Lives and Memories of our Ancestors

Genealogy is certainly more than just names, dates, and places. However, the farther back in time, the fewer the stories and memories.  So I was delighted to come across this article sent to me by Marge. O.

The following was written by Diedrich Swart (a/k/a Zwart), a first cousin three times removed. He was born in Germany, came to the USA and served for many years as a minister in Kansas. In this excerpt he is describing his grandfather, Geerd Heits Bronlewe (1793-1875), who is also my third-great grandfather.

“I was born January 1, 1862 in Mark, Ostfriesland, Province of Hanover, Germany.  I came to America with my parents in 1872.  A sister, Hembina, and a brother, Heit Thomas, died enroute on the Atlantic Ocean and were buried at sea.  A brother, Martin,  died after we landed in New York.  We arrived in Manhattan, Kansas in October 1872.  On April 13, 1873 we settled on a homestead three miles northeast of Leonardville, Riley County, Kansas.

My mother’s father, Geerd Heits Bronlewe (also father of Upkea (Katie) Bronleewe Groeneveld and Antje Bronleewe Groeneveld),  [Note: Antje is my great-great grandmother]was a butter and cheese buyer He had a certain territory in which he purchased butter in kegs, holding approximately ten gallons.  Living by the navigable river Ems, the people from whom he bought the produce brought it to the landing places at the river.  At those places, he loaded the produce on the boat and when he had accumulated enough for a boatload, he would transport it down the river to the city of Leer, from which place it was transported to foreign markets, mostly England.

At regular times Grandfather Bronlewe would make the rounds to pay his patrons.  This was done afoot.  He carried the cash in a rather large red handkerchief, mostly in silver and gold.  I made the trip with him once and at each place, I would receive a slice of bread and butter and cheese and cookies.  I was full up to my neck all the day.  Grandfather Bronlewe was a man of kind disposition, highly respected.  Grandmother, I remember as cheery and kind, a lover of children.  They were in comfortable circumstances.”

There is one other observation: perhaps history does repeat itself in that my own father, Tom Schwans, was for some years also a buyer of eggs and cream from farmers.  But I don’t think he paid his customers in gold and silver!

About maryjlohr

Avid genealogist.
This entry was posted in German Ancestry, Groeneveld, Groeneveld Genealogy, Ostfriesen Ancestry and Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lives and Memories of our Ancestors

  1. Thanks for sharing. Gives me some more insights into how our German ancestors lived. My great grandfather, Christian Brabender, migrated from Butzheim, Prussia, in 1855. I live in the house that he and his wife, Katharina Klein, built in 1865. I represent the fourth generation here. I believe the Lohrs also migrated from Butzheim. Hope to visit there next year. Wayne Brabender

  2. Pat Grohs says:

    Very very interesting, Mary.

  3. Karen Engesser says:

    It is so wonderful to discover anecdotal writings such as this. It helps bring life to your family tree.

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