Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award



I have been honored and blessed to be the recipient of the Ancestor Approved Award from three five six fellow geneabloggers:

Denise Levinick of The Family Curator
Kelly McNeill of Family History Fun and

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlighted you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.

Here are ten things I've learned about my ancestors:

Surprised:
1. My 4th-great-grandfather Uzza ROBBINS was hung after he poisoned his second wife and attempted to poison her adult daughter. There's a lot more to this story, and maybe I just ought to write it up!

2. While both my parents are from Michigan, as their ancestors were for many, many generations, my maternal grandmother, her parents and both sets of grandparents lived here in Washington State (albeit on the West side) for a time in the 1920s. While most of the family eventually returned to Michigan, one set of her grandparents remained in the Pacific Northwest.

3. For years, I thought one of my 3rd-great-grandfather's brothers had died in Washington, DC and was buried in Arlington Cemetery. They were both Civil War vets from Pennsylvania who had moved to Michigan and the story was passed down that Benson had "died in Washington and was buried in Arlington." Imagine my surprise at yet another Washington State connection when I discovered that Benson had died in Washington State and was buried in the city of Arlington, Washington!

4. And in still another surprising Washington State connection, I found out that yet another brother to Benson and my ancestor had lived in Stevens County to the north of me after moving west from Michigan. I found his 1916 obituaries printed in both my local newspaper in Spokane and in the newspaper my parents read in Stevens County!

Humbled:
5. My maternal (step) grandfather was a brilliant man whose IQ was definitely in the genius range. He attended the same high school that Gerald R. Ford did in Grand Rapids, Michigan (a few years behind the future president), and actually skipped at least one grade because he was so bright. When he graduated high school, he didn't immediately go to college. He worked hard and saved money to attend the University of Michigan one year at a time. He never completed college because he ended up loaning his parents money they desperately needed (this was during the Depression), and then World War II came along. After the war, he married my divorced grandmother (a social no-no in conservative West Michigan), raised my mother as his own, and had two children with Grandma. He treated all three children equally and willed his estate equally among them. He invested well and even though he lost money during the dotcom bubble burst, this man who lived very frugally in an older middle-class neighborhood died with a small fortune to his name. Definitely one of the Greatest Generation!

6. My paternal grandfather was a hard working man who left high school after 10th grade to support his parents during the Depression (his father suffered frequent illnesses from his service during WWI). He also served during WWII, and after the war, bought land at the edge of town to build a home and business (body shop). He and my grandmother raised five children and countless foster children. They took in at least one of his younger siblings for a while, and also employed his father and his brothers in his body shop. He loved children and worked a church summer camps for years. Although he made a working class salary, he and my grandmother managed to take family road trips all over the country to see famous historical and geographical sites. When he was 67 years old, he completed his high school education and received his diploma (I have one of his notebooks from his classes). Another one of the Greatest Generation!

7. My 2nd-great-grandmother on mother's side, Jennie (TON) HOEKSTRA, was the daughter of Dutch immigrants. Both her parents died young and she ended up working as a washer woman at about 10 years of age. She had a very hard life with her step-father who married again soon after her mother died, so she lived with an uncle and aunt. She never had more than a 3rd grade education and she married my 2nd-great-grandfather who could be a bit of a tyrant. She is one of those ancestors I think about whenever I'm tempted to whine about my "hard" life!

Enlightened:
8. Although not a direct ancestor, I'm inspired by the life of my grandaunt, Barbara Dorothy VALK. A missionary to various countries in Central Africa, she remained single so that she could be an independent woman. Her amazing story can be read here.

9. I always thought of my great-grandmother, Marie (LEWIS) ROBBINS, as simply a homemaker, raising five children during the Depression, cooking, gardening, and sewing. But I discovered that she was much more three-dimensional than that! She was a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Conklin, Michigan, and served as its first president. She also ran a gift shop to help support the family (her husband suffered illness from serving during WWI) and I found an advertisement for it in one family member's high school yearbook!

10. Another amazing female ancestor was my 2nd-great-grandmother, Mary E. "Mae" McARTHUR. She had the courage to leave her abusive husband (who came from a locally prominent family) in 1904. It cost her so much, because she was only allowed to take her daughter with her, while her two sons were raised by her husband. It must have been heart-wrenching not to be able to take her sons with her, and even harder over the years to watch them as they both led hard lives, the youngest (my great-grandfather) ending up in prison a couple of times.

And now, a list of 10 fellow geneabloggers who are deserving of this award:

1. Apple of Apple's Tree
3. Jessica of Jessica's Genejournal
4. Lisa of 100 Years in America (and other blogs)
5. Evelyn of A Canadian Family
6. Jennifer of But Now I'm Found
9. J.M. of Tracing My Roots
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