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.


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