Who are we and where did we come from? We can only investigate our origins over a fraction of the time that the human race has existed. Written records for the common man are available for only about three hundred fifty years. Any earlier records that may have been made are lost in antiquity. But in those few hundred years there is a great deal of material to sort through. In ten generations, a span of about 250 years, each of us have 250 to 512 direct ancestors to locate and record. If we go back 20 generations, which would be about 500 years, our task would produce about a million direct ancestors. Sue and I began working on this record of our family in 1990 with a desire to find out who our ancestors were and as much about their lives as we could discover. We gathered over 600 birth, marriage, death, and census records to document our findings. These materials allowed us to make charts showing how we are related but they do not reveal the adventure of our ancestors’ lives. We scarcely remember our grandparents and all we know about those before them we discovered from a few letters and postcards that were saved. From these slim leavings, we pieced together as much as we could about the events of their lives. With that experience in mind, we have put stories of our lives into this book that will provide a fuller record for those who will look back at us. Our research has taken us to many libraries and archives, notably the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the Saint Paul, Minnesota, Public Library, and the Pacific Southwest Branch of the National Archives. Most of our research time was spent in the Family History Center in Tehachapi, California, where it is possible to order and search through the reels of microfilmed records held in the library in Salt Lake City. Each search takes us back in history and for each generation we need to understand the circumstances of that time and how lives were affected. In searching the records of a hundred years ago, we found that at least two-thirds of the recorded deaths were for children under the age of two who died from diseases that are rare today. This made us realize how fragile life was for them. For those that made it to adulthood, unsanitary conditions of city living and long hours in unsafe factories cut short their lives. Those who chose to make their livelihood on the farm also led a hard life, for they had few of the conveniences that we take for granted today. They were hardy people and the lucky survived.
Many have sent us information about their parts of the family and we are grateful. We especially thank the following. Our son Victor started it all by sorting some old postcards and listing names of relatives. His questions started us on our quest. He also checked our efforts and gently called our attention to errors that crept in. His wife, Naomi, graciously edited our writing. Our eldest son Robert set up the program to produce the charts and always had the answers when it came to computer problems. Thanks also to Margie Hebrew in Omaha, Nebraska, for the use of the Slipke family photo album where we found many clues to that branch of the family, and to Loretta (Carl) Brand of Colwich, Kansas, who found very valuable records on the Slipke, Magette, and Meurisse families. Without her help, we would know little about these relatives.
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