The Seven Year Itch
Not only is it good to know where we came from, but it is also good to know where we are going. I often think about those few days, seven years ago, when Andrew pitched to me the idea behind the articles we write for this site. September 30, 2014 was the date when emails flew back and forth between us, planting the seed for Hagenbuch.org. The impetus was the fixing of my great great grandfather’s stone at Oak Grove Lutheran Church, which was the topic of the first article we wrote.
I also remember Andrew telling me several months before the September 30th date that our family stories needed to be written down. Along with the paper records that I had accumulated over many years, I had all these stories in my head. Some had been recorded already in the previously published Beech Grove newsletters 35 years before. But, now with a new generation of our family present on Earth and the probable loss of many of the copies of the newsletter over time, a new way of preserving our history was necessary.
The sun and the moon all came together for this idea and now for seven years not one week has gone past without an article being published about our family. And, whereas Andrew and I have stated this many times, “most family websites are all about names, dates, places and some wee snippets of family tales,” Hagenbuch.org is about preserving every aspect of our family’s history and how we have been part of both American and world history.
As I write this, I have suddenly realized that it isn’t the names, dates, and places that drive a family’s genealogy, it’s the stories. Storytelling is a lost art in our times due to the continuous onslaught of technology. Where technology has been a boon for Andrew and me, as it allows us to disseminate our family stories quickly and among so many people, it is also a curse. Television, emails, video games, and other “techie advances” (which I don’t even understand) undermine the need for people to sit together and talk face to face.
Like I have written before, my interest in family history began because my grandparents’ and parents’ generations told stories. I listened, and I remembered! As a young boy, I was fascinated with the personalities that created the “characters” in our family. I was curious about the whos, whats, whys, wheres, and hows as I listened to the stories of my great Uncle Perce, his daughter Bernice Bogart, and many others of my father’s cousins: Bruice, Andy, Julia, Myron, Harold, and my own parents, Homer and Irene.
Storytelling is at the heart of the matter. Storytelling passes on the true curiosities and idiosyncrasies of a family that names, dates, and places can’t even attempt to reach. But, storytelling is a two-way street. How many times have those of us with family stories attempted to share with others our remembrances and the listeners don’t care? I suppose that’s really what Andrew and I are doing. If others won’t listen to the spoken word, then our stories must be in the written word, ensuring our rich history reaches more people, especially those who care.
After seven years, Andrew and I still have the “itch.” Our passion, sleuthing, attention to details, and the enjoyment we have in writing family stories has given all of us genealogical gold. I would stack up our 364 articles against any family’s history trail. Not a brag, it’s just fact! But, unlike an itch and rash that we don’t wish to get worse and spread, we want the Hagenbuch family itch to spread to others, be contagious, and continue to instill in others the passion to share the stories we write. And, not only should our family stories be written and read, they should also be told. Again, it goes back to storytelling and finding those with ears to hear.
To everyone reading this article: share our website with others as Andrew and I continue to scratch the itch!