wonder how I would feel to find out Epps was my g-g-grandfather.  Not that any of us, obviously, are responsible for the rotten things done our ancestors.  But still I'm sure that though we all like to find interesting and colorful characters in our family history, it would still likely come as somewhat of an unpleasant shock that your ancestor was, say, Vlad the Impaler.

        Anyway, from what I've read, Parsons is a very skilled negotiator, so I hope he's able to quickly convince Sterling that his future as owner in the NBA would be - uncomfortable.  

        Very uncomfortable.

        •  Did you ever see the TV documentary (4+ / 0-)

          about a descendant of slaves who traced his history and visited the plantation where his ancestors had been slaves?  The man visited the home which was owned by the descendant of the plantation owners.   Both the slaves descendant and the plantation owner descendant actually bore the exact same name.

          It was one of the most touching and interesting documentaries I've seen in a long time.  I hope you get a chance to see it.

  •  I traced my family back to CT in 1760 (9+ / 0-)

    from there they moved to NC and from there to SC.  It seems one branch later migrated to TX.  However, around here, relatives in CT in 1760 makes me a "damyankee"

    •  Heh. (8+ / 0-)

      They don't forget very easily "around there", do they?

      •  We had just qualifed as "native" based on our (8+ / 0-)

        immigration here from NC in 1780.  I guess I will have to go by my mother's line to claim residency

        •  Going in the other direction. (7+ / 0-)

          I have a 9th GGF, Caleb Calloway, who was born by 1640 in the Isle of Wight Co., Virginia area.  Before March 1661 he moved into the Albemarle District of North Carolina, purchasing land from Native Americans.  I read that he served in the first Provincial Assembly in 1669, and became a justice of the North Carolina General Court.

          That would give me a certain amount of "street cred" if my family line had remained there, I suppose.  But four generations down the line my 5th GGF, Major Jesse Oates, Sr. moved into the Pond River country in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  He was attempting to lose himself on the frontier because he'd killed a man in self-defense, and feared the relatives would hunt him down.

          Two more generations down the line my great-great-great-grandmother married a man in Christian County, KY and they (along with two of her sisters and their husbands) all took off for Missouri in the early 1830s.

          Which is where my roots were before I cut loose three years ago and came out to California.  Out here I joined the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and will on this Memorial Day honor the over 600 Union vets buried at the local cemetery, including my distant cousin George Washington Waggy, of the 10th West Virginia Infantry.  So, sorry Tarheels!  I proudly consider myself a "damyankee."

          "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

          by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:53:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It didn't happen that often (9+ / 0-)

      Now and again, I come across someone who went South, but not often. Most commonly, it's someone in the military, settling down someplace far from where they were born and raised. But a few went early on, even occasionally in colonial days. Those became completely southern, even a few slave/plantation owners - the whole enchilada.

      New England's always been culturally very different from the South. The South's always been more insular; people from elsewhere haven't tended to migrate south. Recent decades have seen some reversal of that, fair to say, but over the centuries I think it's mostly true. (No matter how hard I try, I haven't found a way to embrace the South. Too alien for me.)

      Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:22:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't really believe it when I discovered one (7+ / 0-)

        of my Southern belles marrying (just outside Atlanta) a man from New Hampshire in the 1870s!  I figured that birth data on the census had to be an error...  But I guess not.  Wish I knew that story because finding anyone born outside the south in GA after the Civil War is virtually impossible! No one (in their right mind!) migrated to the deep south in that period!

        All of my families go back to at least the early 1700s--and most the 1600s--but never in New England. The Germans in PA moved on down to the Roanoke Valley of VA just after the Revolution, but I've not seen any going the other direction. Just west, steadily west!

        •  Germans moving from PA/MD into VA... (6+ / 0-)

          moved back north in some case when Ohio and the Northwest Territory opened to them.  They had been following the geographical or topographical path of least resistance, and careful study of a map of Pennsylvania shows how difficult it was to move west from the "Pennsylvania Dutch" areas.  It was the lure of land that pulled them in a southerly direction, and once they got far enough south to be able to continue their journey by moving north and west to cross the Ohio River, many did so.

          "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

          by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:17:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the farthest "south" (5+ / 0-)

            My german lines went was Md... that family arrived there from the initial entry in Pa before 1750 or so. They were still there when the war started according to census records, but are on the tax and miltia muster lists in Pa by 1780...haven't yet discovered the reason for moving one state in the middle of a war, but there it is.

            "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

            by klompendanser on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:32:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Forgot: some of the movment during the Revolution (6+ / 0-)

              ...was because  it was the middle of war.  They moved to get away from it.  They moved to  more neutral territory because basically they were Tories. They moved because in war land tends to be cheaper. Not many moved, so those who did sometimes got a good deal on land. Supply and demand.

                I've got a family that had moved to SC from VA before the Rev.--and when war came, some branches of that family moved to GA for the duration since it was in British control most of the time.  One member of that group fought with Tarleton--with the Brits--and had to move to Nova Scotia after the Revolution. His parents and siblings just stayed out of it for the most part, hiding in GA--and after the Rev. left GA to move back to SC.

          •  Two different German families in PA: (6+ / 0-)

            One migrated  to NC just before the Revolution; the other to the Roanoke Valley just after the Revolution. The largest collection of Garsts anywhere is in the Roanoke area still! Not just one family in the latter case--extended family and neighbors. By 1825 my branch of the Garst family moved to west GA, followed about 1840 by my branch of the NC Hagers.  The other major emigrants from PA to VA and NC were of course the Ulster Scots. Came in droves just before and just after the Rev.

            My husband's Ulster Scots stayed only briefly in PA before moving to NC, TN and KY--then on to AL, MS, and finally TX. One of his ancestors made all of these moves except TX--in one lifetime--and capped it off by moving to IL in old age!

            Meanwhile the rest of my southern ancestors. almost entirely English,  were busily moving from VA to SC to GA to TX and AR.  People ask why they moved--land, folks, cheap land.  About 99% of the cause!

            •  Reasons for moving did often include trying to... (5+ / 0-)

              escape from the public eye.  My wife has a very distant relative who was of a German family living in the area that grew into Pittsburgh.  He hired on with a man who was shipping goods to New Orleans by flatboat, and when he returned home and asked for his pay the man said he didn't have it right then, but here's another flatboat and so take that one down and return again.  Which was done, but then the man still didn't have the money.  On the third trip down, the relative got to the White River at Arkansas, which was at flood stage.  He turned the flatboat upstream there and took it as far up as he could get it.  This was close to what then was the territorial capital, where there was an economic boom in progress.  He sold the goods on the flatboat, then sold the flatboat for wood for cabins, then paid his helpers who then looked for land or jobs (or whatever) in this boomtown economy.  And he considered his bounty to be fair pay for the wages he hadn't ever received.  Which is how one German got to Arkansas!

              "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

              by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:02:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  In a family tree that has 8,000 people (7+ / 0-)

        I've found one couple who went south. They moved from Vermont to Florida in the 1880s.

        “Republicans...think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people... And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:06:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I get you, Land of Enchantment. (5+ / 0-)

        I've lived in the South (Texas) longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life.  Still haven't fully assimilated, though.  I feel more at home in Michigan, where I grew up, or in New Mexico, where I lived for 6 years.  I just can't relate to that Southern mentality, I guess.

      •  I had a great great grandfather who came from NY (4+ / 0-)

        to Georgia in the 1850's, fell in love with (& married)  a southern belle, then went to fight for the South.  He had brothers still in NY fighting for the Union.

        But the really interesting genealogical story I've recently been tracing is that several generations earlier, my ancestor was captured with the Scottish Higlanders at the Battle of Dunbar in 1642 and marched by Cromwell's army to London(2/3 of them died along the way) - and then sold as a bonded servant/slave to an ironworks in Saugus MA.  It was an eight year bond and he was later able to buy a farm in MA - and that is how my family originally came to America.

         

        Buy a Boat. Save the Seed.

        by cumberland sibyl on Sat May 17, 2014 at 08:52:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We need Volunteers (6+ / 0-)

    to host an upcoming Friday GFHC Open Thread!

    Current Schedule

    May 23 - klompendanser
    May 30 - open for adoption
    Jun 6 -   open for adoption
    Jun 13 - open for adoption
    Jun 20 - open for adoption
    Jun 27 - open for adoption

    Lots and lots of open dates to choose from.  Can we get some volunteers?

  •  A lot of fun! (7+ / 0-)

    What an interesting life! Several, actually. I wonder if Franz ever said, as he looked out on Hawaii or California, "I'm a long way from New York City. Or Roanoke, Va. Or Vermilion, S.D. Or Stettin." How many people lived in all those places? Not many, I'd guess. It's amazing the people you never hear of who are in the family.

    I always think of Churchill when I hear Stettin mentioned: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent..."

    “Republicans...think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people... And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” Harry S. Truman

    by fenway49 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:57:09 AM PDT

  •  Fascinating Read (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your great piece. I am also working on a film that excavates my own family history.

  •  lots of new places covered in this diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zwenkau, hayden, edwardssl, rl en france

    ... this is first time we've covered family going to Hawaii, isn't it?

    Some very cool connections, too. Btw, I don't know what I would do if I had to start deciphering all those Polish names!

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:38:16 PM PDT

    •  Names... (4+ / 0-)

      The real problem here was with Old Prussian names, because there were letters in the alphabet of that language that weren't in German or Polish.  After the Balla- part of the name there came something that looked kind of like a "z" on steroids, but it was sounded like a heavy "sh" in French, I'm told.  So as things became more Germanized over time, they just rendered it as an "s" instead of a "z," but people still knew how it was to be said.  Nevertheless, when it came time for, say, a Polish clerk to record the name, anything could happen.  East Prussia was just so much of a Melting Pot, and you always had the problem of people trying to write names and words from one of the other languages in use.  It wasn't pretty!

      "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

      by Zwenkau on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:50:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've discovered that Norwegian spellings vary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        klompendanser, Zwenkau

        a lot! For example, a simple name could be spelled Olaf, Olav, Oluf, etc. Maybe even Olaus. If the records were written down by a government official (for a census) or by a church official (for a baptism, wedding, funeral, etc.), the person writing it down used his own preferred spelling. And sometimes it depended on if the official was educated in Sweden or Denmark. But the patronymic is what to look for (Olaf Pedersen might also be called Olav Petersson, but he's Olaf, son of Peter).

        People in 21st century America don't always understand that in the past, names could be spelled in different ways at different times.

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Sat May 17, 2014 at 07:24:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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