KNOWING vs knowing

In genealogy, there’s a lot of emphasis on the difference between KNOWing and knowing.

Take my 2nd-Great-Grandfather Patt O’Brien for example…

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When your ancestor’s name is John Smith…

Or, in my case, the Danish equivalent of John Smith: Jens Jensen, my paternal great-grandfather.

I know almost nothing about him: he came to the United States in 1900 with my great-grandmother, Thyra Amalia [1] Martinsen, and their son Oscar; by 1910 [2], he was farming in Platte, Nebraska and supporting a family of five–wife Amelia, and children Oscar (10), Johanna (7), Marie (6), and Florence (3); by 1920 he has disappeared–separated from my great-grandmother, perhaps divorced. There are stories of his drinking and squandering of money.

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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Most of my family trees (I’m at 24 trees and counting) include a lot of travel. The family ancestor arrives in America, then moves three or four times, then his subsequent family moves, then another generation moves, and eventually, there are family members scattered from coast to coast across the U.S.

Not so when talking about my eldest son’s paternal lineage. That story starts and stays in Texas.

And it begins with Peter Ryman.

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No More Elijah

Remember this post, where I waxed eloquent about poor Elijah—my 5th great-grandfather, who died just before arriving in America from Germany?

Well, turns out that was a lie.

Things like this happen when researching ancestry. I try to be diligent. To check sources. Review information to see that it makes sense (you know, no children bearing children, times and places that make sense, that sort of thing). But even with all that, Read More »

One Trunk

Elijah opened his eyes to a sea of bodies, crammed shoulder to jowl at the foot of his berth: Papa, Hans and Elizabeth, the children, behind them others he didn’t recognize. His lovely Mary held his hand, ever the vigilant nurse, her great belly nudged against his arm. The fetid smell of urine and vomit mixed […]