Author Archives: Gail Grunst Genealogy

About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

Book Review: Her Mother’s Hope


I just read a book Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers.  I found compelled to write a book review about it because it ties in to Family History, and I rarely find a book that is Fiction and a story about a family through generations.  The story was inspired by the author’s family history that she researched and events from her mother’s journal.

The story starts out in Steffisburg, Switzerland in 1901.  It is the story of a girl named Marta.  When Marta was twelve years old her father makes her leave school to go to work, and he takes her wages.  At fourteen her father sends her to a housekeeping school for six months to learn to be a servant.   Afterwards, Marta works several jobs and leaves home for Paris and then London working as servant.  Eventually, she travels to Canada, where she realizes her dream of owning a boarding house.  It is in the boarding house, that Marta meets her future husband, Niclas.  Marta and Niclas get married and she becomes pregnant.  Niclas loses his job and goes to Manitoba, Canada to follow his dream of farming,  Marta must decide whether to follow him to Manitoba or stay and run her boarding house.  She finally decides to follows Niclas to the wilderness of Manitoba.  They eventually end up owning a farm in Northern California and raise four children.  The oldest daughter, Hildemara, is quiet, doesn’t speak up, or argue, unlike her older brother and two younger sisters.  Her mother sees this as a weakness, and want Hildemara to stand up for herself.  She did not want her to grow up and be dependent on her.  She is harder on Hildemsara than the others, but Hildamara does not understand why and thinks her mother does not love her, like she loves the others.  Hildemara finally does learn to stand up for herself and works during high school, saves her money, and puts herself through nursing school.  She eventually marries and has children.  The story has many ups and downs as it takes Marta and her family though WWI, the Depression, WWII, illnesses, ending in the 1950’s with a cliffhanger. To find out what happens, I guess I will have to read the next book Her Daughter Dream

Note:  I added the link below because in my Blogging 101 class we were suppose choose an event and  participate and link to the event.  I chose Book Review Day.  The problem is that the link does not work.  So I went back and tried to find another event that would include a book review.  I could not find one, and I don’t have time to change it.  So here is the link anyway.  I tried!  Book Review Day

I Pledge the Allegiance


When our ancestors came here they pledged an oath of allegiance to the United States and renounced any allegiance to their home country.  Our ancestor’s came for a variety of reasons.  They left their home countries seeking political and religious freedoms.  They also came for economic reasons, jobs, and land opportunities.  Before being let in the United States they were checked for contagious diseases, deformities, or if they were helpless in anyway.  They must have a job or relative waiting for them in the United States. If they did not meet these requirements, they were turned away.  Once here most wanted to become naturalized citizens.

The naturalization process back then was a three step process.

First step — to present himself to the court to file a declaration of intention to become a citizen. It had to be filed three years before he could be admitted to citizenship.  It could be filed in any court – city, county, state, or federal.

Second Step – After three years and being a resident for at least five years, he again presented himself to the court in which his declaration of intention was filed.  He filed a petition for citizenship with supporting affidavits, including witnesses’ statements in support of his residency claim, and an oath of allegiance.  These are called his final papers.

The final step occurred when the court ordered him admitted to citizenship an issued a certificate of naturalization.

Our ancestors came here, to the land of opportunity, looking for a better life for themselves.  They procured employment, learned English and became citizens  It’s because they had the courage to leave their homelands and come here to a strange land, that I can live here in this great country today and enjoy freedom.  They said an oath of allegiance and I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.  I don’t know if each school day is started with the Pledge of Allegiance, like it was when I went to school, but it should be.  It bothers me that we are so concerned with offending someone.  Our ancestors who came here were proud to be Americans, they were not offended by our flag or traditions.  They did not ask us to change our way of life or fly their homeland flag. I’m sure most of the people coming today feel the same way our ancestors did, but we seem to cater to a few who claim to be offended.  If we look long and hard, we all can find something that offends us.  Does that mean everyone else should change their ways?  In the history of our great country, somethings needed to change, such as slavery.  Our country makes changes when we need to, we are flexible. However, not everything needs to change. Some traditions need to stay the same. It’s the traditions that keep us grounded, make us feel safe, keep us moral.  It’s a great diverse country, truly unique.  I would not trade living here for any other place on earth.

Daily Prompt



Today’s post is going to stray from my usual family history posts.  I’m in a Blogging 101 Class through WordPress.  The assignment a couple of days ago was to read blogs and comment.  I decided to read blogs that were not about Family History.  They were on gardening, Alzheimer’s Disease, vacations, and self-care.  I commented on all four.  Now today’s assignment is to write about one you commented on.  I chose the self-care.  I wondered if there was a way I could tie this into family History.  The only way to tie this to family is to say that I take after my mother and grandmother, who did not take care of themselves in the same way that I do not take care of myself.  I’m much better at taking care of everyone else, and putting myself last.  The blog I read that has inspired me to take better care of myself is Getting Through Life.

Recently, I have been going through some rough times.  First, it was my brother’s diagnoses of terminal lung cancer last November, and his death in January.  He was single and no children, we have no other siblings. So all his affairs were left up to me, and I was grieving during this time.  My husband is Ill and cannot walk, and I have to do a lot for him, and do the chores he use to do.  In April, I felt so stressed and felt ready to collapse.  I went to the doctor and he found a couple of things wrong, but nothing life threatening. He did tell me I need to take better care of myself.  The first thing I did was to start telling people “no”.  I made some people mad because they were not use to me saying, “no”.  I lost one friend because I could not help her out.  There are only so many hours in the day, and I was doing something for someone else most of my waking hours.  This had to stop.  Then I started eating better, going for walks, and getting more sleep.  Now I am starting to do activities that I enjoy, but stopped doing.  Now I am back to reading, sewing, and of course genealogy.   Recently, I saw how to make a quilted bag on YouTube and enjoyed making one.

my quilted bad

Last weekend made a trip to the Lake Front in Kenosha, Wisconsin on a beautiful summer evening with my son and grandchildren.

Brian Brianna and Connor in Kenosha

My husband and I use to go to the lake front quite often, and we haven’t been able to do it because of his inability to walk.  We use to camp and have a trailer, but no longer can do that because it is just too much for him to hook it up, and I simply do not have the strength.  I miss camping, it use to be my time to recharge. Now I am trying to find other things I can do to replace the camping.  Last night we had a campfire in our backyard.  It’s the time of the year for meteor showers so we sat by the fire, looked at the beautiful sky and watched the meteor showers.  I started out counting, but then lost count.  It was a beautiful summer night and a very relaxing evening.  I haven’t had time to garden this year and now the summer is almost over.  But I can still prepare the yard for next year, and if I keep taking care of myself, maybe I’ll be able to garden next year.  Some of the other things I have planned is to light some candles and listen to music, take a bubble bath, write more in my journal, and visit with friends.  Maybe a trip by myself.  Well, this post was certainly a change for me.  I’m not use to writing about myself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too!

Home Sources


One of the first steps in starting your family tree is to look around your house and ask your relatives for anything they may have to help you get started.  Some of the things to look for are of course birth, marriage, deaths, and baptism certificates, but also, letters, post cards, pictures, baby books, funeral books, funeral cards, school report cards, diplomas, family bibles, confirmation certificates, membership cards, naturalization records, Journals, address books, date books, and this is just to name a few.  You never know what you information you can get from these things.  Never discount anything.  People sometimes wrote stuff down on little scraps of paper. When I read old letters they will sometimes mention other people, and then I have found myself searching for the people mentioned in the letters.  I have a date book of my grandmothers. Not only did she record every date accurately, she made comments next to each date about the person or event.  For instance, she wrote that her cousin Julius Reinhardt was somewhere in the South Pacific.  She started this date book during World War II.  That not only told me she had a cousin Julius Reinhardt, but also that he was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.

Here are some of the things that I have in my house that were given to me by my mother a long time ago.

Letter to my Grandmother

Letter to my Grandmother

Aunt Liz in theatrical dress

Aunt Liz in theatrical dress

Grandpa Kaiser's Baptism Certificate

Grandpa Kaiser’s Baptism Certificate

Grandpa Kaiser Certificate from Texico

Grandpa Kaiser Certificate from Texico


Early years at Texico

Fred Kaiser sitting on wheel about 1920.

Grrandpa at  work (Texico)

Grandpa at work (Texaco)

Mom's sixth grade class

Mom’s sixth grade class

I have many more items that I have not scanned yet.  But this gives you an idea of what to look for around your house.

From these documents I can get my grandfather’s birth date, place of birth, where he was born, his parent’s names, where he worked, and how long he worked there.  The pictures tell me what jobs he did while working at Texaco. The letter written to my grandmother gives me her address and an address in Ottawa, Illinois.  It connects her to her Bower side of the family in Ottawa.  The picture of a great aunt shows that she was in some kind of play around 1900.  The class picture shows that my mom (second row, first one on the left) went to Gray School when she was in sixth grade.  Not only do I get the dates, but also a glimpse into their lives.

You might want to check out the following sites to read more about home sources.

Genealogy Today

Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems

What’s in a tagline?


I’m in Blogging 101 through WordPress and today’s assignment is to change the tagline.  That’s line that appears under the title.  My previous tagline was Family Historian.  I have been thinking about what to change it to now for several hours.  I’m not very creative when it comes to naming things or making up slogans.  I wanted it to be creative and catchy but I’m still not sure that I am happy with the new one, My Pastime is Past Times.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, Pastime is that which amuses and makes time pass agreeably; recreation; diversion.  That’s what genealogy is for me, and I enjoy  researching not just when they were born, married, and died, but how they lived and what they did. I love to read history and study how people lived in the 18th and 19th centuries and even early 20th century.  I lived through the second half of the 20th so I guess I know how people lived and what we did.  It’s fun to reminisce, and sometimes I forget that my grandchildren don’t about some things such as dial telephones.  One day, I told my grandson that when I was young we didn’t even have dial telephones, we had to pick up the phone and the operator would come on and say, “number please?”  Then we would tell her the number we were calling. He didn’t believe me!  He thought I was joking.  Then I told him about party lines. He is 12 and couldn’t believe it.  Also, we did without microwaves, VCR’s, cable TV (we had only 4 channels), video games, computer and Internet.  How did we ever get along?  He thinks we must have been bored.  But we were far from bored.  As far as the phone goes, my father did not want us to use it unless it was a necessity.  If I called my friend down the street to see if she could play, he would say, “Why can’t you go down to her house and ask her,”  Now they all have their own phones. This is the kind of information I like to preserve, read about, and imagine what it was like to live in times before I was born.  You could say that I am fascinated with the past, and that is how I came up with the new tagline.  Let me know what you think.  I welcome your comments.

Who am I and what am I doing here?


Genealogy is my passion!  I’ve been doing it since 1979, and I am still working on it as it is a never ending project.  You find an answer and then you have 20 more questions.  I have traced a couple of my lines back to the 1750’s.  One line in England and the other in Germany.  I recently had my DNA done by in hopes of finding distant cousins that were working on the same lines.  But I have to admit it was somewhat disappointing in that area.  I have many, many, distant cousins. Some of them do not share their family tree, and of the ones that do share, I can’t find the common ancestor.  There were no surprises as to what part of the world my ancestors came from, as it was the same as where my research has taken me.

Sometimes, I wonder what is the point in spending hours, days, months, and years researching dead people.  In my family, I seem to be the only one who cares.  They put up with me, and my stories of my latest find.  As I get older, I wonder what is going to happen to my research.  Will my kids just throw it out?  Will my children or my grandchildren care about it someday?   I hope that by having this blog it will help preserve some of it.  I won’t give up, I can’t, it’s in my DNA.  So that’s who I am and that’s what I am doing here.