Genealogy can often seem dry and lifeless, especially to those who do not have a passion for the search. Tree charts of our ancestors and family fact sheets of births, deaths and marriages don't really describe what life was like for the many generations who came before us. They can capture our relational links to one another and describe the great extended family to which we belong, but they cannot capture the essence of those lives or the context of history in which they lived.
Our ancestors were real people who traveled across oceans with little more than a handful of possessions and a few dollars in their pockets. They brought their language, customs and religion with them as they began new lives in a strange land. They settled in communities alongside others from their homeland for mutual support. They built homes, businesses, churches and schools. And within a couple of generations they were assimilated into the mainstream of American life.
They were craftsmen, farmers, laborers, and housewives. Some raised crops on small farms on the Illinois prairie and many raised large numbers of children in their homes. They tried their hands at various trades o professions and managed small businesses—some successful and some not. They fought in wars on both sides of the Atlantic and suffered under repressive governments and economic downturns. They watched their children die in infancy and childhood. For most of them, life was not easy.
It is important to know who these people were, because they represent our roots. Their lives are the seeds of our own histories. And so, I want to tell their stories—at least in some small fashion.
In this section I have published the narrative histories that I have written about the Struckmeyer and Ochonicky ancestors going back to my generation's great-great grandparents. Of the 60 people documented here, many of the stories are still rudimentary—only brief sketches. Much research is still necessary to bring their lives to life. The thirty-two individuals in the earliest generation were born over a span of about seventy years, from the 1770s to the 1840s. In several cases the individuals are unknown. So far, we have not discovered historical records that provide us with their names.
The further back in time we go, the fewer details are known about the history of each person. But I continue to try to research, understand, and describe the historical context in which each one lived in order to make these lives come alive to the modern reader.
These narrative stories are constantly changing and evolving as I learn new facts and details. Click on the links above or below to begin exploring these histories.