Monday, December 18, 2023

Nature's holiday ornaments, Blue Ridge of Virginia style

 Monday, December 18, 2023.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Cloister at Three Creeks!

American Holly.  Not one tree in my area seems to have produced berries this year.

'Tis the season.  Holiday fever and last-minute shopping are well underway.  As always, I prefer to 'Opt Outside' so my holiday mission on this day was to document Nature's free holiday ornaments.  What single plant is most associated with this season?  It's gotta be Holly.  I started the day on a mission to find an American Holly female tree sporting her bright red berries.  Fail.  I must have looked at a hundred trees.  Has there been some 'conspiracy' among the trees (oaks do this, I know) to withhold production of berries this year?  In the end I had to settle for a fine substitute: flowering dogwood berries:

What else is reminiscent of this season?  Remember that old song:  "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ..."

Couldn't find any chestnuts on today's hike, though there are some trees in the area that produced nuts this year.  For this post, we'll have to settle for a late October photo of an American Chestnut tree in full fall color, with red maple in the background.

"... Jack Frost nipping at your nose."

Sorry, no folks dressed up like Eskimos today, though.  It was in the low 50's.  But there were icicle-like ornaments to be found.  The male catkins of the American Hazelnut:

I even came across one oddball catkin that almost looked like a 'Jingle Bell'.

The color's getting a little monotonous, though.  Here's a nice splash of color, but it's an invasive: Japanese Barberry

Going for maximum color, you can't beat this evil invasive: the naturalized offspring of the Bradford Pear - not the fruit this time, but the leaf:

Bradford pear tends to be one of the very last to sport fall color.

More color:  Here the mini-tomato (size of a marble) that Carolina Horsenettle produces in abundance:

Then, of course, not to be outdone for color, here's American Beautyberry:

One splash of winter green with its ornaments of silver-dust blue is the Eastern Redcedar, also known as Virginia Juniper:

And not far down the color spectrum from there, we have the shriveled-up but abundant wild grape:

We'll go full circle from dark to light, now, with the near-white seed pods of Climbing Milkweed:

That leads us to an invasive: The translucent seed pods of the Mimosa tree, native of Asia:

And we'll let one Asian invasive lead us to another: Oriental Bittersweet:

Ornaments of a different sort, after a foggy mild morning:

That last view might seem a bit odd, and that's because it is upside down.  Somehow it makes more sense visually that way.

And now back to the more permanent type of ornament, and back to species that are native to the area, I rounded out my tour with some bigger ornaments.  Here's the seed ball of the sycamore.  Each little seed is its own parachute, spread by the wind.

Bigger yet are the cones of Virginia Pine.  They stay on the tree for many years, and turn white(ish) with age:

Biggest ornaments of all are the 'monkey-balls' - soft-ball-sized fruit of the Osage Orange:

And wrapping up the seasonal theme - what would the season be without some mistletoe?  Here's a big specimen, almost like a big ornament, shown with the snowy Appalachian Trail as a backdrop.

Yes, up there on that ridge is the AT.  Look closely and maybe there's a hiker looking back.  There's a nice viewpoint at the summit up there.

I hope your holiday season is relaxed and full of inner warmth and happiness.  Don't let the rush and hustle come between you and the peace you deserve.  If you find there's too much frenzy, look to nature whenever you can.  It's always waiting for you out there, with open welcoming arms.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

How Colonist John Smith changed his name at the age of 147

This is Captain John Smith, one of the founding fathers of Jamestown Colony, Virginia, and my cousin by marriage (to be specific, he is my children's 5th cousin 13 times removed.  My kids and Captain John Smith actually share 29 common ancestors based on data retrieved from WikiTree on 17 Dec 2023).

This is a family history biography of my great-great-great grandfather John Smith, colonist who left his home country and made a new life in the New World.  But it is NOT about the guy in the engraved illustration above.  And it is not about Jamestown Colony, Virginia.  It's not even about a man named John Smith—a least not until he was 147 years old.  And lastly, it's not about founding a colony in the New World, but about leaving one in the Old.

Interest piqued? Here's the rest of the story:

Biography of Johann Schmidt and Louise Behnke

Johann Schmidt was born on 15 June 1808 in Schmilowo, Kreis Flatow, Province of West Prussia, Germany. now called Śmiłowo, two miles east of Vandsburg, which is now called Więcbork, Poland. He was the third of nine children of Daniel Schmidt and Maria nee Tesmer.

Louise Behnke was born to Martin Behnke and Eva Rosine nee Thom sometime between 1819 and 1821, also in West Prussia, probably in Jastrzembke Colonie, 4 miles ENE of Vandsburg.

TOURIST DETAIL: Jastrzembke Colonie is now an empty field. It can be visited by following directions to “Jastrzebiec k Wiecborka, Poland” about 8km ENE of Więcbork. Also please note that a Google Map Search for Śmiłowo will give you the wrong location – a larger town with the former German name of Schmilau, about 50km to the west. The correct Śmiłowo is also on the map, just two miles due east of Więcbork.

These two grew up during a turbulent time in this part of the world. This territory was historically Polish, and only relatively recently had Germans begun to arrive during a period when Poland’s government was weakening and under pressure from all its neighbors. 

The map below (courtesy of Wikipedia) shows the historic migration of Germans eastward in a movement that became known as Drang nach Osten, translated as the “Urge to push to the east” with Drang also connoting a sense of discomfort or stress.

Vandsburg, marked by the red arrow, was located in what came to be known as the ‘Polish Corridor’ because although Germans populated the areas to the west and east, a Polish majority population persisted in the gray areas. (See also the 1910 census map below). To put complex history in a nutshell, the dispute over the Polish Corridor was the core cause of World War II.

The area had been under the control of a weak Polish government until 1772 when the stronger neighboring powers of Prussia, Austria, and Russia forced Poland to cede lands, marked in the lighter shades on the map below (with Vandsburg again marked by a red arrow).

Map attribution: Wikipedia:

The Polish corridor thus came under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Prussia. It didn’t last. Thanks to the invading French armies of Napoleon, Vandsburg was again officially under Polish rule (Treaty of Tislit, 9 Jul 1807), so Johann was born Polish (or maybe French? I have no idea how formal citizenship was conveyed, if at all). The area was under the control of the short-lived Duchy of Warsaw from 1807 until the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, when Vandsburg again came under Prussian control, so that Louise was born Prussian.

Following the defeat of Napoleon, the Prussian Kingdom was on the ascendancy, consolidating power and gaining military superiority, joining the German Confederation in 1815, gaining further superiority as the outcome of the 1866 Austro-Prussian war, which led to the German Empire in 1871, and becoming increasingly militaristic in a century-long build-up to The Great War – World War I. All this while, the Prussian government continued to promote German settlement in the east.

Below is a public domain map of Prussia at near its greatest extent in 1905, with Vandsburg again marked with a red arrow.

It was in the midst of this inferno of political change and a local atmosphere of ethnic tension that Johann and Louise grew up, met, and married in the church in Vandsburg on 23 Aug 1835. Louise was no more than sixteen years old at the time of the marriage.

Now, here comes the part about Johann being a 'Colonist'.  Soon after their marriage, Johann and Louise settled in Zakrzewke Colonie about four miles WNW of Vandsburg.  There Louise gave birth to eleven known children between 1837 and 1866.

The fact that the place they lived was called a ‘Colony’ speaks directly to the political and ethnic conflict that surrounded them and to the sense that these German settlers were pioneers (intruders), taking root in a hostile land. As seen from the public domain Census map from 1910, shown below, Vandsburg (again marked with a red arrow) stood in the midst of an area of very mixed ethnicity with small enclaves of German settlement in that ‘Polish Corridor’. Census districts that are colored Green are majority Polish districts, where those in orange-red are predominantly German.

TOURIST DETAIL: Zakrzewke Colonie is now abandoned, but there is a historic marker at the former train station. To visit it, follow directions to “Dawna stacja Zakrzewska Kolonia, Zakrzewska Osada 34A, 89-410 Zakrzewska Osada, Poland”. The historic marker is not along a road, but on the abandoned Świecie nad Wisłą – Złotów railway line right-of-way about 7.5km WNW of Więcbork.

In an amazing coincidence, a professional quality video of this train station at Zakrzewski Colonie was posted on YouTube just as I began researching this topic in January 2023.

What caused the Schmidts to emigrate to America is not certain. Many of our ancestors were just seeking opportunity—a better life. Perhaps life in Zakrzewke Colonie was hard and getting harder. But in late June 1876, Johann and Louise and their four youngest children boarded the S.S. Oder in Bremen and sailed for New York by way of Southampton, England. They arrived at Ellis Island, on July 8th 1876, just four days after the Centennial of United States independence.

The trip from New York to Milwaukee is not documented, but most travelers used the Erie Canal corridor, traveling either by boat or on the adjacent railroad line, then got on another ship at Buffalo and sailed to Milwaukee.

Either in Milwaukee or perhaps in New York Johann and Louise and children were probably met by sons August and or Fritz, who had preceded them in emigrating. Son Fritz was the pioneer in 1869. He left his wife and children in Germany and came to America sailing aboard the Bark Bremen, arriving in July. A year later his wife and four oldest children joined him, traveling by steamship (a much faster transit). Son August followed in 1873, traveling as a young single man alone. Finally, son Carl and his young family joined them in 1885. To date I have no record of the fate of three of the other four children. A daughter Justine died in Germany as a baby in 1853.

Johann and Louise settled in rural Waukesha County and farmed near Muskego. (The area is now suburban, and part of the Greater Milwaukee Metropolitan Area.) Johann and Louise eventually retired and moved into a small home or apartment on the farm of daughter Louisa and her husband Herman Schultz. Johann died there on 29 Jul 1895 at the age of 87. Louise passed away on 5 Apr 1901 at the age of 82.

They were buried together in the town of Muskego in the old Muskego Center Cemetery. But their story does not end there. This old cemetery had filled up and was falling into neglect. In 1955 the owner of an adjacent amusement park proposed to purchase the cemetery and relocate the graves in order to expand the amusement park. (These clippings courtesy of Whitney Gulbrandson from Waukesha Daily Freeman, 9 Jun and 4 Oct 1955)

The property transfer was approved. As result, Johann and Louise’s remains were disinterred and reburied at Vernon United Presbyterian Cemetery, Vernon, Wisconsin, about five miles to the west.

Photo: Whitney Gulbrandson, at Find-a-Grave.

The new grave marker names them John and Louise Smith. I do not have any evidence that they changed their names. In the 1880 and 1900 US Census records they are listed as ‘Schmidt’. Even the cemetery records transcribed in the 1955 newspaper article above (lower right) name them as “John Schmidt and ____ Schmidt, his wife.”

There is only one member of the family who formally used the name Smith—youngest son Rufus, who died in 1959, and who just happened to live in the town of Vernon. Family oral history says that Rufus’s wife Emma Peffer preferred the name Smith over Schmidt. This couple’s census records, and their grave marker all use the Anglicized version of the name. At the time of the grave relocation, Rufus was the only remaining living child of Johann and Louisa, and he was already well into his 80’s.

It appears that Johann and Louise Schmidt’s name change did not take place until they were buried in Vernon in 1955 when Johann was 147 years old.

And perhaps that is, at last, the end of the story.


1. Wilhelm (1837- ) – no issue (?) 
2. Friedrich “Fritz” (1838-1926) – m. Amelia Fedder, 9 children 
3. Henriette (1842- ) – no issue (?) 
4. Johann Julius (1843- ) – no issue (?) 
5. Carl Ludwig (1847-1933) – m. Johanna Bahr, 10 children 
6. August Julius (1849-1941) – m. Louise Lumpe, 4 children 
7. Justina (1852-1853) – no issue 
8. Edward Gustav (1855-1946) – m. Minnie Witt, no issue 
9. Emilie Mathilde (1858-1946) – m. John Richter, 2 children 
10. Louise Auguste (1862-1938) – m. Herman Schultz, 3 children 
11. Rudolph Gustav (1866-1959) – m. Emma Peffer, no issue

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Next Hiking Goal - a virtual Around-the-World Hike

Here is where I hiked yesterday—the Blue Ridge of Virginia.  It's not just about the miles!

The distance around our planet Earth - its circumference - is HUGE - 25,000 miles, more or less.

The exact distance depends on where you measure it, and for us number geeks, the exact number matters.  It is defined by the current accepted standard, called WGS84 (The World Geodetic System, 1984 version), and it is what your GPS uses to tell you exactly where you are.  These guys measure this stuff down to an accuracy of 2cm—that's less than an inch. 

The bottom line is that the exact distance around the world ranges from 24,901.461 miles measured around the equator, where the centrifugal force caused by Earth's rotation bulges it out, to 24,859.734 miles measured through the north and south poles.  As of this morning, as I write this (13 December 2023), I have a documented total distance hiked of 23,098.916 miles.  

To complete my virtual hike around the equator, I have just over 1800 miles to go.  That's the distance between Miami and Minneapolis.  It's less than the length of the Appalachian Trail.  If I decided to do a NoBo (northbound) thru hike starting at the southern end at Springer Mountain, Georgia, I'd be celebrating completion of my Virtual Hike Around the World here:

That's Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, one of my favorite places on the trail, and a place I just hiked again back in June.

Since I was born, I've definitely already walked around the world virtually, and I'm on my second circuit.  But I'm only counting the miles I've actually documented since the day I got my first hiker's GPS unit, back on June 12, 2010.

As part of these 23,000 miles, I hiked the Appalachian trail twice in one calendar year and I've hiked to the front door of every place I ever lived—everywhere from Colorado to the beaches of North Carolina.  I've connected 28 states (if you count DC as a state) with a continuous string of footsteps:

I've hiked the Florida Keys, the Swiss Alps, the tundra of northern Svalbard less than 600 miles from the North Pole, and as close as 2433 miles to the South Pole at Ushuaia, Argentina on the southern tip of South America.  I've climbed a 20,000-foot mountain in Argentina, summited Pequeno Alpamayo in Bolivia and Huayna Picchu, the jagged peak overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru.  I've hiked Sankei-En Gardens in Japan, the Blue Mountains of Australia, and extensively hiked Easter Island for 11 days, the Big Island of Hawaii for two months, and much of the interior of Moorea, French Polynesia during a memorable week there.

Wildlife.  I've hiked with Walrus, musk ox, and reindeer on Svalbard, Polar Bears in east Greenland (not recommended - they want to eat you, and they will.  We beat a quick retreat back to town, our shotgun toting guide bringing up the rear), met the legendary Lagarfljót Worm of NE Iceland and one of their famous Trolls.  (I'm leaving the Troll story for the end of this post.)  I've seen Moose in Maine (including one this past July, which I didn't get a photo of), and in August I hiked literally under a bear in an overhanging tree just ten feet up, directly above the Appalachian Trail:

The day before yesterday I visited with a Great Blue Heron fishing.

I could go on.  You might say I've been around.  But not quite yet.  Not all the way around.  So that's my current goal.

Sometime in the new year, I'll cross the finish line.  It might even be in Madagascar, where I've booked a trip to visit the Baobab trees.  But more likely it will be closer to home.  Winter is here.  The leaves are all off the trees and yesterday I shot this one, generously dabbed by frost.

'Tis the season, as they say, and one of the trails I hike takes me directly beneath a three-foot ball of Mistletoe, perched high in its favorite host tree, a red maple.

So far, I've only walked here alone.  No chance to take advantage of the situation.  But be forewarned, ladies, if you get an invitation to take a hike with me!  LOL.

And now the Troll story from Iceland.  It's a seasonal thing too.  In the caves at Dimmurborgir, thirteen 'Yule Lads' seem to magically appear around this season.  The first appeared just yesterday, on Dec 12th, and the last will arrive on Christmas eve.  Each one can be spotted for only thirteen days.

And, although it was August (2022) when I was there, our group managed to capture one of them on video:

Quite the project - a Virtual Hike Around the World.  It's the ultimate circuit hike—the longest way home!  It's the kind of huge goal that obviously takes time.  I haven't set a deadline, *yet*, to get it done.  If I do decide to make it a sprint to the finish, you'll be the first to know.  Keep an eye right here on this blog.

I'm going to try to keep this post updated daily with my progress, then hand off to a new post after a week or so.  Please do stay tuned for the LIVE UPDATES (or nearly so):

  • Wednesday, December 13th, 2023: 4.254 miles.  After I published this post, I went out and hiked some woods roads around The Cloister at Three Creeks, the destination being 'Half-Volcano Rock', where I once built a seven-stone cairn to top it off.  The photo was taken back in October.  Total miles: 23,103.170

  • Thursday, December 14th, 2023: 4.536 miles.  Just a two-hour ramble during the best part of the day (11AM to 1PM) on some fairly flat territory, visiting an old homestead site for the first time.  This was a two-story house (note the second fireplace halfway up), probably abandoned no more than a century ago.  Total miles: 23,107.706

  • Friday, December 15th, 2023:  3.006 miles.  A short ramble through my *infested* little valley.  The last weekend of deer hunting is here, so they'll be gone.  But bear hunters are the worst.  They hunt with packs of dogs wearing GPS collars and drive all over the place tracking them.  My peaceful little valley will not be peaceful until bear hunting season ends on January 6th.  I can't wait!  Meanwhile, here are some Osage Orange fruits under the tree that dropped them. 
    They just sit.  They will sit there all winter and slowly rot.  No creature eats them.  Their wood was prized by our First Peoples as the best wood by far to make bows.  Meriwether Lewis reported in 1804 that the people of the Osage Nation "So much ... esteem the wood of this tree for the purpose of making their bows, that they travel many hundreds of miles in quest of it." A good bow made of Osage Orange wood could be traded for a horse and a blanket.  Because no living animal consistently touches these huge fruits (the size of a softball), and because their range had become limited to east Texas despite it happily able to grow nearly everywhere in the US, it has been speculated that their seeds were once spread by one of North America's extinct megafauna species.  <<<That article in the link is a great read.  Please take a look.  Have pollen studies been done to establish the range of Osage Orange 15,000 years ago and longer?  I'd love to pursue this speculation further.  Total miles: 23,110.712
  • Saturday, December 16th, 2023.  3.643 miles.  Just a relaxed early morning ramble in nippy, frosty weather.  Started out in the mid-20s F but was warming nicely under the bright sun.
    I wanted to get out early to beat the buildup of clouds and enjoy the prettiest part of the day.  There's a serious storm currently forming just north of the Yucatán Peninsula (southern Gulf of Mexico) that is going to rake up the whole US east coast bringing heavy rain and strong winds tomorrow and Monday.  The highlight of the morning hike was a close inspection of the important Monarch Butterfly attractor, Climbing Milkweed, also called Honeyvine even though it's toxic to humans.  The name refers to the fact that it often gets infested with oleander aphids, which do what most aphids do—secrete a lot of sugar-rich 'honeydew' that ants love.  Ants then protect and defend the aphids to preserve their food source.  The web of nature's interactions is just fascinating.  
    Here the climbing milkweed's dead winter vine sports its big seed pods under the bright blue sky with a seasonal color scheme.  Some pods have opened and released their seed, and others are still closed.  Each seed looks like a perfect little medallion.  Its fibrous 'parachute' strands seem spring loaded.  They spread out instantly once they are freed from the pod.  They are so light that they can drift on the wind for miles, and the geometric pattern the seeds create while packed into the pod is truly magical.  Total miles: 23,114.355
  • Sunday, December 17, 2023.  5.571 miles.  Storm looming!  I headed out before sunrise and tried to beat the rain.  Didn't quite succeed, but only got damp.  I hiked under the open sky early on and captured a pretty good photo of a multiple-layer cap cloud.  Total miles: 23,119.926
  • Monday, December 18th, 2023.  Today I concentrated on a photography mission.  It's fully documented in this new post. Just a reminder: I live within a couple miles of the Appalachian Trail, and in a certified Trail Community.  Miles hiked today: 3.562.  Total miles for this "new" project: 23,123.488
  • Tuesday, December 19th, 2023.  2.112 miles, rambling around the Cloister at Three Creeks on a cold day.  Total miles: 23,125.600

Friday, December 1, 2023

Genealogy - Master list of all my known Direct Ancestors

Here I have assembled the basic list of the people whose genes contributed directly to mine.  No siblings or cousins or aunts and uncles are listed here, just my direct ancestors.  Eventually I hope to write family history stories (biographies and historical sketches) of most of these people, perhaps even making an attempt at my own.  Wherever a name appears as a hot link, that is the link to their story.  Please check them out!

Without further ado, here we go.  I list them by generation starting with parents and grandparents, who are shown in the image above, which is a screen shot from my Wetzel Family Tree on Ancestry.

* * *

VERSION 2.4 (created 23 Dec 2022, last modified 4 Dec 2023)


B. PARENTS (2 of 2)

1. Roland Herman Wetzel (1923-2016) – See 3. and 4.
2. Muriel Evelyn Auler (1923-2019) – See 5. and 6.


3. Georg Willi Julius “William” Wetzel (1886-1971) – See x. and 7.
4. Bertha Anna Augusta “Betty” Uber (1883-1971) – See 8. and 9.
5. George Gustav “Dutch” Auler (1899-1976) – See 10. and 11.
6. Erma Ivis Helene Uecke (1903-1992) – See 12. and 13.

I am fortunate to have photos of many of my great- and 2nd-great grandparents:

The mother and maternal grandparents of my paternal grandfather Bill Wetzel

Parents, grandparents, and one great-grandparent (because I have her photo) of my paternal grandmother Betty Uber Wetzel

Parents and grandparents of my maternal grandfather George "Dutch" Auler

Parents and grandparents of my maternal grandmother, Ivis Uecke Auler


x. Unknown --------------------------------------------------------------------- ORIGIN: POTSDAM, Brandenburg
7. Anna Marie Wilhelmine Wetzel (1864- ) – See 14. and 15. --------- ORIGIN: GREIFENBERG, Pomerania
8. Oswald Isaac Uber (1848-1930) – See 16. and 17. -------------------- ORIGIN: BOLKENHAIN, Silesia
9. Bertha Charlotte Amalie Butzow (1852-1939) – See 18. and 19. --- ORIGIN: KRITZKOW, Mecklenburg
10. Jacob Auler (1861-1917) – See 20. and 21. --------------------------- ORIGIN: SIMMERN, Rhine-Palatine
11. Anna Emilie Elisabeth Schmidt (1872-1961) – See 22. and 23. --- ORIGIN: KAMNITZ, West Prussia
12. August “Sandy” Uecke (1867-1921) – See 24. and 25. ------------- ORIGIN: ZOLDEKOW, Pomerania
13. Auguste Christiane Baumann (1867-1918) – See 26. and 27. ------ ORIGIN: GRAPEN STIETEN, Mecklenburg

All of my great grandparents except Jacob Auler were born in Germany (and Jacob's parents were born there).  Yes, I'm one of those rare Americans who is not a blend of cultures from 'The Melting Pot'.  I'm of 100% German ethnicity. Furthermore, all of these German great grandparents except Anna Marie Wetzel left the home country and settled in the vicinity of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  My grandpa Bill Wetzel immigrated from Germany too, and also settled near Milwaukee.  So, all my roots are firmly planted in the rich soil of a few counties in southeastern Wisconsin.

E. 2nd GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (14 of 16)

14. Julius Friedrich Wetzel (1840- ) – See 28. and 29.
15. Caroline Wilhelmine Luise Goetsch (1833- ) – See 30. and 31.
16. Christian Ehrenfried “Fritz” Uber (1821-1888) – See 32. and 33.
17. Johanna Juliana Beate Burkhardt (1822-1884) – See 34. and 35.
18. Johann Friedrich Gustav Bützow (1801-1902) – See 36. and 37.
19. Sophia Dorothea Wendt (1812-1893) – See 38. and 39.
20. Mathias Auler (1821-1903)
21. Maria Eva Bauer (1821-1893)
22. Carl Ludwig Schmidt (1848-1933) – See 40. and 41.
23. Johanna Theresa Bahr (1849-1941) – See 42. and 43.
24. Wilhelm Uecke (1834-1909) – See 44. and 45.
25. Caroline Dahms (1835-1916)
26. Christian Joachim Hartwig Baumann (1834-1907) – See 46. and 47.
27. Christina Maria Sophia Lühnburg (1843-1905) – See 48. and 49.

F. 3rd GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (22 of 32)

28. Georg Samuel Wetzel (1800- ) – See 50.
29. Dorothee Louise Henriette Charlotte Seefeld – See 51.
30. Johann Friedrich Goetsch
31. Christine Sophie nee Goetsch
32. Johann Siegismund Uber, Jr. (1795-1853) – See 52.
33. Marie Anna Rosina Tham (1800-1879) – See 53.
34. Johann Christian Burkhardt (1795-1852) – See 54.
35. Johanne Eleonore Manchen (1797-1850)
36. Ludwig Köhn Hans Joachim Bützow (1763-1847) – See 55. and 56.
37. Maria Elisabeth Jalass (1764-1842) – See 57. and 58.
38. Johann Carl Wendt (1785-1854) – Father named only as ‘arbeiter Wendt’.
39. Anna Maria Dorothea Bölckow (1787-1825) – See 59. and 60.
40. Johann Schmidt (1808-1895) See 61. and 62.
41. Louise Behnke (1821-1901) See 63. and 64.
42. Friedrich Bahr
43. Carolina Zastrow
44. Johann Uecke
45. Dorothea Wagner
46. Hans Joachim Baumann (1781-1865) – See 65. and 66.
47. Sophia Dorothea Luise Roseland (1789- ) – See 67. and 68.
48. Christoph Adam Lühnburg (1813- ) – See 69. and 70. – two known siblings.
49. Sophia Dorothea Kölzow (1807- ) – See 71. and 72. – four known siblings.

G. 4th GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (23 of 64)

50. Johann Wetzel (1772- )
51. Ernst Gottlieb Seefeld (1763-1829)
52. Johann Siegismund Uber, Sr. ( -1804)
53. Johann Friedrich Tham
54. Johanne Dorothea Binner (1768-1851)
55. Christopher Bützow (1740-1771) – See 73.
56. Elisabeth Anna Gresmann (1735-1816) – See 74.
57. Casten Jacob Jalass (1737-1794) – See 75. and 76.
58. Eva Catharina Wiese (1729-1804) – See 77. and 78.
59. Jacob Bölckow (1751-1821)
60. Sophia Maria Schumacher (1756-1830) – See 79. and 80.
61. Daniel Schmidt (abt 1777-1857)
62. Marie Tesmer (1783-1865) – see 81. and 82.
63. Martin Behnke
64. Eva Rosina Tham (not to be confused with 33.)
65. Jochim Heinrich Baumann (1736- ) – See 83. and 84.
66. Catharina Elisabeth Bibau (1749- ) – See 85. and 86.
67. David Christoph Roseland (1772-1834) – See 87. and 88.
68. Eva Liesch Rath (1771- ) – See 89. and 90.
69. Johann Christian Lüneburg (1769- ) – See 91. and 92.
70. Clara Ida Stapelman (1774-1843) – See 93. and 94.
71. Georg Gideon Friedrich Kölzow (1772- )
72. Anna Maria Magdalena Blohm (1777-1836) – See 95. and 96. – two known siblings.
H. 5th GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (24 of 128)

73. Jürgen Hinrich Bützow (1706-1783) – See 97. and 98.
74. Christian Gresmann
75. Jochim Jalass (1693- ) – See 99. and 100.
76. Maria Fastenau (1696- )
77. Johann Hinrich Wiese (1676-1757) – See 101. and 102.
78. Eva Catharina Hildebrand (1693-1780) – See 103. and 104.
79. Johann Hinnerich Schumacher (1726-1799)
80. n.n. Schippenhaner (or Schippenhauer)
81. George Tesmer
82. Christina Strehlow
83. Hinrich Bauman – See 105. and 106.
84. Greth Bibou – See 107.
85. Jochim Bibau (1720- ) – See 108. and 100.
86. Greth Baumann (1722- ) – See 110. and 111.
87. Joachim Friedrich Roselandt
88. Agneta Sophia Fohten
89. David Christopher Rath – See 112. and 113.
90. Anna Margarethe Meÿer – See 114. and 115.
91. Adam Lüneburg
92. Sophia Christina Vogt
93. Christian Stapelman
94. Ilsch Dorthie Haacker
95. Hartwig Albrecht Blohm (~1740-1800) – See 116.
96. Sophie Elisabeth Wendland (~1745-1803) – See 117.
I. 6th GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (21 of 256)

97. Hans Jacob Bützow (1678-1723)
98. Ilse Claßin (1685- ) – See 118. and 119.
99. Hanß Jalaß
100. Ilse Groden – See 120.
101. Jochim Wiese
102. Catharina Jeßen (1631-1697)
103. Barthold Hildebrand (1664-1731)
104. Anna Elisabeth Nieman (1678-1755) – See 121.
105. Casten Bauman (also no. 110. – appears twice)
106. Dorothea Platow (1677-1713)
107. Hans Bibou
108. Drefs Bibau
109. Maria Trensen – See 122.
110. Casten Bauman (also no. 105. – appears twice)
111. Gret Rötgers – See 123.
112. Johann Rath
113. Lucie Stapelmann
114. Heinrich Meÿer
115. Fieck Schilling
116. Jochim Hinrich Blohm
117. Christoph Wendland
J. 7th GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (6 of 512)

118. Lorenz Claßin ( -1684)
119. Maria Groten ( -1721)
120. Jochim Groten
121. Jochim Nieman
122. Jochim Trensen
123. Johann Rötgers

K. 8th GREAT-GRANDPARENTS (0 of 1024)

And that is it.  Unlike my children, whose ancestry I can trace through their mother back to Kings of England and pre-medieval times, the German common people, who were my ancestors, maintained no systematic records until the churches in every town and hamlet were ordered by the government to start keeping records in the early 1600's in most places.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Harvard Physics Professor shatters Women's speed record running across America

Screen shot of the Outside Magazine article published Nov. 21, 2023.

Jenny Hoffman is an over-achiever.  She's both a record setting ultra-marathon runner and an award-winning PhD professor of Physics at Harvard.  She just completed a certified Fastest Known Time transit of the US via the same route that Pete Kostelnick ran in 2016.  Here's a link to the Outside Magazine article covering Pete's record, written by the same author as above (Martin Fritz Huber).

Jenny has unwittingly managed to combine two of my core interests—quantum physics and traveling continuous long distances on foot, and this post is as much about her accomplishment as it is about her reaction to it vis-a-vis her Physics career.  In an online Physics Today article covering the achievement, she offers the following quote:

“Running is a good balance for physics,” says Hoffman, who got into running in seventh grade and into ultrarunning—covering distances longer than marathons—when she was a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. In physics, she explains, luck plays a large role in success and failure: “Does your cryostat leak?” for example. In running, she says, “there is more correlation between hard work and success. The numbers are what they are. You finish in a certain time. And there is no anonymous peer reviewer who will undermine that. It’s good for my mental health to have a pursuit that is more clearly merit based and fact based.”

This floored me, and it bears repeating: Traveling on foot is more Merit-based and Fact-based than the study of Physics.

The scientific process that establishes 'facts' is indeed a pretty tortuous one.  I know this first-hand from my own 25-year career at NASA writing and publishing peer-reviewed papers for scientific journals.  Traveling on foot is just simple, pure, raw, and easy to prove.  The FKT certification of Jenny's run required her to provide a GPS track, some photos and other documentation, but the GPS track is by far the most important.  Anything can be faked, but, as Jenny says in the Outside Magazine article: just asks for the specific GPX files and, frankly, I think that’s the strongest evidence you can have. Guinness imposes these additional requirements, like written witness statements. I got them all, but that would be really easy to fake. Just make up some names. Guinness also requires ten minutes of video every day. Again, that’s easy to fake: I could video myself leaving the RV, get ten minutes of video, and then sleep in the RV all day. So I don’t think that those additional requirements actually add anything to the evidence.”

GPS tracks can be faked, too.  But it's a helluva lot of work to fake GPS-tagged photos if they are regularly taken and also contain visual cues about the location, and personal daily accounts posted in real time.  I have my own certified FKT record for my double thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, which combined GPS tracks and tagged photos with daily posts on this blog.  Jenny went the extra mile and also carried a live tracking device and is jumping through all those hoops that are required to establish her feat as a Guinness World Record.  

Peer review in the world of Science goes far beyond what Guinness requires for a world record.  Yes, the system can be flawed, and fake science results sometimes get published.  But over the long term, such frauds are almost always caught.  The review process is the best method humanity has come up with to establish what we call 'facts' or 'truth'.  ***And yet ... 

Here on this blog, I have been discussing Physics topics at great length, many in the same field (the bizarre world of quantum mechanics) that Jenny works in, and I try to take pains to identify what I believe can be tested through experiment and ultimately peer reviewed and published.  ***But ... the amazing thing about Quantum Physics and the frontiers of modern science and mathematics these days is that there is a fundamental blur at the end of the scientific and logical process.  Facts and Truth, it turns out, do not stand on a firm foundation that we can call 'Reality'.  Rather, our own experience plays a critical role.  Even Einstein, late in his life (in an article he wrote for the April 1950 issue of Scientific American [Vol. 182, no. 4, page 17]) has confirmed this:

Experience alone can decide on truth.

This utterly fascinates me, and I've spent a lot of time exploring this.  I do not go those further steps to do the proposed experiments or to submit papers for peer review.  I'm simply having fun in my retirement years with the Philosophy of the origins of or universe and of reality in general.

So ... I'm posting this remarkable news about Jenny breaking the women's record by more than a week over the previous record-holder's time as much because I dream of achieving such epic feats myself, but because her life resonates with me in a much bigger-picture sense.  I wonder if she ever dabbles in Genealogy.  She has three children, and obviously a remarkable genome.  What I can attempt to prove (the free WikiTree web site is especially good for this) is whether there is a provable connection between Jenny and me, and if so, how many degrees of separation.  I bet there is.  We are, in the end, all related.

Genealogy requires no specialized degree or peer review, but there's plenty of rigorous research, even science, at the root of good quality Genealogical work.  Because of its intrinsic factual basis, yet also because it touches on the origins of reality itself (the origin of life), Genealogy is the third of my recent trifecta (or Triathlon) of active interests.

Ultimately this post is to serve notice that nearly all blog posts coming from me from now on are likely to focus on one of these three topics:  The philosophy-science interface, Family roots and the origin of life, and long-distance travel on foot.  All three are worthwhile journeys and I envision each of them as a heroic quest.  I hope you'll follow along.