My Story

IMG_0346This 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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 11.31.49 PM 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.  Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 11.31.31 PM

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.

HPIM1143I 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!IMG_2809

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Wordless Wednesday – John Wesley Tracy resting on a bench

John Wesley resting in Holdrege, Nebraska park

John Wesley resting in Holdrege, Nebraska park

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Sunday’s Obituary – John Wesley Tracy

My great grandpa Wesley died rather suddenly under unique circumstances.  He was out hunting with some other family members and as he was sighting a rabbit with his rifle he had a heart attack and died.  One of his grandchildren, a child,  was with him and he remembers it was dusk, and an owl kept hooting nearby and he was scared.  Even as an older man he didn’t like owls.  After hearing this story I was telling it to one of my aunts and she said that Grandma Tracy also didn’t like owls and also that she, my aunt, heard owl hooting for several nights before Grandma Tracy died.  All this was rather interesting in light of the recent fashion of owl patterned items and knick knacks.  I did a little bit of research and discovered that many cultures believe that owls are harbingers of death.  Maybe that superstition was more well known by my ancestors than it is today.

312882_10150456630820937_546165936_10516284_1920462747_nJohn Tracy Obit

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Workday Wednesday – Shorthorn Cattle Breeder

johnw_putting_up_hayJohn Wesley Tracy, Nebraska Pioneer, was an enterprising man.  Along with his dad and brothers he carved a prosperous farm out of the Nebraska prairie.  After his father died, Wesley bought out his siblings shares of the farm and by the time of his death he had doubled his land holdings.



He started a business breeding Shorthorn Cattle.  He also raised and sold  Black Langshang chickens.  He called his farm, Clover Leaf Farm according to the Farmers’ Directory of Brown Township, 1924.


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Tombstone Tuesday – John Wesley Tracy

John Wesley Tracy Tombstone

John Wesley Tracy Tombstone


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John Wesley Tracy – Nebraska Pioneer



John Wesley Tracy was my great grandfather.  He was the second son, sixth child, of John Edward and Maria Artlysia (Bobblett) Tracy.  He was born June 14, 1868 in Mount Hope, McLean, Illinois and moved with his family to Nebraska as a young boy.  He was about eight years old when the family settled in Brown, York, Nebraska.




John & Mary S Tracy

He married Mary Sophia Rusler on February 21, 1894.  They had seven children: Bryce Dilworth (1896), Ivan Wesley (1898), Pearl Olive (1900), Ray Lewis (1902), Mabel Rosanna (1904), Mary Augusta (1908), and James Everett (1913).    His son, Ray, died in a household accident in 1905.  Other descendants say that Wesley went from being a fun loving practical joker to being more serious minded after the accident.  He died November 28, 1931 of a sudden heart attack while out hunting with family.  The 28th was the Saturday right after Thanksgiving that year.  He is buried at Council Church Cemetery in York County, Nebraska.

John Tracy and May Rusler Tracy familyWesley was a hard and enterprising businessman.  He doubled the landholdings of his family and had several successful breeding ventures. He was a loving and well loved family man and an active church member.  His descendants are many and spread all over the United States.



John Edward Tracy Family, Wesley is second row right end.

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John Wesley is second row left – pictured with his siblings minus Mary Talbott.


Isaiah Watson, Rachael Rosanna, John Welsey, Olivia Anne, Charles Edward, and Amanda Elizabeth

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Making History Personal by Rosanna Ward

I just published my first ebook!  Ok let me be honest, I only wrote it, my sister in law, Renee, did all the hard work of editing, formatting and figuring out how to put it online for sale.  But we are both super excited.  It is entitled Making History Personal; Using Genealogy Study to bring History to life for your students.   To buy or for more information please go here.  And after you read it please come back here and leave me a review!  Thanks.

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