Leaves on this Family Tree

Monday, June 6, 2011


Family is a strange thing.

One comes into the world
as part of a family
if one is lucky,
one leaves the world 
the same way.

We don't get to chose
which  family we join
if we are lucky,
or maybe if our family is lucky,
we don't get to choose
when we leave them.

With this as my intro
I must tell you
that in this last week
I have received
several marriage licenses,
birth and death records
and  wills
for different members
of my family.

I feel so connected
to each one of them.
It makes me wonder
whose genes
are on the DNA strand
I was blessed with.

I always smile
a sad smile,
when I see 
my Grandpa Winegardner's 
mother's name.
She only lived 
a few months after his birth 
All I know about her
is her name,
Caroline A Graham Searight Winegardner
(talk about a mouthful)
and that,
on one census,
it states that Grandpa's mom
was born in Michigan. 
I was hoping I could get
a death certificate
on her and,
find out a parents' name
or birth state.
the birth and death records
for Cass County
only go back to 1882
and she died in1879.

Poor thing . . . 
it's like she didn't exist.
 There is a marriage license,
and I did receive a copy of it,
but nothing else.
I hope that I have 
a lot of her
on my DNA double helix.

there is my great-great Grandma Snell.
I received her Last Will and Testament.
It was typed out,
which was a surprise.
Grandpa Gaumer's was typed,
but it was from1953.
All of the others
were hand written.
But, I digress.
I had read Grandma's Will
several times when
I noticed her name read
Phebe A. X Snell.
Above the X was the word "her"
and below the X was the word "mark."
To think that she couldn't write
her own name.
I wonder 
how many of her descendants
besides my brother,
his oldest son
and I
are college grads.
that is her legacy . . . 
a family that values education.

I wonder if her son-in-law,
great-Grandpa Gaumer,
knew something.
In his will he mentions his 
"blond wife."
He also says that if she 
remarries after his death
that she would lose 
her inheritance.
Strange, huh?
She then petitioned the court
to treat the will 
as if it hadn't been written
(or something like that . . .
I don't understand all those 
legal terms)
and the court agreed with her.

My aunt told me once
that I looked like
Great Grandma Gaumer.
Then she tells me
that she lived with a man
she knew as "Tony"
and wasn't sure
if they were married.
I have found 1 husband,
and his name wasn't
Anthony or Tony.
And she filed a lawsuit
against her in laws
for failure to share
 great-Grandpa Gaumer's
share of his family's farm
with their children . . .
but her name was Zimmerman,
not Bechdol,
which was her name when
she died.

sounds like it there 
could have been
quite a family story in that.

And then there 
is my Grandma Pearl.
We grew up in her home. 
Now, I find out
her grandfather was
born in Scotland 
and immigrated here 
she had two sisters
that I never heard about.
Wonder what ever happened there.

This is the Grandma
who taught me to crochet.
So I know her genes
run rampant in my DNA.
I have friends who say
that she scared them 
when they came over.
She died when I was in
4th grade . . . and was in her 
mid-70's when  she died
so, I suppose I would have been
irritated by 10 year olds too.
(Come to think of it,
there were a lot of times 
when I taught school,
that I was irritated 
with 11 and12 year old.)

While working on 
this Family Tree of mine
I have found that 
a lot of my ancestors had
rather long lives
for the time period that they lived. 
With finger crossed
I am hoping that this gene,
for longevity,
is nestled somewhere
on my double helix.
Wonder What Else Will Fall Out Of My Tree


  1. All of that is so interesting. I was shocked by the part where your great grandad wrote in his will where if his wife remarries that she loses the inheritance. Did he ever stop to think that maybe she could spend it all and then get remarried?? How funny huh? And then even funnier how she took it to court and got it so it seemed like it was never written.

  2. Very fascinating story! It's so incredible how much you've been able to learn about your extended family!


Reading your comments inspires me to blog more.