Monday, May 18, 2020

My Family History: The Story of Jennifer Lynn Waters

Jennifer Waters
Geography 219 - Honors
Professor Western
September 30, 1996

My Family History

Before I started to write this paper, I thought I knew a lot about my family's history, but this paper gave me the opportunity to discover even more about the people who are responsible for so much of how I am today.

My parents, Norman John Waters and Darlene Marie Moyer Waters, were married November 18, 1972, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. My father was born on June 6, 1949, in Oakland, California, and my mother was born on May 7, 1948, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. They currently live in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with my sixteen-year-old brother Andy. When my father was younger, he lived in Norfolk, Virginia; Springfield, Ohio; Oakland, California; and Long Beach, California, because his father was in the United States Navy. On the other hand, my mother has lived her entire life in Pennsylvania, in such places as Schuylkill Haven, Auburn, and Harrisburg.

My father now works as the Vice President of Corporate Development at Reading and Blue Mountain Railroad in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Before that, he spent many years working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Just as a side note, my father loves basketball with a passion. He got a scholarship to play basketball at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. If not for basketball, he would have never gone to college. My mother never went to college, and I know she regrets this. Her family just did not have enough money to send her. Currently, she does some part-time office work, but she has devoted most of her life to raising my brother and me. She enjoys gardening and cooking.

Although I know my father took one or two courses in Spanish between his undergraduate years at Lehigh University and graduate years at Penn State University, I have never heard anything but English from his mouth. My mother is a different story. Since her side of the family is basically German, she was raised speaking both English and Pennsylvania Dutch. When my brother and I were growing up, we would hear her speak to my relatives in Pennsylvania Dutch when she did not want us to know what she was saying.

Because of poor relations between the members of my father's side of the family, I do not know a lot about them. I never even met my father's father, Norman Harold Waters. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 6, 1915. He died of cancer sometime in 1956 when my dad was still in college. He worked as Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. I know he moved a lot because of his job. His last residence before death was Reading, Pennsylvania. As far as I know, he only spoke English. I get my Welsh background from his side of the family.

He married my grandmother, Augusta Renner Graf, in 1948, in Philadelphia. Although they never got divorced, my grandparents were separated from the time my father was a little boy. My father's mother was born on October 16, 1913, in Philadelphia. She studied at St. Joseph's Hospital to become a nurse and spent most of her life working in that medical profession. Although I did not know my grandfather, I did know her, and affectionally called her "Nana." Right before she died, she spent a couple years living in an apartment in Hershey that was five minutes from my house. I remember she used to smoke cigarettes all the time. Whenever I would visit her apartment in Hershey, I would secretly raid her kitchen drawers and throw the cigarettes in the trash. I never knew if she realized I did that. Before that, we would visit her in her house in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. During the summer after my sixth-grade year of middle school, she died on July 28, 1989, two days after my birthday.

My father's father's parents were Norman John Waters and Etta Mae Evans Waters. My great-grandfather gave me my Welsh background. He was born in 1892 in Mississippi, and my great-grandmother was born in 1897 in Arkansas. As far as I know, they only spoke English. That is all I know about them.

I know a little more about my father's mother's parents. John Adam Graf was born April 19, 1884, in South Wabash, Pennsylvania. He worked for a railroad as a conductor and fireman. He died October 23, 1960. His wife, Margaret E. Renner, was born December 15, 1876, in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. She was a housewife. She died December 16, 1956. Although both had German ancestors, they only spoke English. I do not know when or where they were married.

Since relations are better on my mother's side of the family, I know a lot more about them. In a nutshell, they are basically Lutheran, Pennsylvania Dutch speaking people, originating from Germany. My mother's mother, Dorothea Mildred Mengel, otherwise known as "Mam," was born January 15, 1919, in Rock, Pennsylvania. She married on June 22, 1946, in Summit Station, Pennsylvania, and worked as a housewife. She makes very good food, especially her potato filling which we always eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

She currently lives in Auburn, Pennsylvania, with her husband of fifty years. She married Wilson Henry Moyer, my grandfather otherwise known as "Pap," on June 22, 1946, in Summit Station, Pennsylvania, He was also born there on October 9, 1916. Now he is retired, but when he was younger he worked at the car shop for the Reading Railroad, and he also worked at Alcoa Aluminum Company. Although he is not an "educated man," he can fix or build practically anything. Both my grandparents speak both English and Pennsylvania Dutch. Growing up, they spoke mostly Pennsylvania Dutch at home. Today, I hear them speak when they get into arguments.

I do not know in what year my grandmother's parents, Howard Mengel and Emma Kraus Mengel, were married. But I do know that Howard Mengel was born March 5, 1892, in Auburn, Pennsylvania. He was a carpenter who worked for the Reading Railroad. He spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. He died February 10, 1924, of pneumonia. His parents were George Franklin Mengel and Rebecca Schullenberger Mengel. George Mengel's mother, Ellen Moser, was a Native American. She is buried at Red Church Cemetery in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

Emma Krause was born March 23, 1894, in Rock, Pennsylvania. She was a housewife, and she spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. Also, Howard Mengel was her second husband. Her first husband died in a mine explosion. My great Aunt Helen is a product of that marriage. After Howard Mengel died of pneumonia around age 32, she remarried for the third time. That husband died of natural causes around 1950. My great Aunt Marie was a product of their marriage. Emma Krause died February 8, 1943, of a heart attack.

My grandfather's parents, Carrie A. Werner Moyer, and Robert D. Moyer, were married in 1914. Born March 11, 1891, in Jefferson, Pennsylvania, Carrier Werner was a farmer's wife. Like the rest of my mother's side of the family, she spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. She died sometime in 1965. Robert Moyer was born March 18, 1866, in Wayne Township, Pennsylvania. He was a farmer. I don't know when he died. His parents were Lewis Moyer and Mary Hain Moyer. Again, they spoke Pennsylvania Dutch at home instead of English.

Lewis Meyer was the twelfth child of Christian Meyer. Christian Meyer was born in Blsass Kovigreich, Frankreich, on February 2, 1803. This is just after Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the armies in that part of Europe and annexed 17 states of Germany to France. Christian Meyer was educated in excellent schools in his homeland. At age 18, he got passage on a sailing vessel to America.

In 1829, he came to Black Horse, Wayne Township, Pennsylvania. He became a schoolteacher at the request of Valentine Brown. Brown offered him board and lodging in his own house so that he would stay and teach. Consequently, Meyer became the first schoolteacher in the first school in Wayne Township. He taught there for 41 years. He was also the "Singing Meister" and organist at St. Paul's Summer Hill Church for seven years. In addition, he was a farmer and tombstone cutter. He married Miss Catherine Fide and had thirteen children by her.

It is amazing to me that I am a product of a schoolteacher who came from Germany in the 1800's, a Native American woman, a railroad worker, a farmer's wife, and so on. I am intrigued with each person who makes up my family's history. I wish I could have known them and seen their lives. If not for them, I would not be alive today. I wonder what they would think of me if they could see my life today.

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Lynn Waters

Happy Mother's Day, Darlene Marie Moyer Waters. 
Happy Father's Day, Norman John Waters.