Use, excerpt from Susan Griffin’s Woman & Nature, p. 52 – 54.

He breaks the wilderness. He clears the land of trees, brush, weed. The land is brought under his control; he has turned waste into a garden. Into her soil he places his plow. The labors. He plants. He sows. By the sweat of this brow, he makes her yield. She opens her broad lap to him. She smiles on him. She prepares him a feast. She gives up her treasures to him. She makes him grow rich. She yields. She conceives. Her lap is fertile. Out of her dark interior, life arises. What she does to his seed is a mystery to him. He counts her yielding as a miracle. He sees her workings ats effortless. Whatever she brings forth he calls his own. He has made her conceive. His land is a mother. She smiles on the joys of her children. She feeds him generously. Again and again, in his hunger, he returns to her. Again and again she gives to him. She is his mother. Her powers are a mystery to him. Silently she works miracles for him. Yet, just as silently, she withholds from him. Without reason, she refuses to yield. She is fickle. She dries up. She is bitter. She scorns him. He is determined he will master her. He will make her produce at will. He will devise ways to plant what he wants in her, to make her yield, more to him.
He deciphers the secrets of the soil. (He knows why she brings forth.) He recites the story of the carbon cycle. (He masters the properties of chlorophyll.) He recites the story of the nitrogen cycle. (He brings nitrogen out of the air.) He determines the composition of the soil. (Over and over he can plant the same plot of land with the same crop.) He says that the soil is a lifeless place of storage, he says that the soil is what is tilled by farmers. He says that the land need no longer lie fallow. That what went on in her quietude is no longer a secret, that the ways of the land can be managed. That the farmer can ask whatever he wishes of the land. (He replaces the fungi, bacteria, earthworms, insects, decay.) He names all that is necessary, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and these he says he can make. He increases the weight of the kernels of barley with potash; he makes a more mealy potato with muriate of potash, he makes the color of cabbage bright green with nitrate, he makes onions which live longer with phosphates, he makes the cauliflower head early by withholding nitrogen. His powers continue to grow.
Phosphoric acid, nitrogen fertilizers, ammonium sulfate, white phosphate, potash, iron sulfate, nitrate of soda, superphosphate, calcium cynanamide, calcium oxide, calcium magnesium, zinc sulfate, phenobarbital, amphetamine, magnesium, estrogen, copper sulfate, meprobamate, thalidomide, benzethonium chloride, Valium, hexaclorophene, diethylstilbestrol.
What device she can use to continue she does. She says that the pain is unbearable. Give me something, she says. What he gives her she takes into herself without asking why. She says not that the edges of what she sees are blurred. The edges of what she sees, and what she wants, and what she is saying are blurred. Give me something she says. What he gives her she takes without asking. She says that the first pain is gone, or that she cannot remember it, or that she cannot remember why this began, or what she was like before, or if she will survive without what he gives her to take, but that she does not know, or cannot remember, shy she continues.
He says she cannot continue without him. He says she must have what he gives her. He says also that he protects her from predators. That he gives her dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, dieldrin, chlorinated naphthalenes, chlordan, parathion, Malathion, selenium, pentachlorophenol, arsenic, sodium arsenite, amitrole. That he has rid her of pests, he says.And he has devised ways to separate himself from her. He sends machines to do his labor. His working has become as effortless as hers. He accomplishes days of labor with a small motion of his hand. His efforts are more astonishing than hers. No longer praying, no longer imploring, he pronounces words from a distance and his orders are carried out. Even with his back turned to her she yields to him. And in his mind, he imagines that can conceive without her. In his mind he develops the means to supplant her miracles with his own. In his mind, he no longer relies on her. What he possesses, he says, is his to use and to abandon.

Susan Griffin, Use, 1978.


Father Of…An Endlist List, Mother of……. where is she?


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“Because we are denied knowledge of our history, we are deprived
of standing upon each others’ shoulders and building upon each others’ accomplishments. Instead we are condemned to repeat what others
have done before us and thus we continually reinvent the wheel.
The goal of the Dinner Party is to break the cycle.”
Judy Chicago


If you don’t know what the Dinner Party is, google it. That’s not the subject of this article.
The Photograph above is the Baby Parade. Seek women’s history.

In working for awareness of WOMEN’S HISTORY, we need not only a recognition of women’s accomplishments, but we need to recognize how history, as a part of our consciousness and world view, operates in our social actions and relationships.

It came to my awareness that when we think of a Father to be honored historically we have endless ways in a complex and sophisticated system built over many centuries. We have an endless list of specific, individual men we credit by name and in detailed records.

But embedded beyond that in our educational institutions there are entire categories of thought and language that were built on the ideas originating with one man and a specific name given to such a category. For example, math or psychology. This man, in our inherited habit, is then given the title of Father to his category. We call it an academic subject or discipline taught in separate classes. Sometimes it is almost heresy to speak against this honored man as if it is a religion especially for dedicated followers. It is the high respect and honor that we inherited in established ways that exists.

The Fathers 1

There are very few, if any, academic subjects and disciplines that come to us with Mother and her ideas. Mothers and their knowledge was once learned outside of these men’s institutions. And There has always been resistance for women’s inclusion. In the United States, the acceptance of women’s need for education was won prior to the 20th century, but then followed by decades of stereotypes and medical and religious beliefs of men that women were incapable either because of their bodies’ ability to birth or because they simply were emotional, unintelligent, inferior beings. It was a common perception that women were not able to do the same activities as men and not able to think and act rationally for themselves. Men were perceived as authority and superior by gender scripts, roles and these very ideas and teachings created by men.

The Fathers 3

Still, by the 1960’s, women like never before were not only entering higher education institutions en masse but began creating their own knowledge and instructions as men had previously done. Women’s knowledge production began to be named and defined within one category, however, named ‘Women’s Studies”. Yet women worked within the already established subject matter and academic disciplines created by men, at first. Women also worked undefined as women’ studies. As things evolved women’s view tended to add unknown or devalued life experiences and views that tended to question, change and sometimes transform entirely the well established beliefs and ideas of men.

Women’s knowledge, in some ways, was somewhat disruptive of men’s based on differences that men do not experience as differences between themselves for various reasons. The resistance, to this day, remains and yet has changed over time. While lacking a full understanding of the necessity and importance of including Mothers and their ideas, women studies has given way to a sense of ‘including others’ and has at times been named ‘gender studies’ and a shift from the Foremothers’ work. With economic losses, women studies has suffered loss. Often perceived as unnecessary, women studies is controversial. The ideas that women, historically, are not important and have no important contributions remains strong.  That their study is somehow flawed and bias whereas men’s is perceived as universally correct and unbiased exists. Perhaps it necessity is not understood properly, even moreso now it is important to learn because the world has changed for women.


Panama Invasion Success2

The major institutions such as media, courts, legislation and government remain strongly based in men’s knowledge production alone for various reasons. Women’s knowledge production in established learning programs such as Women’s History or Women’s Studies is not seen as necessary requirement for news reporting or policy decisions or even studying women as a social group. Instead some of our institutions are established, purposely, to exclude information about women and repeat centuries’ old teachings even when such knowledge in academic institutions is inaccurate, fragmented and unproven.

I remind myself it took 300 years for the Catholic church to apologize to Galileo for his punishment for expressing his opinion that the earth was round. It took 100 years for slavery to get an official ban in the US after the King was removed but another 100 years for civil rights to actually be protested. In the same way, we’ve been given an education about our world in our educational establishments that doesn’t really exist.  The world as young and middle aged, adult white male centered and oriented is narrow and is not how the earth nor it’s inhabitants operate. Only by forced compliance and a mental restructuring does it get perpetuated socially and always in need of maintenance.  It’s not just women that need to be properly included and understood in perceptions that match physical functioning on the planet. There’s much more.

The Fathers 2

But my focus here is Women’s History. March. One month to focus on it has been designated.

The tradition of women’s history in a systematized way in major institutions to honor women and the importance of their ideas in understanding the world we live is not only not established but women’s work is usually coopted, and used very differently, merging in to the male centered flow, as it evolves into and is included in the established understandings created by men. In essence, women’s messages, ideas get lost and disappear as men’s work still takes center stage and, to a degree, only permit women who comply to such centering. Otherwise there is automatic ridicule, discrediting as so many of our foremothers’ have experienced. The honoring that should be there simply doesn’t exist. There’s more work to be done to have a fuller understanding of human lives on the planet.

The Fathers 5

Within women studies, there has been quite a bit of discussion about how women’s knowledge production is treated. Yet a significant portion of information remains marginalized, misunderstood, lost in movement to the next generation and often rejected in the same manner that has always existed. The result is, as Judy Chicago made clear, that women have to repeat what their foremothers had to struggle with rather than inherit and work on the backs of the foremothers. The honor is what is missing even when women’s work is used. It is the dishonoring of women’s work, their names, and details that allows women’s actual words to be used in a manner that actually unravels and destroys the work women have accomplished.

For a time, it was often said that behind every great man is a woman whose not getting named or getting credit. Piece by piece women are included these days like never before, however, precisely because women have entered in the system in ways not previously permitted. But there is not a system for women yet. The system remains established based on the categories well entrenched that are limited. Despite the work in educational institutions, major media plays a signficant role in keeping women out. While women are certainly involved in media, it’s important to note, that specific channels dedicated to honoring women and their academic work does not exist. Channels such as Lifetime or Women’s Entertainment are simply run on the same models that men have created.
Women have begun to establish their own media only recently. But the honor is still extremely imbalanced. Worse, the very established functioning akin to war called debates makes dishonoring an opponent the normal rather than debating with a goal seek the larger truth.

While things are changing in recent decades, in contrast to a total neglect for centuries, there are a few women that are honored as mothers of some creation, activity or event.

This topic is like opening a pandora’s box. There are many things to explore within it.

I leave you with this suggestion. Search on any search engine, the words ‘Father Of’ and see for yourself. Then search ‘Mother Of’ and see the difference. Explore and become aware of how fathers are honored systematically.

The words, Father Of, gives you an endless list of specific names. A Cap of How men developed the world of our ideas.

It is what is missing that we don’t see because it doesn’t exist in our awareness that it is missing.

If you google Mother of, it is much harder to find specific names. We don’t call Oprah, Mother of Talk Shows. The search results for Mother Of, instead, bring up a general category such as Mother of the Bride. Mother of Dragons or Mother of Pearl. Mother of Science is Philosophy While the Father of Science is Galileo. By the way, Mother of Talk Shows is the name of a british talkradio hosted by politician George Galloway. There are not specific names of women and their work. Although in recent decades there are exceptions and you may find a handful. However, this in contrast to centuries and an endless list of Fathers that young minds are flooded with to value while Mother of….is missing in our language use.

The list we have of Fathers and their work is our collective history that establishes the actions in our social world. The problem with this is while it is perceived as universal and comprehensive it is not. Once this is recognized that fathers have defined the world as male centered, in part, as if the whole, we can understand how our system of knowledge is inaccurate and incomplete in describing the world we live in and who we are.



Stay tuned and join in on Celebrating and Establishing more of women’s History!“


In her book, Women of Ideas, Dale Spender wrote about the experience in the 1960’s of uncovering information of women in centuries past she asked, ‘Why didn’t we know about these women? Was it possible that we were not meant to? And if women who raised their voices against male power became but a transitory entry in the historical records, what was to be the fate of the present women’s movement?

“When someone with the authority of a teacher,
say, describes the world and you are not in it,
there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium,
as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing.”
Adrienne Rich

“What we learn about being a woman, being like other women
and satisfying male demand involves massive self deception,
concealment and self betrayal that breeds shame, alienation
and disconnection from our bodies/selves and even our place
in the life cycle.”
Harriet Goldhor Lerner


“Openly questioning the way the world works
and challenging the power of the powerful
is not an activity customarily rewarded.”
Dale Spender


Names in our Family History Records; Including our mothers


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What Happens when the the Family Tree Branch dies out because of no more male names? 299tree

Not because of no males, but because of no male surnames? Does the biology stop with the girl names? Or do the names stop the biology?

We know that’s not how our biology works.

What happens when a mother marries?
Does all the inheritance her biology contributes to the offspring end with the name change?

Doesn’t the biology of the mother matter?
Maybe more than the name?

How much longer can we go on denying and lying to ourselves about the biological contribution of our mothers and what gets carried, socially or biologically, forward despite the end of the male surname?

I can’t go on not adding half of my branches of my family tree anymore because of the end of the male surname.

But what to do about it?


Here’s some background of how I came to this troubling issue and all these questions.

I had spent the most amount of my genealogy work time researching family history on my last name. The males dominant because of the inheritance of family to son name and in the tradition of blood relatives as commonly understood.

My father’s name. His father’s father’s, father’s, father’s father’s father’s, father’s, etc name.

But I began to wonder about where I spent my time. I tried to brush the thoughts away at first.

I had so much invested already so I kept working in the direction from which I came even though the truth kept nagging me. And soon I couldn’t brush the thoughts away. The more I was learning, the more truth was evident. This group based on names wasn’t really the most important in what I had inherited. I wanted to know about the inheritance of a grandmother I knew nothing about simply because the name seemed distant and unimportant. Evidence conflicted.

I could no longer ignore the thoughts.

I thought, well,  all this material on my mothers side(s) is there. I researched the male name from her father’s side as well. Then I kept going.  In Fact, despite the name change for every mother, for every generation, every changing name, all of the mom’s biology and contributions were from my mothers. Fact. Period. I began to list the names all in the same line. The same as if I listed one name for the same amount of males. Get it? Many people. One name. Many people each with a different name. Same amount of stuff. No difference.

One name gives the illusion of sameness and hides the variety. Many names hides the illusion of cohesiveness and gives the illusion of lack of any consistent inheritance. Both distortions. Do I see my biology in distortions? And what about social order?


Along the same thinking, socially, I grew up in a family where the work division was fairly sexist so I had experience that informed me on this; experience first hand, of what skills, knowledge, and behaviors came from my mothers and not my fathers. There was not just biology but the social elements of inheritance.  It was undeniable for me, but the whole thing was getting muddy in the changes of the world around me. There were lots of changes going on. More than I could possibly know, especially with women and men’s relationships, genetic manipulation and understandings.

I realized my mothers had a line of descent, like the fathers, that does not disrupt by a man’s sperm, too.  There’s my mother’s mother, and her mother, and her mother, and her mother, and her mother, and the biology of that inheritance, especially the eggs that never comes from a father, etc. Some things can only come from a mother. That matters. I wanted it counted. I was taught to value mothering. I lived it.



A can of worms. But Here’s the real problem.

It just turns our world upside down in our thinking to count our mothers – out of established order. Our logical patterns, categorization and organization of relationships and how we see them moves into a chaotic state when we count women because we’ve learned a specific order to this world based on centering around male names.

But facts are facts. The way it is setup denies facts so it is a false order. And my work contributes to distortion unless I correct it.

And one of the contributing factors that brought me to this is the cases where lies were buried by women out of social demand and in order to survive social legalities despite facts.  I was confronted with lies but valued honesty and truth.

That’s a real delimma for me because my experience is that I survive and thrive with truth. My life dinimishes with lies about who I am.


My mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, direct line has just as much to contribute to who I am, and sometimes maybe more, cause I’m a woman inheriting from women in ways my brothers are not.

What is consistent there despite the name change and interruption of a man’s name?


Well, being a farmer’s wife is something I’ve noticed, for starters.

In my direct line of ancestors based on my mother’s maiden name, it means I’m the first woman in our family history of the United States, in that direct family line since the 1700’s, that is not a farmer’s wife.

That’s huge especially because I’ve said a few times, “it’s in my blood”.  LOL.

Just not being a farmer’s wife doesn’t remove the tradition and ways of living from my soul. Interesting, huh?

But still, that’s not the one I count first. What are my inheritances? Which do I count and value?

I count my name as my father’s name first. Not my mother’s name. So it doesn’t matter?

My name is Henninger, not my mother’s father’s name, Fink. The Henninger line is different. I feel less connected. What do I make of this long line of mothers?

Is it best to go on ignoring them or keeping their lives off the page?


I have no female grandchild. And my only grandson is carrying a completely different name not any of my family names nor his mothers. What about his inheritance, biologically and socially? I am his father’s mother. And with divorces adding names, I’m only one piece of so many more grandparents he has. Each one is a piece of what he carries. The name doesn’t represent his inheritance well. Yet he will only carry one name of importance. And that is significant since on the father’s father’s father’s side, he is the only one to continue carrying that name and everyone understands it’s important to continue carrying that ONE name. Yet there is no problem with the ending of not carrying all the other names? Oh my.

Here, again, that significant name brings the question… important is that one branch when the tree is filled with many? And when it comes to his mother’s mother’s, mother’s, mother’s etc. line there isn’t one name of importance to identify this lineage. And it is quite different than mine. A whole set of other people. Which set will count? Which will be ignored?


That tree line, for me,  instead of one simple name Henninger,  looks like this: Fink, Becker, Lenhart, Heinly, Leiby, Dunkel, Leiby. Dunkel, Diehl; my foremothers who lived before me in 9 generations in the United States. karen-sarah-ellen-stella-laura-jane-minnie-marydiana-theresa-amelia-catherine-christianacaroline-mary-mary-annie-elizabeth-elizabeth-maria-rachel-sarah-mariabarbara-susannah-elizabeth-lusina- magdelena… a chain of names that links to me with other names. Like rings of the trunk of a tree,  my mothers were the truck of my family tree.


What a mess it would be to count my moms! But it isn’t just chaos. There can be order. The chaos is only a temporary state until we align facts and perceptions fit facts. What would bringing all that fact forward look like? It’s real. It’s there already, anyway. It’s just a matter of acknowleding the existence.


Here is what it is.  It is quilt like. It is mosaic. Fragments. Many pieces together combined. It’s not one line of sameness like the name.



The whole worldview of our entire society changes from our established default. It isn’t simple. It is profound – and threatening to established order even to consider in thought.

The fantastic idea that started with an unidentified person in ancient history with a few people claiming to have royal blood connected to a line of Kings that goes to God himself as the only pure valued, pure bloodline to God; this ancient history ends. We all are children of God is more of what we believe even if we don’t quite practice it.

There are no illegitimate children in the mosaic line, rather than the pure blood (named) line because having a mother is enough to make you legitimate as not only a child of worth, but having a family despite the father’s, father’s father’s, father’s etc. names and all the rules that cater to that value. Everyone today can have the same basic relationship to God as any Prince or Princess, Hilton or Dupont child does today. We don’t need to have someone give us a connection to God as special children. We don’t need to mimic the royal blood line practices.

The idea of pure blood that is needed from father to son and the idea of women being pure virgins as to not taint the pure blood line ends. It’s myth. Not science. Women’s biology isn’t just a vessel for the pure blood and divinity coming from the fathers of some special line based on who wins wars and conquers lands. Also, Women’s sexuality emerges from out of the clamped down idea that sex makes a woman a slut. That somehow the only divinity and purity of a woman can be had when she doesn’t have sex and then through a relationship with a husband. A child born out of wedlock is no less of a child than when born within wedlock. It’s biology. Not name and marriage that creates human value. It’s being human that is the basis of a human’s value, not being connected to a certain father’s name.

The idea of the pure name-blood line bonded to having an historic value, or accomplishment, or religion, or being a skin color, or being born to wealth disappears. People are valued for who they are not what family they are attached to and what wealth accumulation the inherit.

The idea of royal blood in princes and princesses in contrast to a degraded name born to heroin addicts,  slaves os whores; this ends. The idea of a blood line that justifies the special treatment of families that gather resources in it’s name and pass on wealth through such a name threatens our established order. The order, while established, is also already completely in states of chaos.

The tradition and idea that some men’s work can hoard enormous profits to accumulate wealth over a lifetime to pass on to sons while others work, despite the true value for such families to pass on poverty would have no umbrella name. There would be no umbrella names.

And the traditions that deny women not only the ability to have such an umbrella name as their own, but also to have an inheritance from their mother’s, unattached to men’s wealth and control,  from their own work; those traditions end.


I think I’ve made my point. The world as is established would change in every breath we breath.

So I’m not so anxious to even put these thoughts into print. Because know what? How do I include my mothers?

The idea of a pure blood line that follows the simple name is false. It is myth and however great that mythology has served some people. It doesn’t serve all of us and it lacks fact as far as human lives being born on this planet. Truth might cause disrupt and change in harmful ways, but the harm we witness today is largely based in false beliefs about who we are as humans.


I’m not saying something new, though. George Washington and the fathers of this country have made the United States a country without a King; without the royal blood. All men are created equal is an statement of independence from the Fathers and their Rule. Fathers of Royalty and Fathers of Religion.

But only on the surface. The traditions, beliefs and ideas that established Kings by royal blood mythology in the first place were never removed. They are still with us.

I feel it is even daring to say what actually has been the movement of freedom in our country since day one. We’ve already dismantled so many of the ideas that contributed to the established order. In some ways, we don’t know what to do with the freedom we have. While we all embrace our freedoms won, we struggle with the changes and logic that come with it. We often are more comfortable in what we grew up with and we get uncomfortable with others around us that might take their freedom a bit farther than we want for ourselves.

But we must remember that the ideas of a royal blood of Kings that come from God himself as God’s children has no basis, in fact, as if the rest of us are heretics and have corrupted, unclean Blood. We, as humans, all have the same blood.

We know scientifically that blood may be A, B, or O, but blood is not pure or impure based on how much money your father’s father’s father made. And the blood of a child is not just the fathers from one line of descent. The child is a mosaic of a variety of people that numbers in the thousands with many names and attributes.

We already have come out of false illusions of such sorts. Science has proven many wrong ideas about women, slaves and the poor as inferior beings. But the beliefs still threaten our ability to look at our world scientifically at our own genetics, and others, without distortion.

The beliefs can sway the questions we ask ourselves because of our own built in logic has not the conception to ask questions outside of such established logic.


And as far as my mother’s are concerned, our inherite beliefs are the foundation for the false illusion that men’s blood somehow is more important than women’s blood. That’s men’s sperm overrides mother’s contributions based on inherited false beliefs about fathers and their bodies. Science has long ago debunked such ideas of our blood. It’s now DNA and genetics that will be the reason for our understandings of who we are. But we risk losing site that we still have all the same genetics as we focus on our differences just as we’ve done with blood.

Maybe some of us can ignore facts. But some of us can’t. When it comes to law and order, facts are important.


What I know is how value works in this world. What I know is what I lived. What I know is my story and the stories I’ve learned from others.

But I don’t know everything. Is my mother’s father’s mother’s father’s mother’s contribution to my DNA less or more than my father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, fathers DNA? Or my mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s DNA? How is it possible to take such complexity and reduce it to categories? How is valuable? What is being lost in our need for simplicity to define, categorize and number? What order are we creating for future generations?

I have lots to learn.

My Godmother, Mabel Anna Fink Fegley


October 13, 1979 – Mabel on my Wedding Day

Mabel Anna Fink Fegley
My Godmother, My Aunt, and The Closest thing I knew to a Grand-mother
June 28, 1930 – October 13, 1998

You were a hero.
I honor you and celebrate in no less fashion
than our country would a war hero.
Your struggle was the fight for a family of love.
I won’t forget the story
of how you got kicked out of your house
for standing up to your father.
I won’t forget how you went to work in the factory
and gave money to younger sister
when she didn’t have a things provided for her
any other way. She needed you.
How you & Butch helped your mother escape
when society left her behind in a
tortured home that was prison of violence
when you were only beginning to have your own home.
And you didn’t stop there.
How can we ever, ever give credit for all the monumental
efforts to turn this family history into a family with happy memories
with all your generous time and talents at all occasions.
All the many ways that you gave of yourself.
You took your paychecks and transformed them
for the family in ways no one can duplicate.

Birthdays, Christmases, many other days of the year.
Red velvet cakes, quilts and blankets, crocheted turkeys,
ceramic mother’s day shoes and your endless creativity
in crafts and art, decorating gifts, cakes and homes.
You were an artist the world didn’t pay nor recognize.
You did double duty and you did it well.
Your talents were devoted to the home and family
and not for riches.
There will never be a better cake decorator in existence.
No better desserts.  No better Ham.  No better holidays.
I won’t forget the hurt and talks  we had about
your disappointment that you never received what
you so desperately needed and wanted
And I am so sorry that I couldn’t provide it for you.
The world still doesn’t carry the values you lived.
People didn’t understand behind the anger and conflicts
was a burning heart of love that felt like a bad guy
that too many made you out to be at times.

But I know you were only trying to do what you felt responsible to do.
I know you had a really tough time
after Arlan died and your heart was broken
when the family gatherings subsided.
I’m glad I got to spend those times with you.
Your life, as well as mine is now, – as older woman alone.
A difficult struggle to live.

Even though in later years you had your basic material needs
The struggle  of a woman continued just to receive
what you always deserved to have.
I knew you well.
It hurts to know that so much of what we may have wanted
and needed never came to pass.

But you were a hero, a real home-maker in every sense of the word.

An artist, lover, warrior.
A child who lived with domestic violence
And with no shelters or movement; you did what
stops violence. I know more each day what being the
granddaughter of a domestic violence victim means.
You were one amazing godmother and I am proud of you.
In the end this world is better because you lived.
I will continue to honor and celebrate your existence.

We don’t need statues just for war heroes on battlefields.
We need statues and honor for the mothers who are heroes for the home.
Who fight for the thing that matters most – a loving, peaceful home.

Written by Karen; after passing in 1998.



Hillary, Fiction and Fact of Women’s History

“A woman was nominated for the Presidency of the United States by a major political party that is still quite dominated by men as a group. That woman is Hillary.

Some discussions are occurring as if we shouldn’t talk about what is occurring based on Hillary being a woman or we should ignore the relationships as if she is no different than a man. How convenient! How wonderful that notion is for denying women’s history while it is occurring!  How else can we come to such an important event and think we have to NOT give it that accurate historical context and its huge significance?”

As many of you know who know me, I have advocated for women’s history for years. Most people think that just means that we should have an additional class in schools and a list of women’s accomplishments that is a mirror to what we have for men revolving around traditional American history of politics and war. 362 -block cement 3-D.jpgHowever, that understanding is very shortsighted from the fact that we don’t have women’s history and don’t know what the history of the rest of the world would look like. It would not be a duplicate of what men created.

To explain thoroughly, this would take an book. No, actually, it would take volumes and perhaps take as many as 12 -16 years of study as it does for what we already learn from a historic educational system that has always been controlled by men and about men at the level of decision making authority.  It is isn’t just what we learned, but what we have to unlearn. It is what is missing that goes on for 12 years of public school and beyond that we ignore and devalue but absolutely exists. We can’t know what is missing if we never had it.

That said, I need to just take a chunk of that large issue and speak about part of it.

And one of the things that happens to women when they don’t have history is that they learn to see the world as if all that matters and deserves attention revolves around men and the values that men teach because there is no choice not to. Half of the world and its importance is devalued. This is so for everyone.  Women cease to exist as a being of themselves unattached to men’s importance and men’s values and ‘being like a man so our perspectives of who we are change.

That attachment right now is based on social survival.

In fact this, in some ways, can happen that transcends gender.  When women and men do this together one of the things that happens is that we don’t count women’s history even before women’s lives are over.  We replace a thorough and complete view of women’s lives and bodies with a mythology that supports all the ideas created by men of economic and social power which is only ever a small narrow part of all of humanity.

In other words, we systematically do not count women’s lives, bodies, and work as important nor do we count what the conditions actually are even immediately after they happen. Women themselves may even debate such things based on information they have received and were taught and how they perceived related events connected to their lives. In other words, when you teach ½ as a whole, we have faulty teaching, educational system and viewpoints that result. That faulty teaching enables people to segregate in groups based on like-thinking because this basis of existence based on false differences and inaccurate assumptions is central to the teachings of men as a group and what is presented as central man.

Within this social dynamic many things occur, but one thing is that the very real inheritances of women’s work is often handed freely – or stolen – to men as a group who then circumvent and use this work for their own social importance. That work coopted by men, and used for their own lives interrupts a direct line of inheritance from mothers and women to the next generation. Information about women is thus lost and misunderstood from generation to generation.  The result is not an honest appraisal of women’s living while alive and this is most felt as women grow older – and from there, much goes unrecorded and not passed on down. Young women, as it goes for most children, do not question the teachings of our forefathers or adults as often the importance is placed very early on children to obey and listen, not question the lives of adults or authorities.

So the lack of women’s history is not a simple matter but it is an important one.
Women are then vulnerable to criticism from any angle in any way because there is no real basis to evaluate their lives in factual context separated from the teachings of men that ignore, exclude and devalue them – usually unconsciously.

We also don’t count our mothers’ lives of work in terms of economics and value so daughters and mothers, unless they have a very unusual relationship that is uninterrupted by the teachings of men, often do not realize their own inheritances or they, too, become aware of the systematic faulty functioning . Adult women’s lives are spent just trying to meet social demand and the only way of learning what doesn’t exist for them is from experience which is what years of education overstep and didn’t teach them. Education that is suppose to prepare children for adults lives fails to do so. Men never gain this experience directly unless they learn by witnessing women’s lives. This is no accident as our foremothers were deliberately kept out of all social positions and kept under control of men’s authority in all social places. Often men not allowing women’s perspectives as valuable for social determinations.

Men lacking ‘other’ experience also wind up in positions of authority where they lack the knowledge and experience that is required to be authority. The historical practice of a body part for authority by gender has had consequences of lost understandings of our world.

In study of laws and obscenity, it is clear that historically the truth of women’s bodies and lives, even such things as birth control and pregnancy, were seen as taboo subjects and material labeled as illegal and obscene. On the other hand, anything men wanted to produce in fantasy about women, including sexual and scientific fantasies,  no matter how cruel or horrific was considered entertainment or rational literature.

As Dale Spender said, Speaking up to male power has never been rewarded.

It is often taboo in some way for women to speak their truth (while alive) that disrupts the current control of authority and power as social rankings and hierarchies of authorities exist and even if they can and did speak truth, we rarely listen when it seems at odds with the dominant media voices of economic power,  authority, trainings and current fashions that are already established from still, mostly, men in economic and social power. Unfortunately this surrounds the fashion waves surrounding the latest creative inventions of technology that is very disruptive of all social functionings and relationships. New inventions have never been evaluated on the potential social disruption and harm.

While this point could be illustrated by many examples and while we can point to individual exceptions, we need to see what is actually missing here. Bear with me if you don’t see what I just described. That proves my POINT!  It’s not what exists that is so important as it is what is missing that is horrendously vital! You have to be open and take time to observe what is happening to see it. That missing part is what consciousness raising was about and what I am pointing to from our foremothers. Yet that very consciousness raising that did occur has, once again – as in women’s history – been used in a way that facilitates economic and social power of a few individuals and not necessarily as had been intended for the good of community as a whole. Some of the most important freedoms that women have gained have come about by the work of radical feminist foremothers, but there is no tradition of honor for such work. Contrary to how we treat freedom fighting forefathers, radical feminists fighting for freedoms have been disparaged, devalued, dishonored and criticized widely by some that simply wish for women to not have the same sense of freedom.

Now I had to say all that just for the context that is missing for what I really started this writing about – the way the events surrounding Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are being spoken about.

But realize that what I want to say in this writing is not about politics and about the usual, current bantering about two personalities and their behaviors nor to try to win a vote for either candidate.  This article is about the context of that bantering and our present social system and what that lack of women’s history does to our perceptions of the world around us.

If you take the time, to study what I just wrote and see how it applies to the current situation of a woman possibly being president of the United States, you may be able to NOT discount that history as unimportant to current events.

Whatever happens in the future, at this point, will either be a repeat of women’s history or it will be an advancement moving differently against women’s history – or a combination.

Let me summarize what I just said. When we lack women’s history as part of our consciousness and discussion we eliminate not just historical facts, but facts about someone’s life that’s alive now – a woman’s history – and right now I’m referring to how this happens to women in particular. And the important problem when facts are removed, is that we are only left with fiction.  Yes, that’s right. Move from facts and you have nothing but fiction.

This blog actually centers around my own history, my local history, my own foremothers, and then from there that connection to the national history of our foremothers, Then the connection to our forefathers. Opposite of what school often does that is missing in national debates and consciousness. It includes history of me and my foremothers – names provided in previous post. I am not kidding! I am not talking abstractly. I physically did it! I have the facts.

When we concentrate on individual women’s personalities without the social factors of our own foremothers connected as valuable, we create stereotypes of women and we stop talking about the real alive woman-especially when we claim to discuss personalities.

This way of treating women is in historical records.

As women’s body types are used in media with popular fashions and styles that come and go,  the same is done with women’s socially approved personalities and what is popular demand for behavior for women at any given time (often contradictionary, catch 22 results)  while the real variety of bodies and personalities are denied through major mainstream media outlets. And I want to say – especially around politics. We need to count the social relationship dynamics of the entire group in order to understand the actions of members within a group, but we haven’t been taught to do this and think this way in particular situations concerning women.

Many women over decades have often talked about feeling and being invisible or commented on the importance of telling their stories and being heard.  Being heard for women isn’t just about opening one’s mouth and having words come out and constructing a story. It is about being counted, seen as valuable with valuable experience with respect in relationship to others and actually understood and listened to as if what a woman says counts for overall social functioning. In this way, it is completely easy to name a woman a liar, airhead or anything that would help to discredit what comes out of her mouth,  such incoherent or incompetent.  I would bet at this point in our society, there is no way a woman can be involved in such a high level of election without being labeled in some way in attempts to disqualify her. History shows that is how white males have maintained social power for centuries. Why do we think we are beyond it?

In the American traditions, men often claimed women were incomprehensible, emotional or point black incompetent or unintelligent  (and for many jobs) by their gender alone which has lead to an inheritance of repetitive ways that women can still be treated as such even if the beliefs have died out on a surface level. Lack of awareness doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist. it just means we don’t grasp it is happening or the details. And there is – that denial of what is – still there. It is no accident that Hillary can be claimed a liar as a major media theme in the midst of clear deception and dishonesty rooted deep and across the board.

Or if you don’t agree with the way I worded that, you might come to see that the very fact that it is an issue to be discussed at all is no accident. It is the crux of what I am addressing here. There is no point in discussing something that doesn’t need to be discussed.

I’m not even discussing whether Hillary is or is not a liar. I am saying that we do not have the conditions to debate that fact accurately because of a lack of education and history about women and their lives that is missing across our society and how media operates as a result. There is no coincidence that a number of our leaders can base their policies or opinions about women for women without education or scientific facts because it’s never been required. That’s what women have been doing for the last four decades – trying to change that requirement and condition.

What job do you know of that people do not have to be qualified for the job and be incompetent and not get fired?

When you live in a society in which people get important jobs based on a variety of things including, historically, body parts and skin color alone,  you get people unqualified and uneducated.  Authority becomes a scam. Yet we believe in that kind of authority simply because we have had only had that kind with white males as the only authorities until recently in the United States.

If women are perceived as incompetent in some way, like stereotyped as a liar or not qualified, their words are meaningless, then they can be denied social power even if they are given the social position. In this way, history repeats what was done to our foremothers.

Authority to be real has to have education and experience as a basis.  Otherwise the word is meaningless and just a display of sham power. Trump is not as unique as many think. He is just an extreme in the midst of a society in upheaval.  Our history shows that authority between men and women was not based on experiences and education of life evenhandly and fairly, but on sexual body parts, violent wars and the ownership won by battles which is often played out in bodies, relationships and behaviors marked by social requirements for dress and manners perceived as civil – even when horrific. In women’s history it is not denied that men were authority by gender while women were the subordinates by their gender. This creates invisibility of one group by another but also the invisibility of the dynamics of historical change.


Invisibleness is not about being a ghost of a person – as if the person isn’t really fully there in skin and body parts although creative invention can do that.  Invisibleness is about what we use our eyes to focus on, learn about, write about, take photographs of and then what we think about and know as a result of concentrated attention to that part of life.

It is about what we look at and what we miss because we are looking at something else. That’s how our eyes work. Look straight up at the sky and you will not see what is happening on the ground. We are not omnivisual people. We can’t see it all. None of us can. Look completely to your left and you will miss what is on your right. And the very idea of discussing people abstracted in text and image without counting our human limitations and environmental factors as well as  location and conditions as a basis of behavior is a massive problem for faulty judgment;  not just from incomplete teachings but from a long standing human practice of using image and text technology. Our beliefs about image and text technology are, too, teachings that are rooted that eliminates women’s history and other histories as part of it.

Without this technology, we see directly. With it, we learn to see and we learn about our world and about people and how to see. We learn through our technology before we know someone and begin to evaluate someone, often without ever actually any direct experience. Something is wrong when we reach the point where we think we can honestly know something without ever experiencing it or being with it. Or that we can make a correct judgement in less than a few minutes without stereotypings. We fool ourselves.  We fail to understand a society that may very well be collapsing from the faulty functioning that is a result of the very technology we value and the ways we were taught about it and our history of those elements.

No matter what you do in life. Goals are met when you take the right actions to meet those goals. When something isn’t working, it’s time to stop and reconsider actions for change to meet goals. What are the goals now?

What can be true about a person if we don’t know the facts? What happens when we judge others without considering what information we actually have to judge with? How can we judge what is up and down, right or left, in or out and anything of accuracy when we exclude environmental factors in which a person functions? We treat humans abstractly as if they live above and beyond and apart from the planet in some intellectually created space of image and text. This abstraction is fiction.  We end up treating another human as if they live outside of any context or experience but what we alone know from our own limited lives as fact.

Science took us from some beliefs of ancient thinking to a practice of observing our world to learn about it. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite done accurately the same things for understanding humans on the planet earth. We have carried some ancient thinking into the academic world, used technology  without considering the consequences, and even in the best efforts to evaluate human behavior have done so outside of social context, it’s been almost taboo to actually question some of the most basic assumptions.

She Egg 524.jpgWhat we are taught to look at with our eyes in the world around us and how image/text technology is functioning in how we see things in our world must be addressed. And while the technology and teachings of man have allowed so many amazing things to happen, it has also brought to us many problems that can even lead to a disintegration of the social fabric of how people live. This is not a prediction. It is an accurate telling of what women have learned from their own experiences that has already happened.

In the last few centuries with the invention of the camera for image, and the mass production of books for text (0nce only about men completely), we often learn more about our lives through technology than we do from experiencing it ourselves or the worlds of people around us. We then have to induce more stereotypes in order to interact with people that we do not have the time to get to know by learning about them individually. While we have access to others socially across geographic locations we sacrifice the very information that takes time to evalue and judge and know the conditions accurately.

The other thing that happens is then we create cycles of fiction by individually focusing on characteristics – inaccurately then this helps create more fiction about individual women and deny their collective history simultaneously.  We think with the progress of women’s work lives that we somehow have left the problem our foremothers had behind, but that has happened in only in a very minor way. In a large way we have continued and repeated what our foremothers had experienced but in new ways.

In this cycle of fiction about women’s lives through image and text technologies and knowledge products created by men, the cycle feeds itself as one creates the other and then that creates more of the same. This enables more contributions to stereotypes which keep growing and fiction because, in fact, one can not be judged without the environmental factors accurately. Environmentalism isn’t just about counting the natural world. We need environmentalism, wildlife protection and refugee for humans and their habitats as well as the earth’s living ecosystems. Environmental Conditions are part and parcel that explain the actual behavior plus the reason for human behavior which would then contribute to a correct understanding of a person.

We believe that people make choices based on conditions. Of course. Our bodies are real. Our lives and movement is connected to resources of which we use for movement.

I know this is all a bit much to chew on and took me years of study. Yet It’s important to know or at least consider.

We all know that humans make choices based on conditions, locations and time. You don’t do the same thing in the black night at 2 am that you do at 12 noon or in the cold snowy winter day that you would on a 100 degree hot summer day.  This also holds true for varying social conditions of people in our lives. We behave based on the social dynamics of the group we live within and availability of resources and our technologies we have to work with.

When it comes to women and men our very lives are socially conditioned from the start to have choices that are agreeable to our elders within the larger social groups. When we misunderstand the context and reasoning of why someone chooses certain behaviors, we can’t possibly evaluate their behavior accurately.

In fact, we have all learned that human behavior is different than animals based on our intellectual ability to rationalize and make choices.  At least, that was the teachings about humans of the forefathers in educational institutions that we still carry. So then why is it that when we evaluate other human actions we do so as if there is no environmental limitations?

Our society has a horrific problem when we actually don’t consider environmental conditions not just in social behaviors but for our health, our spirituality, our emotional well being and so forth. We are experiencing this as a whole throughout our society as we see the harm and violence increasing.  There is no doubt that there are contradictions in what we learned in order to deny half the world’s population and what they are doing.

So enough of the social analysis here.

Right now something has just happened that is very tied to the history of women in our society, the decades it took for that something to happen and yet discussions can occur as if it hasn’t happened at all.  That something is obvious to us all.

Again, I say…

A woman was nominated for the Presidency of the United States by a major political party that is still quite dominated by men. That woman is Hillary.

Some discussions are occurring as if we shouldn’t talk about what is occurring based on Hillary being a woman. How wonderful that notion is for denying women’s history, as well as HIllary’s history,  while it is occurring!  How else can we come to such an important event and think we have to NOT give it that accurate historical context?

Let’s vote and discuss Hillary and what is happening without considering any fact about her being a woman or the importance of this history. That’s part of the message right now. The thinking is that’s unfashionable to discuss! It’s fallen into what is called  ‘sexism’.

Really? That is a classic example of how sexism that is labeled sexism is not a problem but the solution but the result of removing the context of location and social relationships accurately.  I think it’s the NOT discussing women’s history and lives that is fashionable and the continuation of sexism. It is the complete denial of a woman’s life that is oppression and while this is occurring, it is being done in a context that is different than our mothers and that context has us all thinking in slants of reality.

But what I ask is for all of us to watch from here on out how the denial of women’s lives and their history plays out when truth is obvious. Look for the accusations – often of women’s characteristics – that are attempts to avoid discussion of women’s history as well as control the socially as to not impact society in certain ways. The accusations exist all around us.  We are desensitized to them. You just need to be able to observe them by looking.

Here is an important fact that became history recently.

For all of United States history, there has never been such favorable conditions for a woman to run for the United States Presidency by a major political party and actually win that position. Never before in history has a First Lady turned around to possibly be the Mother of this Country as President. There should be no argument over this fact. And there should not be foolish discussions that maintain an avoidance of not only this fact, but the fact of all women’s lives and what this has meant in the past to create a world that has huge imbalances that harm us all. Right now even the highest women leader in this country is still very much in a social position with men as a group in power over women. It can’t be any other way yet.

But along with this observation of our present time, we must include the historical fact that a woman has never come this close to being President because of certain social behaviors and conditions and how it occurred in men’s behaviors to prevent that from happening and what has changed throughout United States’ women’s history that this event has now occurred but also what behaviors may be a repeat of women’s history.

And in fact, for a complete understanding of who Hillary is,  we DO need to look at Hillary Clinton’s life, her behaviors, in fact without judgment and criticism of her personhood as stereotyping outside of women’s history, but instead as we have looked at male presidents and the history of the United States for decades. That is men who held positions within the context of the United States History.

And we can not do this accurately unless we see Hillary Clinton’s life choices and conditions based on the United States conditions that she inherited from her foremothers and what she has actually lived through and done based on her being a woman in a world that  was not welcoming the participation of her from the very start and that no other woman has done. Who are we to judge critically something that we ourselves have not done nor could do ourselves?

We must count not just what she did, but what our foremothers did that brought this important event to pass. So in this way I share a thought  to discuss what Hillary has done that actually brought about this important contribution to our society to begin with – despite her compliance with the group she had no choice but to work with.  This, after all, should be, in part, a basis for not voting OR for voting for her. To gain a vote is not the goal here in my writing. Oh, no. My goal is much bigger than that. My goal is to help create a harmonious society that functions in truth of people’s lives by ending false evluations and to make clear choices about women freed from inherited practices and stereotypes that create not just fiction but lessen the quality of lives for everyone. This is why I write this. Whether Hillary or Trump gets in office, the goal for a harmonious society is going to be in front of us.

But I have a favor to ask. Please comment. Please contribute comments on what you see are the accomplishments and history of your own mothers, and our collective foremothers that laid the ground for our perceptions of women, including Hillary, in this world as they exist today. Comment on what you value and your goals to meet those values. Have a productive and thoughtful conversation devoid of negative, unfair and inaccurate criticisms but seek to learn about real people with respect to honor our environmental and social conditions and the people that are struggling to live and work within it. In fact, seek to learn the history before you evaluate a person as if their history – that is, their lives – isn’t real but a fiction of your imagination.

Women’s History; My Own Pennsylvania Foremothers


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Christiana Coonlin (1600’s)
Eva Miller (1600’s)
Maria Eber (1600’s)
Anna Barbara (1645)

Margaretha Rosina Dunkel (1700’s)
Elizabeth Marie Schwarm (1700’s)
Maria Barbara Holdecker
Maria Eva Kelchner
Catherina Zerr
Mary Elizabeth Fink
Rosina Derr (1700’s)
Maria Magdelena Dimnour (1770)
Anna Maria Julianna Demuth (1700’s)
Anna Maria Wetzel
Anna Margaretha Bruchbacher (1700’s)
Christiana Scholl (1700’s)
Barbara Burkhardt
Christiana Hill (1700’s)
Anna Marie Keel (1738)
Eva Kuder (1739)
Sabina Kuder (1739)
Mary Magdelena Hummel, mother of Elizabeth (1759)
Mary Magdelena Hummel, Mother of Magdelena (1759)
Mary Magdelena Merkel (1759)
Maria Julianna Hantz (1762)
Magdelena Heffner (1790)
Maria Barbara Kershener (1790)
Catherine Leiby (1791)
Elizabeth H. Heffner (1792)
Elizabeth Snyder (1793)

Sarah Lohrman (1800’s)
Catherine Reinhard (1800’s)
Susanna Peter (1800’s)
Maria Fenstermaker (1800’s)
Lydia Hayman (1802)
Rachel Mattinger (1810)
Mary H. Dreibelbis (1813)
Catherine Mosser (1821)
Mary Lesher (1826)
Elizabeth Heinly (1830)
Catherine Zettlemoyer (1830)
Lianna Zettlemoyer (1833)
Christiana Caroline Steigerwald (1841)
Amelia S. Kressley (1842)
Theresa Ann Heinly (!852)
Jane Amanda Fritz  (1855)
Mary Diana Gehringer (1862)
Laura Mantana Elizabeth Smith (1869)
Minnie Amelia Lenhart (1874)
Ellen Elizabeth Becker (1893)
Stella Mary Werley (1894)

(Mom) Sarah Ann Fink (1933)

Laura Henninger

Laura Mantana Elizabeth (Smith) Henninger 1869-1952

abrahamanne copy

Catherine (Zettlemoyer) Becker 1830-1862

WOMEN’S HISTORY; tidbits from my own search. I became interested in local history
when my children were born in the early 1980’s. There were Werley names on both maternal sides of the family  that sparked my interest. I became interested in women’s history in the early 1990’s after a history class at Penn State that included women’s US national history.The combination led me to researching my own foremothers not just the patriarchal father’s family name direct line which, in my case, would be Henninger.

I also began questioning how local history was written when I realized how it could be written. The historical paragraphs often followed the same patterns as
national US history. Pictures of the Father alone. Women’s and children’s lives were often ignored and left out as unimportant, while the Fathers’ work lives were written in fine detail. The values were clear. Women were often only mentioned in reference to who the Father married and also the mother of the children whose names were listed as well.  This was often for the purpose of recording the ongoing patriarchal pre-science, superstitious ‘blood’ lineage. Women’s bodies and ‘blood’ lineage were believed to have no importance in their own right as tradition held women as simply vessels of the vital ‘seed’ of man.


In my Pa family history, most all of my Pa German foremothers were farmers, and farmer’s wives, from around the same local area. I, then, did an independent study on Women and Farming at Kutztown University to learn more details about their lives. I found many books about agricultural history which inadvertently mentioned things that touched women’s lives. Some newer books coming from women’s mass entrance in colleges in the 1960’s could be found about women’s work lives, but only a handful about women and farming. A few focused on related activities such as Women in the Grange. This gave me a broader view into my foremothers’ lives. Women had very active lives in community and rarely were isolated in ‘just‘ the home as mothers with their own children that became part of the mythological perception and push for nuclear family around the 1950’s as more families left the farming life.

My own grandparents, Allen & Ellen Fink,  traveled all the way to Erie, Pa, in 1927 for a State Grange meeting. Women were active in Grange activities as well as in leadership for the organization.


Pa State Grange Pamphlet, 1927

With women studies started in the 1960’s, there were many books about women’s work lives from their work at that time, although farming was overlooked and often failed to be mentioned at all even in women studies classes. Books on women homemakers, however, had information about women farmers as the two jobs were so intertwined for a large part of US history they seemed as one. I actually could find information about women farmers obscured in many different places in local and regional histories.

While specific records of my own specific foremothers were scant, many public records for general local history can bring up interesting details or clues into the lives of women.

I learned things by talking to relatives such as how my grandmother, Stella Henninger, husked corn faster than anyone and that she made her own root beer and butter – which I didn’t know. Some traditions ended with her. I have my grandmother’s scrapbooks which include greeting cards and newspaper clippings she valued enough to save. I also have a few diaries in which she recorded daily activities. My Aunt Esther Fink, on my mother’s side, had an interest in family history and because I was known to have the same interest I inherited her bags of papers that others considered worthy of the trash but for me were a wealth of historical local information. I learned much from her about our family history before she passed in the early 1990’s . Her papers, which most of the time sat in storage for years as I struggled with daily life, are still a vital source for me to investigate further.

I had a cousin laugh at me when I mentioned my
interest in our grandmothers and mothers histories. He scoffed at me as if women’s lives were boring and what could possibly be interesting in our
female relatives’ personal records of housework and children. He’s not alone. This is how history was presented. In doubt, the thought flashed, was I the crazy person? I once heard a senator remark to Hillary Clinton that she better be careful or people would think she is crazy for her concentrated, focused connection to Eleanor Roosevelt. What a double standard!

I came to the realization of how strange it was that our male ancestors were so important in men’s lives in our society that there are endless books, constant mentioning, news and video documentaries and years of learning in detail in school compared to other cultures that honored ancestors in other religious ways with different values. What had men’s writing given us in recent times I pondered. How has this lopsided learning of life impacted our minds, values and views? Yet, in such a complete imbalance, our society sits in question as to what our women ancestors were all about and still not much admission of the importance. Some things, of course, have changed, but the change is very hodgepodge and not uniform.

We’ve all been taught what the important things are
when it comes to history. And we were taught in a certain way with certain values.  History is about the important people. But for some reason, that began to change for me and what it opened up was profound. A whole book. So who are the important people in your life is the question.

War and politics presented as the American public school history had it’s place but so much of my own life and organic history mattered just as much if not more. And I was curious to know much more.

I started understanding the importance of the things thought as ‘little’ such as marriage history and children’s history related to how I behaved. I found I had been living in myths about women lives, women’s bodies, and women’s history. Facts found were quite different and changed views. Family items revealed family relationships, neighbors and close friends with their activities, local, regional and national,  which were tied to community with the larger local and national events of other well known figures impacting and intertwining their lives. It wasn’t as if there were two separate subjects, local and national that define my life. Our lives aren’t categorized books by subject matter – but we do think in the way we get taught sometimes.


1924 Funeral Notice  Mary Elizabeth Fink

I found more detailed health information on death certificates through a ‘free‘ weekend on as well as other details such as residential addresses and parents’ names. I began looking to find the actual places and homes of my ancestors to take photographs. It’s only been this past year that I started using online resources for family history.

Recently I searched on and found lots of small mentions on various family members. Most disconcerting, I found articles on a scandal that put my great grandfather Henninger in question Lizzie 7.12.1893-1 ADin headlines for awhile that resolved itself favorably for him except it involved a woman that had first thought was murdered, but then found out by a detective that she had attempted a self induced abortion as reported later in the paper. She died from it. She was a poor woman whose mother had died when she was young and her father left her in an orphanage to grow up. She was an employee of my great grandfather, Nicholas Henninger. To have such an event (abortion) that today is the subject of political debate connects the personal to the political in time and place which makes our own lives more concrete. So many things about women’s lives and family struggles were not discussed historically that may benefit us to learn.

Lesher 25th Anniv 10.24.1927.
I still am searching to learn more about this woman, Lizzie Fritz but some things one may never know. I haven’t found where she was buried and wondered how she was buried considering she died as perceived in sin. More to know there. The stories of women’s lives become more real when names, places and dates are attached. Fiction is replaced with fact.

Old newspapers didn’t just report sensational items years ago. They reported small local events like birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, engagements, trips, special achievements and other events of local people that do not make news today – except on facebook! .

I found a clip from 1916 that reported that my Great
Grandmother, Amelia Kressley Smith, with her
three granddaughters, Helen Smith, Anne & Mary
Henninger were spending a few weeks with Amelia’s other
daughter, Annie Seibert, in Allentown. That is, traveling from Fogelsville which was probably a trip by train or horse with wagon and was, of course, much more of a significant event in early 1900’s than it is today.

Laura's Mom-Amelia

Amelia Kressley Smith and grandchildren, (back) Helen Smith, Mary & (front) Annie Henninger, youngest Warren Henninger (?)

In the Kutztown Patriot from November 1910, there was
listed at the Kutztown University, a Hankerchief Shower
for my Grandmother’s cousin, Mabel Gehringer,
within a few days of her 17th birthday. Engagement wasn’t mentioned. I’m still curious about that kind of shower. Anybody know? The guests were all listed in the article which gave me names of relatives, friends and neighbors of the family.

I had one aunt, Frances Werley,  that was a graduate of Kutztown University
and I was able to find her in the yearbook as well as in her 1913 class picture.

Since I consider researching family history more or less as a hobby,
I don’t give it the priority in my life as I would like, but
I hope that someday I might be able to give myself
the time and bring all my years of learning the histories together  and give a richer and more comprehensive story to the lives of many of my ancestors. I know that these stories change lives and the way we see the world around us.

We often think of our ancestors as a line of fathers
with the same last name that go back along only one branch
of a massive tree from our father’s surname.  The surname is the thread that gives meaning to the relationships and people’s places in the world.

When studying our foremothers’ lineage, there is no way to
have a straight line of descent with the same last name. The charts don’t work the same. As I studied, I sought names on all the different branches
while gathering up all the various names I could find of my foremothers.  It begins 2, then 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and adds up fast.
I listed all 50 of the ones I found. My direct line foremothers.


It is amazing to consider that all these women I listed have
given birth to children that were a part of eventually
being me. It’s not the way of think of inherited genes – like a mosaic.
And we have yet to think much about our inheritance through
the anatomy of our foremothers, these women, that carried the ovum
for not just their own children, but for their daughter’s daughters.


I often joke that I am pure bred Pennsylvania German
because all my branches are from families that came
over on boats from Alsace & Lorraine areas on the border
of Germany/France during the early 1700’s.

But I am not just my father’s linear blood line attached to one constant name in one culture. All my direct line foremothers branch off into numerous other branches of many mothers.

I didn’t find all of my grandmothers yet, but I did find most of my direct
line(s) of my American foremothers and fathers, too. There are only 4 direct
branches to my family tree that are missing.

Caroline Steigerwald, Mary Lesher , Daniel Henninger, and  Abraham Becker are the names I have which I have not been able to find the parents lineages.


Great Grandparents – Minnie nee Lenhart & David Becker

My maternal great grandmother is Minnie Lenhart and she is a part of the descendants from the settlers who founded Lenhartsville in Berks County. That history is available.

However, on my great grandfather’s side, David Becker’s father was Abraham Becker and after much searching I have not found his parents or family history. Unfortunately, there are many Abraham Beckers and I’ve come to know about many of them through the sifting of which one is mine. But I remain unable to find his origins.

If you are local, you might know that most of the names listed are quite familiar to the area. I’d love to hear about anyone else’s research and findings about local
Lehigh/Berks County history including and not
leaving out, of course, women.

Happy Exploring for Women’s History Month!


Don’t let anyone tell you there weren’t notable and effective women
throughout history. They were always there, but historians failed to
note them is their HIStories….It’s our turn! Irene Stuber



Steps to Freedom

“We want to make it clear from the very start, we aren’t a ‘family magazine.’ If you’re somebody’s sister, wife or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to your Ladies Home Companion.” Hugh Hefner

For a large majority of americans, it is clearly understood that a political woman’s movement occurred in the 60’s and 70’s, because this was publicized widely.

Particularly, it was presented that this movement was about the ability for housewives to be freed from the home and free to move into male only territories.

But little is understood of the men’s political movement in the 50’s that freed MEN from their forced role in the home – breadwinner. It is not understood widely that women’s movements are often on the heels of a men’s movement. And contrary to being publicized widely, men’s advancements for freedoms may go unnoticed and unexplained properly in relation to others or even in name.

The men’s movement of the 50’s was perceived as entertainment, not as political rights or impacting women’s lives. The emerging of the Playboy has been seen as advancement in entertainment freedom for men – in a battle against religious leaders. However, Playboy gave men freedom from the role of economic provider. The breadwinner role was strongly enforced on men previously. They held *family wages* in the jobs.

As a Playboy, men could keep their *family* wages for themselves, remain unmarried, have sex with women (in or out of marriage) but not have to pay child support or provide support to women. More importantly, tied closely with their ability to use money to show off their economic prosperity in buying fast cars and watches, etc, they could keep their heterosexuality – and not be married. Up until that time period, any man that didn’t married was suspect of being a fag or a mama’s boy. Men were freed and given a new acceptable way of being – the Playboy. Appropriately named.

Few realize the conditions this put women in amidst the fantasies that men were privileged to create about women and their lives given their almost exclusive power in publishing.

Many things changed as the Playboy idea spread. It was common for women to have the responsibilities of birth control and child care but not the authority over their own lives or children’s lives. it took a few decades for women to acquire the basics they needed to live from basic birth control, to have significant employment opportunities, get enforced child support laws, be able to buy a home in her own name, end the violence towards her, and not be socially outcast completely if she was a single mother. Reagan, in fact, perpetuated the idea of such a mother being a Welfare Queen for mothers caught in a system that left them often burdened with no income possibilities or to have to fight a system each inch to survive.

Living in the misunderstood contradictions of their lives, these conditions were often perceived as *women’s choices* while many social standards required women to be passive and submissive with men or perceived as deviant, sick or bad if they asserted any dissatisfaction or waged complaints. The idea was strongly held that women were not to make men out to be an enemy or themselves perceived as a bitch. The bitch back then was not nearly accepted as today. With the perogative of men not having to *listen* to women if they did indeed complain, women were perceived as *nags*, if they insisted on being heard. Men were considered henpecked if they allowed women’s concerns to dictate their behavior.

While this is only a short summary of a much larger, complex set of factors through a number decades of huge social changes, one can see how truly amazing it is that relationships between men and women were actually as good as they were and not worse!
American freedoms are often misunderstood. But sometimes the misunderstandings of the solutions created for the advancements of American’s freedoms are even worse.

Ready For Women’s History Month? Follow Me.



Introduction: I’m going to be posting about Women’s History throughout March so take a moment now to see my introduction. I look forward to comments, PLEASE COMMENT !!! Thanks.

 Are you ready for women’s history month? Begins March 1st.

National Women’s History Project has supplies if you need anything.

Don’t know what to do for Women’s History Month? It’s simple. Learn first.

Let’s start with what makes women’s history month exist in March as a special occasion?

The answer: The belief that women’s history is not important so a special designation was made to correct that mistaken belief.

What happens the other 11 months of the year? The belief that women’s history is not important because women are not important to learn about. It is believed it is simply the fathers, not our foremothers that did all the important things and had interesting lives.


History is about the important people, right? Wrong. You can live with

just the information about important people, or you can learn differently.


Organic history is what You have lived – for real. Not in a book.

What your parents lived that you got by living with them. Often so much never gets written in books.

Learn the difference and see it for how it really is.

That’s what women’s history helped me see.

Gerda Lerner, a woman historian, calls the history in books – Capital H history.

One of the first things GWBush did when in office was try to limit the histories to what is claimed as “The” American history. More on that later.


You, as most people, are more closely related or connected to women as important to your lives than you are Presidents, Politicians and War Generals in “Normal” History.The subject matter of what is important to you was never a question. it was told to you.

When history is about your life, it’s not boring, dry facts.

It actually matters because what exists for your life in the present moment exists because something in the past happened for it – and You to be here doing what you are doing. It matters for today. Without the facts of this history, you can live in anyone’s fiction and not even know it.

Women’s history includes Your history because you had a mother and you were born to her. We’ve been denied half our heritage as if it fell off the side of our earth- the publishing and teaching earth –  that is. It makes us all vulnerable to stories without a solid basis. You can keep believing that you are not important and your history is not important or you can learn why you are important because you were born through a mother and your foremothers have always existed and that simple fact is profoundly important.  My experience in learning women’s history was as profound as understanding the earth isn’t the center of the universe but the universe is instead indeed infinite. When you stop putting only certain people as the center of our social world, you view all the relationships differently.

I don’t just believe in women’s history as important, I believe in many histories that have gotten neglected, such as lower class men’s history, and farming history and marriage history.

All the histories that make up our world rather. As it stands now our views are fragmented and distorted.

History is simply what has already happened to everyone and everyone counts because the fact is they exist and in that existence there are facts that are real. Without those facts, we have a history that is not accurate and even, at times, just plain false.


Poof! If You have no history, then you are unimportant then you do not exist – not only for future generations but for the life you already have. That’s right. Our whole system is built on whose important from history as well as the most recent history. If you have no history and worth, You are a number. Get in line and stay there and wait your turn. If you are important, the lines wait for you. This imbalance is part of what is at the root of our social conflicts.

I have a story I tell in the beginning when I speak in my community education work. The story is that when I was at the university as a student I took a 20th Century Music class. That was the title.

So this was the history of music, some of which I lived through in my life since I was born in 1957.

So guess who we learned about in 20th century music? Do you think we learned about Elvis Presley? How about BB King? Do you think we learned about the Beatles? Or Diana Ross and the Supremes? How about Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard or Hank Williams?

Well, I’m here to tell you that the answer is NO to all of the above. What was inside a book and a classtitled 20th Century music was about 40, mostly all white, classical male musicians, with a token woman and a black person thrown in. Now nothing would be wrong with this IF the title of the class was 20th Century Classical White Male Music, but that wasn’t the title. The title of the book and the class was simply inaccurate.

And this type of thing happened throughout all subjects from art classes to political science classes to psychology.

The tradition of selective history and selective subjects, has been taught for centuries as if it’s everyone’s history. This isn’t just about receiving more information. It is about receiving information appropriately. It’s about having a choice, and even more important, realizing there could be choices.

You can do something about this simply by learning and making note of it and sharing it.

Make sure you catch my posts throughout March!

For those who were not included in the GNP or treated as important enough to know in history.

Invisible Work: For those who were not included in the GNP or treated as important enough to know in history. Painting by Karen Henninger