20 December 2012

Thankful Thursday - Of Taco and Wersel, Matthias and Ravold

I've spent the last year researching my Dutch Wersel family roots. I'd started it a long time ago (1996/7), but was put off by a limit of information available and the call of lines I could research here in the U.S. But late last year I had the opportunity to contact and meet my second cousin, Bill Strubbe, his sister Mary and brother Chuck. Bill was excited about the research I'd done, so much so that he invited me to come and stay with he and his wife Kim at their beautiful home in Cincinnati. We had dinner with our third cousin, Nancy Rybolt. Nancy was kind enough to bring with her a treasure trove of family documents, some of which dated back to the early 1800s. These documents helped to ramp up my research in a big way, clarifying some confusion regarding names (Frank was born Franciscus Johannes) and places (a residence permit in Brazil for Nicolaas Jean Francois Wersel dated 1848).

Frank John Wersel, later Frank B Wersel
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH

George B Wersel
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH
Just one short year later, I'm amazed at what has been digitized and is now available online. I've also learned so much as a Genealogist; checking name variants, checking each piece of evidence and its source, the FAN club, etc.  I created a research spreadsheet to compile data ; it's a great tool. Even with the language, Dutch, I was able to learn enough to do some basic translations.

Of course, I'm not doing genealogical research 24/7. I have my work as a Consulting Archivist, I'm working on building an Archives and Genealogical Services business, I'm in the ProGen Study Group, I write for Archives.com, I do presentations for local groups and, oh by the way, I have a husband that periodically appreciates a hot meal. [Not that he can't do that for himself; but he works long hours and I only 'work' two days a week.]

It was because of these time limitations that occasionally I post here or on social media or genealogy sites about what I've found and what I am still looking for. And last month, I posted on Genealogy Wise. One of the people who responded to my post was Taco Goulooze. Yep, you read that right, that's his name. Taco lives in the Netherlands and he will now and forever be known by me as 'Columbo'. Thanks to his intrepid spirit and obvious interest in my rather unusual family (which really shouldn't surprise anyone), I now have documents for the birth of my ggg-grandfather, evidence on a document that he (my 3rd great grandfather) stated he was an only child, clarification about a date on a document which lead to evidence as to when and where they entered the U.S. and a resource to connect with in Brazil. Because, well, Taco's like Columbo. And kinda my hero. My genea-hero. At one point in an email, he said, 'I know you're perfectly capable of doing your own research, but your family is so interesting...' So, thanks Taco. For opening up my Wersel (now Versel) line.

Oh, and not to be outdone I posted, in the Ahnenforschung group on Facebook, a request to transcribe and translate my 'crinkle letter' after I realized there just weren't enough hours in the day and Kenneth Marks had success with a translation he needed. Sure enough, Matthias Steinke stepped up to the plate and came through in a HUGE way, meticulously transcribing the mangled document and then working in a language he's not super familiar with to translate it into English. Holy wow...

Ravold Letter 1851
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH
What I thought might possibly contain military information, because the writing is  so dense, is actually a letter written in 1851 from family in Europe to family that had recently settled in the United States. Of course, the entire document tells a tiny bit about how each cousin, brother, sister, etc. is doing, how many children they have and their names and describes what a dog 'Nicolaas' is for promising to send 60 dollars when he, indeed, did not. There are so many names that I have to sit down with the translation and create a spreadsheet to figure out who is who. What I do know is they are the relatives of my gg-grandmother, Mary Ann Wersel, who was born Anne Marie Wagner in France and is the daughter of Jean Frederick Wagner and Anne Eve Hensgen. Anne Eve's sister Elizabeth married Nicholas Ravold (look closely at the signature on the bottom right of the image above).

Thankful? There really are no words. This has been the most remarkable year with dismal lows and even more dizzying highs. I'm most thankful that the lows happened at the beginning of the year and have become part of my life lesson book. And those nasty lessons? They've been replaced by the likes of Taco and Matthias, extremely generous family historians, living in places where the people I'm writing about here are from. They gave freely of their time and skills so that I would have the ability to know more about my own history. My gratitude for the time they spend to help myself and others is...well, it's indescribable. And for me, that's saying a lot.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Laura,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/11/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-november-15.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!


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