Emily Dickinson’s intriguing regard–“looking oppositely”–gives this website its title and its stance. Her lyricism encourages me as I turn around, searching behind me for imprints left by others.

Confident in my own suspicions, I focus the angle of my search differently than others have directed me. In looking past the insufficient genealogies and the misrouted family stories in which the lives of women have not been well remembered, or in some cases even remembered at all, I’ve come to find the deeply buried roots of the women who support my family’s tree.

Girls, sisters, cousins who bore no children, aunts who never married, mothers and grandmothers who over time have in my reckoning, all too quickly disappeared.

The following pages are an attempt to trace the lives of these women and to give them back their place. A place in which the greatest part is their own to play, and share or not with others.

Gretchen Elsner-Sommer, nee Gretsch

8 thoughts on “Home

  1. I was researching Walter Marion Tydings of Miami, OK, when I found him mentioned with wife, Nellie (Johnson), in Hattie’s Travel Diary 1904-1908. He was the son of Edward E. Tydings and Verinda E. Wharton of Middle Grove, MO. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hello Ms Elsen-Sommer/Gretsch,
    I am the only great grandchild of William and Ella Drawe, who are mentioned in your timeline. I recently moved to Missouri, and have located Williams grave at Mt. Hope. He died of a gunshot wound in Dec. 1931. Ella lived many years later, and died in Avenel, New Jersey. Seeing that William was a pallbearer at Chris. Aug. Dieter’s funeral, I wonder about the tie there. Also, my grandmother was named Helen. She had told me a story that sounded similar to the story of the DeLapre family. I remember it as something about french royalty, and having to flee France. Whether that was “shirttail” or blood. I do not know. I have inherited a huge collection of Joplin pictures and will also reference your photos when I go through them. Any input would be appreciated!
    Thank you,

  3. Hello,

    My name is William Gerichten and our family is part of the Von Gerichten’s. If you are interested in more information, please contact me.


  4. Gretchen – it was a pleasure meeting you today at PFCC. Your dedication in this site is incredible and we can all enriched by it – thank you for sharing !


  5. Gretchen, I echo Cathy Boblitt’s comments here. It was such a pleasure to meet you yesterday and this site is just wonderful for sure. Looking forward to getting to know you more and more with each committee meeting we encounter together.


  6. And now I have another contribution to make, Gee Gee, after staying up late into the night reading all of your biographical information on your mother, the “Aunt Sylvia”, whom I loved throughout my childhood…. from the time I met her through Charlotte when Charlotte and I were first graders at OLQM and riding the school bus home to our Kew Gardens houses…. until I last time I saw Aunt Sylvia only months before her death. I loved her then and I love her now, half a century later.

    I don’t recall if I ever knew that her actual name was Maxine but I see that your father called her “Sylvia” and I expect that he drew the name from the poem, WHO IS SYLVIA? by William Shakespeare. Here is the poem and it certainly is descriptive of your mother.
    With love from Helen OPFERMAN Von Salzen (hvonsalzen@aol.com) on January 4, 2015.

    Who is Sylvia?
    What is she, that all our swains commend her?
    Holy, fair, and wise is she; the heaven such grace did lend her,
    That she might admirèd be.

    Is she kind as she is fair? For beauty lives with kindness.
    Love doth to her eyes repair, to help him of his blindness,
    And, being helped, inhabits there.

    Then to Sylvia let us sing, that Sylvia is excelling;
    She excels each mortal thing upon the dull earth dwelling:
    To her let us garlands bring.

    William Shakespeare

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