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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Henry and Anna Borchers - Family Potrait

I say this all of the time, "I love photos!"  They are so interesting to look at.  When they are of your own ancestors, they are like magic.  A picture is like a window.  Old photos are like looking through a window into the past.

Last year, I mentioned to my aunt that I had wished that I had a photo of each of the Borchers children, my great grandfather's siblings.  She said she did have a photo of the entire family together in a portrait.  It amazes me how a comment like that can slip my mind and take me another year to request a copy of the picture.  In my Borchers Family, ask and you shall receive.

The following photo is just that, my Borchers ancestors.  Let me put some context around the photo before scrolling down.  It definitely helps to know the "Who? What? When? Where? and Why?".  Well, let's just say that the "why?" is simple.  Every family should have a portrait taken together.  While this is commonplace nowadays, it might not have been as such in the late 1800s.  When I do find surviving family portraits of my ancestors and family that are over 100 years old, I just about burst from the excitement.

So, who is in this photo?  Where and when was it taken?  What other context can I put around it?

The photo is of Henry and Anna Borchers and Family.  It was taken circa 1900 in Owatonna, Minnesota, at Mueller's, Ground Floor Studio.

Top Row: Henry, William, Martha;  Middle: Tillie, Henry, Albert, Anna;  Front Row Standing: Herbert, Clara

There is a note on the back of the photo indicating who everyone is by their first name.  Below, I have listed their full names and married surnames to the best of my ability.

Top Row
Henry Ludwig Christian Borchers
William Heinrich Borchers
Martha Sophie Dorthea Borchers Joersz

Mathilda (Tillie) Maria Margaretha Magdalena Borchers Weber (later married name was Adams)
"Henry" Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers
Albert A. Borchers
Anna Maria Jackel Borchers (biological parents' name - Kern/Kearne/Kerns)

Front Row Standing
Herbert Herman Leonhardt Borchers (Sr.)
Clara Pauline Christine Borchers Gruenhagen

It is interesting that I don't seem to have Albert Borchers full name.  I wonder what the "A" stood for and if that is even correct.  Another point to make that was shared with me recently was that Anna Maria/Marie Jackel Borchers was adopted.  Yes, all of her children knew this.  This maybe why it was okay for Anna's half sister, Augusta Jackel, to marry her son, William Borchers.  Anna and Augusta were actually not biologically related at all.

So, who is missing from this photo?  Emilie Regina Barbara Borchers was the first child born to Henry and Anna in 1878 and she died when she was only 2 months old.  The second child born would have already been grown, married and out of the house by this time since she is not present in this portrait.  In fact, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Amillia Borchers Strehlow married Charles F. Strehlow at the beginning of 1900.  I wish that I had a photo of her.  I might.  I do have some unidentified photos that my aunt thinks are Strehlow's.

The best way for me to know when this photo was taken is to look at my great grandfather, Herbert Borchers, since he is the youngest in the photo.  He looks to be about two to three years old.  He was born on 3 Aug 1897.  I would assume that this photo was taken in 1900 or thereabouts.

It is funny to me so see the name Mueller on the photo matting because I have relatives by marriage who have that last name.  These Mueller's were apparently photographers in Owatonna, Minnesota, around the turn of the century.  Mind you, the name Mueller (pronounced Miller by many) is common in Wisconsin and Minnesota, at least it was as a German immigrant surname in those parts.

Again, I love photos.  If a Borchers descendant or family friend finds this photo, please comment.  I often wonder if anyone is looking for our Borchers Family roots besides my uncle, myself, and a few others on

Friday, January 27, 2012

U.S. Season 3 - Who Do You Think You Are?

A new season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" starts on Friday, February, 3rd.  Can't wait!

This season includes Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Rob Lowe, Reba McIntyre, Blair Underwood, Rita Wilson, and an NFL Football player.  I'm not much into football but my hubby is so he'll watch that one for sure.

Mark your calendar for 8pm on the 3rd.  I'm setting my DVR to record.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Write it down! Blog it!

If there is anything that I've learned in blogging about my family history, my roots, and genealogy, is the absolute importance of writing things down.  That is the point of this blog.

This lesson is not a strange concept in my Flanagan Family.  My ancestor, Richard Flanagan started writing things down in the farm account books in 1773 in Termonfeckin, Louth, Ireland.  The fact that those books were retained by the family is probably a bit of a miracle.  To his credit he must have set the trend in the family.  His son, Patrick Flanagan, continued with the farm account books.  The importance of the written word was not lost on Patrick's children or his grandchildren.

From Richard Flanagan (my 5th great grandfather) to his great grandson, Patrick Flanagan (my great great grandfather), there is an evident tradition in the ability and desire to write things down.  While my great great grandfather, Patrick, may have been a pretty busy farmer in Napa, California, information still flowed home to Ireland from another source.  Michael Flanagan, Patrick's brother, wrote letters and kept a diary in which he wrote of the events and experiences of his life.  

Michael Flanagan is definitely a huge inspiration for me.  Just to sit and read some of his letters is quite moving and motivation for me to continue blazing my family tree and "writing" it all down.

Whether my writing appeals to a wide range of readers or just to a select few relatives, I find that the torch has been passed to me.  Instead of having to pull out a typewriter like my grandfather's sister, Ellen Maxwell Flanagan, I can easily and quickly type my thoughts and post them here.  Aunt Ellen blazed away on our family tree with more of an emphasis on the McLaughlin side of our family.  I now understand her desire to find our family roots and have taken all of it on.

My hobby is sometimes a bit of an addiction but not yet an obsession.  Maybe someday this can become a full time job for me.   I've got to win that lottery!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hickey Family - Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City Circa 1940

On Wednesday, I posted a photo of my Hickey relatives.  There is so much to absorb from a photo that I've never seen before.  While I can say that I can spot my own Grandmother (Josephine Hickey McGuire) in the photo, I can't say that I have ever seen a photo of my great grandparents, Patrick and Johanna Hickey.  Now, I probably could pick them out of a line up if I had to.  I just can't get over how much my grandmother looked like her own mother.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say she was the spitting image of her mother.  It is almost uncanny.

Back Row:  Eleanor Hickey Fitzpatrick, Josephine Hickey McGuire, Martin "Marty" Hickey, Margaret "Marge" Hickey Ford, Fred Ford, Kathleen Hickey Daly, a Living Hickey; Front Row:  Anna Hickey Kennedy, Patrick Hickey (of Derrycon, Clare, Ireland), Johanna Coughlin Hickey (of Ballyvannan, Clare, Ireland), and William "Billy" Hickey - Photo is circa 1940, New York City or the surrounding area.
So, with only one of the above family member's still living, I have chosen to post this photo and not identify who the living Hickey is out of privacy.  While it may be somewhat of a compromised privacy since her photo is here, her name is not revealed.  I am considering myself still respecting her privacy here.

I am most taken by the likeness of Josephine and Johanna.  I have a few other photos of them including Josephine as she aged.  They are almost twins.  I am betting, however, that Josephine was considerably shorter than her mother at just about 5ft 1in.   Josephine was my Grandmother and I knew her.

What strikes me is that I've always been told that I looked like a Hickey.  As I glance over the faces of those in this photo, I at first disagree somewhat.  However, when I look at Patrick Hickey's face, I totally see it.  I do look like a Hickey while several of the family here favor their mother's side (Coughlin).

Now, if I could get my hands on more photos of Patrick I'd been in a great spot.  I love photos and thank my aunt for sending this "gift".  Here are a few more.............

Johanna "Mama"

Patrick "Popeye"

Johanna 1936

Patrick and Johanna July 1936
In the final photo above, I think that I spotted either the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.  It looks like the rooftop was a place to hang out and take some photos.  Love it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Good Day for Genealogy

Today, could actually be the coldest day of the year for the Sacramento Valley in California.  I woke up to 20 degree weather.  While the sun is shining, the grass is coated with white.   As my children would say, Jack Frost visited us last night as he has every night since around the end of December.  Even at 9am, it's only 23F (-5C) degrees.  Brrrrrrr!

How does this relate to genealogy?  Well, not much except to shed some light on why my ancestors came Northern California and to give me a great reason to stay inside today and work on my research. 

My ancestors certainly knew a good thing.  Northern California has upwards of 10 months of growing season with 2 months off.  If you are in Southern California, there is no time off because of the much warmer weather.  That time off also gives the soil and plants their dormancy required for some great crops in the Spring.  Now, if we'd just get some of our typical winter rain.  It's pretty dry out there right now.

So, on these cold days, gardening is out and genealogy is in.  I am not setting much in the way of goals for today but I do have a bit of information to look over relating to my Vienop line.

Happy researching to all!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Napa Vienop's

Can I just say that I love photos?  I do.  The following photo is awesome.  Thanks to my uncle for sending it.

There were ten original Vienop's who arrived in Napa, California at the beginning of 1901 with six of them in this photo. This family includes my direct family line.  Mary was my great grandmother.  Anna and John (Henry) were my great great grandparents.

For any Vienop's researching our line, feel free to contact me.  Our line only has a few people that we know of researching the Vienop's/Vinup's in the U.S.  Napa, CA and Daykin, Nebraska appear to be key places to find all of our related Vienop's outside of Germany.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Patrick Flanagan - Co. Louth, Ireland - Circa 1700-1779

Oh my.....Have I started and perpetuated a mistake on that will continue to haunt me forever?

I think that I must apologize to those out there who borrowed incorrect information from me before I was able to change it.  Quite truly, the incorrect information only lived on my Flanagan Family tree at for a few short months.  Now, the error exists on at least 7 other trees while my tree stands corrected with no real evidence of my prior misunderstanding.

In honor of my 6th great grandfather, Patrick Flanagan, of Galroostown, Co. Louth, Ireland where he was born circa 1700 (maybe a little later on than that) and of Ganderpark, Co. Louth, Ireland where he died at his property 17 August 1779, I must take the specific stand that Mary Campbell (or the one that has been misinterpreted as his wife) was not his wife at all.   His wife's name was probably Mary.  He had a daughter named Mary Flanagan too.

Patrick's daughter Mary Flanagan, married James Campbell around 1773.  At this point in her life, Mary was about 34 years old.  Given that James Campbell died in 1799 lends me to believe that Mary might not have been his first wife.   It is possible that James was a widower and married Mary Flanagan as his second wife.  This is all supposition but might explain why Mary did not have children.  Mary (Flanagan) Campbell did make her way back to the family in Termonfechin after James' passed away.

Imagine the confusion that there could be when farm records written by Patrick Flanagan of Termonfechin (1780-1866), indicated a "Granny Campbell" coming to live with the family when his wife (Judith Kirwan) could no longer do so.   Granny Campbell was the 1780 Patrick Flanagan's aunt.  Patrick's father Richard Flanagan of Termonfechin was the sister of Mary (Flanagan) Campbell.  Patrick's children called their aunt "Granny Campbell".  She, in fact, was not their grandmother or great grandmother but their grandaunt.

My own misunderstanding of this situation influenced by some other information that I read was corrected by my Flanagan's of Louth.  They have studied and researched this family line with such proficiency that they are the experts.   Granny Campbell is the daughter/sister/aunt and not the wife of Patrick Flanagan who died in 1779 in Termonfechin, Louth, Ireland.

Is my mistake perpetuated forever on  Only by those who randomly accept unsourced family trees.  My tree is rather unsourced online.  You've got to read my blog to find out more.

So, what can I do now?  Well, I've tried to let people know about this mistake but who am I to tell someone that their ancestors are not Patrick Flanagan and Mary Campbell?  There could be other couples with these same names.   I just wish people would stop borrowing Patrick's information off my tree.   I see his death date of 17 Aug 1779 in Co. Louth on all of these other trees.  Mind you, this is how I typed it on the first time.  I have since revised his specific location of death to read Ganderpark, Termonfechin, Co. Louth, Ireland.  Everyone who's got this date of death as such has his wife as Mary Campbell.  I guess that's a big "Oops!" on my part.

As I've said before, but maybe not recently, "Buyer Beware" on  The public information on someone else's unsourced tree is just that - unsourced, unreliable, and unproven.  I learned over a year ago to only gather sourced, proven information from others and with this as my example, I've learned a lesson or two.

I still place unsourced information on on my own tree even today but that's because I'm doing the research and not borrowing from others that I do not know on 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mobile Device - MYOG

Technology is a grand thing.  Now you can access this blog via a mobile device version.  Someone will have to tell me how that goes.  I thought that I'd make the option officially available.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When There Were Trees In Ireland

When there were trees in Ireland animals could run through the forest fleeing from a predator or chasing prey.

When there trees in Ireland children could climb to their hearts content and chase butterflies off branches as they flew scattering away.

When there were trees in Ireland

I started writing this (and have not yet finished as that will be for another day) when I recently read something about a tree planting program in Ireland.  There really aren't a lot of trees there as there probably were in ancient times.  Most of the trees were cut down and used for various things like fuel, buildings, farm implements, furniture, and you name it.

Not unlike the United States, especially in the "West", Ireland is replanting trees hundreds of years after they were taken down and used.  Here in California, we are working to replant trees only 50-100 years after they were taken down and used.   We continue to take them down but there are tree planting programs and "tree-huggers" all over this fine state to encourage replacement of the trees and preservation of the forest.

I just had to make note of this for future reference in my online diary here at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Researching Ireland - County Louth

In recent months, I've received various emails from people about genealogy.  The emails that always grab my attention are those that offer a way to get my hands on records in Ireland.  These records are not easy to get at since most of what I'd like to review is either held in the Irish Archives, various Irish heritage centers, and church parishes in Ireland.  A cost is associated with retrieving this information and truly seems somewhat open-ended and unknown to me.

The rates that are potentially charged for looking up records appear to be fee based for each record.  Once you get out of standard records and into more obscure research, the rate changes to an hourly rate.  That is all fine and dandy but the research is only as good as the researcher.  Some researchers are extremely proficient, accurate, and can disseminate information quite clearly and easily to their client.  While I am an amateur genealogist with limited resources at my fingertips, I have quickly, proficiently, and accurately found information for at least two people.  Extending my trust and funds to another researcher is tough without some review of their work.

If I could run off at a whim to the LDS Family History Center near my house, I could certainly gain some ground on my research skills.  Hence, time does not currently allow an opportunity for me to do this so I search away online from my office at home and think of my future potential.

I did recently meet an individual online via email who can access Irish records for people who are willing to pay the minimal fee he charges.  He can get to County Louth records quite easily and may even be able to help with records outside of Louth.

While I have not had the opportunity to truly hire him, he did send me some samples of his work to entice me.  I've let him know that I am very interested and need to carve out some time and funds for this project.  In the meantime, I told him that I'd share his information on my blog.

Kevin's Irish Research

His blog is quite interesting in and of itself but his research is quick, proficient, and as accurate as any.  He found a few of my specific ancestors in Termonfeckin.  I am impressed.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

I've just finished my very well appreciated break from my blog, the daily routine of school and homework for my children, and even managed to get away from the house a bit.  The holidays are always fun.  Even more loved by me is when they end on a high note and I can get back to my routine.  I must say that I never realized just how much I thrive in a routine.  I realized this once I had children and started in on their daily routine from the time that they were babies.  The routine has changed a number of times in the past almost 7 years but it a comfortable place to be once you've got it down.  It gives me something to look forward to everyday with some predictability.

I am presented with the somewhat mundane question on what was routine for my ancestors.  Did they thrive and appreciate their routine?  What was daily life like in the 1600s, 1700s, or 1800s for my Flanagan's living in Termonfeckin, Ireland?  What was life like for my McLaughlin's in Newport, New York of the 1830s?

The true answer to these questions may never really be nailed down.  The reason being is that I can't go back in time and personally experience what their lives were like.  What I can do is get a peek at who they were through working on my family tree.  My peek includes anything from anecdotal stories to photographs or even looking over the length of an individual's life span.  There are so many angles to work when it comes to finding and learning about your family roots.

I have continued to gather information about my family lines.  Just when I've thought all hope has been lost on some lines, I receive information from others who generously take their time to send their research, photographs, or other research materials.  It is amazing and I love the gift of information.  These "gifts" are certainly not lost on me.

For 2012, I think that I will change my terminology a bit from "sharing" to "gifts".  In the past, I have used sharing as a word to describe the exchange of information.  I have realized that you can't expect everyone to share or have the time to do so.  This year I am going to call the information sharing a "gift" since it can come at the most unexpected time.  Gifts are special, not expected typically, and provide such surprise and delight to the receiver but also the gift giver.  The gift of information offered or received is part of what genealogy is all about for me.