Category Archives: Family

Stories of the impact my ancetors are having today; interesting stories of convergences and circles being closed.

Thanksgiving Thoughts From Maison Steinbuchel

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson

The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year.  This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel.  During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days.  From the inside, it was serious business.  I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand.  It was fun and awesome at the same time.

Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones.  I was aware of what was at stake:

  • hugs and tears of welcome
  • reminiscence with family and friends
  • reminders of those no longer with us
  • grandparents seeing grandchildren, perhaps for the first time
  •  And even some reluctant endurance of bad memories

Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.

Sending Thanksgiving Peace

Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress.  Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way.  As I said, it was and honor.

The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed.   The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.

So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be.  For those serving our country in the military,  public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.  thanksgiving

If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below.  I want to thank you personally.   If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?

Happy And Blessed Thanksgiving – Practicing Gratitude

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  ― Epicurus

gratitudeI am writing this several weeks before it will post.  It has been a gloomy few days and even though I hate to admit it, my grumpy level goes up when the sun hides.  This tends to press my gratitude level down.  I would not do well in Alaska in winter.

So I decided to go ahead and do a Thanksgiving post.  Thanksgiving was our extended maternal family’s reunion gathering as a child.  We usually went to the farm where all the traditional comfort food converged from a eight county area onto one table.  If there were strained relationships they were set aside for the day as far as I could tell.

This breaking of bread among family served us well.  I only remember the laughter, the stories (that got bigger each year) and the fellowship.  It was expressed gratitude that we had family.  I know it was far from perfect, but even in that, I learned gratitude in the face of the imperfect.  I learned that one does not depend on the other.

Choosing Gratitude

So today I am revving up my gratitude meter.  This year, we are gathering the extended family at my aunt and uncle’s home.  Not on the farm this time, but the family will be there.  Things are far from perfect.  In fact, there are some real challenges many of us are facing, but we still have much much to be thankful for.

Here is a start.  I apologize up front if my list seems superficial to some who may read this in much worse situations, but here I go.  I am grateful for:

  • hot and cold running water
  • several modes of reliable transportation
  • heat, gas and electricity
  • a warm, clean bed
  • a washer and dryer and clean clothes
  • for a loving husband of almost 40 years
  • for a loving church family and friends in several languages around the globe
  • hopes, dreams and plans that my Lord superintends on my behalf
  • ……????

Now, it’s your turn.  In the comments put one (or more) thing you are grateful for.   Let’s see how far this can go.

And oh yes, if you are traveling, safe journeys!

 

 

How Martin Luther Affected All Of Our Destinies – A Tribute

We do not become righteous by doing righteous deed but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.  Martin Luther

I am not a Lutheran.  Although I appreciate much of their theology, I attended a Methodist Church growing up.   A movement that grew out of the Anglican church and although much removed from its roots – the tree does flow back into the Roman Catholic faith.  However, there is no disputing the effect the reformation had on both the faith of my childhood as well as the path my German ancestors took.

Reformation Trickle-Down
In the mid 1860’s my great great grandfather and his brother, left Germany for the United States.  The conditions that created the need to leave home were a combination of religious and economic upheaval.   This led to a major shift in the social structure of the time.  There were some natural climatic cycles that also affected the food supply of the region.  A long standing backdrop to all of this was the protestant reformation which began about 350 years prior.  At the time my ancestors made their move, the effects of Martin Luther’s actions had all but crumbled the feudal system.
I have no doubt that once in the United States my ancestor clung closely to the German speaking community of immigrants as he made his way west to Kansas.  Once settled in Kansas, he became a part of the Methodist church as Lutherans were not a major part of the landscape in northern Kansas.  However, this could have been the influence of my great great grandmother as to what church they affiliated with.  I get the sense that he was a man of faith,  however tending to the land and ensuring his family was fed took priority over religious activities.  Still if it had not been for the Reformation, I am not sure what the time line would have looked like for my family.
Luther And A French Education

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dream-Home

Finding Lost Family Members – Or Not….

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing – Wernher von Braun

In a post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewelllost family County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of.  A friend who has a gift for finding lost family  on the Internet decided to poke around for me.  I was humbled that she took time to do this.

 I had found an 1880 census record of an August G. Rehtmeyer on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in  Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois.  He was 19.
What We Found On August G Rehtmeier
  • He voted in 1890 while living at 819 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
  • On November 24, 1887 he married Catharine Goldenbogen in Chicago, IL.  Sir name spelled Rithmeyer on the marriage license.
  • 1900 US Census shows him in Chicago at that same location with a wife, Kate and three children, Neta
  • (Nettie) (11), Walter (8) and Florence (5) Sir name spelled Rehtmeyr and occupation as a furniture dealer
  • He and Kate took a ship while cited as being a resident of Chicago and he went to Hamburg, on the Hamburg-Amerika line, a Dampfschiff (steam ship)
  • 1908 He’s married and going from Hamburg through a French port to New York
  • September 12, 1912 He, Kate and the two girls takes the ship President Grant from Boulogne sur Mer France to New York
  • 1920 Census he and Kate are living in Los Angeles on 3008 West 7th Street in a rental. He is listed as a furniture merchant and employer. The building there today looks about a 1920’s stor
    efront. It is probable they lived above the store he ran. Name shown as AG Rehtmeyr
  • Then I see him going from Hawaii to LA on a ship 1923 and he’s living in LA on Olive St in 1926. He voted in CA as a Republican.
  • Two places have his death mentioned: Jan 6 1929, Los Angeles, CA at age 67. He’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale. He was considered American on all the ships manifests.
Opps…

Continue reading Finding Lost Family Members – Or Not….

Discerning Fake News – Family History Style

fake newsThe thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities.
– Jeremy Hardy
In a recent post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewell County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of.  He was one of my great great grandfather’s older brothers with whom he stowed away on a ship in order to immigrate to America from northern Germany.
A friend and reader of this BLOG who has a gift for finding information on the Internet decided to poke around for me.  I was humbled that she took time to do this.  I found an 1880 census record of Uncle August on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in  Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois.  We currently subscribe to only the US portion of Ancestry, but my friend has the global version.
Avoiding Making Fake News
She found all kinds of neat stuff that opened up all manner of “filling in the blanks”.  I wrote a great BLOG about it, even contacted a couple of family members about it. Using  my version of Ancestry to find more details, I filled in a few more gaps.  Once done, I decided to update my family tree maker in preparation to build a tree on ancestry with all this found information.  And then I realized that the August Rehtmeyer that worked as a clerk in a store was not MY uncle August.  Opps, that pesky reality, Truth, was about to mess up all my work.

Continue reading Discerning Fake News – Family History Style

Regetmeier Reunion On The Homestead

My mother’s paternal great grandfather Frederick Konrad Regetmeier,  immigrated from northern Germany in the mid 1860’s.  He ended up in Jewell County, Kansas, a journey that took a decade.  The legs of his trip followed the model of many of his country men at the time:
  • 1863 – left Germany as a stowaway with his brother, August.  They were discovered en route and made to work for their passage.  Arriving in New York with no papers, they were held to be returned to Germany, but instead jumped ship during the night and escaped.
  • 1871 – Frederick became a naturalized citizen in Freeport, IL.
  • 1874 – March, received a land grant in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS.
  • 1874 – May, married Malinda Elizabeth Miller, the 17 year old daughter of His neighbors a mile or so north.
They lived the first five years of married life faming the homestead living in a dugout.  Around 1880 they built their dream home on the homestead.  By 1886 they had seven children, four boys and three girls. Another girl was born some years later, with two infant deaths in between.  They also took in an young orphaned boy who died at the age of eight.  With a farm to tend to and household of nine or more to feed, clothe and educate, it is not hard to fill in the story with daily life.  There were no doubt community, some church and other social gatherings.  Births, birthdays, holidays, romance and at some point weddings cam about to celebrate.

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dream-Home

Dream-home On A Kansas Homestead

 If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.  Gaston Bachelard
 During one of my extended family’s visit to the Rightmeier homestead in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS, an aunt found a doorknob near the sight where the house had stood. We do not know if it is off of the homestead house or another structure from the farm.  Since there has been no construction on the property since the house was demolished, there is little doubt it that it is from the homestead.  The style is right for the era.
It was about five years after Frederick and Malinda Rightmeier had married in 1876,  that it was decided they had “lived in a hole”, a dugout, long enough.  It was time to build a house.  Since Malinda had moved to the area with her parents three years before marrying Frederic, and had no doubt lived in a dugout with her parents for a time,  I am sure she was more than ready for a proper house.  By this time they had four children born about a year apart.  Two adults and four little ones in a dugout would have been cramped no matter how comfy they may have managed to make it.
Dream-home Building Materials
Information on the acquisition of the materials for the house came from an oral history done from an interview of my grandfather, Lyman, Frederic’s grandson by my younger sister.  He said that Fred made several wagon trips 50 east miles to Blue Rapids, KS on the Blue Ridge River to acquire the raw lumber as the quality was much better there.  It may have been walnut he was after.  Another account stated that the raw lumber was than milled in Randall just a few miles east and south.  It was quite a process but was a nice house by the standards of the day.

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How A Dugout House Demonstrated Wisdom

“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.”  ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
The view north on the homestead. Somewhere on this vista was the location of the dugout.

My mother’s paternal great grandfather, Frederick Konrad Regetmeyer, immigrated from northern Germany in the mid 1860’s.  How that came about is told in a series on circles.  After he was naturalized as a US Citizen, through the network of German immigrants, he became aware of land grant opportunities in Kansas.  In the midst of dreams, he no doubt knew from others that living in a hole in the ground, a dugout, was part of the journey.

The German Immigrant Network
History tells us the German immigrants were anti-slavery and wanted Kansas established firmly as a free state.  There was a period of time in my fair state, when this was quite unsettled.  Rather than protest and fight wars, this community of folks quietly recruited their fellow immigrant countryman to come to Kansas and homestead.  This would, in principle, bring like-minded voters to the state and therefore tip the scales toward the anti-slavery side.
I do not know how altruistic my great great grandfather was on the anti-slavery issue.  However, I do know that from where he had come from in Northern Germany, the Hanover area, the possibility of owning a section of land just for the cost of making basic improvements was a dream come true.  Bureau of Land Management records indicate that the southwest section, 160 acres, of Washington Township was deeded on March 10, 1874 to Frederick Rightmeyer.  In May of that year he married Malinda Elizabeth Miller in Jewell County, KS.  She was the daughter of the neighbor a mile north, who was  born in Mercer County, IL but had come with her family in 1872 to the Kansas prairies.
Newlywed Life And A Dugout
How they went about setting up housekeeping is still being pieced together.  By far the most valuable information we have is from an interview my sister did with my grandfather, Lyman Rightmeier the grandson of Frederick Konrad.  She had done this as a term paper in 1977, for Mrs. Friends Senior Advanced Advanced Composition Class at Plainville High School.  It has provided leads from which to research, not the least of which was my husband and I traveling to Varenholz Germany.   

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picnic

A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

This weekend I will be joining my mother, her brother and members of three of the seven branches of my maternal grandfather’s siblings for a family picnic near Boise Idaho.  Sometime in the 40s or 50s three of  my grandfather’s six siblings moved from Kansas to this area so I only knew them by name.  A large reunion of the Rightmeier clan in Kansas in 2005 and the advent of Facebook reinstated relationships  geography had eroded.

This picnic gathering has me thinking about this branch of my family tree’s German roots.  It centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:   Varenholtz.

A Castle

When my husband and I had an opportunity to visit Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the family stories:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.  The castle location was the seat of a family of Knights , under Heinrich the Lion. Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that Lippe became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Regetmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14. During this period, a long-term drought, along with political and religious unrest made living conditions in Lippe quite desperate.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down.

The life they knew was disappearing.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.   In reality the brothers were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore.

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A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

This will re-publish as I make a return trip to Mission Aviation Fellowship -MAF.  This time I am staying for  a few days to volunteer in the fabrication shop.  I am excited.  Following is the background for this trip from a previous post.
Many of the things that form our lives rest in the background.  They crisscross our paths making significant deposits in quiet ways.   On a trip to the northwest last year, we took time to visit the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, ID.  We have been supporters of MAF for over 20 years, but my connection to this organization goes back much further.
After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this connection does go.  It, in fact, it goes back to my father. As I wrote about my father’s interaction with short-term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled something.  When daddy first became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot.  He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and his piloting skills.
He was also a skilled mechanic and had an instinct for getting things to work.  It seemed a perfect fit.  He made inquiries thinking there might be a way to do short-term flying missions.  MAF mission did not have a provision for short term pilots.  In addition, he was not a certified air-frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic, nor a certified flight instructor nor did he possess a license for instrument flying.  These are all requirements to serve on the MAF piloting team.  Daddy found another way to serve in short-term missions but, as a result of our conversations about this, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted inside me.

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