This past Spring I entered an essay in a nearby Genealogy Society’s Essay Contest. It was supposed to be about us, our story. I never heard back about my essay, I assume that means I didn’t win, but I thought I’d post it here instead of wasting it. LOL.
Rosanna Gotcher Ward
My obsession with Genealogy has taught me so much about myself. I have been shaped by the legacy left to me by my ancestors. My parents grew up on farms in the midwest. My maternal grandparents owned a small general store in a tiny farm town in Iowa. I always loved to stop there on the way to their farmhouse and I was intrigued with this idea of owning a small business. My paternal grandmother lived on a Nebraska pioneer farm. Her family had owned that farm since right at statehood. Everything about her farm was old. She was 45 when she had my dad (a twin), so she was “old” by the time I really started to pay attention. The house was old, built in 1906, and never had plumbing. The barn was old, the furniture was old, and the pictures were old. I loved to sit and listen to Grandma tell stories about her family. When I started to do genealogy, I already felt like I knew my Tracy ancestors because of all the stories I had grown up hearing.
I was named after both of my grandmothers’ middle names. Rosanna Jean, my grandma Mabel Rosanna had been a one room school teacher and I decided at a young age that I wanted to be a one room school teacher as well. In 1980, at age 9, Grandma sent me her handheld school bell. She had received it from her aunt Rachel Rosanna when she started teaching and Rachel had received it in 1880 when she had begun teaching. It was a tradition I was proud of and couldn’t wait to carry on.
I think I had a pretty average life but here are a few fun facts about my early life. I spent the first three months of my life in a boys’ dorm at a Mission in the mountains of Kentucky. My parents were dorm parents. When I was two I spent the summer on an old converted school bus. My parents were part of a Southern Gospel singing group that had cut an album and was touring the midwest. On nights that they didn’t have anyone to sit with me in the audience, they would bring me on stage and give me a microphone that was missing its cord. I sang like I was part of the group. When I was five we moved from Iowa to Tulsa because my dad wanted to attend Oral Robert’s University. My mother eventually started working at ORU and worked her way up to being supervisor of the Word Processing/Copy Center. I learned so much from her. In fact, even though I have a college degree most of the jobs I have had I used the office knowledge I acquired through her far more than anything I learned in college.
I enjoyed elementary school but life changed for me when I started seventh grade at the local Junior High. I went from being comfortable in my surroundings, near the top of the class, with friendly students, to being thrown into chaos, cliques and confusion. By the end of that year I hated school! Meanwhile my dad had had a run in with the elementary school on my brother’s behalf. This riled him up enough to do some further research and it resulted in him making a change in our education that was considered very strange by normal people at the time. He pulled us out of school and started to homeschool us. That was in 1984, at the beginning of the modern homeschool movement. While my social brother had a hard time adjusting to school at home, I loved it. I could study and read as much as I wanted to without interference from mean kids. I could even study subjects that interested me. I flourished in this atmosphere, and eventually so did my brother. My little sister, who never knew anything but homeschooling had a harder time and never realized how good she had it, always jealous of the public school kids, until much later in life after her own kids went to public school and she eventually started homeschooling them. I graduated at sixteen and immediately went to ORU. Everything was great except I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I wanted to be a history teacher but one semester helping at the local junior high cured me of wanting to teach in a typical classroom. I also wanted to be a writer but wasn’t sure what I had to write about. I eventually graduated with a degree I have never used and still wish I had just gotten a History degree for my own pleasure.
I married at 21 and quickly had two daughters. We struggled financially as neither one of us had any career goals or experience. My husband had gone into the army straight out of high school and had just come home from Desert Storm One when we met. He started working two jobs, one at a grocery bakery counter, the other as a donut fryer. He worked his way up at both jobs. I had a home daycare for a while then worked in a daycare. Then in 1997 we bought a small donut shop on New Sapulpa Road. For the first few years it was exhausting work. We had very few employees, we worked long crazy hours and then I’d get home and take care of the girls who were four and two at the time. They grew up at the donut shop. Through hard work and perseverance we succeeded at that store but we sold that shop in 2002. My husband took the next year and half to work for Daylight Corporation, traveling the country teaching new owners how to make donuts and run a successful shop.
In 2004 we bought the Daylight Donuts in Sapulpa off Main and Bryan. We had a son in 2005. In 2010, at age 39 I had another son, completing our family. In 2013 we opened a second Daylight Donuts in Sapulpa off Mission and Lincoln. All this while homeschooling our four children.
So now we own a small business and I teach in a one room (or house) school. I guess you could say I inherited a strong independent, entrepreneurial spirit!