This Is My Heritage (book)

Before pages were separated.~~ Today, I mutilated the book; never in my remembrance, never “tore up” a book.

I attempted to scan pages in the book but had a ghastly ghost of unsightly black-and-white around the text. Totally unsatisfactory, in my humble opinion!! From the glue binding, I carefully tore out the pages one-by-one. Later each page received tender loving care as it was centered on the flat-bed scanner with white paper background. It took three hours to scan one-hundred-forty pages!! ~~ Because I could NOT locate that book on a Google search, I decided I’d scan… and post in the library.” (I purchased the book on 28 Apr 2007 [receipt in book] and question why I couldn’t find it on the Internet.) ~~ Indeed, that is my heritage: Mennonite and Old German Baptist Brethren.

This Is My Heritage

Cousins by the dozens !!

It’s almost eleven o’clock. I’m still in my pajamas; I’ve been at the computer since daylight. The thermometer says eighty-six degrees outdoors but the humidity is unbearable and “feels like” ninety-six or one hundred degrees. Seriously, the Houston TV meteorologist’ push the heat index up ten degrees.

There is no rhyme or reason to the scanning project. I just process through a box, one item at a time. (In my defense, all was organized before I packed and moved from Lancaster, California, in November 2004.) This morning I found a spiral steno notebook with a story I wrote but probably was laid aside and forgotten. (12 noon and weatherman just said “feels like” one-hundred degrees.)

Cousins by the dozens

If I were a poet, I’d write a poem;
If I were a musician, I’d compose a song.
If I were an artist, I’d paint a masterpiece.
Since I’m none of the above, I’ll write a story describing my phenomenal vacation in Ohio.

I question whether my words can describe how the grass is greener, the sky is bluer. Maybe my soul was as parched as the soil in my native California (five years of drought).

In the Springfield, Ohio, area, I found the food tastier–and the families friendlier. Local fresh strawberries were redder–and sweeter–than their relatives in Southern California.

Everywhere I turned, I was introduced to a new “cousin.” Hospitality was warm and sincere.

My trip was planned around Old German Baptist Brethren Annual Meeting held over Pentecost Sunday weekend. From “tent raising” on Tuesday, May __ through Friday, May __, I met “cousins by the dozens.” You’d think my correspondence with family members–while doing genealogical research–would have given me a clue to the number of fourth and fifth cousins living in Clark County. Annual Meeting, of coarse, brought German Baptist from across the nation as I was able to renew old acquaintances and make new. The bond of love is so strong between these members. Can a word-picture illustrate Brethren greeting one another with a holy kiss? plus a warm welcome for extended family and visitors?

Southern California has a plethora of genealogical libraries but they are no match for personal contact with families that knew (or know) my ancestors. Almost at every corner I was introduced to a farm, a church, a cemetery or landmark attached to my Frantz family.

Like my earlier visit to Annual Meeting in Modesto, California (1989), I ate the simple traditional meals in the dining tent. I was permitted to help serve one meal. I joined more than five-thousand worshippers in the large Council Tent. I never tire of hearing the members sing their hymns  a-cappella (an angel choir).

I was afforded the courtesy of displaying my compiled genealogy in the “Baggage Room.” Many members shared their information with me or identified others who might help with my research. Most members are very knowledgeable about their deep roots in this denomination that can trace their faith back to the time of Christ.


In the same spiral notebook, the following  details.

May 16, 1991, 9:55 AM

It is a beehive of activity in the Dining Tent. The tables and benches are in place. White plastic has been stapled to the table top and scrubbed. Women are putting dinnerware at the end of each table. Eight-hundred pounds of potatoes have been peeled and “quartered” and will be served at the noon meal.

There is a “whir” of electric saws and drills as the men finish the installation of sinks. While tasks are being done with speed and skill, a hundred or more people are seated on the benches visiting with a friend or observing the parade of events. Most have been here since before seven AM so it’s time to “sit a spell.”

Nearby, in the Council Tent, stakes are being driven in the ground for plank seats. (An ambulance is at the Council Tent. I wonder if there was an accident.)

The women’s capes are waving gently in the strong breeze. The noise in the tent has raised to a “roar” as hundreds of people chat with one another. The “clink” of silverware joins the chorus of voices, the pounding of hammers and the annoying “rasp” of an electric sander smoothing the edges of the plank benches. Occasionally a baby cries. Small children are “fussy” and asking if it is time to eat.

It is still an hour until noon and I marvel at how remarkably fast the field was transformed from farm to conference ground. The Dining Tent went up precisely on schedule–7 AM.

Saturday, May 18: Four inches of rain the last couple of days. The temperature was quite chilly with a slight wind blowing. Frankly, it was too cool to be comfortable. Because the ground was too wet to park on, we had to park about one-half mile from the conference grounds. Prior to 10:00 AM worship service, a parade of brothers in dark suits and black hats–and sisters with black capes and bonnets–made the trek from their Upper Twin Church to the Brubaker farm (site of the 1991 Annual Meeting). Those less inclined to “hike” were conveyed by chartered buses.

At 1:45 PM, between services, it is cold as the wind whips in under the flaps of the Council Tent. Large crowds are still standing around outside, visiting with one another. Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for friends and families to “catch up” on one another’s activities and see how much the children have grown.

The amplification system was “cutting out” during the earlier worship service and the brothers are testing the system. “Testing one, two, three, four, five, testing, testing.” The addition of lapel microphones and loud speakers make it much easier to hear the ministers. It seems a curious mixture: “Plain people” who shun many modern conveniences–specifically television and radio–but use electronics. I’m told it is “controversial” and some members preferred to stay with the old ways.

Hymn #524, A Firm Foundation
Luke 1:64-80 “We are either saved or we’re lost. Either we please Him, or we don’t.” Verse 69 “and He hath raised up a horn…” (an authority for salvation).
John 1:30 “Let not your heart be troubled….”
Hymn #529
Hymn #97

More time than money !!

AGLL advertisement 1994  After posting the blog about “Cousins by the dozens,” I resumed scanning. Next: A large handful of photocopies from genealogy publications (1980’s-90’s). One page intrigued me so I went to the Internet to see if they were still in business (“no”). Soon, I was going for web link to web link. I read this advertisement and smiled. “My library may not be ‘professional’ but it is a far-sight less expensive!!” Before my “homespun” website, I searched for a template, or site, but never found something suitable–or something I could afford!!

Old project!! Future project??

The contents of the many boxes are often a surprise. (And that is a “good thing.”) Today, I approached a large notebook. My exclamation: “Oh my goodness!” Honestly, I had forgotten all the effort directed toward a challenge of erroneous information. If anything, the mistakes have been multiplied numerous times since I started the project in 1993. But I’m exceedingly busy right now (scanning project) and cannot polish, perfect and put in priority mail. Eventually I’ll return To Set The Record Straight.”

Reading old letters

Is it acceptable to say “I love my letters”?? For me, it is so interesting to read about activities in years past. Today, the following letter was important enough I made a special copy for a blog message. Letter written 28 Oct 1996

A recently scanned, recently read, letter refreshed my memory. I’d been saying that my computer “crashed” (in 1996) and I was so discouraged I didn’t want to rebuild the database one-by-one. Well, I read it was a “virus” that infected the computer, and the backups.

Letter never mailed Perhaps I decided not to burden Christian friends with negative thoughts? I have an enormous file folder full of details regarding my seventeen months working for Walmart (Englewood, Ohio). I hate Walmart!! (Can I be sued for saying that?) Only yesterday, I repeated a statement I’m fond of saying: “I’d rather pay one-third more at another retailer than buy at Walmart.” My recent grocery shopping, for example, probably cost more because fewer stores in that chain.

Good news!! I’m almost to the bottom of another box of family history research notes and correspondence. ~~ One box prepared to mail to Brethren Heritage Center, Brookville, Ohio.

Torn between two worlds !!

Unashamed, I confess that I have been bawling my eyes out!! I love every word of Smiles and Tears Throughout the Years; Memoirs of Arthena I. Shoup . I never met many of the individuals she talks about but I “know” them from documentation in Frantz Families–Kith & Kin. I didn’t grow up in Ohio but (“doing family history”) I visited the area. I’ve visited those farms, and cemeteries. The families were so tight-knit; there was love and concern for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors. (My family experience was an exact opposite.)

“I was born in the wrong generation; I was born in the wrong family.” I embrace the simple lifestyle of my Old German Baptist Brethren ancestors and collateral lines. In my mind’s eye, I can see myself in plain garb and prayer covering. “Torn between two worlds.” I’ve loved the computer–and the Internet–and the modern electronics that simplify documenting family history. Old German Baptist Brethren cousins do not have the Internet, or television. Their love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the principles of Holy Writ, resonate in their lives. No shallow Christianity there!!

God, my Heavenly Father, ordained my exact time on this earth. I have been blessed to learn of my “roots” in the Old German Baptist Brethren, and Mennonite, faith. It was indeed a miracle that I went from “no knowledge,” in 1989, to publication of Frantz Families–Kith & Kin in 1996. Three-thousand one-hundred eighty pages, in three volumes. There was much more information available but I rushed to publish while I was alive and capable. (Others had planned to publish… but died… and their research gathered dust.)

The fact that I have boxes of correspondence, and research material, is testimony to the fact that there was enough material for volume four and five. Why did I stop documenting the families in a genealogy software program? My computer “crashed” and the backups were corrupted (1996). I could not restore the fifty-thousand names and sources; I was devastated!! I did not want to start over, one-by-one.

With tears in my eyes, I express gratitude for this foray into history; thankfulness for the health to approach the scanning project (at eighty-two years of age); and appreciation for twenty-first century (modest) understanding of computers and scanners. I’m exactly where my Heavenly Father wants me!

That said, time to go back to the scanning project?! Back to adding information to the library.”

Affirmation and reaffirmation !!

It’s five PM and I want to share my wonderful experience of the day. Yes, I was “scanning” (after a couple of hours pulling weeds) and I selected a large padded envelope from a dear lady “cousin.” It was postmarked late November 1998 and, unquestionably, I read the contents at that time. However, it was all new to me today. Oh, how I loved reading the handwritten letters. Oh, how I cried as I read the Memoirs of Arthena Shoup. Because of years of “family history,” and years spent visiting in the Springfield, Ohio, area, I “knew” the families; I knew some of the homesteads.

Correspondence from Lela Landes Shoup dated 28 Nov 1998 and 19 Mar 1999

I may be in the minority but I believe preserving correspondence, and research notes, has value. “Armchair researchers” can go to and compile names, dates and locations. Personally, I love (love, love) the intimate details of narratives by warm-blooded Homo sapiens (versus impersonal giant computer with remarkable search features).

It is my prayer that the digitized library will become a well-visited site by folks researching the Frantz family and collateral lines.

Same old song ?!

Four AM; can’t sleep!!

Yesterday: Moved the car for the first time in six weeks; went shopping. Spent $100.78 for groceries. Bought a non-habit-forming sleep aid but it didn’t seem to help me sleep. Spent $16.99 at Dollar Tree for cleaning products and toiletries (but “housecleaning” doesn’t rate very high on my priority list).

Honestly, I told a friend (in an email message) that I need to be three people: One for the scanning project, one for the yard, one for maintaining the trailer home. My yard is a jungle of weeds and “stuff” falling out of the trees. The rain gauge was full… from rain this last week. More boxes got wet and contents went into the dumpster. Some items are spread out to air dry. I’m so weary of all the clutter–indoors and outdoors!! I’m so tired!!

The “new” computer must be “over-burdened” too?! It is so-o-o-o slow; it takes an exceedingly long time to process information (and I get so impatient)!! Right now, 4:44 AM: Four thousand, five-hundred, ninety-two megabytes used for the library. Granted, I’m using Windows-7 so I don’t have the newest technology. I didn’t want the “learning curve” of Windows-10!!



Three months and counting !!

Showing off the new computer on March 5, 2017.

“The clutter” has only gotten worse!! I have so little aisle space because three boxes to the left of the table with Dell laptop computer. One box for trash–but it is filling up very slowly. One box holds material I’ve scanned but put the original correspondence (printouts, etc.) in a box destined for Brethren Heritage Center. One box contains the next projects I’ll tackle one-by-one. On a positive note, the very large box, on the pallet, on the patio, is empty and en route to the dumpster. I measure success by the number of boxes, and crates, I’ve emptied. It just doesn’t “show” inside my trailer home!!

So far, this is merely the boxes that were in a storage unit “down the highway.” I have not attempted to “dig” out boxes stored in my on-site storage building. Yes, I’ve made progress but my answer to the question “How long will this take?” is “a year.”

Did I tell you, this is a juggling act? I scan… and get that “puzzle piece” in the air, then add it to the library.” Almost always, I have three computer programs open (three “pieces”) at all times. Sometimes, in an attempt to know where to file the information* (in the library), I check I usually “get lost” in the search and I’ve wasted(?) precious hours. (1) Windows-7 operating system on laptop, (2) PaperPort software handling the information between scanner and computer, (3) HP scanner, and (4) Every scanned page gets special attention. If a handwritten letter, it has to be scanned one way and I need to lift the lid of the scanner and place the letter on the “flat-bed.” When information was typed with a typewriter, is faded and difficult to read, it needs special attention. Likewise, a printout from an old dot matrix printer, being faded and difficult to read, needs special attention. I’m grateful for those folks who sent letters and printouts that will scan easily when inserted in the “document feeder.”

*Which Immigrant Frantz ancestor.

Here’s an interesting email letter I found today. To Martha from Lorraine.