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Cape Fear Facts

  One of the most historically significant African-American cities in the US, Wilimington, North Carolina, has provided visitors with an exciting look at the contributions made by blacks to southern history. That contribution has been made even more informative by the creation of the African American Heritage Trail. The trail's seventeen points of historical interest include the Cape Fear Museum; Bellamy Mansion Slave Quarters, built in 1859; the Wilmington Daily Record and the Wilmington Journal, the only black-owned daily newspapers of their time; and the downtown business district, where African-Americans have owned their own businesses for over two centuries.
   Wilmington serves as both reminder of slavery and racial repression and the triumph of human courage, perseverance and cooperation. The African American Heritage Trail is a trip the whole family will long remember. Contact Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-222-4757.

The van der Grinten adventure
  The van der Grinten Family Reunion was a terrific success. Almost 150 relatives assembled in Kranenburg, Germany if not v.d.G. by name, but then in spirit. Many ladies who were born v.d.G. and brought husbands and kids. Elisabeth Peters, born v.d.G., was 103 years young and stayed at the reunion the whole day. The festivities started with a special service by "Theo Schmidt," a priest whose mother was a v.d.G. by birth, in the old local church.
   After a collection paid for expenses, there were a few hundred marks left over which an anonymous spender rounded to 1000 DM. It was decided to donate the money to the kindergarten in Kranenburg. The reunion was described in the local press.
Reported by Wolfgang Heinrich van der Grinten

Translators available
A web discovery could help with family research that has crossed language lines. The Translation Team ( is a volunteer service limited to genealogical research. They work in 14 languages. Your message should have a maximum length of 40 lines. Translators are doing this for free, usually in addition to daily work. The shorter your message, the higher the chance translation might be done during the next coffee break. Volunteers make no guarantees nor can they be held liable. If you need a guarantee, ask a professional translator. Please sign your request with a real name, not your screen handle. There is no cost but the courtesy of a thank you to the translator would be nice.

Hochman Family Centennial Reunion
  More than 125 descendants of Velvel and Charna Hochman returned to celebrate the centennial of the family's arrival in St. Joseph, Missouri. They immigrated from Bessarabia, then part of Russia, now part of the Republic of Moldova.
   The Hochman family is not unlike many families who came from Eastern and Western Europe around the turn of the last century. For many years, Velvel and Charna's children and their families lived in St. Joseph.
   By the 1930s, Velvel and Charna could count 29 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. The grandchildren were so close, they considered themselves sisters and brothers rather than first cousins. Aunts and uncles were stand-in mothers and fathers. That idyllic condition existed until World War II took many of the family's sons and daughters to serve in all branches of service. When the war ended, cousins were living all over the country.
   Colonel Irv Schoenberg, family genealogist, led a session called "Know Your Hochman Roots" which, for many of the younger members, was both a history lesson and a revelation. For older cousins, it was an opportunity to tell and retell favorite stories of Zeda and Baba Hochman and their ten children. Building on the enthusiasm from the 'roots' session, the family took a guided city bus tour including sites significant in city history as well as in family history. City Hall, Buchanan County Court House, public schools and downtown buildings remain as they appeared over the last century. The City Market, Shaare Sholem Synagogue and Talmud Torah and many of the early family homes and businesses are gone, leaving former locations to be identified. Young cousins saw where the Pony Express started, where Jesse James was killed, and where wagon trains were provisioned for trips west across the Missouri River to the plains beyond.
   Entertainment Saturday night included skits, songs and Colonel Schoenberg talked about a video of his visit to the Republic of Moldova and Telenesht, the 'shetl' which was the Hochman home before they began their 'exodus' to America.
   The organization of the Hochman Family Reunion is a tribute to modern technology. The reunion committee included cousins who live in St. Joseph, Altanta, Georgia, Kansas City, Missouri, and Sarasota, Florida. There were ten project managers, each representing one of the ten family branches. The primary qualifications for membership on the committee or as a project manager was access to e-mail. Project managers were instrumental in getting Individual Data Sheets completed by cousins around the country and Canada. Their reunion favors were a family tree book.
from a news release by Irv Schoenberg, Dunwoody, Georgia

Finnish Embassy is very generous
  Cheryl Miller, Racine, Wisconsin, made an exciting find when, while planning the Hentila Family Reunion for next summer, she contacted the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC for help. Miller's husband's mother's side is Finnish, and she was looking for ways to celebrate the family's ethnicity. She received posters, music books, CD's of folk and classical music, books about Finland and its history, cookbooks and flags to decorate a table, and more. It cost her nothing and was shipped within days of her request. Foreign tourist boards can also supply information about the country that represents your heritage. Send a brief summary about your reunion and how you plan to celebrate your ethnicity to the embassy or tourism bureau of your choice.

Reunion places worth dreaming about
by Edith Wagner
  We've made a wonderful discovery for families who dream of following in the footsteps and trails of elders or ancestors. Project ECHO (Exporting Cultural Heritage Overseas), supported by the European Union, is a new European initiative aimed at promoting tourism to parts of England, France and Holland that have strong, distinctive historic ties with North America.
   Our travels abroad tend to concentrate on large cities, however, the richness of foreign lands is often in the countryside away from cities. Life is as full and unpretentious as it is in any inland area of the US. You will feel as comfortable in any of these places as you do at home.
   If you have the luxury of being able to concentrate on an area important in your history, make the most of it. For the millions of North Americans descended from ancestors who lived in coastal England, Holland and France, for those millions whose ancestors set sail for the new world from Southampton, Cherbourg, LeHavre or Amsterdam, much awaits you in Southern England, Northern France and Holland.
   Hope for a bright future drew millions of Europeans from poverty or persecution to a fresh start in the New World starting with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620.

Follow their footsteps
Imagination comes alive when you walk the same paths and breath air from the same space as ancestors who debarked for their new world lives. Their sacrifice and challenges are not forgotten.
Visit history
  Memorials and museums are neither dry nor lifeless. They're full of life about those who lived it and their progeny and descendants. Activities and exhibits are engaging. High tech plays an important role in telling history; computer enhancements and interactive displays abound. Hands-on involvement clearly engages younger generations to build an interest in history and, not so altruistically, build a new generation of audiences for living history.
   Few of us have connections anymore to maritime history, focal to these areas which depend even today on the sea for transit and shipping. It was the center of the trading world until the last half century.
Go anytime
 If you travel off season, you'll have the pleasure of being surrounded everywhere you go by school children who are enormously fascinated by living history. Children climbing about the planes at Southhampton's Hall of Aviation, exploring history in a Victorian kitchen at the Poole Museum or eager to explore exquisite ship models at the Vauban Docks in LeHavre. Perhaps most notable were hundreds of students of all ages who blanketed the wonderfully interactive and engaging Memorial to Peace in Caen, France. These are wonderful places for your children to visit.
Tracing your roots
  Are you one of many millions of North Americans who are exploring the genealogy of their families? Where did your ancestors debark? The information is all there. How you access it is up to you but visiting the archives to see for yourself adds a whole new dimension to how your family, as you know it, in the US, started from a port. Did they debark from Southampton? or Le Havre? Both port cities come alive with growing exhibits and information that reconstruct the travels of your ancestors.

Searching for ancestors from these areas?
The Portsmouth Records Office maintains city archives back to the 14th century while Southampton's City Archives and Central Library, Poole Central Library and Bournemouth Reference Library all offer public access to records. The EngladGenWeb offers a guide to local reference centers, listings for Parish and Census Records and links to other English Genealogy web sites (

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