As I sit here in my home this Thanksgiving, I want to thank my ancestors. I have been exploring backwards for several years now and every time I discover a new gem or connect with a distant cousin, I am thankful for those that have gone before me. I just wanted to write a short bit about a few.
I am thankful for my great-grandfather Peter Kersten for embarking across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life here in America. He was 21-year-old, and in his native country of Germany, it was not the familial custom to acquire land from his parents, so he was left with little options. He chose to come to the new land, America. The year was 1893, it was known as the Progressive Era, a period of widespread social activism and political reform in the United States. Support for prohibition was growing as was woman’s suffrage (source: The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project). The irony is Peter was a brewer by trade until Prohibition (1920-1933). According to the 1930 US Census, he was an Elevator Operator. The effect of prohibition was so profound that he had to change occupations.
I am also thankful for my grandfather, Lacy Luke Sublett, he was born in 1909, he was too young for World War I, but when the Second World War came along, he had incurred an injury to his leg that would keep him home. This had to be difficult to see your other friends and neighbors go off to fight the Axis powers. I consider him the family chameleon. He was born in the country on a tobacco farm but made his way to the city of Lynchburg at a young age. He started out on his own living in Lynchburg as a shipping clerk in 1921. He married his first wife in 1931. By 1934 he was working as a Life Insurance Agent for Provident Relief Association of Washington D.C. He met and married my grandmother, Odelle. They went on to have two children, my mom and my Aunt Carol. He worked for a couple different Insurance Agencies until he went to work for Conner Produce Company. He continued to work for them throughout the war.
Lastly, I am thankful for Margaret Agnes Kersten, my paternal grandmother, whom I have never had a chance to meet. She was a first generation German-American growing up on the south side of Chicago. Her and her brother during prohibition and she came of age during the roaring 1920’s. I often wonder how she introduced Fred Whitehead to her parents. He was a Georgia born, Army man who was working in Chicago at the Army Recruiting Offices when they met. He had been born and raised Baptist and Margaret was a devout Catholic. They married and went on to have three children.
Although I often write about dead people, I am most thankful for my family that is living in my life today. My parents are both so warm and loving. I am so very blessed to have the best siblings and sibling in-laws, nieces and nephews. So, take the time today to let the “family” in your life how thankful you are for them. I am thankful for mine.
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, retrieved 11/24/19 from https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/progressive-era.cfm