52 Ancestors in 52 weeks

January 5, 2018

Where do we start?

Where do we come from? Who was the first one of our family to step foot on this shore of “Americay?”cropped-blog-header2.jpg

Were they Irish, English, German or already here as Native Americans? Where were they before they left their homeland and came across the ocean to settle in these United States? Was their name spelled a different way?

I took up the 52 Ancestors challenge of documenting my trials and travels through this wonderful family of the Shanes and the Becks as a way to share my findings with not only family, but also fellow researchers.

My name is Teresa Shane and my parents are Norris David Shane and Donna Jean Beck. My father was born in 1926 and died in 2007. My mother was born in 1935 and is still living.

My journey began in 1977 as I sat with my mother’s parents – John Raymond and Marian (Page) Beck – in their living room near Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota and watched the mini-series “Roots.”

As Alex Haley began unraveling his family tree, Grandpa informed me “Our family is more interesting than that” and my head turned as if on a swivel and I asked for details.

So I began collecting information: names, dates, places, stories and photos. I have collections of newspaper articles, vital records, military records and stories of The Great Depression, World Wars, growing up in cities and on farms, having everything one day and losing it the next. I have binders of stories from experiences during the Civil War to my father’s and grandfather’s experiences during World War II.

Now, 40 years later, I am a grandmother and seek to tell my family’s story to not only my grandson, but also to my cousins, their children, my nieces and nephews and my great nephew.

A book seems such a daunting task, but I can take a piece of my family each week and document it for others to read.

I encourage my family to contribute as we progress through these next 52 weeks and perhaps by the end of the time, we will have laid the ground work for a book about the Shanes and the Becks and their immediate family lines.

This week, I begin with my parents, starting with my father – Norris David Shane, May 24, 1926 to Aug. 12, 2007. He was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania to Norris Charles Shane (Jan. 5, 1898 – Oct. 21, 1985) and Alice Louise Jones (June 12, 1903 – Oct. 5, 1989). Norris C. went to the University of Minnesota to study animal husbandry and earned his tuition by threshing his way around the Midwest during the summers.

DaddyMy father remembers the Great Depression didn’t affect the Shanes as “we always had something to eat.” The Shanes had beehives, a huge garden and my dad said he and his brother, Jim, would go to a neighbor’s house before school and milk his cows for 5 cents a day, if I remember correctly.

Norris David worked at a shipyard and joined the US Navy, serving on the LST 543. He ferried Canadian and Scots to Juno Beach during the Invasion of Normandy.

Donna Jean BeckHe later joined the US Air Force, retired from there in the 60s. That’s where he met my mother, Donna Jean Beck, a lovely young woman who was born in Milwaukee.

During World War II, my grandmother, Marian Page Beck, and the three children lived with my maternal great grandparents, John and Orpha LaBelle Page. Orpha was born in Three Rivers, Canada and John was born in Duck Creek, Wisconsin. John was of Native American descent. His mother, Louise Brunette, descends from Pottawatomie and Menominee Indians from the Upper Great Lakes. John worked at the Harley Davidson plant in Milwaukee and Orpha had a grocery store on the ground floor of their home.

When Grandpa Beck headed to Fort Dix, New Jersey to be shipped out to war, my grandmother loaded the three children and herself onto a troop train heading east to make sure she saw her husband before he left. This was a woman who never learned to drive and here she was on a train with three small children. My mother

Beck children

says they lived in an apartment while they waited for the troops to be deployed.

There were times my mother stayed with other family members to make sure she finished the school year as the family moved often due to my grandfather’s Air Force career.

She is an avid reader, has knitted for as long as I can remember, and at 81, still drives herself to get groceries.

A Family of Strong Women

This week’s prompt, I believe, comes from the March 8 National Women’s Day and how we must salute not only strong women of today, but those who came before.

In my family – the Becks and Shanes – there are generations of strong women. They were – and continue to be – assertive, determined, driven and smart.

They raised families during the American Revolution, the Civil War, both World Wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War, changes in farming, during the Industrial Revolution and during present times when our future seems uncertain.

Some I know, some I knew, many I heard about and others are only a name with vague information because women weren’t important to the history books. They, and their stories, are certainly important to me and my daughter.

I have to start with the current generation of strong women, and I only speak of a few specific ones in the current generation.

My role models include my sister, Catherine Jean, my mother Donna Jean, my late maternal grandmother Marian Page Beck. , her mother Orpha LaBelle Page, my other maternal great grandmother Emma Lydia Zimple Beck.

I speak of Catherine because of her immeasurable strength during times that would truly cow less strong people. She struggled in school with undiagnosed disabilities and barely made it. Despite medical issues that have almost killed her, she has spent her career educating and serving children. Her “kids” still stop in an see her today. They are in college, in the military, in the healthcare profession and every other aspect of society. She survived the public school system in Chicago where people attempted to beat her down when she demanded better education for her students.

She pushes, prods, advocates, educates and challenges everyone to be their best, including me. She also a raised a daughter who is a fighter in the education system.

We do not see ourselves as heroic or strong, yet we see it in each other, so we have to turn the mirror to ourselves.

At 56, I am strong, resilient and a fierce advocate for those veterans who cannot speak for themselves. I retired from the military after 20 years and now serve in post and district leadership roles of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Missouri. I am surviving medical diagnoses as well, and I have refused to let them define me, but I do have to manage them or they will kill me.

How did my sister and I develop this resilience? This strength? This determination and drive? It is simply in our DNA.

It came from our mother, who became a single mother to three teenagers in 1977. She graduated from college, worked at least 2 or 3 jobs and gave us a love of books and education.

It came from Marian Page, who raised three children while her husband, John Beck, was off to war and traveled from place to place while the Air Force tried to find him a job. She ended up at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota where they retired and then moved onto 80 acres near the base and helped my mother raise us kids. Her mother, Orpha, was born in Rimouski, Canada and emigrated as a young woman to the United States. She married John Page and had several children, including some who died. They lived on a farm in Nadeau, Michigan.

Pages on Farm in Nadeau, MI6

In the 1920 census, the family is in Shawano, WI, near the Menominee Indian reservation. By 1930, they were in Milwaukee, where Orpha had moved the family so John could work at the Harley-Davidson plant.

John Beck’s mother was Emma Lydia Zimple, the daughter of immigrant August Wilhelm Zimple and 1st generation immigrant Hermina Burghagen. Emma Lydia married Henry Christian Beck, a farmer whose family hailed from Ohio. The Becks were farmers in Wisconsin, raising children near Ladysmith. A family story relates the family had worked to save $800 to pay off the mortgage to the farm and when they had the money in the bank they went to town to pay it off. When they arrived at the bank the doors were closed – it was Black Friday.

1929 on the farm

I believe Emma Lydia became ill and the family had to move to town. I cannot imagine what life must have been like for Emma Lydia, raising six children on a farm. Not unlike many other women of her age, but these were the women from whom our strength comes.

But our strength comes far deeper than just these first generations of women. My family line includes the women on my father’s side who raised families during the Civil War when they housed soldiers in a new barn on the farm of George Miller. Alice Sarah Miller was born in 1854 and was just 9 years in 1863 when Gettysburg was up close and personal in her family. Her mother, Elizabeth Buckley Miller, would have been in her early 30s during the war, raising seven children. She lost one daughter – Mary Ellen , at left – in 1885 at 18 in a horrible accident on the train tracks. An older sister, Annie, was severely injured.

Mary Ellen Miller Annie Miller

Mary Ellen                                        Annie

My paternal grandmother, Alice Louise Jones, raised 7 children on farms from 1926 through World War II. I didn’t know her well. But her children have strong children of their own who work in education, the military and national government.

Through many generations of many women, we somehow end up at today, March 10, 2018.

We are as strong as the sum of our parts and my parts are the women who came before me. They raised children, lost children, lost spouses, lost everything in economic disasters or wars, kept their faith in God or their own higher power, and raised smart, driven, resilient and assertive women.

Thank you – to all of you




Hickory Heirloom

I have many things that come from my family history.

There is a framed photo of my great great grandparents – Gedeon and Alvina LaBelle LeBoeuf. The original frame was damaged in a fire but the picture was saved. I had it reframed and it hangs in the living room of our new house, next to it is the marriage certificate of David Etnier Parker and Alice Sarah Miller. I have a locket with the Army Air Corps insignia and pictures of my Grandma and Grandpa Beck as young adults. I have pictures of my Zimple ancestors, and some very old photos of every family branch.

Alice Sarah was born in 1854 in Hare’s Valley, Pennsylvania to George Washington Miller and Elizabeth Buckley. George was born in 1831 and Elizabeth was born in 1825. Both families came from  central Pennsylvania and were farmers, working the land.

At some point before the Civil War, the Miller’s large barn was destroyed by fire.

miller barn

I can only imagine the economic cost to this family: a mule team, 15 tons of hay, corn, oats and plows and equipment. What a horrific disaster this must have been to the family.

Part of this family has been passed on to me in the form of a bentwood hickory rocking chair. It sits in my living room, a reminder of the stalwart strength of my family. The curved back of the chair is worn and smooth. The arms of the chair show the use of many hours of someone sitting in it and there are, what I assume, some of the original nails in the wood.

My father gave it to me in 1997 and since then, it has been in some room in my house. So, for 20 years I have viewed this chair and remembered. According to my dad, the chair was built from hickory grown on the family farm in Pennsylvania. He stated it was built years after the Revolutionary War, but I have no proof. He made a few repairs to it.

What I do have is this picture of an elderly George Washington Miller sitting in the chair.

George Washington Miller and Olive Morgan

The only ancestors I can think of who would have been around to make this rocking chair are possibly Jacob Miller and Henry Buckley as they would have been alive in the late 1780s.

That this chair is still around and functioning as a chair says a lot to the workmanship of the men who built it. It’s strong and made with good materials, grown from the land the men farmed.

My heirloom isn’t just this chair – its the strength and resolve to overcome difficulties and challenges that also came down through the generations.


Favorite Names and Valentines

This week, the students and teachers in the schools I serve are holding Valentine’s Day parties. Children have made little paper hearts for their friends and most likely, their mothers.

I have no idea how my family celebrated Valentine’s Day. I have no little, lacy, paper hearts that were given to my grandmothers or my great grandmothers by their children or a husband. That day doesn’t seem to be something that was noted or celebrated.

So, how did my family celebrate or acknowledge their love? Certainly wasn’t through flowers or store-bought Valentines. It probably wasn’t through a beautiful piece of jewelry that was then handed down from generation to generation. If it was, I haven’t seen it (although I do have an Army Air Corps locket that my grandfather gave my grandmother)

But I have seen much that demonstrates a caring and giving family, who, perhaps celebrated their love in many ways the other 364 days of the year.

It was my Grandmother Marian Page Beck traipsing across the country with three small children to see her husband, John Beck, before he left for England during World War II. It was letters my sister, Catherine, (and other family members) wrote me while I was deployed in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. It was a family pulling together after Black Friday took the money they had saved to pay off the mortgage on a farm. It was my Great Grandmother Orpha Page getting the family to Milwaukee so my Great Grandfather could get a job at Harley Davidson. It was the Shane’s pulling together to get the family through the Depression in Pennsylvania.

It’s my daughter learning to knit, continuing a hand craft that her grandmother learned years ago and still does today. It’s me learning to tat, because I didn’t want that skill to be lost. It’s my father teaching me to work with wood, replace outlets and window panes so I can be self sufficient. It’s my sister teaching her grandson the importance of recycling and gardening and teaching him to care for others. It’s many of us who have taken the love of reading and books to obsessive levels.

It’s a beautiful handmade hickory rocking chair made on the Buckley/Miller Farm in Pennsylvania in the 1700s that now sits in my living room as a reminder of strength and resilience.

Paper disintegrates. Cut flowers die. Chocolate candy raises my blood sugar. But my husband, James Michael (Mike), whose name I love, shows his love to me in so many ways that are far more valuable than any card, candy or chocolate.

From building us a cozy, warm, charming home to showing me how much he supports me in all of my endeavors and is my biggest fan, I certainly could not ask for more ways he shows he loves me – all of the other 364 days of the year.

The names James is spread out through my family genealogy from James H. Shane, to the Hatfields, to the Dells and Trowbridges. My father was called Mike, for some reason.

I am also partial to David, my father’s middle name, and the name my daughter chose for her first child, David Tiberius Venter. He will certainly win the “Bet you can’t guess my middle name” game in elementary school. Nothing pleases me more to say his name and know his great grandfather is smiling down on him.

It’s being able to track down a line of the Neal’s because each generation used the maiden name of the mother for a son’s middle name (Silliman, Clements, Prentice and Leavitt).

So, instead of passing on mementoes of Valentine’s Day of the past, we pass on the names, the strength and resilience, skills in crafts and woodworking, pride in our country, a passion for serving others and the love of books and music.

Now that I think about it, those are more wonderful.



What’s in a census

This entry is late because I have been busy with my Veterans of Foreign Wars responsibilities. I rarely go to  Jefferson City and this past week I have been there for four days.

So the topic for last week was our interpretation of the census or how we see the census.

For me, the census is a journey. A journey through my family.

The challenge is tracking the family through the census from birth to death.

I have census records on nearly every line of my family, and every census has revealed a nugget of information.

For example, Louise Brunette Page, is listed on the federal census from 1850 through 1920. She spent the bulk of her life in Wisconsin and Michigan. Then I found her in 1920 in Washington, Lucas, Ohio where she lived with her daughter Alice and her family, so that gives me information on another line.

Then I found Louise in Chicago just before her death in 1926. Her death certificate gave her last known address and her burial place in Chicago.

From the 1910 census I also learned that Louise had 12 children with only 5 living. That gives me additional information to seek, especially church records to determine if children were born and then died or perhaps, she had several miscarriages. I have found nine of the children, so I still have to do some searching. But the census will help me track the children and their locations.

The James Shane’s were another interesting one to pursue using the census. I was lucky as they moved to Illinois in the 1830’s and then moved around Illinois, all documented in the state and federal census records.

I was able to find James in Wayne County Iowa, just before he died in 1874. As I had heard that he died in the 1860’s, finding him in the 1870 census was critical information. He was living with a daughter and her family, he was blind and had been born in Virginia.

I have to wonder what the census records will show about me when the records are opened. I remember in 1990, living in Box Elder, SD, and I was away from home when the census taker asked questions of my now ex-husband.

He didn’t remember my birthdate, wasn’t positive of where I was born and other data they collect. I shook my head as he related this story, knowing I would be the “lost” one in my family’s census collection.

So, I have found census records with misspelled last names, incorrectly transcribed information and I also have found children I didn’t know about, marriage estimates and evidence of second marriages.

The census records are truly a treasure trove!

Happy Hunting!


Guess who’s Coming to Dinner

The family dinner table seemed to be the place to gather. My sister, Catherine, has the old family table and when I visit, it is still the gathering place for diners and visitors.

She has a tendency to collect friends who become like family and she used to have Tuesday dinners where anyone could show up for a hot meal and great conversation.

My grandmother, Marian Page Beck, had one of those kitchens people gathered at, too. I remember many days spent eating lemon bars and talking to my grandparents for hours while in the kitchen. When I returned home from basic training, my grandfather and I opened an old tin of a pecan roll K-ration can that had landed WAY in the back of a hallway closet and wasn’t found until the closets were cleaned. My grandmother was horrified that we didn’t just throw it away, but dunked it in coffee and exclaimed it edible.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be a table of my great grandparents: Charles Henry Shane and Abigail Neal; Charles Allen Jones and Clara Alice Parker; Henry Christian Beck and Emma Lydia Zimple and John LePage and Orpha LaBelle.

All were born between 1869 and 1879, some in this country, others not. They were immigrants, farmers and bankers and had seen their share of life.

Shane Group Photo

The Shanes were divorced, Abigail lived the longest – 1972. She ended up being married in a nursing home in Yakima, Washington. Charles married again and lived in Illinois and Kansas. In the photo above, I’m not sure who the people are, except, I recognize Charles Henry Shane in the back left.

papap, mamam, Robert Jones, Clara

The Jones’ were upper crust of the time in central Pennsylvania, building a Sears kit home in Alexandria.

The Becks were a hard-working, farmer family. The family, including my grandfather, had worked and saved to pay off the mortgage on the farm only to find the bank doors closed when they went to pay it off. $800 lost on Black Friday.

Pages on Farm in Nadeau, MI6The LePages were from the upper part of Michigan, in Nadeau. The family later moved to Milwaukee so my great grandfather could get a job at the Harley Davidson Plant and my great grandmother had a grocery store on the bottom floor of their home. Her phrase was “Family are like fish, they all begin to smell after 3 days.” But there was always a Sunday dinner after church, which I remember my family doing when I was growing up.

And “I love to see them come and I love to see them go.”

And the famous Shane saying “While you’re up.” which meant anyone with any sense always sat on the side where you couldn’t get up to get anything!

Come in, sit down, coffee’s hot…




My genealogy journey seems to be a round-about journey into the past.

Some of my family lines are straight forward, documented and richly sourced. Others, like my Neal line, tend to start, stop, jog and then I find that nugget of information that opens the past.

Abigail Neal Shane age 9  My Neal line starts with Abigail Neal. Abigail was born 2 Feb 1875 in Mossville, Illinois. In 1895, She married Charles Henry Shane, my great grandfather. I had some early Shane information that indicated Olive was Abigail’s mother but a census record indicated Abigail was older than how long Daniel and Olive were married.

So, I began the “LONG” search for Abigail’s real mother.

I found a marriage record for a Daniel Silliman Neal and Eliza Smith in 1874, but still needed to verify Eliza was the first wife. In a LaSalle Cemetery listing for Medina Township, Illinois I found it.

A gravesite for Daniel Neal and his “wives.” Eliza, 1849-1877, daughter Minnie Jan. 21, 1877 to July 17, 1877 and Olive 1854 to NDD.

Daniel Silliman Neal was born to Samuel Clements Neal and Emily Silliman. I did not know who his parents were until I discovered the tendency to have the mother’s maiden name as the middle name of a child.


The pictures above are of Sally Neal and Moses Neal.

Samuel’s parents were John Prentice Neal and Sally Clements and John’s parents were Moses Leavitt Neal and Martha Prentice. I do believe I am on the right track for Moses’ parents who I believe are John Neal and Mary Leavitt. That is yet another search for the correct lines.

The Neals and Sillimans have a long history of public and military service. The Neals hailed from New Hampshire, serving in the NH House of Representatives and as lawyers. The Sillimans include Gershom Silliman, who was a patriot during the American Revolution and from whom we claim Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution lineage.

Abigail and Charles were married when Abigail was 20, but the 1930 census from San Antonio, Texas states her first marriage was when she was 16. So, I now begin the search for a possible first husband.

Abigail left Charles and the children, moving to Texas where she married L.L. Lanaux, James Armstrong Rouse and then, after moving to Yakima, WA, she married J.M. Jones. It was my understanding she married while living in a nursing home.

I hope to find out more about her, as I continue my “long” search into Abigail Neal Shane Jones.


Favorite Photo

This week’s prompt is “Favorite photo,” and since I don’t have just one I chose to pick a theme for my favorite photos.

On both the Beck and Shane side, military service is common thread that stitches both of my families together.

Both grandfathers wore a uniform – John R. Beck and Norris C. Shane.

Norris’ story is he was at the University of Minnesota when he was called up and while on the troop train headed to basic training, the war ended and he returned to school.

John served in the Army Air Corp – the predecessor to the US Air Force – and during his wartime service was promoted to an officer. After the war he was returned to enlisted status as a master sergeant. He told me he was with the units who liberated the concentration camps and “men who had made it through some real hell went outside and vomited.”

My father, Norris David Shane, served in the US Navy and the US Air Force. He retired from the Air Force in the 60s. At the age of 18, he was the commander of an LCVP taking Scots and Canadians onto Juno Beach during the Invasion of Normandy. After the Navy, he served as a jet engine mechanic for the Strategic Air Command and at one time, grounded the fleet because of a defective hose.

My older brother, Fred, served a career in the US Marine Corps and retired as a warrant officer from Quantico. When I was little and Fred was in Vietnam, my mother recalls a friend calling and saying she just saw Fred on television. He served two tours in Vietnam. He wrote me letters while I was in Saudi Arabia and asked if they were still using diesel fuel to burn waste. Some things never change, I suppose!

My older sister, Catherine, served in the US Navy as a corpsman. Family stories are that she is dangerous with a needle and dental floss and I don’t doubt she could still put in a set of fine stitches with the same. As a teacher in Chicago, she has personally walked students to military recruiting offices.

I served in the Army National Guard with the 109th Engineer Battalion out of Camp Rapid, South Dakota. I went to Saudi Arabia in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm and after some service in North Dakota and Utah, I retired on Sept. 10, 2001. Today, I continue my advocacy for veterans with service in the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a post commander and as a district officer.

So, my favorite photo is any that show military service and there are a lot in my family. I have cousins, uncles and other relations who have served in some form or another.



I speak to people all of time who spend time volunteering in their church, feeding the homeless and helping civic organizations.

My family service is the military. That seems to be our calling. My mother says whenever she attends a veterans event she stands up at the beginning when they call for those who have veterans in their family and proudly stands through all the service songs, until the Coast Guard and then she can sit down.

I can honestly say our service goes back to the earliest conflicts and the Shanes qualify for the Daughters and the Sons of the American Revolution.

So, as a Shane or a Beck relation, post your family military pictures in the comments below. Let’s get a true picture of how deep our service goes.