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Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Wreath

If you're a Mennonite or have Mennonite roots, I'm sure you know what "The Mennonite Game" is. I played it on Friday when a couple dropped in to have me sign one of my books for them. In the 24 hours between his call and arrival I had forgotten his last name. As soon as he was inside the door I asked him what his last name is. He said "Hostetter" and the game began. We did not even try to figure out if we were related but it didn't take us long to place each other. I knew some of his cousins, he knew some of mine, and around we went talking freindschaft.
The more I study genealogy, the more I am convinced that all the Mennonites born or with roots in Lancaster County are related one way or another. The ten or more generations that have populated the area since the 1700s have intermarried repeatedly. Some family lines crisscross multiple times. Leroy and I have common ancestors in the Stauffer, Martin, Brubaker, Weaver, and other lines.
At the dinner table on Sunday we were discussing some unusual relations caused by the marriages between two families. Someone said, "That's not a family tree; it's a family wreath."
I have often said my family tree is not very interesting. My maternal grandmother was a Stauffer who married a Burkholder. My mother was a Burkholder who married a Burkholder. I was a Burkholder who married a Stauffer. Leroy was a third cousin to my mother through the Stauffers. That makes me a fourth cousin to my own children. I guess we don't have a family tree after all. We have a family wreath.

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