I’d put my “I voted today” sticker on her headstone if I lived nearby

So last week I’m scrolling through Facebook minding my own business, watching videos

Susan B. Anthony Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Susan B. Anthony Photo Credit: Wikipedia

of babies and puppies and liking pics from old high school classmates when I come to a complete stop. Posted among the silly and senseless on Facebook was a photo of Susan B. Anthony’s headstone with several “I voted today” stickers on it and a small bouquet of flowers laying at the base.

It was incredibly moving. Tears came to my eyes. It’s very rare that anything on Facebook resonates with me to that extent but this – several women paying their respects on election day to this courageous woman who fought for women’s right to vote was extraordinary.

So I did a little research. I’m ashamed to say I only had a general idea when the suffrage movement occurred and was hazy on which amendment gave women the right to vote and when it passed. The 19th Amendment ratified on August 18, 1920 gave all women who were U.S. citizens the right to vote. In fact the movement started in the mid-1800s and most women who marched, wrote and lobbied for this cause didn’t live to see the passage of this amendment.

Next I took a look at my own family tree. How did the 19th amendment affect my female ancestors? On my maternal side I had a great grandmother, Sudie L. Barron Lowery, (my maternal grandfather’s mother) who was 46 years old in 1920 and my maternal grandmother, Gladys Marshall Lowery, who was 28 years old in 1920. Her mother had already passed by 1920 and my mom was born in 1919.

On my father’s side my paternal female ancestors found a great grandmother, Josephine Geullbert Frueh, (my paternal grandfather’s mother) who was 71 years old in 1920 and the other, Irene Waller Nantz, (my paternal grandmother’s mother) was 48 years old. My paternal grandmother, Flora A. Nantz Frueh was 32 years old in 1920. (I didn’t realize until this moment that my great grandmother was 16 years old when she gave birth to my grandmother. I will double check those dates.)

So what does that mean? My great grandmothers that were alive in 1920 were well into middle age even elderly by the time they got the right to vote. I wonder if it mattered to them? I wonder how they felt about finally being able to express their opinions through voting? Was it a wonderful reality or insignificant? In their view was voting best left to men anyway?

Both my grandmothers were young vital, women at 28 and 32 years old. Were they excited? Almost giddy at the prospect of finally being counted when it came time to elect officials, determine taxes and add laws to our state constitution? Women’s right to vote was a hotly contested topic their entire lifetime. How I wish I knew how they felt when they finally received the right to vote!

Susan B Anthony headstone Photo Credit:  Sarah Jane McPike

Susan B Anthony headstone Photo Credit: Sarah Jane McPike

My final thought here is that there is only one female generation that precedes me who has always been able to vote. Only my mother grew up knowing she could vote when she came of age. Just ONE generation before me!

I am astounded and deeply grateful for the women who came before and worked and lobbied and suffered untold disgrace and hardship to gain for me the right to vote. Thank you Susan B. Anthony and all the suffragettes. I would most certainly put my “I voted today” sticker on your headstone if I lived nearby but better yet maybe I should investigate who the women in my area were that championed women’s right to vote. Then by the time the next election rolls around I’ll be able to thank those who lived near me for such a valuable privilege. Maybe you’ll do the same.

I Found My Dad on Facebook!

Cam and Flora Nantz Frueh children 1922

Cameron and Flora Nantz Frueh children 1922

I’ll bet we’ve all done it. Posted old family photos to our Facebook timeline. Maybe someone in your family has started a family Facebook page so the entire clan can share their pics. This very scenario happened to me with some pretty spectacular results.

It all started at the beginning of the year with my New Year’s resolution to organize my family history files. My first step was to take the easy route and scan family photos with my Flip Pal. Documents would get scanned later. As I uploaded my scanned pics to my laptop to file I’d also post a few to my Facebook page. It was always fun to get other family members reactions to the old pics. Occasionally someone would comment when a particular photo jogged their memory.

Soon one of my cousins started a family Facebook page so everyone could post and enjoy each others photos. Great idea! I’ll just mention here that this Facebook group consists of first cousins. All of our parents were children of Flora Nantz and Cameron Frueh. So I posted lots of pics to the Facebook page, some without any kind of identification in the hopes another family member had a similar photo with names.

That’s when it happened! Another cousin puts the photo (above) on our Facebook page. He identifies his mom as the 5 year old in first row far right. There she is with the rest of her siblings at an older sister’s First Communion. The significance? My father is in this photo! In the back row, far left stands my eleven year old dad!

John, Adolph, Mary Frueh

John, Adolph, Mary Frueh
23 April 1922*

I have a copy of a photo of my dad as an infant but the rest of the pics I have of him are all as an adult throughout the rest of his life. I’ve never seen a photo of my dad as a child! I can’t tell you the swell of emotion I felt as I looked at my dad as a young boy. I have to say I touched his little boy face on my computer screen with tears in my eyes.

Now the incredible irony here is that I have digital copies of several photos from yet another cousin last November. It’s the second photo here. My sisters and I took a guess at who these kids were but had no idea since there weren’t any names on the photo. Imagine! I had a photo of my dad (on the left) as a kid and didn’t even know it! Let me tell you learning to date photos has now become a priority.

The takeaway here other than the fact that I’m over the moon having a photo of my dad as a child? Don’t give up hope of finding a photo, some information, a document, anything that will provide answers in your genealogy research. Use all avenues available to you. Courthouses, libraries, online databases and even Facebook. Don’t ever, ever give up! Because one day when you least expect it your info will show up!

*I found the date of my aunt’s First Communion on FamilySearch.org. They have the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio Parish Records from 1796-2004.

Josephine Guellbert (Gilbert) #52Ancestors

Adolph & Josephine Frueh Family

Josephine Guellbert Frueh – seated front row left

Last week for my #52 Ancestors post I wrote about my father’s maternal grandmother. In keeping with my female ancestors these last couple days of Women’s History Month I’d like to share a bit about my dad’s paternal grandmother.

 

Josephine Guellbert (Gilbert) is my family’s princess and the pauper story with a twist but I’ll get to that in a minute. Josephine was born in Moir France on 20 May 1849. I’m sorry to say I don’t know who my great grandmother’s parents were. The family legend says Josephine was the daughter of a wealthy family in France. Wealthy enough to employ a gardener. (I’ll bet you can imagine where this is going!) Josephine fell in love with the lowly gardener much to her parent’s disapproval. Continue reading

This week’s #52Ancestors will complete my tribute to my four grandparents

Flora Alice Nantz

Flora Alice Nantz

Last but not least is my paternal grandmother Flora A. Nantz Frueh. I’ve mentioned before that all my grandparents had passed while I was still very young. So my memories are few and hazy but I have none at all for Flora. None of us do.

My grandmother died when she was only 44 years old. My dad was her second oldest child. He was 21 and not married at the time. He had one older sibling and seven younger. Flora’s death left a huge void in the family’s life.

I remember one unusually revealing moment when my dad mentioned how old (young actually) he was when his mom died and how it was something he’d never forget. His few words and soft tone spoke of the great loss he still felt and he was well into his 60s at the time.

So who is this woman my dad remembered with a child’s love? The woman I call Grandma Frueh? Her name was Flora Alice Nantz and she was born 23 May 1888 in Van Wert County, Ohio.

Her parents were Irene Louisa Waller and William Albert Nantz. Flora was the oldest of the four Nantz children and was only four when her two younger sisters, Rosa and Flosey died within a week of each other. Rosa was just 2-1/2 years old and Flosey was 3 weeks old. What pain that household must have endured with their deaths.

So Flora grew up with her younger brother, Ira. Some of her youth was spent in Van Wert County but by 1900 at 12 years old, she and her family were living in Hardin County, Ohio. Her father was farming.

On 28 April 1909, a 21 year old Flora married Camillus V. Frueh. I wish I knew more details about their meeting, their courtship and marriage. Flora and Cam were opposites. He was a fiery immigrant who spoke German in his home and among his extended family and friends. Flora’s family reaches back to colonial Virginia. She seems to be the quiet to Cam’s boisterousness.

William Nantz, Irene Waller Nantz, Flora and brother Ira Nantz

William Nantz, Irene Waller Nantz, Flora and brother Ira Nantz

Cam and Flora have nine children over 21 years. As I mentioned my dad is the second oldest of the five boys and four girls. Flora’s death on 18 October 1932 sent a deep sadness through this family that I felt growing up. Each of her children seemed to guard their precious memories of Flora. It wasn’t often my aunts or uncles shared a tidbit about her. Of course the younger ones were so small when she died their memories were few.

Yet I do have a treasure. My genea-buddy sister wrote one of our aunts (approx. 1990) and asked about her mother Flora. This is an excerpt of how she described her mom:

“She was a loving mother, a fantastic cook, good sewer but not a very good housekeeper.

Each child had a special birthday dinner, cooked in his or her honor, mostly fried chicken or sometimes stewing chicken (to get rid of the old hens) which made delicious chicken and noodles! Continue reading

He Unexpectedly Showed Up In My Inbox! #52Ancestors

Cam Frueh and my cousin Joe

Cam Frueh and my cousin Joe

For my first installment of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I chose my paternal grandfather Camillus (Cameron) “Cam” Valentine Frueh. A picture of him and my cousin Joe unexpectedly showed up in my inbox this past week. I took that as a sign, perhaps my grandfather had something to say! Either way I launch my 52 Ancestors with my grandfather Cam Frueh.

He was known by many names Cam, C.V., Camillus, but during my childhood he was always referred to as “Pop” Frueh. Born April 20, 1881 in Colmar Germany he was just a little boy barely six years old when his family migrated from Germany to the United States.

Their ship’s final destination was New York City. Imagine a six year old standing on the deck of a ship, wondering about this new country and catching a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I’m sure he didn’t know it had been dedicated only the previous year!

Cam and his family migrated to a small town in northwest Ohio where his uncle, his father’s brother had settled and established a brewery. Yet my grandfather and his father before him didn’t follow in these footsteps. These Frueh men were gardeners, florists, and were so good at their craft today they would be known as masters in the horticultural field.

My grandfather married a local woman, Flora Nantz, in his adopted hometown of Lima, Ohio in 1909. Their family grew to nine children, my father John being the second born in the family.

Camillus, Flora, Adolph and John Frueh

Camillus, Flora, Adolph and John Frueh

I have just a few snippets my dad shared about his father. My dad remembered as a boy his father had a couple of friends that stopped by the house from time to time. The three men spoke only German during their visits together. My dad never learned to speak his father’s native tongue but picked up phrases and had a general idea of what the men talked about. The topic that raised my grandfather’s blood pressure as well as his voice was politics. Continue reading