Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Laura.

Laura Bozzay became a WikiTree member just this year but she is active in our German Roots and Scottish Clans projects, helpful in our G2G forum and is a Data Doctor.   It was Laura’s idea that led to our Spring Clean-a-Thon.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?  What are some of the locations you are researching?  

I combined the two answers:

Generation 1

1. Laura J “BOZ” (Pennie) Bozzay: Born St Louis, MO, USA.

Generation 2: Parents

2. Richard Walter Pennie: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 13 Oct 1926. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 04 Sep 2015.

3. Shirley Ann Hempen: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 01 Jan 1928. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 16 Nov 2015.

Generation 3: Grandparents

4. Richard Diecy Penny: Born London, Ontario, Canada 06 Nov 1893. Died aft 1935. Note spelling of last name changed to Pennie after his birth in Canada.

5. Dorothy Nellie Walter: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 02 Aug 1900. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 1980.

6. Joseph Heinrich Hempen: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 18 Aug 1894. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 07 Jun 1988.

7. Viola D Woerner: Born St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA 25 Dec 1899. Died St. Louis, Missouri, USA 1985.

Generation 4: Great-Grandparents

8. Charles Trail Penny: Born Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 06 Dec 1866. Died London, Ontario, Canada 15 Mar 1944.

9. Catherine Kerr: Born Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 10 Nov 1869. Died London, Ontario, Canada 15 Sep 1937.

10. Joseph C Walter: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 25 Apr 1861. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 08 Mar 1916.

11. Dorothy Gebhardt: Born Sep 1865. Died 1927.

12. John T Schniederalbers: Born Saint Louis, Missouri Jul 1857. Died Saint Louis, Missouri 22 Oct 1908.

13. Helen Eufinger: Born Saint Louis, Missouri 27 Dec 1859. Died Saint Louis, Missouri Apr 1926.

14. Martin Woerner: Born Appenweir, Urloffen, Ortenaukreis, Freiburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany 09 Nov 1851. Died St. Louis, Missouri, USA 15 Sep 1912. .

15. Elizabeth Reiss: Born Bavaria, Germany 28 Aug 1860. Died St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA 02 Aug 1940.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I was working on a complex spreadsheet one evening for work.  I needed a mental break and started putting in family surnames for fun to see what was out on the web.  Little did I know that this would lead to decades of amazing discoveries and finding relatives and friends all over the world.  It has become a passion.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I actually have 2 from the same family line.  First is my 4x great grandfather, Jean Georges Walter.  He wrote a chronicle in the 1700s that detailed the glass maker line back to the 1500s.  He is my genealogical hero.   Second, is his 2x Great Grandmother, Anna (Stenger) Walter.

She lived during the 30 years War.  Georges writes about her:

“At that time in history, there was a famine in the region and the villages were all uninhabited. All the inhabitants had fled France during the terrible Thirty Year War against Sweden with the exception of a few who were hidden in the forest. There was neither bread nor livestock in all the region (the potato did not exist yet on our continent), and also, we totally lacked food. The people lived from hunting and fishing, because the wild game and the fishes were in abundance in the wooded regions. That was the reason the infants could not eat this type of food as the adults could, therefore, the majority of the children and infants died from lack of bread and milk. Our elders have told me that the wife of Pierre WALTER (Anna STENGER), our great-grandmother, went to Strasbourg to buy bread. She took with her, her youngest infant, Adam WALTER, who had not yet been weaned, leaving the four others at Soucht.

“When she returned with the bread, her servant had left for Munzthal with the four children to see their father, who was making glass there. The mother went on ahead to Munzthal to take the bread to her children. When she arrived on the lower side of the forest that separated Soucht from Munzthal, she saw her servant arrive with her children. The mother asked: ‘Where is little Ann?’ The servant was crying and told her that the infant was dead, lying below a tree on the high side. One can imagine how hard the pain was for that mother in learning that news. After that first infant died, the three others died also. Only the youngest survived, Adam WALTER, from whom all the Walters of the region descend.”

She is my female heroine who risked travelling about 80 miles through a war torn landscape to try to get food for her children all of whom died except for the son who had not yet been weaned.  Her fearlessness, determination, and love for her family conquered any fear she had.  I am inspired by her.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

Just this month using the new Wiki connection found in GedMatch I was able to find a cousin who lives in Germany and we are now extending the Woerner and Koenig lines way back.  I was stopped on this line until this breakthrough that was made possible by this new WikiTree tool!  Thank you so much!

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

Wow, I kind of believe we truly are all related and should act that way.  We are all cousins to some extent and I think the DNA is beginning to show how interconnected we all really are.  So I kind of feel like I am related to everyone in history in some way.  From a religious vs historical perspective I have always found Mary, the Mother of Jesus to be an amazing woman with a tragic yet inspirational story.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Cooking (I own a spice company so if anyone ever has a spice question they can send me an email).  Reading history, biographies, and science fiction.  My most favorite past time is playing with my two beautiful granddaughters.  One is adopted and the other is biological and both are so very loved and so very important to our family.  This past weekend the 4, and she will tell you ¾ year old,  and the 11 week old were together and the interaction of the baby to her elder cousin was so magical!  It just melted my heart.

How long have you been on WikiTree and how active are you?

I joined late Dec 2016 early Jan 2017.  I am active almost daily.  I love the collaboration and the fact that you require sources.  That is such a step in the right direction!   I belong to several projects including Data Doctors, DNA, Scotland / Clans, German Roots and have both pre-1700 and pre-1500 certification.  I love researching and helping others.  And being helped by others!  Lots of really great people on this site.

What are some of the features/aspects of WikiTree that you love/don’t love as much?

Love the collaboration. Love the new DNA Wiki tools.  Love that I can print out a variety of tree views.  Absolutely love the emphasis on sources and doing good genealogy.  Love the spirited debates.  Even if we don’t all agree all the time it is important that everyone gets heard.  Things that I think need some improvement are making the site a bit more user friendly for the non-technical group.  Recent research on the demographics of who is doing genealogy shows a high percentage of seniors who are not all computer literate at all.  So making some easier to use tools would I think bring back some folks who left WikiTree because they found it too hard to navigate.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Take the tutorial.  Ask questions.  G2G is a fabulous resource.  You have experts in several fields on this site. You have people who want to help you!   Participate.  It is the best way to learn and the fastest way to make connections.  Become a volunteer.  Everyone has something to contribute.

If you could leave one message for your descendants, what would it be?

Figure out who you want to be and become that person.  Work hard but have fun.  Love yourself and love your neighbors the same way.  That way you can look at yourself in the mirror and not cringe.  If you want acceptance you have to first accept yourself and others.  So that is why I say figure out who you want to be and then work on becoming that person.  Then you can leave the footprint you want for your descendants.


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  3 Responses to “Meet our Members: Laura Bozzay”

  1. Now that is a “spicey” interview!

  2. Hi Laura, I just read your blog on here. Wow, I am trying to find the time and energy to do more on here, it is so fun! Thanks for your sharing. Happy Hunting! Rose

  3. Now I see that it says we are related, 35 degrees?? I am not sure what that means, but very interesting. Can you tell me more?? Thanks, blessings, Rose

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