The ones before

Tonight,  I am thinking of my ancestors.  The ones who came across the Atlantic Ocean, on boats.  My genealogy reads like a carbon copy of itself.  All the way across the board, on both my Mom & Dad’s lineages.

All my ancestors came over at roughly the same time, about 185 years ago, and all of them came roughly from Germany.  Roughly.  There was nothing easy about it.  Roughly.

They started out in Germany, and came here as little people, with their parents.  From toddler age to about 20, depending on the ancestor.  I can’t help but to wonder what their little lives were like, back in Germany.  Did they live in villages, or on farms?  Were they poor, or wealthy?  Were their parents farmers, or bankers, or bakers, or dress makers?  What games did those little people play?  What was their favorite food? What were their joys, their hopes, their fears?

One who came over was Maria Bomholt.  I don’t know squat about her, other than she married a guy named John Heitbrink.    They had three kids.  And one of those three was Maria Elizabeth Heitbrink, my great-grandmother.

But what did Maria Bomholt do in Germany, and what was that boat ride like on the way to the Great America?  What was her little life about?

The cool water fell over her fingers. It almost felt soft. She splashed around, in those waters of Wasserweg  Creek, under the heat of the summer sun.  Her favorite game was to watch the clouds, and to see all their lives take shape,  in the sky above her.  Mary found a thick patch of grass, and flopped down on her back.  As she lay there, watching the clouds….. she could not have known that her grandson would be walking through this same spot in later years.  He’d be carrying a gun, and wearing a helmet, and fighting Germans during WWI.  Mary could not have known…. that her very own daughter would die in 1918, during the Influenza Pandemic in America.  And that same grandson, would not make it home from the war, in time to see his mother, before she died.

Thousands and thousands of lives before us. And thousands and thousands after.

Here we are, you and I.

And that is how it all goes.  So many stories unknown.  Untold.  In all that time.



“The first duty of a man is to think for himself”
― José Martí


“Study the past if you would define the future.”
― Confucius


“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt