Archive for the ‘genealogy’ Category

I always grew up thinking of myself as English. Not surprising with a name like Lancaster. I even did a project on the War of the Roses because of my “connection” to this name in history. My “English” father didn’t discourage this belief in our heritage and there was no talk in my family about my mother’s contribution to my genetic makeup. Since her mother (my maternal grandmother) had disappeared when she was very small and her father was in places like Pakistan and Libya during my growing up years, I never heard anything from them about this side of the family.

Becoming a committed genealogist (that’s one who should be committed to some kind of treatment center) meant that I learned quickly that that invisible side of my makeup was 75% German. My maternal grandfather was the product of German immigrants and my maternal grandmother was German and Irish.

So what difference does all this make? Well, I’ve been thinking back over my life and have come to realize how often Germans seem to be a part of my life.

In college, I elected to take German because I’d had too much Spanish in high school (the rule was I’d have to take second year as a college freshperson, and even after many years of Spanish, I knew I’d be in big trouble). As a result I took two years of “scientific” German because I started out as a biology major (another story). One had to have a B in the last semester of the two required years to use it as a language for graduate school. Guess what? I had three B’s and a C so in graduate school I took another semester of “reading” German. What this means is that even after all these years I still have a huge German dictionary in my library, but no Spanish one.

After my children were of school age, I returned to teaching at a rural school outside of Lubbock. Lubbock doesn’t strike one as the German capital of Texas and it isn’t. But Slaton IS the German capital of West Texas. There’s a large contingent of German families who immigrated to the area. As a result I taught kids with names like Heinrich and such. There was even a huge German sausage festival every fall.

Recently, we moved near Houston picking our new home almost at random based upon its proximity to our children/grandchildren as well as its size and amenities. Not once did I think about the makeup of the families in this area. Guess what! Yep, there are German names on every street and in every organization. And these German “immigrants” are serious about their heritage. There is even a German Texas Heritage Society as well as a Maifest celebration every May. At the monthly genealogy meetings, I listen to folks talk about their visits to Germany as they retrace their roots.

I’m beginning to think life is trying to send me a message. Perhaps those Germans in my family tree need more attention and a visit to Germany should be in order. All I know is that I find myself craving potato pancakes, German sausage, and sauerkraut. And Brenham doesn’t have a single German restaurant.


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I know from my own experience that it’s often a challenge for one generation to have meaningful conversations with another. I found it nearly impossible over the years to talk to my mother-in-law. She tried. She asked me questions that were designed to provide a basis for a conversation, but too often my only response was “huh” because they seemed so disconnected from my life. I didn’t mean to be unresponsive, it was just that I had no idea how to answer when she asked how someone in the family was doing. As far as I knew (having probably not talked to them in months), they were doing okay. End of conversation.


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Defining Family

Folks are often amazed that I gather together EVERYTHING on EVERYBODY when I’m doing family research. They tend to ask, “Why would you care about the parents of your grandmother’s fourth husband? I usually just laugh and say something about my obsession. (more…)

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