Trip to Germany

Where The Hell Are All The Germans???

We paid good money to see Germans, where the hell are they?

I think Korey and I have been up for three days straight, at least it feels like it.  We had most of our trip planned pretty well, but we didn’t put any thought into how we were going to get from the airport to the hotel.  Korey dived right in, saying, “well, what do we have to lose?” and we ended up paying 2,75 Euros a piece to hop on a train that pretty much took us door to door.

Hamburg has got to be the least German of all cities in Germany…at least in terms of German population…or at least what we’ve seen of Hamburg.  Kidding aside, Hamburg reminds me of my trips to Toronto during the late 90’s, a melting pot of different cultures.  Within walking distance from our hotel, there were a ton of restaurants, but not one served German food.  We ended up eating a mash up of Italian and Portuguese.  Maybe that is the new German food.  There was lots of Curry Wurst too.

We haven’t taken a lot of pictures yet, but here are the few we have taken.

Tomorrow we’ll put on our tourist hats.

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[singlepic id=51 w=320 h=240 float=left]Over the last 2 years or so I have devoted this website to relaying stories of my ancestors and preserving these stories for my kids.  But the fondest memories I have are those my kids themselves have provided over the years.  26 years ago tomorrow, my journey as a father began with the blessing of my daughter Elizabeth Nathalia Rathkamp.  Betsie was the first girl to join our branch of the Rathkamp family in 68 years, my grandfather’s sister Anne having been born in 1916.

Even in the darkest depths of Alzheimer’s, my “Granny Pat” was thrilled with Betsie’s birth and couldn’t believe the curse of the Rathkamp hooligans had ended.[singlepic id=50 w=320 h=240 float=right]

I have watched with pride as Betsie has grown to be a very remarkable woman.  Even though it would please my ego to take credit for the way she has turned out, the truth is that she is what makes Betsie the way she is.  She is sensitive, yet incredibly strong.  She is open-minded, but is also very firm in her beliefs.  She is mature for her age, but doesn’t take herself too seriously and is rarely seen without her infectious smile.  She is very goal and career oriented, and her clients are as loyal to her as she is to them.

This past year, she took a major step in her life by buying her own home.  She had been looking at condos in the ‘burbs and had even been close to closing on one.  But in the end, she found a house that suited her personality to a tee in the city.  Recently, she has been volunteering her time with Madacc in Milwaukee.  She has much of herself to give, and these animals will all want to go home with her.

Betsie, I’m so proud of you.  Have a very Happy Birthday.



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Brockhaus Niesl Rathkamp Waege Wesenberg

What Do You Think the Poor People are Doing Tonight?

Last night, my wife made her soon-to-be-famous Breakfast Cookies- a hearty cookie which includes whole wheat flour, rolled oats, milled flax seed, pecans, applesauce, and about 47 other ingredients which elude me.  She’s scoured the internet and has combined some ingredients from this recipe with some ingredients from that recipe.  This is the third or fourth time she’s made them and each time they seem to get better and better.  After she finished baking last night, she commented that she thought she had finally gotten the recipe “dialed in” and proceeded to write it down.

While she tends to prefer the consistency of a proven recipe, I prefer to develop my recipes by feel.  Lately, I’ve been concentrating on trying to emulate some of the principles that guided my grandparents and other ancestors, namely that expensive ingredients do not necessarily equate to good food and that inexpensive ingredients can often equate to excellent food.  I’m starting to feel pretty confident about being able to make really good bread, pasta/ noodles/ dumplings, Swedish Pancakes, soups, pesto, and lately home-made pita bread or naan.  All of these are very inexpensive to make.  This fall I really want to start making sausage.

[singlepic id=48 w=300 h=220 float=right]There are several dishes that my grandparents on both sides were famous for and many of these recipes, I’m sure, were passed down from generation to generation.  On my mom’s side, my Grandma Emma was known for being an exceptional cook.  She had the ability, imagination, and patience to be able to turn an inexpensive piece of shoe leather into an incredible roast.  Some of her recipes, Sauerbraten and Knoedl for example, were “influenced” by her Bavarian husband, my Grandpa Dodge and his family.  Knoedl are dumplings made from the stale bread my grandmother collected during the week.  Nothing went to waste.

[singlepic id=49 w=300 h=220 float=left]On my dad’s side of the family, my Granny Pat and Aunt Grace often made Potato Dumplings.  While this may not sound exciting, just the mention of Granny Pat making Potato Dumplings would send my cousins and me into a lather.  This dish consisted of dumplings made from finely grated potatoes, eggs, and flour which were boiled, drained and then covered with a broth made with sliced onions, bacon, and bacon grease.  My arteries are hardening as I type this.  My Uncle Bob Rathkamp used to say that the best thing to use to squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes was an old t-shirt.  I have no doubt this recipe is Pommeranian, and was most likely a recipe brought over by my Waege, Brockhaus, or Wesenberg ancestors.

Good food, eaten with people you love, has the ability to bring people even closer.  My Grandma Emma and Grandpa Dodge did not come from wealthy families, quite the contrary.  But her culinary abilities made us feel like we were eating like kings.  Always and without fail, my Grandpa Dodge would end a special meal by pushing his plate away, and with a giant grin on his face say, “What do you think the poor people are doing tonight?”


Kissin’ Kuzzins?

[singlepic id=46 w=320 h=240 float=left]I’ve been spending time working on my set of 3rd great grandparents, stemming from my paternal grandmother, Alice (Waege) Rathkamp.  Lately I’ve been on a bit of a roll, discovering some of their home towns in what was then Pomerania and now is part of Poland.  Originally, this post was going to be about the really interesting fact that not only did each of these four families live within a 20 mile radius of each other in Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties of Wisconsin, but also that is seems they may have originated from within a 20 mile radius in Kreis Naugard, Pomerania.  To make this discovery, some of the information I used was known, some of it was “guessed” by using the database on Kartenmeister.  This website allows you to enter surnames of ancestors from Pommern, with the results showing the former German name and the current Polish name for the village of origin.  I then plugged the Polish name for each village into Google Maps to discover the close proximity of the villages possibly inhabited my Wege, Justmann, Leitzke, Brockhaus, Gehrke, Wesenberg, and Viergutz ancestors.

[singlepic id=47 w=320 h=240 float=right]However, I was missing the surname of my 3rd great grandmother, Louise, married to Johann G. Leitzke.  So I then went to the beta FamilySearch database where I made a somewhat shocking discovery.  There is marriage information for Louise Leitzke, a daughter of Johann and Louise.  It turns out Louise’s maiden name is also Wege.  Her birthdate is December 1823, making it entirely possible that she is Friedrich Wege’s sister.  If that’s true, it means my 2nd great grandparents, William Wege and Wilhelmine Leitzke were 1st cousins.  I need to find the parents of Friedrich and Louise to confirm this.

Just goes to show you should keep your friends close and your relatives even closer.


Öftinghausen, Please Phone Home!

Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed somebody from Germany using the following search string to find my site: familie rathkamp, Öftinghausen. If you are a relative, please contact me at

We’d love to visit with you during our trip on August!

Uncategorized Wesenberg

Working Sideways

[singlepic id=45 w=320 h=240 float=left]Last night was a good night for genealogy in the Rathkamp house.  My third great grandparents, August and Henriette (Viergutz) Wesenberg were the first of my ancestors to emigrate to America.  They arrived in New York on August 10, 1846.  I’ve never put a lot of time into this branch of my family, so last night I thought I’d dive in.  Sometimes when you hit a brick wall, it helps to research sideways, and this worked for me last night.  I suspected the Wesenbergs came from Pomerania, and this was verified as their port of departure was shown to be Stettin, now a city of 406,000 in Poland.

[singlepic id=44 w=320 h=240 float=right]When you’re researching your ancestors, you often have a tendency to look at a document fixated only on your ancestors names.  I’ve learned over time that there are often clues surrounding those names.  The name Zastrow kept popping up next to or near the Wesenberg name.  Charles Zastrow and his family are listed on the passenger list just above the Wesenbergs.  The 1860 US Census showed the Zastrows, again just above the Wesenbergs.  I then searched the US Bureau of Land Management’s website and found the documents showing that Carl Zastrow and August Wesenberg both purchased land in Herman, Dodge County, Wisconsin Territory on February 2, 1848.  August bought 40 acres and Carl, 200.  These documents show the exact locations of each of these plots, so I used that information and plugged it into the virtual plat map on Dodge County’s website.

[singlepic id=43 w=320 h=240 float=left]I knew I had something here, so I searched for Carl Zastrow and found a tree showing his birthplace as Pflugarde, Pommerania.  I then searched Google for Zastrow and Pflugard and found the real gem I was after:  A page on Google Books showing a list of Old Lutherans who had fled Pommern seeking religious freedom.  Sure enough, August and Henriette are shown just below Carl.  Their name here is spelled Wasenberg, but also shown is their home town:  Wismar, now Wyszomierz, Poland.  Wismar is only a mile or two from Pflugarde.

Here’s another interesting thing about this last list.  Many of the names on this list are familiar names.  I’ve worked with with or have known people having the last names of Gennrich, Roehl, Eggert, Hammel, Goetsch and Pankow.

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Dachs Milwaukee Niesl


[singlepic id=35 w=320 h=240 float=left]My maternal grandfather, George Joseph Niesl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It’s hard to write about my grandpa, not only because I miss him, but also because he was a walking paradox; the original Renaissance man.  There is no single human being who has touched me in more ways than he has.

I’m sure Grandpa Dodge’s influence is felt by others in my family in different ways, some of which I maybe haven’t considered and some of which may not be entirely positive.   I thought about asking some of my cousins about some of their memories of Grandpa but decided that, in the end, this blog is intended to communicate my family history to my kids.   I’d rather have them see Grandpa Dodge through my eyes.

Dodge was born to George and Katie (Dachs) Niesl on August 6, 1909.  George and Katie had 5 children who died shortly after childbirth, two of them also named George.   Born in 1905, John would be the first of the 7 Niesl kids to survive.  They lived in Milwaukee roughly on 20th and Vliet.

My grandpa’s fondness of giving us nicknames must have been a tradition he learned from his dad.   In the Niesl family, there were nicknames like “Hans”, “Mutz”, “Katzie”, and “Happy” and[singlepic id=37 w=320 h=240 float=right] of course “Dodge”.   We learned that Grandpa got his nickname because of the way one of his younger sisters pronounced George.  Most of my siblings and cousins had nicknames given to us by Grandpa.  There was “Moe”, “Mugs”, “Dynamite”, “Missy”, “Rump Roast”, and “Loud Mouth” to name a few.  I was “Beans”.  My daughter Betsie was one of the last to get a nickname, “Liza”.  Besides Liza, my kids now have nicknames that I’ve given them.  Korey is Boris and Nate is Knuckles.

His ability to coin nicknames wouldn’t be the only thing passed down from his dad.  His dad was a painter, a devout Catholic hired to create artwork in Catholic churches all over the Midwest.  Dodge would inherit many of his father’s artistic abilities.  My uncle George has a collection of post cards sent from George Sr. to his son throughout the years while he was on the road painting churches.  Despite having what to me would be a prestigious job, the Niesl family didn’t have a lot of money so Grandpa was forced to leave school at an early age to get a job.  One of his first jobs was riding a horse drawn beer wagon, delivering Schitz beer to saloons in Milwaukee, one of them owned by his grandfather, Alois Dachs.

Early in his career, Grandpa earned a reputation as an excellent sign painter and specialized in Gold Leaf Letteringf signs.  I remember my mom telling me how Grandpa could identify different types of paints and finishes by their smell.

Because he left school early, education would become a priority throughout his life.  Not only formal education, but informal.  Shortly after I got my first “real job”, Grandpa recognized my opportunity and told me, “just make sure you keep your eyes and ears open, and keep your damn mouth shut.”  Despite not having a lot of money, my grandparents made sure there was a set of encyclopedias in the house.  Whenever any of us had a question about history or science, Grandpa (while he probably could have just given us the answer) always told us to look it up.  Knowledge was power.

[singlepic id=36 w=320 h=240 float=left]Grandpa and his brothers were known as brawlers, this brawling most certainly being fueled by beer and their Bavarian sense of Gemuklichheit.  Grandpa met my grandmother after a night of drinking when he and his brothers stopped at the diner where my grandma was working.  As the story goes, they tore the place up, pulling the stools right out of the floor.  He must have had some charm to go with the bravado because he won Emma over.  She was going through some hard times, having recently had my Aunt Doreen out of wedlock and coming to terms with the reality that she would probably never marry Doreen’s father who was going to school to be a Draftsman and who was also Catholic.  Marriage to Emma, a Lutheran, while their son Peter was in school just wasn’t in the Diller family’s plans.  Grandpa, knowing full well what was going on finally said to Emma, “What are you doing wasting your time waiting for that jerk, he’s never going to marry you.  Why don’t you marry me?”.  Grandma always said, “That’s all I needed to hear”.

Three more kids would come out of their marriage, George in 1936, Sandie in 1939, and my mom, Kitty, in 1944.  All of the kids would tell you their dad was a great dad, but that his[singlepic id=40 w=320 h=240 float=right] drinking could make their lives very uncomfortable.  The Gemuklichheit was out of hand.  Grandma was always known for her cooking, and always made home made bread.  When Wonder Bread first came out, she thought she’d give it a whirl.  While at the dinner table that night, Dodge grabbed the stack of bread on the plate, mushed it into a ball with his hands, and threw it saying, “This isn’t bread.  Don’t ever put this on the table again.”  Grandpa would try several times to quit drinking, but it wasn’t until the late ’50’s when, basically on his death bed with cirrhosis of the liver, his doctor told him, “George, let’s be honest with each other.  I won’t waste your time, and please don’t waste mine.  If you don’t stop drinking, you’re going to kill yourself.”  That was it.  He never drank again, until the last year or two of his life, when I remember him having a “good German beer” every once in a while with my uncle.  I still have visions of Kingsbury near beer in their refrigerator.

I’m very fortunate in that I lived with my grandparents for a while when I was 5 and 6.  Shortly after my parents divorced, my mom and I went to live with Dodge and Emma on 37th and Lloyd on Milwaukee’s north side.  My aunt and uncle owned the house and lived with my 7 cousins downstairs.  The period when everyone lived in this house may be the happiest period of my life.  Never before, and not since have I been so close to family.  I have vivid memories of watching Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights, The Wonderful World of Disney Sunday nights.  Most of my cousins were my age, plus or minus a few years.  I learned how to ride a bike while we lived here.  We played baseball in the alley.  We walked to school.  We laughed to hard, I peed my pants more than once.

[singlepic id=41 w=320 h=240 float=left]In the late ’50’s, Dodge and Emma, along with his sister Gertie and her husband Stanley, bought a cottage on Two Sister’s lake hear Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  The memories all of us kids have from our time “up north” could fill a book.

When we got our report cards, we all stood in line waiting for Grandpa to look them over and give us his blessings.  We craved his approval, because we knew that if he complimented us, we had done something good.  But we were also afraid of him.  Grandpa had his workshop in one half of the basement.  We were strictly forbidden to enter his shop, but boys being boys, my cousin Matt and I would dare each other to go into this forbidden land.  I remember one time, both of us in his shop, hearing Grandpa’s footsteps.  Matt and I literally hid under his workbench while Grandpa looked for one of his tools.  A minute or two seemed like an hour or two.

It’s amazing what he could do with those tools, many of them home-made.  I don’t think he ever bought a new tool.  There was nothing he couldn’t either find at a rummage sale or make himself.  He made his own table saw.  He made his own templates for making various pieces of furniture.  Later in his life when Dodge and Emma lived outside of Huburtus in their trailer park, his workshop was a 6 x 6 metal shed.  He lived to make things for his kids and his grandkids, the boys getting toy boxes, the girls getting elaborate doll houses, and later, jewelry boxes or music boxes.  He turned rough basements into rec rooms, knocked out walls, and reconstructed interiors of entire houses.  He hand-crafted cabinets and vanities for bathrooms.  Late in his life, he made beautiful hutches for each of his kids.  And then there was his Rosmaling.  It was amazing that a man who could be so big, intimidating and sometimes gruff could create art like this.  But as I said, he was a walking paradox.

When I was making drums, there literally wasn’t a single time I stepped foot in my shop that I didn’t think about him.  I knew he’d be proud of what I was doing, and whenever I was doing the tedious work of sanding and rubbing out a finish, I’d have to chuckle, remembering when as kids, we’d bring home a shop project and he’d say, “You’re gonna sand that a little more, right?”  He was meticulous and he wanted us to be too.

[singlepic id=42 w=320 h=240 float=right]During high school, when I was really pouring myself into my drumming, I thought music was something he just couldn’t relate to.  Unlike my Grandma, who was always singing or whistling,  I had just never seen his interest in music, aside from watching Lawrence Welk with my Grandma.  I remember between my junior and senior years of high school, I saw Buddy Rich play with his big band at Summerfest.  After Buddy finished playing, there was a crowd near the stage door waiting for autographs.  I’ve never been much of an autograph person, but this was one of my drumming heroes.  I didn’t have anything for Buddy to sign, so I had him sign my forearm.  The next day I showed my Grandpa, thinking Grandpa lived through the big band era, he should know Buddy Rich.  My Grandpa looked at me and said, “What the hell would you have a hop head like that son of a bitch sign your arm for?”  Evidently hop head was the term for pot head back in the day, and evidently my Grandpa knew about Buddy’s rap sheet.  He told me Gene Krupa was no better, and that Gene was a druggie too.

In 1984, at Dodge and Emma’s 50th wedding anniversary my Grandpa shocked me.  The whole night was probably just like any other 50th wedding anniversary.  But at one point of the night, my grandparents were sitting at their table and started singing together.  Maybe I’m alone in this, but I had never, ever seen my Grandpa sing and never knew that such beautiful music could come from inside this man.  But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  He was a walking paradox.

[singlepic id=39 w=320 h=240 float=left]Dodge and Emma took regular trips to Sacramento where they spent winters with my California relatives.  1987 would be Dodge’s last trip.  While in California that year, cancer swept over him like locusts over the prairie.  He came home to die and I got to see him one last time in the hospital.  As I entered his room, he tried waving me off.  He didn’t want me to see him in this weakened state.  But it didn’t matter to me.  I had so many other memories of him, that there was no way this last memory would have a negative effect.  I just wanted to say good bye.

During times in my life when I don’t know which side is up, I wonder if he ever felt like that.  Even though he was paradoxical, things in his world were black and white, at least to us as observers.  He was stubborn and opinionated, but had a lifelong thirst for knowledge.  He was stern and sometimes gruff, but he always had time for his grand kids, showing us the RIGHT way to hold a paint brush.  He could be as bigoted as Archie Bunker, but then a day later tell you why and how the Mexican Americans were going to use their work ethic to make a permanent home for themselves in Milwaukee.  He was John Wayne.  He got his teeth knocked out in a bar brawl, but could sing like a bird.  I miss him.


Witch Way to Andover?

[singlepic id=34 w=320 h=240 float=left]Most of our ancestors were common people just like most of us are common people.  The stories that get handed down from generation to generation are important within the scope of our family histories, but are usually only anecdotal in the scope of world or American history.  Stories about our grandparents struggling through the Great Depression and stories of religious persecution and political oppression often find their way into family lore.  I find it interesting that most of us have stories that only go back to our grandparents or maybe our great grandparents.

What if we had an ancestor who not only lived through a truly remarkable time in history, but who also played in integral role in this event?   What if this ancestor crossed the Delaware with Washington?  Or sailed with Columbus?  What if we had an ancestor who fought alongside Charlemagne?  Would these stories find their way through the filter of multiple generations, and if so, how would they change over time?

What if on the other hand, this ancestor played a role in a much darker event in history?

Like the Salem Witch Trials.

I can’t do justice to this story, but there’s an incredible account of it here.  This is an 18 page account written by Bruce M. Tyler and is definitely worth taking the time to read.  There is also an excellent website here with a ton of great information.  I’ll do my best though to provide the very short version here.[singlepic id=33 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Job Tyler, b. 1619  is my wife’s 11th Great Grandfather.  Job was the first Tyler, at least of this branch, to come to America, settling in or near Andover, Massachusetts.  By my interpretation, Job was a salty kind of guy who always felt he was getting the short end of the stick and wasn’t afraid to use the court system, or other means, to try to get his due.  Job and his wife Mary had 6 children.  Job himself used the accusation of witchcraft to try to settle a score with his lifelong nemesis, John Godfrey.

But it was Job’s son Moses who really started stirring the pot in May of 1692.  Most people associate the witch hunt and subsequent trials with Salem Massachusetts, but there was quite a bit of activity going on in Andover, about a 35 minute drive by car today.  For whatever reason, Moses turned on several of his own family members, and is thought to have been the primary conspirator (one of twelve) in Andover.  It’s impossible to say how a family member could turn on several other family members, knowing the punishment of a conviction is death.

In all, 11 family members were accused.  Here is the list:

July 28 Mary Tyler Post Bridges, 48; Job’s daughter, Moses’ sister
August 2 Mary Post, 28; Mary’s daughter
August 25 Susannah Post, 31; Mary’s stepdaughter
August 25 Hannah Post, 26;Mary’s daughter
August 25 Sarah Bridges, 17; Mary’s stepdaughter
August 25 Mary Bridges, Jr., 13; Mary’s daughter
August 31 Mary Parker, 55; John Tyler’s (Job’s son) mother-in-law
September 7 Mary Lovett Tyler, 40; Hopestill Tyler’s (Job’s son) wife
September 7 Hannah Tyler, 14; Mary and Hopestill’s daughter
September 7 Joanna Tyler, 11; Mary and Hopestill’s daughter
September 7 Martha Tyler, 11; Mary and Hopestill’s daughter

[singlepic id=32 w=320 h=240 float=left]Hopestill and Mary (Lovett) Tyler are my wife’s 10th Great Grand parents.  Hopestill was Moses’ brother.

On September 22, 1692, 4 witches from Andover were executed.  It was shortly after this that this hysteria began to create not only societal issues, but also a financial burden.  Part of the legal system then mandated the suspected witches were responsible financially for their charges whether they were found guilty or not.  The effect was that entire families were being put into financial ruins.

It’s at this point, in January of 1693 that Hopestill Tyler posted bond for his family members.  Of the eleven family members imprisoned, one, Mary Parker was hanged.

I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner was like for the Tyler family in 1693.

Moses, would you please pass the stuffing?

Meech Uncategorized

What’s in a name?

Val’s always poking fun of some of the names of my German ancestors. She’s pretty sure there’s a Friedrich Heinrich Johann Jakob Jingleheimerschmidt in my tree somewhere. I thought I’d share some of the gems I’ve uncovered from her side:

  • [singlepic id=31 w=320 h=240 float=right]Minerva Belle Tobey
  • Charity Mack
  • Mindwell Mack (there were actually a few Mindwells)
  • Mercy Mack
  • Resolved Mack
  • Jerusha Spicer
  • Keziah Latham Spicer
  • Experience Geer
  • Patience Button (may or may not have been passed to subsequent generations)
  • Jemima Parke
  • Zilpha Meech

Normandy to Exeter to Jamestown to Fond du Lac

[singlepic id=30 w=320 h=240 float=right] Sometimes when the branches you’re working stop bearing nuts, it’s time to chase the squirrel up another branch.  My wife is rightfully very proud of her Puerto Rican roots and I’m sure there will be some very colorful stories of her ancestors that will come out of her next trip to Puerto Rico.  But I thought maybe her mom’s side of the family, the boring American side, needed a little attention.  I already had a little information regarding her mom’s side of the family that went back to my wife’s great grandmother Ruth (Meech) Grindle.

It turns out the “boring American” side of her family is anything but boring.  Actually, this Meech branch is a treasure trove of genealogy.  Here are some highlights:

In 1910, Robert Meech and his wife, Laura (Milligan) Meech (my wife’s 2nd great grandparents) were living in Redondo Beach, California. That in and of itself is probably no big deal until you consider they had lived in Illinois before and after…

Abel Meech,  b. 1775, moved from Connecticut to New York, finally settling in Ohio.  While in New York, he built a distillery in 1806, and was also the first teacher in Sempronius (now Moravia, NY).  He and his wife, Charity Mack, had 14 children. Alcohol and education no doubt contributing to such prolific progeny.

John Meech, my wife’s 8th great grandfather, was baptized in the First Congregational Church of Preston, CT in 1695 at the age of 35.

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In 1730, Moses Meech’s betrothed, Rose Ann Park, was called upon to publicly confess her sin of fornication to their congregation.  I think ol’ Moses must have received an exemption based on his name.

It’s rumored that the first Meech to come to America, was fleeing “political consequences” in England.  Supposedly his surname in England was Walbridge and he assumed his mother’s maiden name to avoid detection.  It’s also rumored that he hid in a haystack for “some days” prior to slipping off to America.

John Meech, presumably the other John’s father, was in Salem (ahem?!?), Massachusetts in 1629.  He then went on to help settle Charlestown, Massachusetts.

And now for the coup de gras…Aaron Meech, b. 1749 married Alethea Spicer.  Alethea’s great grandfather is Peter Spicer.  This book is written about Peter’s descendants.  It is generally accepted that Peter was born in Jamestown, Virginia.  It appears as though the Spicer family as a whole is also well documented.  Since 1273, there have been twelve Spicers who have served as the mayor of Exeter.  Supposedly, three members of the ancient family came to England from Normandy along with William the Conqueror.