Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who was my inspiration? How did I get into this?

It was about 1980 when the genealogy fire was kindled by my grandmother, Hazlette Brubaker Phend Dunn Ferguson. At that time I 'discovered' the family book that she had been working on for a number of years. I don't remember her ever talking about it before. Perhaps it was because she was not well and hoped that someone else might take an interest in the family. She had put together some charts on her Whitley County ancestors and had been writing down her memories. At that time I thought it was interesting, but really didn't have the time or resources to pursue it any further. It would be another 15 years or so before I pursued these ancestors. I guess it was because I knew that she had the information on them and there were so many other ancestors that I didn't know anything at all about!

In 1983, my mother's cousin, Richard Phend, compiled a large chart for the Phend reunion showing the descendants of their great-grandparents, Jacob and Louisa Fisher Phend. He also put together a 40 page pamphlet that contained 'all' of the information then known about the Phend family. There was a lot of 'hearsay' and tradition included but he couldn't tell me exactly where the information had come from. It was then that I decided to see what I could find out. By that time, I had moved to Fort Wayne and had taken a short course on genealogy at the Allen County Public Library, and the hunt was on!

In 1985, I met Lowell Yarian. This retired gentleman and his wife had an RV and traveled throughout the United States in search of anyone and everyone named Yarian, and any variation thereof. One entire side of their RV was covered with cabinets full of 3-ring binders full of family group sheets. I thought it was amazing, but also a bit overwhelming. He passed away a few years later and I have no idea what happened to all of his information.

As mentioned in another post, in April 1986, I quit my job in Fort Wayne and decided to write a book on the Phend family. My mother supported me in that decision by allowing me to move back home and she went with me on several research trips to Ohio and Pennsylvania. I wrote a lot of letters. It seemed that one contact led to another, and that on to another. Dale Ernest of Goshen, Indiana, who was a great grandson of Jacob and Louisa Phend, had some very important family papers, including a copy of the Passport issued in Switzerland in 1832 to five year old Jacob's father, Johannes B'hend (John Phend). These documents led to additional contacts. Helen Rhoades Peil and Mary Alice Phend Kontz provided copies of a short manuscript written by their uncle Clarence Phend in the early 1900's which in turn provided many more clues and leads.

On one of the trips to Pennsylvania in 1986 I discovered the research papers of Dr. Charles T. Zahn at the Historical Society of York County. He spent many, many years researching the Berlin family and had compiled a tremendous amount of information. Fortunately, it wasn't lost when he passed away. My mother constantly reminded me of Dr. Zahn, who had always planned on publishing his work, asking me when I was going to get the Phend History printed. (It got published in 1991)

Richard Kutz, George Joslin and Jane Boggess were instrumental in helping to make the connections to our common ancestors, Lysander and Lydia Robison Joslin. Getting to know them and their families has been a joy. Carl Bennett has been an inspiration in our quest for Yarian descendants. Carol Andris Dorward, has been a great long-distance Goodrich family research partner. My first cousin, Caroline Conrad Fawley, researched our Wiseman and Shuder lines. Turns out her husband is also a distant cousin on my mom's side. Before I got consumed with all this I thought it was funny that they spent their vacations in cemeteries and courthouses! Little did I know.

These are but a few of the people that have been an inspiration and provided support in the quest. There are so many more...

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

You definitely have had some great mentors in your genealogical quests. I love the idea of traveling the country in an RV, doing family research! My dream retirement plan!