A new look, a new focus…
The header image above was taken from a bluff on property my paternal grandfather, Peter Ernest Arnold, owned near Gladstone, North Dakota, beginning around November 1915, when he and my grandmother, Magdalena Wehner, were married. I haven’t yet sorted out how they acquired the land. As far as I can tell, they weren’t the original homesteaders because I haven’t found a Bureau of Land Management land patent in either of their names for the property.
This overlook is a short distance from the family’s first home, a small sod hut that, in rainy or snowy weather, offered little protection to its inhabitants. Peter and Magdalena eventually built a modest three-bedroom home in a protected valley below the bluff, adjacent to the Green River. Together they parented 12 children, 11 of whom survived to adulthood. Their older children recalled the hardships they endured when the family lived in the sod hut, but the younger children (my father, their 7th child, included), reported little want. Between crops, Grandpa’s prized orchard and garden, livestock, and hunting, they had plenty to eat and, though they were usually barefoot during warm weather months, each child had new shoes before the start of the school year.
It is an understatement to say that I have become fascinated with genealogy. I never imagined a few months ago when a cousin asked for information about me and my siblings that those questions would be the genesis of a new (and thoroughly absorbing) hobby. Since then, genealogy has, quite honestly, become something of an obsession. I am thrilled when I stumble across a detail-filled obituary from one of my ancestors, but I simultaneously celebrate/cringe when I realize that this new discovery means I must add another 2-4-6-8-10 (or more) people to the family tree. I’m still struggling to find a reasonable middle ground between pursuing every lead and focusing my attention on our family’s central figures.
Thus, I have decided for now to concentrate on genealogy research and related documentation. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a 2017 trip to southwest North Dakota to obtain records and/or photographic evidence of the places family members called home. Until then, I will continue pursuing a combination of original records, family history, and relevant research to better understand the life and times of my ancestors.
It’s been nearly two months since my last blog post. Since then I’ve considered a range of actions including closing my blog entirely, setting it to private, or starting a new blog for genealogy purposes. Finally, after much waffling, I’ve decided to retain my original blog title but to shift the focus of my writing to genealogy instead of its original topics of photography, post-processing, and scrapbooking. I may eventually return to those pursuits, but for the time being I believe documenting family history will be the best use of my discretionary time.
So, as I move on with this new interest, I want to take a moment to thank each of my regular readers—Alexa, Allison, Becs, Brenda, Cathy, Gail, Lee, Miriam, and Sian. I very much appreciate your support over the four or so years that I’ve been blogging. Your comments have been enthusiastic and encouraging, and I have enjoyed participating with you in various classes, challenges, and memes. Each of you brings something uniquely creative to the blogosphere so I will continue to keep an eye out, via my reader, for your posts. Take care, my friends, and happy blogging.