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The Forest

Overviews of Our Families


A Very Brief History of Our Searches

Todd and I come from very diverse backgrounds, so it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to discover our families' genealogies. We've been actively engaged in a kind of academic genealogical research only since 1997, and it truly has been addictively fun but also frustrating at the same time. Previously, we merely believed whatever was told to us, and we've been finding that oral histories are very tricky things. Unless correct genealogy is taught verbatim by one generation to the next, family history becomes much like that game in which one person whispers a message into the ear of the person next to them and so on down the line. By the time it reaches the person at the end, the message is so distorted, and ridiculously distorted is what we've encountered in our research from time to time. Yet, no matter how frustrating this appears on the surface, we try to remember that these family rumors do contain within them some grain of truth.  As we are often reminded by kind-hearted, knowing genealogists: patience is a virtue. And, it pays off too!

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Auvil, Skonieczny, Babinski, Harter, Davis, Hepding, Rhein

When we began, most of our Auvil family information was transmitted to us from the recollections of Todd's father.  We set out with these pieces of information along with several, aged pieces of paper written upon by Todd's grandfather, Okey Charles Auvil, Jr.  Researching Todd's ancestry was difficult because we had no clear point of reference, so it was increasingly difficult to keep all the branches untangled.

The family, for a very long time, believed themselves to be a more complex mixture of European ethnicities, but the opposite is now becoming apparent. The Auvil name evolved from the surname, Abel. There are other various forms of this surname including Auville, Auble, Able and Oval. This seems to have been caused by errors in documentation, limitations in writing skills and a fairly common practice (in the pre-1900's) of changing one's name or the spelling of it.

So, we were very, very lucky when we found Catherine Auvil's website.  Catherine is an artist based in the Pacific Northwest who has also given much time, energy and attention to gathering Auvil families from all over the country. The Auvil genealogy, at this point, is so extensive, and we used to recommend visiting Catherine's site if you were searching for an Auvil relative.  However and sadly, Catherine's site is no longer up.

The site containing the genealogy of another branch of the Auvil family, the Burke family, seems to be another one that no longer exists. It was posted by Bruce Lee Burke with whom we were in brief touch. Uncle Bruce is the son of Hilda Irene Auvil, the sister of Todd's grandfather, Okey Charles Auvil, Jr.

The surnames, Harter and Davis are derived from the more recent maternal branches of Todd's Auvil family tree. Ruth Lauretta May Harter was the wife of Todd's grandfather, Okey Charles Auvil, Jr., and Mildred May Davis was Ruth's mother. These families were based in Ohio. Thankfully, Paul Zigler contacted us and presented us with the numerous offshoots of this Davis line. His research has been extensive and impressive. Those researching this Davis branch need to take a look at Paul's website as well as those listed on our Davis Family Tree.

The Hepding (Hepting) and Rhein (Rhine) surnames originate from the maternal branches of the Okey Charles Auvil, Sr. line of West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio.  Rosie Elanora Hepding was the wife of Okey Charles, Sr., and her mother was Charlotte Ottilie Emma Rhein, also known as simply Emma Rhein.  These families have their roots in Germany: the Heptings, in Baden and the Rheins, around Wurttemburg. Both also seem to have settled primarily in Maryland. Our research of this line has been frustrated by our current lack of experience in researching German documents. However, we are in touch with a wonderful woman who is a descendent of Charlotte Ottilie Emma Rhein's sister, Bertha Elisabeth Rhein.

Marlene Constance Skonieczny was Todd's mother, and the eldest of three Skonieczny girls. She passed away on Father's Day, 2000. However, we have not been able to find record of her death in any of the online databases such as the Social Security Death Index or obituary searches. Our resources for this side of the family have been limited for so many reasons. We know that Todd's grandparents, Edmund and Matilda (Babinski) Skonieczny, emigrated from Poland and what life was like for them because of the few but important conversations Todd had with his grandmother. Todd also recalls visiting Grandpa Skonieczny's brother, Uncle Chester, when he was a youngster. Chester and Edmund's parents were John and Frances Skonieczny. Matilda's parents were Joseph and Catherine (Bernard) Babinski. That is all we have discovered thus far.

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Uyehara, Tanigawa, Chong, Ah-Nee, Pa

I have known much of own genealogy since I was a child, and I have mentally organized it by ethnicity. My grandmother, Gladys (Chong) Tanigawa, and my mother and her siblings were responsible for clueing me in on our Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese heritages. Our immediate family still is periodically in touch with our extended families as well. Hawaiian genealogy, however, is an extremely daunting undertaking for lack of a written language and because Hawaiians were not required to have surnames until the mid-1800's.

The origins of my Hawaiian-Chinese roots are on the island of Kauai where I spent much time during my childhood. So, we cannot speak of our Hawaiian heritage without also including our Chinese ones because they have been so a part of our growing up. My grandmother's maternal grandmother, Mele Malamalama Pa, was the full-blooded kanaka maoli. She married a Chinese man named Fun-Lum-Liu Ah-Nee, and one of the resulting children was named, Mary Ah-Nee, my great-grandmother. She married Fook-Yee Chong. Popo (Mary) and Kung-kung (Fook-Yee), as we all called them, were still around when I was a child, so I remember them.

My Japanese roots have only become clearer recently. My grandfather relayed small details of his childhood throughout the years and about his very large family (eleven children). I have met most of his brothers and sisters. My mother also recalls some of the stories of her paternal grandparents, Jisaburo and Sute Tanigawa, who came to Hawaii from Yamaguchi-ken, Japan. I'm sure this will be a great help in furthering my research.

My paternal genealogy has been extensively researched by my father's brother, a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. If you'd like to contact him regarding any part of the Uyehara family, email us. Our Uyehara patriarch was Kamei Uyehara, who emigrated from Yonabaru, Okinawa. My grandmother, Fumi (Fumito) Uyehara (no relation ~ the surname is as the name Smith). Families from Uchinanchu (Okinawa), as well as many Japanese families, kept genealogical records for centuries ~ birth and family registries were called koseki, and death records, kakocho (you'll need an interpreter if you find your family's). Okinawans in Hawaii are very proud of and regularly celebrate their heritage, so if you ask an Okinawan where their family is from, they'll probably be able to tell you.

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