Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Birthday

 Happy July fourth ! Today we celebrate the birth of a Nation. But you've already heard about all that. I'll be celebrating a birth as well, the birth of great grandfather Christian Reichart. I didn't know this growing up and I'm certain my father didn't either but Great Grandfather Christian Reichart was born of the 4th of July in 1870. That was also the year that the fourth became a federal holiday. He was the eighth child of Christian Reichart Sr. but not the last. He would have a sister Susan born in 1872.
 That was the beginning of the Reicharts in America as natural born Americans ! All but the oldest George would be born in Greenport on Long Island New York. All would marry, except for the youngest Susan who would take care of her mother her whole life. Most are buried in Sterling cemetery beside the Presbyterian church. They where a successful family with many children and many trades. All were unknown to me growing up. My father had only heard family stories of these German people living on the other fork of Long Island. He didn't know any of them. The reason for that is a bit of a mystery.
 Christian Reichart Jr. born on the fourth of July married Catherine Gaffga, She was a member of another German immigrant family in Greenport. Together they had two children, Elwood and Mildred. Elwood was my fathers father, my grandfather. Great Grandmother Catherine passed away in 1914 when Grandfather Elwood was just fourteen years old. And this is where the mystery begins. Just who and where the two children, Mildred and Elwood were with following that is a bit of a secret. The relationship between Christian and the rest of the Gaffga family seems to have been strained. Christian would go on to suffer from stomach cancer and pass away in the " poor " house at Yapank, New York. That was in 1940. From all accounts the Gaffga family was quite well to do but seemed to offer no assistance. Christian had many brothers and two sisters yet it doesn't appear that he was close to them. Strange too that Christian outlived his son Elwood by eight years ! Elwood , my grandfather died in Florida in 1932. My father and his brother would be raised by their maternal grandparents. My father was eight years old when his father died. With his passing went all contact with the Gaffga family and the Reichart family from Baden, Germany.
 Ever since I made these discoveries the fourth of July took on another angle for me. I think about great grandfather, born on the fourth of July. The year he was born that was made a federal holiday. He would have grown up with an awareness of this I'm certain. Being the son of an immigrant I wonder if he was proud of being a natural born citizen of America. I'm certain he grew up celebrating German traditions and culture. Or did his parents and neighbors try to assimilate to the American culture and adopt American ways ? It is a question that will go unanswered. I'm thinking a lot of questions will go unanswered. And so on the fourth of July I say, God Bless America and happy birthday Great grandfather Christian. He is 147 years old today. Were I on Long Island I think I would place an American flag upon his grave to celebrate his birth as well as the " official " date it became a Federal holiday. Had he lived just one more year, till 1941, he would seen July the fourth become a paid federal holiday. Well, he didn't work for the government anyway.