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Why the Family History You Preserve Matters.

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Family History and the research you have done should be preserved.

The work you do as a family historian matters. One important reason why? Your descendants will want to know what you have found -- at least the ones just like you, who love finding out about ancestors.


Even though you love family history, putting all that you find, altogether in a cohesive and meaningful way can be challenging. Organizing it can be a lot! I invite you to use the tools we have at CuZens Genealogy to do just that, organize your family history research. To get you started, here is our free genealogy matters Newsletter. Read on to find out why preserving your family history matters.


Preserving Family History

My father, Converse Crowell died on March 11, 1983, when I was 23 years old. His death has impacted my life in so many ways, including my desire to know my family history. Researching his lineage has been especially important to me. Going back as far as I could along his ancestral line of descent became my passion. I always had in the back of my mind that family members closer to me on that line would be there for another day's research.




Then, it hit me. I am the only person left on the planet with the specific memories I have about my father. At 63 years old, I've survived the death of my younger sister, my four cousins on my father's side, my aunts, my uncle and every member of the generations before me. I still have two sisters, but one is much younger than me and only had our father in her life for 7 years. My other sister never got the chance to meet him. If I don't tell the story, then who will? I am realizing that the responsibility to future generations is mine when it comes to the memory of my father, and I cannot let this opportunity pass by. Preserving family history, something I absolutely love to do seems much more important now.

Preserve Family History Now

I don't know about others my age, but my memory of the past, the little details that give depth to the stories that have resided in the archives of my mind since I was very young seem to get a little more diluted each year. While I feel like my memory is fine, those things that happened 40 or 50 years ago have weathered

many decades. No matter what your age, preserving your family history research now, matters. Future generations will thank you.



My Father's Story

Converse, known by his friends and family as "Connie" was born in Turlock, California on March 12, 1938. He was the third child of Virgil Crowell and Della Convers Crowell. His sister, Janet turned 5 years old the month he was born. His sister Verle Jean who was born in 1935 had passed away in 1936, two years earlier. The year, 1938 also included the broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Wells, and the first Superman comics.


Family History Lineage, Paternal & Maternal


Paternal. Crowell Family History

Converse was the descendant of Abner Buel Crowell, his great grandfather who had come to California in the 1850s with his father John Matthew Crowell and mother Ann Thraves. Abner and his wife, Mary Ann Kanawyer had a son, Charles Chester Crowell who married Lillie May Fredricks (originally Muncy, from her biological father). They had Converse's father, Virgil Lloyd Crowell.


This Crowell Genealogy line traces back to Yelverton Crowe/Crowell who came to America with his father John Crowe in 1635 and were among the original founders of Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The surname Crowe, was changed to Crowell in Yelverton's generation. No one has found the reason for that, at least that I am aware of. For anyone who has read that they were Cromwells who descended from Oliver Cromwell, ceremoniously dropped the "M" in the ocean on the way over from England, well, that is just not accurate.

Maternal. Converse Family History

Frederick Deloraine Converse and Effie Mae Blodgett, Della's grandparents, were Converse's great grandparents who were also the first to come to California sometime between 1879 and 1880. Effie Mae was a teacher at 17 years old in Little Falls, Wisconsin before she married Frederick in 1873.


The Converse genealogy line traces back to Salem and then Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1630. Interestingly enough, Samuel Converse, Edward's son and Moses Crowe, John Crowe's son were recorded and entered right next to each other on the list of baptisms in the church the two families attended in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1637.


Genealogy Timeline of Converse Crowell

Genealogy Road Trip
Linda Faivre and Robin on a genealogy road trip to Turlock in front of the house of Virgil and Della Crowell.

Converse lived with his family in Turlock for a period of time. In 1938, they were living in a house on South Orange Street in Turlock. My cousin Linda, her granddaughter and I visited that house in 2019.


On February 18, 1941, his father, Virgil was seriously injured in a Truck Accident that left him with a broken neck. My grandmother Della described how difficult this time in their lives was for them. I am not sure exactly how long it lasted, but his recovery took quite a while. They experienced the death of their daughter and then 5 years later the accident occurred. It must have been one of the things that made my grandmother so strong.

Virgil Crowell Accident

Converse was only about 3 years old when the accident happened. I remember that he would talk about it to me like it was just a part of the history of their family. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother had to look behind them for my grandfather when he backed up in the car he drove because he couldn't turn his neck all the way. Other than that, my grandfather seemed to be healed both physically and emotionally.

Converse and Janet Crowell visiting their father, Virgil in the hospital.
Converse and Janet Crowell visiting their father, Virgil in the hospital.





This picture was always scary to me as a kid because of how my grandfather looked in the hospital. I think the expression on my aunt's face reveals some fear too. My grandfather, Virgil was one of the kindest men I've ever known. Here is a picture of him as I remember him with my grandmother.

Della Convers and Virgil Crowell
Della Convers Crowell and Virgil Crowell in their backyard at their home in Fairfield, CA

From Turlock, the family moved to El Cerrito, California between 1948 and 1950, when Converse was 11 or 12 years old.

Home in El Cerrito California in 1950s
Family home in El Cerrito, California in the early 1950s.








It is my understanding that the family moved to El Cerrito for work. Virgil was a plant foreman for a company called Battery Separator Manufacturing Company. They did not live in El Cerrito for long. They moved to Suisun City and lived above a bait shop they bought. Suisun City is located right next to Fairfield. By 1953, my father had started attending Armijo High School in Fairfield from where he would graduate in 1956.

Converse Crowell late 1950s
Converse Crowell late 1950s

About 1955, Virgil and Della bought a house in Fairfield. Converse's sister Janet was married and traveling as her husband was a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Virgil passed away in 1974. Della lived in the same house up until she was in her 90s. She died in 2003.

Converse married my mother, Marjorie Ann Sunderman in 1958 at age 20. Although their marriage was pretty tempestuous, it lasted until 1969, the first time and 1971, the 2nd time. They had divorced and got back together briefly. I was born in 1960, followed by my sister Laura in 1963 who died in 1981 from a car accident.


My parents lived in many places in California during my early life, including Fairfield, Lake Tahoe, Lincoln, Sacramento, Fresno, Daly City, and Corte Madera where they divorced in 1969. My father moved back to Fairfield at that time. He and my mother got back together in 1969 in Fairfield, split up again by 1970 and were back together again shortly in 1971. I believe they moved so many times for jobs and the changing status of their marriage.


My father had a daughter from a brief relationship in 1971 that we didn't know about until I was in my 40s. I am unsure of whether or not he knew about her. He likely did not but I really don't know. His daughter's mother would not tell her who her father was until well after he had passed away.


His 2nd marriage in 1973, was to my stepmother. They had a daughter too. I won't go into detail about them because they are all still living, and I of course want to preserve their privacy.


Converse Crowell, my father.

I absolutely loved my father. He was kind, quiet in nature, but had so many friends. Many times, I remember going with him to the store or being out and about in Fairfield, and he would always run into someone he knew. One of my earliest and fondest memories of him was when I was about 4 or 5 years old, he turned on my music box in my room and danced a silly dance. I laughed and laughed.


I always had a sense of safety around my father. His stability, sense of values and how respectfully he treated me always gave me a sense of connection to family and self-confidence. While the divorce had an impact on our relationship, we made it through. I only wish I had more time with him.


The Person

Converse Crowell and Virgil Crowell
Converse Crowell and Virgil Crowell

Converse worked in his parents' bait shop, "Virgil's Bait Shop" in Suisun City California when he was just out of high school. He loved to fish, hunt, go camping and build things.

Converse Crowell late 1950s at Virgil's Bait Shop
Converse Crowell behind the bar at Virgil's Bait Shop in late 1950s.










Lincoln News Messenger  22 Nov 1962, Thu · Page 1
Lincoln News Messenger 22 Nov 1962, Thu · Page 1

He and my mother attempted to own and run a business, a Western Auto Store in Lincoln, California. They kept it going from November of 1962 until they sold it in December 1964. My mother's recollection of it was that they were not successful. I've read diary entries from my mother that conveyed a lot of hope for the business, but I guess they knew they needed to let it go.


Lincoln News Messenger  17 Dec 1964, Thu · Page 8
Lincoln News Messenger 17 Dec 1964, Thu · Page 8

I came across two newspaper articles, in Newspapers.com. The first was about my parents and my grandparents buying the Western Auto Store. The second regarding the sale from my parents to the new owners. That is the very first I have ever heard of them supposedly going to Portland Oregon. To my knowledge, my father did not have a supervisory role in Western Auto. My memory is that we moved from Lincoln to Sacramento and never lived in Portland Oregon.


In about 1966, my dad had an automatic door company. This was about the time that automatic doors were starting to be used in grocery stores. The business ended when he and my mother divorced. Next, he worked for Star Airline Catering in Fairfield for a few years. I remember him taking us with him to deliver pre-made meals to the airplanes out on Travis Air Force Base. He would drive the truck right up to the plane and load it while my sister Laura and I watched. I thought he was so important because he could just drive out there onto the flight line.


In about 1975, my father started working as a carpenter for Page Construction. I think that was probably the job most suited for him. He did well and built many buildings in the area including the offices of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery company in Fairfield. He worked in this trade up until shortly before he died of Melanoma Cancer in 1983 at the age of one day short of 45 years.


During the time of his death, my youngest sister was enrolled in, and my stepmother worked at Sheldon Elementary School in Fairfield. There is an award there in my father's name still given to 6th graders who show character traits like his, going above and beyond to help the school community. My father was involved in building shelves and generally helping out where needed to support my sister's school.


I have always been very proud of my dad. 40 years later, I still miss him. I wish he could see the legacy he left, including his five grandsons, two granddaughters, and three great-granddaughters. My hope is that one day, generations from now, this post will be archived in some way and a descendant will find it and know a little more about Converse Crowell, their ancestor. In the meantime, I will continue preserving the family history research I do. I hope you do too.


 


Genealogy Resources

Cuzens Genealogy

Robin Stewart is the founder of CuZens Genealogy. She is a retired teacher and school administrator and lives with her family in California. She has been researching genealogy since 1983. Her passion has always included the pursuit and preservation of family history and designing creative digital solutions for organizing information.


For more information about CuZens Genealogy visit: www.cuzens.com



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