Thursday, January 3, 2013

Great Great Aunt Jeanne

Taken 1981 - Top L- Ernie, Dewey, Harold
Bottom L: Ruth, Jessie, Florence and Jeanne
(7 of the Shawver Siblings)
A few days ago, we learned that my great great Aunt Jeanne had passed away.  She was the last of my great grandmother’s siblings – and had been the last one for the last ten years.  I always identified with Aunt Jeanne…and whenever we got together at reunions or funerals, I always spent some time visiting with her.  I don’t think that she would be offended if I called her a combination of “sugar and spice!”  I believe that she would appreciate the cooking term as she was a well known "great" cook.  Aunt Jeanne was a lady who as incredibly kind and loving but she always had spine of steel.  The health challenges alone that she survived took a strong will.  She had had numerous joint replacements for the last 20 years.  Aunt Jeanne was stubbornly independent but was also generous and strong presence in the lives of all she touched. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother – the devotion of her children and grandchildren are proof of that. 

George William Shawver &
Elizabeth Matilda Legg
In genealogical terms, I have always found Aunt Jeanne to be fascinating.  She was the youngest child of the 17 children of George Christian Shawver (he had three separate families).  Her oldest sibling was born in 1883 (Harvey) and she was a great aunt when she was only a few years old.  Her paternal grandparents were born early in the previous century.  George William Shawver was born 15 Nov 1824 and his wife, Elizabeth Matilda Legg was born 16 May 1830.  They both died in 1900 (Elizabeth on 12 Feb 1900 & George on 9 Mar 1900) and her paternal great grandparents were born in the late 18th century.  Aunt Jeanne was born on 6 Jun 1926 when her father was 59 years old and her mother was 44 years old.  Her next oldest sibling, Virginia, was eight years older than her.  I suspect that she was an “oops” baby!  My great grandmother, Florence, was born on 14 Jun 1897 and she married in 1917 when she was 20 years old.  Her oldest five children were all older than Aunt Jeanne.  Aunt Jeanne used to love to hear stories from my grandmother and great uncle because she said that they knew her father better than she did.  They had more time with their grandfather than Aunt Jeanne had with her father.  Aunt Jeanne lost her father in 1931, when she was only 5 years old and she was raised by her mother.  She married Warren Renz in 1946 in Lyons, Burt Co., NE and she and Warren were the parents of six children.  Aunt Jeanne lost her husband twenty years ago and had remained a widow since.
George Christian "Chris"  Shawver & Tamsey Perry

It wasn’t just the gap in years with her ancestral generations but even when with the younger generations.  She was my great great aunt and 42 years older than I!  She was a great aunt before she was a mother.  She probably had at least 20 great, great, great, great nieces and nephews.  She has a large family with many children and grandchildren – but her nieces and nephews must number near 1000 and span at least 5 generations.  (I know from my family alone, there are about 180 nieces and nephews!)  Her father was old enough to have known his grandparents who were born in the 1700’s and Aunt Jeanne was old enough to remember her father.  That span of memory is over 200 years. 

It will be strange attending the next Shawver picnic and not finding Aunt Jeanne there with her coffee directing traffic or at the Gage picnic enjoying the visiting with the family.   She has been a presence in my life – for my entire life…and I will miss her!