A great woman can inspire hundreds, but this one mothered a legacy. This is the story of my great-great-great grandmother, Anna K. Bock.

It is surprising that I have been able to do so much on my family tree in so little time, but much of it has been due to the tremendous amount of work both sets of grandparents put into genealogy before the pile of papers landed in my lap. This has been a boon to me since some of it has yet to appear on the internet.

One such gem I have found are the papers of one Anna K. Bock. She was my great-great-great grandmother.

What first caught my eye was the copy of an elegant document and the form in the old-fashioned scrawl of the 1800s. The latter was a citizenship certificate in which Anna Catharina Bock formerly renounced fidelity and allegiance to any foreign power… particularly the King of Prussia.Why her name later appears as Anna K. Bock is one of many, many mysteries inherent in the past-time of my genealogical studies.

Where things got really interesting was a tribute to the lady herself. In it, she became more than a name and a set of dates to me. She became a hero.

See, she traversed the Atlantic to New York in 1856, alone, to try to make a better life for herself with her share of her father’s estate. When she got the America, she found a fellow German trying to make his way. Adam. They fell in love, got married, and had two beautiful babies. Then something terrible happened: 1860. The Civil War began tearing this country apart. Brother against brother. Adam was devastated by it and signed up for the Union Army. He was picked off by a sharpshooter in July, 1864 in Virginia. She applied for a widow’s pension (of which I have a copy), and received a meager $8 a month. The body was transported and buried with other national heroes in Cypress Hills cemetery.

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It didn’t matter the pain, heart-break, loss, toil, or suffering. She persevered. Anna was practical, in good health, and affectionate. She put her mind to it and labored until she had the means to place a marker at the grave of her young husband. For years, his was the only marker in the field of glorious dead, the government is almost always slow to act in such cases.  Anna did what the government could not and did what every amateur genealogist holds close to their little heart: she honored the dead, remembered them, but lived her life in the light. She got her citizenship, raised her children, and lived into her 80s.

Her great-grandson served in another army, one of a United, not divided, States of America.

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But in spite of all his pain, all that war, he had three children – one son and two beautiful daughters.

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See that one in the background? That’s my grandmother, Anna’s great-granddaughter.

Anna couldn’t know that her legacy would live on. She couldn’t know that someday a descendant would look back and find inspiration in her story. She just… lived. She loved her children, showered them with affection. They adored her. Even in her old age, they came to visit her nearly every week. She worked, and loved, and lived and that was enough to get her through the devastation of losing her husband and raising her children in a strange land.

The next time you’re feeling a little blue, maybe a tad apathetic, you may find a legacy worth upholding in your own family tree.

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