I was delighted during my time in Vancouver to have lunch with Wendy Whalen who is my second cousin. We had never met before. She is the granddaughter of Alma Schmidt Neufeld who was my grandfather Peter Schmidt’s youngest sister. Alma’s memoir which she dictated to her granddaughter Wendy inspired my novel Lost on the Prairie. I found Wendy on social media when I was looking for more information about my grandparents, Peter and Annie Schmidt.
Wendy is an amateur historian, although one hesitates to use the word amateur because it was evident from the detailed genealogical charts, photo collections, and carefully preserved family letters Wendy brought to our quayside luncheon to show me, that she takes her search for her family’s history very seriously. Wendy had some interesting pieces of family memorabilia for me to see.
Just two weeks ago I found my great grandparents’ tombstone in a Drake, Saskatchewan cemetery. They were my Grandpa Peter’s parents Peter and Marie Schmidt.
Wendy had a copy of their August 9, 1879 marriage certificate. She also had a record that showed my great grandfather Peter had immigrated to the United States in 1874 at age 19 on the ship the S.S. Nederland. He was travelling with his parents Heinrich and Catherine, his younger brother Johann and his grandmother Susana Schmidt. My great grandfather who was born in Poland sailed to the United States from Antwerp and landed in Philadelphia on November 28th, 1874. From there his family made their way to Kansas.
Wendy had a photo of my great grandparents Peter and Marie Schmidt. They are standing farthest to the right in this picture.
I also found the grave of my Great Uncle Alvin Schmidt in the Drake cemetery two weeks ago. Great Uncle Alvin was blind and had epilepsy.
Wendy had a photo of him with his three siblings who were closest in age to him. Wendy’s grandmother Alma is in the back and Alvin is below her and to her left.
Wendy also had a photo of my Grandma Annie Jantz Schmidt in a bathing costume on a beach that was probably taken in the early 1920s.
Another item in Wendy’s collection I found interesting was this telegram her grandmother received when her older brother, my grandfather Peter died as a result of injuries from a pedestrian-car accident while he was visiting Calgary in 1961.
My time with Wendy was all too short since Dave and I had to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island. I need to visit her again and learn more about my family history. I was so pleased she agreed to meet me during my quick visit to Vancouver and so appreciative of the help she provided via e-mail when I was doing research for my novel.
History Hunting in the Cemetery
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