From the time we were little, my sister, brothers and I heard stories about our parents’ families. My dad’s uncle Clint Jolly was struck by lightning several times in his life before dying young of a stomach ulcer in the 1920s. One of my mom’s great great grandfathers, Ulrich Wallberg, a Baptist preacher barely escaping from Sweden in the 1850s with his 4 children (apparently they weren’t very welcoming to Baptists then). Or the Wulfestieg clan who left Germany in the early 1800s to settle in Brazil then later leaving for America.
All of us kids hung on to every word as we listened to the stories of our great great great grandfathers coming over from Ireland, England, Germany, Sweden and Holland to make a new life. But, for my sister Mary and me, it was the women’s stories that always stood out. For better or for worse, these women were tough as nails and didn’t let the social norms of the day stand in their way of doing what they thought was necessary for their families.
We’ve often talked about them with our children but a recent visit made us want to get the stories out for our daughters, nieces and future potential granddaughters and generations of women to come.
We want them to know where they came from and why they also are tough as nails!
Earlier this year, I was visiting my family in Beaver, PA. My mom, sister Mary and I started going through the old family files, pictures and letters hoping to solve the mystery of my dad’s dad (will be its own blog post!). My oldest brother also lives there and we invited his two daughters, aged 12 and 7, over to start telling a new generation of girls about their foremothers.
We realized that we needed to get these stories written down in one place so we decided to write a book. We’re all pressed for time so as a start, my mom Kathy Hemenway, sister Mary Whiting and I are going to use this blog to start writing down what we know about all of the awesome women in our family’s past and eventually put it all together.
If you want to share stories of the strong women in your families’ past please feel free to leave comments.