Searching For Our Roots... While Growing Our Branches
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Simola, Hjalmar
Simola, Hjalmar

We're so happy you stopped by for a visit.

Brenda's Branches is a genealogy website that was created to share the results of our years of research and hopefully connect with other family researchers.

On the following pages, you will learn a bit about our ongoing research into both my family and my husband's family and their collateral ancestors and descendants. Also included is the research into the allied surnames - Radke/Radtke, Kroeger, Boettger, Graf, Miller, Randall, Wollschlager, Grunewald, Ysker, Pilatzki, and Van Hout.

As of the last update, our database includes over 10,100 people and 3440 families. While all efforts are taken for accuracy, unfortunately we do sometimes make mistakes. So, while your exploring if you find any mistakes please contact us and we will correct them as soon as possible.

Please keep in mind, my genealogy research is a work in progress and a compilation of many family researcher's efforts which is constantly evolving. I've added sourcing where possible, but in my earlier research I wasn't as diligent in my sources as I have become in later years.

Contributors pile of documents

Over the years, many individuals have helped me compile the information in this database and I am forever grateful to all of them for their help. However, there are a few special people who deserve a special "Thank You" for their valuable help and source material.

  • Ginger Summers, Georgia Moore, Shirley Stapleton, Roy McKinney and Ima Fahrner for sharing their vast knowledge of our McKinney branch of the family with a "new cousin."
  • Michael McKeown and Jackie Erickson who helped me fill in a most of the blanks in the Newton and Wilson branches.
  • Vieno Simola Walkama and Diane Porter for sharing freely of their life's research into my mother's Ek branch of our tree.
  • Gerri Garrison for welcoming a "Northern Cousin" so graciously into her family and sharing our Garrison heritage with me. She has passed from this life but will always be remebered with a smile and a warn heart.
  • Pat Cassedy Cousin Pat, you are a wonder to me. The photos, documents, and memories you've shared with me have been priceless when working on the Peters and Bealckus branches.

grandpa telling story The Story Tellers:
We Are The Chosen Ones

My feelings are that in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were, by our genes.

Those who have gone before cry out to us. Tell our story! So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us!" How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference, and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. (For we without them cannot be made perfect.)

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

By: Della M. Cummings Wright ~ Rewritten by her granddaughter, Della JoAnn McGinnis Johnson ~ Edited and reworded by: Tom Dunn

Latest News
17 Aug 2013 - I attended a wonderful birthday party for Ruth Radke Bartholow in Jordan, MN. Everyone was so kind, and willingly shared family information with me to help grow our branches some more. Glorious day!! Look for a database update sometime in the next few days!

14 Aug 2013 - I just received a new batch of photos, deeds, and letters to add to my research into the Peters family. Look for updates in these areas... hopefully soon.

07 Apr 2013 - I did a bit of tweaking to the look of the home page and added the vertical chart to the pedigree pages. Plus it's time for a database update again.

24 Mar 2013 - I spent some time scanning and uploading documents, gravestones and photos. More to come when I find some time.

19 Feb 2013 - Updated the Database.

5 Feb 2013 - Changed Web Hosting Providers.

22 Jan 2013 - Updated the Database.


Dedication - This site is dedicated to the memory of our families "Story Teller" my beloved "Grandma Vi"

Terms of Use - Please read them carefully.


To insure the privacy of living individuals, Brendas Branches suppresses the personal data of living individuals from viewing by the general public.

Personal data includes, but is not limited to, birth/marriage dates/locations, photographs, notes, and biographies.

Only the Names of living individuals are shown and no other information.

While my site is searchable by everyone, the privacy of living people is of high importance to us so you MUST be an immediate family member to gain access to their information.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.