Monday, April 3, 2017

Nature or Nurture

 A ship like the Gellert with interiors showing 1st, 2nd, and steerage accommodations. The Gellert is the ship taken to America from Hamburg, Germany by the Timmerman family 30 Oct 1888.
(Photos courtesy of

I’ve been playing with the idea of blogging about what I remember and how I feel; or more specifically, moving beyond the cold facts to a blend of subjective and objective genealogy. It will be my memories of the family added to the more objective facts presented on This genealogy website gives us encouragement in offering a ‘Lifestory’ feature that gives a head-start in bringing our ancestors to life on the page. This Lifestory can be edited, rearranged, and enhanced by personal memories and I've mostly ignored it. Now I hope to put this wonderful feature to use. 
A caveat – my tree is far from perfect. It is a worksheet, a fluid work in progress. Where I’ve done the field work I’m pretty certain it is correct. I’m a big fan of and other genealogical websites and all the documentation they have available – but computerized mistakes have a way of spreading like weeds and becoming part of the genealogical landscape. I’m open to suggestions, corrections, and ideas and in the end I have to go where my gut leads. Will my ramblings be of interest to blog readers or genealogist? That remains . . . as they say.
Yesterday I started with a look at my ex-husband’s family. They are, obviously, not related to me but they are related to three of my children.  Since they are my ex’s family deep emotions are stirred while looking at their tree. It is a large eastern Nebraska family. My children’s great grandfather was an immigrant from Holstein, Germany. He arrived with his parents at age 10 in 1888. Their great grandmother was also from Germany and was born at sea – arriving with her family in 1882. Just think of her mother – leaving her home to travel to a foreign land at the end of her pregnancy and delivering that baby while on the ocean! These families didn’t stop on the east coast, they made their way to Nebraska where there were German speaking farming communities and social clubs that helped them feel at home. These families worked hard to learn English and fit into the American culture, but they were welcomed here in their native tongue. When I went to college in Nebraska I found there was still a fondness for polka – although two world wars had pretty much killed the German language in America.
But wait, my ex-husband’s maternal family is not only NOT related to me! They are genetically not related to him and therefore not related to my children. He was adopted. Do I spend time pursuing a step or adopted family? I knew these people, most not well, but others who have affected my ex, my self, and my children by their love and life experience. Their very existence and life stories were woven into the fabric of our lives. Blended families are a frequent fact these days and how much time you may wish to spend on researching their roots really depends on what significance they hold in your lives. 
As I come back to my genealogy and start with fresh eyes, I can see that my mother-in-law and her family touched my life beginning at age 18 and my life would never be the same. God’s little elves, weaving together the strands of my life at a mad speed, picked up those threads before I could take a breath and the Timmerman, Able, and Steinhauer families were a part of my life’s tapestry.
Tell me, please. Do you research step and adopted families as part of your line?

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