Writing My History Book

How I came to write my book, A Godly Inheritance to Honour my beloved Grosz'mama.

Grosz'mama the book I wrote about her

Visiting her in the Altenheim after I'd moved back to Hague from London, Ontario, to help out my parents, I told my Gr'ma Kroeker, "Grosz'mama, I'm going to write a book about your life, and share it with the other cousins and their children the example you have been to me."

My Old Colony Mennnonite Gr'ma pursed her lips demurely. She felt pleased, I could see, and agreed, "It's always good to write down important things for the later generations to read."

This would be our gift together to each of her descendants. She didn't have much money to bequeath to us, but she did have A Godly Inheritance. And that FAMILY REGISTER that people always came to her to consult.

In my New Year's plot of my next year, I thought I'd be done this project by May 6, Gr'ma's 90th birthday, and I'd send a copy to all the relatives, and get on with my novelist dreams.

Ha-ha! It took me three years! [if that had been easy, I wouldn't have anything to offer you today].

Delays Made a Better Family History Book

Diligently then, on New Year's Day of 1985, I started to visit Gr'ma more often and planned to quiz her on her memories, and jot it down, and write them out in fine English, because most of my cousins and their families knew not a word of Plaut Deutsch.

Only, by February Gr'ma was sick and losing her mind! By Easter she was in a hospital for thefirst time in her 89 years of life!

That was a tough time for me as a caregiver. Mom was having sinus surgery in one hospital, Dad was in another with kidney stone surgery, and Gr'ma in a hospital in a different town - and that must mean death was imminent! (or we all thought it did).

I spent a week visiting all three hospitals every day. But then they improved some, and their doctors wanted to send them home. Including Gr'ma, whose things I moved from her room at the Home for the Aged to our house. That meant I had a nursing home right at home. Mom was the sickliest of them all, but Gr'ma was the most work with her dementia, blindness, and personality changes.

Gr'ma's wonderful memory of all those relatives and who was related to whom was gone! But I still wanted to write that book. To entertain Gr'ma, I sat beside her with her old journals and asked her to help me discipher her abbreviations so I could translate them. In the process she taught me to read the old German Gothic handwriting, which I've more recently learned was banned by Hitler in the 1920s in Germany, and so as our oldest relatives die and leave this earth, that beautiful, spidery script is fast becoming obsolete! Can you imagine?

Ah, but God worked all that together for our good, because now I had to get to know Gr'ma's stories from her journals, and from other relatives, and though it took a whole lot longer to write A Godly Inheritance than I'd expected, I finally managed to self-publish it three years later.

Self-Publishing a Book the HARD Way

Hey, I did that all by hand too. You should've seen me!

I typed it over several times on an old manual Underwood typewriter, copying from Gr'ma's FAMILY REGISTER, but discovering gaps and errors, so after Gr'ma was placed in at the Rosthern Nursing Home, I went out to track down all her cousins, and get all the data straight.

I rounded up a whole lot more information than she had, until I'd confirmed she had 67 Friesen cousins on her father's side, and 91 Neudorf cousins on her mother's side.

Then I typed up the book, all 320 pages on waxy stencils and I cranked off 500 copies of every page on an old Gestetner that was given to me.

Next I bound them by hand, with homemade, padded fabric covers over cardboard, like a deluxe gift photo album. Except, this was a story narrative of Gr'ma's ancestors, her own life (as fleshed out from her journals), and 100 pages in an Appendix with her expanded FAMILY REGISTER.

A Godly Inheritance - a 4 lb book in honour of Gr'ma

When done I gave out most of the first 100 copies to her descendants as that bequeath of her Godly Inheritance to us, and an announcement in the local paper helped me sell the next 100 in a few short months. The third 100 books are almost gone, but have gone slower. Now there are less than 6 copies left.

Did you say you wanted one? :) Go see what the newest edition of 2021 looks like! Plus I have three more updated and much improved - ready as e-books which are quick to download. NEW eBooks!

Can you guess what happened as I perservered with that project?

I Turned into a Genealogist!

Yes, you guessed it; I got bit by the genealogy bug. It seemed a shame to throw all that data work away, and once I got a computer, I fed it all in there, and discovered that I could print out fancy reports, and that my growing numbers of genealogist friends would be happy to pay for them. In fact, selling those reports helped me to get a new computer, go online, and increase my database in Brother's Keeper to over 9000 names!

[So there. Tell your family that Genealogy can pay off next time they tease you no end about your obsession...!]

By the way, I've become a novelist too, (Ruthe's Secret Roses is off the press; see Ruthe's SecretRoses.com for details!) But I've learned not to sneeze at these Genealogy books either. There are people like you actively hunting down other family genealogies for clues to their own.

Guess it's time to stop sitting on them like a brood hen, and let you see my (chicks) Genealogy books. Maybe even let you have them. :)

How my Genealogy Data Grew and GREW!

Let me explain;
A Godly Inheritannce had just 100 pages, but a tree and all the descendants I had up to that point of Gr'ma's grandfather, David L. Friesen (whose earliest ancestor to date was, Johann von Riesen (b. 1742, Stebbendorf, Prussia), her maternal grandfather, Jacob Neudorf (b.1844, South Russia), and Gram'pa's grandfather, Gerhard Kroeker. The section on her own parents and their descendants, was naturally, in the greatest detail.

After that I produced an extensive Neudorf book that pretty well tied together all the Neudorfs in Canada. It was in separately numbered sections, but over 200 pages. A newer, most up-to-date edition came out November 2002, plus the Neudorf GEDCOM.

Over several years I've collected all the Friesen trees I could beg or borrow to copy from, and it took me all my genealogy nights of 2001 to combine those into a Friesen book. It expands the Friesen tree from A Godly Inheritance - plus - throws in 37 other Friesen family trees, just in case other genealogists can spot a connection somewhere.

(Sometimes when our eyes have been in it too long, we can't see the obvious, right?)

Our Kroeker tree has not developed much yet. In the later part of 2001 I met some relatives and a new friend with Kroeker roots, and I promised to work on that one next - as time allows. That's still waiting to happen.

Hold it! That's not all!

Grandpa's Stories - My Other Family Tree

Grandpa's Stories

I've also researched and written a book on Dad's side of my bloodlines. He is a Friesen too, although so far I haven't found a connection yet between his line and those of Gr'ma Kroeker's father. That will come, I'm sure of it. But I've been producing short runs of Grandpa's Stories and it seems that I'm always adding more data there too. Therefore, I can also offer you this book, Grandpa's Stories in downloadable formats.

Ah, but this book has been greatly updated and improved in 2021 too! You'll find it at Grandpa's Stories

Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada