Recently I’ve received the Ancestor Approved Award from Nancy at My Ancestors and Me. Thank you so much for making Family Archaeologist one of your choices. My hope is to create a link to all of our ancestors’ experiences, and our common humanity, through the words expressed in the diaries, letters, and documents I’m sharing.
This award was created by Leslie Ann Ballou at Ancestors Live Here. Leslie asks that the recipients list ten things that they’ve learned about any of their ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened them AND pass the award on to ten other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud.

Here are my ten surprising, enlightening, or humbling discoveries:

  1. Surprised: By searching through my trove of ancient letters, I was surprised to discover what a prolific correspondent my paternal grandmother, Elisabetha (Lisi) Gartz was. She corresponded for sixty years with the little girl for whom she’d been governess, for forty years with that girl’s mother, Mrs. Jickeli, (my grandmother’s boss in Hermannstadt, Transylvania/Siebenbürgen), and for decades with range of family and friends from the old country. The scores of letters they wrote in return, and that my grandmother saved, are proof of their lasting affection for all those decades.
  2. I was shocked to find the loving, devoted, prayerful letters my grandmother composed to my uncle as he trained for and served in World War II. She was rather distant and uninvolved with her grandchildren, and I never saw this side of her. 
  3. I’ve been humbled by the work ethic of my grandparents and parents — learning more through notes and letters about their ability to work unceasingly, without respite, for most of their lives. I also realize now this maniacal devotion to work, while serving the new immigrants well, could have used a little tempering.
  4. I was surprised to find the level of note-making and labeling on family photos and miscellaneous documents. It’s almost as if everyone was planning to to communicate with the future. 
  5. On my roots-finding trip to Romania in 2007, I was awestruck by the beauty of the homeland , Transylvania / Siebenbürgen, my grandparents left behind.
  6. Finding out that the original Gärtz who emigrated to Transylvania came from Gerstheim, in Alsace-Lorraine, was a real surprise.
  7. I’ve been humbled by the beautiful, loving letters, so sweet and sincere in their expression of love, between my grandmother and her little charge, Lisbeth. 
  8. I was stunned to find my grandfather kept a diary of his trip to America, and wrote a letter to Lisi just before boarding the ship (see previous posts) confirming the story he often told us when we were growing up.
  9. I was surprised to find my dad kept diaries: from the ages of 19-21, in the 1930s, and again from 1950-1956, starting right after I was born. I was enlightened to learn about his youthful dramas and what life was like when I was too young to remember.
  10. I was surprised to find out my grandmother had several siblings who died as infants or very young. She never spoke of them.

I’m passing on the Ancestor Approved Award to the following blogs. I chose them because their content is interesting and/or informative and fun to read. As far as I could tell, none have the “Ancestor Approved” logo on their sites. 

Elyse’s Genealogy Blog