Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ancestors: Long Ago, On a Continent Far, Far Away

In one of the books that belong to either Grandma H. or Grandma H. there is a introductory chapter that I can't find. Or I would quote it verbatim. But the idea that was presented was that these were simple, humble people. God fearing, hard working, and not sophisticated or worldly.

The author, whom I will refer to as him rather than him/her or it, then had a long list of things that our ancestors knew nothing about when they heard about Catherine the Great's immigration offer. We know that they didn't know about them, because they hadn't happened yet. I won't pad the list with the obvious things we have today but try to recreate the spirit, if not the letter of what hadn't happened yet.

In July 1763, Catherine issued her 2nd manifesto inviting the people of Germany to come and live in the Volga region of Russia

1764 Mozart (age eight) writes his first symphony.
1770 Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer, born
1776 Steam Engine: James Watt
1777 Circular Saw
1778 Beethoven (now eight) is presented by his father as six year old prodigy
1783 Beethoven's first works printed
1783 Hot air balloon: Montgolfier Brothers
1784 Bifocals: Ben Franklin
1786 Mozart: " The Marraige of Figaro," Vienna
1790 Sammuel Hahnemann rages against medical bloodletting.
1793 Cotton gin: Eli Whitney
1808 Band Saw: William Newberry
1810 Frederic Chopin, Polish composer, born
1810 Robert Schumann, German composer, born
1813 Richard Wagner, German composer, born
1814 J.N. Maelzel invents metronome in Vienna
1814 Schubert's great lied production begins(till 1828 c. 700 songs)
1814 Steam Locomotive: George Stephenson
1816 Bicycle:
1818 First successful blood transfusion
1847 Ignaz Semmelweis discovers cause of 'childbed fever'. Passed to women by doctors who didn't wash.
1867 Lister publishes 'Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery'.
1870 Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch establish the role of germs in disease.

Well, you get the idea. Life was pretty simple, fairly hard, and sometimes very short. Our ancestor's lives centered around family and church. Boys went to school for a few years. Girls, not as much. If a boy had a 6th grade education, he had done well. It was a simpler, quieter time.

This little prologue opened the doors of my mind in the story of the Neumans. They are the branch of the family that sold all they had, and found out on the boat that they were going to SOUTH America.... When I was younger I thought is was amusing..... and maybe they laughed a little too, when they stopped crying. But looking back on their eduction, their isolation, and their trusting lives, it isn't too hard to see how a mistake like that could easily be made. They made the best of things, even setbacks. They built a home and farmed the land and didn't quit until they could sell the farm and move to North America.

Anyway, I thought I would pass that along. They were good people, and they went through some hard times in Germany, then in Russia, and finally in America. They didn't give up, didn't quit. They stuck together through thick and thin and are great examples to those of us that came later. Without meaning to, they set the standard for us to live up to in our lives.