Liam – April 3, 2017

My wife, Kim, and I are approaching our first wedding anniversary. As I suppose many newlyweds do, we’ve spent a large amount of this first year discussing the family we plan on building together. When do we have kids? How many kids do we have? Do we make a move to the suburbs? Do I really have to give up driving a stick-shift car for something bigger and ultimately less fun but more conducive to schlepping the family around town?


Portrait of a young couple carrying some boxes out of their car and moving into their new home

Moving to the suburbs can mean adding to family trees and taking newfound interest in discovering ancestors.

This talk of the future has made me consider the past. Specifically, my own family and its traditions. As I consider what my family will be, I wanted to know more about what my family was and where I came from. I believe this will help me determine where we should be going. So as I plan to sprout new branches on my family tree, I have an unavoidable desire to focus on its roots.

My family and I are close but we have never made ancestry a main point of conversation. I put an end to that family tradition recently. It brought me to The Danish Home. I was aware that the Sandlers had a connection to it but the particulars were never quite clear. It was exciting to learn that my great-great-grandmother, Isabella Sandler, was one of the Home’s founders. As I followed up on that fact, I learned more about the Home’s history and that this year marks the 125th anniversary of the first meeting that ultimately led to the Home’s existence.

tree transparent

Currently, there is great interest in, and resources for, discovering ancestors.

I visited The Danish Home, hoping to get a glimpse of what it was “Fafa Izzy” (not sure how she would feel about this sort of informal term of endearment) helped create a century and a quarter ago. It’s easy for me to imagine Mrs. Thorsen’s home and that first meeting. Discolored but otherwise well-preserved pictures help.

Fafa Izzy was a woman of service, though she was subtle about it, as evidenced by the fact that her efforts and involvement have never been bragged about. But those efforts were grand in their impact. Now, I want to respect my great-great-Fafa and not make a big scene, but with the 125th anniversary upon us, I think some recognition is due. Not to brag, but to celebrate the accomplishments of Fafa Izzy and those eleven other founding women whose efforts had long-lasting benefits that continue today. I’m excited to learn more and to join the four other descendants of Danish Home founders I had occasion to meet in preparing for this year’s events.