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"Personal Biographies"

  
The Donner Party and Leanna Donner App remembered by Pat Heiskell Hillman
Leanna Donner was one of the five surviving daughters of George Donner from what is known in California's early history as the Donner Party Expedition. The families of George and Jacob Donner were among many other emigrants traveling together who were trapped high in the Sierras during the winter of 1846-1847. There has never been any worse winter storms in that place since that time. Pat Hillman recounts memories of her great-grandmother, Leanna, in her own words, preserving stories which are not found in history books My relative, John App, married Leanna in 1852 so this is part of the story of my family.
 
The Wisdom of 100 Year Old Bea Zaslow
Beatrice Zaslow was born in the Bronx, New York in 1914. This short excerpt from her nearly two hour interview shows how engaged and articulate she is as she recalls life events in detail. Her wisdom of 100 years of living is very inspiring, as is her perspective of the triumphs and tragedies of life. She also exhibits many of the core personality traits that are common to centenarians, which is fascinating.
 
Bertha Beachy's Time in Somalia
She grew up Amish in Iowa, but taught school in Somalia for 25 years. Bertha M. Beachy, from Goshen, Indiana has an interesting story about this unconventional career and ministry for an Amish woman. Today Somalia is a country with very little governmental control but Bertha has been there and she has hope for it's future and love for its people.
 
Dr. Helen M. Free - Miles Laboratories
Dr. Helen M. Free worked as a research scientist at Miles Laboratories in Elkhart, Indiana (Alka-Seltzer, One-a-Day vitamins, Bactine, etc.) along with her husband, Alfred H. Free. Together they invented many useful medical devices one of which was the Dip-and-Read strips that diabetics use to monitor glucose levels and several other important levels in urine. It changed the world for diabetics, and it is still in worldwide use today along with another of their inventions... the electronic device that also measures those levels from a single drop of blood from a finger.
 
Centenarian, 103 Year Old Rachel Weaver Kreider
Born in 1909, Rachel Kreider is 103 years in this interview clip from 2012. She is part of a larger "Centenarian Project" that I'm producing and is very sharp and articulate in this interview. There are only a select few (those 100 years or older) who can answer certain questions, and Rachel did it perfectly!
 
An Afternoon With 98 year old Edward R. Hahn
Some people are natural storytellers... like 98 year old, Elkhart resident, Ed Hahn. Born in 1913, there are questions that only people of his age can answer and insights that only they can offer. You will be entertained and rewarded with rich (true) stories by watching a masterful storyteller in this 15 minute version of a much longer interview.
 
Peg Hoffer Personal Biography
This is a collection of clips from an interview with "Peg", whose purpose was to present a personal biography to her children and grandchildren. When she gathered them all together for the 50 minute presentation no one said a word during the video, and when it was over they all stood and gave her a standing ovation!
 
Ellis Island Immigrant Interview
Mr. Bruno James Strati is an Italian who immigrated to America through Ellis Island when he was seven years old. In recent years, he and his wife returned there and received some special treatment from the staff.
 
Irvin J. Polk Interview
Disadvantaged youth have a place to learn and grow thanks to Irv Polk who has operated the program and ministry for 46 years. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but continued to be involved with the kids. In this video Irv shares some of the wisdom and life lessons he has learned over the years during his involvement with Lifeline in Elkhart, Indiana. Irv passed away just a month after this interview was completed.
 
Nicholas J. Russo, Sr. Interview
Part of an interview with an Italian-American man who used to live in the "Little Italy" Harrison Street neighborhood in Elkhart, Indiana when it was a thriving area of the community. His memories were very vivid even at age 98. Nick passed away at age 99 years, 7 months of age. We are fortunate to have his interview.