Ida Oswald (Seidenspinner)

One of the things I personally find interesting is looking at photos of my ancestors as they have aged. The best series of these I have is from my 2nd great-grandmother Ida Oswald. The below sequence shows her aging from a small child, to a young lady, then a mother and ultimately an older woman. You can see the same features and expressions throughout her life. It’s also a kind of solemn reminder that time catches up with all of us eventually:

Beyond the aging illustrated in this series, there are a few other things I find personally amusing. The center top picture of she and Gustave is actually their wedding photo. She looks absolutely thrilled. This lack of enthusiasm is matched only by her expression in the photo directly underneath where she has three children (my great grandfather Alfred is on the left). Candid photos had an entirely different meaning back then…


The Penningtons

Do you know who these two are:

Chances are, probably not. To me, they’re two of the most frustrating people in my family tree, my fourth great-grandparents, Pennington. Based on what’s written on the back of their pictures they’re her parents:


She’s Mary Pennington (Kirk), my third great grandmother, born around 1830 and died around 1868. Somebody decided to just write, “Grandma and Grandpa Pennington” on their pictures and leave it at that. Real helpful. This is her with my 2nd great grandmother Mary Kirk, furthest on right:


Try as I may, I’ve been completely unable to track down her parents names. Usually it’s the other way around, I have names and dates but no pictures. That’s what makes her parents so irritating.

Usually a simple marriage certificate will solve something like this. She was married around 1850 in Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin to Samuel Kirk. Unfortunately, Wisconsin law didn’t require marriage events be recorded with state officials until 1852, two years later. Fon Du Lac county did start recording them in 1844, but it was spotty and after checking with the state, her marriage was not one of the ones that was recorded. Additionally, I have not been able to track down any death certificate for her. If anyone comes across this and can provide me with any additional information, it would be much appreciated. Until then, I’ll keep searching…

Wolfach, Germany

My second great grandfather, Gustave Seidenspinner, left Wolfach, Germany in 1881 to immigrate to America. Before leaving he captured an image of the family home from a nearby hillside. Several months back, I began to search the internet for images of Wolfach today and was surprised by what I found…

Seidenspinner Family Home

The Seidenspinner Family Home in Wolfbach, Germany circa 1881.


The Seidenspinner Family Home in Wolfach, Germany today.

Not only had someone captured an image from almost the exact same vantage point, but the building where Gustave had lived still appears to be completely intact. Visiting this town is one of those things that got added onto my bucket list.

Otto and Me

So, the first obvious question is probably, “Why Otto and Me?”. Otto von Steinhausen was my 14th great grandfather, born in Vacha Rhan, Thuringia, Germany. He’s the furthest back that the Steinhaus name has been traced by my family. I figured it only made sense when tracing my family roots and journey to the present day to name the blog after he and I.