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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sourced and Found - Henry Borchers - Part 3

At times it seems that my treasure trove of information about my ancestors is rather endless.  I shall come to the end of it some day and have to really sit down and organize it appropriately.  In the meantime, I continue to pick up random papers for a quick (or sometimes lengthy read).

I decided to read the "Diary of Herbert H. Borchers, Sr.".  He was my great grandfather and the youngest child of Henry and Anna Borchers.  A few weeks before I turned 8 years old, Herb passed away.  I spent a fair amount of time with him as a youngster. 

I can still remember being in the living room of my great grandparents' house on 1134 Willow Avenue, Napa, California.  Herb would sit in his chair next to the fireplace.  He was a bit of a tease.  He'd tap me when I was not looking and then when I'd look back at him, he'd be looking up a the ceiling pretending he knew nothing of it.  I would say "Hey!"  We'd both laugh.  He was a quiet man for the most part.  He'd scoot a papier-mache dog towards my sister and I, playing and goofing around.

Being the oldest great grandchild gave me the benefit of getting to know my great grandparents very well.  I've read the first page of Herb's diary before.  To be honest with you, it is mainly some quick notes of his day-to-day, rather mundane tasks.   His notes about events and people are quick and not explanatory.  The diary starts on Saturday, December 23, 1916 and goes through Wednesday, December 18, 1918.  

My attempt to read his diary in full this time was in search of information about his father, Henry Borchers.  He mentions him here and there in his entries.  I was hoping to gain some perspective on what Henry Borchers was like.  I just don't glean much of his personality from these entries but will attempt to share what I found.

By 1916, Herb was 19 years old.  He lived at home with his parents in Santa Rosa, California, and was the last of the Borchers children to marry.  Herb worked full time for a local jeweler and watchmaker.  He mentions clocks a lot in the diary.  Herb refers to Henry and Anna Borchers as Ma and Pa in his diary.  When he writes about them individually, they are referred to as Mama and Papa.  Anna is mentioned more often.  Her letters of correspondence to various family members are mentioned throughout the diary and I wonder if they still exist.  She also read books in the evening.  Anna worked for a Dr. Hanson too.  I am assuming to keep house for his family.

While there are frequent notes about Anna's day-to-day activities including if she was sick or well, there are fewer remarks about Henry.  Maybe Herb was more in tune with his mother.  At one point, she helped him hang new curtains in his room.      

Henry Borchers is mentioned plowing at Bierns.  I know that he was a farmer.  He is also mentioned as visiting with J. Wurts.  I find the Wurts as the Borchers' neigbhors on the census in 1920.  The Wurts are mentioned frequently in this diary.  Henry and Clara (Borchers) Gruenhagen are also mentioned with regularity.  Clara was the second youngest child of Henry and Anna. 

It would appear that Henry Gruenhagen and Henry Borchers may have worked together in the Santa Rosa, California area.  They are both indicated as plowing fields and hauling wood. 

Henry and Anna Borchers definitely saw the Strehlows.  Elizabeth Borchers Strehlow was their oldest daughter and lived in Healdsburg, California.  Herb indicates "Ma and Pa" going to visit them and also to see the "Old Strehlows".    

Henry and Anna Borchers picked prunes and dried them.  There is reference to shaking the trees and dipping the fruit.  They also picked apricots and canned.  They were both working in 1918.  Henry was 67 years old by then.

I did not find much more information about Henry Borchers in the diary.  I do know a lot more about my great grandfather (Herbert Borchers, Sr.) and Anna Borchers.  I will post about them in the future.  For now, I think that I've exhausted the information that I have about Henry Borchers (Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sourced and Found - Henry Borchers - Part 2

A cemetery is a rather somber place.  When you go looking for your ancestors and find their headstones, you might rejoice a little, however, as I did.  The discovery of the last resting place of your ancestors can bring about an overwhelming amount of emotion.  That's how I felt the day I realized that I found Henry and Anna Borchers last resting place.

Near Block 82, Tulocay Cemetery, Napa, California
I continue with my reverse timeline for Henry Borchers as it was basically how my discovery process worked in creating my family tree for this line.  The following are the list of source documents and descriptions as follows:

1920 United States Federal Census
-Henry Borchers, age 67, born about 1853 in Germany; living in Santa Rosa, California, white male, immigration year 1867, father and mother from Germany; married to Anna Borchers, able to read and write; Other household members:  Herbert, Mary, and Anna.
(Note:  At this point, Henry and Anna are living in Santa Rosa.  Henry is an orchard farmer.  Herbert, their youngest child, is married to Mary and working as a watchmaker.)

1910 United States Federal Census
-Henry Borchers, age 58, born about 1852 in Germany, home in 1910:  Township 138, Morton, North Dakota, white male, immigration year 1867, head of houshold and married to Anna Borchers; father and mother's birthplace:  Germany; other household members:  Anna, Albert, Clara, Herbert.
(Henry is living in North Dakota with his immediate family farming his land.  His son William appears to be living in the very next household on the census.  Henry's daughter - Elizabeth Strehlow - is living in Northern California by this census. )

1900 United States Federal Census
-Henry Borchers, age 48, birth year Apr 1852; birthplace: Germany; Home in 1900:  Township 138, Morton, North Dakota; race - white, male; immigration year:  1867; father-in-law to head of the household; married to Anna Borchers since 1878, married 22 years; father and mother's birthplace:  Germany; Other household members:  Charles Strehlow, Lizzie Strehlow, Anna Borchers, William Borchers, Martha Borchers, Henry Borchers, Albert Borchers, Tilda Borchers, Clara Borchers, Herbert Borchers
(Henry is married with several children and they are living with his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband in North Dakota.)

Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905
-Henry Borchers, age 42, census date:  1895, Aurora, Steele, Minnesota; male from Germany, born about 1853, white.  Household members are Henry, Anna, Lizzie, William, Martha, Henry, Albert, Matilda.

Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905
-Henry Borchers, age 32, census date:  1 May 1885, Aurora, Steele, Minnesota, male from Germany, estimated year of birth 1853, white.  Household members are Henry, Anna, Elizabeth, William, and Martha.
(Note:  Anna and Elizabeth Borchers are mixed up on this census.  Anna is indicated as a child and Elizabeth as an adult in the household.)

1880 United States Federal Census
-Henry Borchers, age 28, birth year about 1852, birthplace:  Hessen; home in 1880:  Aurora, Steele, Minnesota; white, male, head of household, married to Anna Borchers; father's birthplace:  Hessen, mother's birthplace:  Hessen;  other household members:  Anna Borchers, Elizabeth Borchers
(Note:  Henry is married and living in Minnesota.)

Minnesota, Marriages Index, 1849-1950
-Henry Borchers, marriage date:  3  Feb 1878, to Anna Jackel; Havana, Steele, Minnesota, flim number 1769852
(Note:  They were married at St. John's Lutheran Church of Claremont, Havana Township, Steele, Minnesota.)

1870 United States Federal Census
-Henry Borchers, age 17, born about 1853, birthplace:  Hesse-Kassel/Hessen-Kassel/Electorate of Hesse/Kurhessen;  home in 1870:  Hanover, Lake, Indiana;  race - white; gender - male; post office - Brunswick; household members - Hans H Steege, Catharine Steege, Henry Steege, Doretta Steege, Mary Steege, Frederick Steege, Henry Borchers
(Note:  Henry is living with his mother's second husband and his children in Indiana.)

New York, Passenger List, 1820-1957
-Hans Borchers, arrival date:  20 Jul 1867; birth date:  abt 1852: age: 15; gender: male, German; place of origin: Germany; port of departure:  Bremen, Germany; destination: USA; port of arrival:  New York, New York;  ship name:  Deutschland
(Note:  Henry arrived in New York.)

U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
-Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers, 1867, America, Immigrant: Catharina Engel Borchers; son - Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers

It does help to have the inside track on Henry Borchers' given name.  My uncle has provided me with more information of Henry's origins in Germany.  His given name was Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers.  He was born the only child of Catharina "Thrine" Engel Borchers (nee Blume) and Johann Conrad Borchers.  Henry's father died in 1854, within a few years after Henry was born.  Henry lived his life as an only child.

I can't forget to mention that Henry was technically from Prussia.  Much of Germany was actually Prussia during the 1800s until the great war.  He was also Lutheran.  In Germany, Lutheran's were referred to as Evangelicals.   The following dates and information are based off church records that my uncle retrieved.

1866 - Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers - Confirmation on 8 Apr 1866, Hohnhorst, Hessen, Prussia

1852 - Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers - Baptism on 12 Apr 1852, Hohnhorst, Hessen, Prussia

1852 - Hans Heinrich Conrad Borchers - Birth on 8 Apr 1852, Hohnhorst, Hesse Cassel, Schaumburg, Prussia, Germany (Today:  Lower Saxony, Niedersachsen, Germany; formerly Hessische Grafschaf Schaumburg)

Henry was born and grew up about 30 miles due west of Hanover, Germany.  Why his mother made the decision to leave and come to the USA is not real clear.  Many German immigrants came to the midwest of the United States during this time looking for a better life.  They clustered together in their own German communities.  It is possible that Thrine (Henry's mother) came to the United States with plans to marry Hans Henry Steege since he was a widower (and she was a widow) with several young children already living in Indiana.

Sourcing and proving Henry's locations stateside in the United States has proven to be an easy task.  I often wonder what he was like.  Most of the census information simply indicates that he was a farmer.  At least now, I know where he lived and where he was from.

Part 3 is next with some additional oral history, even if anecdotal in nature.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sourced and Found - Henry Borchers - Part 1

As my genealogy skills expand, I am still brought back to reality with the words from my uncle, "prove it".  He has impressed upon me the need to prove my line with source documents.  This is the only way to know for sure who your ancestors are.  With a whole lot of help from his previous research, I have proved and sourced for myself the information about the life of one of my great great grandfathers,  Henry Borchers.

I must admit that the proof is actually in the reverse timeline.  Henry and his wife, Anna Borchers, actually lived with my great grandparents (Herb and Mary Borchers) along with my grandma (Dorothy Borchers) until his death in 1927.  My "proof" begins with an oral history of their whereabouts in the 1920s.

One of the first times that I asked about Henry and Anna Borchers, I was told by my aunt (my grandma's sister) that they lived with my great grandparents (Herb was their youngest child) near the end of their lives.  When Herb and Mary Borchers were first married in 1919, they lived with Henry and Anna Borchers in Santa Rosa, California.  Herb had a job working for a local jeweler so for about a year, they lived at 1194 Dutton Avenue, Santa Rosa, California. They did not last long in Santa Rosa, however, as Mary was from Napa and they wanted to move back to be near her family.

Henry and Anna Borchers made a deal with Herb and Mary. They would sell their house in Santa Rosa and give the proceeds to them to buy a home in Napa.  In exchange, Henry and Anna Borchers were cared for by and lived out the rest of their lives with Herb and Mary.  Henry passed away on 8 January 1927 in Napa, California.  Anna lived until 14 May 1931.

So, my grandma had memories of her grandparents.  She was born  in 1921 and would say that German was spoken in the home in addition to English.  When I first looked through my grandma's (Dorothy Borchers Flanagan) photo album, I came upon the following photo of Dorothy with her grandmother, Anna Borchers.

Anna and Dorothy Borchers, Napa, circa 1925-1930
There was Anna Borchers looking right at the camera.  I did not find a photo of Henry in the album.  He may have already passed away by the time this photo was taken.

There really is not a lot of oral history provided by my family about Henry Borchers.  We know where he and his wife lived their final years.  My great grandfather, Herb Borchers, always indicated that he was born in Minnesota and shortly after moved to North Dakota.  Later, he moved to Santa Rosa, California until he married.

Oral history is interesting and when you find some source documents or the like, it brings it into perspective.  When you find a photo, it really brings it to life.

Henry and Anna Borchers
My next post will include the source document information that I have on hand.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photo History - Are There Photos of My Ancestors?

I've decided to do a little research about the origins of photography and when it became a household must. The first thing that comes to my mind is Eastman Kodak.  Am I on the right track?  I am hoping to determine, for my own reference, the time frame and likelihood of finding photos of my ancestors.

Creating memories through photos is nothing new but prior to 1890, photos were not so commonplace.  I have found many photos starting in the 1890's of my ancestors.  When I say many, I mean that I have at least a photo of each direct line family member on my mother's side going back four generations. 

While I may be missing a photo of Lizzie Strehlow (Elizabeth Borchers), I am confident that someday I will acquire a photo of my great grandfather's oldest sister.  She's the only one missing from the family portrait that I have below.  I am certain it is because she was already married and out of the house by then.

Borchers circa 1898-1900
Below, I have a few dates that are key to Eastman Kodak's photography and the popularization of the camera:

1.  1888 - The first model Kodak camera appeared.
2.  Early 1890s - The first folding Kodak cameras were introduced.
3.  1895 - The first pocket camera, the $5 Pocket Kodak, was introduced.
4.  1897 - The first folding pocket camera was introduced.
5.  1900 - The Brownie camera was introduced for mass marketing of photography.

I was able to get the above information from Wikipedia.  What this demonstrates is that photography hit its stride by 1900 and, just prior, in the 1890s photography started to enter popular culture with access for most anyone, affordability considered.

Prior to 1890, photography was not necessarily for the masses.  Professional photographers took portraits and photographs of people.  This leads me to another timeline of key dates:

1.  1725 - Basic "photograph" type images using stencils, sunlight, and chemical solution. (That does not sound like much of a photograph!)
2.  1800 - Silhouette type photos were produced.
3.  1816 - Negative photographs on paper were invented.
4.  1839 - Photographs on silver-plated sheets of copper are invented.  Photography enters the public eye.
5.  Mid-1800s - Portrait photography becomes more commonplace in popular culture.

My quick research online turned up some specific and not so specific details of photo history.  I am satisfied with what I found.   What it tells me is that the likelihood of finding photos of my ancestors prior to 1850 will be "null and void".  Finding photos prior to 1890 will be less likely, too.  Yet, I have a few that have been shared with me.

Ellen Maxwell and Thomas M. McLaughlin, circa 1870
I love photos and they can be so telling.  "A picture is worth a thousand words." - Chinese Proverb

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fan Chart and Family Search

I must give kudos to the LDS for offering an amazing resource for people do complete online and in person family tree research at their family history centers. is a free online service provided by the LDS Church for anyone to work on their family tree.

While they do family tree creation for a specific religious reason, the rest of us complete this research for various reasons including a desire to connect a bit with and know our roots.   At any rate, we are all fortunate to have this available.  Not all of their services are free but any fee based service is at a bargain price.

Recently, I logged onto the site and found changes.  I decided to add my basic direct line family tree back to my great great grandparents across the board.  What I found after I entered everyone was this wonderful way to display my family tree via a fan chart.  It looks rather sharp if you ask me.

So the above chart is much easier to read on a full screen.  I used the snip-it tool to grab it off the internet.  At some point, I will try to grab a better copy of it and may even consider printing it out.  For now, it lives online.

I must admit that after I completed these quick entries of my ancestors, I found a message on the LDS site that they were no longer offering IT support for this service and encourage people to seek out a different family tree software package in order to properly maintain their tree.  The ability to create this fan chart remains out there, though, and the LDS won't be taking it down.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Comment Section and Feedback

I love hearing from people about my blog.  Whether the comment is posted on this blog or an email sent directly to me,  I appreciate feedback and support.  It motivates me to keep on going.

When it comes to the comments section directly on my blog for a given post, I do moderate and have to approve the comments.  I do this because of spam.  I haven't been spammed lately but it was happening off and on with some annoying level of volume in the past year.

In my recent posts, I have not received any spam.  I am hoping that my moderation of the posts has flushed out those who have felt the need to advertise whatever they are selling from skin products to various money scams.

The following guidelines were pulled from the Huffington Post.  They lend guidance for posting comments to blogs. 
  1. Be respectful.
  2. Add to the conversation.
  3. Place your comments well and appropriately.
  4. Don’t advertise.  Spam is just bad taste and will likely get your comment deleted or not approved for posting.
  5. But, don’t forget to identify your business or yourself.  Without posting and advertising as spam, feel free to identify yourself with your blog sign-on. 
Give me a shout out in comments.  It helps spark my ideas.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

More Summer Fun!

Yet another summer commitment has come to an end.  Swim team is fun for the kids offering great exercise, a team effort, competitiveness, and social aspects.  It truly is a great thing for children of all ages and skill levels.  Even as an adult, I will miss it until next year.  Now on the flip side, I might have more time to spend on genealogy.

Here's some fun swimming........

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bodega Bay

Another of our quick trips was to Bodega Bay.  Below is a photo from the deck of the house where we stayed.  It's a foggy sunset over the bay.  Do you see the deer?   The second photo is the dunes near Salmon Creek, CA.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Muir Woods

Again, life gets busy and pulls me away from my genealogy research.  Here's a bit of what I've been up to with the family.  We visited Muir Woods National Monument.  It is a protected park that contains old growth Coastal Redwoods.  It is such a majestic, beautiful place.

Photos alone do not fully give you the perspective of how tall these trees truly are but here is a quick example: