Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grandpa's dash

"I really should leave well enough alone."  
....  that's what I tell myself most days.

Then, there's those times I indulge in the fanciful.
You know that game?   "Living or dead, who'd you most like to invite for dinner?"  

That would be my paternal grandfather, the Rev. Franz E. Willer (ca 1877- 1944).
I'd raise a glass and just ask, "What happened?"

Graduation from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO

Obviously, I'm not the only one who never knew a grandparent.  But what gnaws at me, is not knowing what went on inside that dash ... between Franz' dates of birth and death.

Growing up, I suppose my cousins and I were too self-absorbed to wonder why Grandma Willer -- or our parents for that matter -- never spoke of him.    Not a word.
Except(!) for my having discovered a "post-it" note tucked inside my father's wallet after his death ... detailing the location of his father's grave-site.

Later, the cousins and I'd share our suspicions.   The most widely-held scenario involved (gasp!) a female parishioner.    

I like to believe he was terribly misunderstood ... cast out by my prideful grandmother.
An affair of the heart?   Ya, that's it.

So, I'd really appreciate your unbiased opinion.

I've a cousin-in-law, recently retired from the ministry, who's a bit of a historian.    His wife (my fav cousin)  tragically passed a few years ago, so Gary and I've never met.
Is it folly to ask him if Sue, perhaps, had any insight or stories to share?

...or, am I better leaving well enough alone?

* * *

Happy to sharing with sweet Martha at Flashback Friday.

Hugs from Phoenix!



  1. I don't think it would be a folly to ask Gary if Sue knew anything about your grandfather. Even if it was a "deep dark family secret" so many from the time have already passed right? And it might help satisfy your curiousity about him.

    I don't know much about grandparents either. Sadly what I don't know is howmuch my son knows about his grandparents (hubby's and mine) that he will share with his kids if he has any.


    1. You're right, Betty. There's no-one left who might be hurt or embarrassed. Sadly, I suspect I may be only one of our few remaining family members who's interested. (And I'm not sure why - lol.)

  2. I think it would be wonderful to know the truth. I have a similar ancestor story and, according to my mother, it was sort of pushed under the rug, so to speak, because of the nature of it. My maternal great-great grandfather was a handsome man and a local physician who died an early death. The story goes that he was found with another man's wife. There was a gun-fight and my great-great-grandfather ended up dead, at age 36.

  3. I think what ever you find out isn't going to change what happened. That's history.

    It's family I don't think it hurts to ask.

  4. The sad thing is that the person who can tell you the absolute truth about the situation is long gone. Anything else is just hearsay, and if that's all you're going to get, you might as well concoct your own story.

    It won't HURT to ask....but, take anything that isn't documented with legal documents with a grain of salt...and then, those aren't always truthful. Just try to remember we are all human....none of us are perfect, and if your grandfather erred, then maybe he married your grandmother too quickly and then met the true love of his life...why else would he leave his family?

  5. DH has a maternal grandfather he never met and no one talked about - "the man out West". Supposedly his grandmother wanted to pursue a career in music, and a Southwest town wasn't the place to do this, so they divorced and she went back East. There is a history of bipolar illness in DH's side of the family and I strongly suspect that besides DH, his mother and sister having this, that his grandfather also had it. I may be wrong but it makes the most sense for them being so quiet about him. I may find out someday as there are piles of correspondence from his family stored away in boxes. I only bring this up because, besides illicit relationships, mental illness is another taboo subject in families.

  6. It is always fun to learn something of the past. Truthfully, when I learn (hear) something negative of my family history, my mind disregards it. If it is good I feed it.
    I was speaking of my Granny Lloyd to a minister once, he said, you must mean Granny Davis, WHAT? mama never told me.

    I heard a few things, but I only remember my granny Lloyd unsnapping that little change purse to give me a nickel to go to the store with. She also made me P-nut butter crackers. using all four crackers when soda crackers came in four sections.
    It may be very interesting to learn, but it won't change your present state of thoughts unless you want it to.
    "One never knows does one?" My brother's favorite quote. ((HUGS))

  7. I'd love to know the story behind the dashes - those are usually the ones that are pretty interesting. :-)

  8. I agree with the others, can't hurt to ask. Of course I hope you'll share those secrets with us if you find out! :)

  9. I would be curious, too. You'll have to go with your heart. Sometimes it can be interesting to find out history.

  10. I'd ask. No one can be hurt at this point and family lore is good to know. My family has bigamy -- and I'm sure we're not the only ones where there was a wife in Europe and another wife in America -- and a few other tales not so pretty. Most of the family lore was lost when my mother died and I'd sure like one more chance to chat with her about the stories that she knew. Alas...

    "Carousel" is a five night production, but I am pretty sure it will be taped and shown on PBS.

  11. You can take whatever they tell you - but if you don't ask - you may never know. So go for it.

  12. I say it does not hurt to ask!

    Always a pleasure visiting you here.

    You should get to know Iggy at Intense Guy. His family history is awesome and his stories amazing and wonderfully written!


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