Getting to Know the Family—Through Social Distancing
We are going through a crisis at this time that we never could have imagined just a few months ago. Our visits with our children and grandchildren living in Yardley, Pennsylvania and Freeport, Maine have ended for the time being. We have seen our daughter from Lewisburg twice in the past month because she needed a few items and drove to our place—only to speak to us through an open house window as she stood in our driveway about 30 feet away. Other than that, we visit about once a week with these family members through FaceTime.
Linda and I have not left our “compound” for over a month, except for me to go to my doctor’s appointment for a monthly injection which is essential to my medical condition. All precautions were taken (sanitizer with a face mask which Linda made) and the doctor’s office had no one there except myself, a nurse, and the receptionist. The Covid situation has curtailed all my outside activities with my local historical society, with 18th-century reenacting, and my usual “running around,” which was almost daily.
It was no surprise about a month ago when Andrew reminded me that Beechroots, our computer-based genealogical record-keeping tool, was lacking in hundreds of Hagenbuchs and related families. His wife, Sara, had already added a goodly number of Hagenbuchs from Enoch Hagenbuch’s writings. As mentioned several times in other articles, I have hundreds and hundreds of hand-written records of the descendants of our family’s patriarch, Andreas Hagenbuch.
I have not been good at taking regular periods of time to type in the information. Now, being self-quarantined, I have no excuse not to take a few hours each day and add more of our family to Beechroots—some I have not worked on for 40 years. Forty years ago, there was no computer that gave me access to online research capabilities like census records, cemetery records, death certificates, and even Facebook.
The hundreds of paper records I completed 40 years ago are written out on the genealogical marriage sheets provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are bound in six large books with enough other loose sheets to fill another binder. Each binder contains approximately 250 sheets. Two of the binders are Hagenbuch married couples organized in alphabetical order, plus the children born to the marriages.
The other binders and loose sheets are also alphabetized and are related families that correspond to the Hagenbuch sheets. A few weeks ago, I decided to make an effort every day to type into Beechroots a Hagenbuch family that had not been recorded. Also, with today’s online research capabilities, I can update my past paper records by following family lines down to the present.
I began with an obituary which Andrew had sent me—Jay Hagenbuch who was born in 1935 and died on February 2, 2020. I knew that name and, in looking through my paper records, easily found him and his parents, Ray and Carolyn (Thurlow) Hagenbuch. In fact, I had written an article about Ray’s direct line to the patriarch Andreas in March of 2019. But, I had not updated the family from 1980 to the present. It was time to get to work.
Using the paper records I already had on this family, census information, and cemetery records, I added Ray’s siblings (Jay’s uncles and aunts), Ray’s father’s siblings, and then worked down from that generation to add many relatives which were not recorded on paper. Next, I went back to Jay and his siblings and began to work to the present. However, since census records end at 1940 and cemetery records do not reflect living people, I then turned to Jay’s obituary and Facebook.
I am a huge Facebook user. It is my way to communicate with the many people associated with my many interests, one of them being genealogy. Reading through Jay Hagenbuch’s obituary again I found a list of his children. Going to Facebook I began to search (not stalk!) the children’s names. I realized that I already had his daughter, Gretchen, friended on Facebook, and then I friended another daughter, Rebecca. Gretchen, Rebecca, and Jay’s other three children, Kelley, Kathryn and Chris, are now placed in Beechroots. I hope to get information from Jay’s children to update their lines even further since the obituary lists Jay as having eight grandchildren. No longer are these relatives just names and dates. They are living descendants of the first Hagenbuchs to settle in America.
Because of the time I now have, I am using it wisely to update our family tree, and with the help of computer records, I can continue to add other people and get to know them better! You can certainly do the same. Read through the articles in Hagenbuch.org. There may be some you missed. Even I enjoy going back and rereading the over 250 articles that Andrew and I have written. You can also go to Beechroots.com and Findagrave.com to look for your family’s pertinent information. With all of this family information gathered together, we can get to know each other, even without meeting face-to-face.