Womens History Month -- Week 3

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

After my great-grandparents Alex and Dora came to the US, Alex's health declined. He suffered a stroke, and could not work, so Dora went to work to support the family. All of their children were under age at the time, and none of them spoke much English at first, but she found herself a job as a cook in a hospital, and until her sons finished their schooling, she was pretty much the sole support for the family.

March 14
— Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

Not exactly, though my grandmother Maggie was a WAC in World War II, which was a newsworthy event. Other than that, all I'm sure of is the notices for births, marriages, and deaths. I suppose there might be one, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind.

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

For my great-gandmother Oline: Hard-working woman. Lost too soon.

March 16
— If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

I think the one I'd most like to have lunch with right now is Dora. I'd love to know more about her. She lived through some pretty horrible times, and raise six kids, and immigrated twice…I'd love to know more about who she was, particularly before she met my great grandfather, and particularly her early life and her hometown in Galicia.

I think I'd take her to the waterfront. Show her the beauty of Seattle, and show her why her son chose here to live, instead of staying close to her, even though he loved her.

March 17
— Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

Both of my grandmothers kept pretty busy. My maternal grandmother in the church and in Masonic-related activities with her husband. My paternal grandmother with a group of ladies she met through her children's schooling. She helped found a group with them that started up fundraising activities and gave those funds to the Rhyther Child Center. Eventually, they focused their fundraising energies on a used goods shop in Ballard that they named the R Shoppe, and passed those funds on to the Rhyther Foundation. They all took turns being in charge of the business, and I know she hosted several garage sales for the group over the years. I believe that shop still does business today.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

Several. My maternal grandmother and both of her parents were in their church choirs, and my paternal grandmother's mother, Oline, was an excellent seamstress, and not only made money at it, but made most of her children's clothes.

March 19
— Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

I discovered that Oline's mother and her mother were deserted by her grandfather when her mother was quite young, or possibly not even born. I'd discovered her parents' names through Family Search, but I had nothing beyond my great-great grandmother's birthdate and location, and their names.

Then I came across a letter from my great-aunt after her visit with that side of the family. She was asking about something, and the subject came up. Apparently, her grandmother Maren Sofie Olsen had never known her father because he had come here to the states, leaving his wife (at least, I believe they were married, but I may be mistaken) behind. Eventually he sent her a vase or something at one point, but that was it. So Maren grew up in Denmark, never really knowing her father. Though two of her children did eventually seek him out.

It was a bit of a shock to learn, but in a family where we have so few broken families, even from early deaths, it was fascinating to learn a story different from those I tended to hear. I did feel sorry for my 3G grandmother, though. That must have been horrible for her. If I understand right, it sounds as though she sent her daughter off to work as soon as she could, so Maren may not have even known her mother too well, really.

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

So so many…

I think the one that I'd most love information on, though, is Mindel Seneft, nee Hilinger, my great-grandfather Alex's mother. It was her name that was passed down the line because the German government didn't recognize her marriage to my great-great grandfather Leon Seneft when my great-grandfather returned to Germany after World War I (I could go on and on about what Alex went through in his life, and I think I know barely the surface of what he had to deal with…).

I'd love to know where she was born (Galicia? Germany? Ukraine? Poland? Austria?). I'd love to know her parents' names, and how many (if any) siblings she had.

I've been looking for her on Jewish Gen, though given her faith, I know the chances of finding her online are slim to nil. I'm hoping to get her son's US records at some point, and that might lead to something more. I know absolutely nothing about her husband aside from his name and the fact that he and his wife were gone by the time my grandfather was born, that he lived in London and apparently Galicia, and was likely a Rabbi. This quarter of my family tree stops right here, for the same reason others of Jewish ancestry do. Memory only goes back so far, and when the memory of the time even before the war is so miserable, it makes people less likely to discuss it.

There is also a possibility of getting a death record from the English government, if I can just find a death date/location from her. I believe she may have died in London, but I simply don't know for sure.


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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.