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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Army Pictures: Ingram, Mueller and Whitten



See my original post for details about the photos from my dad's Army scrapbook and please let me know if you recognize anyone in these pictures.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Resolutions Revisited

Thank you Stephanie for encouraging New-Year-Resolution-setting-bloggers to post goal updates once a month. Great idea! Could be just the push I need to stay on track; although my geneabuddy does a pretty good job of that too!

I only set six resolutions this year. In January I gathered files and folders from (too many) file cabinets, paper stacks and file boxes. I established one place for the documents associated with those all-important 12 surnames. I worked my way through the mess collection of paper in the Clarin and Clarke folders. That helped with this goal:

2.) Focus my research on 12 direct-line surnames...Start by organizing the surname-related computer files, manila folders, family group sheets, and pages on my web site.

My new-and-improved filing system includes folders labeled "Requires Further Action" for each surname. I found the coolest colored folders with graph paper-fronts and backs. Once the contents of the folder are prioritized, I can use the graph paper to create an index/to-do list so next-steps are easy to determine.

I worked on my web site, adding a page for Bidenharn and updating pages for Clarin, Clarke and William Penrod Clarke, Landstrom and Johan Peter Landstrom, Mangels and Gustave Robert Mangels, Peterson, Thompson and Peter Thompson, and Walton. That addressed goal #2 above and this goal:

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.

In January I devoted quite a bit of time to this goal:

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.

I've fallen in love with Picasa. It's free and easy to use. I have a million photos to scan and Picasa makes the save, edit, categorize and file steps fast and easy. I averaged 150 scans a week in January and stored the originals chronologically in archival-safe containers. There are still a million minus 600 photos left to scan, but I'm making progress!

Thanks again Stephanie for encouraging me to revisit my goals, check my progress and set my sights on February!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Serendipity in Genealogy

My ancestors are not generally among the movers and shakers in history. They were average people living average lives. That doesn't make them any less interesting to me; it just means that if they appear in a newspaper at all, it won't be on the front page.

So when I visited the Depot Museum in Batavia Illlinois several years ago, it was to get a glimpse of the work done at the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Company. My second great-grandfather was a blacksmith there for many years.

The museum was very interesting. The displays were wonderful - I took many pictures of the USWE&P display and was grateful to the volunteer who answered my many questions about 19th century life in Batavia. At the end of my visit, Marilyn Robinson encouraged me to sign the guest book and add the surname I was researching. She said other guests sometimes look through the book and connections are made. I signed the book and wrote the name "Tolf".

A few days later Marilyn mentioned my from-out-of-state visit to another volunteer. The volunteer asked what surname I was researching. Together they looked at the guest book. The volunteer (also named Marilyn) said Tolf looked familiar. When she returned home, (the second) Marilyn looked in the scrapbook created by her husband's great-grandfather Charles Wenberg. He had been a professional photographer in Batavia during the time my family lived there. Inside the scrapbook she found these pictures:

l-r Charles Wenberg, Peter Tolf and Claus Pederson
These three men were instrumental in founding the church below 

First Swedish Mission Church in Batavia Illinois

Peter Tolf (center wearing tie) blacksmith foreman
at US Wind Engine and Pump Company

Peter Tolf and his wife Augusta Landström with their children
(l-r) Ranghild Henrietta Katarina, Harry Wilhelm, and Raymond Johan Carl

Helena Åman Tolf with daughters Christina Tolf and Amanda (Tolf) Peterson
I know I thanked both women at least a hundred times. Marilyn Robinson has since passed away, but her extensive work in the Batavia Historical Society surely guaranteed her a place in genealogy heaven. I will be forever grateful to the second Marilyn who gave me something I would never have seen without her generosity. I'm also grateful to Charles Wenberg who wrote captions at the bottom of his photographs without which his great-grandson's wife couldn't have made our connection.

And to my Tolf, Åman, and Landström ancestors: For putting the two Marilyns and me in all the right places at all the right times - there are not enough words in my vocabulary to express the depth and breadth of my feelings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Army Pictures: M C Smith


See my original post for details about the photos from my dad's Army scrapbook and please let me know if you recognize anyone in these pictures.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January Anniversaries

January is a bit of a "small world" in my family tree.

For example, my paternal 4th great-grandparents François SCHMITT and Elizabeth GROSSE were married 16 Jan 1804 in Hellimer, Moselle, Lorraine, France - François' sister was married the same day:

On the other side of the ocean, three weeks after acting as witnesses at Peter's brother's wedding, my maternal 2nd great-grandparents Peter August TOLF and Augusta Sophia LANDSTROM were married 21 Jan 1882 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois:

My other set of 2nd great-grandparents Peter THOMPSON and Maria Fredrika PETERSON were married 20 Jan 1883 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois:


The longer I work on my family tree, the greater number of interesting connections I find among the members. From what I read in the 1880 and 1885 city directories, it appears that both the Tolf/Landstrom and Thompson/Peterson couples were married at the same church. It's possible that the four immigrants met there and built a friendship.

Years later Harry (Peter and Augusta's son) would marry Julia (Peter and Maria Fredrika's daughter). Unfortunately it wasn't happily-ever-after marriage, but their story may have begun earlier than I previously thought.

I wonder what other surprises my ancestors have in store for me this year?

Are any of my ancestors in your family tree too?
Please contact me at find.an.ancestor [at] gmail [dot] com
Let's compare notes!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I (blank) Therefore I Blog

Happy Blogoversary ~ It's All Relative!
Before penning my first post two years ago, I read a blog how-to tip that encouraged me to "find your own voice". I might be in the remedial class because I just recently figured out the real reasons I blog:
I want to honor the memory of my ancestors, therefore I blog:
Wednesday February 10, 2010

I find genealogy addicting, therefore I blog:
Sunday October 3, 2010

I like to laugh, therefore I blog:

I share genealogists' idiosyncrasies, therefore I blog:


I still have a lot to learn about myself, therefore I blog:
Monday, March 22, 2010

I like to share cool stuff, therefore I blog:
Monday, September 26, 2011

I wish I was more organized, therefore I blog:
Saturday, July 2, 2011

I love traditions, therefore I blog:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I adore my grandchildren, therefore I blog:
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I miss my dad, therefore I blog:
Sunday, October 31, 2010

I appreciate my geneabuddy, therefore I blog:
Sunday May 29, 2011

I hope you find something worthwhile tucked in among these and my other posts. Thank you dear readers for following It's All Relative!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Army Pictures: 1952 Hamkin and Danley

Hamkin and Danley

Hamkin and Danley
See my original post for details about the photos from my dad's Army scrapbook and please let me know if you recognize anyone in these pictures.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Did my dad know your dad?


Daddy and Baggs in Grandma's front yard
My dad loved to take pictures. He took lots of them while he was in the Army from 1949 to 1953. And as you can see from the photo on the left, he labeled them. On the front.

The only scrapbook Daddy ever assembled was the one that began with his Army pictures. A couple years before he died, he gave the bulging book to me.

When I saw those wonderful candid shots of Army buddies relaxing in their fatigues, smoking cigars, playing volleyball and generally having fun, I knew I had to share them. What if the other dads in the pictures shipped off to Korea and didn't return? These images could be among their last.

Enter Wordless Wednesday 2012. I'll be posting photos from my dad's collection once a week for the rest of the year. The pictures were taken between 1949 and 1953 when my dad served in the 17th Company STR in Fort Benning Georgia and Battery D 71st AAA Gun Battalion in Fort Belvoir Virginia.

Did my dad know your dad? If so, he may be in the scrapbook. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January Birthdays

Happy January birthday to my late grandmother Frances Lois MANGELS born 23 Jan 1911; my sister, my cousin Alexander, and my nephew Eric.

My grandmother's aunt Amanda Ida MANGELS was born 24 Jan 1893 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Amanda testified on my grandmother's behalf when she applied for a delayed birth certificate in May of 1929.

After his divorce from her mother, my grandmother's father Gustave MANGELS married Emilie HEINZELMANN who was born 09 Jan 1899 in Marschalkenzimmern, Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg.
Marie Catherine Gury

Marie Catherine GURY born 11 Jan 1809 in Altroff, Meurthe, Lorraine, France. This photo is said to be of her. The family story is that Marie Catherine first became a nun and later a Mother Superior. I hope to prove or disprove that story this year.

Marie Catherine's niece Pauline GURY was born 22 Jan 1834 in Léning, Moselle, Lorraine, France.

Pauline immigrated to the United States as a child. Another immigrant Pierre Ferdinand SCHMITT (who was born 28 Jan 1843 in Hellimer, Moselle, Lorraine, France) would later become her sister's brother-in-law.

Swedes with January birthdays in my family tree include Raymond Carl Johan TOLF (also known as Unkie) born 09 Jan 1891 in Batavia, Kane, Illinois. Unkie is the ancestor who piqued my interest in genealogy.

Unkie's cousin Pearl May TOLF was born 01 Jan 1883 in Dixon, Lee, Illinois and  Peter August TOLF was born 01 Jan 1858 in Svenarum, Jönköping, Sweden. 

Peter is Unkie's father and my 2nd great-grandfather. He was a blacksmith and foreman for the Wind Engine and Pump Company in Batavia Illinois.

Many of the Tolf men were blacksmiths including Peter's uncle Anders Gustaf TOLF was born 08 Jan 1821 in Lindefors, Jönköping, Sweden.

Foreman Peter TOLF - front and center
Also hailing from Sweden and born in January; Carl Magnus CARLSON born 05 Jan 1871 in Börstil, Uppsala, Sweden.

From my 2012 Burning Questions list;
  • Hanna Sophia PETERSON born 09 Jan 1873 and her brother
  • Carl Frithof PETERSON born 27 Jan 1877 in Tånnö, Jonkopings, Sweden
A number of my Manx ancestors were born in the month of January including:
  • Abigail WALTON born 31 Jan 1836 in Lonan, Isle of Man
  • John WALTON born 24 Jan 1841 in Lonan, Isle of Man
  • Margaret WALTON born 19 Jan 1845 in Lonan, Isle of Man
  • Mary WALTON born 24 Jan 1847 in Lonan, Isle of Man and
  • Jane CHRISTIAN born 20 Jan 1812 in Lonan, Isle of Man who married a Walton
Conspicuously absent from my calendar is the birthDAY of my 2nd great-grandfather Peter THOMPSON. All I know as of this writing is that he was born Jan 1857 in Norway.
Are any of my ancestors in your family tree too?
Please contact me at find.an.ancestor [at] gmail [dot] com
Let's compare notes!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where Are Otto's Granddaughters?

Although nearly 100 years have passed since Otto V Mueller took his own life, he may remain in the memory of more than just one living descendant. I hope to connect with a family member who may know of him on a more personal level.

Otto and his wife Alvina had one child:

1910 Chicago Illinois Census - Otto Mueller and family
Daughter Edith was nine years old when her parents divorced. Edith's mother Alvina moved back to Ohio...

Alvina and Edith Mueller on the bottom of the page
to be near her widowed brother Arthur J. Schmitt:

Arthur is on the top of the next page

Edith married John B. Caine and had three daughters:

The Caine family in 1930 Ohio census
According to the Ohio Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953. State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio; John B Caine died at the age of 70 on the 2nd of Jun 1975. Edith died at 79 years of age on the 5th of Sep 1982.

One of Edith's daughters passed away in 1999. The two remaining are surely getting on in years. There's been no response from the contributor of a public tree on Ancestry that includes Edith.

I'm cautiously optimistic that this post will result in a connection with someone whose life was touched by Otto V Mueller. I would like to share the information I gathered and if possible, learn more about this man.

If you know of anyone related to Otto V Mueller, Alvina Schmitt Mueller, Edith Mueller Caine or any of their descendants; please contact me at:
find.an.ancestor [at] gmail [dot] com