One of the best genealogy treasures I have is a recorded interview with my aunt Ella Kruse, a resident of the Diamond Acres Care Center in Bridgewater, South Dakota at the time of our conversation in May 2003. Ella passed away in 2007 at the age of 102. In the meantime, the cassette tapes have been languishing in my files for all too long.
Technology speeds along and the cassette format is becoming outdated. Clearly, the time had come to transfer the interview to my computer and then make some digital copies. With the help of an audio transfer cable and Audacity software I was able to accomplish that.
Listening to the interview again has brought back many memories and a few new discoveries. Ella talked at length about her grandfather, John Schwans, and her life. She explained why she and her husband, Harm, were married at a later than planned date, why they were married in Randolph, Nebraska, and revealed a few insights into my grandfather, Fred Schwans (whom I never knew).
My original purpose in interviewing Ella was to try to learn exactly where in Germany Fred Schwans had been born so I could find the records and research that line of my ancestry. But surprises happen along the way! I was so intent on finding any clue for his original village I missed many of the other details of their lives.
I never did learn where the Schwans lived prior to immigration (it was Vreschen-Bokel) until some time later. But thankfully the recording has preserved other treasures I overlooked at the time, all in my quest for one item.
That short-sightedness has been partially overcome by a recording of our conversation. And now the sound has been converted to a digital format on both CDs (multiple copies) and an online backup system. Hopefully future generations will find some nuggets in them.