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

I’m still chipping away at one of my most interesting genealogical problems: Where did my third great grandfather David Burk (abt 1824-1891) come from in Ireland? When did he come to Canada? And who did he come to Canada with?

What do we know already?

We do know some important things about David:

  • We know that by the early 1850s, he was settled on a farm in Mariposa Township, Victoria County, Ontario. There are several tax assessment rolls which place David Burk in Mariposa at this time. (See my earlier post on this).
  • We likely know as much as there is to know about his children and their descendants.  (A lot of this work was done by our Burk cousins here).
  • We know that David was Protestant, an important detail in Ireland.
  • We know that David and his son Benjamin took up land in Minden near Haliburton around 1870.  This is where David and his wife Elizabeth die.

In other words, we have solid information about David’s life after he came to Canada and after 1850.  Before David appears on the tax assessment rolls in Mariposa, everything is murky.  There was some oral family history that suggested that David came with several siblings–one person posted on this blog that they believe 12 siblings came together.  Not surprisingly, finding these siblings has been the most successful way to piece together this puzzle so far. That said, there is a lot of conflicting information about David’s siblings: some of which I’m going to try to sort out here.

*Just a reminder that the surname is spelled Burk or Burke.  It seems to have been a random choice. I try to use the one that each individual preferred.

Almost-confirmed siblings

There are two almost-confirmed, as-good-as-we-can-tell siblings of David Burk: Richard Burke and Esther Burk Graham. Although there is no birth information that absolutely confirms Richard and Esther as David’s siblings, there is strong circumstantial evidence.

Richard Burke

Richard Burke

Richard Burke (1836-1907).  Richard Burke and his children moved from Mariposa Township to Carievale, Saskatchewan in the 1880s.  Several of David Burk’s children joined Richard and his family there, which, I believe, suggests that Richard and David were brothers.  I’ve written about these connections here. Richard’s descendants knew that Richard had been born in County Monaghan, an important breakthrough!

Esther Burk Graham (1839-1916).  Richard’s descendants also wrote down their family history!  One of Richard Burke’s sons wrote a family history, in which he recounts how his siblings stayed at an aunt’s farm in Manitoba on the way to Saskatchewan.  The aunt was married to David Graham.  A little digging and I was able to find a marriage certificate for Esther Burk and David Graham, a marriage certificate which listed Esther’s parents as Benjamin and Jane! Another breakthrough.

Because the family likely came from County Monaghan and the father of David, Richard, and Esther was Benjamin, another researcher on quickly pointed out to me that this family could be the Burk family from Aghabog parish in County Monaghan, listed in the Church of Ireland Survey of 1821.  Here, a Benjamin Burk is living in Drumacreeve and has one son and two daughters. If this is David’s father, we can deduce that he had three older siblings in addition to the younger siblings Richard and Esther.  Note also that there is a big age gap between David and Richard (about 12 years), which makes it quite likely that there are additional siblings to fill this gap.

Other possible siblings or relatives

There have been clues to the identities of the other siblings.
Joseph and Richard.  Oral family history that was passed down in one branch of the Burk family suggested that there were brothers Richard and David. This is a quote from a previous version of our Burk cousins’ web site.

Family history indicates that David did have brothers in Canada. An older brother, Joseph Burk was married also to a Roman Catholic and was  not to be recognized by David, or associated with. There is a possibility that Joseph went west with the opening of the New Territory.

There was also a younger brother, Richard, who had a lot of children and went off to Australia.

Obviously, the details in this oral history might be a bit wrong.  However, there still might be some clues here to follow.  Richard was the one who went west, however, perhaps there was a brother Joseph who married a Catholic.  And perhaps Joseph or another brother went to Australia. I have tried to trace Joseph but haven’t had much luck.

William and Bridget. The Burk cousins’ web site suggests that there were two siblings named William and Bridget.  I’m not sure where this information came from, but it could be an interesting clue.  Bridget is the name of an Irish Catholic saint, so I’m not sure that the Protestant Burks would name their daughter Bridget.  Nevertheless, it is good to keep this information in mind.  Perhaps Bridget was the Catholic wife of William, and William was the brother who was ostracized?
Mary Jane Burke Puley obituary from the Lindsay Post, 1906

Mary Jane Burke Puley’s obituary from the Lindsay Post, 1906

Mary Jane Burke Puley (1837-1906).  Now Mary Jane is an interesting one.  I came across Mary Jane when I was researching the Puley family.  Benjamin Burk, son of David Burk, married Mariah Puley, the daughter of another Bible Christian named Philip Puley. Mariah had an older brother named Thomas who was married to Mary Jane Burk.  According to Mary Jane’s obituary, she was born in Ireland in 1833 to David and Mary Burk.  She came to Canada in 1843 with her brothers who settled in Mariposa. Mary Jane and Thomas Puley did not have any children, but they raised Mary Jane’s niece, the daughter of Ellen Burke and Robert Casey.

Of course, we know that David’s father was Benjamin and not David, but there are some facts that suggest that these two Burk families were closely related:
  1. Two Puleys married two Burkes.  Thomas Puley married Mary Jane Burke.  Benjamin Burk married Mariah Puley.
  2. Both families were Bible Christians, and this community was a small one in Mariposa and in Victoria County.
  3. OK, this one’s the kicker.  Mary Jane’s sister Ellen Burk Casey is buried directly next to David Burk’s infant daughter Violet in the Little Britain Bible Christian Cemetery, perhaps even in the same plot (it’s hard to tell the plot divisions from the cemetery transcripts). In addition, Ellen Casey is buried next to Jane Graham, possibly the grandmother of Esther Burk’s husband David Graham.

So what does this mean?  It is possible that the obituary lists the wrong names for Mary Jane and Ellen’s parents.  I’ve certainly seen that before.  By 1906, there would have been few Burkes left in Victoria County to help with the obituary and the names could be wrong.  It is also possible that David and Mary were Mary Jane and Ellen’s parents, and David, father of Mary Jane and Ellen, was a cousin of Benjamin.  Regardless, I think that it fair to conclude that the two families are related in some way.

Ellen Burke Casey (1826-1860), sister of Mary Jane, is therefore another possible sibling of David Burk.  There is some additional evidence of a relationship between the Casey family and David Burk.  David Burk bought property with John Casey who is likely the father of Robert Casey.
Catherine Burk Pogue (1812- 1887). Catherine and her husband Alexander Pogue have a farm on Con A, Lot 18 in Mariposa, which is very close to David Burk’s farm. We know that Catherine and Alexander came to Canada in 1839 because their eldest daughter Margaret was born at sea. David Burk is married to Elizabeth Pogue, a potential relative of Alexander Pogue.  Born in 1812, Catherine would have to be the eldest sibling in the Burk family if she is indeed David’s sister.

Here’s what we are left with

If we assume (and this is a BIG, ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE assumption) that all of the above people are David Burk’s siblings, we would have a family tree that looks like this.  Note: please don’t copy this without all of these qualifiers.  I’m really not sure that this is right–it is just a guess at this time.

  1. Catherine Burk Pogue (1812-1887)
  2. Unknown daughter (per the Church of Ireland 1821 survey)
  3. Unknown son, possibly Joseph.  Oral family history has it that David had an older brother Joseph.  Church of Ireland 1821 survey lists a son to Benjamin.
  4. David Burk (1824-1891)
  5. Ellen Burk Casey (1826-1860)
  6. Gap – possibly other siblings like William
  7. Richard Burke (1836-1907)
  8. Mary Jane Burke Puley (1837-1906).  There are 10 months and six days between Richard and Mary Jane, making it possible that they are siblings.
  9. Esther Burk Graham (1839-1916).  There are 27 years between Catherine and Esther.  If there were twelve siblings, this is not impossible.  Usually, I calculate two years between siblings which would be a total of 24 years in this case.  Add in an unfortunate miscarriage or a bit longer between some children, and you easily reach 27 years.

Where to go from here

I have been whittling away at this problem for quite some time.  Here’s what else I’m doing:

  • I have list of all of the Burk(e)s in Victoria County.  So far, no luck matching them up or connecting them.
  • There are two other David Burk(e)s from Aghabog who live in Ontario.  Definitely relatives, but I’m not sure how.  I’ll write another post on these Davids at one point.
  • I’m looking at all of the connections between the Burk, Shouldice, Pogue and Casey families in Mariposa. This makes my head spin, but it could be a useful line of inquiry.

Please do let me know if you are interested in this family and/or if you have any relevant info!

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.