|Little did Mathias Schulmeister, mayor of Lichtenau, Baden, Germany in the early 1600's know, that his great-great-great-great-great-grandson would leave Germany and bring his lineage to the shores of America in 1850, and little did he suspect that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson would make his living playing professional baseball against such talented ballplayers as Babe Ruth and Lou Geherig, or that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great -grandson would spend years and years of his life searching for information about Mathias and his other ancestors. Valentine Stober, blacksmith in Wolfersheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany in the early 1600's, had no idea that his great-great-great-great-grandson would bring his family to America in 1851, and that his reat-great-great-great-great-|
grandson would fight to defend the Union in America's Civil War, and that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson would have the church register in Wolfersheim searched for information about his family almost 400 years later.
Little did any of my ancestors suspect how important and interesting they would become to me long after their lives had ended. Don't ask why - I don't have an answer. It's just one of those personal things that an individual develops an interest in and grows to love. It's a hobby, an interest, even, at times, an obsession. Most genealogists explain it by saying "I want to know where I come from" or " I want to honor my ancestors". That sounds pretty good. But for me, other than the fact that I have always loved history, I really have no explanation. It is just interesting to me and I enjoy doing it. It combines history, mystery, discovery, anticipation, challenge, and life. Hell, it's just fun.
I started in 1962 and, except for one or two lull periods, haven't stopped. It's rewarding, frustrating, some-what embarrassing, challenging, humorous, and it never ends. It's something you just have to enjoy. I know people who think I'm nuts and couldn't care less about their ancestors. Fine. I've found something that is interesting, relatively inexpensive, challenging, attainable, and is a lot of fun for me - the perfect hobby. I've also been very successful - often just by chance or coincidence - tracing every ancestral line back to Europe and extending my lineage back 700 years. And I still have a lot of loose ends both here and in Europe. I have discovered I am related to a professional baseball player, three Civil War Veterans, a 17th century author, and a 16th century knight, and Spanish royalty. I have also found a bootlegger, horse skinner, and loads of illegitimate children (morality hasn't changed - indiscretions are just more accepted today). The more I discover, the more there is to discover; the more challenges I meet, the more challenges there are- a never ending hobby. I'm ready for retirement so I can really become busy!
I have decided to try and put my family history into book form to make it more interesting and easier to understand for my descendants, relatives, and anyone else interested. I want to include the vital statistics, interesting facts, and family stories that make this family what it is.
It is a way to keep the memory of my ancestors alive by knowing of them and learning about them and their times, even those I have never met. I guess I feel about my ancestors the way Roddy McDowell expressed it at the end of the movie "How Green Was My Valley" - "Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then?"
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