Christmas 2017

Christmas greetings from Ron and Dee

2017 has brought trips to Raleigh (once for a genealogical conference), knee surgery, a retreat of Winsome Women at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, visits from our son and daughter, and a regathering of all of us for Thanksgiving. Dee continues to enjoy quilting, Ron explores families past and present, and we both remain involved in our church and community.

We pray God blesses each of your families with his love and peace!


Who is it?, or lost and found

I’ve added a new page to this site to post pictures of things that are a bit of a mystery and either need identification or a new home: Who is it?. You can find this page in the menu of Our Heritage.

The first items are Harvey Marshall’s Scout cards, a picture of twins Barbara and Christopher Dlouhy, and a picture of an unidentified house and woman.

Remembering Dad

For the first time in my life, we enter a new year without Dad. He was released to eternal life just a few weeks ago, yet it seems like we’re now in a different lifetime. As I’ve said many times, we are fortunate to have had Dad, and for so many years. To rephrase a line from The Reverend Mister Black, one of the songs we learned after my brother Eddie got his first guitar:

I hope that I’ll always be a credit to his memory, ’cause I want you to understand, Ed Springsteen Sr. was my old man!

Edwin Springsteen, 2014

Here are a few pictures and audio recordings from Dad’s memorial service.

Ed Springsteen’s memorial service, registration
Ed Springsteen’s memorial service, sanctuary
Ed Springsteen’s service medals

I have split the audio recording of Dad’s service to make it more manageable for uploading and downloading. We had thought to refrain from calling people up to a microphone to encourage sharing, but you will hear that sharing benefitted from amplification.

Memorial service, part 1:

Memorial service, part 2:

Christmas greetings

Ed and Lois Springsteen, Christmas 2015

I love this picture from Christmas last year, Dad’s last with us. Ed Springsteen Sr. passed over to Glory on December 8, 2016 leaving the limitations of Parkinson’s disease behind. At ninety-two years and eight days, he lived a good long life and left his craftsmanship in countless homes.

Even with Dad’s decline and departure we have been greatly blessed. Our son Joe was able to come for Dad’s memorial service and our daughter Jenny is here for the Christmas weekend. The full measure of joy in this season is found in celebrating the birth of God’s greatest Gift with our loved ones. As we gather with families and friends, enjoying holiday meals, activities and gifts, we can more deeply appreciate the reason for the season.

We didn’t travel extensively this year because we felt the need to stay close to home. We did take a short trip to Findlay, Ohio with Mom so she could visit a close cousin, Betty McCall. Betty’s daughters had connected with me through DNA testing from 23andMe. Mom thoroughly enjoyed meeting Betty and her gracious family. Mom and Betty, who were born the same year, shared memories of departed relatives, and we learned more about our ancestors John and Rachel Powell Dennis.

We hope you and yours are well. We wish you peace and hope in the new year.

Football and family

We have many football fans among our family and friends, most more avid than I. This article will be out of the norm for Our Heritage but it’s fall, and it’s my blog, so we’ll take a brief look at American football and its intersection with family appreciation.

Mom becomes a football fan

My mother’s interest in sports used to be centered around baseball, from our little league teams to the Detroit Tigers. I picked up her interest in the Tigers in the summer of 1961, when I listened to game broadcasts on our family radio. That was a good season for the Tigers, but resulted in a not-uncommon second place finish behind the New York Yankees. I could still name the starting lineup of the ’61 Tigers by field position. First baseman Norm Cash led the American League with a .361 batting average, but the sporting world was focused on the home run derby between Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

I think Mom always liked football and basketball to some degree, but her interest in football rose to a whole new level when my nephew Jesse came up through the youth leagues to become the starting center for Central Montcalm High School. Mom is not a quiet sports fan when her grandchildren are on the field. Now she has joined the active ranks of ever-hopeful Lions fans as well as cheering for Michigan university teams.

Where did this topic come from?

Dee and I have subscribed to Guideposts Magazine for many years. The cover story for the September 2016 issue features Ben Utecht’s experience with gradual memory loss related to concussions from his career in the NFL. You can read the article here: Ben recounts the impact on his career and on his family. The video about his song ‘You Will Always Be My Girls’ is touching and poignant.

This story has a personal intersection with my own family for more than one reason. We have good friends in North Carolina who are gradually losing a loved one to early-onset dementia. Several years ago we watched the slow decline of Dee’s mom’s memory and awareness in the waning years of her life. We lamented the loss of her gifts and abilities, yet she seemed to gain a contentment that I hadn’t seen in her days of conscious worry and concern over the challenges of life.

This story has another personal connection with our family from our years in Minnesota. Ben Utecht’s father was the associate pastor at our church. While Dee and I didn’t have any significant contact with little Benjamin, I think our son Joe did. Ben, of course, wouldn’t know any of us because he was still very young. His family moved on to other churches and we moved to North Carolina. Nevertheless, as they say, it’s a small world. As we pass by people in our lives, we never know when or where we might later encounter them. We should be more mindful of our friends and especially our family before we lose them. If we are fortunate, our paths might meet again.

Following Our Heritage

How can you tell when something new has been posted to Our Heritage? The obvious answer is to point your web browser to However, you might get tired of checking just to find out that there’s nothing new. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to that problem: use a service that collects posts from this and any other web log (blog) that you want to follow.

For example, you might use Feedly to follow blog feeds from web sites. You can set up a free Feedly account quite easily if you are familiar with online access and your computer or mobile device. You can use either a new Feedly ID or your Facebook or Google ID. You can access Feedly either in your web browser or with a Feedly app.

To follow Our Heritage in Feedly, use the link or button to add content. Type in the search box to find this blog, select it from the results list, and add it to your Feedly subscriptions (Feedly+).

Why would you want to use a service like Feedly rather than going straight to our web site? The answer is that Feedly collects new posts from this and any other blogs you are following whenever something new is posted. If you want to follow several sites, Feedly or any similar service provides one-stop shopping. If an article is interesting, click or tap the article title to read it. If you want to see even more, you can click or tap a button or link to open the web site in your browser.

How can you tell when something new has been posted? It will show up in Feedly.

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Yesterday I met some second cousins from my maternal grandmother’s Fisher family. As I get older, it seems that family reunions increasingly occur in connection with the passing of our elders. Mom’s cousin Merilyn Fisher departed this life on Monday, the 16th of November 2015. Merilyn’s father Hazen Fisher was my Grandma Sovereign’s oldest brother. Their family is shown in this picture before Grandma’s younger sister Marge was born. Waldo, on his mother’s lap, was born in November 1913 so this picture was probably taken in about 1914. My grandmother, Marie, would have been about five years old. Arthur and Hazen would have been about seven and nine.

Arthur, Hazen, Idell, Waldo, Marie and Clyde Fisher
Arthur, Hazen, Idell, Waldo, Marie and Clyde Fisher

Clyde and Idell Fisher family (back)

Hazen’s children were Mom’s first cousins. Two daughters, Pat and Donna, are still alive and well. Hazen’s grandchildren are my second cousins.

If you’re scratching your head at this point, it’s probably because you were raised reckoning cousins the same way I was: my mother’s first cousins were my second cousins, and their children were my third cousins. That system works well enough when you’re used to it, but it gets confusing in a hurry when you’re accounting for various cousins of your grandparents and more distant ancestors. It also doesn’t give any hint of what generations these various cousins are in.

So what’s the alternative? The system understood by most genealogists requires some rethinking, but it is actually quite simple and clear:

  • The children of siblings are first cousins.
  • The children of first cousins are second cousins.
  • The children of second cousins are third cousins.
  • and so on.

Wait a minute. Then what is my mother’s first cousin Merilyn to me? She was my first cousin once removed, and I was her first cousin once removed.

Removed? What’s that all about? It (one, two, three, four times removed, and so on) tells how many generations apart we are. Mom and her first cousin are in the same generation. I am one generation removed from their generation.

Another way to figure out cousin relationships is to go back to your nearest common ancestors. The number of qualifiers (great and grand) you have in front of the word parents provides a clue. If you and a cousin share grandparents (one qualifier), you are first cousins. If you and your cousin share great-great-grandparents, you are third cousins. If your great-grandparents are your cousin’s great-great-great grandparents, you are second cousins two times (or twice) removed. The lowest number of qualifiers tells whether you are first, second, third or whatever cousins. The difference in the number of qualifiers tells how many generations apart you are.

For Hazen Fisher’s family and me, our nearest common ancestors were Hazen’s parents, Clyde and Idell Fisher. Merilyn Fisher’s daughters’ great-grandparents Clyde and Idell Fisher were also my great-grandparents, making Merilyn’s daughters and me second cousins.

My new-found second cousins, by the way, seemed to be a pretty nice lot. I’m glad some of us finally met. I look forward to getting to know this part of my extended family.

Time for a change

Welcome to the reformation of Our Heritage. The website had been rather badly neglected and depended on site editing tools that are no longer supported, so it is time for a change.

Our Heritage will now be centered around an interactive blog that should make sharing easier and more natural. I hope that you enjoy our walk in history.

I will be reposting some of the material from the old website as well as posting new information. Please join me in this journey.