- When did you first start working on your family history?
My entire family are German-speaking, Roman Catholics from Carrick and Greenock Townships in Bruce County Ontario. They generally arrived in Canada West in the early 1850s. So the family is relatively easy to put together. Most names are not too common. In high school, I researched and wrote a history of the village of Carlsruhe where the Schwans settled around 1865. My mother was always interested in this and she showed me correspondence from relatives looking to build their family trees. I was away from southern Ontario for many years but came back to Guelph in 1998. Not long after, a distant Kuntz relative phoned to get family information after my Dad told him I was the guy to talk to. Then it occurred to me I should do this for myself. So, I got a Family Tree Maker and started filling in my immediate family. Then while talking to cousins I realized no one had put together anything about my paternal grandmother Josephine Poechman! So after a bit of research and talking to a lot of cousins I eventually put a book together on the Poechman family of some 3,000 people. Three hundred and fifty books were sold to family. Following that I started work on the Schwans. A much smaller family but with a brewing history. This resulted in The Historic Schwan Breweries in 2012, which is available for public sale.
2. What was your most surprising discovery?
My grandmother Poechman had a photo album from around 1904. I didn’t know any of the persons other than it was her family. After talking to the youngest grandson of the first Poechman in Canada I was able to put names to many of the faces.
3. Have you done a DNA test? Were there any surprises about countries of origins?
I just had a DNA kit and am awaiting the results.
4. What is the brick wall you would most like to break down in your family history?
There are no huge brick walls but many little ones to eventually bust through.
5. What is your favourite part of researching your family history?
There are two; talking to the storytellers in the extended family, and getting phone calls or emails out-of-the-blue from distant relatives I don’t know, who have seen my books.