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"We Live As Long As We Are Remembered"

I first got interested in Genealogy when I visited my Great Aunts' in Montana at the age of 19, I was in the first trimester with my son. They began talking about how all the family came from Germany. This sparked my interest as I wanted to locate the family still living there. They talked about the family who came over, Jakob Herold and his wife, Caroline nee Beierle (my great grandparents) and the hardships they endured on the boat ride over. They rode in the steerage deck and endured a lot of smell from the animals below them. The voyage was almost 3 weeks. The all were sick upon arriving and were sent to the infirmary for 5 days before they were allowed to continue to travel. I realized that I was given a better way of life because of the sacrifices they made! Finding my grandfather's immigration records was a very exciting thing for me, as my mother had looked for years for it, and had been told the records must have burned in a fire at Ellis Island. After many searches, I found them under his sister's name not his! They went to North Dakota and lived with a cousin Johann Goltz and his wife, Justina née Beierle for several years until they had enough money to get a place of their own. It was a big 2 story house, 20+ people lived in this home, the women upstairs, the men downstairs. I discovered my grandfather, Gotthilf had an older sister on the immigration records we never new about who died at about the age of 10 in North or South Dakota. I am still trying to search for her death record and burial place. I have since had the most wonderful gift of my life, visiting my cousin in Germany and spent 1 month with her! I met her father, Horst, her son Felix, and his fiance Elena, along with her mother Elfriede. We are about the same age, and very much alike! We are like best sisters! They were living in East Berlin and escaped across the wall to the western side. Gudrun was about 4 when they did this. She remembers they were detained at the boarder for several days and being drilled about why they were going across. They left their home, all of their belongings, taking nothing but a small suitcase with them. Their father, Horst went several days before alone, he was detained also. They settled in Ida-Oberstein. My g-grandfather's brother, Danial was captured by the Russians and held POW for 14 years. He had a wife and daughter in Germany, but she thought he had died and remarried by the time he came home. Daniel spoke 5 different languages and the Russians used him to translate. He tried to escape 3 times, but they finally put him underground at the last. He remarried another lady who is the g-grandmother of my cousin Gudrun. I feel so blessed to have found Gudrun. My cousin, Henry Beierle in Brighton, Co. sent me her letter she wrote to his mother, Regina (my grandfather Gotthilf's sister) who was deceased at the time thanking his mother for the food boxes and clothing she sent over to her father during the war. Regina had died some 20 years before that, but Henry was still living on the family farm his parents farmed. It is because of this letter that I have been so blessed with learning so much about my ancestors who remained in Europe, and those who came to America. I am grateful for their sacrifices and feel blessed to be an American with Scandinavian and European ancestors! Because they have given me so much it is important for me to keep their memory alive for all those who follow! The old Russian Proverb "We Live As Long As We Are Remembered." By learning all I can about them and sharing it with my family, they will be forever remembered!

I am obsessed with genealogy! By finding out as much as I can about my ancestors, I have learned more about who I really am along with the many gifts in life what my ancestors have given to me because of the sacrifices they made so many years ago! I am truly blessed being a part of this family!

Information about the author

Debra Bell-Woods-Boyer
111 S. Greenfield Rd. #688
Mesa, Az. 85206

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This story has been published on: 17.12.2015

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