What a great family photo…

Family-photo-early-1950sThis is a photo taken in 1953 with Kodachrome slide film (the quality up close is amazing!) and it is so fun to see these people in their prime, as only Gene, Marlys, Nancy and Janice are still with us.

Back row left to right: Adelaide “Addie” (nee Borsch) Wachsmuth; Carol Wachsmuth; Margaret (nee Fitzgerald) Borsch; Marlys Borsch; Clara (nee Haefer) Borsch; Dorothy (nee Wolla) Borsch holding daughter Nancy Ann).

Front row left to right: Gene Wachsmuth; William “Bill” Borsch; Ed Wachsmuth (holding he and Addie’s grandaughter, and Gene & Carol’s first born daughter, Janice).

By the way, this photo was taken at Clara Borsch’s house (the one she and husband John E. Borsch built in 1922 at 4500 Garfield Avenue South in Minneapolis, MN.

Note: John & Clara Borsch were Bill’s grandparents and Nancy, Steve, Jeanne and Mary’s great-grandparents. John passed away in 1949 and Clara, seen in the back row right next to Dorothy holding Nancy, passed away in 1956 shortly after Steve was born.

Photos of Dad and Mom

Slowly-but-surely I’ve been going through the thousands of photos scanned from Mom and Dad’s house after Dad passed. Here are a handful that I thought should be added here:


No idea where this photo is from, but this is before Nancy was born


This was taken at Dad’s parent’s house (Clarence and Margaret Borsch) in south Minneapolis

Dad in South Minneapolis


I’ve been scanning family photos like crazy and came across this one…a photo I’d never seen before. I’m going to guess Dad is in his late twenties or early thirties as he is sitting by his folk’s house in south Minneapolis near Roosevelt High School.

Dad’s Photo Boards

When Dad passed away I had scanned in dozens of photos and from that selected a few I could use for photo boards. You know…the ones on easels at someone’s reviewal and at the church during the funeral and luncheon.

I created these in CollageIt (the ‘Pro’ version), made them in to high resolution PDFs, and then imported those PDFs as images in Photoshop. From there I saved them as JPGs and had Costco’s Photo Department print them on foam-core board for something like $16 apiece.

Now that we’re downsizing (we’re putting our house on the market in the next several weeks), I came across these boards and, unfortunately, we can’t take them with us. Instead I’ve just finished uploading the original, high resolution images of them here to my Flickr account if you’d like to see them bigger.







Fly-in Fishing Adventure to Canada

dad-fly-inAs a claims adjuster, various law firms would wine-and-dine Dad along with other adjusters in order to get referrals from them when possible. One of the accepted perks was the flying-in-to-Canada fishing adventure which he really enjoyed.

On this particular trip Dad talked about a few things that were interesting and humorous:

  • The guide got lost one night trying to get back to the resort since the light had gone out at the dock and he didn’t know it (this was prior to the consumer rollout of GPS).
  • After catching their limit almost immediately one day, that evening the guide fried up some “overages” and you guessed it: a knock came at the door and it was a game warden who counted everything up and they were OK…because they’d already each eaten two fish. As Dad told me the story he seemed genuinely bothered to have been part of the exceeding of their limits.
  • I don’t recall the lake, but it was a two hour flight north of Winnipeg and he seemed very aware (and maybe a little agitated?) that they were literally in the middle of nowhere and the only way out was a single radio and a scheduled rendezvous with the plane you see in the photo above.

Dad was not an outdoorsman, but he sure loved to fish. If he’d taken me up there at some point I would have been a lot more interested in hiking and exploring than I would have fishing, but we both enjoyed being out of doors and on a lake.


Another shot of that fishing trip with the group’s haul of fish

Dad’s Portrait

Last weekend my sisters and I organized over 2,000 photos still in boxes we took from Dad’s house before the estate sale in June of 2013. Yep…we finally got around to it though the Photoshop adventure has just begun for me!

I’ll be posting more photos over the coming weeks.

In the meantime one of the photos discovered was this business portrait of Dad which I’d never seen. I thought I’d post it right away so people could see it.


The Big Trip – A Two Week Journey Around Deutschland

It was the summer of 1997, three years after my Mom had died and two years after the internet had moved out of academia and became available to anyone who wanted to use it.

My Dad and I went to Germany for two weeks in August and the trip was one of the most profound experiences of my life for two reasons:

    1. It was the only significant trip my Dad and I ever took together and he passed away in March of 2012. This trip was our only long ‘Dad & Son Adventure’ and the trip means more to me today than it ever has before, and the memories of it grow ever sweeter with the passage of time.
    2. I had my “big internet awakening” that set me on a path for the rest of my career and changed everything for me…and I’ve got Dad to thank for it.

Top: Bill Borsch
Bottom: Steve Borsch

Earlier in 1997, I’d proposed to my Dad that he and I go on a “Dad & Son Adventure” to Germany. Besides having fun together and taking his mind off of Mom’s passing, one goal was to find the little town of Mehren (here’s a map), since my great-great grandparents, Johann and Suzanna, had emigrated from there in 1854.

My Dad was very interested in discovering whatever we could about Johann and Susanna (Zapp) Borsch and we did (we found, and received copies of certificates of, Johann’s birth; Johann’s parent’s wedding; Johann and Susanna’s wedding; and more). We left the records office in a sort of stunned silence, both realizing what we’d received.

Turns out what we had discovered had a deeper meaning for Dad. He glanced over at me at dinner that evening and said, “We can go home now.

Oh no,” I thought. “Dad, are you sad or was this not a good thing or something?” He paused and with a growing grin on his face said, “No, this was exactly what I wanted to accomplish for this entire trip!” It was pretty clear that he was quite emotional about what we’d discovered, it hadn’t quite sunk in yet, and he was actually just delighted. Phew.


Johann Joseph Borsch birth certificate

Besides trying to find these genealogical gems and explore the town of Mehren, I just wanted a good experience with my Dad while exploring Germany overall and the trip was absolutely phenomenal. I am so glad I didn’t wait, which would have been easy to do since I was busy at the time, since if I’d put the trip off even one year it is likely we never would have taken it.

We did a complete circle tour of the country from Frankfurt to Berlin. Down the old East German side (only open then for 8 years after the Berlin Wall fell). We toured castles, churches, towns, museums, an automobile museum, and much more.

But my unexpected, big internet awakening was about to unfold and I had Dad to thank for it.

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Forestville & the Borsch, Fitzgerald Family Picnic

In the summer of 2000, the Fitzgerald and Borsch families got together for a family picnic in Forestville, Minnesota, in the southeast corner of Minnesota near the towns of Preston and Lanesboro (the latter was the birthplace of Dad’s mother, Margaret Fitzgerald Borsch). The video below are some highlights of that trip and family picnic.

In 1868, the railroad bypassed Forestville, MN and the town eventually died. Not right away, but in time my distant relatives, Thomas and Mary Meighen, saw the town dwindle, people move away (and they did too), and they were left with the farm and the store attached to their home. Farm workers, paid in ‘chits’, kept the store going until 1910, when Thomas abruptly closed the store — the last business in Forestville — with all the merchandise inside.

My Dad and his cousins told stories of being little kids on weekend holiday at the farm, rubbing the windows so they could peek inside at all the old clothing, canned goods and sundries inside. Nearby Preston, where many other relatives lived, thrived since the railroad passed through it instead of smaller Forestville to the south.

Eventually, the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) purchased the property (and what was left of the town property) and turned it into a State Park.

MNHS sent representatives down to the picnic and they took copious notes as Dad and his cousins told stories, corrected some of the placement of artifacts (“No, No…his desk was turned the other way!”) and so on.

Forestville is a ghost town in section 13 of Forestville Township in Fillmore County, Minnesota, United States. The town of Forestville was settled in 1852 and organized in 1855, receiving this name in honor of Forest Henry, the first probate judge of Fillmore County. Henry settled in Forestville in 1854. In 1949 the Minnesota State Legislature authorized the creation of Forestville State Park, with the intent to preserve what remained of the abandoned townsite. Mystery Cave was added to the state park in 1987.

Thomas and Mary Meighen

Thomas and Mary Meighen