The Zaehring Family History in America
In beginning a family history, it must be acknowledged that family history is so much more than facts and dates. It is the whole environment into which each family member comes, a combination of genes and personalities interacting with situations perhaps unique in history.
What made a Prussian family with five children emigrate from a place which was familiar to a foreign land across the sea? What impact does living near the harbor in Brooklyn as immigrants play on who they saw themselves to be?
The first generation born in this country spent childhood in New Jersey amidst a country at war with the “old country” and animosity in the neighborhood. Having rocks hurled at young school age children for being “German” has significance in understanding who they grew up to be. Maturing during a decade long depression, which resulted in both economic depression as well as personal depression, also had lifelong effects.
As we uncover these external facts, it at least leads us to speculate as to the personalities and make-up of those who were responsible for shaping our parent’s – and even our own – lives. All of our ancestors were imperfect people with their own faults and foibles– not a lot different than we are today. But family didn’t talk about such things much a generation ago, so we were left to wonder about unexplainable behaviors. We all carry with us the baggage of what has gone before. In understanding some of it, perhaps we can come to peace with it and use it to make each of us stronger for having known.