Monday, July 23, 2012

Brick Wall Falls With the Help of Strangers

Last week as I was scanning and inputting vital records into my genealogy program, I noticed I didn’t have the details of my Grandma Bonita’s interment in a cemetery.  I need to clarify who exactly Bonita was and wasn’t.  She was my Grandpa Henry’s (Hank) second wife, and Henry was Bonita’s second husband.  Since they were married long before I was born, I considered Bonita as “always my grandma.”

I keep a spreadsheet of my ancestors with the name and address of the cemetery; their birth, death, and interment dates; the Section, Lot, Block and/or Grave No. of where they’re buried.  Bonita’s death certificate had the name Saxon Cemetery, Saxon Wisconsin as to where she was buried.  Since my grandma’s section of the spreadsheet wasn’t filled out, I did a Google search of the cemetery name so I could call and ask for the interment date along with the Section, Lot, Block and Grave No.  Results: there wasn’t a cemetery by that name anywhere.

I then searched for any cemeteries near Saxon, Wisconsin.  Up popped about a dozen names.  I called the one that was closest to Saxon.  The cemetery doesn’t have an office but there was a Sexton that could take calls.  The Sexton wasn’t there but a very nice lady named Carol answered.  I told her my grandma’s name, Bonita Raminger, and death date.  She said she’d have to call me back after checking some books.  I continued to call some of the other cemeteries; no luck with any of them.

Carol called me back and said, “Yes, your grandmother was buried in the Lake View cemetery in Saxon.”  She read me the names and death dates that were in the same plot.  (Happy dance!)  I read her the name of the informant on the death certificate, which was Bonita’s daughter Loretta.  Carol knew Loretta’s daughters Sandra and Allison; in fact she contacted them for answers to questions so she could help me.  I couldn’t believe my luck!  This doesn’t happen to me, it happens to other people!

Carol gave Sandra my phone number and said I might be calling her.  When Carol called me back with the news, she gave me Sandra’s phone number.  I thanked her very much and turned around and dialed Sandra.  We talked a long time and reminisced about “our” grandma Bonita and grandpa Hank.  She used to spend some weeks during the summer with them and so did I, just not at the same time.

When I first began researching my family I would read about other people’s brick walls falling down with help of strangers.  I didn’t know I had a brick wall with Grandma Bonita but I’m sure glad it’s no longer blocking my path.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On The Road to Wisconsin

This morning my husband and I embarked on our 2012 Great American 1,800 mile Road Trip.  We left coastal southern California’s 73º weather and drove into 110 º “furnace” of Nevada.  Similar weather in the coming weeks only with humidity.

We’re heading to Dorchester, Clark County, Wisconsin to participate in the Williams/Bartunek Family Reunion that’s going to be held on Saturday, 28 July.  Our great-grandparents are the connection.  (My maternal grandmother was a Bartunek.)

I’ve been emailing and collaborating with several of the cousins’ for about 10 years.  It’s been great sharing family information and getting connected again with my mother’s side.  Some of the cousins live in the area; some are driving from Illinois, Michigan and parts unknown to me.

I also have cousins from my mother’s paternal side of the family in the area.  We’ll be visiting with one of her cousins the day following the reunion.  I talked to her a few weeks ago.  She wanted to know what I wanted to do/see when we meet.  I told her not to worry about taking me to “see the sights, I just wanted to visit.”  She asked if I wanted to go to any cemeteries while we’re there.  Oh wow!  I said, “Yes, of course!” 

A week after the reunion we’ll be driving across the state to visit with another cousin of mine.  We haven’t seen each other close to 50 years I think.  With all of this coming up, I’ve been busy updating my genealogy program to Roots Magic-5; scanning photos my mother had; scanning vital record documents; finally inputting the new facts with sources in the program.  While on the road I’ll still need to printout family group sheets and make a genealogy CD for each family.

I’m anxious and excited at the same time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Road to Wisconsin

 In two weeks time, my husband and I are going to be “hitting the road” again. Yes, another road trip in the making. Last year we spent 47 days together out on the highways and interstates of USA. I had a genealogy conference in Springfield, IL (my home state) in September. I thought of flying in, getting a hotel room, meals out, the usual stuff. But he as very willing to do most of the driving across country (I can't help it, I just seem to fall asleep when in the car). So I said, “OK, let's drive.”

After the conference we went up to the Chicago area, stayed with a former school friend and visited my family and friends. Then to Allen County Public Library in Indiana; our daughter's in-laws in Ohio; more friends in Tennessee. My cousin put me in touch with my “brick wall” cousins in Louisiana. That was so cool! Spent some time in the “Big Easy” then headed to Austin, Texas to see our daughter and son-in-law.

This time we're heading to my mother's home state of Wisconsin. She was from the small town of Dorchester in Clark County. The reason we're going is to attend a family reunion. Not my mother's family unfortunately, but her cousins' family reunion. I'm more of a collateral branch of the family tree.

Back when I started genealogy I wrote to several of my mother's 1st cousins and asked about their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The ladies who wrote back helped as much as they could, then gave my name and email address to a nephew who was also climbing the family tree. We've been collaborating ever since. His grandmother Bessie was my grandmother Jennie's sister. The sister's came from a family of six siblings; three girls and three boys. Their surname was Bartunek. Bessie married Harry Williams and my grandmother married Henry Ramminger. The family reunion I'm going to is for the Williams' Family. It'll be held at Dorchester Memorial Park on Saturday, July 28th.

The Williams family held their first reunion at the same park two years ago. At the time we were having our kitchen remodeled and I couldn't attend. But I'm going this year! I've also been corresponding with another Williams' cousin who lives in Michigan.

Periodically, my mother would take us up to Wisconsin for a family wedding or 50th anniversary party. Being quite young at the time, I can't remember all the “cousins” so this will kind of be a face-to-face meeting for the first time. I'm really looking forward to it.