Saturday, January 19, 2013

Accepted At Last

The Florida Historical Society's main office is located in the old Post Office in Cocoa Village, Cocoa, Florida.   I remember going into the post office with my grandmother as a child.  It is a big impressive building. 

Florida Historical SocietyMy mother donated some old photographs of the Cocoa and Eau Gallie area.  They asked her to write about her life as she remembered it which they published.  She was a Roesch afterall.  Now my family history was beginning to intrigue me.  Inside the front entrance of the FHS hangs a plaque with my mother's name engraved upon it.  My sisters and I were happy to make this happen for her to leave a lasting memory of her existence to the history of this area.

When I became interested in genealogy, every March while in Florida visiting, I spent time in this formidable building asking questions, sharing information and researching my Roesch history.  Every visit starting with the first visit frustrated me to no end.  Sometimes, I hate to admit, it really made my blood boil and my hair would stand on end.  I never felt welcomed and was made to feel intellectually inferior when it came to my family history.  Seems they thought they knew more than I did, especially when they told me I was pronouncing my family name Roesch incorrectly.  If you were to ask my husband he would tell you I embarrassed him on more than one occasion, most likely half-a-dozen times.  I just couldn't help myself, this was important to me.  Assuredly they weren't looking forward to my visit every March, but they were always gracious and I tried, I really tried to be polite. 

It was in March of 2008 that I stopped in for a last visit prior to my book, "Forever Laced" being completed for publication.  Two very important things happened.  First, Ben DiBiase, the Educational Resources Coordinator brought out a file box from the archives. He untied the cover and to my surprise lifted out correspondence my grandfather had written in 1932. The letters were found in the Roesch House in Eau Gallie that the FHS now owns and is part of the Rossetter Museum.  These letters along with responses were very important to see.  It put his life story into perspective for it showed how hard he was trying to find work during the depression.   

Then the man who always seemed to me to be a know-it-all, who refused to believe how to pronounce my family name walked in.  He sat at the table with us and asked in the softest voice I had ever heard him speak, "What was the relationship between your grandfather, William Philip Roesch and John McAllister?" I had uncovered his name and the relationship while researching the history of the Roesch family and felt quite satisfied to tell him, John was my grandfather's uncle.  This was a question, he as a genealogist hadn't been able to discover.

The following year I returned with books in hand and donated two for their library. This time I was made to feel truly welcomed and treated with respect.  I was surrounded by those I had spoken with for so many years asking me of all people questions about the Roesch family and how it related to the history of Eau Gallie.  Finally, I felt accepted as one of their own.  I'm home at last.  And by the way, he now pronouces the name correctly, Ray-shh.

As a final note, my great grandfather, William Russell Roesch was the founder of the newspaper named the Eau Gallie Record.  I was able to convince his grandson, my uncle Clyde, that the collection of newspapers, some over 100 years old now in his custody, should be donated to the Florida Historical Society for safe keeping before they completely disintergrate. 

Ben DiBiase accepted these newspapers , 'Eau Gallie Record', 'Melbourne Times' and the 'Cocoa Tribune' stating in his letter written August 14, 2012, "Again, I want to thank you for making this donation possible,  these papers will be of great use to researchers in the future.  In fact, I have already received research requests from people who are interested in the history of Eau Gallie and would like to see these newspapers. He graciously included two CD's with digitally scanned copies of the newspaers, one for me, and one for my uncle.  Now we can enjoy these for a lifetime.









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