Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Friday, April 3, 2015

12 Ancestors - #19 Beryl Swanson Welte - Why An Old Trunk Is So Interesting!

A year ago, on May 17, I bought an old trunk at a garage sale. I saw it from the road and I wondered why it was being sold. I thought it was strange because it looked so lonely out there in the driveway, sitting by itself, and probably thinking why it was out there at all, going from one place where it had been to being bought by a stranger. My first thought was whether its owner knew what kind of legacy was being out there on display for everyone to see and whether that really made a difference at any of the family. I couldn't understand how a person could sell part of their own heritage or why someone else in their family was not interested in that kind of immigration history.

I felt that it was very sad that it was being "tossed" out, so to say, without having its story told or remembered. I stood there for quite a while and wondered what stories were hidden in that old trunk. The straps were in disrepair, much less even there at all, but somehow that trunk told a family story that affected many decisions through the years. It probably had contained family possessions, including quilts, bedding, linens, flatware, or perhaps even a wedding dress.
I approached the homeowner and I asked her whose trunk it was that was being sold. She said that it belonged to her family and that she had it in her basement for years, but it was time to move on. I bought it out of concern that someday one of the family members may go looking for it and wonder where it went to. I know I would need to have it my possession because the family members my age are dying off or they really don't care about restoring or reviving long-lost memories or family stories.

Mom next to the trunk that her father, George E. Swanson, used on the railroad
This sale brought to mind the trunk that my mother’s father had used when he was on the railroad during the early part of the 20th century. My mom and I visited my cousin in Idaho ten years ago and we saw the trunk at his residence. He is taking very good care of it now. When mom opened the trunk, there was an old Chinese Checkers game inside. My mom said she remembered playing the game when she was a child. It was great touching this piece of my family history which dated back over one hundred years ago.

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