Monday, October 22, 2007

Exploring My Family Tree: Not Forgotten - Part One

"Here is the human biography in a nutshell. Born, welcomed, caressed, cried, fed, grew, amused, reared, studied, examined, graduated, in love, engaged, married, quarreled, reclined, suffered, deserted, sick, dead, mourned, buried and forgotten." -author unknown

I knew my great grandfather Victor but I never knew him. With the exception of his son who is still living at 80+ years of age, I perhaps now know more about him than anybody else and upon my death, would make the last three words of the above saying come true, buried and forgotten. Perhaps this is the reason why I have religiously written a journal at home and why I have taken up blogging in more recent years. I don't want to be forgotten and I don't want those who made me whom I am today to be forgotten, so I write it down for someone someday to find and remember.

Up until a couple years ago when I got into genealogy, I knew nothing of my great grandfather Victor other than from my memories of his time in a nursing home and his love of green gumdrops which I wrote about earlier this year. However, recently while talking with my grandmother I learned some new things about him and discovered at least one thing that I had "remembered" that wasn't true. So I set out to rediscover my great grandfather Victor and to learn about a man I never really knew. The story I have written is comprised from what my grandmother told me, what census data and other online sources have told me and what faded newspaper clippings saved by my great great grandmother have told me.

Victor was born on Saturday, December 7, 1895 in Rockford, Iowa, son of a leather goods maker who was the son of a German immigrant saddle maker. An unknown author listed his birth in the paper with the following words, "That the boy may grow up and meet the expectations of his proud and happy parents, is our wish."

Victor was brought up in a comfortable life paid for by his father's business of making boots, shoes and harnesses. Big social events, parties occurred on a fairly frequent schedule and were always well documented in the local papers. Though cars were still mystery to most people, Victor and his family made many trips out west to such exotic places like Arizona and California, also well documented for the local papers.

-Letter from Arizona by Hattie Moore Strait

…My last vision of Master (Victor) was a plump, squirming bundle of white embroidery in arms; he is now a bright little man, with a sweet, round face - the picture of his charming mother. It was with regret that I learned they were en route to California and were booked for the early morning train next day. The memory of that brief visit remains, and the pleasure derived thereby, convinces me that I am not yet weaned from the home of my childhood as I vaguely supposed was the case.

They even had some run-ins with Indians though by that time they were on reservations and the run-in was deliberate during a visit to the Indian school. Times and attitudes were much different as my great great grandmother demonstrates in a letter she wrote from California that said, "…It surely seems that Uncle Sam is doing grand work in educating those ignorant people."

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