A Father’s Love

Two years ago for Mother’s Day I posted a pictorial view of my maternal ancestry.  Today, in honor of Father’s Day, I present the Pointkouski men.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my great-grandfather Jan Piątkowski.

My Grandfather and Father

My grandfather, James Pointkouski, and my father, James Pointkouski, in 1942.

My Father and Brother

My father and brother, James D. Pointkouski, around 1965.

My Brother and Nephews

The line goes on!  My brother and the two youngest Pointkouski men in 2010.

Happy Father’s Day!


SNGF: A Prolific Dad

In honor of Father’s Day tomorrow, Randy Seaver chose an interesting topic for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF):  who was the most prolific dad in your family’s history?

Once again, I rely on my Bergmeister family for the answer (usually because this is the line I know the most about).  The most prolific dad, or the man in my ancestry that fathered the most children, is Jakob Bergmeister (20 May 1805 – 18 Sep 1870.  He and his wife, Anna Maria Daniel (24 Jun 1812 – 02 Feb 1871), had fifteen children in nineteen years.  Most of the children did not survive to adulthood, but it is an awe-inspiring number nonetheless.  Personally, I think Anna Maria deserves the honor for this feat – her job was harder.

When the couple married on 02 Jun 1835, Jakob was 30 years old and Anna Maria was almost 23.  She bore her first child at the age of 14, and her last at age 43.  Jakob was a father for the first time at age 31, and at 50 for the final time.  Their children were:

  • 1836 Aug 08 – Anna Maria – died Aug 14.
  • 1837 Aug 15 – Michael – survived to adulthood.  Marries in 1866 and has at least two sons.  Each of his sons had a son who died fighting in World War I.
  • 1839 Sep 12 – Jakob – unknown if  survived to adulthood
  • 1840 Nov 22 – Maria Anna – unknown if survived to adulthood
  • 1841 Dec 7 – Josef – died Dec 13.
  • 1843 Feb 9 – Josef – my ancestor, the father of my great-grandfather Josef.
  • 1844 Jan 8 – Johann – died Apr 4 same year.
  • 1845 Feb 25 – Castulus – survived to adulthood.  Marries and has several children before his death on 01 May 1912.  I have met several of his descendants.
  • 1846 Jun 15 – Anton – died Sep 3 same year.
  • 1847 Oct 22 – Walburga – unknown if survived to adulthood
  • 1849 Jun 17 – Anna Maria – unknown if survived to adulthood
  • 1850 July 31 – ??? – died Sep 15 same year.
  • 1851 Sep 08 – Martin – died Sep 19.
  • 1853 Nov 16 – Barbara – died Nov 27.
  • 1855 Jun 02 – Kreszens – survived to adulthood.  Married Johann Baptist Haeckl on 22 May 1878.

Of Jakob and Anna Maria’s 15 children, 3 boys and 1 girl definitely survived to adulthood, 7 children died in infancy, and the fate of 4 is unknown.

The House Rules

“It may only be four walls and a couple of nail kegs, but it will always be home to me.” ~ Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

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“If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” ~ Erma Bombeck

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It doesn’t take many years of living before you realize that everyone has some unique aspect to their personality.  Whether you call that trait an idiosyncrasy or a quirk, it is some small characteristic that seems perfectly normal to oneself, but it will drive others insane.

Houses can be a lot like people  They also have unique personalities – and those quirks that come along as personality baggage.  In fact, houses have rather forceful personalities – you abide by the house rules, or else.  That’s the only way a house will work.

The house in which I grew up, and where my parents still live, has plenty of unique little oddities.  If walls could speak, the other houses on the street would have called ours names.   If you got to know our house’s personality, you would have definitely called it a “freak”.   The house had several things about it that were strange, but because we lived with these weird things and got used the house’s behavior, its peculiar personality seemed quite normal to us.

For example, the oven wasn’t like “normal” ovens, but it was through no fault of its own.  The house, which was built in 1961, had a gas wall oven.  In those pre-digital days, the temperature was controlled with a round dial.  One day, sometime during the 1960’s, my father decided to be helpful.  (Ladies, we all know what happens when men try to be helpful.)  Dad was determined to clean the kitchen, and he chose a rather powerful cleaner (likely ammonia).

My father proceeded to wipe once around the oven’s dial to clean the surface.  By the time his finger completely circled the dial, he noticed that he not only removed grease, but the ink that labeled the dial with the various temperatures.  Which is why I grew up without the knowledge that ovens had actual temperatures; I thought you just turned the knob until it got hot.

Because this original oven stayed with us until I was an adult, the question when baking something was never “What temperature?” but “What time?”  My mother’s answer would be “twenty of” or “half past,” for we imagined the dial as a clock to determine the approximate temperature.  Of course, we never really knew for sure if “twenty of” was really 300° or 350° since we were relying on my mother’s memory of the original, unmolested dial, but that never stopped us from cooking.

Over the years we’d always muse that we could simply go to a neighbor’s house and make a tracing of their dial to ensure we had an accurate reading, for all of the houses on the street were built with the same appliances.  But I suppose it was much more fun to take a wild guess.  And since my mother was an excellent cook, her memory of that dial must have been rather good – we never burnt anything in the oven!  But, now that I mention it, almost every time we used the oven, the smoke alarm would go off – just another little personality trait of the house.

Our kitchen was strange in other ways, too.  The electrical system for the entire house seemed to be located on one circuit breaker – the kitchen’s.  In the summertime, we had one air conditioner in the kitchen window and one in the living room window to cool the first floor.  There were rules associated with the use of those air conditioners – not parental rules or the laws of thermodynamics, but house rules.  For instance, using the air conditioner while the television was on meant that you couldn’t make a piece of toast without turning off something first.  Using the microwave?  You’d better hope that there weren’t clothes in the dryer or you would have to wait.  Using the toaster and the microwave and the coffee pot all at the same time?  Dear Lord, do not flip that light switch on or the whole house would go dead.

Looking back at these things now, I can’t believe we lived with the idiosyncrasies that could have been easily fixed.  In the same house today, there’s a new oven with a spiffy digital keypad where you can actually set the required temperature.  The house also now has a central air conditioning unit, which required a new circuit breaker system, so the entire house is no longer routed through the kitchen.  But where’s the fun in everything working as it’s supposed to?  The house may no longer be called a freak, but without the goofy oddities it also lacks charm.

Now I live in my own house, with its own creaks and sounds and issues.  I know what the temperature is for the oven, but after all these years I still have light switches that work something but I know not what.  And please, if you visit, don’t dare flush the toilet if someone’s in the shower!