Saturday, January 31, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #1: John Spiegel

     I am starting the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. I am starting a little later but better late than never and I will catch up. For Week 1, the topic is Fresh Start. I have many ancestors that I could choose from, but this week I was looking at my mothers line of ancestors and decided on Johannes "John" Spiegel. He is my 2nd great grandfather. 

     John was born in Aldingen, Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany on August 20, 1888. As an infant, he and his parents, Johannes and Christina (Birk) Spiegel, sailed to America and arrived in New York on May 3, 1889 on the SS Lahn
SS Lahn 

     We were lucky enough to have his own recollections of his life preserved and I will leave a small portion of it here: 

Born in Germany, Town of Aldingen, Province of W├╝rttemberg, in the year 1888--Aug. 20th. Left Germany with my parents when eight months of age. Arrived at Hancock, Michigan in the Spring of 1889; from there to Calumet, Michigan, and from Calumet to Hurontown, Michigan. [In]1891 from there to Atlantic Mine, Michigan where I got my first schooling, [but] after attaining the fifth grade I was compelled to leave school, and go to work at the age of eleven, due to Father’s health. Wages was $22 per month, working in a Rock House at hard labor.
Photocopy of original Handwritten recollection 

     He married Lydia Ann Lindgren at age 22 on the 11 Feb 1911 and had 7 children including my great grandma Ethel. 
Wedding Photo of John and Lydia 

He ended up leaving Lydia for another woman named Blanche and died in Princeton, IL on Feb19, 1954. 

Obviously, John was an infant when he was brought over from Germany but it had to have been hard for his parents to make the daring journey over to the unknown and had to go through many difficulties. In the 1880s, German immigration reached a high of nearly 1.5 million that decade. Changing economic patterns left more people without land. Yet, the poorest people did not leave because they could not finance the trip. It was the lower middle class of agricultural laborers that most frequently set off to make a new life across the ocean. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Genealogy Goals for 2015


     We are already almost into February, so I thought I would share with all of you my genealogy goals for 2015. This is the first time I'm setting goals for ancestry and I am super excited. Hopefully I will look back in 2016 and see that I accomplished so much!

1. Read a book every month that involves history so I can expand my knowledge of different time periods.

2. Blog at least 4 times a week.

3. Start Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. When I was just starting out, I was one of those people who didn't really know how it all worked so I just started pulling information from other peoples trees on and never knew if the sources were correct. So, I want to start fresh and do it the right way, now that I have more knowledge on everything.

4. Do the AncestryDNA test. - it's on its way to my house right now!

5. Become an FGS Ambassador and hopefully prepare to go to the conferences in 2016.

6. Begin writing biographies for all my direct ancestors.

7. Identify Lennie Mitchell's parents and also Mary Terry's parents. - my paternal grandfathers side is really giving me trouble. Overall, get more information and break the brick wall of my grandfathers ancestral line.

8. Begin my YouTube videos on my genealogy research.

9. Organize all my genealogy paperwork and pictures.

10. Spend time with living relatives and interview.

11. Participate in the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks Challenge. - I am running a month late but I will catch up.

12. Take genealogy trips!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Welcome to my Blog!

     Hi everyone! Welcome to Breathing Life and Building Bridges Genealogy Blog!  Genealogy has always been a huge passion and interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I always enjoyed history growing up.  I was always thinking about where I came from and the history that came before me to make me who I am. Maybe this makes me an old soul because I am only 23 and not many people, especially my age, tend to care about these things. However, I feel they are of utmost importance. I am super excited to be starting this blog where you can come along with me in my journey of finding my ancestors and hopefully be able to connect with cousins today. I also hope to be able to give advice as I get more experience in my journey. 

     To start off my blog, I thought it would be a perfect day to do a Sentimental Sunday! 

     Yesterday, January 17th, was five years since the passing of my paternal grandfather. 

He was one of the greatest people I ever knew. Since his passing, I have learned so much about the hard but also great life that he had. I am so glad I still have my Grandma who can give me insight on his life, as I'm sure if I would have asked him personally it would have been difficult to discuss.

     Whenever I feel sad about my grandpa being gone or get flashbacks of the moment of his death when I was beside him, I always try to look at letters like this one and think of all the great memories I have with him. I am so blessed to have letters and cards like these. Even though the letters came from a horrible situation, I am so thankful because I don't know what I would do without them. I am so thankful for the 18 years I had with him.

So thank you grandpa for being the best father and grandfather - something you never had. You will always be my best friend. I hope heaven is more beautiful then we could ever imagine and if you're able to fish in heaven, I hope that is exactly what you are doing. xoxo Kharyn