Serendipity Strikes Again

The definition of serendipity is the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. I’ve experienced serendipity three times since I embarked on my search for ancestors…lucky me.

Recently, my husband Dave and I took a Viking River Cruise to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. It started in Amsterdam and ended in Lucerne, Switzerland. I had always wanted to know from where my grandfather’s Schwegler family had come. The cruise down the Rhine  River was everything we thought it would be. Life aboard the longship was relaxing if we had stayed on board. Instead, every day we stopped at an interesting city. We visited windmills, cathedrals, castles, German pubs, the Black Forest, and more. Our sore feet were a testament to all of the historical sites we saw.

I would love to tell you about these wonderful sites and fantastic food we tasted but that is not part of this story. Rather, I will tell you about the beautiful city of Lucerne and the serendipity I experienced.

Chapel Bridge

Chapel Bridge in Lucerne

We arrived mid-morning to a lovely day and immediately went on a walking tour of Old Town Lucerne. There we saw the Chapel Bridge that straddles the Ruess River. Regrettably, much of the bridge was destroyed by fire in the 1990s. It was rebuilt in the original style with the water tower remaining from the initial construction. It’s a magnificent bridge and if viewed from the area of the train station, one can see Mount Pilatus behind it. As we strolled over the bridge, I wondered if my great-great-grandfather had ever walked over the original bridge. He was born in Wolhusen, not too far from Lucerne.

The following day we awoke to overcast skies with the threat of rain. That was disappointing as our trip included a cruise on Lake Lucerne, a ride on the steepest cogwheel railroad in the world to the top of Mount Pilatus and a ride down the mountain in a gondola. We gathered at the pier not too far from the train station and waited for our guide. As I looked around, I wondered again if my grandfather had stood at the edge of the lake or walked the streets of Lucerne. I wondered if he and his children had traveled down the Ruess River as they emigrated from Switzerland. Of course, the city has changed, but many of the old buildings were there in the mid-1800s when he lived in the area.

Sonja

Sonja Schwegler on the Left

It was a raw day to be taking a tour. We headed inside the boat and settled in seats to watch the shoreline go by. Our tour guide sat next to me at our table. Occasionally we would venture outside to take a picture or two. The tremendous thing about all the tours we took with Viking was we had headsets, and our guides were able to explain the history of the place and point out items of interest. We didn’t have to huddle around them hoping to hear what they had to say. I was intent on what our tour guide was describing to us when I happened to look down at her name tag. No joke, my breath caught as I saw her name was SONJA SCHWEGLER. Oh my gosh! I had never encountered anyone, other than my cousins, who possessed the last name of Schwegler. I can’t tell you how excited I was as I informed Sonja that my mother’s maiden name was Schwegler.

Of course, Sonja had a job to do, but she was so kind to spend some time with me at the top of Mount Pilatus after lunch. We shared some of our family information.  I found out that Sonja was married to Martin. She was from Austria, and Martin’s family was from Willisau, the community next to Wolhusen where my Schwegler’s lived. Even though it was cloudy and snowy on top of Mount Pilatus, the clouds cleared enough for Sonja to point out the area where the Schwegler’s came from and where they live today. She related how poor the area was in the 1800s. The first-born sons inherited the land, there were few jobs, and many people were forced to leave Switzerland. I wondered if that was what happened to my great-great-grandfather Joseph.

As we descended the mountain in the gondola, we could hear the tinkle of the bells on the cows below. The bells, an iconic symbol of Switzerland, caused me to wonder if Joseph farmed and put bells on his cows.

Hill

You Can See the Alps in the Background

After we had left the mountain, we toured through the beautiful country-side of Switzerland. Rolling hills, with villages perched on their edge, were picturesque. At different points, we could view the tops of the Swiss Alps peaking over the hills and smaller mountains. We visited a dairy where the farmer explained the workings of his farm. Switzerland has done a great job of preserving their family dairy farms.

We ended the day with a tour of a company that produces cheese and we even helped make cheese. Afterward, we enjoyed a fondue dinner. It was a great, tiring day. The next morning, we left for home.

Sonja and I exchanged email addresses and promised to stay in touch. We have no idea how Martin and I are related but I know there is a connection. My serendipitous meeting with Sonja and what she shared with me, have inspired in me the confidence to begin my search for ancestors in Switzerland.

And there is a rest of the story. To read Joseph’s story click here and you will discover what I learned about the Schwegler’s in Switzerland.


 

Joseph and His Three Wives Named Anna

My great-great-grandfather, Josef Antonius Aloisius Schwegler was born in the little village of Wolhusen, Switzerland on 11 February 1829 almost one hundred and ninety years ago. His father Petrus Josephus Antonius, a shoemaker, was married to Barbara Meyer. The little family consisted of three boys and three girls, Barbara, Ana, Petrus, Maria, and Casparus. Josef was the youngest child.

Cow

A Swiss Cow with Bell

During the 19th-century poverty, hunger and the lack of job prospects drove many rural Swiss to the cities or to seek their fortunes in America.1 Being the youngest boy, Joseph would not inherit any land his father may have owned, so he left his hometown of Wolhusen for the big city of Lucerne. No longer would he hear the everyday tinkle of the bells on the cows as they moved in the meadows or the tapping of the ha

It is in Lucerne that Josef most likely met his wife, Maria Aña Josepha Walburgis Bieri, my great-great-grandmother. Anna was born on 17 November 1831 in the district of Entlebuch. Entlebuch encompasses many little municipalities of which Wolhusen is one. She was born to Josephus Bieri and Walburgis (Studer) Bieri.

St. Leodegar Church

Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne*

Josef and Anna married on 13 September 1858 in the beautiful Catholic Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne. Joseph was a porter for the railroad, and Anna was a seamstress. Lake Lucerne was a favorite destination for people who could afford to travel for pleasure.2 Joseph assisted passengers at the railway station and handled the loading, unloading, and distribution of luggage and packages.

What should have been a joyful day turned to tragedy when Anna died on 31 January 1859, the day her son Julius was born. One life began and the other ended. Anna and Joseph had only been married four-and-a-half months. Anna was twenty-seven years old.

Widowers didn’t stay single for very long in those days. With a small infant to raise and a job to put food on the table, Josef needed a wife and soon married Anna Brun on 22 October 1860. Their first son Franz Anton was born on 17 January 1862. Josef must have been very anxious during his son’s birth because of the memories of losing his first wife three years earlier. Franz was baptized the same day at the Church of St. Leodegar.

Anna Maria Elisabetha Brun was born in Schachen to Nicolas Brun and Josepha (Schúrman) Brun on 20 September 1839. Schachen is a town located between Wolhusen and Lucerne. She was twenty-two when Franz was born.

SS Hansa

S. S. Hansa

Sometime in the spring of 1863, Joseph and Anna decided to leave Switzerland. They left with their two children Julius and Franz and Joseph’s older brother Petrus (Peter). One would think that they would have taken a boat down the Ruess River, that runs through Lucerne, to the Rhine and eventually landing in Rotterdam. However, because Joseph was a porter for the railroad, the family traveled by rail to Bremen. The family was one of the forty-one percent of German and East European emigrants who left via the port of Bremen between 1850 and 1891.3 Traveling in steerage, the family left Bremen for Southampton, England, where they boarded the S. S. Hansa to New York. Four-hundred and eighty passengers shared the steerage area with the Schweglers.

There was little privacy in steerage and less room. “The ceiling height of the between-decks was usually 6 to 8 feet. The bunks, made of rough boards, were set up along both sides of the ship. Each bunk was intended to hold from three to six persons, and these were often called family bunks. The bunks had straw mattresses or mattresses stuffed with straw. Emigrants had to bring their own pillows, blankets, and other necessary bedclothes. Lice and flees thrived in this environment.”5 The average length of time to travel was forty-four days.  The Schweglers arrived in New York on 20 July 1863.

So why did Joseph and Anna leave the country of Switzerland and emigrate to the country that was in the midst of a Civil War? Most likely because masses of people in Switzerland were reduced to pauperism between 1840 and 1860. A push for tourism in Switzerland began in 1863, but the economic impact of the increased tourism didn’t reach Lucerne soon enough to improve Joseph’s wages as a porter.

Joseph, Anna, Julius, Franz, and Petrus arrived in New York City on 20 July 1863. According to family lore, they went immediately to Centralia, Illinois. No deeds for land ownership have been found so it is possible that Joseph rented land to farm. While in Illinois, Anna gave birth to Joseph who was born on 17 May 1864. Anna died sometime thereafter. Once again, the family was without a mother.

In the fall of 1866, Joseph purchased land in Gasconade County, Missouri. It is here that he met his third wife, Anna (Fehner) Kalteweihr, a wealthy widow. They married 22 March 1867. Two sons, Hann and Benjamin were born to this union. Hann was born in 1867 and died in infancy. Benjamin was born in 1868.

Joseph died 28 February 1870. Julius did not get along with his step-mother Anna and moved out of her home as soon as he was able. It took until February of 1887 for Joseph’s estate to be finalized. Julius was twenty-seven years of age.

Sometimes there is truth in the stories that our elders tell. Julius always said that Joseph’s second wife Anna was not his mother. He was correct. What we didn’t know was that Joseph was married to three women, all named Anna.

Note: On the names…it’s amazing how names morph over time. Josef becomes Joseph, Aña becomes Anna, Petrus becomes Peter, and Franz becomes Francis and becomes Frank. Is it Schwagler or Schwegler? Is it Meyer, Mejer, or Meier? All of these names have appeared in records but are for the same people.

*Dave and I took a Viking River cruise down the Rhine River to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We added a few days to Lucerne, Switzerland to the trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about researching genealogical records in Switzerland and really didn’t have the time to pursue family records while there. It wasn’t until we got home that I began to do some research. With the help of an archivist in the Lucerne Archives, who sent me the birth and marriage record for Joseph, I was able to piece together the family in Switzerland. Little did I know that the church that I took a picture of, from our boat trip on Lake Lucerne, was the church where Joseph married Anna Brun, and where Joseph and Francis were baptized. I wish I had known that before I went.

Petrus Josephus Antonius Schwegler (1796-?) m. Barbara Mejer (?)

Barbara Gertrude Schwegler (1816-?)
Ana M. Catherin. Elisabetha Schwegler (1818-?)
Petrus Paulus Schwegler (1820-?)
Maria Josepha Schwegler (1822-?)
Casparus Schwegler (1827-?)
Josef Antonius Aloisius Schwegler (1829-1870)


 

1Switzerland in the 19th Century, https://www.eda.admin.ch/dam/PRS-Web/en/dokumente/der-bundesstaat-im-19-jahrhundert_EN.pdf

²In Your
Pocket”https://www.inyourpocket.com/lucerne/History”>https://www.inyourpocket.com/lucerne/History

3https://books.google.com/booksid=9NS5WYRGCLAC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=German+Ports:+Gateway+to+America&source=bl&ots=rMI9aSrGAa&sig=qAVEJK0Qei0hExqhrhWLrr1VbFs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjt4faV_NrNAhXD7oMKHWQYDBMQ6AEIMzAD#v=onepage&q=German%20Ports%3A%20Gateway%20to%20America&f=false

4http://rogerkreuz.com/gen/ships.htm

5 http://www.norwayheritage.com/steerage.htm

Sarah Frances Ridenhour

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Sara

Julius and Sarah, Possibly Their Wedding Day

I know very little about my great-grandmother Sarah Frances Ridenhour other than information taken from her marriage and census records. She was born in Maries County, Missouri during the Civil War to Martin Ridenhour and Sarah Ann Rebecca (Mahon) Ridenhour on 12 September 1862, or possibly on 12 November 1861 as shown on her death certificate. She was the seventh of twelve children; six were boys and six were girls.

I am very fortunate to have a picture of Sarah and Julius Schwegler, the man she married on 28 November 1880 in Osage County, Missouri. A few observations from this picture tell me she is a pretty woman. She was as tall as Julius; the Schwegler men were short in stature. At best, she was 5’4 or 5’5 inches tall. Her dress most likely is traditional German or Swiss wedding attire.

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Francis - Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002

Julius and Sarah Were Married by a Justice of the Peace

Sarah was the mother of six children born over the span of twenty-three years. Her first child, Oliver Martin, was born in 1881 when she was just eighteen years of age. This poor little boy died four years later in 1885. At that time her second child, Harley Defraney, was two years of age. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1886, followed by my grandfather Wright Harrison in 1892. Her only girl Ida, born in July 1901, only lived four months. Her last boy, Rainey Adam, was born in 1904.

Ridenhour, Sarah Frances, headstone

Rest in Peace Sarah

I’ve wondered what it would be like to live with six men and no daughters to help with the household chores. My mother once told me that her father and uncles were quiet men. They didn’t talk much and preferred to be alone. Hopefully, Sarah’s daughters-in-law provided some talk and interaction that women need.  

Unfortunately, my mother never knew her grandmother as Sarah died three years before my mother was born. Sarah suffered from chronic nephritis and valvular heart disease. She died at home on 17 August 1924 and was buried the next day in Bethel Cemetery in Paydown. Her headstone reads “Peaceful be thy Silent Slumber.” Sarah was sixty-two years of age.



Julius Schwegler (1859-1943) m. Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)

Oliver Martin Schwegler (1881-1885)
Harley Defraney Schwegler (1883-1965)
Benjamin Franklin Schwegler (1886-1969)
Harrison Wright Schwegler (1892-1978)
Ida J. Schwegler (1901-1901)
Rainey Adam Schwegler (1904-1990)

Happy Birthday Mom…Remembering the Small Things

My mom, Bonnie Lee Schwegler Lane would have been ninety-one today. Like most moms, she had a tremendous impact on my life. But it is the little things I remember most about her.

Schwegler, Bonnie (l) Betty (r), 1943

Mom, left, and her twin sister Betty about 1943.

I get my love of reading from her. When I was four or five she would read stories from our beautifully illustrated book Grimms Fairy Tales. Today the stories are considered too graphic for young children but I loved them. I remember the story Snow-White and Rose-Red, two sisters living in the woods with their widowed mother. One winter night they let a bear come into their house. Night after night the bear comes and stays overnight until spring when he says he has to go away to guard his treasure against a wicked dwarf. That summer the girls encounter the dwarf who is always in trouble and each time they rescue him from his travails. And each time the dwarf is ungrateful for their help. Then one day they come upon the bear who is about to kill the dwarf. The dwarf pleads for his life to no avail. The dwarf is killed and the bear turns into a handsome prince. The dwarf had put a spell on the bear when he stole some of the princes’ jewels. Snow-White marries the prince and Rose-Red marries the brother of the prince.

While the details of the story are fuzzy in my mind, I remember curling up on the bed with my mom in the middle and my brother on the other side of her. Despite the hard work she did, she had beautiful nails. I would run my little finger over her nail, back and forth, feeling the beautiful oval. Not too far into the story, my brother would squirm, being too young to appreciate the beautiful story unfolding before us. It would take several days to finish the book. She read many books to us, curled up in that bed, over the next several years. These are memories I cherish.

Mom died at the age of seventy-five leaving many moments in time for me and my brothers to remember.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Lane, Talmadge and Schwegler, Bonnie Marriage Picture

Newly Weds, Tom and Bonnie Lane

Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad. Today would have been their seventy-first wedding anniversary. They didn’t make it to their fiftieth wedding anniversary either because my dad died when they had been married forty-six years.

Talmadge “Tom” Hollis Lane came from the small town of Caruthersville, in the flat delta in the bootheel of Missouri. He moved to the St. Louis area in the early 1940s where he took a job cutting shoes by hand. He was to continue at this craft until he retired later in life.

Bonnie Lee Schwegler was born in Maries County, Missouri near Vienna. Being of Swiss descent, her family lived in this area where many Swiss and Germans settled. The high, rolling hills reminded the immigrants of their homeland. By the time she was three her family had moved to St. Louis. The depression loomed and no doubt there were more opportunities to make a living in St. Louis.

Mom came from a large family of thirteen children. They had plenty to eat but with so many children, necessities like clothing and shoes were in short supply. She dropped out of high school when she was in her sophomore year. Mom simply got tired of washing out clothes everyday and having shoes that were falling apart. It’s ironic that she went from having shoes that were falling apart to working for a shoe factory. She began working at Johansen Brothers Shoe factory, located in downtown St. Louis, in 1946.

Dad had a very sketchy track-record when it came to women. He married Nima Tanner in 1936. This marriage produced my two half-sisters, Cleo and Kay. This marriage ended in 1945. He married again in April of 1946 only to have his wife, Mildred Foster, die a tragic death during an operation on the first of July. On the 17th of  August, a month and a half later, mom and dad were married by a justice of the peace at the St. Louis County Courthouse. Why they married so quickly after Mildred died is a mystery to me. He was a handsome man and perhaps offered a way out of her situation at home.

wedding-1335649_640Dad died on 22 January 1993; she followed nine years later on 29 June 2002. When mom died her thin gold ring was worn down to a band the thickness of a piece of spaghetti. It reminded me of their long, rocky marriage that had worn them down during the years. But there is no doubt in my mind that they loved each other despite the trials and tribulations they put each other through. Today, and every August 17th, I remember them and honor them for giving life to me and my brothers. Through thick and thin, and good and bad, they hung on until the end.

July is Blackberry Picking in the Midwest

Blackberries 1024

The extreme heat of this July has resurrected memories of blackberry picking of my childhood. Long before I ever picked my first berry my mother had spent many a summer in the county of her birth picking the deep purple, luscious fruit with her mother and siblings. Most likely out of need, the Schwegler family would travel to Maries County, Missouri where they would visit with family. In July, when the fruit ripened, they would don their “picking” outfits and go to their favorite thicket of bushes and spend several hours filling their buckets to the brim. Long-sleeved shirts and pants were called for or long, angry scratches were the result of reaching into the brambles for those plum morsels of blackberry goodness. After the trek, hours were spent in the kitchen brewing jars of blackberry jams and jellies that would last into the next year.

 My family spent many summer weekends traveling to Osage County where my grandfather, Wright Schwegler, had a clubhouse on the Gasconade River. My mother continued the tradition of picking blackberries. And oh how I hated that tradition. I can’t think of anything worse than putting on long sleeves and pants and hiking in the heat of July. Our picking crew consisted of my mom, my brother Bill, and me. My dad would drive us to the same location every year since my mom didn’t drive. We would hike up a long hill to a massive thicket of Blackberry brambles hiding their jewels among their thorns. By the time we would get there, I would be soaked in sweat; not a comfortable feeling for a city-bred, teen-aged girl. No matter how hard I tried I still wound up with long slivers of red scratches on my arms, despite the long-sleeves, and my hands were covered with wounds from the long thorns of the bushes. I don’t ever recall my mother making jams or jellies so we must have eaten the fruit over the course of the next few days.

 Some of my best memories of those days at the clubhouse include warm salads made with fresh greens and tomatoes picked from my grandfather’s garden smothered in Viva Italian dressing. A short walk up the road would result in fresh ears of corn to be boiled and slathered with butter. And best of all, catfish tails from the fish caught on the trotlines from the night before were covered in corn-meal and deep-fried to golden perfection. My brother and I weren’t allowed to eat the other meat of the fish; it had to be the tails since my mother was afraid we would choke on the bones from the other parts of the fish. There were many things we weren’t able to do, which is a testament to my mother’s will to see us safely through our childhood.

 Unfortunately, the tradition of blackberry picking wasn’t passed on to my sons. Today, if one wants, you can have blackberries on the menu most days as they are grown all over the world and shipped to the United States for consumption. I’m not sure the blackberries we get today are as good as those picked straight from the source, but they sure are easier to come by. And despite being uncomfortable, I still have fond memories of those days so many years ago spent with my family in pursuit of blackberries ripened in July.  

 

Great-Grandfather Julius Schwegler

Imagine being four years old and traveling steerage on a ship from Switzerland via Southhampton, England, to New York City. The trip would have taken about six or seven weeks, a long time for someone so young. Julius Schwegler came with his father Joseph, his brother Francis Anton who was one year old, his step-mother Anna Schwegler, Peter Schwegler, and Catherine Graninger. They arrived on 20 Jul 1863. Julius Schwegler was my great-grandfather.  

Julius was born in Switzerland on 31 Jan 1859. Anna was not the mother of Julius. His mother had died and Joseph married Anna prior to their journey. Anna however was the mother of Francis.

Upon arrival to this country the immigrants went directly from New York to Centralia, Illinois. How they got there is anyone’s guess. It is possible that they took a train from New York to Chicago and from there traveled to Centralia via wagon. However they traveled it must have been long and arduous after having spent several weeks on a ship.

Schwegler Julius  Sarah (Ridenhour) Copy_edited-1

Julius and Sarah Ridenhour Schwegler

While in the Centralia area Anna gave birth to Joseph. Every indication is that she died sometime after his birth. By 1865 the motherless family was in Gasconade County, Missouri. On 22 Mar 1867, his father Joseph married Anna Fehner Kallewyne. Julius was eight years of age, Francis (also known as Frank) was five, and Joseph was almost three. Another brother Hann was born in 1867 and most likely died shortly after his birth. Benjamin, the last son of Joseph, was born in 1868.

 

A few years later, in 1870, Joseph died. It must have been very difficult for Julius to lose so many important members of his family by the age of eleven. Despite all of the upheaval in his life, Julius managed to attend school through the eighth grade.

After the death of Joseph, Anna, their step-mother, was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of Julius, Frank, and Joseph. Anna was cited by the judge of the probate court Jan 1874 for failing to settle the accounts of the estate of Julius. In March, Anna married Friederick Leimkuehler. A few months later, Friederick was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of the three boys. Anna’s failure to settle the accounts was most likely a matter of not filing the paperwork in a timely manner rather than an indication that she was not a good guardian.

 The 1876 census shows the family raising four mules, eight head of cattle, six sheep, and thirty-five hogs. And the farm produced five hundred bushels of wheat, three hundred bushels of corn, ten bushels of oats, fifteen pounds of wool and five tons of hay. Those older boys were busy.

Whether he got along his step-parents or not, Julius was no longer living with the family in 1880. He is shown in the census living with N. B. Jones and wife in Jefferson Township, Maries County, Missouri. He was twenty-one years of age. He would stay in Maries County for the rest of his life.

Schwegler Men, Left Harrison, Ben, Harley, and father Julius

The Schwegler Men. Left Wright, Ben, Harley, and their father Julius

 

Julius married Sarah Frances Ridenhour on 28 Nov 1880. This union lasted forty-four years and produced six children: Oliver, Harley, Benjamin, Harrison (my grandfather), Ida, and Rainey. Oliver and Ida died at an early age. The beautiful picture of them, most likely as newly-weds, shows them in their youth looking forward to a promising life together.

Following in the footsteps of his father, it must have been a proud day when Julius was admitted a citizen of the United States on 5 Nov 1881. Transcribed his naturalization record reads:

Julius Schwegler a native of Switzerland, who applies to be admitted a citizen of the United States, comes and proves to the satisfaction of the Court, by the testimony of Kasten Buschmann and Louis Hoffmann two credible witnesses, citizens of the United States, that he arrived in the United States a minor, under the age of eighteen years, that he has resided in the United States at least five years, including the years of his minority; and in the State of Missouri at least one year, immediately preceding this application during which time he has conducted himself as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; and the said applicant declaring here in open Court, upon oath, that for three years last past it has been bonefide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and he declaring also upon oath, that he will support the Constitution of the United States and that he doth also absolutely renounce and abjure forever all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign power, prince, state and sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to the Republic of Switzerland of whom he is at present a subject, therefore, the said JULIUS SCHWEGLER is admitted a citizen of the United States.

Julius was a farmer in Maries County most of his life. And Sarah took care of the needs of the family. I don’t know much about my great-grandmother. She died of chronic nephritis with valvular heart disease as a secondary factor on 17 Aug 1924. Julius would go on to live another nineteen years.  

In 1940 Julius was living with his son Benjamin. During the last months of his life Julius lived with his son Harley and daughter-in-law Leona. He died on 21 Feb. 1943 at the age of eighty-four. A very religious man, he is buried in the Bethel Cemetery in Paydown, Missouri.

Thanks to my second cousin William Schwegler who provided me with many of the personal details about the life of our great-grandfather Julius including the fact that Anna was not his mother. Most of the details he told the family, despite the fact that he was somewhat senile, could be verified in records.