Carnival of Genealogy, 54th Edition

Welcome to the 54th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy! I am delighted to host the COG for the very first time here at What’s Past is Prologue. This edition’s theme is The Family Language – and what a wonderful variety of languages we all have.  And I don’t mean the “usual” languages, but those certain special words used within families that make others say, “What?”

To tour our virtual Tower of Babble, there is no interpreter required.  But I can guarantee that you’re sure to get a laugh when you read about one another’s family languages – especially if you thought your family had some odd terms!

Starting us off on our tour is Wendy Littrell from All My Branches Genealogy with What a Bunch of Hooey!.  I’m sure that your Mom used some of Wendy’s mom’s “Mom-isms” too!  And that’s not a bunch of hooey, either.

Debra Osborne Spindle presents Family Language posted at All My Ancestors.  She has quite an assortment of interesting words and phrases from both her father and her grandfather.  Don’t be a Ned, and check it out.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff presents Our Family Language at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors.   From Miriam you’ll learn about some interesting Alaskan expressions – and that’s no balderdash, either.

Oh, Yee Gods!  What in Sam Hill was Ruth Stephens‘ grandmother talking about?  Read more as Ruth presents Oh, Yee Gods! posted at Bluebonnet Country Genealogy.

Read an assortment of family language gathered from Canada, the military, and even small children’s mis-pronunciations at M. Diane RogersWhy Do You Say That, Grandma D, or, The Family Language – Carnival of Genealogy – 54th Edition posted at CanadaGenealogy, or, ‘Jane’s Your Aunt’.

Jasia presents There Never Was A Sweeter Word posted at Creative Gene.   Wow, I sure am hungry now after reading Jasia’s post, no matter what you call it in your family!

Terry Snyder, otherwise known as “Tee Tee Brown” presents What’s in a Name? posted at Desktop Genealogist.  You won’t believe how many nicknames the Desktop Genealogist has had!

Thomas MacEntee from Destination: Austin Family brings us two posts.  First, read about some New Yorkisms at Destination:Austin Family: New Yorkisms.   Some of these New Yorkisms are familiar to us Southerners in Philadelphia!  Thomas adds another delightful look at family language with some Mom-isms.   Would it kill you to read both posts?

Susan J. Edminster presents Pit and Siz posted at Echo Hill Ancestors Weblog.  Susan shares a wonderful remembrance of her brother, Bob, who died too young.  Bob had some great expressions and nicknames for the family – and illustrations, too!

Elyse presents The Funny Names, Words and Phrases of My Family posted at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog. Wow – I’d definitely need a dictionary over at Booter’s house!

footnoteMaven presents Home To The Ear posted at footnoteMaven.   Learn about the side effects of losing the family language in this hilarious yet heartfelt lament.

Craig Manson presents Carnival of Genealogy: The Language of Families posted at GeneaBlogie.  From The World’s Smartest Sister’s Bubbas, we learn about the mix of expressions and “linguistic oddities” in his family.

Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings offers a look at San Diego Slanguage.  The man from Nasty City has some interesting “San Diego-isms” that would certainly come in handy if you’re ever in his neck of the woods.

Midge Frazel‘s family comes from Scotland and England, so Americans ought to be able to understand them, right?  Midge Frazel presents Right You Are! posted at Granite in My Blood.

Terry, er…Bill?  No wait! Teb?!  Let’s just say that Mr. Thornton presents Thwarted by Thweet Nicknames posted at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi.  If the first paragraph doesn’t pull you right in, I don’t know what will.  Not all nicknames are welcome in Terry’s family!

Janet Iles presents Carnival of Genealogy 54th edition – Family Language posted at Janet the researcher.  If you were invited to Janet’s house for dinner, you’d get to enjoy a nice big plate of … slop?  You’ll have to read her funny post to find out exactly what she means!

Becky Wiseman presents Say What? posted at kinexxions.  Learn about some sayings that are cute and funny…just not to Becky’s nephew.

Elizabeth O’Neal presents Little Bytes of Life: Who Needs Ruby Slippers When You’ve Got Strawberries? posted at Little Bytes of Life.  Drop by for some funny musings on everything from children learning language for the fist time to Valspeak and other California-isms!

Robert Lord presents Lord and Lady: This one’s for “Dexter” posted at Lord and Lady.  Robert’s grandfather had an unusual good luck charm and a mysterious saying, “This one’s for Dexter.”  But does it involve an unsolved murder mystery?

Lisa from 100 Years in America presents The Hungarian Language and the “Poetry” of My Childhood.  In this thoughtful post, Lisa remembers the soundtrack of her childhood as provided by her Hungarian-Croatian grandmother.

Val M. presents The “Farmer” posted at One Point in Time.  Can a nickname lead you to dig deeper into your research?  Was “the Farmer” really a farmer?

Amanda Erickson presents Pittsburghese? posted at Random Ramblings.  Amanda presents quite a few interesting sayings from out west (Pittsburgh, that is!).

Lori Thornton presents Southern English posted at Smoky Mountain Family Historian.  Y’all need to tote yourself on over to Smoky Mountain for another lesson in Southern English.

Stephen J. Danko presents Polish Influences in my Family?s Language posted at Steve’s Genealogy Blog. Steve, who I will forever now think of as Staś, remembers the Polish influence is his family.  Hey, didn’t everyone have gołąbki and kapusta?

John Newmark presents A Family Language posted at Transylvanian Dutch.  John thought he had some great insight into his family’s use of nicknames, but he’s stumped by a rather unique expression found in a letter.  Exactly who is it that did what?

Sheri Bush presents The Family Language or The Mason/Dixon Line Runs Down The Middle of Our Table posted at TwigTalk.  Sheri is fluent in two languages!  North and South…

Now we’ll travel down the road a piece to Bill West‘s West in New England as he presents West in New England: DOWN THE ROAD A PIECE TO THE FORTRESS!.

Find out some unique Texas Talk native to David Bowles family in Talkin’ Texan posted at Writing the Westward Sagas.

Finally, the offering from yours truly, Donna Pointkouski, here at What’s Past is Prologue is presented in Don’t Be a What? I wrote about my grandmother’s influence on my language!

That concludes this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy – thanks so much for attending!  I hope you enjoyed learning about everyone’s family languages as much as I did.  Thanks, Jasia, for the opportunity to host!  And special thanks to footnoteMaven for the cool poster!

Call for submissions! With Labor Day and the end of summer right around the corner it’s time to think about going back to school. So, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Show and Tell! Remember that fun little exercise you used to do in your grade school days? Here’s your chance to do it again 🙂 Show us and tell us about an heirloom, a special photo, a valuable document, or a significant person that is a very special part of your family history. Don’t be shy now, show us what you’ve got! This is all about bragging rights so don’t hesitate to make the rest of us green with envy! This is your chance to brag, brag, brag, without seeming like a braggart (you can’t be a braggart when you’re merely following directions ;-)… so show and tell!

This next edition will be hosted by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. The deadline for submissions will be September 1st.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. See ya next time!


Age: By the Numbers

Courtesy of!

Courtesy of!

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.” ~ Mark Twain

The 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy focuses on the topic of “age”:
Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us … With the understanding that “age is often a state of mind”, share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.

I am one of those people that will read an obituary for any centenarian.  I am amazed by their lives, simply because of their sheer length and how much they saw the world change during that time.  Some graduated from high school and college before my parents were born, and many spent my entire lifetime as a widow or widower.  Their lives fascinate me, and I really wish I was related to one of these long-living people because it would make a great story.  My friend’s grandmother lived to 101!  But, as you will see in my musings on age, none of my ancestors have made it that long (yet).  I have no ancestors who climbed Mt. Everest or graduated from Harvard at advanced ages, nor do we have any child prodigies either…yet.  But, hopefully I’ve found just a few fascinating “age” facts among my seemingly boring ancestors that make them “stand out” in the crowd.

Who Lived the Longest?

My Ancestor Who Lived the Longest is my grandmother, Margaret Bergmeister Pointkouski.  She died at the age of 84 years 9 months, beating my other grandmother by six years.  My grandfathers died young by comparison at 69 and 60 years old.  I do not have all of the exact dates for my entire family tree, but I was surprised to discover that of all those “greats”, none lived as long as Margaret (even though some came close).

Margaret’s older sister, Marie, wins the distinction of being my Collateral Relative Who Lived the Longest.  She died in 1990 a few weeks past her 92nd birthday.  She will not hold the title for much longer though, because my Oldest Living Collateral Relative is “Aunt Dot”, my other grandmother’s younger sister, who is currently 92 years, 6 months, and counting!

While these older relatives all lived in the 20th Century, I was surprised to discover that some of the ancestors further back in my family tree actually lived much longer than some of my other “modern” ancestors.  For example, my grandmother Margaret far outlived her own parents.  Her father Joseph Bergmeister died at the age of 54, and her mother Marie Echerer was only 43.  Yet each of her parents had ancestors who survived to what I thought were very old ages for the times.  Even though her father Joseph lived longer than his own father by more than ten years, his great-grandparents lived to the ages of 77 and 75 in the mid-1800s.  His wife Marie’s great-grandfather also lived to 77 around the same time.

Variable Marriage Ages

My research has shown that marriage customs vary from country to country.  In Bavaria, the groom was usually in his mid-to-late 30s – or even his early 40s – while the bride was usually in her 20s.  I think this was mostly due to the long period of training for craftsmen to become a full member of a guild, which would then give them the economic capability to support a family.  In fact, the guild required that a newly professed member become married shortly after being accepted into the guild or they were disqualified.  Many young women died in childbirth, so the widower would seek to marry another young woman – in some cases, this further increased the age discrepancy.  If the woman was strong and survived many pregnancies, sometimes the men would die in their 50s or 60s – leaving a widow with many small mouths to feed.  Further research will tell me if these ages were common only to craftsmen – my assumption is that farmers married much younger than their 30s!

In Poland, the marriage custom was very different.  My research has shown that most couples married when they were in their early 20s, or even at 18 or 19.  The Ancestor Who Married at the Youngest Age is my Polish great-grandfather, Louis Pater, who married his almost 19-year-old bride the day after his 17th birthday (here in the U.S.).

Your Mamma was So Old…

While the media might make you believe that “older” mothers, meaning women over 40, are “new” to the modern age, this isn’t quite true.  My “Oldest Mother” Ancestor is my great-grandmother, Rozalia Kizoweter Piontkowska, who delivered my grandfather in 1910 just weeks before her 44th birthday!

But I have some even crazier mammas in my family tree… Jakob Bergmeister married Anna Daniel in 1835 when they were 30 and 23 – young by Bavarian marriage standards.  They proceeded to have 15 children in 19 years – Anna was 24 at the birth of her first child and 43 at the birth of her last!  Infant mortality was very high though – at least 7 died as infants.  Of the rest, the fate of 5 are not certain, but 3 others lived to adulthood.  As for the parents, Jakob died at the age of 65 in 1870.  Anna died one year later at the age of 58 (probably from exhaustion!).

Maybe Jakob was trying to model his prolific marriage on that of his own parents, Joseph Bergmeister and Kreszens Zinsmeister.  When they married in 1800, Joseph was 37 and Kreszens was considerably younger at 23.  They started having children right away.  In the end, they had 12 children in 16 years, with Kreszens 23 years old for the first and 39 for the last.  Of these children, I can not yet account for the fate of 8, but there are 2 confirmed infant deaths and at least 2 who lived to enjoy adulthood.

Age is Mostly a State of Mind

I don’t know much else about her other than “vital statistic” dates and a few other facts, but based on numbers alone I’d have to award my 3rd great-grandmother, Franciszka Wojciechowska Pluta, the Most Amazing Feat for an Older Woman award.  At the “young” age of 69, she boarded a passenger ship to travel from Poland to the United States, alone.  According to the passenger arrival record, she was 4’10” and limping, but she made the journey!  She spent those last years in the U.S. living with her daughter’s family, and she died at the age of 73 in 1914.

So there you have it – just a few “facts of age” from Donna’s family tree.  While I don’t have any centenarians, you really can’t say “never” when it comes to genealogy.  Who knows what I’ll discover next as I record and transcribe dates?  And who knows how long the current generation will live?  We might just have a centenarian in the family yet!

[Written for the 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Age]

Down the Shore and At the Beach

Whether your family went “down the shore” or to the beach, thirty-two genea-bloggers had great stories to tell and fantastic swimsuit photos to share in the latest edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.  Join in the fun at the 49th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, posted at Creative Gene.  I had to include the wonderful COG poster created by footnoteMaven!

Be sure to read the Call for Submissions for the 50th COG: Family Pets.  Details can be found in the COG post.  The next deadline is June 15.

The Carnival has Come to Town

My readers probably know this by now, but just in case… The 46th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted! This edition focuses on Family Traits, and the submissions cover a wide variety of traits – physical or personality, good or bad. Stop by for some great reading. I wasn’t sure how to make the subject interesting to others, but I tried by best. Read my own submission – “All in the Family” – here.

The next Carnival of Genealogy topic is A Place Called Home. For me, that is quite serendipitous – I’ve been working on a post that fits this very theme. Thanks, Jasia! She explains the topic as follows:

It’s time for a geography lesson. Pick out a city/town/village where one of your ancestors once lived and tell us all about it. When was it founded? What is it known for? Has is prospered or declined over the years? Have you ever visited it or lived there? To a certain extent, we are all influenced by the environment we live in. How was your ancestor influenced by the area where they lived? Take us on a trip to the place your ancestor called home.

The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2008. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Carnival of Genealogy, 44th Edition

For Women’s History Month, this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is A Tribute to Women. There were 31 submissions (with some multiple submissions), all honoring those special women who have touched our lives in some ways. Mothers, aunts, teachers, and courageous and inspiring women of all sorts are represented! Hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene, read her roundup of the carnival entries here. My own entry is here about my great-great aunt (who was great!).

Next up for the COG (Carnival of Genealogy):

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Cars as stars! Next to purchasing a house, a “new set of wheels” was the next most significant purchase for many families. What car played a starring roll in your family history and what roll did it play? Did your family build cars or tinker with them? Did they take “Sunday drives”? What was your first car? Was there a hangout that you frequented in your car? How far back can you document your family’s automotive genealogy? Tell us your car stories… front seat or back! 😉 Vroom, Vroom!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2008. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Hilaire Bergmeister: A Tribute to An Aunt

[Note: This post was written on March 14, 2008. Text in green are updates added February 14, 2015 to correct information.]

I have a soft spot in my heart for all of the aunts in my family tree, especially those without children. The reason for this attraction is that I find myself in the ironic position of being a genealogist without any offspring of my own. But, I do “have” children because I am an aunt! I’ll let you in on a little-known secret…when aunts are childless, they are able to give away a bigger piece of their heart to their nieces and nephews.Perhaps it’s because of my childless predicament that I am fascinated by one of my great-great aunts, Hilaire “Laura” Bergmeister Thuman. I know very little about her, but the portrait I have surmised from these few facts is worthy of my admiration. Hilaire is a somewhat mysterious figure because of the lack of information. My challenge was to write about Hilaire as a kindred spirit, a fellow aunt who clearly loved her nieces and nephews. But how do you write a biographical sketch when the details are few? These simple facts about her life may not tell readers everything about this woman, but hopefully it will show some of her key attributes that make her admirable.

Hilaire Bergmeister was born in Bavaria on 12 January 1870 to Joseph Bergmeister and Ursula Dallmaier. She was probably their first child, but the unusual fact of her birth is that her parents did not marry until 11 April 1871. While illegitimacy was not uncommon in Bavaria at that time, I find it odd that the parents would marry some time later and have more children together. Hilaire’s birth date has not been found in the church records [It’s been found…she was born 12 Jan 1870, illegitimate but her father was named, in Asbach], but the date is consistently noted throughout her life in other sources including marriage, census, and death records. Her parents’ names are also evident through some of these records; the only mystery is why this couple did not marry until their daughter was over a year old.

Hilaire’s father Joseph was a flour merchant who came from a family of millers in the small town of Puch near Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. According to the record of his marriage, Ursula was the daughter of an innkeeper from the town of Aichach [Asbach]. Their marriage occurred in Pfaffenhofen, and the couple went on to have more children together. According to the church records in the nearby town of Vohburg a.d. Donau, a daughter Maria was born on 17 November 1871. As I have no other record of this child, it is possible that the baby died; however, another possibility is that “Maria” is actually the record of Hilaire’s birth/baptism. Many females born in this region of Bavaria were named Maria, and they usually used their middle names in everyday life since every other girl in town was named Maria. However, the date of this child’s birth does not match what is known to be Hilaire’s birth, and Hilaire’s records were constant throughout her life as reporting her birth year as 1870 and her birthday in January.

Joseph and Ursula’s next child was a son, my great-grandfather Joseph Bergmeister. Joseph was born in Vohburg on 12 February 1873. Other sources record another son, Ignatz Nicholas, born on 23 April 1876, but his exact birthplace is unknown [Abensberg]. It appears that Joseph may have traveled throughout the region as a flour merchant selling the goods his family produced at the mill in Puch.

At some point during Hilaire’s childhood, her father died. His death date is not yet firmly established, but by the year 1884 Ursula Bergmeister was remarried to Herman Goetz from Regensburg. She had at least two sons with him, half-brothers to the Bergmeister children: Herman, born on 14 May 1885, and Julius Andreas, born 9 November 1886. Both boys were born in Regensburg and it is presumed that the Bergmeister siblings lived with them.

Hilaire BergmeisterOne of the few Bergmeister photos shows Hilaire as a young woman. The photo studio was in Amberg, which is about 40 miles from Regensburg. She appears to be about 18-21 years old, so the year is between 1888 and 1891. I love the expression on her face. That mischeivous grin tells me she was the independent type…the sort of gal who was fearless and unconventional. Her emigration from Germany and her marriage to an older man, the next two “facts” in her life, add weight to my guess about her personality.

In 1893, a 23-year-old Hilaire boarded the SS Friesland in Antwerp, arriving in New York on 25 July. The passenger lists from this time period provide few details other than names and ages, so I lack the physical description or details on the destination that later arrival records provide. There was a 25 year-old “Rud. Bergmeister” on the same ship, but he is not listed with her. In fact, he is listed as a “professor” traveling in first class and the name does not match any known family members.

At some point after her arrival, Hilaire moves to Philadelphia. There is also a Bergmeister family living in Philadelphia at this time who came from Bavaria in the 1870s. However, no connection has been established between these two Bergmeister branches. Based on my research, Hilaire was the first member of my Bergmeister family to come to the United States. In the 19th Century, a young woman traveling alone and moving to a foreign country is rather inspiring, which adds to her allure.

Unfortunately there are no records to shed any light on Hilaire’s life in Philadelphia shortly after her arrival. In 1896, only three years after coming to the US, Hilaire married Maximilian Thuman, a cabinetmaker. Max, born in Regensburg in 1857, was 13 years older than Hilaire. Could they have known each other in Regensburg? It is unlikely, but possible. However, Max had been in the US since 1883 – if they were acquainted, Hilaire would have been only 13 years old when she last saw him.

Calling CardAt the time of Hilaire and Max’s marriage, she lived at 2827 Reese Street in Philadelphia. By 1900, the couple was living at 1033 Jefferson Street and Hilaire’s occupation is listed as “retail grocery”. Interestingly, one of the witnesses to Max and Hilaire’s marriage, Michael Hoffbauer, is a grocer at Hilaire’s old Reese Street address, so it is presumed that she continued to work there. Max and Hilaire bought a house at 6078 Kingsessing Avenue between 1900 and 1910, and they lived there until their deaths. [They purchased 6076 and 6078 Kingsessing on 13 July 1907 and then must have sold half to live only in 6078 starting on 23 August 1908.]

Beginning in 1900, Max and Hilaire welcomed the arrival of the first of Hilaire’s brothers from Bavaria. When Hilaire left Germany, her Bergmeister brothers were 20 and 17, and her Goetz brothers were still children aged 8 and 7. Despite their ages and the distance between them, communication must have continued through letters across the ocean. Because when each brother arrived in the US, their passenger list shows they were going to Hilaire and Max’s house and that the passage was paid for by their brother-in-law Max Thuman.

Joseph was the first brother to join Hilaire in the US. Joseph, a baker by trade, married Marie Echerer in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm in 1897, and they had a daughter, also named Marie, in 1898. In May, 1900, Joseph sailed on the SS Aragonia from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York City. Max paid for his passage, and his sister is listed on the passenger list as the relative who would meet him. Joseph stayed with the Thuman’s until he could find work and rent a house, and he is enumerated with them on the 1900 Census. The following year, Joseph’s wife and daughter made the long journey to join him in Philadelphia.

Next to arrive was Hilaire’s 16-year-old half-brother, Julius Goetz, in September 1902. He is recorded as a locksmith from Regensburg going to his brother-in-law Max Thuman. Julius also lived with the Thuman’s until he found work in a factory and a place to live. He later returns to live with them after his 1919 marriage for a brief time.

In 1904, Ignatz Bergmeister arrives in New York City in June. His passage was also paid for by Max, and the list annotates that he was “met by sister at the landing”. It is not certain if Ignatz lived in Philadelphia for a time or if he stayed in New York City. He marries in New York in 1907 and is living there in 1910, but since Hilaire met him in New York it is possible that he also came to stay with the Thuman’s in Philadelphia for a short time.

The last brother, Herman Goetz, came to America in 1911 at the age of 26. His passenger arrival record lists his brother Julius as his next of kin in America, but he lived with the Thuman’s for several years, including at the time of his marriage in 1913.

The Thuman’s were definitely involved with Joseph Bergmeister’s family. Joseph and Marie’s first son and first American-born child was Joseph, born in 1902. For his baptism, Uncle Max and Aunt Laura were his godparents. In 1905, Max was born, and the couple was once again godparents. In 1907, Julius had Aunt Laura as his godmother and his namesake Uncle Julius as his godfather. Their youngest child was Margaret, my grandmother, born in 1913. Aunt Laura again takes her place as godmother, and her godfather was Uncle Herman which explains Margaret’s unusual middle name, Hermina.

There is no evidence of what life was like for these immigrant families. How did they live? Were they happy here? Did they keep in touch with each other and visit?

The year 1919 would prove to be a tragic year for the Bergmeister families. Sometime during the year [19 November], Ignatz Bergmeister died at the age of 43. He left behind his widow Therese, 9 year-old son Charles, and 11 year-old daughter Theresa living in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Since Ignatz and his family have only recently been “discovered” and the research into his short life is ongoing, it is not know if Hilaire kept in touch with her sister-in-law and young nephew and niece. [She did!]

The second tragedy to befall the family in 1919 (or possibly the first since I am unsure of the date of Ignatz’s death) was the death of Marie Bergmeister on 5 February. She died from myocarditis at the age of 44. Daughter Marie would turn 21 that month, Joseph and Max were teenagers, Julius was 12, and Margaret was only 6 years old. Marie’s death would greatly affect her husband Joseph, and his sister Hilaire stepped in to help with the children, especially Margaret.

The Bergmeister children’s lives would be further impacted by Joseph’s death eight years later at the age of 54. He died on 30 May 1927 from a kidney infection. By this time, eldest daughter Marie was 29 years old and unmarried with two children of her own: 6-year-old Marie and 2-year-old Mabel. Son Joseph was married for two years to Helen Pardis, and they had a 1-year-old daughter. Max, age 22, and Julius, age 20, moved in with their brother Joseph and his family. Young Margaret was an orphan at 14, and she always said, “Aunt Laura took good care of me.” It is presumed that Margaret lived with her aunt and uncle for some time as well as with her older sister.

Little else is known about Hilaire’s life. Descendants of each of Joseph’s five children all heard stories about Aunt Laura as “a good aunt” who “took care of them” after their parents’ untimely deaths.

Max and Hilaire Thuman

I found this photo at my grandmother’s after her death. Though the photo was unlabeled, I immediately knew that this was the Thuman’s because of the striking resemblance to the younger photo of Hilaire. By the looks on their faces and the gleam in their eyes, I can tell that they were a happy couple. Hilaire still has that mischievous smile! It was probably taken in the 1930’s.

Max Thuman died on 26 November 1941 at the age of 84 from pneumonia. Hilaire only lived for another fourteen months, dying on 6 February 1943 from cancer. She was 73 years old. They are buried together at Mount Moriah Cemetery, which is located just across the street from their home on Kingsessing Avenue.

When you research someone’s life in genealogical records, you can only learn a limited amount of information…these are the facts you “know for sure”. But, there is more to the story of everyone’s life than just those few facts, those few snippets of life that are recorded in a church book or a county office or a cemetery. When I read between the lines of the facts of Hilaire’s life, what is the portrait I see?

Independent, spirited. Loving sister, wife, & aunt.

Thanks, great-great Aunt Laura, for being a “great” aunt – I’ll try to follow your example!

[This post was written for the 44th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: A Tribute to WomenEdit on July 1, 2008 – This post is being re-submitted to the 51st Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Independent Spirit.  I don’t normally re-submit an article; however, I felt it necessary this time.  While the obvious reason is that I have just returned from a nearly 3-week long vacation and don’t have much time to write a new one, the REAL reason is that I can’t think of another person in my family tree that best fits the 51st COG topic.  The Call for Submissions reads: “With the upcoming July 4th holiday, there is no more perfect time to honor someone from your family whose life can be summed up in one word – INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?” We all have at least one person whose character and habits may have made them seem “ahead of their time” and now is the chance to tell us their story.”  I thought long and hard about it…but none of my grandparents or great-grandparents really fit the “free spirit” label.  Since this tribute to my great-great aunt tried to emphasize her independent nature, I simply couldn’t devote this COG to anyone else.  If you’ve read this before, my apologies…but if you’re new here, I hope you enjoyed it!]