My Family, My Life: The Marstellers (Part Two)

Much of a family’s history is tied up in places as much as in people. Both sides of my own family reach back to locations in Germany. My father’s side left the home country only in the early part of the twentieth century (and there is family lore that puts portions of it in the midst of the Russian Revolution a century ago), while my mother’s side — via the Marstellers — arrived in North America in the latter part of the seventeenth century, making them amongst the pioneer settlers of what became the United States.

While most of the places my family settled are in the States — including southeastern Pennsylvania, northeastern Iowa, and the central Pacific coast of California — the German locations are very interesting to me, and the most ripe for additional research. In this entry, I’d like to give some background on the region of present-day southwest Germany that was once ruled by the House of Hesse, centering on the town of Pfungstadt.

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My Family, My Life: The Marstellers (Part One)

"In Memorium Marsteller Frederick Ludwig, Jan 11, 1702, Oct 15, 1753 and A. Barbara Starck, May 8, 1701, Feb 23, 1780. Arrived at Philadelphia in 1729 from Darmstadt Germany"

When one begins to delve into family history, many interesting stories begin to emerge. My own family is no different. In this first entry in a planned series of genealogically-inspired articles, I will introduce one branch of my family tree which I can currently trace back seven generations and ultimately has a connection to the first President of the United States of America himself, Mr. George Washington.

The link that reaches back to President Washington is through my great-grandmother, Minnie Salinda Marsteller, who was born on August 1, 1881, in the Midwestern state of Iowa. Her parents — George Henry Marsteller and Lydia Anne Latshaw — had relocated to the tiny northeast Iowa township of Fox sometime prior to their first appearance on the U.S. Census in 1900; George was 70 years old, Lydia was 65 and Minnie was soon to turn 19 years old. Fox, in Black Hawk County, is remote to this day — covering an area of 34.46 square miles (89.3 km²) but containing no incorporated settlements. As of the 2000 census, the rural township had a population of 520.

Previously, the Marstellers had lived in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Continue reading “My Family, My Life: The Marstellers (Part One)”

Philatelic Pursuits: April 2015

Thailand011-rsAnother month gone and this one went by very quickly indeed!  I was on holiday for much of April due to the Thai New Year (Songkran) occurring mid-month and my language school students canceled most of their lessons in order to enjoy the nationwide bout of laziness.  Even my local postman took a couple of weeks of vacation during which we had no home mail delivery as Thailand Post has severe manpower shortages; upon his return, I received a HUGE stack of mail with plenty of new stamps to add to my collection.

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A Stampy Start to the Year

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It has, indeed, been a “stampy” start to 2015, to use an adjective coined by one of my favorite online collector forums.  Not only did I have a few days of holiday time during which I could sort, scan and catalogue many of my stamps and postcards but the first mail delivery of the year brought several philatelic – and other – goodies.

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The 12 Days Of Christmas Stamps 2014: Day 2 – Germany and Belarus

Christmas 2014 Germany 01

On 3 November, Germany released a Christmas stamp depicting the Star of Bethlehem, also known as the Christmas Star, which in the Christian tradition revealed the birth of Jesus to the Magi and led them to Bethlehem.  I always enjoy seeing children’s artwork used on stamps and I often see potential stamp subjects amongst the drawings and colorings of my own students.  

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A History of Christmas Stamps

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The history of Christmas stamps is an interesting one as there is quite a bit of disagreement of what was the actual first stamp to commemorate the holiday.  It really depends on what your definition of a Christmas stamp is.  Does the mere words “Christmas” (or similar term) make it a true Yuletide emission?  Or is it the pictorial theme of something representing our concept of this festive time of year?  Perhaps a true Christmas stamp is the one designed specifically for carrying greetings cards or holiday packages.  As we will see, there are several contenders in each of these categories.

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Identity Crisis and Family History

wpid-person_reading_book_clip_art_16910-1 (1)Lately, I’ve been experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis.  You see, I was adopted within a month of my birth in December 1965.  I no longer have copies of the adoption papers or my birth certificate (and the latter is turning out to be as difficult to obtain as the former).  I have never made any attempt to discover the identities of my birth parents.

The only thing I’ve ever known about the young couple that put me up for adoption was that they were Hispanic.  Whether that means they were born in Mexico or simply were Americans with Hispanic ancestry, I have no idea.  I certainly don’t look Latin American or Spanish!  However, I have always had a strong fascination with all aspects of Mexican culture — the food, the music, the art, the history, the language, etc. — but that may come from growing up in Texas and my later years of living in New Mexico.  My birth parents had requested that I be placed in a Catholic home.

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