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My grandfather was born around 1890 in a German village in Russia along the Volga River. By the time he was born, many of the Germans were just starting to flee the area their forebears had colonized in the 1760's because of growing hostility from the Russians. They were joining the flocks of migrants to North and South America.

My grandfather had a little brother. They were the only children of their mother. I'm still trying to track down the village church baptismal records to discover the brother's name and year of birth.

One tragic day, it must not have been too long after he learned to walk, my grandfather was supposed to be watching his brother. Somehow the brother got too close to a horse and was on the receiving end of a kick to the head. Needless to say, he didn't stand a chance. My great-grandparents buried their tiny child in a time where it actually was more common (though usually due to disease).

In 1913, with the political conditions in Russia deteriorating, my grandfather's parents urged him to follow his uncle to Canada. But they would not be joining their son on his journey. Even after what must have been 10-15 years or more, his mother was still too distraught over the loss of her little child to leave his grave behind. She was condemning herself to the coming famines and utter collapse of their way of life that they saw coming because her grief was so great she could not tear herself away from the place she buried that little child.

This is what I think of when I try to fathom what those parents in Newtown are going through and will be going through for the rest of their lives. It's what I think of when I look at my own kids (one is a kindergartner himself) and try to stop myself from imagining the horror of losing them.

Originally posted to Jim H on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community.

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