We often speak of family trees, but the history of a family is more like a river. It flows from many ancient rivulets and streams through generations of women and men to become the single stream of an individual life. As one stream merges with another, it expands to a become a river of even greater breadth, depth and diversity. This is the story of one such river and the many streams that created it.
This web site is intended to share the stories of the Struckmeyer family who arrived in the United States from Westfalen in Germany in 1872, the Sagner family from Posen (in today's Poland) who came in 1869, the Ochonicky (originally spelled Ochodnický) family from Slovakia in Hungary who emigrated in 1906, and the Baer family from Canton Graubünden in Switzerland who traveled here in 1854. Throughout the centuries many other families have been part of this story, adding names such as Detering, Kelsch, Wilcke, Girthofer, Schuller, Bauer, Káš, Klč, Plašenka, Ammann, Clementz, and Lorenz to the mix.
These families emigrated to the United States in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to escape war, economic hardship, and lack of opportunity in Europe. The trails they left behind are sometimes obscured by lack of remembered history or scraps of documented information. This is where genealogical research helps to clarify the story. A genealogist is like a detective. Piecing together family history is like solving an obscure mystery decades or centuries after the fact. Through a variety of sources, the researcher is able to uncover a clue at a time in an effort to create a clearer picture of family origins.
The research into the Struckmeyer and Sagner side of the family was conducted by Kurt Struckmeyer, while Joyce Kolnik did much of the research on the Ochonicky and Baer families.
Rather than just presenting a list of facts or ancestral diagrams, I have tried to create narrative stories that put these lives into their historical and geographic context so we can better understand the world in which our ancestors lived.
I have narrated the lives of four generations of ancestors on the Struckmeyer and Ochonicky sides of my family, which encompass sixty primary people, thirty on each side. Sometimes the facts about their lives are thin, but to supplement the lack of personal information I have tried to capture the milieu in which they lived and worked and died.
Join me on this journey through history.