Note: For privacy reasons, living people are not identified in this blog without permission.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Living Connections To The Past - Napa Borchers Research

Visiting family members in-person at their homes is really the best way to find family treasures.  Not only do you get the opportunity to see people you don't necessarily see everyday, you get to see what family information they have held onto. 

Recently, I stopped by my aunt and uncle's home in Napa.  I had not seen them since Christmastime and want my children to know who they are.  They are my connection to my past, my grandparents, my childhood, and my family. 

My Borchers side of the family in Napa is the family that I grew up with and spent many a day with enjoying the holidays, family and fun together.

I have never been too pushy or insistent (as I could be) on retrieving family tree information about my Borchers side of the family because I know that I can have access.  Finding time to review the information, photograph and make copies or scans of the information is another story.  The time issue is on me though and I realize that I do need to make the time.

History truly is within my reach for my Borchers family.  Below is yet another photo that my aunt discovered recently.  It is a photo of my great grandfather whom I knew personally.  

Herbert Borchers, Sr.
He is so young (Circa 1918) in this photo.  In fact, my aunt (his daughter) indicated that the diary she has belonging to him indicated a note, at the time, that he had received the photos that were taken and mailed to him.

Mary Borchers
Born:  Maria Luise Katharine Vienop
The second photo above is of my great grandmother, Herbert's wife.  These photos were taken before they were married (Circa 1918).  I could not get this photo out of the frame and was fearful that I might break the glass.  My only choice was to take the photo through the glass.  At some point, I might be able to carefully open this frame someday.

I love this photo of my great grandma.  I am fortunate to have many photos of her and to have known her well.  I was 18 years old when she passed away.  She is young here and it was before she was married.

Marie's Piano
I have written about the above piano previously.  It is a Franklin New York Baby Grand Piano circa 1930 and appears to be made of maybe walnut.  While many pianos may be collecting dust in people homes, this piano has seen more use than many.

My grandma (Dorothy Borchers Flanagan) was the original person who played this piano.  Herbert and Mary Borchers bought it because she learned to play piano in the 1930s and was quite good.  But Dorothy's interest waned and she did not continue to play.  Her younger sister also took up piano during this time.  She, of course, stuck with it.

The above piano was originally housed  in the living room of my great grandparents home but it has been with my aunt since she probably got married and moved out of her parents' home.  While she has played this piano many times over, so have hundreds of her piano students.  This piano has seen regular use by many budding students and some accomplished pianists since the 1930s. 

Until 2012, students were learning to play everyday on this piano during the regular school year.  Upon her retirement from teaching, she indicated over 47 years of teaching piano.  From the neighbor friend that my aunt taught in the late 1930s, to her niece (my mother as her student in the 1950s), she taught many to play.  In fact, I count closer to over 60 years of piano instruction.

The value of this piano can only be measured in my family by its intrinsic value which makes it priceless.

Again, only by visiting my family in-person would I have been so lucky to have access to the above information from the past and get to experience the living connections to my family line.  I am very grateful and fortunate.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Last week, I helped chaperone my daughter's field trip to SOS (Sierra Outdoor School) which included visits to Calaveras Big Trees and Mercer Caverns.  This is a beautiful area of California.  The school is located in the Stanislaus National Forest about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento, California.

The modern history in the area revolves around the California Gold Rush.  My daughter's class was there to explore nature and science.  Let's just put it this way, the history of the Gold Rush is quite overshadowed (literally) by the age and size of those Giant Sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees in Arnold, CA.

What a wonderful experience!  This is one of the things that has kept me from my blog recently.  I hope to get back to my family tree research soon.  For now, check out these trees.

Calaveras Big Trees

Calaveras Big Trees

Calaveras Big Trees

Sierra Outdoor School

SOS - Class in the forest

Mercer Caverns

The Silent Mile at SOS

Raptor Class

Raptor Class - Golden Eagle

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SOS, Time, and Writers Block

Currently, I have a bit of writers block.  I'm just not sure what to write about at this time in my blog.  I look at the daunting task of working on the timeline of my great great grandparents and where they lived in Napa.  It is a bit of a challenge as I need to organize the information and "proof" that I have at hand.  It may take some time and reading.

Time is of the essence in the present and my family tree and research must wait a few weeks.  I pause now to focus on present day tasks and getting ready for a quick trip.  My daughter and I will be off to SOS next week.

SOS is Sierra Outdoor School in the Sonora, California.  It is located near Calaveras Big Trees.  Her second grade class has the privilege of attending this school.  I will join her as a chaperone.  It should prove to be an interesting experience in nature.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Titanic: Blood and Steel - Historical Drama

I'm currently watching the series, "Titanic:  Blood and Steel".  It is very entertaining with a loose historical basis.  It is a drama and the story is based in Belfast, Ireland during the building of the Titanic.

Titanic: Blood and Steel

It is currently available on streaming Netflix.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Flanagan Ranch: The Timeline Matters To Me - Part 1

Over the course of my family tree research, I've learned how important source documents are to proving your family history.  I've even gone so far as to pour through any and all information that I have about my various family lines to determine the disposition of various family members along the "space time continuum".  I am inferring here that we could actually go back in time to determine the facts.  In reality, you can only go back in time in writing about and reading history and other genre.

I definitely wish that I could ask my grandfather (Richard J. Flanagan) more about our family history.  The information that he knew about our family helps fill in the blanks about the timeline of the Flanagan Ranch in Napa.  For now, I get a chance to figure things out myself.  Let's see where this post takes me.

The first part of my Flanagan Ranch Timeline is to summarize what I know off the top of my head.  I guess that I could call this a quick "elevator speech".

-Patrick and Kate Flanagan were married in San Francisco in 1870 and then moved to Napa, California.
-By 1871, Patrick was farming a 15 acre plot of land in Rancho Rincon de los Carneros that he had purchased from Governor Edward Stanly.
-In 1873, Patrick Flanagan sold the 15 acres back to Judge John Stanly and purchased 32 acres located at 3315 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA (Highway 121 at Cuttings Wharf Road).  This location was hence forward known at the Flanagan Ranch in Carneros.  Stanly referred to the area a Riverdale.
-The Flanagan's had some sort of house and/or living quarters at the ranch in 1873.
-By Patrick's death in 1896, the Flanagan's were living in town at 606 Seminary Street.  Patrick's health had been failing for a few years.
-A letter to Ireland in 1897 indicates that Edward Flanagan was working to finish the Flanagan Ranch house as the old house was no longer worth patching.
-By 1898, the Flanagan Ranch house was complete.
-Kate Flanagan lived in the ranch house from around 1898 until around her death in 1928.
-Ignatius Flanagan, who had been running the ranch presumably since his father passed in 1896, died in 1918 and the ranch responsibility passed to John Francis Flanagan.
-By 1928, John Francis "Jack" Flanagan and his family were living at the ranch.
-In 1936, Jack passed away and the management of the Flanagan Ranch passed to his brother, Richard A. Flanagan, Sr.
-Louis Flanagan is indicated as the caretaker of the property by 1940 while the ranch house was owned and inherited by Mary Catherine Flanagan.
-By 1950, Louis and Richard Flanagan are the only remaining surviving children of Patrick and Kate Flanagan's 8 children.
-By the 1970s, Richard A. Flanagan's son and his family are occupying the Flanagan Ranch House.  Richard passed away in 1972 and the ranch was sold in the late 1970s.

There are quite a few holes in my timeline and summary above.  I really need to fill in the blanks and details.