Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Patsy- the Early Years

Before I get into my story, I have noticed that if you get email notifications of new postings that the actual post is in the email. I find it much easier to read the post if you click on the blue title in the email. That will take you directly to the post in an easier-to-read format.

My mother was Patricia Marilyn Happekotte. All of the Quincy-born relatives on the Happekotte side always called her Patsy. She was born in Quincy, Illinois on November 12, 1926 to Ralph and Edna Shepherd Happekotte. She passed away on December 17, 2007 at her home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. This picture of her has always reminded us of our great Aunt Irene (Schutte) from Quincy; we
Aunt Irene & Mom
always thought there was a strong resemblance. And when it came to a kind and loving attitude about life, both mom and Aunt Irene definitely shared that. As with dad, we don’t know a lot about her growing-up years in Quincy. She was an only child and she always told us that it was her intention to have thirteen children! Well, she only fell short by five! We do know that she attended Irving and Jackson Elementary schools in Quincy before the family moved to Waterloo, Iowa in 1935. She attended Emerson and Castle Hill Elementary schools. And that would be the old Castle Hill up on Rainbow Dr., the same one that I attended for my first two years of school. She attended Edison Jr. High, which is the same one that all of my siblings and I attended. I actually wound up teaching junior high there for about eighteen years. In 1944, she graduated from West High as did her four oldest children.

In Waterloo, mom always talked about roller skating as being one of her favorite activities. The first outdoor rink was located on the Cattle Congress grounds. One of her best friends was Jeanne Maeder whom she spent a lot of time with at the rink. From her  notes it looks like the rink moved downtown on Jefferson St. and was called the Felix Rollerdrome .They went every weekend and whenever they could. The roller skating tradition continued as many of us skated at the Black Hawk Rollerdrome in Cedar Falls. My brother, Tim, was actually married on skates at the Black Hawk!

One thing we have always tried to find out was how mom and dad met. This may be a story lost to history. So, if anyone out there knows, we’d love to have the story. But mom went back to Quincy during the summers when she was in high school. While there, she lived with her mom’s sister, Aunt Mabel and Uncle Everett Windsor and their family. Our family has been blessed by having a multitude of kind and generous aunts and uncles, and Aunt Mabel was definitely one of those. Mom had moved back to Quincy after graduating to be there when dad got home from naval service in 1946. (His naval service will be a future topic in my Schellseekers blog). When her best friend, Gloria Duschen, moved to Quincy, they got their own place at 22nd and Chestnut. They both worked at S.S. Kresge’s. Gloria would eventually serve as mom’s maid of honor in Quincy.

They were married at St. Francis Catholic Church on May 30, 1947
Engagement Photo
and celebrated with a big reception in Aunt Irene’s backyard which was very near the church. There used to be a film of that reception, but I fear that is, too, lost to history. Although mom spent most of her adult life in Waterloo, Quincy always remained near and dear in her heart.   

Friday, January 25, 2013

How I Got Into This

Sometime back in 2008, something sparked my interest in family history; I wish I could remember what that spark was, but it’s lost to me at this point. I do remember what my first acquisition was though. While visiting my dad’s brother, Mark, in Quincy, he gave me three family group sheets that had been sent to him in about 1987 from Marjorie Martin. The families shown were Reinold Schell, Peter Florian Schell, and Peter Schell (my great grandfather, second great uncle, and second great grandfather, respectively. She had sent these sheets in hopes he might have other family information. Uncle Mark had no idea who Marjorie was and neither did I. But, oh, how that would change! This eventually led to one of the happiest moments that I have experienced on this genealogical journey. Marjorie had done these family group sheets in 1976 and had her address included. Now we are talking about 2008 when I obtained these from Uncle Mark. I had no idea if Marjorie would have been at the same address or, indeed, if she was even still with us! Part of genealogy is taking these shots in the dark! I was also in possession of a record from the LDS church that had Marjorie’s name and the same address. There was also another name Terry Sparks with a different address but from the same general area as Marjorie. Who were these people? Would they still be at the same address? There’s only one way to find out- write a couple of letters. I did and I really did not expect to get anything back. You can imagine the surprise when I received a letter from Terry. They were living in the same residence; Marjorie was Terry’s mom! This had to seem like a bolt out of the blue to them; we exchanged emails and got to know each other a little better. To make a long story short, Marjorie and Terry descended from Peter Florian Schell and I had descended from Reinhold Schell. We were truly cousins! These are the kind of discoveries that keep me going.

But the story does not end there. It gets better! In the summer of 2010, I was planning a trip out to see friends in California. I had planned to get off the train in Salt Lake City for a couple of days and use the Family History Library maintained by the Mormons. I would then continue on out to the Bay Area and visit the friends. Cindy, my sister, who is working on her husband’s genealogy in addition to helping me once in a while, found out about my plans. She decided it would be fun to go, too. She talked our sister, Staci, into going along. So, the three of us, that is, me and Lucy and Ethel, were on our way by car to Salt Lake City. I couldn’t, at times, help  but think of the Ricardos and Mertzes trip to Holloywood! After finishing up at the library, Cindy said, “You know, Terry and Marjorie live near San Bernardino--- that’s only a day’s trip from here!” Pass up a chance to meet some cousins we had never heard of? Not a chance! So, now we were off to actually meet them in person. I can’t even begin to describe the joy we all had in spending that day together. Unfortunately, Marjorie, who was in her 90s was beginning to suffer from dementia, but we could easily see that she was enjoying every minute of our visit. We are so happy that we took the time to do that because we lost Marjorie in 2012.

After our wonderful day-long visit with Terry and Marjorie, I took the train north to the Bay Area while Lucy and Ethel (AKA Cindy and Staci) took a rather circuitous route back to Iowa! They could start a blog just about that trip!

‘Nuff said for now!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Welcome to My world

    I should say, "Welcome to my obsession!" I have been at this genealogy thing long enough now that it is time to start sharing some of my "finds". Besides sharing with family, I also hope that there may be others out there who are researching some of the same lines and will want to do some collaboration. I find that this is one of the most fascinating aspects of family research- you never know what you will find! It's like traveling down a river without a map; you never know what's around the next bend!
    What I hope to share are some of the interesting stories about our ancestors and, hopefully, let you in on how I found these things.  There are some events that are going to be based on my best guesses at this point. Either the documentation is not available OR it has not been located. I will always try to remember to tell you when that is the case. This leads me to another hope- someone else out there in the blogosphere may have either new documentation or a different take on things.  If you come to different conclusions about something I have posted, please, let me know. You know what they say - two heads (or in this case, many) are better than one. You may "see" something that I don't!
    This blog is called "Happekotte Happenings", but understand that this is about my maternal line. So other family names will be included. The lines that will be covered are: Happekotte, Shepherd, Davis, Jenkins, Allen, Jasper, Schutte, Kreitz, Sigafoose, Weaver, and Windsor. There are a few other names that I am not including at this time but may be added as I locate information.  I am not certain how often I will be posting new material. I would hope it could be a couple times per month - but no promises at this point. Also, I will be doing a different blog on my paternal side called The Schell Seekers <>. If you have questions or comments, you can send me an email. The email is in the “About Me” section in the upper-right corner. You can also leave comments on the blog. It’s hard to see, but it is in the lower-left corner of the blog. You can also sign up for email notifications when there is a new posting. This is located in the lower-right corner of the blog. Look for the first posting soon. I'll be telling you how I got into this "magnificent obsession"!