The Universal Language

My ancestors are from England, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland. Those countries cover just a few of the 6,900-plus languages in the world. That’s a lot of different languages! But according to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, there is one universal language: Music. Like most languages, music has its own system of symbols and the combination of those symbols produces phrases—or a composition—that can be interpreted by instruments or voices. Since music is such a big part of my life I decided to find other people in my family who also speak that language. Continue reading

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My Mother

Betty Lou McKenzie

On 24 June 1927, Annie Reynolds McKenzie (1902-1987) delivered her second child, a baby girl. She and her husband, Frank Ledbetter McKenzie (1902-1970), named her Betty Lou. The birth took place at home in Roberdel, North Carolina. When I was a young girl, we used to pass by that house every time we visited relatives and Momma would point it out. I’m not sure if it’s even still there, but I remember that it was very small. Continue reading

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My Immigrant Ancestor

Frank William Rohleder

Frank Rohleder late in life. This picture hangs in the guest room of my uncle’s house.

With this week’s prompt of “Close Up,” I decided to take a closer look at my paternal second great-grandfather. New records are always becoming available; I might find something new! Continue reading

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Tragic Accidents

(Note: I’ve missed a few weeks in the series. The prompt for the first week in April was “The Maiden Aunt,” but I wrote about my only maiden aunt in week four. For the last two weeks, “Storms” and “Taxes,” I didn’t have anyone who fit into these prompts individually. However, combined with this week’s prompt, “Cemetery,” two candidates presented themselves.)

Arnold and Milton

Two of my uncles, each a brother of my paternal grandparents, died tragically at a young age. Those deaths sent these young men to an early grave, and created taxing times and emotional storms for their survivors. My grandparents named their second son after them: Milton Arnold Rohleder. Continue reading

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The Old Homestead

1921 Camp Greene Street

The usual image that pops into my mind when I think of “old homestead” (this week’s prompt) is an expanse of land upon which stands a house that one family has occupied for generations. Well, that doesn’t apply to my family. The only one close is the old O’Brien home, and that was a different branch from my direct ancestors. My choice is the house where I spent the first ten years of my life. Continue reading

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Led Astray by His Brother?

Mortimer Emerson Rohleder

My great-granduncle’s first bit of misfortune (this week’s prompt) came at birth when he was given the name Mortimer. Poor guy. At least he went by his middle name, but you know at the beginning of each school year the teacher called out for “Mortimer” not realizing the kid called himself Emerson. Continue reading

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Lucky in Life

Henry Clontz Severs

Uncle Henry’s luck began before he was born. His parents immigrated from Germany when his mother was pregnant with Henry. She survived the voyage and Henry was born aboard ship just before reaching the harbor in Charleston, South Carolina, on 2 November 1842. Heinrich Harn Severs (1818-1878) and Mette Marie Bruns (1815-1875) started their life in America with Henry’s birth, followed by four more children born in Charleston before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, around 1850 (after daughter Mary’s birth). Two more children were born in Charlotte. Continue reading

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