Giacomo Giorgi and Agnese Giancoli were both were born in the small town of Boveglio in the Tuscany region of Italy. They spent their life together in the farming town of Healdsburg, California where they raised a family. You can read about their immigration story here.
The Vanderwalker/Vanderwarker/Vanderwarken family tree goes back to Colonial times in the early 1600s. They were a prominent family in upstate New York near Saratoga and included at least two patriots who fought in the American Revolution. My ancestors, of course, were in the branch of the family that left town to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
This is my biological line through my great grandmother, Agnes Call.
My great great grandparents, John E. Congleton and Almira Almy had a large family. But like most families in the 19th century, not all of their eleven children would make it to adulthood. Learning where each of them had been born allowed me to trace the meandering migration path they took across America which finally lead them to settle in California.
My father’s family has been in the United States for several generations and in some cases since before there was a United States. Both sides of his family arrived in Sonoma County, California fairly early on in the local history. His mother’s side of his line arrived in the 1850s, while his father’s side arrived in the 1870s.
My stepchildren were fortunate to spend a great deal of their childhoods in Arizona with their maternal grandparents, Cliff Hanlen and June Holland. This wonderful couple also recognized how much I cared about their grandchildren and they have always made me, their daughter’s ex-husband’s new wife, feel very much a part of their extended family. No DNA match required.
I grew up hearing stories about “Uncle Grabner” but until I started digging into our family history, I wasn’t exactly sure who this guy was. Turns out that Ferdinand Grabner and his wife, Katherine Pauli, were my great great grandparent’s best friends. The family legend was that Uncle Grabner had sent a photo of Sophie Scheuer to Ernest Taeuffer suggesting he marry her and that Ernest moved to California to do so. It makes a good story, but turns out it cannot have been true. The truth is that the two families were inseparable throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that they remained close friends even after the Grabners moved out of Healdsburg in the late 1920s.
The Taeuffer line goes back several generations in the Region of Alsace, Department of Bas-Rhin in France. Or sometimes in Germany. It all depended upon which country happened to have possession of the region at the time. The patriarch from each generation of the family going back at least 250 years has served as Mayor of the small town of Frohmuhl. Or sometimes they were Burgermeister, if Germany happened to be in charge.
Conducting research online can be productive and certainly is convenient. But there is nothing more satisfying than visiting an out-of-town repository and discovering something new about your ancestors. Traveling to the places that were important to our family can provide context and add texture to our understanding of their lives. Immersing yourself in the area where they lived and walking on the streets where they walked can really bring your ancestors to life. Of course it is always a bonus when they were thoughtful enough to choose a scenic place to live!
Here are just a few of my favorite places to visit to search for my California ancestors.
THE LIVES OF TWO FAMILIES INTERSECT
Both John Call and Mary Fulton were born in Scotland in the 1820s. Mary immigrated with her family to Canada while still a child. The family subsequently relocated to Rhode Island where Mary met and married John Call in 1844. They then moved to Massachusetts where their son, Finley, was born in in 1846. But unfortunately, the couple would not be blessed with any additional children of their own.