The Beech Grove: Hagenbuch Family Newsletter
Since I was 13 years old I’ve always had in interest in our family history. Some folks tell me 13 is an early age to be making family trees and asking relatives what they remember about those who came before us. However, three things were probably the driving force behind my interest.
First, I grew up in a family-rich environment where many of my Hagenbuch relatives attended Oak Grove Lutheran Church. I would spend time with my great Uncle Percy (“Perce”) who took me through the church graveyard most Sundays tapping on the stones and telling me stories about the relatives who lay at rest there. During those early years I also discussed family history with Bernice “Hagenbuch” Bogart (great Uncle Perce’s daughter) who was the self-appointed family historian.
Second, I enjoyed mysteries and history, and I could imagine lives being changed because of family dynamics (Read “One Silver Dollar”). Also, in the 1940s a distant cousin living in California, William Hagenbaugh, had sent out letters to many Hagenbuchs in other states asking for their family information. His letters were accompanied by a family tree which started with Andreas Hagenbuch, my ggggg grandfather.
- Read about Andreas Hagenbuch’s journey to Pennsylvania
- Hear music from the time of Andreas Hagenbuch
Third, to put it mildly, I was bitten by the genealogy bug! In 1975, after graduating from college, marrying, and becoming employed as a first grade teacher in a local school district, I had the skills, maturity, and economic means to pursue the letter writing and travel associated with genealogical research. As I shared information with my closest family members and the other Hagenbuch families across the United States who were related to us, I kept being asked, especially by Bernice Bogart, “When will you write a book about all this family history?”
At that time there were no self publishing alternatives, and the task of writing the book and finding a publisher seemed daunting. Instead, I decided to produce a “living” publication – a family newsletter. Called The Beech Grove, the newsletter was first published in March of 1982.
There were four issues a year costing $1 each (this covered the cost of copying and postage). The newsletter was printed with back to back pages on regular sized copy paper and included historical articles, lists of birthdays and anniversaries, and newspaper articles about our family.
That first newsletter in March of 1982 started with a few paragraphs explaining why I was naming the newsletter The Beech Grove and several paragraphs explaining the goal of the newsletter, price, and some personal information about myself.
Also included in that first newsletter was a map of Berks County, Pennsylvania pinpointing where Andreas Hagenbuch’s farm was located, a family tree with the early lines of descendants from Andreas, an article on what I knew or surmised about Andreas’s voyage to America in 1737, an article about the missing gravestones at the Hagenbuch homestead graveyard in Berks County, an article about family patriarch Enoch Hagenbuch, a poem, and a cartoon.
The newsletter went through several transitions as I became a family man with 3 children, got involved in 18th century reenacting, and purchased a new home (just a few of the responsibilities that got in the way of spending time on the newsletter and genealogy).
By 1988 I decided to reduce the publication of the newsletter to twice each year. I also had cousin Diane Brosious help out as editor (granddaughter of Bernice Bogart mentioned above) and asked other relatives to help out with writing articles (i.e. cousin Will Mangold).
But, by 1992 with less time to spend on genealogy and the subscription rate lowering, I decided to put The Beech Grove to bed and basically stop the work I had done in contacting Hagenbuchs to trace their family lines, the work of filling out family charts, and the research involved with census records.
The Beech Grove was very successful during its 11 year run. It reached many different branches of Andreas Hagenbuch’s family, as the subscribers were descendants of most of his 12 children (4 males and 8 females). Between the years 1986 and 1990 there were 141 different subscribers. These not only included relatives, but also 5 genealogical libraries.
Now, one could say that The Beech Grove has come back in the form of Hagenbuch.org, thanks to my son Andrew’s interest in our family history, the rise of the computer age, and the realization that I have stories, family charts, and research that must be written down or it will be lost.
Our hope through this website is to digitize some of The Beech Grove issues so those early efforts will educate and can be enjoyed by a new generation of readers. Most of all, we hope to rekindle in all generations the sense of family that once came from The Beech Grove.