Clara and the Language of Stamps

Clara was missing her friend, Elizabeth, who might as well have been a thousand miles away. Though Elizabeth was living in nearby Piqua, a stretch of about thirty miles from Dayton, the trip by Western Ohio’s interurban trolley would be an all day affair in 1907. Besides there were so many chores at hand and Mama expected her to keep a watchful eye on Beatrice, Eddie, and Mary. The life of a fifteen-year old girl in Dayton’s Victorian Era was not where one could afford a frivolous day trip.

But the two found another way to stay in touch.

With the price of a penny postage stamp, postcards were becoming the new trend of communication in 1907 and collecting these colorful cards was a favorite hobby for many young girls.

From Smithsonian Institute Archives

On February 27, 1861, the US Congress passed an act that allowed privately printed cards, weighing one ounce or under, to be sent in the mail. That same year John P. Charlton (other places seen as Carlton) copyrighted the first postcard in America.

The first commercially printed postcards were introduced in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, issued as souvenirs of the historical event. In 1901, the United States Postmaster General granted private printers the right to use the term “Post Card” instead of “Private Mailing Card” on their stock. Until 1907, the back of the postcard was for the mailing address only. There was no space for a written message.

On October 1, 1907, printers were permitted to change the design of postcards to a “divided back.” Now a vertical line is added so the mailing address is on the right and a personal message can be written on the left. This seemingly simple change brought the postcard into the Golden Age of Postcards (1907-1915).

From the New York State Library

The decade between 1905-1915 – the Golden Age of Postcards – saw postcard collecting reach a zenith of staggering proportion. Literally millions of postcards were printed, imported, sold and mailed. Official U.S. Post Office figures for the year ending June 30, 1908 revealed that approximately seven hundred million postcards had been mailed in this country. By 1913 the total number mailed had increased to over nine hundred million, and, by this date, the craze was reportedly on the decline!

In the days long before heart-eyed emoticons represented how you felt, another trend found a renewal along with the colorful postcards in these early days of the twentieth century.

The not-so-secret Language of Stamps had already been a thing with young lovers sending letters as a matter of courtship. This is one interpretation, which makes me wonder if it differed by region and if the occasional misunderstanding took place.

The Buffalo Enquirer, Sep 15 1906, Page 2

Courtship by correspondence sounds rather romantic and innocent, doesn’t it? Like those notes you’d be passed during Social Studies in middle school written with “Do you like me?” and had two check boxes for “Yes” or “No.” Kinda sweet and awkward.

“With all good wishes and sweetest kisses from Elizabeth.” Postcard postmarked April 10, 1909, Piqua, Ohio.

As good friends, I suspect Elizabeth’s stamp language to Clara (see image above) was more of a “Hey, girl! Miss you!” than following any other postage protocol of the time.

Clara’s Post Cards Book holds 61 postcards from friends and family.

Clara’s postcard collection ranges from early 1907 (her mother died unexpectedly later that year) to 1909. By 1911, she was married to George Washington Sword, a industrious young man who’d arrived from his Maryland farm to start a new life. But that’s a story that needs its own page.

In honor of today’s holiday, I want to share with you the Easter cards that Clara kept in her collection. A brief look at the designs of the time period of 1907-1909 and what appeals to a Catholic teenager of that era. I hope you enjoy this gallery of flowers, chicks, and maidens of long ago.

And a special call out to those fine, fine legs on Mr. Easter Bunny in the second card.

And I leave you with a postage stamp joke from 1910. I don’t know, does make you feel vaguely uncomfortable? No, it’s just me? Different times …

The Dayton Herald, Sep 10 1910, Page 4

Clara Cecelia Boga (1891 – 1974) is my husband’s grandmother, Grandma Sword. She was the second child of first generation French-Italian American, Anthony (Tony) Boga, Jr. (1865-1944), and first generation German American, Thiekla Cecelia Gertner (1867-1907).

She married the boy who moved in across the street, George Washington Sword (1886-1961) in 1911 at the age of nineteen. They had three sons, George Washington Sword (1916-2003), James Monroe Sword (1917-2008), and Merrill Martin Sword (1923-1971). Clara lived to the age of 82.

The Boga home at 128 Ashley Street is gone today, although a few houses of that era remain in the neighborhood. Ashley Street is off Brown Street, near the strip of restaurants that feed the students of the University of Dayton. If we could overlay maps of the two time periods of 1909 and today, the Boga home would be in the shadow of Miami Valley Hospital.

Benjamin and the Night the Stars Fell

Chances are, if you look up at a clear night sky from your backyard tonight, you’ll see the twinkle of merely a few stars. And I’ll remind you of a weirdly uncomfortable fact … you might notice that some of those are actually satellites. Depending on where you live, the degree of light pollution from your city of choice reduces the visibility of our recognizable celestial fireballs.

I can remember seeing more of the night sky as a kid when our house was surrounded by cornfields and located just outside the skirts of our small Ohio village. During those summer nights, we could look up and identify the seven stars forming the Big Dipper in between games of firefly catch & release.

And oh, we loved that little heart skip when witnessing the rare falling star. We’d track its short blazing life until it winked into nothingness. Then close our eyes to make a wish.

Long before our own living memories, let’s think of the time when there were no city lights to dilute the stars’ presence when travelers moving through unfamiliar territory would rely on the night sky to guide them. Farmers were as dependent on the reliability of the stars as they were on the phases of the moon. It was how they knew what to plant and when; how to prepare for the harshest seasons. This knowledge was what they needed to keep their families alive. It was essential.

And we imagine, to anyone dependent on the stability of such things, any changes to the placement of the stars would cause more than a child’s heart skip.

During the autumn of 1833 something remarkable happened in the night sky. The event, later named as “The Night the Stars Fell,” became lore to be passed along family lines.

In the early predawn hours of November 13 1833, one of the greatest natural light shows occurred in North America as tens of thousands of meteors fell by the hour, appearing as if the stars themselves were turning to a silent, fiery rain.

Engraving by Adolf Vollmy (1889)

Meteors in the early 1800’s were familiar sights, but they were not well understood, even by those who studied astronomy in that period. For witnesses who held the November 13th event as something magical, their opinions may have been later swayed by others who considered it as an ill portent. This fiery rain was something that had not happened before in their modern written history, so it must have some deeper meaning. How could it not be something preternatural? A dark omen of something wicked yet to pass? Or instead, perhaps a message of hope, such as the third great sign of the Second Coming prophesied in the Holy Bible?

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."  Matthew 24:29
North Carolina Constitutionalist and Peoples’ Advocate, Nov 19 1833

Today we know that this was a Leonid meteor storm that occurs as a result of the earth crossing the debris stream of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, named for the two men who identified its orbital path in 1855/56. Because of the elliptical path of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, a meteor storm is predicted every 33 years when the earth crosses through a fresh stream of particles, which vaporize when they hit our atmosphere; a phenomena that NASA refers to as “bugs hitting the windshield of an automobile.” On a smaller scale, the Leonid meteor shower occurs every year in November, dependent on clear skies for the viewer.

Despite the 33 year predictions, the next notable Leonid meteor storm in North America happened in 1966. Many eye witness accounts have been archived on this event at NASA-Leonard Storm 1966.

As far I can tell, the 1999 Leonid Storm was in the meh category. I know I was busy then, still I think I would have noticed it. So here’s where we are – hold the date in your Google calendars for November 2032 and send me an invite. We’ll make a celebration out of this next one. Let’s theme it something like “Party Like it’s 1999” and we’ll all wear purple, because that will be so retro.

According to family stories, my 4th Great-Grandfather Benjamin Isaac Farmer (1784-1863) was a witness to the 1833 Falling Stars event. His grandson and namesake Benjamin James Farmer (1837-1915) made a mention in the first paragraph of his 1898 memoir.

“My grandfather moved to Indiana when my father was small boy. He found that country so sickly he moved back to Ash [sic] County. He was camped on the road the night the stars fell. I don’t remember the date.”

Benjamin James Farmer, “Memoir of Benjamin James Farmer” Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1898.

Funny thing with memories, especially when formed around family lore. If Benjamin James says his grandfather temporarily moved the family to Indiana, who am I to say it wasn’t so, just because I can’t find any record of it. My limited research resources counts for nothing, of course. This was nearly three decades before the start of the Civil War and written records are rather scarce on the little things, like packing your family in a wagon and crossing states on a wanderlust journey.

Okay sure, but why was Benjamin Isaac camped on the road during the Falling Stars event? Is it even related to the Indiana trek? Was his family camping on the road with him? And honestly, are these two totally different thoughts Benjamin James used an opening to his memoir?

Still, I’m kinda thrilled to have found any written record of at all of the Night of the Falling Stars in my family history, no matter if it’s merely one sentence.

Benjamin Isaac Farmer, and his brother Enoch, were first generation Americans, their father having immigrated from Ireland to later settle in North Carolina. Benjamin, befitting his moniker, was indeed a farmer by trade, as most were at that time in the pre-Civil War pioneer era. He married Jane Thompson (1794-?) and they had eleven children together, which included my 3rd Great-Grandfather David Preston Farmer (1822-1902), their fourth and youngest son.

Jane Thompson Farmer’s background is more difficult to find; not unusual for women of the time. Let’s be real here, if it weren’t for the census and the birth records from childbearing, we’d be left wondering what their names were at all. I’ve been unable to find burial records for her, so I suspect her marker has been long eroded in a Farmer family cemetery in North Carolina.

But you know? I hope she was able to see the meteor storm that night in November, 1833 and it brought her mystery and joy and fireside stories to tell her many grandchildren.

And I think that Jane and the Mystery of the Falling Stars would make a good name for a young adult suspense novel.


Otto and his German Language Newspaper: Part Two

[Continued from Otto and his German Language Newspaper: Part 1]

It was time for a new plan.

Otto canvassed the German neighborhoods. Promising a quality newspaper, he collected several hundred subscriptions before even publishing the first issue. Otto partnered with Charles Schenk, an old friend from Frankfort that arrived in Dayton a couple of years earlier. They set up shop at the Christian Publishing building at Sixth & Main in downtown Dayton. And with a used printing press and German fortitude, in Otto’s words, “on the first of September 1876, at five o’clock in the morning, Dayton saw its first Daily German Newspaper, and it really made a favorable impression on our German neighbors.” He named the newspaper the Dayton Anzeiger (“Advertiser”).

A. Otto Moosbrugger
(photo credit: Moosbrugger Family Archives)

Historical records show that there were actually daily German language newspapers founded before Otto’s Dayton Anzeiger, but these were disorganized attempts; all were short-lived and most not lasting even a month in publication. Still, I feel confident Otto believed his claim to be the first, as the other newspapers failed long before and were likely no longer in anyone’s recent memory.

According to Gottfried Paasche in his paper America, Germany, and the Daytoner Volkszeitung, the size of the German language press correlated roughly with the size of German immigration. German language newspapers served a transitional function for the men and women beginning a new life and generally, it was only the first-generation immigrants that read it. A newspaper’s success depended on two things – how well it could keep German Americans informed and interested in German culture and how well it could inform them about life in the United States.

A typical German language newspaper of that time consisted of only four printed pages. The front page held news and advertisements. The reverse side had editorials of international, national, and local news. The third page shared characteristics with European newspapers, with poems, an installment of a novel, some articles giving background information on famous men, or descriptions of faraway places. The fourth page had more local news in the form of legal and social notices.

Dayton Volks-Zeitung Newspaper Office at 308 Fourth St., Dayton OH
L-R: Angelo Moosbrugger, George Neder, Kuno Moosbrugger, Unknown, Ed Neder, Otto Moosbrugger, Unknown
(photo credit: Moosbrugger Family Archives)

Later when the long running Daytoner Volks-Zeitung (“People’s Newspaper”), changed to a daily publishing schedule, it was apparent that the Dayton German-American community couldn’t support both newspapers. In 1882, Otto partnered with editor George Neder to combine the two publications. They form The German Newspaper Company with George Neder as President and Otto as Secretary/Treasurer. Two of Otto’s brothers, Angelo and Kuno, took on roles, as well as George Neder’s son, Max. They moved their operations from 308 Fourth Street and headquartered at the Osceola Mill Building at 310 East Fifth Street. Today the Osceola Mills Block is the parking lot for Thai 9 and Jay’s Seafood in the Oregon District.

Red arrow points to 310 E. Fifth Street located in the Osceola Mills Block. This is now the east facing entrance to the Oregon District.

While Otto was working to make his name in media, he and Wilhelmina bought a cottage for two thousand dollars at 15 Buckeye Street, across the street where they were renting. It was here they raised their eight children. This home is now gone as well, with that northern side of the street replaced by US 35.

Adolph Otto Moosbrugger and Wilhelmina Föhrenbach are my husband’s great grandparents on his maternal side. We’re honored that they are part of our history and we can share their story.

And we think that “Smoky Love in the Mahlberg Cigar Factory” would make a great romance novel.    


  • Moosbrugger, Adoph Otto. Personal Life History of Adoph Otto Moosbrugger. Handwritten Journal, 1909
  • Orear, Linn. Survey of the Germans of Dayton 1830 – 1900; their cultural and economic role. Thesis. Miami University, 1961
  • Paasche, Gottfried. America, Germany, and the Daytoner Volkszeitung 1880-1900. Thesis. Miami University, 1961
  • Rattermann, H. A., and Elfe Vallaster-Dona. German Pioneers of Montgomery County, Ohio: Early Pioneer Life in Dayton, Miamisburg, Germantown. Published for Clearfield Company by Genealogical Publishing Company, 2014
  • Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, et al. German Immigration to America: the First Wave. Heritage Books, 2007
  • Wittke, Carl Frederick. The German-Language Press in America. Literary Licensing, 2000

Otto and his German Language Newspaper: Part One

The City of Dayton, Ohio in 1867 was at the edge of the second industrial revolution and maturing from her agricultural beginnings. Factories were competing for prime real estate along the new railroad lines to transport their goods faster and cheaper than ever before. And as one of the largest Ohio cities, immigrants arrived by the hundreds in search of employment and with romantic hopes of achieving the American Dream they’ve heard so much about.

Meanwhile in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Adolph Otto Moosbrugger was struggling to rise above the poverty of his youth. The first-born son of a country doctor and a French refugee, Otto referred to his early childhood as “happy and gay, although always hungry.” His earliest memories were of scarcity and rationed food. He later tells of respect for his mother, Josephine, in how she would split a small loaf of bread among six hungry mouths without giving a preference to any one person.

In 1860 Otto turned 21 and joined the military when the Kingdom of Austria, an ally of Germany at the time, went to war against Italy. After the war, he left the military as rank promotions were slow during peacetime and he then moved through several clerical jobs, but never making much money. It was when working as a bookkeeper at a cigar factory in Mahlberg that his life began to take focus. Otto began courting 18-year-old Wilhelmina Föhrenbach, who also worked at the factory. Surrounded by the aromatics of tobacco and sweat, the two fell in love. They wanted to marry, but Otto knew his clerical career wouldn’t provide the income need to start a family.

A good friend of Otto’s, Gustas Dreher, was a brewer in Mahlberg and had spent several years in the United States. He would tell Otto glorious stories about this Promised Land, “portraying it in the rosiest hues.” With a plan in mind, a 28-year-old Otto bought passage on the steamer, “New York,” and made a promise to send for Wilhelmina when as soon as he could.

Twelve days after leaving Germany behind, the ship arrived at Ellis Island on a cool fall day to deliver her passengers to this new world. With his next step fully decided, Otto continued his travels to the renowned city of industry, Dayton, Ohio.

Otto Moosbrugger on New York’s passenger list. Mistakenly transcribed as “Maasburger.”

Otto was bilingual, being fluent in German and French. However, he couldn’t speak a word of English. He was challenged by this language barrier, especially when trying to find work. He began with labor jobs, such as painting railroad cars for the Barney & Smith Company. He enjoyed the physical work, which he felt held more respect than clerking. But he was frustrated in the low wages that kept him from his goal of bringing Wilhelmina from Germany.  In Otto’s words, he was “unable to earn even the salt for his soup.”

As the labor force grew in Dayton, so did the trade union movement. Many unions had a strong discrimination against immigrants, making higher paying labor jobs outside of their reach. Otto eventually found a better paying job with a German-owned music store as a clerk. After two years, he finally had enough money to send for Wilhelmina. They married in 1869, and moved into the second story of a home at 24 Buckeye Street that was owned by an elderly couple, the Wiedman’s, who lived on the first floor with their adult son.

The German American population in Dayton during this time was nearing its peak. According to Linn Orear’s Survey of the Germans of Dayton 1830 – 1900; their cultural and economic role, by the year 1890, eleven percent of the city’s citizens were of German heritage, with many other Germans living in the surrounding areas. By 1900, the German-born living in Dayton far outnumbered natives in the occupations of bakers, butchers, and brewers.

Because of this large immigrant population growth, nativism supporters were very active in cities across the United States. Nativism was supported by followers of the “Know Nothing Party,” who were political activists rebelling against those who were bringing foreign ideas into the communities. The Know Nothings were against the Irish for practicing Catholicism and they didn’t like the Germans, accusing them of cultural isolation, and their implied superiority and aloofness. Nativism methods ranged from petitions and legislation, but eventually escalated to violence. City riots in large cities were common, sometimes triggered by something like when the German community insisted on celebrating Sunday with parades, picnics, and songfests, when the Know Nothings felt Sundays were to be treated as a solemn day of peace and rest.

The Dayton Herald, March 8 1886

Otto was engaged with the political activities in Dayton and was compelled to protect the German community he lived in. By 1875 he had reached a self-taught fluency in the English language. He took a job as a treasurer with a tri-weekly German language newspaper, intending to support the German American citizens in that role. The paper was so poorly managed by its editors, however, that many times they couldn’t even make payroll.

It was time for a new plan.

[continued at Otto and his German Language Newspaper: Part Two]


  • Moosbrugger, Adoph Otto. Personal Life History of Adoph Otto Moosbrugger. Handwritten Journal, 1909
  • Orear, Linn. Survey of the Germans of Dayton 1830 – 1900; their cultural and economic role. Thesis. Miami University, 1961
  • Paasche, Gottfried. America, Germany, and the Daytoner Volkszeitung 1880-1900. Thesis. Miami University, 1961
  • Rattermann, H. A., and Elfe Vallaster-Dona. German Pioneers of Montgomery County, Ohio: Early Pioneer Life in Dayton, Miamisburg, Germantown. Published for Clearfield Company by Genealogical Publishing Company, 2014
  • Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, et al. German Immigration to America: the First Wave. Heritage Books, 2007
  • Wittke, Carl Frederick. The German-Language Press in America. Literary Licensing, 2000

I mustache you a question

This is a blog post from our sister site, Raising a Super Dog. I originally shared this story when I was still fresh in the beginning of our family research.

Since I’ve found myself in the position of Keeper of the Family Photos these last couple of weeks, the immersion into family history has completely hijacked my daily routines. What I call “going down the rabbit hole again” while doing genealogy research, my husband refers to as “have you even showered today?” Right. About that.

Don’t ask.

See, for every photo that I can actually link to a name, there are so many more faces – some bearing a no-nonsense grim expression, others beaming in black and white glory – I just can’t seem to identify. I carefully pluck an intriguing image from its four photo corners, where it’s been safely secured for the last, oh, hundred years or so, and turn the thing over to find … nothing.

And this is where I silently scream in frustration.

Just kidding. It’s more of a throaty, aargh-ish grunt; like the sound I make when I try to stand up from a too-soft sofa. With the contrary ancestral photo in hand, I hold it at arm’s length and cry out “who ARE you people?”

They never answer.

rcu knight of st. john cabinet card=-sword family
What impresses me most about this gent … is it the uniform? The intense gaze? Let’s be honest here. It’s that wondrous cookie catcher.

Oh, and did I mention? This isn’t even my family, really. It’s my husband’s paternal side.

With that, let’s all pause here to write ourselves a reminder note to label your historical family photos. All of them. Before it’s too late, people. I’ll grab a cup of coffee while you do this.

Ok, y’all. I’m back. You know, your descendants will thank me later. Because what I have before me now are more than fifty photo albums and scrapbooks, plus another four storage boxes of loose photos and documents. And no one left in the family with a living memory of most of this collection of images.

So many magnificent mustaches, so few clues.

Speaking of furry facial features, this portrait of an adorable bearded dog has been gracing our walls since being gifted to us a few years ago after my husband’s uncle had passed. Before reaching us, this fella was in a place of honor in Uncle Jay’s study, right alongside the newlywed portraits of Jay’s mother and father, who married in 1911.

1917 Portrait of a Sword Dog
Right. So where’s *my* portrait?

When we first received the portrait, I had a deep curiosity about the dog. Jay’s love of this companion was strong enough to have the dog’s image framed and on proud display. Yet today we have no historical context for it. Name, gender, when the dog was around to do his (or her) part in the human:animal bonding experience … nothing to offer us, but the solemn over-the-shoulder hundred yard stare and the knowledge this photo was taken decades ago. Or perhaps even a full century ago.

So maybe you can imagine the wonderful dopamine response when going through one of the newly acquired Sword Family turn-of-the-century scrapbooks and I find this treasure trove of vintage images.

Vintage Sword Dogs
Vintage Sword Dogs

Six glorious pages of nuthin’ but dogs and cats and chickens and ducks, all in the general era of 1911-20. What kind of person scrapbooks this stuff? My people, that’s who.

Then this.

Portrait Dog 1917
What is this “Photoshop” you speak of?

Do you see it? It’s the same photo as in the oval frame. Except that it’s been altered to remove the background. The 1917 version of Photoshop.


This photo has generously rewarded me with info on the back. Handwritten there is my husband’s grandfather’s name and address – and instructions to the photo processor to create a block background.


Oh sure. But you know what’s not recorded in that brief script? That’s right. The we-love-him-so-much-let’s-frame-him dog’s name.

There are more photos of this guy. Like this one, which is my father-in-law, George, captured in time as a toddler enjoying a bonding moment with the dog.

george and dog
This is the photo that helped me to date the portrait image and to, well, know it’s a boy dog. I’m savvy like that.

Oh, mysterious terrier of 1917 House Sword. Who are you?

Seriously, don’t be that family. Why put your heirs through the awkwardness of monikers lost to history. Label those old photos before you, too, lose the living memories of your clan.

And hey, let’s bring those magnificent mustaches back, too. How did those ever fall out of style?

And by the way, I’ll make a guess that perhaps his name was Skippy.

The dog, not the stache. Don’t make it weird.

i approve this post
I approve this post

Family Catalyst

As I consider which story to be the best launch for this blog, it feels to me to that sometimes you just need to begin at the beginning.

And so, I share this photo as the catalyst that heralds everything to come next. Because isn’t that the very definition of a catalyst – something that incites activity?

Clara Cecilia Boga Sword

Our Sword family historian and keeper of all things memorial had been my husband’s Uncle Jay, the middle child of the three Sword brothers. A man of details, we had may talks with Jay about his travels to find the Sword family origins and knew that his efforts were done old-school method during the pre-digital age. But what we didn’t know was the full extent of what he had researched. We could only guess.

Jay and his wife, Jean, married late in life, Jay at 61 years old and Jean at 53. And while they didn’t have children, there was always extended family to share their lives. A remarkably smart and classy pair, the two of them shared the next twenty-nine years together traveling, having new adventures, and generally living life to the fullest.

After Jay passed in 2008, Jean was hesitant to part with the extensive genealogical research done by Jay, a decision we of course respected at the time. When Jean died eight years later in 2016, her family was surprised that shortly before she passed, her will had been changed to benefit individuals outside the family circle. It was all controversial and rather sketchy, to be honest. But there it was. So instead of personal items being distributed among Jay and Jean’s families, we had to crash the estate sale to buy our family’s stuff back.

And by crash, I mean the estate sale company was sensitive to what happened and allowed two of us to come in before the sale so that we’d have a chance at reclaiming our heritage.

So early on a cold January morning, I’m in Jay and Jean’s three-car garage sifting through countless cabinet card photos, documents, albums and family scrapbooks that have been stacked on long folding tables.  I finger-walk through a box to pick up a photo, then replace it back into its cardboard home. Strangers in sepia; I’m making eye contact with people I’ve never met.

“That’s Grandma,” says my brother-in-law when I choose an albumen-coated photo of a young woman in a wedding dress. It’s from the early twentieth century, maybe around 1915 or so.

“Is it?” I ask. I’m intrigued by this dark-eyed girl sporting a cinnamon-roll hairstyle sixty years before Princess Leia made them famous. “She’s pretty. What about this one?” I show him another photo. He doesn’t know. We see that Jean’s family photos are mixed in with ours.

We gather everything we can find. The cabinet cards are a dollar each, later photos are more if they’re still in their black paper frame. The photo scrapbooks are mostly from the 40’s and 50’s and are priced between ten and twenty dollars. We find an original birth record from 1819 written in German and a gallon-size zip-lock baggie with personal correspondence from the mid-1800’s. And more. So much more.

Invaluable to our family, all of it. Absolutely priceless. And still, it came with a cost to make it ours again. We finally had a documented connection to the Sword Family history and we were grateful for it.

Later at home, I spend hours reviewing it all, and along with the detailed research from Jay, put together a lineage for my husband and my son. And that, people, was just the beginning.

Consider this.

Right? That edges towards overwhelming and really threatens to tip the scale when we realize that’s only one side. I also have an itch to research my own maternal and paternal lineage as well.

But no matter. I’m doing this for the stories, really. You know? It’s all about what happens before and after The Dash (click here to see what I mean).

Because that’s where family lore lives. The good stuff.

So welcome to House BlackSword. I hope you enjoy this trip into history as much as I have sharing it with you.