Book of Me – Prompt 7: Grandparents

book of meThe Book of Me – Written by You is a weekly blog prompt created by Julie Goucher of the blog Angler’s Rest. This is a fifteen month writing project to highlight my life so that I will have something to leave behind for my descendants. The Book of Me prompt for week 7 is Grandparents.

What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born? Another County or state/area?
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn’t know them have you researched about them?

I was fortunate enough to know all of my grandparents. All four lived into their eighties and beyond. The first of the four to die lived past his 84th birthday and the last lived to celebrate his 100th birthday. Both my grandmothers lived into their 90s. Growing up, I lived near none of them so I only got to see them during summer vacations and special holidays throughout the year. After my parents’ divorce in the mid 1970s, I didn’t get to see my paternal grandparents as often as I would have liked. I often wish that I had lived closer to family growing up. As an adult, I made a conscious choice to live near part of the family. As a result, my children are growing up knowing and interacting more with at least one set of their grandparents. Now if I could only figure out how to make the commute to New York City faster….

Despite the distance between us, I got along with all my grandparents and loved them dearly. As an adult, looking back, I struggle with my feelings regarding my maternal grandparents’ chosen profession as religious missionaries. I know that they were well respected by their students and they maintained many friendships with them over the years after they retired and returned to the United States. I have many strong feelings against the practice of sending missionaries to convert native peoples. However, they were my grandparents and they lived in a different era when such practices were acceptable. I think I inherited some good qualities from each of my grandparents.  I hope that I am honoring them and keeping their memories alive by writing their stories.

“We’re all ghosts.  We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”  — Liam Callanan, The Cloud Atlas

Roscoe, circa 1920s

Roscoe, circa 1920s

Roscoe Schiele Yegerlehner was born in 1904 in rural Clay County, Indiana. He was the son of a farmer and his second wife, born the sixth child out of seven. His father’s family descended from Swiss immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1850s. His mother’s line was equally all German, including descendants of a small Protestant German sect that settled in the Pennsylvania Dutch area in the 1730s. Although Roscoe was not related to his wife, he was related to himself. He was the product of several degrees of cousins intermarrying across the generations.

Roscoe graduated from high school in 1922. He worked as a teacher in the rural county schools for several years, while attending the Indiana State Normal School in the “big city.” During this time he met his future wife and they married in 1929. Roscoe continued to teach and eventually moved up to the high school and became principal for a while. During the 1930s (The Great Depression), a shift occurred and Roscoe decided to become a doctor. He continued to teach while attending medical school and eventually the family moved north to Kentland, Indiana where he practiced medicine for almost 30 years. He was a Mason, a Rotarian and he also served on the school board in Kentland, Indiana.

Gladys outside her office where she worked as a stenographer, c1924

Gladys outside her office where she worked as a stenographer, c1924

Gladys Ruth Foster was born in 1905 in Terre Haute, Indiana. In comparison to her husband Roscoe, Gladys was the sophisticated city girl. Gladys was the youngest of 6 children born to her mother. Although the census records of 1900 and 1910 show that Gladys’ father lived with the family, by 1920, he was mostly out of the picture. Gladys’ mother kicked him out after she had enough with his alcohol problems. Gladys graduated from high school and afterwards took a stenography course. She worked as a stenographer until she married in 1929. The first few years that Gladys and Roscoe were married, they lived in Clay County with Roscoe’s parents. When Roscoe went back to school to become a Doctor, Gladys took a beautician’s course to help support the family. Afterwards, she handled the correspondence and accounts for Roscoe’s medical practice. Gladys’ ancestry was mostly English and Irish. One branch of her family descended from the early Quakers who settled in Pennsylvania with William Penn.

Eugene, c1950s

Eugene, c1950s

Eugene Oliver McGraw was born in 1909 in Falmouth, Indiana and grew up in rural Fayette County and Centerville, Indiana. He was the oldest of four sons. His father was a farmer and harness maker. “Mac” graduated from high school in 1927. He attended university at both Earlham College and Oberlin College. Eugene became a minister and a teacher, and eventually a missionary in Asia. He met his future wife in Malaysia while working for the Methodist mission.

The ship burning after it was bombed (Photograph by Eugene McGraw)

The ship burning after it was bombed (Photograph by Eugene McGraw)

In 1941, they married and less than a year later, they were forced to flee back to the United States to escape the Japanese. They narrowly missed being on their ship when it was bombed in the harbor.

Eugene’s ancestry was a mix of German, English and Irish immigrants. With the exception of his Irish great grandmother who emigrated from Ireland in the years prior to the potato famine, all his immigrant ancestors arrived prior to the American Revolution, with several serving in the conflict.

Louise - College Graduation, 1936

Louise – College Graduation, 1936

Estelle Louise Leonard was born in 1915 in Holbrook, Massachusetts. She was an only child. Her parents separated before she was born (although they reunited many years later). Louise grew up with her mother and her maternal grandparents. When she was a few years old, the family moved to California, living in both Oakland and Alameda. Louise graduated from high school in California and then attended the state Teacher’s College in New Jersey (near where her father lived). She became an English teacher. After graduating, she worked on several Indian reservations in the west teaching English before she joined the missionary service. Louise was also related to herself. She was a descendant of several Mayflower passengers as well as several early 17th century immigrants to Massachusetts. Over the generations, many of these lines crisscrossed and tangled. On one branch alone, she was descended from same ancestral couple six or seven times.

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at:…7-grandparents/

10 thoughts on “Book of Me – Prompt 7: Grandparents

  1. davidmadison1942

    Well, I learned some things about my father that I didn’t know.

    I remember the day my mother got in the car to go to her father’s funeral. She had never spoken of him…never did,

    “His father was a farmer and harness maker.” And I remember his harness shop.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Oh tell me more about the day of James Foster’s funeral! I didn’t even know if Gladys had gone or not. I also can’t seem to locate James’ burial. The newspaper clipping says he was buried at York, but there is no stone that I have been able to find.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      I think because my grandfathers were both teachers, they had that type of personality. They were kind and caring, and could relate to children. I remember they both joked around a lot with the grand kids.

  2. vanbraman

    We are probably related somehow. I don’t have Mayflower ancestors, but did have Pilgrim ancestors that came to Plymouth a couple years later. I also have many other Dutch, Quaker and Puritan ancestors who were in the colonies before 1650.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      You are probably right. I think more people are related than think they are. Once I started doing research I kept finding connections with many of my friends and coworkers, especially when you go back 13-14 generations. 🙂

      1. Genealogy Lady Post author

        I don’t really have any direct relations with the surname. I believe one or two cousins may have married a Holbrook. However, lots of intermarrying happened so we may be connected still.

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