Kris and I braved stormy weather to travel to Sweet Home on Saturday to attend the marriage of my youngest cousin, Ben Swartzendruber. The event was notable because it was the first time I’d seen some of my cousins in more than a decade. I have many cousins. They have many children. We all look so old!

The Noah Roth family tree:

Noah Joseph Roth (9/8/1902 – 7/13/91) and Lola Ann Sharp (4/8/1906 – 7/3/1981) had three children: Norman Duane (10/27/1938 – 1/17/1990), Virginia Eden (2/20/1942), and Stephen Eugene (7/31/1945 – 7/21/1995).

  • Norman married Janice Birky (12/9/1938 – 6/20/1987) and they had four children: Ronald Duane (1/13/1960), Robert Dean (6/27/1962), Nicholas Leon (3/6/1964), and Debra JoAnn (7/23/1965).
  • Virginia married Stanley James Swartzendruber (5/16/1940) and they had nine children: Robin Lou (6/11/1959), Tamara (5/27/1960), Gwendolyn Kay (8/3/1961), Laura June (6/10/1964), Valerie Ann (7/15/1965), Stanley Scott (10/18/1966), Tedric James (5/31/1968), Martin (1/25/1971), and Benjamin (12/30/1976).
  • Stephen married Suzanne McClellan (4/21/1948) and they had three children: John David (3/25/1969), Jeffrey Stephen (8/3/1970), and Anthony Michael (12/29/1972).

That’s my father’s family as I remember it as a child. We lived a quarter-mile from Grandma and Grandpa, and they were our primary babysitters. We saw Norman and his family fairly often because they only lived about ten miles away. We saw Virginia and her family less often, though; they lived in Estacada, so we only saw them on special occasions. There were many special occasions.

My memories of my cousins have faded with the years, but I still hold a great deal of affection for them. I regret not being able to spend more time with them Saturday at the wedding reception.

I did make the time to have most of them write down their family information, though. Virginia’s family has been fruitful, and multiplied:

  • Robin married Nevin Richard Danner (8/18/1958) and they have five children: Nevin LaRay (8/24/1982), Robin Jolene (6/11/1984), Stanley Walter (5/1/1987), Elsie Marie (2/1/1989), and Starlita Dawn (4/16/1993). Starlita Dawn? I didn’t get a chance to ask Robin about that; it seems incongruent. I’ve never met these first cousins once removed; Robin and Nevin live in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
  • I haven’t any information for Tammy‘s family. She lives nearby, and reads this weblog from time-to-time, so her information should be easy to gather.
  • Gwen married Henry Peter Hertzler (9/21/1959) and they have twelve children: Cynthia Rose, adopted (9/29/1978), Jon Anthony (7/15/1982), Justin Lyell (12/14/1982), Jeremy Lowell (12/14/1982), James Arthur (2/23/1984), William Henry (3/14/1987), Josiah David (7/18/1991), Hans Jacob (12/26/1992), Stephen Christopher (6/14/1994), Henry Micah (9/27/1996), Grace Elizabeth (8/12/2000), and Raphael Joseph (10/29/2002). I remember Cyndi from when she was very young, living as a foster child with Norman and Janice. I met Anthony and little Raphael Joseph on Saturday, but I’ve never met the other children because the family lives in Bainbridge, New York.
  • Laurie married Jacob Mervin Lehman (8/12/1962), and they live with their family on a centuries-old dairy farm in Hagerstown, Maryland. From what I understand, their eleven children run the farm: Sharon Kay (5/21/1984), Sheila June (5/13/1985), Jana Louise (3/23/1987), Jay Mervin (3/1/1988), Kyle David (5/10/1990), Andrew Lee (11/2/1991), Michael Lynn (3/26/1993), Leland James (9/21/1995), Jolynn Marie (4/22/1997), Randall Joel (11/9/1998), and Edward Hans (9/26/2000). I met Randall at the wedding on Saturday; he was very well-behaved, entranced by the string trio that played before the ceremony.
  • Valerie married Veasey Eric Glenn (5/28/1963) and they have nine children, so far: Verlyn Clark (6/13/1987), Vance Ellwyn (9/25/1989), Vonda LaRose (2/9/1992), Veldon Randall (2/1/1993), Vernell Collin (7/4/1995), Vaughn Benjamin (9/6/1997), Vivian Crystal (12/15/1998), Veronica Beth (5/9/2000), and Vale Tyler (3/9/2002). Valerie’s family lives in Fruitland, Idaho, so I’ve seen them a couple of times in the past year, though I’ve never had a chance to talk with Valerie (she was always my favorite female cousin, probably because she was closest to my own age). Verlyn is a giant of a boy — big, robust, imposing. He’s only fifteen, but he’s the biggest person in the entire extended family.
  • Scott married Annette Kay ??? (3/2/1967) and they have six girls: Rowena Fern (10/9/1988), Sylvia Rose (8/28/1991), Monica Lou (4/27/1993), Sheila Anne (5/8/1996), Melinda Jo (11/19/1998), and Sonya June (6/21/01). Scott and his family live in Shedd, Oregon.
  • Ted was my favorite cousin of all — he and I were nearly the same age. Ted married Jolynn Kay Kauffman (9/25/1970) and they have three children: Brittney Kay (1/13/1997), Jaremy Lewis, adopted (10/22/2001), and Christina Marie (7/10/2002). Brittney is as cute as a bug’s ear, as my father would have said.
  • Mart and Elizabeth don’t have any children yet. I didn’t jot down their particulars because they’re at every family gathering.
  • And, of course, Ben and Ruth just got married.

Most of these families, particularly those from the east coast, are conservative Mennonite, not quite old order Mennonite. They’re not Amish, but they live near Amish communities. They wear plain and simple clothing, work large farms, are devoted to their god. They live in a very different world than I do, and this makes me love them all the more.

In Norm’s family, Bob has four children (five?), and Deb has two. My brothers have three children between them.

Norman would have six grand-children if he were alive today. My mother has three grandchildren. Virginia has 46 grandchildren, not counting Tammy’s brood.

It’s no wonder I can’t remember all their names.

5 Replies to “Cousins”

  1. Ron Roth says:

    Debbie has 5 children, Vanessa, Shanika, Shilo, Tabitha, and Amanda. Uncle Norman would have 9 grandchildren.

  2. Gwen says:

    JD, I feel quite safe just writing cousin to cousin here as this spot obviously sank into oblivion months and months ago. I don’t know if it makes any difference to you, really, but Gwen and family are not Mennonite, by denominatinal definition, and have not been for many years. I suppose that in some sense anyone born into that culture cannot entirely say they are not Mennonite, any more than an American who chooses another country would be truly not American. There are some points of reference, some biases, some cultural baggage you may never be able to be rid of, and in this case I don’t necessarily desire to be rid of it, not all of it, anyway.

    But we are not membersof a Mennonite church, nor any “church” as the term is commonly known. We do what we do and live as we live out of a deeply held faith in Christ Jesus and love for God as Designer, Creator, and Ultimate Ruler of this Universe. No man-made creeds or rules govern us in a religious sense. We also do not believe in organized religion, though we love and respect many people who do. We even respect some of the organizations, but are sorry of the confusing methods they use.

  3. Patty Shaw says:

    Where is Kenny Roth now?

  4. Dorcas Berggren says:

    I was so excited to run across you web page. I was updating the Jospeh Roth book that your great aunt Sadie put together. My grandpa was Amos Roth the brother to Daniel Roth and my mom is Freda Roth Schmidt. And I’m Dorcas Schmidt Berggren. born 8-28-1959. I went to Hesston College so got to meet alot of Oregon people my mom grew up in the Jospeh Roth house by Hubbard Oregon. Her older brother Oliver was the caretaker of the cemetery at Zion Mennonite Church. Anyway. I’m putting our ansetor stuff on a CD that’s called the GRANDMA 4 CD that has alot of Kansas, Canada, South Dakota families that came over in the 1874. My dad’s family the Schmidts,Wedels,Harm,etc.

    Anyway I was looking over you info and Sadie had Noahs birthday 9-28-1902 could you let me know if this is wrong so I could change it. Thanks Dorcas Berggren.

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