Climbing up your family tree

Tracing heritage can be fun, fascinating, satisfying Have you been researching your family roots, collecting photos and information and didn’t know where to go from there? Have you wondered if there are any famous people in your family or why did they leave their home country and come to America? And how did they get from point A to point B? Alex Haley, the author of the book, Roots said: “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.” Where do you start? You can start by collecting all the data, photos and stories about your family and recording them using a 3-ring binder, a tape recorder and a card file. The card file has names of your contacts with addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. There are computer programs, such as Family Tree Maker, to record the names, birthdates, marriages, deaths, etc. of each family member. There are many ways to finding data. First, visit with family members to get their information and verify the data. The use of a tape recorder helps to complete your notes. To help verify the information, visit cemeteries, newspaper offices, historical societies, county courthouses and websites. I visited cemeteries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and even Alaska. I started collecting data in 1965 during our family reunions. Some snags I ran into were people changing the spelling of their last names or went by nicknames or middle names. There was one Hauer that moved back to New York and he changed the spelling of his last name to Hower. Then there is my dad. I have always known him as Ted and my oldest brother’s name is Ted Jr. But, I found out my dad’s real name is John Theodore Hauer. He went by his middle name. Therefore, my brother Ted is really not Jr. but my brother Jon should be Jr. There are thousands of websites you can access to help with your research. A couple of good ones are rootsweb.com and ancestry.com. These are commercial sites but are available free at libraries. I downloaded our family tree on rootsweb.com from the Family Tree Maker program and received e-mails from all around the world. Another one is usgenweb.org. It has all the counties of each state of the U.S. listed and you will find many tombstone inscriptions on this site and much more. Other sites to check out are geneaology.com, MyFamily.com, ellisisland.org, cyndislist.com/, familysearch.org and Reunion.com. On the Ellis Island website, you can find out what ship your ancestors came to America on, how long it took them to travel across the ocean and who didn’t make it to New York. My great-great-great grandmother, Eva Schlinker, who was born in Rhineland, Prussia died of TB in 1847 at sea on her way to America. She was buried at sea. She was 45 years old and she had six children, five boys and a girl. Her husband was Nicolaus Hauer and he settled in Union Hill, Minn. It took the ship 42 days to reach Ellis Island. If you are trying to solve a mystery in your family you can use a library site called www.askalibrarian.org. It is a free website and the library does the research for you and e-mails the information to your computer. I used the ‘ask a librarian’ website to find out about my mother’s uncle, Augie Teich. He was a barber in Excelsior, Minn. and moved to Anchorage, Alaska and opened a barbershop there November of 1935. He also loved to go fishing. It was on his last fishing trip in 1936 when he and five of his friends took a plane and it crashed. My mother said they never heard about where the crash occurred, and they never found Augie’s body. I sent an e-mail to the Anchorage library using the ask a librarian website and asked about the plane crash. Two days later they sent an e-mail back with three articles about the plane crash. The headline in the Anchorage Times newspaper read “Camera found open in plane; may aid in solving cause of Alaska’s worse accident.” The article gave all the details of the accident and the rescue. It also noted in the obituary where he was buried. From that information I flew to Anchorage and visited the cemetery where he was buried. The manager of the cemetery showed me where he was buried and the mystery was solved. Getting stories like this will make your book more interesting. With this research you can solve myths and rumors about your heritage. I had an aunt, a sister of my mother, who said we are descendants of Captain Thomas Graves who was one of the founders of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. I checked with a Burr Graves of Plano, Texas. He had DNA tests done and it did not match. The one myth I haven’t solved is whether we are related to the 12 Graves who traveled with the Donner party. On April 16, 1846, nine covered wagons left Springfield, Illinois on the 2500-mile journey to California, in what would become one of the greatest tragedies in the history of westward migration. The Donner party ran into a blizzard in the Nevada Sierra Mountains. They relied on cannibalism to survive. Eight of the 12 Graves family members survived the trip. Once you have collected the data, photos and stories it’s time to put it into a book. You should develop a theme or a purpose of the book. The purpose of the book could be to trace your ancestors as far back as you can and try to understand why they left their home country to come to America. Also discover where your ancestors traveled and record what they did in their lifetime. In my book “Tracing Roots, Hauer and Schiebel Heritage,” I organized it in three parts. After the acknowledgement, preface and table of contents, I wrote about the Hauer heritage. The second part was the Schiebel heritage and the third part was stories my siblings wrote of their memories growing up in the Hauer family in Hector, Minn. The first two chapters of the Hauer and Schiebel heritage, I kept them in order by generations… the first generation to America, the second generation, etc. With each family member was their family tree outline from the computer program Family Tree Maker in which I had all the data recorded. The “Tracing Roots” book ended up to be 174 pages with 360 pictures. It was printed on white paper using an ink jet printer. It took 110 ink cartridges. We made 100 books. My siblings and mother proofread the pages and collated the pages. After all the pages were proofed, printed and collated it was taken to a bindery in St. Paul to print the cover and bind the book with a hard cover. If you want someone else to make your book, you can get a price quote a various print shops in the area or on-line. I have been in the newspaper business most of my life and thought this was a humorous quote from President Jimmy Carter when he was asked about some of his past relatives: “We’ve uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves, and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business.”

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