Monday, February 2, 2009

1973 - My Start in Family Roots Research

With the death of Noah Elwood Weaver, the photographer and last to be born on the Weaver ancestral farm, my interest in family stories and the healing power of knowing thyself through family awareness was kindled big time! Our family went to Dayton Ohio for the funeral of my granddad Weaver. I remember being in a funeral home, and though I hadn't planned on it I decided to sing a song in his honor. No one seemed to mind, and in fact, I started getting to know the  Weaver side of the family then, as it had been mysterious to me, how my folks decided in 1938 to move to Minnesota, 600 miles from Ohio, to start a new life on the prairie amid the Minnesota Lakes. Over the years, with the interviews and stories, I learned more about how our people survived, and some of the "whys" and "hows" of my families peregrinations.

 Edited this Sept 2, 2013..................................

 My dad, Paul H Weaver MD, inherited his fathers photographic albums and put them in storage and never brought them out to the light of day.  I remember a big metal filing box in his garage where they were stored.  When he slowed down and was ill the year before his passing, I managed to get them out, one by one, and have him tell me the names of his relatives, so nicely captured on the images.  I remember the sense of my father, when he saw the photos, of going inside, and being pensive.   And it was difficult for him, as if old memories were triggered and he did not want to share his knowing!  

My suggestion to anyone, who wants to get more grounded in the truth of family history

1) Have your elders label all the photo albums while they still have the memory to do so.  Assertiveness is helpful.  For me, when my sons were born, and we were looking for family names to honor the ancestors, it was really a good time to ask each of our families.  My parents, started the practice of giving kids the middle name from one of the families on the family tree, thus in my case.

2) Get ideas by joining a genealogy society or group and even consider subscribing to

3) Find the family photos and start scanning them so you can share on social media 

For me, my parents, started a trend, honoring family names in the naming of their 3 sons:

Me - Named  Thomas "Tom" Glessner Weaver in 1947 , my next oldest brother John "Jack" Eicher Weaver in 1943,  and the oldest James "Jim" Cowles Weaver, in 1940....In each case, a family was remembered.  Glessner is my mom's maiden name and a German name, with the family emigrating to Pennsylvania in the early 1800's.  The Eichers from dads all German side, are from Rheinland Pfalz Germany emigrating in 1833, and the Cowles, from mom's English side, from Glouchestshire (sp?) to Hartford CT in 1635.

Back to Feb 2009 entry.

I remember Elwood, as always kindly, ever open to new technology. He had a large format camera and did wedding photos in his youth. See photos below at the George Eicher family farm, the limestone creek is now the glen preserved as part of the Cox Arboretum. I learned in my later research that he was the last Weaver to have been born on the Weaver family farm above the town of Miamisburg, the farm that had been deeded to Jacob Weaver by Thomas Jefferson, after his service in the Pennsylvania Colonial militia in the War for Independence. The first family tree I got, was written in pencil, from Esther Grossnickel who lived in a little house right off East Main Street, not far from 321 East Main, the house I remember visiting as a kid. Esther’s kindly manner and smile, kindled a hope and interest in learning about my family roots on my fathers side and that their might be an inkling of warmth behind the veneer of German stoicism. Great Aunt Mary Glessner, on my Mom’s side, a single woman, had belonged to the DAR after finding that Josiah Cowles (CT) and Moses Bixby (MA) both were in their respective colonial militias in the War for Independence. My Dad seemed to know nothing and have little interest in the Weaver history. So began my research and ancestral roots slouthing!

Here is a photo Noah Elwood captured of his wife, Edna and my father when he was a boy on the creek now preserved as part of the Cox Arboretum south of Dayton. In 1914 or so, this was part of the George Eicher Farm, where my grandmother was born and Franz Eicher settled back in the day.

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