Sunday, May 3, 2009

Paging Dorothy Wentz

I have always been fascinated with history. I can never remember it correctly, but I love learning about it. In fact, I graduated college 3 classes short of a history minor. I sometimes regret not completing it and wonder where my life would be now if the accounting program had not changed allowing me to graduate a semester earlier than originally planned. Who knows-maybe I still would have ended up right where I am today, and besides, what does one do with a history minor anyway?

An aspect of history that I find especially intriguing is genealogy. After all, it is because of my ancestors that I am here today. I have always been curious about my family tree, but it wasn't until my friend really started digging into her family history that I decided to do the same. Right now, I like her family much better than mine as hers is much more cooperative when it comes to being found! (At least from where I am sitting-I know she would beg to differ on one of her more convoluted lines).

In 2002, I took a beginning genealogy class through the community enrichment program at our local community college. Armed with new found knowledge on things such as pedigree charts, family group sheets and a multitude of places to search for ancestors, I eagerly dug into my and James' families with no rhyme or reason as to which line I was researching. If I got stuck on one, I would just work on another. It is a very frustrating hobby, but one in which the littlest find keeps you going. But some ancestors are much more frustrating than others. In my case, that ancestor is Dorothy Josephine Wentz.

Dorothy is my great-grandmother on my mother's side. The first record I found of Dorothy was the 1900 Federal Census, which shows her living in Ohio as a nurse in the home of Marc and Helen Rowe. By 1910, Dorothy was Mrs. Marc Rowe and the mother of his sons Albert and Oliver. Both the 1920 and 1930 censuses have the Rowe family living in Babylon, NY. The 1940 census has not yet been released; I have yet to find her in the 1880 or 1890 censuses, however, most of the 1890 census was destroyed by a fire.

Dorothy died at the age of 81 on December 21, 1954. Her death certificate lists her parents as Charles Wentz and Mary Hunt, with Mary typed and Hunt handwritten. Her death certificate says she was born in Philadelphia; they say they don't have a record of her birth. And naturally, I can find information on several men named Charles Wentz, but none that are married to Mary Hunt or father to my Dorothy. If I could just verify her parents, I would do a very serious happy dance.

There has been a lot of research done on various branches of the Wentz family in the United States dating as far back as the late 1700's. My grandfather told my mother several times that she should join the Daughters of the American Revolution and we know if there is a link that would allow us to do so it is Dorothy. I have read some very fascinating stories on various Wentz family members. It sure would be nice to prove that I am one of them. Fingers crossed, one day I will get the breakthrough I have now been waiting for for 7 years. And then, I can move on to the next elusive ancestor, Dorothy's husband Marc.

1 comment:

Sari said...

That is fascinating. I wish I knew more about genealogy. Maybe one day when I have more time I will look into it.