Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ancestor-Hunting--Can you help?

I received an email today from a woman in Eugene who is researching her ancestry. I understand her curiosity, having just recently learned so much about my dad's past in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately this lady's dad is now gone and she can't ask him any more questions. She did find out to her surprise that her grandma had been Mennonite. So she's been delving into that whole scene, full of Erbs and Ebys and such. The family was from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, and later moved to Michigan.

I've never been to K/W in my life and wouldn't be much help with her research, but I know I have readers with ties to those areas, so I think I'll just cut and paste part of her letter:

Over the past year, I've been digging up information about her through the wonders of and finding a long trail of Mennonite families. I know from whom I'm descended, but I don't know any of their history. I'm picking up little bits and pieces about some of them, their arrival in Pennsylvania, including land grants from William Penn. They immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1600s and early 1700s and many of them were the first settlers and religious leaders in Germantown, Skippack, Montgomery Co and Lancaster Co before they immigrated to Ontario in the 1800s. My grandmother's family was settled in Waterloo/Kitchener where I believe there is still a large Mennonite community. My great-grandparents relocated the family to Michigan in 1892, but I don't know why.
My grandmother was a Clemens (descended from Gerhart Clemens). Her mother was a Snyder/Schneider. There are myriad Erbs, Ebys, Brickers, Bachmans, Longenegger/Longnecker/Longacres, and so on. While I can identify individuals, I have no historical information on them. I would love to know more about the Mennonite communities where they lived, the family histories and their assimilation (such as it was). I'm wondering if you can recommend any historical societies, or reading materials that might help me? I know that your family is based in the mid-West, so I don't think we necessarily cross paths (no sign of Yoders in my tree), but I'm hoping you have some ideas of where I can look. I didn't ask my father the right questions while he was alive, so I'm attempting to honor his family history now. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated!

If you have anything to offer this lady, please comment or email me at


And we close with an anecdote I've entitled, "And They Think Americans Are Crazy." Yesterday I ran into my friend JoAnn in town and she told me her mother-in-law in Holland had passed away recently. She had lived and died in her own home, and always refused to go to a nursing home, partly because she was an independent person and partly because she was afraid of Holland's practice of euthanasia.
I related this at the supper table.
Jenny wondered what euthanasia was.
I told her.
She exclaimed:

Quote of the Day:
"So you can't have a slingshot in Holland but you can kill old people??!!"


  1. I'm pretty sure my Grandma Gingerich was an Eby. (Guess maybe I need to check out my family history too, I just find it boring.) My dad came from Ontario and has lots of relatives in that area. I'll show him this and see if he can help. My dad is the chicken farmer in Shedd if you wonder.
    Cheryl Weaver

  2. Cheryl may find some information from the Joseph Schneider House personnel in Kitchener.

    She also might be able to get some information from some historians at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

    These are just guesses on my part - I have no idea whether or not eitehr of these avenues will be helpful.

    I have some of the same questions. My paternal grandmother (Anna Miller) was born in Hubbard, Oregon. No one seems to know when the family (John A. Miller and Delilah Kauffman) moved to the Hubbard area or why she (or they) moved back to Oklahoma where she and my grandfather were married.


  3. My Grandma once wrote a poem. Can't quote it, but the gist was, "I was looking up in my family tree and discovered it had some monkeys in it!" She had a great sense of humor! :) -PC in VA

  4. The Baritone5/22/2011 9:44 AM

    I could rant and rave about a lot of things that are all kinds of wrong and stupid in Holland, but all I will say is, "Good point, Jenny!!"


  5. I saw the rock and hard place guy, too.

    Thanks you for speaking at our Bethesda Retreat. Good thoughts to ponder.

    Have you been singing the Johnny Appleseed table prayer?

  6. I might be able to help as I live in the Schneider/Snyder community. Genealogy in this community is very well documented. I would like more information as to full name, birthdate etc.

    You (or she) can connect with me at

    Mary Horst