Legacy

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When you die, how do you wish to be remembered
and by whom?

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konzack-tacquard-pedigree-chart

click here to enlarge

The five of us lounged in recliners and the two soft leather couches with wine or cocktails in hand. We had finished our saucers with portions such as artichoke dip with Mediterranean Herb or Sea-salted pita crackers. Fresh strawberries, grapes, broccoli and cauliflower bites and a crab-log dip were also available. After all, it was my small, modest birthday party — just as I like it.

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

We five had arrived at this question in a rather funny way. Ms. Lyncháge had been describing how when she and her late husband had friends over to their small farm cottage, his billy goats — particularly the bucks she explained — seemed to always mount the does just in time and en massé to show off the grandeur of raw masculinity to their human guests. Her and her late husband’s embarrassed… umm, excuses to guests about the loud pornographic show was essentially caused by the local water and/or the trees, bushes, weeds, or “Fescue-passion grass” as possible causes of untimely uninhibited goat-sex. “Is there much difference between goat-love and any other mammalian love?” I asked the room. My mother chimed in “Hah! As one of eleven children, I can safely say ‘HELL YES!’” She pointed over to a large picture of my maternal grandparents (below), specifically her father.

felix-blanche-bonnet

Grandpa & Grandma Bonnet

If there were a hundred different oral tales and stories about my maternal grandparents, the one that was always discernible was Grandpa Bonnet was cheerfully relaxed and content and Grandma Bonnet:  easily agitated. Apparently twelve times and over 172 years agitated, if combining all their children’s rearing years! Ms. Lyncháge, my Mom, and Mrs. Mortician all vehemently gave their personal agreements, and with all being grandmothers too, in unison proclaimed proudly and resoundingly “Keep your damn thingy AWAY from me!

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

Several months ago I learned from Mom more about the maternal side of the Bonnets:  the Preece side. It was widely suspected among my maternal grandmother’s family that two, possibly three Aunts were ladies of the night. This apparently was one cause (among many I’m sure) to why one Preece-branch was Pentecostal Church goers, and the other… umm, “something else.” As our family story goes, my Grandpa and Grandma Bonnet would not talk much about “that part” of the family. At family reunions I often heard from other maternal aunts, uncles, great cousins, great aunts and great uncles that “not much is known about that side of the family.” No matter how many times Why was asked, the answers were short and vague. A family conundrum having lived within a few miles or half-day’s slow horse ride from each other!

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

Last July while visiting two days/nights with my Aunt and Uncle — my Dad’s younger brother and sister-in-law — I learned some fascinating details about my paternal grandmother’s side (Konzack and Tacquard) going back five and six generations to Xavier and wife Robin Gauthier, who in the early 1800’s lived southwest of Paris, France in Baillou near Le Mans. It was known much of the Tacquard side lived in and around Vauthiermont near Switzerland before some moved toward Paris. I read a copy of a personal letter written in French by Robin Gauthier to my grandmother’s maternal family (the Tacquards) in Alta Loma, Texas transposed into English by one of my French-English speaking great great aunts; see following images.

Learning about such intimate details of our Gauthier and Guyot ancestors, as well as life in 1850s France was not just fascinating, but very personal. They descended from a Germanic origin which in various socio-familial ways, timelines, migrations and immigrations found their way from 1830-1840’s Europe to Galveston and Indianola, Texas. As the personal letter reads, the story of our Tacquard family is one of genuine enthusiasm and some hardships. It explains in part why so many traveled so far to Texas for new opportunities.

The majority of otherwise less known white-Texas history — for example, the truer history as opposed to those families from southeastern and midwest slave states from early America and their versions — actually originates from German, French, and some Eastern European, Italian, and Spanish heritage. These various Texian-Tejano families typically settled in early 19th-century townships and counties with familiar cultures and customs. Several Texas genealogical historians today record that these groups of Texas-Europeans fled their native continent to escape political, religious, and racial tyrannies. This stands in clear contrast to what southeastern and midwest slave-owning U.S. families brought to mid-to-late 19th-century Texas which is more widely told or written. Most all of my maternal and paternal ancestral family sides were, in various degrees, libertarians, reformists, agorists, abolitionists, and/or egalitarians. Click here for a brief encapsulation of the first Tacquards arriving in 1844 Indianola and founding the town of Castroville, Texas. They tried to stick together through time and travels, usually succeeding. My Konzack-Tacquard line had what might only be described as (by wide comparisons)… unconventional spousal, parenting, passionate and lively social relationships within their innermost circle.

Romance, dancing, flirtation, absorbing enchantment, and frankly sex were never viewed or practiced as dirty, evil, or sinful. On  the contrary, it was gladly embraced as quite natural, quite human; a necessary pleasure if you will. My paternal grandmother was a nationally competing ballroom dancer, and she was exceptionally graceful. Her mother, my great grandmother Lucile Tacquard-Konzack, I fondly remember as spunky, charmingly agile for her lofty age, forthright, and always ready to laugh. My father absolutely idolized her. She and her family loved life and those dearest to her. Every year the “Kiddo” Tacquard reunion, barbeque, spirited-beverages, and live music by bands that could play all the popular Texas 2-step and waltz songs, 1950’s jitterbugs and swings, as well as the traditional French-German polkas and schottisches out on Kiddo’s massive unwalled hay-barn with concrete foundation scattered with sawdust was a town spectacle. It was a gathering of all in-law families and close friends numbering in the hundreds. Through my adolescence into my 20’s this partying reunion was an event I feverishly looked forward to every July 4th holiday weekend! Some of my fondest happiest memories were there with everyone.

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These family traits were and had been passed down from generation to generation, especially through maternal family lines. My father learned about intercourse from a live demonstration by his parents at the age of sixteen. Tis true. Upon the death of my paternal grandmother, my aforementioned uncle and aunt, while sorting through all her private belongings, discovered in one of her favorite books several nude photos of herself taken at their nearby rural bayou-property. Shy, as I remember, was never a Konzack-Tacquard quirk. Life was to be fully experienced, not feared.

So returning to my present-day birthday party-guests, I shared these family customs, with some discretion of course, and I asked the room…

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

tacquard_1

My great grandmother Lucile Tacquard-Konzack, c. 1916

I would destroy or burn anything like that!” replied Mrs. Mortician. “Oh, I have already done away with” Ms. Lyncháge explained, “items of that nature between my late husband and I.” We all laughed at such family secrets. Earlier in the evening in the kitchen they had heard my Mom and I briefly talk about our Preece Ladies of the Night and more family secrets. And why not? When you are among close dear friends who are very trustworthy, what are “appropriate” necessary boundaries? What constitutes truly endearing adoring friendships? What should immediate and extended family descendants be expected to understand about multi-faceted dynamics and expressions of love? Who best to learn from?

Over the last couple years my mother continues packing or unpacking to move out of her house going through very sentimental personal letters and items she and my father exchanged while dating. Reading and reminiscing she tacitly expressed to me how passionate and sexual their earliest years had truly been. My personality (family DNA?) warmly thought “How natural; how very human. As it should be.

As a tribute from my own generation’s music, I offer this song I feel is my dance of life for my family of lifetime music-loving dancers going back at least five and six generations…

m1-edison-amberola-phonograph_1

A Konzack-Tacquard heirloom – 1913 Edison Amberola Phonograph

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

In my own personal lifetime, I too have created and accumulated MANY cherished romantic, fervent, even wickedly primal moments, and many with photos, in letters, and on video. During our separation and inevitable divorce, my children’s mother made me burn everything intimate and/or sexual we had between us, including all the Swinging-BDSM photos and videos. At the time I did so in the earnest hope I might save our marriage and my family. Today, I understand why she demanded it all be destroyed, but I don’t agree with her reasons. To this day I still have 3-5 recently past relationships of cherished, romantic, steamy memories safely and secretly stored away. Those 3-5 ladies know I have them and the others. To them, or any intimate partner in my future, I do not hide this. It is my way of expressing to them how much they meant to me and still mean to me. All beauty and passion should be free. All have opportunities to be just as adored, just as loved if not more. Come what may!

come-join-me

My hope is that she/they would embrace all my moving past life-moments and for my own personal reasons, cherished memories from a window of time that made me who I am. Very fun unforgettable times, past. Moments captured in a time gone by, but not lost. Nothing more, nothing less. Or are they?

If you pass into the afterlife, or pass from this life sooner than expected, suddenly… should those cherished, sentimental, romantic, passionate things be (or have been) destroyed forever, never to be known or treasured by even your closest most meaningful persons or descendants?

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom? What will your true legacy be?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Footnote — if interested, this post: My Heretical Heritage, covers some of my maternal ancestory.

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My Heretical Heritage

family treeBefore the 15th century word heretics had become common in Europe, three centuries earlier there was one group of non-conformists around the southeastern town of Lyon, France known as “the poor of Lyons” or the Waldensians.  In the literature of the time these “heretics” followed the teachings of a man known variously as Valdes, Valdesius, Valdensius, and Waldo (Valdo) from the city of Lyons.  Their apparent break from mainstream Catholicism began in about 1170 CE not because they gave up a life of comfort and wealth – in medieval Europe this was quite popular and common – but because Waldo began translating the Holy Scriptures into common speech and then allowed lay people to read it and share it anywhere.

Chambons, Italy

Chambons, Italy

If anyone is aware and knowledgeable of medieval Europe and the stranglehold the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican had over its parishioners and daily life, then you know the punishment for dissension or heresy was no slap-on-the-hand.  If the fathers or bishops deemed your behavior severe, you could lose your life or soul, or both.  The practices of Waldo and his followers was ecclesiastical usurping:  no one other than the church pontiffs could interpret and teach the Bible.  This crime was punishable by excommunication.  These are the times my maternal ancestors come from:  Waldensians:  the Bonnet clan of Chambons-Mentoulles of Cluson Valley, Italy and Lyon, France.

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Waldensian children were not spared

Waldensian children were not spared – Piedmont

Groups of “heretics” began surfacing all over 12th and 13th century Europe as the Vatican and Pope Lucias III persecuted such dissension more and more.  Many groups, including my ancestors, went into hiding or fled.  My ancestors eluded numerous arrests and escaped massacre after massacre.  During the late 1400’s several groups were fleeing into parts of Switzerland, and Germany, then Prussia the eventual birthplace of the Protestant Reformation.  By 1532 because of many doctrinal similarities the Waldensians officially joined the European Reformation inside congregations of Presbyterian and Calvinist churches.  The Bonnet clan (pronounced Bonné) and others found refuge in the Cluson Valley just outside of Turin.  They would soon be tracked down there.

The Catholic Duke of Savoy located the Waldensians (also known as the Vaudois) in the Piedmont region of Italy in April 1655.  This is known as the Piedmont Easter Massacre.  The English poet John Milton pinned a sonnet about the slaughter:

“Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones;

Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans

The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway

The triple tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.”

Elisabeth Charlotte

Elisabeth Charlotte

The Bonnet clan once again escaped…miraculously.  By 1699 persecutions and inquisitions by the Papacy and King Louis XIV forced my ancestors into hiding and fleeing again.  They settled their families in Charlottenberg, Germany outside of Koblenz.  There were 91 families remaining of Waldensians and Huguenot refugees from Italy, all welcomed by the Countess Elisabeth Charlotte Melander von Holzapfel-Schaumburg of Prussia (whew, say that 3-times fast!).  The hills and castles still exist there today as the town of Holzappel, Germany.

The late 17th century found many agricultural and economic hardships, even for The Poor of Lyons who graciously chose a modest frugal life focusing on others.  During the decades of 1830 to 1840, many Waldensians and Prussians had heard about and read about the ease of acquiring land deeds in a place called The Republic of Texas across the Atlantic Ocean.  The government there was ambitiously seeking Europeans of non-Spanish origin to come settle throughout central Texas.  Texas was near bankruptcy after fighting Mexico for independence and desperately sought to grow and stimulate their economy.  Johann Holzapfel from Charlottenberg had already started the immigration from Prussia, to Antwerp, Belgium, and on to Galveston, Texas in 1844.  My direct ancestor Philipp Daniel Bonnet (sometimes spelled Phillip) arrived at the port of Indianola, Texas in 1845 just months before the Republic was annexed into the United States.

Grave_Philipp Daniel BonnetMuch of the settlements of central Texas are of European heritage, particularly German.  The group of Prussians my family followed were the ones who founded New Braunfels, Texas.  Two generations later my great, great, great, great, great (five greats) grandfather Henry Daniel Bonnet moved to Austin, Texas and helped construct our state capitol building; little to no work could be found as New Braunfels and the surrounding towns had become over-populated with European immigrants seeking employment, land, and religious freedom.  My mother’s ancestors and family still populate several towns around Austin, including inside its city-limits.

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During the flow of immigration into 19th century Texas, my paternal ancestors arrived as well.  Not as much (or as detailed) is known about my father’s ancestors.  Perhaps they were not as fortunate inside the kill-infested parts of Catholic Europe.  However, and to my good fortune obviously, the few migrated to, settled and stayed near Galveston.  My paternal grandfather and grandmother are also of German-French heritage:  Miller (Mueller), Konzack, both German on his side, and Tacquard (French) on her side.  This side of my family is understandably much more distrustful of large organized religious institutions.

I remember my paternal grandfather had a strong independent personality.  He was one of few sons that had graduated from the University of Houston working most of his adult life at a chemical refinery.  Not surprisingly my father was agnostic.  His mother, my grandmother, I remember had a most kind gentle demeanor with a little pizzazz that shined on the dance floor.  She was an intermediate school teacher her entire life.  Both naturally loved family life and had unbelievable work ethics; they had to coming from and living through two world wars.

The most precious memories I have of my childhood and adolescence was the never-ending fun me and my cousins would have during family barbecues,  beer drinking (by adults of course! Well…), music and dancing on top of the saw-dusted pavilion or barn floor.  It was no surprise to me either, that in my same spiritual journey, why or how my two families found each other and became attracted.  The historical and genetic record fits nicely onto a most intriguing suspenseful family tree of how I came to be.

Magnolia bloom

Magnolia bloom

I was born into the best two families – deeply bound in an intimate, intense, painful, passionate yet supportive SURVIVING two families – a person could ever wish for.  It makes perfect sense why I have such deep Bohemian Free-thinking humanist-caring tendencies!  And I thank God…no, correction…the family tree that I come from such an incredible history!  I can picture my paternal grandmother teaching my father “We will teach you how to think, and not what to think” and my father passing down the same principle to me.  Decades later my mother, working at Southwestern Bell Telephone in Austin, meets my father on a blind date, he a part-time engineering student at the University of Texas in Austin and putting himself through college while working for an electrical company.  No surprise, there was a familiar (or familial) chemistry.  About four years later cupid’s arrow found its mark and at the risk of stating the obvious…so did my Dad!

One of my dad’s favorite trees was the evergreen magnolia tree, especially when it bloomed.  The flowers have a distinct smell, like fresh sweet lemonade.  He, myself and my sister planted one in the front yard.  When I last drove by the home of my youth, it had grown to some 40-50 feet into the sky.  I could only imagine how the neighborhood smelled when it bloomed.

As the past weekend of resurrection stories and folklore prevailed, my larger perspective was much more personal, much more caring in small ways, like a close family who, to understate, has learned in so many ways over so many generations the real-life meaning of Easter.

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Live Laugh Love

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