Family history moment: Two family trees

My father, Walter Jenkinson Poelman, was born 8 September 1898 in London, England, the son of Walter Roggen and Jane Jenkinson. His parents had met in Geneva, Switzerland, when Jane was employed as a governess to the young children of British parents who were touring Europe. That family was staying at the hotel in which young Roggen was employed as a clerk. Shortly after his birth Walter was taken to the Edinburgh home of his mother’s parents to be taken care of by his grandmother.

Walter’s mother traveled with the same British family to Pretoria, South Africa, in early 1899. There she met and married Hermanus Poelman, who had come from Holland. The Poelman family settled for a time in Glasgow, Scotland, where they were found by the missionaries and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1910, Hermanus Poelman came to Salt Lake City, followed in 1911 by his wife, Jane, and children.

Grateful to have been adopted by Hermanus Poelman, Walter nevertheless wondered about his birth father. All the information he had was the name and a small photograph, plus the fact that Walter Roggen was of Switzerland. In his lifetime, my father was never able to learn more than that. Citizenship histories indicate that the Roggen family originated in Murten, Fribourg, Switzerland, as early as the 1500s. A monthly on-line newsletter for the Murten area included a recent article about a visitor, “a true Murtener from New Zealand,” Oscar Roggen. Oscar had left Murten some thirty years earlier but was then visiting from Auckland with his “Swiss Kiwi Yodel Group” to compete in traditional music festivals in Switzerland.

An email about Walter [Roggen] Poelman, his birth and parentage, was sent to Oscar Roggen at his Swiss Kiwi Yodel Group address, and a reply received in April 2013: “How interesting! I’m lucky to be in the possession of a family tree. Abraham Daniel Roggen (1813-1897) was your and my great-great-grandfather. He had 5 children including Moritz (1844-1906). Your great-grandfather Moritz married Henrietta Schuerch; they had 4 children including Walter (1872-1909). … I could copy this family tree and send it to you. So I hope that I could help you a little.” In May, Oscar Roggen sent two family trees with more than 270 names and dates of my Roggen ancestors back to the late 1600s. How grateful I am for the Spirit ... that has been poured out on all nations, and for the blessing of modern technology that helps us find and reach living cousins who have our family history. All of these miracles to help the work of the Lord go forward. — Blair Squires Poelman, Salt Lake City

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