Genealogy Tour

We took a trip a couple weeks ago. Down memory lane, that is. Down ancestry lane. Down I wonder what their lives were like lane. Down Oh that’s where I got my big nose thank you great great grandfather lane.

But before we got in the car, we had to do a child swap. Ryan’s parent’s graciously took a day off of work to spend with our little Ruthie. Annie was gonna tag along with the us. One day she’ll be left in their hands too, hopefully so Ryan and I climb to Machu Picchu….. or go to Motel 6. We’ll take what we can get at this point.

An Annie-Grandma sandwich!
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHis parents came over in the morning for breakfast and my sisters weren’t expected until 11ish, so we all got a chance to visit. This doesn’t happen often now that we’re all scattered.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy mom has said often that she’s so happy with the in-laws she has (from all kids.) On our first dinner together before Ryan and I got married, we met up at a restaurant. Both mom and Julie walked up with the exact same outfit on: black pants, black undershirt, fluorescent over shirt. Maybe it’s a teacher thing? It was a good start for sure. Then both dads were seated next to each other with their bad ears facing one another and there was lots of wide eyes and “What was that again?” going on. Score #2. Good times.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBut then my sisters walked in and we all squealed. Ryan’s dad was in the other room when the Hellos were made. He came back in and said, “I thought I maybe heard someone arrive.” We’re squealers and I like that.

The squealing had to stop though because we needed to get on the road!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhich one of us girls looks the oldest?

Whatever. Jerks.

I actually had a dream last night that I colored my hair. When I walked around to show people no one noticed. So because you all ticked me off I’m not going to do it in real life. You know what I want. Squeals, people. Squeals.

Our first stop was Fort Smith, AR to see a few places on my grandpa’s side. On the way we saw another relative.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOh my bad. It was just a dog slobbering out a window. We sped past them (and you know they must have been going slow if our ’81 van zoomed by). Ryan spotted the slobberer, told me about it, and I promptly yelled at him to slow back down so they could catch up to us. I wanted to see.

20 minutes later of annoyingly going 50 in the passing lane, they finally were in sight. I took out the camera and snapped a couple.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRyan asked, “Did ya get?” I said, “yeah, It’ll do. It doesn’t matter.”

“That was a lot of work for just a It’ll do.”

Is it possible to be both high maintenance and apathetic? I knew I was special.

After we all arrived in Fort Smith, we met up at a Walmart to buy some groceries. It was for a surprise the next evening that my dad didn’t know about. While there, we decided to all jump in the paddy wagon for the first bit of touring.

Ryan was once again put in an awkward position with the women in my family while finding the seat belts.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt reminded me of Thanksgiving a few years ago:

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Let’s move on.

The first part was hunting down what might have been my grandpa’s childhood house.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI think we all agreed to just pretend this was it even though we weren’t sure. Dad thought it had been torn down and the street listed in the census is no longer on the city map. In fact, I even called the Fort Smith police department to see if they could locate it. I said, “I’m sure you have more important things to do” and he replied, “No, actually I don’t.” Eh, okay. Sorry person getting robbed at gunpoint and calling into a busy signal.

At least he wasn’t hiding behind the bushes with a radar gun and popping out at the last second in front of people’s cars. This happened to me in Kansas City and I nearly crashed to avoid him. I’m sure there’s a better way to do that. Like, why not just dangle from a tree limb hanging over the street and when the perp (cop talk) passes under, fall down on their roof and ride teenwolf style for awhile.

Much better use of my money I’d say.

After driving by several other homes that were promptly dismissed at not being the right ones (despite having sources to back up my research), we spotted a military cemetery and drove through trying to spot the oldest tombstone there.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLastly we drove by the site where my grandpa worked in the mixing room at a saltine-type company. We love our crackers. Thanks Gramps!

Back to walmart we went, got back into our own vehicles and drove to our vacation rental for the weekend. A cute little (old) home on a vineyard owner’s land. Post Familie is the one if you’re wondering. This house looks deceivingly small. But really there are five bedrooms and none of us felt on top of one another at all. His house is the white one far in the background. See it? It’s huge. They have a gaggle of kids, 8 or 9, I think. I’d buy a winery too if I had that many. But wait, maybe that’s why they have so many kids. Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to… ferment grape juice?

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Ryan, Annie, and I got there first and were greeted by Joseph, the owner. He made sure the wines in the house were sorted correctly from dry to sweet. Where it would’ve taken me 3 hours to figure out which went where, he moved too fast the bottle shifting so I asked him to pose for me. I’m not ashamed.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen he gave us a quick tour and history of the home. Like the secret door where wine was stored during prohibition.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOur view of Altus. It was cloudy but still pretty.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe hung around the house sampling “the goods”, waiting for my brother and sister in law to arrive.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDad said, “I don’t like wine, but I like that wine!!” Well done, Joseph.

The night went by quickly-

Exploring random window openings:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFinding Annie:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWinning the mom of the year award by giving my daughter a bath with a firm grip on the wine glass.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTaking mirror selfies:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSnuggling this girl:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLittle did we know that Annie herself would turn into a werewolf later that night.

But before that happened, mom defrosted the taco meat she brought and broke out all the mexican fixings. I think I could eat taco salads every day of my life.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhile she prepared, I went out to see where everyone was. To the left of the carport is a patio with a fireplace.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere they are!
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLater that night we’d all sit around the fire again and guess who drove down in his golf cart to visit? Ah, Joseph. “How’s the wine?” “Great!” we said as we hid the beers in our hands.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe next morning we woke up early for the day. I definitely didn’t expect to see this:
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLisa doing her squats outside. She, after laying awake all night in her room listening to Annie cry and cry and cry. She literally cried non-stop until 5am, one of the hardest nights since giving birth, and that’s coming from someone who is semi-used to not a lot of sleep. Lisa is already past those days, so it must have been a shock to her system. Yet, she still did more exercise that morning than I did the whole week.

We got into the van and headed to another part of the area to visit. We crammed into the van, investigated odd trees lines (which Lisa correctly guessed as being hit by a tornado recently), and narrowly avoiding cyclists. My mom used to joke that she wanted to throw marbles under mall walkers’ feet. And that was us on foot. Imagine my nervousness of her driving in a car past mall highway walkers cyclers.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEveryone arrived to their destination safely. That guy to the winery (no, really. They were hosting a breakfast) and us to not the winery. Nope, we drove straight to a cemetery! That’s what you do on genealogy tours, people.

This one in Morrison’s Bluff housed many of our ancestors, some of which were the first who had arrived from the motherland.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs we walked around trying to find specific names, we noticed a guy mowing the grass. He told us that every weekend there is a group like us roaming the graves. We took this opportunity to ask if the church could be unlocked for us. He quickly got of the mower and went to find the keys. Yay!
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter asking him to then unlock the bathrooms in the meeting hall, it was time to move on.

Because we were headed to a special home. It was the home to the first couple who came over from Germany. My great great grandparents, Johan and Crescentia Raible. I had found a 1960s obituary of one of Johan’s sons stating that the family homestead was still standing and was called the “Joe Raible Place”. But after much research, couldn’t find anything to direct me to the exact location. So what does any stalker do? Well, she sends out letters to houses in the surrounding area asking for their help. And three days after the letter was sent, my phone rang and a good ole farmer named John said, “Is this Carolyn? Carolyn? I’m John and I know the Joe Raible Place, it’s just down the street!” He gave me directions and here we are. Thank you John. People are eager to help, I’ve learned.

And here he is: The Joe Raible Place. I immediately fell in love.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDirty wood siding, overgrown bushes, built on rocks, a big back porch. I would live in it as is. I’m sure it looked prettier in it’s heyday. It’s on about 40 acres and the area around the house is a mixture of trees and small paddocks. But then you turn around and walk the path up to the big barn and it opens up into a plot of land. My daydreamer bells were going off like fireworks in my head. I could have wandered around all day.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen I came-to and made my way back to the car, everyone was standing around watching Matt and Des working at something. In the rubble piled around the house, they found a shovel and decided to dig up some dandelions to replant at home.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhat a great idea! I can’t wait to steal some from them.

Even though the weather was perfect for sleeping on a dilapidated porch, I finally agreed it was time to move on. Goodbye house. I wish you were mine.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNext stop was another cemetery in the little community of Shoal Creek. Everyone hopped out and walked ahead. As mom and I shut the door she said, “Oh my gosh, I locked the keys in the car.” I gasped and made a big to-do.

Then looked up to this:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOh mom. You’ve still got it!

Such a pretty little cemetery with lots of old folks in it.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen we hit the area that dad remembers visiting as a boy. It was his mom’s side of the family, his aunts’ families and grandma living on I don’t even know how many acres of land. A lot. All the cousins would run around the woods and creeks and play ball all day. He loved it.

One spot was the artesian well down the road. My great great grandfather (another immigrant from Germany) built a general store on this spot and part of the services provided was fixing stagecoach wheels. Can you see me grinning? Dad’s cousin said that the old safe that was in the store was placed in the ground and the well’s pipe goes through it.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNear the well was where the family lived. They built a barn that is on the National Register of Historic Places: The Anhalt Barn! Dad said he’s been by this place and never knew it was tied to his family.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe lady that owns the house is a descendant and when we were about to pull out of the drive, she came out to ask if we could look at some family documents and see if we could translate them. I was sent in and was going to take photos of the letters, but she was so nervous about keeping everyone waiting that she couldn’t find them. Writing this has just reminded me that I need to call her.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd the aunts’ homes where dad would stay as a kid.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere were three homes in a triangle, all having crank phones. Each home had a certain number of cranks. I love little details like that.

On our way back to the vacation home, we drove by my grandma’s childhood home. It’s now a rental house. How I wish we could go through it.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOnce home, some of us napped, others took a shower, Lisa probably did more squats… but mostly, we waited. We waited until it was time to head back to Shoal Creek because we had a surprise for my dad. The bulk of my research was given to me from family members who I connected with along with way. Mostly cousins and second cousins of my dad. When I mentioned we were headed down to their neck of the woods for the weekend, they quickly suggested we get a group together for a meet and greet. And I just as quickly agreed.

So we rushed out an invite for the cousins to pass along and hoped for the best. Even if it were just us and those contacts, we would’ve been thrilled, but about 40 people showed up!

First we visited the church that my grandparents got married in.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd then headed back to the hall to prep for the evening.
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Dad was introduced to his last surviving aunt on either side, Aunt Frida. She’s in her 90s and still’s got it!
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA video of the last reunion was brought and played for everyone.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEveryone brought delicious food.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnnie was tired but hung onto daddy for the night.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI sat with Aunt Frida and asked her ear off. Some of the silliest questions too: about dating, sleeping arrangements, etc. Two kids per bed and they all scrambled every night for the softest one. My sister and I shared a bed and I’ve dabbled with idea of having Ruth and Annie share a bed too. I guess it runs in the blood.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is me sneaking my way into strangers’ conversations. When photos are out and people are talked about, I’m there. With pen and paper in hand, writing down everything said.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI love me some old photos.

Grandma:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGrandma and her sister Sophie (aka, her bedmate).
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGrandma’s parents. From what I’ve heard, he was questionable (at the very least, really strict) but she was sweet and hard working and per her daughter, Frida, had a hard life.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe came upon my dad sitting next to his older sister that became a nun. I’d never seen her in full habit before.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHi, there I am. Everyone is sitting down to eat and I have to walk Annie around because she’s sleeping. That wasn’t awkward. So I stood by the food and ate away. Someone said they looked up and thought I’d gotten pregnant since the party started.
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My dad gave a toast, my mom whispered things he should say, he made fun of her, and everyone laughed. “I’ve got a wife too” someone yelled. And I realized that people have been people for a very long time. Generation after generation have dealt with the same issues, good and bad. The scales of those issues may be bigger or smaller depending on the decade or circumstance, but we are all going through them. So, for as much as I love digging into my ancestors’ heads, all I really need to do is look around me. Personalities, relationships, work, it’s all here. And will be here for my great great grandchildren. That is just as exciting for me.

2 comments on “Genealogy Tour

  1. dad says:

    wonderful rendition of our great weekend. thank you carrie for spearheading this tour and the meet and greet. thanks to all our children for you time, patience, and making this weekend so memoriable for all of us. dad

  2. It’s nice that you did this whole recap because I’ll bet the rest of your family remembers this as “the weekend Annie cried all night and we all had a wine and beer hangover and it was the worst vacation ever.” Fun story, love the old pics.

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