14 February 2015

52 Ancestors: Lessons of love

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small, challenges fellow geneabloggers each week with her 52 Ancestors Challenge. This week’s prompt is: Which ancestor do you love to research? The answer is simple: I love to research all of them! There are some I do spend more time on and some lines I have progressed more than others. There are some I knew and therefore felt a special bond with. Almost each one has taught me something. 

Margaret Still, my 4x great grandmother, has told me perseverance and patience. I have been searching for her sons’ father(s) for years. She had the two boys out of wedlock and when she did get pregnant, story is, her family bought her a farm in a different township and put her out on it. 

My great grandfather Panko Hruszczak has taught be to be flexible. My maiden name is Ruczhak. I have a cousin who spells it Ruzchak. I have found several other ways it has been spelled over the years. It is through Panko that I also learned the value of naturalization paperwork and social security applications. 

Mary Ethel Still, my 2nd grand aunt, taught me that asylums were not always for the crazy and schools were not always educational. She attended the Pennsylvania Training School FMC in Elywyn, Chester County. For years I thought this was one of those schools that girls attended to become young ladies. Then Aunt Helen, Ethel’s sister, told me Ethel had epilepsy. The FMC stood for Feeble Minded Children. 

My 3rd great grandfather Chrispin Pierson VanHorn taught me the lost art of letter writing. I have several letters to him from various family members. A long process, but each one adds another piece to the puzzle. 

His brother Benjamin Franklin VanHorn, my 4th great uncle, taught me the value of military records and family connections. Benjamin fought in the Civil War, the only one on my side that I can say with certainty who served. It was through him that I virtually met a cousin who sent me a photograph of Benjamin in his Union uniform! 

My paternal grandparents – Joseph and Anna Kurenda Ruczhak – taught me perseverance and helped with my interviewing skills. I learned there is a time for yes/no questions and a time for essay questions. I also learned empathy from them. When we were able to share a common event (like my miscarriage), they opened up and the stories started flowing. 

And finally, my grandmother Mary Welsh Still and my 2nd grand Aunt Helen Still Webster helped me so much when I first got into genealogy. Without them I would not be as far along as I am.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a weekly genealogical challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.