What is it that’s so special about “The Begats”? Kathleen Delaney is here to explain what they mean to her family and then she tells us a real tale…
My father was one of the best story tellers I’ve ever known. He kept my brother and me enthralled with tales of what he’d done when he was a kid, liking climbing to the top of the water tower in his town and then not being able to get back down. But he also told us stories of his aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters, so many and with such wonderful details that made those people come alive. We knew his sisters, but they were grown up. His stories told us what they were like as kids. We never knew our grandparents, but we knew what they were like, what they did, and why. One of my aunts was born in Minnesota in a sod hut that was dug out of the side of a hill. It was snowing and my grandfather went for a doctor, wading through the snow to bring him back. He was too late. My grandmother gave birth to her third girl, with only her two toddlers to help. Now, that’s a story you won’t forget quickly.
Today, many of us are searching out our ancestors. Only, in many cases all we learn is statistics. Sometimes we can find immigration records, so we know when they arrived in America. Sometimes there are other pithy facts, such as someone was town mayor or hung as a horse thief;
But it’s mostly begats.
My brother is doing genealogical research for our family, and for his wife’s.We talked about how the lack of story about these people was frustrating. We know when they were born, we know when they married and often how many children they had, and we know when they died. But, what happened in between?
My brother has decided to put a little life into my sister in law’s family tree, and I’d like to share that with you. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with for our side, the Delaneys and the Carters.
It was the beautiful spring day of May 8th, 1779, that a boy was born to the Marti family. He was named Bendicht. This event took place in the small village of Rapperswil, Canton of Bern, Switzerland, which is located, according to the local crow, about 7-8 miles west of Jegenstorf, and we all know where that is. There are a number of towns/villages in Switzerland named Rapperswil, so it can sometimes get confusing…but not to Bendicht.
One day, as fate would have it, Bendicht met Maria Wieland. Maria lived in Schupfen, another small village about two miles southwest of Rapperswil. Maria was born on March 14, 1784. Bendicht had driven the wagon over to Schupfen to buy some of the Wieland’s excellent cheese. It was love at first sight, for the cheese, but old-man Wieland added Maria to seal the deal.
As a result of some enjoyable begatting (Is it begatting or begetting? It’s confusing too. Oh well, we’ll use both…just to be fair.) Jakob Marti was born in Rapperswil on May 24th 1826. His mother, Maria died shortly after Jakob was born on that very same day. She was only 42 years old. Bendicht died in Rapperswil in 1849.
Time marched on and one day Jakob was bringing in the cows. It was milking time. He looked off to his right and there was Anna Baumgartner walking down the path. Anna and her father, Hans, had recently moved to Rapperswil from Bangerten, another very small village just a few miles directly west of Jegenstorf. We don’t know anything about Anna’s mother, nor any additional details about Hans, but we are sure that Anna was begatted in Bangerten and then born on Feb 10, 1823
Anyway, when Jakob saw Anna he exclaimed, “Holy Cow!” The cows smiled. Jakob and Anna were soon married and then decided to move to Elgin, Illinois. (Actually, it might have been Elgin, Iowa. There is a small town named Elgin in Fayette County, Iowa.) The cows decided to stay in Switzerland. In Elgin, Anna saw a twinkle in Jacob’s eye, so Elizabeth Marti was quickly begatted and then born on Oct. 5, 1853. Sometime after that important event, Jakob, Anna and family moved to Fayette County, Iowa, where Jakob died on Sept 4, 1886 and Anna died on Jan 16th, 1894.
I will now wrap up the bagats about this particular family, having, I think, proved my point that all things are improved with a little story. If any of you can’t sleep nights wondering what happened next, email me. I’ll be happy to send along the next hundred or so years of history. In the meantime, I’ll bet you can come up with a few interesting stories about the bagats in your own family. Sure makes those dry old facts a lot more fun, now doesn’t it.
My latest book, Murder Half-Baked, has the results of a little begatting in it, but its mostly about relationships and what happens when they go wrong, and when they go right. Which can also result in murder. And that’s another story…