Nov 132016
Ludwig Hamann (1902-1986)

Ludwig Hamann (1902-1986)

Born in 1902, Ludwig Hamann, my husband’s grandfather, lived in Germany in a tumultuous time. He experienced the First World War and the interwar period when life in Germany was difficult for many. He joined a company that sold chicory coffee in 1922 and worked as a salesman for many years. Around that time, he also joined the YMCA and practiced his Christian faith with the other men that he met there. In a letter to his daughter, he writes that the day he convinced Lina Weinecke—a woman he met at work—to attend an exhibit with him was the best day of his life. Lina and Ludwig married in 1927 and their eldest daughter Trudi was born in 1930.

In 1932, Ludwig joined the Sturmabteilung (the Storm Detachment), which was the paramilitary section of the Nazi Party. The SA numbered 400,000 men by that point, but would grow to over 3 million members by 1933; many of these members were working class and unemployed. Ludwig was drawn to the Nazi party, according to his daughter, because Hitler had built the Autobahnen (the highways), which had helped many people, and he had created jobs for many who had been out of work–Hitler gave people hope for the future. Undoubtedly, Ludwig was also drawn to the nationalistic message of the Nazis: the cry that Germans and Nazis were better than others, the assertion that this superiority meant that other groups, such as the Communists, should be chased, beaten, and driven out of Germany.

Ludwig’s mother and his wife disagreed with his membership in the SA and were scared for his safety.

Lina Hamann and children

Lina Hamann and children

The predominantly working-class SA would come into conflict with the middle-class SS. In 1934, the SA was violently overthrown by Hitler and his men who believed that these working class, mostly socialist masses, would stand in their way of consolidating power. Some of the SA became SS members. My husband’s aunt does not mention in her family history what happened to Ludwig’s political beliefs at this point. Instead, she tells us that her parents were devastated by the death of Trudi in 1933. Two more girls were born to the family in 1934 and 1935. Ludwig was singing with his Christian men’s choir when his second daughter was born. He came home to find his wife in labour. His mother heard the commotion from her neighbouring apartment, and when she joined to help in the delivery, she discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s head. Thankfully, the baby was born healthy. Lutz, my husband’s father, was born in 1937. A third girl joined the family in 1941.

Ludwig Hamann joined the German army in 1939 when the war broke out. He was mostly absent from the family home for six years. He was stationed in Belgium, in Germany, and he ended the war as a prisoner in Greece. At home, my husband’s grandmother foraged in the forests to find enough food to feed her children. They sold the baby’s clothes for food; they had no choice.

Ludwig returned from the war a broken man. His relationship with his family was difficult and painful. As a former Nazi, he had subject to the denazification rules. His desire to move up in the world ended in bitterness. Any improvements in his life thanks to Nazism were fleeting at best, and the cost for this fleeting improvement was an unfathomable number of deaths and a systematic program to eliminate a group of people to whom the Germans felt superior.

Was Ludwig Hamann a bad man? Was he an evil man? At what point did his hopes for a better life for himself turn into something destructive? To what extent was he, a common man, responsible for the actions of those he supported?

Ludwig in uniform with his family

Ludwig in uniform with his family

At what point were the vocal reservations of his wife and his mother silenced? How were they silenced? Did their protests reside in those silent, unspoken spaces that exist between us and those we love? Did they choose to rationalize Ludwig’s political beliefs? Or did these women look aside and dismiss the rumours about what was happening to their Jewish neighbours? Or were they insistent, loud and merely ignored because they came from women who had no say in the machinations of powerful men?

What responsibility do we have to this history, a history of humanity gone wrong? This isn’t a history of a group of people who are different from us. This isn’t the history of an evil people. This is a history of common people: common people who believed that they were doing the right things for their families and who wanted a better future. This is a history of common people who, through false information and dangerous ideas, became convinced that their better future and their worth as a culture and race were threatened by people who were different that them. This is a history of all of us, of all humans, and of all of the evils that lurk in our hearts.

Lest we forget.

Nov 092014
Richard Burke

Recent comments and inquiries about my Burke family research have reminded me that I do have a couple of additional pieces of information to add to the Burke family story.

Richard Burke Family

Richard Burke Family

In a previous post, I mentioned that I believed that I had found the brother of my g-g-g-grandfather David Burk.  I believe that David and his siblings came to Canada during the late 1840s at the time of the Irish potato famine.  David Burk settled in Mariposa Township in Victoria County, Ontario.  Oral family history has it that David had a brother Richard and a brother Joseph.  I believe that David’s brother Richard moved to Carievale, Saskatchewan.  I outline my reasons for making this connection in my previous post. I have yet to locate David’s brother Joseph.

In the meantime, however, I have some additional information about David Burk.  This new information adds more circumstantial evidence that David Burk and Richard Burke are brothers.

While in Ontario this summer, I made a trip to the Ontario Archives (love).  I pulled the tax assessment rolls for Mariposa Township (Fonds F 1761).  These aren’t on microfilm, so I had the pleasure of dealing with the beautiful old folders.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of them.  I found the following entries for David Burk:


David Burk; Con: 2 W 1/2; Lot: 20; Acres: 100; Value of each parcel or lot: 75; Value of horses: 30; No of neat cattle, 3 years or upwards: 2; Number of neat cattle: 6; Total value of taxable personal property: 36; Statute labour: 6.


Records weren’t available as they discovered mold on the folders.


David Burk; Age 28; Farmer; Householder; Con 2, Lot 20 W 1/2; Value of lot: 300. No other info.


Occupant: David Burke; Occupation: Yeoman; Householder; Age: 28; Concession 2; Lot 22 1/2 N; No. of Acres: 100; Value of each lot: 40; Total value of property: 40; Statute Labour, No of days: 2.

I also checked if David Burk was perhaps the original patent holder for the land on Con 2 Lot 20.  He wasn’t.  The original patent for Con 2 Lot 20 1/2 W for Mariposa Township, Victoria County went to John Ray in 1843, George Ray in 1844, and to John Naylor 1853 and 1854. This suggests that David Burk was renting this land — a fact which is confirmed by the fact that he has moved to Con 2, Lot 22 by 1854.  The 1861 census has him living on Con 2, Lot 21.



1873 Mary Ann Shouldice Burke Death Record

  1. If there were other Burk siblings living on this land and helping (and I suspect that there were), they were younger than David because he is listed as the head of the household.
  2. It gives us some pretty interesting information about the farm: 6 neat cattle!
  3. It gives us some additional information about David’s age.  The 1861 census puts his date of birth at 1824, but according to this new information, it could have been a couple years later in 1826.

Of course, none of this ties David Burk to Richard Burke.  What I also discovered, however, was that David Burk was living next to several Shouldice families in 1851-4: those of Jacob, William, John and Samuel.  Richard Burke’s wife was Mary Ann Shouldice.

Moreover, Mary Ann Shouldice is buried in North Valentia United Cemetery which is only one concession over from David Burk’s farm in Mariposa Township.  (Mary Ann died of puerperal peritonitis (infection after childbirth) three days after the birth of her son Frederick Whitlock Burke in 1873 – see the death record to the left).

It is seems probable that Mary Ann Shouldice was related to the Shouldice family who lived next to David Burk and that Richard had met Mary Ann through this connection. (I suspect that Richard was living on David’s farm).  Perhaps Mary Ann was the daughter of Jacob Shouldice who was born 1796 in Ireland and who died in 1882 in Lindsay in Victoria County.  This would fit as Jacob is the name of Richard and Mary Ann’s first son. Interestingly, Jacob Shouldice is listed as Bible Christian in his death record.  David Burk’s son Benjamin (my great-great grandfather) married into the Puley family who were also Bible Christians.

So again, this isn’t definite proof that Richard and David were brothers, but at this point I would be very surprised if they weren’t.

P.S. Someone named Frances left a comment on my previous post that she was a descendant of Richard Burke and knew that he had 12 siblings.  Frances — I tried to contact you at the e-mail you left, however, my e-mail bounced.  I’d love to hear more about what you know.  You can write me directly at!

Apr 062014

I have done some major work on the web site in the last few months.  I have updated its look (yay!), and I have made some behind the scene changes that make some things easier for me (and hopefully for readers too).

Twigged also has a brand-new Facebook page if you would like to follow the site there.  I link to any new material on Facebook so you won’t miss anything.  You can find the page here:

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the database update went slightly awry, and the photos and documents that were on the site previously were erased.  I do have copies on my computer, but it will take me some time to re-upload them.  If there was something on the previous site that you are desperate to have, let me know and I’ll do my best to get it to you.



 Posted by at 9:29 am
Jul 192013
Mary Ann Shouldice

As I was researching the connection between the families of David and Richard Burk(e)  something stood out for me.  Richard Burke’s wife Mary Ann Shouldice died in 1873 after the birth of her son Frederick Whitlock.  Richard Burke was left to raise 10 children by himself.  Normally, a widower with children would remarry.  Richard never did, and there is a grave marker for Mary Ann in Saskatchewan where Richard buried.  A drawing of Mary Ann (likely based on a photograph) has been passed down to descendants.  This gives me the sense that this was a woman who was well-loved and desperately missed.  But who was Mary Ann?  Who were her parents?

In a previous post, I speculated that Mary Ann was the daughter of Jacob Shouldice and Elizabeth Bradley.  I now have some additional evidence that this is the case.

1) David Burk and Jacob Shouldice were neighbours. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, Jacob Shouldice and David Burk (Mary Ann’s brother-in-law) were neighbours in Mariposa Township, Victoria County.  The 1851(2) census records for Mariposa Township have not survived, but the Archives of Ontario hold the Assessment Rolls and Tax Collectors rolls for the early 1850s.  The 1853 Assessment Roll is particularly useful because it contains the ages and occupations of the inhabitants of the township.

In the early 1850s, there are four Shouldice households, one Burk household and one Laidley household on Lots 20 and 21 of Concession 2 in Mariposa Township as follows:

  • Lot 20, Con 2:  David Burk (West 1/2); John Shouldice (South, 2 acres); Abraham Laidley (East 1/2)
  • Lot 21, Con 2: Samuel Shouldice (NW ¼); William Shouldice (S ½) Jacob Shouldice (NE ¼)

Mariposa Township Map

View Mariposa Township in a larger map

2) Mary Ann’s eldest son is named Jacob George

The name of her eldest son is Jacob George, likely after Jacob Shouldice. Another researcher pointed out to me that John Shouldice might be her father.  He is living with Richard and Mary Ann Burke in the 1861 census.  He is the right age to be Mary Ann’s father.  However, I think that this John is actually Mary Ann’s cousin.  He is listed as crippled in the 1861 and this information makes me believe that he is likely the handicapped son of Adam Shouldice who settled in Harvey Township in 1825 as part of the Peter Robinson immigration scheme.  None of Mary Ann and Richard’s children are named John which would be likely if he were her father.

3) Aunt Elizabeth Reekie

Mary Ann’s youngest son Fred W. Burke is living with Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie in Duluth, Minnesota in 1895 and later with his own family in 1920.  Elizabeth’s marriage certificate to James D Reekie lists her parents as Jacob Shouldice and Elizabeth Bradley, and there is a copy of her baptismal record in the Valentia Bible Christian Church in Mariposa Township.  A written Burke family history recounts that Fred Burke stayed with an aunt in the US after his mother’s death.

4) Mary Ann’s sister Catherine Forest

I think that Jacob and Elizabeth had a daughter Catherine who married Thomas Forest. In 1861, there is a M.A. Forest living with Richard Burk and Mary Ann Shouldice, born around 1854,  who is listed as a niece.  This is Mary Ann Forest, who, on her marriage certificate, lists her parents as Thomas Forest and Catherine Shouldice.

Also in 1861, there is a C. Forest, age 1,  living with Jacob and Elizabeth Shouldice.  This census also lists a C. Shouldice and an E. Shouldice living with Jacob and Elizabeth.  I believe that this is a census taker’s error and that this is C. Forest (née Shouldice), and her daughter Elizabeth Forest.  The ages of Catherine and Elizabeth align with 1871 census results for the Forest family. There is a baptismal record for a Catherine Forest at the Valentia Bible Christian Church born 15 Nov 1860 to Catherine and Thomas Forest.

Catherine Forest’s family and Elizabeth Reekie’s family are also linked.  Catherine’s grandson Herbert is living with Elizabeth in 1900 US census.  Catherine’s daughter Elizabeth Forest Maunder was also living with Elizabeth in 1930 US census.

I believe that this is good evidence that Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie and Catherine Shouldice Forest are Mary Ann’s sisters.  Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie’s parents are clearly listed on her marriage certificate as Jacob Shouldice and Elizabeth Bradley.

5) Cousins Abe, Bill and David Shouldice

Abe, Bill and David Shouldice, sons of William Shouldice (1831-1908) and Elizabeth Irwin (1838-1918), are identified as cousins by the family of Richard Burke in a written history of Gainsborough, SK.  This would make William Shouldice Mary Ann’s brother.

There is further evidence that this is the case. William Shouldice (1831-1908) lists his year of immigration as 1834 in the 1901 census.  Mary Ann Shouldice lists her place of birth around 1834 as “at sea” on the 1871 census. This William also has a son named Jacob who dies as an infant.

Of course, none of this is conclusive evidence.  Much like my attempt to prove the relationship between Richard and David Burke, proving Mary Ann Shouldice’s parentage is slippery and uncertain…

Coming soon…

In my next post, I’ll add some additional information about the Shouldice family.