Veronika (Evertz) Gores (her maiden name was sometimes spelled Ewertz) was my grandfather Bill Prettyman’s maternal grandmother—she was his mother’s mother. She was born in Germany around 1860 and immigrated to the United States, where she met and married the son of German immigrants. Bill never had the chance to get to know his grandmother Veronika, as she died when Bill was less than a year old. Bill’s mother also died tragically early (read that story here) and after a prolonged period of strain in their relationship that had its origins in a fatal car crash eight years earlier (read that story here). Whatever details Bill’s mother Rose (Gores) Prettyman may have known about her own mother’s German origins apparently never got told to Bill, as he had no stories about Veronika to pass on to me.
Additionally, the stigmatization of German ancestry in the United States that began in the 1910s and carried through the end of World War II caused American families of recent German descent to hide their German ancestry (see here and here for more on this topic) for fear of being seen as un-American or unpatriotic.
Whatever the reason, there is a lot that we don’t know about Veronika Evertz’s German heritage. What we do know is that Veronika was born in Germany to German parents—Peter Evertz and Magdalena Kaufmann, that she had eight siblings (although we don’t know who they were), that her parents also came to the US, and that her mother lived with Veronika and her husband Frank E. Gores in her old age. But that’s just about all we knew for certain.
In an attempt to keep today’s post more brief than it might otherwise become, I’m going to be focusing on just one aspect of my research into Veronika’s German heritage—my discovery of the identity of her maternal grandparents. To the best of my knowledge, this is information that has been lost for nearly a century—since the death of Veronika herself on February 13, 1920.
As part of my New Year’s resolution to organize all of my family history materials, I’ve been going through and organizing boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous material I’ve been given over the years by family members to preserve.
This particular photo was one of two photo postcards that were mixed in with relatively recent photos from the 1980s and 1990s. I suppose that the person who gave them to me had a photo drawer and just put these much older photos in with everything else.
In any case, the photos were labeled by my grandmother, Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman and were apparently originally given to her mother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew. One of the photos was labeled “Loraine McCrea,” and as I have several photos of Loraine, I recognized her as Loraine. No mystery there.
I spent nearly all of my genealogical time and focus in 2018 proving my descent from Mayflower passengers John Alden (and therefore also from his wife Priscilla Mullens and her father William Mullins, both also Mayflower passengers). I had hoped to hear by the end of 2018 that my lineage was deemed sufficiently documented to be accepted for membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (the “Mayflower Society”). Alas, January 1, 2019, came and I still hadn’t heard a decision from the California State Historian or the Historian General in Plymouth.
Just this past Monday, however, I received a letter from the California Historian that my lineage and application had finally been accepted, and that my membership would be formally voted on at the Board of Assistants meeting on January 19. That meeting just ended and I have received the long-awaited news—I am now a member of the Mayflower Society! I am the 94,495th person to successfully apply since the Society was founded in 1897.
Now that I’ve proven our line back to the Mayflower, my cousins on my McMurry side who descend from Lucinda Tracy (Bailey) McMurry can now also just by definitely proving their descent from our common ancestors (Lucinda Tracey Bailey McMurry for second cousins, or just to Dorothy Ruth McMurry Black for first cousins). The 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower is coming up next year, so if you’ve ever considered joining, this would be a great time to do so. If you’re interested in formally documenting your Mayflower line and joining the Mayflower Society, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you out. Even if you don’t want to have your Mayflower descent certified, if you descend from Lucinda Tracy (Bailey) McMurry, know that you are indeed a descendant of at least three Mayflower passengers. I hope that makes you feel as good as it does me!
Happy Mayflower Day, everyone! 398 years ago today—on September 16, 1620—102 men, women, and children left Plymouth, England, and set sail for the Colony of Virginia in the New World. They were unsure how long their voyage would take, whether they would survive the voyage, or what their lives would be like once they landed in the New World.
We now know that their voyage took 66 days, that 5 people died at sea, that the rough winter seas forced them north to Cape Cod, and that their late arrival led to the deaths of nearly half of the crew and passengers during that first winter. My 11th-great-grandfather William Mullins was among those who did not survive that first harsh winter.
It’s been an oddly ambiguous couple of months here in the BlackenedRoots household with regards to my application to join the Mayflower Society.
As you’ll remember from my last update on this topic, I mailed off my initial stab at documenting my Mayflower line to the State Historian for the California Mayflower Society nine weeks ago. I expected to wait a week or two and hear back from the Historian about parts of my Mayflower line that needed to be better documented. That’s how I figured the Mayflower Society dance went—submit your best effort, be told many parts are weak, resubmit with better documentation for those parts, be told that still a few parts are too weak, resubmit with better documentation for those last few parts, be told that still one part is too weak, resubmit with yet more documentation for that one last line, and finally be told that your pedigree is ready for the scrutiny of the National Office.
Just a quick post to update you on where I am after another three weeks on my Mayflower Society quest. The quick answer: I spent two weeks hearing nothing from the California Historian of the Mayflower Society, and making depressingly little headway on my own. I sent off more requests for birth and marriage certificates and made relatively little progress (I did make a few small discoveries that I’ll share with you below).
And then—bam!—the long-awaited letter from the California Historian arrived with my worksheet and a handy three-page guide to proving my Mayflower line and preparing my lineage papers. I say “bam!” because that guide indicated that I might already have everything I need to establish my line. The standard of proof, while tough, is nowhere near as tough as I imagined it would be. Continue reading →
Today’s post is an update on my quest to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or “Mayflower Society).
I mailed off my application, fees, and dues to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Sate of California on May 1, and hope to hear back from them with a worksheet in the coming week.
I finally received the two Washington birth certificates I wrote away for (for my father and paternal grandmother), and I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed in the results. Whereas previously I’ve gotten a certified photocopy of the actual record, this time I was only given incomplete transcripts of the originals. I suppose they’re trying to prevent undue wear and tear on the originals, but it’s still disappointing. Continue reading →
Today’s post will be a short one, about a formal card my great-grandmother Lucinda Tracy (Bailey) McMurry received in late June, 1926, while spending the summer at the summer house her father built. It’s also about finding yet more hidden documentation left behind by my ever-thoughtful late paternal grandmother, Dorothy Ruth (McMurry) Black, Lucinda’s daughter. Continue reading →
Today’s post will be a short one to update you on my quest to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or “Mayflower Society). In part two of this series, I mailed off my Preliminary Review Form for the California Mayflower Society and sent off requests for four certified birth certificates. I got a phone call on Tuesday from Thurston County, Washington, saying that two of those birth certificates were on their way, but I haven’t received them yet.
What I did receive just yesterday was the oldest of the four birth certificates that I’ve so far requested—from 1860. I thought this would be the hardest of the four to secure, yet I received it first. Without further ado, here it is: Continue reading →
If your experience is anything like mine, it can be frustratingly hard to get your family members to start sharing personal details about themselves, their parents, or their grandparents. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want to talk about themselves, or perhaps they figure you’ve already heard and know the stories and they don’t want to bore you by repeating something you may have last heard decades ago.
I’m starting to think that more often, it’s because I’m not asking the right questions—that I’m not asking questions that are specific enough to trigger old memories. So in this series of posts, I’ll be bringing together some ideas for lines of questioning when interviewing relatives.
In the following examples, I’ll be pretending to ask an older relative about their deceased parent. While I use the pronoun “he” in the following questions, they apply equally well to both parents. I’m figuring there will be several lines of questioning (on leisure, religion, politics, personality, family, religion/spirituality, work, education, childhood, young adulthood, dating and marriage, the military, and so on), with the questions for any one of these lines being covered in one or more sessions of an hour or more each. Continue reading →