Family History

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Credit: Roman Kraft on Unsplash

My good friend Rev. Robert Greene, in heaven since passing away two months ago, was an avid family history buff. In his retirement Bob spent much time at his computer almost every day, researching the history of his and his wife Jean’s family. At the time he died, Bob had identified over one million people to whom he or Jean were related. Seriously. I kid you not.

Several years ago in preparation for a family reunion, I spent a bit of time collating the names and important life event dates of my great grandfather’s family. I’ve identified 454 people related to my great grandpa Carl Otto Kieschnick and great grandma Christine Sohns Kieschnick.

Though it’s highly doubtful that my affinity for family history will ever come close to that of Bob Greene, I do find it interesting to talk about family. So does my dear Terry, who occasionally mentions her desire to dig into her genealogical roots. Perhaps someday she and I will do that.

A question that had always intrigued me is how my great grandfather could afford to keep his family in Thorndale, Texas, while he cleared and built a grand home on property he had purchased just north of Bishop, Texas, 275 miles south of Thorndale. Then one day I finally figured it out.

It started the day I preached at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Thorndale a few years ago. I began my sermon by noting my relationship with this congregation through my great grandparents who had lived in Thorndale just after the beginning of the 20th century. I also expressed my desire to know the location of the home and farm of Otto and Christine Kieschnick.

After worship was over, a man named Dennis Hengst greeted me at the door, identifying himself as a realtor who might be able to help. A few months later he called and said he had found not only one but two farms that had been owned by Otto and Christine.

Shortly thereafter my sister and I met Dennis for BBQ lunch at the Thorndale Meat Market. Then he took us to those two farms. The answer to my question was that Great Grandpa had sold one farm and applied the proceeds to their new adventure. He had left Great Grandma and their eight children in Thorndale while he went to Bishop, cleared the land, and built their new home. He then brought his family to Bishop, where he lived for most of the rest of his life.

The point of this article is not my family’s history. It’s simply to illustrate that everyone has a family history. Some, like Bob Greene, go to great lengths to learn about their ancestors. Others, like me, do a little research to satisfy their curiosity. Others either have no interest or simply don’t spend the time and effort required to discover the people from whom they came.

For an interesting genealogical story, check Matthew 1:1-17 in the New Testament. You’ll love the main character. Actually, I think most of you already do. Happy reading!

Constitution Day

ConstitutionToday is Constitution Day, an American federal observance of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Also called Citizenship Day, it is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in Philadelphia.

Like many of you, I was required to memorize the Preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Other provisions of particular interest are the following:

  • Provision is made for taxation of “the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
  • While every state shall have at least one member of the House of Representatives, the 13 original states of the union initially were entitled to have at least a specifically designated number of Representatives, ranging from one to ten per state.
  • Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for a minimum of seven years.
  • Members of the U.S. Senate must be at least 30 years old and a U.S. citizen for a minimum of nine years.
  • The President must be at least 35 years old, “a natural born citizen” and a resident of the U.S. for a minimum of 14 years.
  • “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress … engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”
  • Senators and Representatives are bound by oath to support the Constitution; “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Thirty-nine delegates to the Constitutional Convention – all men – actually signed the Constitution. The only ones whose names are famous or at least familiar to me are George Washington, John Blair, James Madison, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Rufus King, Samuel Johnson, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.

If you have not read the Constitution recently, it’s a worthy experience to do so. Go to: http://www.usconstitution.cc/.

Happy Constitution Day! God Bless America!