Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Christina [Orth] Herr - November 17th 1876

Last Tuesday, November 17th, would have been my great, great grandmother's 139th birthday. She was the mother of Lydia Herr, grandmother to Annette Roehm and great grandmother to my mother, Carole Connors.

George Orth and Maria Delger Orth, Christina's parents

Christina Orth was born November 17th 1876, in Odessa, Ukraine. At the time she was born, it was considered a part of Russia. The Orth family has been hard to find a paper trail on. What is interesting is Christina is not even listed on the passenger list to New York from Hamburg that the rest of her family is on. At this point, it is unknown if she left before or after them to America, but either way, she got here! I will need to review a few census records and her death record to see what it states as how long she'd been in America.

There is little known of Christina's childhood in the Ukraine. Her parents were also German's from Russia, so they did not have any Russian in their ethnicity despite being born in that country.

There is a rumor (unconfirmed) that Christina met her future husband, Jacob Herr Jr, at the Chicago World's Fair (aka World's Columbian Exhibition)  in 1893. If this were true, it would seem to make sense, as they were married and had their first child by 1896 and this would have given them enough time to meet one another and have a formal courtship, although both were very young. Even if this is not how they met, it is a little romantic to think that's how it happened!

The photo below is the youngest photo we have of both Jacob and Christina Herr from about 1896-1897, holding their first born, Lydia Herr (my great grandmother). Christina's clothing is very practical. It's a dress, but it's hard to place of what time frame. It is embellished with lace at the top and a brooch in the center of the neck. She is also wearing earrings. She has an interesting looking belt across her dress which is hard to make out why she has it, but it could be for maybe an expanding belly and she could have been pregnant with her next child when this photo was taken.

Jacob Jr. once asked Christina if she'd like to go back home to visit family in Russia by boat, and she said "No". The ship she was on when coming to America (around the age of 13) made her so sick because it rocked back and forth so much, she said. They had to be at the bottom of the ship, in the steerage area.

Christina and Jacob would continue to have 12 more children, until the last one was born in 1921. Seen below, Christina is holding her first granddaughter Doris (Lydia's first born), with her own two younger sons Soloman and Orville Herr in 1916. In this photo, her hair appears to be a light brown. Her clothing had style looks different in this photo and is more befitting of the Edwardian era. It looks like she is wearing a cameo on her neck and that there may be some lace on the neck line of her dress. In this picture, she would have been 40 years old.

This photo is of Christina [Orth] Herr holding her grand-daughter Doris Roehm, circa 1917, However, part of me thinks this photo was taken in the 1920's. She looks older in this picture than the one above. She may actually be holding Lydia's other daughter, Joyce, who would have been about this age in 1920.

Here is another photo of Christina holding her grand-daughter and her grandson is to the right. That may be Alwin Roehm to her right and she may possibly be holding my Grandma Annette, circa 1930-31. Her younger sons would be sitting on top of the car.

Donald Babitzke, Alwin Roehm, Douglas Babitzke, Doris Roehm, Christina [Orth] Herr, Sophie Babitkze, Louise Babitzke, Annette Roehm (dark hair), Izetta Roehm, Hank Wolf and Yvonne Babitzke, circa 1936-37, on the North Dakota Prairie.

Lydia [Herr] Roehm, mother Christina [Orth] Herr, Joyce [Roehm] Wolf, with her daughter Doris Jean Wolf, circa 1938-39 - Wishek, North Dakota.

Izetta Roehm [Purviance], Sophie [Herr] Babitzke, Christina [Orth] Herr and Christ Babitzke in Wishek, where the Babitzkes lived.

Lydia [Herr Roehm] Murphy with her mother, Christina [Orth] Herr, inside Sophie and Christ Babitzke's home in Wishek, ND, circa 1959-60.

One of Christina's last photographs, circa 1961-63, in Wishek, ND.

Christina died on October 1st, 1966, just a little over a month shy of turning 90. Before she died, she lived with her youngest daughter, Sophie Babitzke. 

Christina, I hope you had a wonderful birthday! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Music that invokes feelings of coming to America or living in America long ago

I am sure, as genealogists, we often like to put ourselves in the shoes of some of our relatives and imagine what it must have felt like to arrive on American soil; how they lived out their first few years in a new country and experience new technologies, scenery and culture that was all around them. They may have felt alienated and yet excited all at once.

Lots of music from today's movies and Broadway shows can help illustrate the era when our relatives came to America. Some movies indirectly give us the feeling, such as "Titanic," where we see how the many immigrants lived in the cheapest quarters on board the ship. We can get a glimpse of how they may have dressed, entertained and lived in such conditions. And, well, if your family was well off enough to enjoy 2nd class or 1st class accommodations, then we also get a very good idea of what that was like, too.

That is just one example of how movies and Broadway shows can give us an idea of the immigrant experience. There are many more. I thought I'd share a few YouTube videos of some songs/snippets that give us a "feeling" of what it was like to be in their shoes:

"Ragtime" 1997-1998 Broadway Cast Musical -

"An American Tail" - Main Title

"A Little Princess" - Breakfast

"Little Women" - Under the Umbrella (not an immigrant movie, but the feeling of the American spirit can really stir you listening to this soundtrack, or gain a feeling of what it was like for our relatives living during the American Civil War)

"Fried Green Tomatoes" - Theme (A great soundtrack that instantly pulls you into a nostalgic era from the 1920's-1930's - again, not an immigrant experience, per se, but evoking a certain time period that your relatives lived in)

"Forrest Gump" - Theme (This soundtrack evokes a feeling that you are stepping back in time - Alan Silvestri did a wonderful job of adding such a light touch to the notes played on the piano, just like the feather that was flying away in the movie)


I hope some of these soundtracks add a little depth to your research. Sometimes listening to these help me along my way, inspiring me a little to go in different directions because of the mood the music puts me in. 

Music is so powerful in our lives and how it shaped our ancestors lives is also important. 

Running on Empty

I realize I have been gone for the last month and a half. I have good reasoning.

On October 22nd, my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer and, in a sense, my world stopped. Cancer does not run in our family, or so I thought. Lately, more and more stories from our family histories are popping up with cancer being involved. My mother's dad supposedly had cancer on his lips (it doesn't surprise me -  he was a very freckly, white, ginger Irishman living and working in the hot California sun)

I truly hate the word cancer. Until now, I have been so very lucky to not be directly hit with it in our immediate family. Some relatives have had benign tumors, but not cancerous tumors. 

My mother has stage 1 bladder cancer. It's not invasive to the muscle in the bladder, but it has invaded quite a few deeper tissues in the bladder.

She had surgery on November 4th to have the tumor removed and she is still experiencing pain from the removal of the tumor and also some side effects from the chemotherapy they gave her right after surgery. 

So, I will try my hardest on here to continue posting, but at this time, my heart is heavy with fear and hope. I am not sure where my mother's future stands and it scares me, but I have hope she will get through this and give it her strongest fight. 

I'd like to give cancer a few expletives at this very moment, but I will refrain. 

I will promise to come on here to let off some steam.... but some good steam :)