The one on the right is the final version of the book I wrote about Dad's side of the family (But I'm getting ahead of my self)
August 26, 2006
Iâ€™m an amateur genealogist. That means I do it for the fun and education. This opposed to a profession genealogist who do it for the fun, education, and some sort of monetary compensation. Most professional genealogist starve because to be honest, people are just not interested enough in their family history to pay someone to track down the long cast shadows of their family tree. Most that are interested enough, learn how to do it on their own.
I have been interested in family history since my 20s.
I think every genealogist dreams of writing a family history book. Something that can be passed down through the ages. Something that gives you a degree of standing in the family reserved for the elderly. That book is written after a lot of research is done. The problem with that research is that it is never really done. You can always find an excuse why it is not time to actually start writing that book. You can move from you motherâ€™s side to fatherâ€™s side, to your maternal grandmotherâ€™s side, to your paternal grandmotherâ€™s side. Then there is always the hunt for the historical of famous person you might be related to, or the famous event that someone was a part of.
Reunion 2004--Mom is in orange. I think you can pick out Sister Stephanie. Mom was one of 14. Only 11 were alive then.
Another issue is the research itself. It is boring at times, and always time consuming. Unless you have found that rich benefactor paying you to do it, you are working nights, weekends, and vacations to find out who your 4th Great Grandfather was, when, and how he came to this country.
It takes a lot out of your social calendar and inevitably you put it one the back burner, to come back to it later. I have never been able to foster the fortitude to stay at my research for more than 9 consecutive months. Then years might go by without any serious effort. Then something just happens and you start again.
The last picture of my Dad, Dec 2004
The genesis of this trip had two â€śsomethingsâ€ť that got me headed to Kentucky and my fatherâ€™s roots. The first was a family reunion in the early summer of 2004. My motherâ€™s side has a reunion every three years, when my Aunt Mary Ann, known for the last 40 years a Sister Stephanie, a Catholic nun, is allowed to go home to visit her family. As my motherâ€™s side of the family was raised Catholic and most are still deeply religious, they have double reason to be fond of this sibling.
Anyway, while at the reunion, a distant cousin approached me and asked about my family research. She had been bitten by the Genealogy Bug, and wanted to begin research on her side of the family. I was a bit embarrassed to be in one of the valleys of my research and had not done a thing in about a year. I got her email address and gave her my promise to send you what I had.
My Dad's Grave
In the electronic world we live in this is much easier to do than even 10 years ago. But I realized I need to upgrade my computer software and once I had a new toy to play with I was off researching again. I had long since decided that I would have to write several books to do justice to what I wanted to do. The first one I wanted to do was on my Dadâ€™s side of the family. He had been in and out of the hospital for awhile now. We had taken a trip just last summer to take Dad back to Kentucky to see his remaining siblings for the last time.
We all knew his time was short. I gave his side the priority in my research.
My finished patio
I made good progress, but as usual life in general got in the way, and I devoted less and less time to my quest. I had written many parts of the KRETZER book, and more importantly knew what the end result should look like, but at some point in 2005 I just stopped. Maybe I figured he wouldnâ€™t die until he saw the finished product. And if there was no finished product he wouldnâ€™t die. Or more likely, I just got lazy. But on November 4, 2005 he did die, without ever having seen the finished book. I spent the next several months proceeding half heartedly at my research. What was the point, the person I most wanted to see it was gone.
In the summer of 2006, I was in the middle of building myself a new patio.
It was something Dad would have done, as he was a skilled craftsman and carpenter. I did not inherit this talent. The patio was as much a tribute to him, and his lone wolf spirit (I did the work all by myself), as it was a practical addition to our home. Halfway through the middle of it, it hit me. The book was never intended to be just for Dad. I have a mother, three siblings, two daughters, and seven nieces or nephews who have a stake in this book as well. If what I have found out never reaches them, it is the same as if I had never culled the information from the archives of time. I had a new purpose and it burned brighter than at any point previous.
My brother Jayme's wedding, May 1997. All but my youngest nephew are pictued. He wasn't born yet
I began writing at a breakneck pace. I set a deadline (always a good thing to do with any goal) of Christmas. But there was some information that could only come from a first hand visit to Kentucky, where Dad was born and raised. This is why I was taking this trip and why I would be doing it alone.