It's been a rough week for America. I, like many others, have thought a lot about America the past few days. What makes us who we are as Americans? What do we value? What brings us together, and what divides us? Some things are pretty clear. We are fighters. We are competitive. We are direct. We argue and debate issues. We protest when we believe we are wronged. And, unfortunately, sometimes we riot.
I have decided that above all, we value freedom, truth, and equality. We share those values with our Founding Fathers (and Mothers - this is a genealogy blog after all). They are deeply ingrained in our hearts and minds, along with the greatest myth of all: The American Dream. As much as we want to believe it, we do not all have equal opportunity for success, no matter how hard we try. There will always be winners and losers when it comes to success, but at least we can (and should) continue to fight for those who don't have equal opportunity to try.
My dad, Richard L. Kienlen, had some interest in genealogy. He never really researched, but did waste money on one of those surname books you can buy and wrote letters to a few Kienlens in Germany. He told us about Kienlen Avenue in St. Louis, named for one of our ancestors. He told us his ancestors were in St. Louis at its founding. That's all I really knew, but it was my "beginning."
Naturally, I began my research with this Kienlen. Who exactly was the man who still had a street named for him? Christian Frederich Kienlen was my 3rd great grandfather, and I'm proud to say that he actually achieved the American Dream. This is the "Beginning" of his story.