• RSS

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 New Year's Resolutions

Another year comes to a close. The past 12 months were sprinkled with equal parts levity and laughter, wonder and worry, pitfalls and proud moments. I'm glad I was on the planet to see all the ups and downs firsthand and I very much appreciated your company along the way.

With family group sheet in hand, I nervously reviewed my 2011 resolutions. Not as bad as I thought - whew! 

2012 offers new opportunities to make check marks on my genealogy to-do list. Look out family tree, I'm getting serious about climbing you this year! With weekly encouragement from my Success Team partner Jenny, I plan to will:

1.) Attend at least one out-of-state genealogical conference or convention.

2.) Focus my research on 12 direct-line surnames; Clarin, Clarke, Gury, Landstrom, Littrell, Mangels, Mueller, Peterson, Schmitt, Thompson, Tolf, and Walton. Start by organizing the surname-related computer files, manila folders, family group sheets, and pages on my web site.

3.) Answer the following burning questions:
  • Did Esther give birth to the Clarin/Mangels child I recently located? Was her divorce from Gustave really as public as family stories suggest?
  • From what country did the Maryland Clarkes originate?
  • Who is the child that accompanied Marie-Anne Gury and her children from France to Cincinnati?
  • When (and at which port) did Augusta Landstrom arrive in America?
  • From what country did the Virginia Littrells originate?
  • What did the inquests into Herman Friedrich Carl Mangels and Frank Mangels' deaths reveal?
  • In which Swiss town was Jacob Mueller born? Were Otto Mueller and his wife Alvina Schmitt really cousins?
  • Where did Maria Fredericka Peterson's sisters settle after leaving Sweden?
  • What were the circumstances around Elizabeth Schmitt's divorce from Anton Bidenharn and marriage three days later to Jacob Mueller?
  • Where did Peter Thompson die and where is he buried? Was his daughter really institutionalized so her husband could obtain a divorce?
  • At which American port did James Walton and his parents end their voyage from the Isle of Man?
4.) Keep other living descendants up to date on our family history research progress through emails, letters, Twitter, this blog and my web site. Search for as-yet-unknown cousins in the same way.

5.) Honor the relationship between genealogy and scrapbooking: Scan and digitize old photos. Preserve hard copies of pictures. Archive online photos off-site. Organize, label and safely store slides and negatives. Share pictures with relatives. Assemble heirloom photo albums.

6.) Share (and create more) family history with my glorious grandchildren.

Every one of my goals interests and excites me. 2012 could be a great year for my family and me. I hope yours is even better. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours;
may all the blessings of the season
grace you and those you love.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Anniversaries

Happy December anniversary to my cousin Cynthia and her husband!

Ancestors who wed in December include:

My third great-grandparents Carl TOLF and Helena Christina ÅMAN who were married in Sweden 26 Dec 1848. They begat Peter, who begat Harry, who begat Harriet, who begat my mother.

Owen Henry TOLF (my second cousin twice removed) who married Luella BUTLER 29 Dec 1947 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Owen's grandfather Gustav TOLF was my 2nd great-grandfather Peter TOLF's brother.

My grand-uncle Harry Vincent FLOOD and Helen Catherine MALCZAN who were married 24 Dec 1955 in River Grove, Cook, Illinois. Harry and my maternal grandfather John George WALTON were half brothers.

Charles Fredrick OTTO Jr (my granduncle) who married Marie Martha SCHMITZ 31 Dec 1940 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Charlie's mother Esther Ingeborg CLARIN, was my father's maternal grandmother.

My second great-granduncle Frans Magnus TOLF and Matilda PETERSON who were married 31 Dec 1881 Batavia, Kane, Illinois. Frank (as he was called in America) and my 2nd great-grandfather Peter TOLF were brothers.

Frank and Mathilda with their son Charles
Are any of my ancestors in your family tree too?
Please contact me at [at] gmail [dot] com
Let's compare notes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celebrating St Lucia Day

Shortly after starting my family history research I had an epiphany: my children and I actually shared the DNA of the people I was researching!

We weren't just related to Swedes and Germans, we were English and Swedish and German (and Manx and two other ethnicities, but that discovery came much later.)

This meant we had to do more than have an ethnic heritage; we needed to honor our ethnic heritage.

I asked my daughters (then 10 and 11 years old) to choose the country whose traditions we would include in our upcoming Christmas celebration. Would it be Germany, Sweden or England? They decided on Sweden.

We checked books out from the public library (did I mention this was in the 80s?) and read about Sweden's holiday traditions.

On December 13th the girls and I drove to Chicago where we watched the crowning of a young St Lucia.

We explored the Swedish American museum in Andersonville, bought pastries at Nelson's Bakery, chose a few special straw ornaments at the Swedish Museum Gift Shop, and had dinner at a tiny restaurant called Svea's.

During dinner, Svea's owner played the guitar, serenading his patrons. Several diners added their voices to the Swedish Christmas music he played. The whole day was magical.

As part of our Christmas celebration a couple weeks later, my daughters served their grandmother and aunts Lussekatter buns while dressed in traditional St Lucia Day attire. 

The following year, I asked which country (Germany or England) we should explore during the next holiday. Shocked that I would ask such a question (!), the girls said Sweden would be our focus. Always.

Music at Svea happened only once since that first Swedish Christmas 25 years ago. But the melody will play in my heart forever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas for Genealogists

My all-time favorite version of the 12 Days of Christmas
was sung by the Muppets (b-dum bum bum).
Here's another version ~ suitable for genealogists:
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
a branch in my family tree.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
two round-trip tickets,
and a clue to the family mystery.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a branch in my family tree.

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,

and a new name for my family pedigree.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
five days in Utah,
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a branch in my family tree.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
six Flip Pals scanning,
five days in Utah,
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a book of our family history.

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning,
five days in Utah,
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a branch in my family tree.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah,
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a new date for my genealogy.

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
nine headstone rubbings,
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah,
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a branch in my family tree.

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
ten archival filings,
nine headstone rubbings,
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah (b-dum bum bum),
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a Gedcom of my family tree.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
eleven towns a' mapping,
ten archival filings,
nine headstone rubbings,
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah (b-dum bum bum),
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a branch in my family tree.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
twelve drives a' flashing,
eleven towns a' mapping,
ten archival filings,
nine headstone rubbings,
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling, 
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah (b-dum bum bum),
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a suitable-for-framing family tree.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Birthdays

Happy December birthday to my niece Julia and to my cousins Dennis and Lynn.

Other December birthdays in my family tree include:

Sara Lisa JACOBSDOTTER, my 7th great-grandmother was born 31 Dec 1725 in Ostergotlands, Sweden. Sara's great-grandson, my 3rd great-grandfather Carl TOLF also celebrated his birthday in  December; he was born 19 Dec 1824 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden. In May of 1878 he and his wife and four of their eight children left Sweden for America. Carl would live out his life in Batavia Illinois.

Carl's son Peter TOLF married Augusta LANDSTROM. Augusta's mother Lisa Katarina PETERSDOTTER was born 29 Dec 1829 Wallsjo, Sweden. The Landstroms also immigrated to Illinois.

My 2nd great-grandfather James WALTON was born on the Isle of Man 18 Dec 1843. He was only seven months old when his parents and an aunt and uncle immigrated to Cleveland Ohio.

A 2nd great grandaunt Sophia SCHMITT was born in Hellimer, Moselle, Lorraine, France 10 Dec 1845. Her sister-in-law Mary Ann BARNES was born 26 Dec 1845 in Dublin Ireland.

One of my family history mysteries is Carl Johan TOLF born 02 Dec 1849 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden. It isn't clear whether or not he immigrated to Illinois as his parents and siblings did.

My 2nd great grandfather's brother Sven LARSSON was born in Hörby, Malmöhus, Sweden on 15 Dec 1856. Sven immigrated to Denmark on 19 May 1873 and younger brother Carl LARSSON CLARIN immigrated to Illinois.

Another direct line ancestor's brother celebrated a December birthday. Elmer Eugene CLARKE was born in Maryland 03 Dec 1865. He and several of his brothers, including my 2nd great-grandfather William Penrod CLARKE moved to Illinois when they were young men.

Emma Justina PETERSDOTTER (21 Dec 1866) is a 2nd great grandaunt who immigrated from her birthplace of Tånnö, Jonkopings, Sweden in 1883. To date, I have found no records of her on the US side of the ocean.

Alvina S SCHMITT, who was married to Otto V MUELLER, was born 15 Dec 1883 in Ohio. I hope to locate a living descendant of hers soon.

Swedish immigrant Ludwig Charles OGREN, born 21 Dec 1885, married one of my Thompson ancestors and moved to Ohio. Their adopted daughter Ruth was my maternal grandmother's cousin.

My maternal grandfather's sister Edith Josephine WALTON was born in Chicago, Cook, Illinois 23 Dec 1902. Grandpa's brother Rolf Sylvester WALTON was born in Chicago too, on 31 Dec 1909.

My paternal grandmother's brother Ernest Robert MANGELS was born 28 Dec 1907 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. He and his brother were given up for unofficial adoption. Their reunion decades later was more than just newsworthy:

Are any of my ancestors in your family tree too?
If so, please contact me at livinginthepastlane [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Read more about my family's history on my web site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anne Marie Schmitt nee Schmitt

The Thursday before Thanksgiving I visited the Family History Center to view film #2083956.

I found my 5th great grandmother Anne Marie Schmitt in the 1791 records of burials for the Roman Catholic Church of Hellimer, Moselle, France. The record (last on the page) was a bit challenging to transcribe and translate because part of the text is written in Latin. (Many thanks to the French and German gentlemen who shared their knowledge of the Latin language.)

Burial record transcription: L’an mille sept cent quatre vingt onze, le neuf août vers les cinq heures du matin décéda subitement Anne Marie Schmitt, âgée de quarante sept ans, épouse de Claude Schmitt, tanneur à Hellimer, son corps fut inhumé le lendemain dans le cimetière de cette paroisse en présence des témoins soussignés avec les cérémonies ordinaires. [signed by the] curé de Grossetanquin [and the] curé de Hellimer.

Burial record translation: On August 9th in the year 1791, about 5 am, suddenly died Anne Marie Schmitt, 47 years old, wife of Claude Schmitt, tanner in Hellimer; her body was buried on the next day in the cemetery of this parish, in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, with the ordinary ceremonies. [signed by the] priests of Grossetanquin and Hellimer and [Anne Marie's husband] Claude Schmitt.

The record does not include Anne Marie's date of birth or her parents' names. At the time of her death, she had at least six children.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Surname Saturday ~ The Name Game

Ready to test your name-knowledge? (Names for Round 5 of The Name Game were inspired by the Geneabloggers who attended FGS 2011, friends and coworkers.)

Step right up and try your luck guessing the country of origin and the meanings of these names:


Give yourself one point for each country guessed correctly and another point for each correct meaning.

Scroll down...

to see...

the answers...

Ackerman, Ackermann, Acreman (German/English) One who plowed the lord's land and tended his plow teams.

Clark, Clarke (English) A clergyman, scholar, scribe or recorder. (British pronunciation of clerk.)

Eastman (English) One who came from the east; descendant of Eastmund or Estmunt (east, protection); one who came from the Baltic countries.

Geiger (German) One who played a violin.

Ingsby (Dan., Sw., Nor.) Dweller at Ingi's farm.

Kline (German) Varient of Klein, q.v.

Klein, Kleine (German) The small man; the nice, neat man.

McEntee (Irish) The son of the scholar.

Ortega, Ortego (Spanish) Dweller at the sign of the grouse; one with the charactoristics of a grouse.

Quist (Swedish) Twig.

Seaver, Sever, Seavers (English) One with a grave and austere demeanor.

Uebele, Uebel (German) Descendant of Oppo or Ubo, pet forms of Audoberht (possession, bright).

Wolcott (English) One who came from Woolscott (Wulfsige's cottage), in Warwickshire.

Youngquist (Swedish) Heather, twig.

Hope you enjoyed Round 5 of The Name Game!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Anniversaries

Happy November anniversary to the following couples in my family tree:

My 4th great-grandparents Matthew CLARKE and Rebecca Margaret RIDENOUR were married on 13 Nov 1818 in Washington County, Maryland. (Wish I knew exact dates of birth for either of them!)

My 3rd great-grandparents Lars PETERSSON and Anna SVENSDOTTER tied the knot on 21 Nov 1856 in Agunnaryd, Kronobergs, Sweden. Their son Carl took the military name Clarin and would later immigrate to Chicago Illinois.

The direct line ancestors with whom I spend much of my time these days; my 2nd great-grandparents Jacob K MUELLER and Elizabeth SCHMITT were married in Chicago on 28 Nov 1874.

Other November brides and grooms include:

Norman A CLARKE and Hester Ann LEFFEL were married 23 Nov 1887 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. 

John PETERSON and Amanda Sofia Karlsdotter TOLF were married in the 1st Swedish M.E. Church in Chicago, Cook, Illinois 21 Nov 1900. (I wonder why? They both lived in Batavia Illinois, 30 or so miles west of Chicago.)

Lawrence Charles YOUNGBERG and Alma S SANDSTEDT were married 17 Nov 1909 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

John Alfred LUND and Hannah Christina TOLF were married 10 Nov 1910 in Kane County, Illinois.

Amanda Ida MANGELS and Stephen Taylor GILES were married 22 Nov 1910 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

Are any of these people in your family tree too?
Please contact me at [at] gmail [dot] com.
Let's compare notes!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Cousins

Harriet Kathlyn Tolf and cousin Ruth Ogren

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Five Pages of Written Testimony

A thick envelope arrived yesterday from the Cook County (Illinois) Medical Examiner's Office. I carried it from the mailbox to my desk with trembling hands. Gone were thoughts of doing the Genealogy Happy Dance. This is my family. Otto V. Mueller is my great grand-uncle. The documents inside this envelope from Chicago contained five pages of testimony telling how and why he took his own life.

Otto's half-sister Alma and two of Otto's neighbors testified that Otto had behaved differently during the week after his divorce. He was drinking heavily and talking about leaving the city he loved. On the night he died, Otto went home, turned a gas jet on high and blew out the flame. He climbed into bed and lay there waiting for the "illuminating gas" to fill his lungs and end his grief. 

How could he know that 99-1/2 years later a woman he had never met would sit at her desk blinking back tears and grieving for him?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Suicide while temporarily insane

Otto V. Mueller is often on my mind these days. I recently requested copies of the inquest record created after his 1912 suicide. I can't help wondering what caused him to feel such despair that he chose to take his own life.

My path to Otto started with my paternal grandparents Harold Clarke Mueller and Frances Lois Mangels who were married in August of 1930:

The 1930 census was taken shortly before my grandparents' wedding, and Harold was enumerated (on line 84) with his parents and younger brother:

My dad remembered sliding down the load when Harold made deliveries in a coal truck, so the occupation listed in column 25 concerned me at first. When I mentioned to my grand-uncle Charlie that my grandfather had been a truck driver, he said, "Really? I remember him banging gold." Bingo - we have a match!
In the 1920 census Harold, his parents and grandparents lived together. Seeing the Clarkes explains where Harold's middle name originated:

Here's the family in 1910:

...and in 1900:

The list of family members is continued on a second page, including Alfred's sister Alma E. Note her occupation, then take a look at Otto's. Could Alma work in Otto's office? This becomes more evident (and more confusing) when we travel back and forth in time.

Here's the family in 1880. In those days, Mueller was spelled Müller. See how the census taker tried to correct his misspelling? Wish I knew if he was attempting to squeeze in an "e" or trying to add the umlaut.

The census taker's fumble helps explain another indexer's version of Jacob's surname. Jacob's marriage certificate was indexed under Mutler. But the marriage license clerk's attention to detail provided wonderful clues. Jacob's new wife is Mrs. Elizabeth Biedenham (actually Bidenharn, but let's not quibble about details). This helped me find Elizabeth and Otto in 1870.

Otto is consistently listed as Ohio-born. Remember the 1880 census and the 10-year difference between Otto and Alfred? Both facts make more sense after seeing the marriage record above. It suggests Otto isn't Jacob's biological son. An 1870 Ohio census confirms that hypothesis (see line 9):

Learning that Otto was Alfred's half-brother made me wonder if I should  continue to research Otto. I mean, it's not as if he's a direct line ancestor. And heck, he only shares 50% of my DNA. Hmm. But then I do have that manila folder with his name on it...

I'm glad I chose to gather just the basics on Otto, file them and move on; 'cause that's when things got interesting.

I couldn't find Otto in the 1930 or 1920 censuses. He didn't appear with Jacob and Alma in 1910. As it turns out he lived on the same street with his wife and daughter:

I couldn't find Otto and Alvina in the Chicago marriage index. More searching revealed their marriage had taken place on the other side of Lake Michigan in Berrien County Michigan, a quaint location known for elopements. I blinked hard when I read the new Mrs. Mueller's maiden name. Schmitt is Otto's mother's maiden name too. Coincidence? Except there was something familiar about a Schmitt and Kauffman couple in Ohio with a daughter named Alvina. Did Otto marry his first cousin? Time will tell. Here's the marriage record (entry 752):

So where was this family in 1920? I hadn't been able to find Otto. But I did find Alvina and Edith (bottom two lines)...

who live with Alvina's widowed brother (line 1):

Alvina is listed as a widow. But was she? Not according to Otto's sister Alma:

What happened to Otto? Before all the ugliness, things seemed to be going pretty well for this husband, father and successful businessman. Articles referencing him appeared in several newspapers; his participation in an annual cycling race as a member of the Englewood Wheelmen, and public congratulations and admiration after his promotion to city engineer.

Why is Otto's death certificate so um, I don't know, weird? Look at his place of birth, his birth date, even his date of death - on or about the 16th of April. How long did he lay dead in his garage? Alma was the informant; was she distraught? Distant? Estranged? If she lived with Otto and worked at his insurance agency years before, why didn't she know more answers?

She was right on the money regarding her parents' names (especially Elise rather than Elizabeth) and their places of birth. It's quite puzzling.

Which is why I ordered inquest records for this collateral ancestor. I sent a letter to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office requesting Otto's file on October first. A letter from them arrived the 13th saying there are five pages of written testimony. (FIVE PAGES!!) Copy costs are five dollars per page. I mailed a check the 14th. Then I started pacing in front of my mailbox. After two weeks I called the ME's office and spoke with a very nice woman. She said she had indeed received my check. She reminded me the pages had been tri-folded for nearly a hundred years and said they were working to unfold them. Once that is done, they can copy the pages and send them to me.

Honest to goodness, I have dreams about getting these papers! I want to know who testified and what they said. Don't you?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Surname Saturday ~ November Birthdays

Happy November birthday to my sister and my nephew Ben, and to my cousins Russell, Mitchell, and Barbie.

November birthdays in my family tree include:

My 4th great-grandmother Maja Lisa LIDSTROM (16 Nov 1797) and her daughter Gustafva Jubilina TOLF (28 Nov 1830) were born in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden.

My 3rd great-grandfather Peter Johan JOHANISSON was born 14 Nov 1836 in Norra Sandsjö, Jonkopings, Sweden. His children, my 2nd great-grandmother Maria Fredrika PETERSDOTTER (22 Nov 1864) and her brother Johan Gustaf PETERSON (15 Nov 1874) were born in Tånnö, Jonkopings, Sweden.

First cousins thrice-removed, Lillian Christine KIRCHHEIMER (19 Nov 1873) and Emil Francis SCHMITT (21 Nov 1875) were born in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio. Lillian's mother and Emil's father were my 2nd great-grandmother's sister and brother respectively.

Birthdays in my Clark/Clarke line include Susan E BERG (13 Nov 1871) and Miriam Edith BLAKE (21 Nov 1920) both of Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
Great-granduncles George James WALTON (28 Nov 1884) and Frederick WALTON (20 Nov 1888) were born in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio.

First generation American Julia Christine THOMPSON born 10 Nov 1888 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois was my great-grandmother. Her father Peter Thompson immigrated from Norway and her mother (Maria Fredrika PETERSDOTTER listed above) immigrated from Sweden.

Frank Raymond TOLF born 23 Nov 1888 in Batavia, Kane, Illinois and
Howard W TOLF born 10 Nov 1898 in Dixon, Lee, Illinois were cousins; nephews of my 2nd great-grandfather Per August Tolf. Frank's wife Ruth MCFARLAND was born in Indiana 28 Nov 1892. 2nd cousin twice-removed Norman Joseph FRIEND born in Illinois 30 Nov 1914 was a Tolf descendant; his mother's mother was Frida Katrina TOLF.

My great-grandaunt Agnes Magnheld CLARIN (21 Nov 1891) and her half-brother Carl James CLARIN (22 Nov 1898) were both born in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Their father, Carl Larsson Clarin was a Swedish immigrant.

Do any of my ancestors reside in your family tree too? Please contact me at livinginthepastlane [at] yahoo [dot] com. Let's compare notes!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Genealogy Blog, Not Just for Michigan

When I learned my second great-grandparents, William Penrod Clarke and Mary Ella LITTRELL died in southwest Michigan, I explored the area virtually.

The Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society of Southern Michigan has a great web site, complete with an index of Van Buren County deaths.

The Society's web site has a link to the Van Buren District Library's blog. This is an interesting and informative blog worth a genealogy meandering minute or two, regardless of your connection or lack thereof to Michigan.

If you're a list-lover like me, you'll appreciate their Use of Checklists series.

The Collection Highlight is always interesting, I found this one especially so.

I'm always intrigued by their Nameless Picture of the Day. Here's a picture that was posted in August:
Unknown boy & girl in buggy; cabinet card M1787.
Photographer - Northrup, Bangor

Take a moment or two to explore this not-just-for-Michigan library's blog. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Spirit of Halloween

Pre-historic Halloween
When I was a kid Halloween was super fun. My favorite parts were choosing a costume and dashing from house to house screaming "trick or treat!" Our neighbors would toss candy into our bags and we'd yell a hurried "thank you" as we raced to the next house. The goal was to get as much candy as we could before it was time to head home.

Easy-peasy costume creation
At home the contents of the bag were dumped on the kitchen table where my mother would sort the edible from the dangerous-looking. The keepers were put in a large bowl to be rationed out and savored as Mom allowed.
Two (year old) of hearts
When I became the Mom, my favorite part was costume creation. Candy inspection and rationing became my responsibility. Chocolate was highly suspect, and I would have to taste-test it to ensure its safety. Yum.

Grandpa cut out the "m"...twice
When I became the Grandma, Halloween presented new favorite parts. My grandkids would tell me what they wanted to "be" for the big day. I loved hearing their excitement during our conversations about their choices.
Cap't Hook and the Alarm Clock Alligator
Weeks before the bewitching hour I searched for patterns and choose fabric. I'd pin, cut, and sew, imagining how adorable my grandchildren would look in their new creations.
To infinity and beyond!
Then I'd drive hundreds of miles to do last minute alterations, take pictures, and follow the happy trick-or-treaters on their candy-collecting rounds. I miss having a group of little ones that let me tag along. Those cute costumes are a thing of the past too. The grandkids are too cool for that.
A few of my favorite Trick or Treaters
These days my favorite part is decorating the house and the yard in preparation for the neighborhood Trick-or-Treaters and their parents. Oh and um, taste-testing the candy. Especially the chocolate.
Not to worry - the spider is friendly

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Française Adam

Française Adam is my 6th great-grandmother. So far the only evidence I have of her existence is one sentence in her son Claude Schmitt's death record:

The reference to Française in Claude's 1814 record is "fils de Jean Schmitt et de Françoise Adam décédés à Boulay" which (paraphrased) means Claude's parents Jean Schmitt and Françoise Adam who died in Boulay, France.

Wish # 1: I hope to learn more about this ancestor in the near future and

Wish # 2: a reader recognizes Française from their own tree and contacts me.

Do we have any shared ancestors? Please contact me at [at] gmail [dot] com.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Surname Saturday ~ The Name Game

In the New Dictionary of American Family names, author Elsdon C. Smith writes, "After the Crusades, people began, perhaps unconciously, to feel the need of a family name, or at least a name in addition to the simple one that had been possesed from birth. The nobles and upper classes, especially those who went on the Crusades, observed the prestige and practical value of an added name and were quick to take a surname, usually the name of the lands they owned. When the Crusaders returned from the wars, the upper classes who had stayed at home soon followed suit."

Ready to test your name-knowledge? (The names for Round 4 of The Name Game were inspired by the Geneabloggers who attended FGS 2011.)

Step right up and try your luck guessing the country of origin and the meanings of these names:


Give yourself one point for each country guessed correctly and another point for each correct meaning.

Scroll down...

to see...

the answers...

Bankhead (Scottish) One who came from Bankhead (end of the ridge), the name of several small places in Scottland.

Doyle (Irish/English) Grandson of Dubhghall (black foreigner); the swarthy stranger or foreigner; one who came from Ouilly (Olius' farm), the name of five places in Normandy.

Freda (Italian) Descendant of Freda, a pet form of Friderico, a variant of Frederick (peace, rule).

Higgins, Higgin, Higginson, Higgens, Higgs (English/Irish) The son of little Higg or Hick, pey forms of Richard (rule, hard); descendant of Uige (knowledge).

Jerome (English) Descendant of Jerome (holy name).

Lyons, Lyon (English/Scottish) Descendant of Leon (lion); dweller at the sign of the lion. Jacob's reference to Judah as a lion (Gen. 49:9) has caused this name to be adopted by many Jews.

Niziolek (Polish) One who was short in stature.

Pointer, Poynter (English) One who made laces for fastening clothes.

Roach (Irish) Dweller at, or near, a rock. See also Roche.

Roche, Roch, Rocher, Rochet (French/English) Dweller near a rock; one who came from Roche (rock) in Cornwall; or from Roche (rock), the name of many places in France.

Tapley (English) One who came from Tapeley (wood where pegs were obtained), in Devonshire.

Voorhees, Voorhies, Voorheis (Dutch) One who lived in front of Hees, the name of four places in Holland.

Xanthos (Greek) The golden, or yellow-haired, man.

Hope you enjoyed this round of The Name Game!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicago and Cook County Resources Part 2

As I mentioned previously, our ancestors lives were more than birth, marriage, and death records. In this post I'll focus on school, employment, naturalization, divorce, probate and voting records, as well as current must-visit repositories in Chicago and Cook County.

One of the most exciting aspects of viewing ancestors' school records is the possibility of photographs. A number of volunteers on the Cook County GenWeb project offer yearbook lookups. Ancestry has a number of browse-able yearbooks too. Even grade school class photos offer wonderful clues about the ethnic makeup of a particular neighborhood.

Photo of Pullman workers courtesy
of  the Historic Pullman Foundation
Employment records may not contain individual photos, but they offer interesting insights into the lives of our ancestors. The Pullman Palace Car Company, located on Chicago's south side in the mid to late 1800s, employed hundreds of men. The Pullman Strike was reported in newspapers across the country, and photos exist of many of the strikers. Extant employee records are kept at Newberry Library. The South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society offers free lookups in its impressive Pullman Collection.

Of course Pullman was not the only company in Chicago, there were many large employers. The Union Stockyards and huge packing plants owned by Swift and Armour made Chicago the meat processing capital for many years. Employee records from these companies may no longer exist, but books like City of the Century by Donald L. Miller realistically portray our ancestors' working lives.

Chicago and Cook County courts were each responsible for naturalizations at different points in time. Options include the superior, circuit, criminal, and county courts among others. Keep in mind records created before the Chicago Fire in 1871 may no longer exist. The Family History Library has a good collection of microfilms related to Cook County (including Chicago) naturalizations. More information on naturalizations can be found on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court web site. The Clerk also has divorce records from 1871 to 1986, law and chancery files 1871-1963, probate files from 1871 to 1975, and more.

Were your ancestors interested in politics? Look for them in the "Record and index of persons registered and of poll lists of voters, northern district of Illinois, city of Chicago, 1888, 1888-1890, 1892; town of Lake View, 1888; town of Hyde Park, 1888; town of Lake, 1888" available at the Family History Library and on Ancestry. These records may not take the place of the lost 1890 census, but they can provide helpful information about places of residence.

Planning a visit to the Windy City? Be sure to visit:

The Newberry Library is a prestigious looking building at 60 W Walton Street in Chicago (312.943.9090). With 1.5 million volumes and 75,000 maps, this five-story non-circulating research library set up in 1887 requires a day just to get your bearings.

The Illinois Regional Archives Depository for Chicago and Cook County is in the Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N St Louis Avenue in Chicago (773.442.4506) This location is one of seven IRAD locations in the state. IRAD at NEIU holds local government records such as birth, death, marriage records; naturalization records; coroner's inquest reports; and Chicago police homicide records.

The Wilmette Family History Center at 2727 Lake Avenue in Wilmette has one of the largest (if not THE largest) collections of extended loan microfilms of interest to the Chicago and Cook County researcher.

The Harold Washington Library Center and the Chicago Public Library at 400 S State Street in Chicago
(312.747.4875) is huge; roughly , 756,000 square feet and 10 levels. Among its more than 13 million pieces are innumerable rare manuscripts, books, art and sound archives. The Archival collections document the lives and activities of people and organizations in Chicago. Click here to appreciate the staggering size of the Library's Special Collections inventory.

In a city the size of Chicago, there are dozens of additional must-see sites. The four places listed above are great places to start and could provide enough resources to keep you busy for all of the (soon to be here) winter months. Need to connect with other Chicago researchers? Consider the Chicago Genealogy Society, the South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society, or even the Illinois State Genealogical Society.

Remember millions of our ancestors once called Chicago home. Those ancestors are being researched by many millions more of us. If you can't readily find a resource that will guide you to the answer you seek, all you have to do is ask!