Six Years On
In the late 1970s, historian James Burke hosted a documentary television program called Connections. In each episode, he traced the history of a modern scientific marvel from its humble beginning to fruition. For instance, in one episode Burke described how the idea of preserving food in glass bottles during 1800s eventually led to the development of rockets in the 1900s, helping the first humans to walk on the moon.
I was reminded of Connections, which I saw in reruns as a child, when considering how Hagenbuch.org came to be in 2014. The idea for the site didn’t simply appear out of thin air. Rather, it resulted from a series of events that began with my father’s paper genealogy records in the 1970s and his creation of the Beech Grove newsletter in the 1980s and 1990s. Though these faded by the early 2000s, I picked up the torch in the 2010s when I started my own research into Andreas Hagenbuch (b. 1715) and began heading out to cemeteries with my father.
On September 30, 2014, I wrote to my father in an email:
I think it would be nice to setup a blog on there where you and I can put Hagenbuch family information, pictures, about stuff we’ve learned. It would be nice for you to put old copies of stuff from your newsletter up there too.
Later that day, he replied:
I think it’s a great idea and I appreciate your interest in it. We do have a wonderful history and I know I should write more down about it. When I saw the photo of cousin Stanley by the stone [of William Hagenbuch] it reminded me of his father, Cyrus (his father was my wonderful great Uncle Percy). Cyrus was the maintenance fellow at Oak Grove.
The picture that he referenced was shown in one of the first articles on Hagenbuch.org after it launched in October of 2014. Today, six years later, we have published 313 articles containing over 350,000 words! We are also approaching 4,000 family member names in our Beechroots genealogy database.
We had a number of discoveries this year, including finding a family quilt whose creator was midwife Mariah Madden. In March, we were lucky enough to be contacted by Zach Bow, who provided two 19th-century letters to us: one from Timothy Hagenbuch to his brother, Enoch, and another from Timothy to his brother, Daniel. Both gave fascinating insights into Hagenbuch family life before the Civil War.
Several other articles discussed stories from the years during the Civil War. Shadrach L. Hagenbaugh’s ordeal as a prisoner of war was chronicled in one of these, while the relatively uneventful service of Eli Thornton Hagenbuch was featured as well. Yet, the year’s biggest war-related story, told in five parts, was that of paratrooper James H. Hagenbuch who jumped into Normandy, France on D-Day.
There were other multi-part articles published too. In these, we explored different friends of the Hagenbuch family and envisioned what painted portraits of a few of our ancestors might look like. A four-part series imagined fictional dinners with different family members including Andreas Hagenbuch, Rebecca (Muffley) Hagenbuch, Kathryn (Hagenbuch) Roat and Percy Hagenbuch, and James H. Hagenbuch.
Along with history, culture continued to be an important element of the site. This past year included a look at bedding used by our ancestors, handmade Christmas cards, making grave ornaments and forty-nine beans, and lithographs as home decorations. We discussed family foods like traditional gingerbread men called Mummeli and sugar cookies known as Ritner Roll-Outs. We examined various happenings, such as Mother’s Day, the history of the Hagenbuch reunion, and a wintry trip to the Hagenbuch homestead. Of course, the biggest event for me was the announcement of the birth of my son, William.
My father and I enjoy reading through old letters, like those written by Samuel Sechler to Mary Davis, and inspecting family snapshots or group photographs. As we learned from an article about Warren and Louise (Ganiere) Heinly, it only takes one image to start to tell the story of a family. My wife, Sara, even joined us in our exploration of family history, as she analyzed new aspects of Enoch Hagenbuch’s written history and the poetry within this document.
Often as genealogists, it is the research into various families and reconnecting with lost relatives that we find the most fulfilling. This past year, we featured the families of John Bert Hagenbuch, Allen S. Hagenbuch, Joseph Hagenbaugh, Christian Hagenbuch and Christian Hagenbaugh, Harry E. Hagenbuch, and Abraham Hagenbuch. Turning a negative into a positive, the increased time at home—a result of the pandemic—provided an opportunity to expand the number of names in Beechroots and bring more paper records into the digital age.
Looking forward to next year, my father and I have many more stories about the Hagenbuch family, history, and culture to share with you. We are also hopeful that the current pandemic will subside, and we will be able to host the Hagenbuch Reunion on June 26, 2021. Finally, if you would like to have your family’s history and genealogy featured, please contact us using Facebook or our email Contact Us form, and make sure to have images, names, and dates ready to share.
Thank you for your continued support!
-Andrew M. Hagenbuch & Mark O. Hagenbuch