Sunday, September 04, 2005

News From Chippewa

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm told that my dad on the west coast received a packet of papers last week from his sister in Wisconsin, including some genealogical records, a few obits and some news clippings she's collected over the years.

I haven't actually seen these items and probably won't for awhile, but there is some interesting news. I had known that my great grandfather died young at the age of forty-one and that it seemed to be unanticipated, as his youngest child was born several months after he died, but I hadn't ever heard anything about how or why he died. One of the clippings sent was an obituary, indicating that he was killed while operating heavy machinery at the sawmill or planing mill where he worked at that time. I don't have the exact quotation, but apparently he was struck by a chunk of wood flung out by a piece of machinery in an industrial accident.

Condolences aren't obligatory here. After all, it happened a hundred and eight years ago, fifty-six years before I was born. I'm sure the event triggered terrible grief at the time, as he had a wife, five children, and a sixth on the way. But by the time I was born the shock had worn off. I suppose that the reason I am intrigued by this news is that my father is still chugging along fairly well these days, several years past normal life expectancy. Until I came along, no one in my line of descent had yet reached puberty with a father still alive. Or at least if they did, the last time it happened was fifty years before the eruption of Mt. Krakatoa.

So I guess the point of all this is that in my family there are no long standing traditions for looking after your father in his declining years. But I figure that if I go back far enough I may yet find some precedents. I was able to obtain the name of my great grandmother's father, Johann Boettcher, who came to Wisconsin in 1856, and those of his parents, Christian and Caroline Boettcher, who apparently remained behind in Pomerania instead of emigrating to America.

It seems both my father and my grandfather were named after Johann Boettcher, a man who was still alive in 1924 at the age of 94. He moved to Chippewa County during the Civil War and lived there for more than sixty years.

2 comments:

Don Keehotey said...

If you miss the nitwit stuff going on in the US check out http://www.shamelesspublicity.com

Craig said...

I was thinking I might have been spammed, but shamelesspublicity.com is a real site. Don and Twyla do some nice satire, some of it as good or better than that on The Daily Show. Thanks for coming by.