Sunday, April 13, 2008

Take the Genealogical Challenge

I have been fortunate enough to obtain facial images for 7 of my 8 great grandparents. Click to enlarge.
Recently I read the results of an interesting survey in Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter which was posted 24 Mar 2008. The findings of the survey showed that Americans lacked a knowledge of their family history and in particular their pedigree. The survey was sponsored by The Generations Network (parent company of and conducted by an independent source.

The survey discovered that:
*One-third of Americans cannot name any of their great-grandparents.
*Half of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents.
*Six out of ten Americans do not know both of their grandmothers' maiden names. (probably even fewer would know the names of their four great grandmothers).

So I thought how I would respond to this survey. Everyone has eight biological great grandparents. For an extra measure, I also provided vital statistics including locations. I numbered my great grandparents according to the "Ahnentafel" system:

8. Karl or August Streich (or Strike), b. ? in Prussia (Posen?); d. 1885 in America.
9. Henrietta Hohnke, b. 1842 in Posen, Prussia; d. 1922 in West Houtzdale, PA.
10. Thomas W. Russell, b. 1847, Holytown, Lanarkshire, Scotland; d. 1928, Cambria Co, PA.
11. Eleanor (or Ellen) Hartley, b. abt 1845, Yorkshire or County Durham, ENG; d. abt 1892, Houtzdale, PA.
12. Henry Caspar Gailliot, b. 1862, Wesel, GER; d. 1926, Alexandria, VA.
13. Franceska (Francoise) Dumoulin, b. 1871, Roeschwoog, Alsace; d. 1941, Alexandria, VA.
14. Joseph Austel, b. 1850, Haindorf, Boehmen; d. 1924, Braddock, PA.
15. Maria Gutgsell, b. 1857, Wintzenheim, Alsace; d. 1895, Burglen, Switzerland.

I've been collecting these data for about 16 or more years, but I tried to recall the above without peeping into my computer's database. I also made these observations:
  • All of my great grandparents were born in Europe.
  • Three of my four grandparents were also born overseas.
  • I can say that my heritage is 6/8 German (based on the German borders, 1871-1918), 1/8 Scottish, and 1/8 English.
  • All of my great grandparents died before I was born in 1942. My children saw two of their great grands (Harry McNeeley and Lemma Drake on their Mother's branch).
  • Grave sites or burial locations are known for six of my eight great grandparents; but only 4 tombstone inscriptions exist.
  • I am not certain of my paternal great grandfather's first name, nor the "correct" spelling of his surname.
  • I have facial images of 7 of my 8 great grandparents, almost all of which I discovered in the hands of my collateral family who graciously let me copy them.
  • My father was fostered and then adopted by his father's sister, Martha, nee. Streich, who married Robert W. Kramp from Kries Stolp, Hinterpommern (Poland today). Thus, I have a more complex ancestral tree. Oh boy, another tree to climb!

The survey results continued:
*Twenty-two percent of Americans don't know what either of their grandfathers did for a living.

My Response: My paternal grandfather, Otto Strike, was a coal miner; then a machinist for American Car and Foundry Company in Detroit- they made most of the nation's street cars; then a maintenance man (ice plant operator) at Cresson Tuberculosis Sanitarium, PA. My maternal grandfather, Charles Gailliot, was a pattern maker for the Navy Yard in DC.

*Although America is known as a nation of immigrants, 27 percent don't know where their family lived before they came to America.

My Response: I did pretty good on this one. I have even visited the birth places of 3 of my great grandparents: Thomas W. Russell in Holytown, Lanarkshire, Scotland; Henry C. Gailliot, in Wesel, Germany; and Franceska Dumoulin, in Reoschwoog, Alsace. My goal of course would be to visit all birthplaces. You'll hear about it here.

*The study also found that in comparing regions, Southerners know the least about their roots. Only 38 percent know both of their grandmothers' maiden names, compared with 50 percent of Northeasterners.
No comment.

*Young Americans are looking to their roots- 83 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds are interested in learning their family history. Following closely are the 35 to 54 year-olds at 77 percent and Americans ages 55+ at 73 percent.

This surprised me as I thought older Americans would be most interested in knowing their ancestors- after all they will meet them sooner rather than later. And, it would be nice to be acquainted with their names and where they were from- just to make conversation.

References for survey: Dick Eastman's Newsletter, 24 Oct 2008, and The Generations Network

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