How have your female ancestors influenced you?

In honor of Women’s History Month I thought I would diverge a bit.  I hope you saw the PBS special called “The Makers,” about the women’s movement.  The strength of women who fought both for the cause and against it is amazing.  (This should not be construed as support whatsoever for those who derailed the ERA, but that’s another story for another time.)

For me, I started tracing my family history because I did not want to lose the women…I didn’t know my grandmother’s name.  The joy of genealogy is that I definitely “feel” the presence of my ancestors, particularly the women, standing behind me making me a stronger and better person today.  Some who have made an impression include:

  • Gertrude Bode Jacobson:  she told me I could be “anything I wanted to be,” and believed it.  This was at a time when the choices for young women still seemed awfully narrow. It would have only taken one word from her that I couldn’t be an architect for me to quit.  She never said that. (Of course, when she remodeled the bathroom she also didn’t ask my advice.  I told her that she paid for my education, she ought to take advantage of it!)
  • Gramma Carrie Berg Bode:  could make a pattern for a sleeve to a dress just by looking at the picture of the dress.  I suspect that my ability to think three-dimensionally is a genetic trait passed down from this multi-generational family of tailors
  • Great Gramma Johanna Jönsdotter Anderson:  she left three children in the ground when she left Sweden with her husband and family and traveled to be with her brothers in Iowa.  She and her husband left a small parish which had been their home for hundreds of years.  I cannot imagine how heartbreaking that would be.
  • Great Gramma Grietje Wientjes Bode:  was afraid to travel in cars and cried on trips to visit her son.  Orphaned at age 12, she left a twin in Germany and never saw her again.  I stood by the graves of each and felt that maybe, just a little, I connected the two of them in a more physical way than when they lived on earth.

Send good thoughts to the strong women in your life who have in ways, large and small, contributed to who you are.

Happy hunting.


What I have done since the last posting:  worked hard on my ProGen assignment for this month–a research plan; worked on a client report and finally “threw in the towel” when I realized I was wasting his money.  I let him know that I couldn’t accomplish what he wanted as I did not have all the information needed for a successful outcome.  He completely understood and hopefully we will redraft the agreement tomorrow and move on;  got the SGS newsletter out.


2 comments on “How have your female ancestors influenced you?

  1. Susan Emanuel says:

    What a wonderful post, Jill. Thanks for sharing these very touching tributes.

    On Mar 15, 2013, at 1:53 AM, Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journal wrote:

    > >

  2. Mary says:

    Thank you for reminding me that my gramma, Ella Weides Mahowald, influenced me with her complete acceptance of her grandchildren, no matter what they did! Also my gramma Esther Dahle Swenson Lindahl for the good humor she went into old age and her whimsy.

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