the first house i lived in: the old homestead…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 13 prompt:  The Old Homestead.
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Six-fifty-one Knickerbocker Street.  The old homestead.  Sigh.  The first place in which I have recollections of being.  In my mind it’s a grand place, that grandness only slightly diminished by seeing it in recent decades and realizing its smallness and complete lack of grandeur.

Below, how it was in 1948:  barely visible, really, my tiny summer-born self the center of attention in this particular photo, but unfortunately this pic is all I have to remember the old homestead by photograph-wise.

1948: Me & my mum in front of the old homestead — 651 Knickerbocker Street.1

And, how the old homestead looked more than six decades later, in 2015:

A 2015 Google Earth image of the old homestead1

Initially I feel sobered by the 2015 image.  Confused.  My mouth opening in that “O.”  This isn’t 651 Knickerbocker, my mind protests.  Except it is.

But childhood memories win out:  as the image above fades from my head, 1948-through-early-1950s ones rise to the surface triumphantly, too strong to be vanquished by a little reality.

See those four windows across the front of the 2015 pic?  They didn’t used to be there.  Behind them is a huge porch that for us was open wide.  It contains my very earliest memory, in fact:  “Why do I have this faint memory of sleeping in a baby stroller on the Knickerbocker front porch in the dead of winter?” I asked my father one day as an adult.

“Because you did,” he laughed.  “Your Norwegian grandmother Rosalie was convinced it made babies hardy.  No-one could talk her out of it.  All you kids were set out on the porch for an hour or two for winter naps.”  Talk about one’s mouth falling open in that “O.”  (This is an actual custom in Scandinavian countries, I later learned.2)

The old homestead was the greatest place to play.  See those three windows above the four lower, in the 2015 image?  That was my and my two sisters’ bedroom.  A vast, long room with sun streaming in from near all along the front and, one side.  A play heaven.

Our yard out back of the old homestead was fenced in, our wonderful collie Mitzi always up for some playing; concord grapes for snacks climbing all over a wooden grape arbor with a bench to sit on underneath; an old-fashioned clothesline:  the yard seemed to go on & on.  Flowers dotted it, my mom being the gardener.  Lots of old-fashioned types flourished, peonies and hollyhocks and such.

And right down the street from 651 Knickerbocker?!  Oh my:  a whole lake.  A park to go along with it and, one edge of the university arboretum adjacent, where faeries were alleged to live in trees and, actual deer ran & grazed.  A “wild place.”  (What child doesn’t love, wild places?  Especially a child whose first playmate is an older brother…)

Adorable, teeny tree frogs were abundant in those days right in one’s front yard, and, take a hike with an older brother into the swampy depths of the arboretum and there were BIG frogs, turtles — all sorts of interesting creatures, bugs and wonders.

Stroll UP Knickerbocker and, there were railroad tracks running behind the houses on Gregory Street.  TRAINS — which I love to this day — made their wonderfully noisy way along the tracks several times daily.  (These days, it’s a hiking path.)

To the west, maybe six short blocks away, sat the imposing building I would go to kindergarten in:  Dudgeon Elementary School.  The older kids called it “Dungeon,” but I thought it looked like a castle.

Dudgeon Elementary School, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin.3

The world was different then, so I walked alone, to and from Dudgeon each day.  (My brother now an attendee of Blessed Sacrament, my own next stop after kindergarten.)

In the wintertime, the Dudgeon School hill was the best sledding.  Launching from off the small hill way top, we’d often be carried by the momentum clear to the bottom.  The whole neighborhood came to sled there:  big kids, little kids, grown-ups.

Nothing measuring up to fond memories, there will simply never be as grand a place to grow up in as, that old homestead… 😉
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SOURCES
1 Family photos of the author’s.
2 “Why Norwegian Parents Let Their Kids Nap In Below-Freezing Temperatures,” at https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/why-norwegian-babies-sleep-outside/ , accessed Apr., 2018.
3 Dudgeon Elementary School, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, USA:  photo source, year taken, unknown.
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where there’s a will: unearthing my swiss mennonite heritage

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 9 prompt:  Where There’s a Will.
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Where There’s a Will:  Genealogy research piques my interest in history like nothing else:  it provides me the will to literally pore through the most otherwise “boring” material.

Bishop Hans HERR.  (Image, public domain.)

My present fascination?  The Swiss.  Specifically, the 16th-century period when Anabaptists were “rooted out” of Europe.

Where I previously thought I descended from just one Mennonite line — that of my 8th-Great-Gramp Bishop Hans HERR (either 16511, or, 1639,2 Switzerland–17253 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America; buried Willow Street Mennonite Church Cemetery, Willow Street, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States of America4) — closer study reveals that I have in my ancestry a good number of interconnected Mennonite families.

I’ve only just begun to untangle all the connections, but the following helped me along greatly:

In an article in the October, 19195, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Professor Oscar Kuhns wrote:

“From time to time single families and individuals had…sought refuge in the Palatinate, where Anabaptist communities had existed since 1527. In 1671, the first considerable emigration took place, when a party of seven hundred persons left their native land, and settled on the banks of the Rhine.5

“The movement…resulted in the settlement of Lancaster County [Pennsylvania],… … Of all [the Anabaptists’] doctrines, that of refusing to bear arms was the most obnoxious to the state, which depended on its citizens in times of aggression. It must be confessed that the Swiss Anabaptists were the most intractable of people. Exiled again and again, they persisted in returning to their native land.

“In 1711, however, the Mennonites of Berne were offered free transportation down the Rhine, permission to sell their property and to take their families with them, on condition, however, that they pledge themselves never to return to Switzerland. Their friends in Holland urged them to do this[*], and especially through the efforts of the Dutch ambassador in Switzerland, the exportation was finally carried out. About this time began the settlement of Lancaster County by Swiss Anabaptists, and undoubtedly many of the above were among them. …”
* [“The relations between the Anabaptists of Holland and Switzerland had always been close. The former had subscribed large sums of money to alleviate the sufferings of the exiled Swiss in the Palatinate, and a society had been formed for the purpose of affording systematic assistance to all their suffering fellow-believers.”]

In the archives of Amsterdam, we find a letter of thanks to Holland written by Martin Kundig, Hans Herr, Christian Herr, Martin Oberholtzer, Martin Meili and Jacob Muller. This letter was dated June 27, 1710, and states that they were about to start for the New World. October 23 of the same year, we find a patent for ten thousand acres of land on the Pequa Creek, Conostogue [sic; Conestoga, Pennsylvania] (later a part of Lancaster County, which was not organized till 1729) made out in the names of Hans Herr and Martin Kundig, who acted as agents for their countrymen. … Kundig and Herr seem to have been the leaders of this emigration.”5

Note, top of Quarterly page: ” ‘Without genealogy the study of history is lifeless.’ — John Fiske.” I couldn’t agree more… 🙂

Researching intensely for a couple of weeks, doing my best to accurately connect dots as I made a quick genealogy sketch of people connected to “my” Hans Herr, I then read Kuhn’s piece in the Quarterly again, the names in the 1710 letter now going ping ping ping in my head as I recognized one after another.

Martin KÜNDIG: aka KENDIG, it turned out (born about 1648 Switzerland–died 1725 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), is my 9th great-uncleson of my 9th great-grandfather John Jakob KENDIG, I (1620 Switzerland–1694 Switzerland) — and, husband of my 9th great-aunt Elizabeth (HERR) KENDIG (abt 1644 “of” Switzerland–abt 1674 Germany);

Hans HERR (1639 Switzerland–1725 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), of course, my 8th great-grandfather;

Christian HERR (1680 Switzerland–1749 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), my 7th great-granddaddy;

Martin OBERHOLTZER: I am still looking for direct connections there — I just haven’t found them yet;

Martin MEILI, I: aka MEYLIN (1665 Switzerland–1749 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), is the father-in-law of my 7th great-aunt Anna (HERR) MEYLIN (1711 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Colony, America–1787 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA), daughter of my aforementioned 7th great-grandpapa Christian HERR; and,…

Jacob MÜLLER: I am pReTtTtY sure although not yet pOsItIvE that, he is Jakob MÜLLER (1663 Switzerland–1739 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America) the father-in-law of my 1st cousin 8x removed Abraham HERR (1700 Switzerland–1785 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Colonial America).

As I said, I’ve only just begun to unearth all my Swiss Mennonite ties, but I’m delighted with what I’ve thus far learned.  All these ancestors who stood up for religious freedom… Because this, boys & girls, is why we keep church & state separated in the U.S. of A.:  to thumb our nose at God, N-O — RATHER, to ENSURE that ALL citizens may WORSHIP AS they CHOOSE: no state-mandated churches.

Amen.  God bless.
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SOURCES
1 “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” “Hans Herr,” Ancestry.com, at both https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60592&h=862303&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , &, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60592&h=862301&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
2 “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” “Rev Hans Herr,” Ancestry.com, at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2451&h=2021866676&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
3 “North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000,” Ancestry.com, specifically, Genealogical record of Reverend Hans Herr and his direct lineal descendants : From his Birth A.D. 1639 to the present time containing the names, etc. of 13223 persons, by Theodore W. Herr, published 1908, at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/61157/46155_b289964-00016?pid=1494511&backurl=https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv%3D1%26dbid%3D61157%26h%3D1494511%26ssrc%3Dpt%26tid%3D79831532%26pid%3D34405383251%26usePUB%3Dtrue&ssrc=pt&treeid=79831532&personid=34405383251&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
4 FindAGrave.com, “Rev Hans Herr Jr,” memorial number 6812531, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6812531/hans-herr , accessed Mar., 2018.8.
5 “Switzerland Plays A Part In The Founding Of The American Nation,” Professor Oscar Kuhns, Middletown, Connecticut, in the October, 1919, “National Genealogical Society Quarterly,” Volume VIII, Number 3; pages 33-34.  Online at https://books.google.com/books?id=BgjTAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA35&lpg=RA1-PA35&dq=%22SWITZERLAND+PLAYS+A+PART+IN+THE+FOUNDING+OF+THE+AMERICAN+NATION%22+By+Prof.+Oscar+Kuhns,+Middletown&source=bl&ots=_mphAVAPFU&sig=KblpK34vjggL_KQbG7qgpkK0ZrA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjd_YOjr-_ZAhUV92MKHQIqDrQQ6AEILDAA#v=onepage&q=%22SWITZERLAND%20PLAYS%20A%20PART%20IN%20THE%20FOUNDING%20OF%20THE%20AMERICAN%20NATION%22%20By%20Prof.%20Oscar%20Kuhns%2C%20Middletown&f=false , accessed Mar., 2018.

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favorite name: bridget, saint of sweden

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 6 prompt:  Favorite Name.
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Favorite name, favorite name…  This one stumps me.  I don’t have a favorite name.  (I found choosing one for my own child tortuous; there are so many.)  Currently, my ears particularly like very old-fashioned names and, I love virtuous Quaker female names, but again, no favorite.

When I was in high school I remember going through a period of wishing my forename was more original than same-old same-old “Susan” though, and, “Bridget” was high on the list of my rather-haves; plus, raised Catholic, when I first began researching my Norwegian ancestry and saw “Saint” before some of my way-back great-grands, I was awed & delighted, so,

Saint Bridget in the religious habit and the crown of a Bridgettine nun, in a 1476 breviary of the form of the Divine Office unique to her Order1

I decided to honor with this week’s blog post, the patron saint of Sweden, my 18th Great-Grandmother Saint Bridget of Sweden (circa 1303–July 23, 1373).  From Catholic.org2:

“Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Uppland’s Lagman3, Birger Petersson and his wife, Ingeborg, who was a member of the same clan as the reigning family.  Birgitta’s family was pious; her father went to confession every Friday and made long and arduous pilgrimages as far away as the Holy Land.2

Image of Birger Petersson & wife Ingeborg at their Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden, tombstone.4

“Birgitta’s mother died, leaving Birgitta, ten years old, Katharine, nine and a newborn baby boy, Israel.  The children were sent to their maternal aunt for further education and care.  It seems that as a young child, Birgitta had a dream-vision of The Man of Sorrows.  This dream was very vivid.  Birgitta asked Him who had done that to Him. His answer:  ‘All those who despise my love.’  The memory of this dream never left Birgitta and may have even left an indelible mark on her sub-conscious.  As was usual during the Middle Ages, Birgitta was married when she was 13 years old to a young man, Ulf Gudmarsson with whom she had eight children, four daughters and four sons, all of them survived infancy, and that was very rare at that time.2

“When the King of Sweden, Magnus Eriksson married Blanche of Namur, he asked his kinswoman, Birgitta to come and be Lady-in Waiting and to teach the young queen the language and customs of her new country.  After her years of service at Court, Birgitta and Ulf made the long pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostela.  On the return journey Ulf became dangerously ill in Arras.  Birgitta feared for his death and sat all night by his bed praying, and then a bishop appeared to her, promised that Ulf would recover and ‘God had great things for her to do.’  He told her that he was Denis, Patron of France.  Ulf recovered and was able to continue his work as Lagman in the province of Närke until early in the year 1344, when he was very ill so Birgitta took him to the monks at Alvastra where he died and was buried.  Birgitta remained in a little house near the abbey and she spent along hours in prayer by Ulf’s grave.  She said that she ‘loved him like my own body.’  She arranged her affairs among her children and various charities and prayed for guidance.  She was 41 years old and in the abbey at Alvastra God called her ‘be My Bride and My canal’.  He gave her the task of founding new religious order, mainly for women.  He said that the other orders had fallen into decay and this new order would be a vineyard whose wine would revivify the Church.  He showed her how her abbey church was to be built, gave directions concerning the clothing and prayers of the nuns, 60 in all, who needed priests as chaplains, 13 priests, 4 deacons and 8 lay brothers.  These two communities were to be ruled by an abbess, who was to represent the Blessed Virgin Mary together with the Apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

“King Magnus Eriksson donated a little palace and much land to the new monastery, but almost as soon she had begun altering the palace and organising the work, Christ appeared to her and asked her to go to Rome and wait there until she got the pope to return from France to Rome.  She was to be there during the Holy Year 1350.  Birgitta left Sweden at the end of 1349 never to return.  For the rest of her life she saw visions concerning the reform of the Church, messages to kings and popes and many other persons in high places, directing them to work for the Church.  It may be noted that Birgitta never wrote in the first person.  She always said the she carried a message from a very High Lord.  Although she had longed to become a nun, she never even saw the monastery in Vadstena.  In fact, nothing she set out to do was ever realised.  She never had the pope return to Rome permanently, she never managed to make peace between France and England, she never saw any nun in the habit that Christ had shown her, and she never returned to Sweden but died, worn out old lady far from home in July 1373.  She can be called the Patroness of Failures.  In this she was like her Lord.  He was also classed as failure as He hung on the Cross.  Birgitta was a successful failure as she was canonized in 1391.  Birgitta was the only women ever to found a religious Order, Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris.  It was never a double order but an order primarily for women with permanent chaplains, ruled by an abbess.  The brothers had as their head, not a prior but a Confessor General who was responsible for the spiritual business of both convents.

“The order spread swiftly throughout Europe with monasteries from Scandinavia right through Europe down to Italy.  In modern times is has expanded into five different, juridically independant branches; Spain 1629, Rome 1911, U.S.A. 1970, Mexico at the change of the century.  None of these foundations have brothers (except U.S.A. which has one male convent).  The last Birgittine father died in Altomünster 1863.  She is the patroness of Sweden.  Her feast day is July 23.”2

In first & second grades I attended a Catholic elementary school.  We were rewarded with holy cards (picture old baseball cards but with a saint’s image on one side and her or his bio on the other) &, medalions for particularly good work or behavior.  I kept mine in an old cigar box, lost after my mother’s death when I was yet in grade school.  Below, an image of a similar dime-sized medallion of St. Bridget of Sweden:

St. Bridget of Sweden medallion 5

My ancestral line to St. Bridget of Sweden runs from my maternal great-grandfather Carl Johan EILERTSEN Fjelse, on up like so: Ellert TOLLAKSEN Haugland (1806–after 1864), Tollak ERIKSEN Osen (1768–1852), Erik TOLLAKSEN Sporkland (1723–1811), Tollak JOHANNESSEN Sporkland (1689–before Sept. 7, 1763), Johannes TOLLAKSEN Sporkland (ca 1653–before June 10, 1742), Tollak SIGBJØRNSEN Sporkland ( –1685), Sigbjørn TOLLAKSEN Sandsmark (?–?), Tollak SIGBJØRNSEN Stordrange (before 1598–1658), Sigbjørn TORLAKSEN Drange (1530– ), Torlak GUNNERSEN Stordrange (ca 1500), Gunnar ASBJØRNSEN Tengs (1470–1546), Unknown forename (birth & death, Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway), Gunnbjørn TORDSEN Tengs ( –after 1486), Sir Tore GARDSEN Garå, Knight (ca 1400–ca 1454), Ramborg (ca 1360–ca 1408), Marta ULFSDTR Sweden (ca 1319–ca 1375), St. Bridget.6
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SOURCES
1 Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Bridget of Sweden,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridget_of_Sweden , accessed Feb., 2018.
2 Catholic.org, “St. Bridget of Sweden,” at http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=264 , accessed Feb., 2018.
3 “A lawspeaker or lawman (Swedish: lagman, Old Swedish: laghmaþer or laghman, Danish: lovsigemand, Norwegian: lagmann, Icelandic: lög(sögu)maður, Faroese: løgmaður, Finnish: laamanni) is a unique Scandinavian legal office. It has its basis in a common Germanic oral tradition, where wise people were asked to recite the law, but it was only in Scandinavia that the function evolved into an office. Two of the most famous lawspeakers are Snorri Sturluson and Þorgnýr the Lawspeaker.” — Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Lawspeaker,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawspeaker , accessed Feb., 2018.
4 Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Birger Persson (Finstaätten),” at https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birger_Persson_(Finsta%C3%A4tten)#Barn_med_Ingeborg_Bengtsdotter , accessed Feb., 2018.
5 CatholicSaintMedals.com, “St. Bridget of Sweden Tiny Charm – Sterling Silver (#84804),” https://www.catholicsaintmedals.com/St-Bridget-Charm-Sterling-Silver-84804.aspx , accessed Feb., 2018.
5 Genealogist Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Vest-Agder county, Norway, “Ahnentafel of Sally Marie Eilertsen Fjelse,” prepared Oct.  23, 2001; source, Norwegian bygdebøker; in possession of myself.
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in the census:  searching for kitchens

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 5 prompt:  In the Census.
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In the Census:  the first thing that pops into my head with that prompt is, In the Census there is TONS of data.  (Censuses are veritable gold mines for genealogists.)  But if you research ancestry, you already know that.  So, let’s see — rather than try to dig up things census-y that readers may not know, I’m going to tackle this prompt in a hands-on way.

Opening my Ancestry.com message box, an unread message pops up from a Gayle O. dated Jan 22, 2018:

“I am totally new to Ancestry, so am not really sure what I am doing yet, but I am looking for information on my grandfather, Elmer Elsworth Kitchen.  He was born in 1886 and died in 1937.  He was a resident of Clark County, IL.  He seems to be very much a mystery man.  I can’t find anyone in the family that can give me any information and he was never talked about that I can remember as a child.”

Okeydokey.  The name doesn’t ring a bell but, I look Elmer up in my database and see that my 1st cousin 3x removed Sarah E. FASIG (1869 USA–1956 Martinsville, Clark County, Illinois) married an “Elmer E. Kitchen,” and, he died in 1937.  But — they were married in 1886…  Could Gayle have her grandfather’s birthdate wrong, or, is her Elmer Ellsworth perhaps my Sarah & Elmer’s son??

I message her back,

“Gayle, is that 1886 birth date for certain?  Also, what was your grandmother’s / Elmer’s wife’s, name?”

Meanwhile, I search the 1900 U.S. Federal Census — closest census following an 1886 birth — in Clark County, Illinois, for “Elmer Ellsworth Kitchen,” born 1886 give or take 10 years, the widest berth given at Ancestry.com.  [Hint:  Search U.S. Federal Censuses for free at FamilySearch.org.]  The closest match is an Edward, age 12, so, born about 1888.  Nope; no go.  I next search under first initial “E.” only.  Same solitary Edward pull.  So I try a search of “E. Kitchen” with a birthdate of 1866, using again, a 10-year span, and up comes “Elmer E Kitchens” born Nov., 1866, wife “Sarah E.,” in Martinsville, Clark, Illinois.  (Using an 1876 birthdate gives me both of the previous two pulls.)

I feel just certain now, Gayle & I share the same Kitchens, but, I need more for “proof.”  Up pops another message reply from Gayle:

“I have Elmer born in 1866.  He was the son of George Kitchen and Emmaline Clark Kitchen.  He married Sarah Fasig on Feb. 7, 1892 in Toledo, IL.  Sarah’s parents were William…and Susanna Friedline Fasig.  Hope this helps!”

And of course, it does, as I now know that her Elmer is my Elmer.

Illinois State Marriage Records — free to search online — already told me that Elmer & Sarah married Feb. 7, 1892, in Coles County, Illinois1:  [Groom]KITCHEN, Elmer [Bride]FASIG, Sarah E. [Date]1892-02-07 [Volume](This field blank) [Page]80 [Lic No.](Also blank) [County]Coles.”  (I’m not even going to pause at Gayle’s “Toleda, Ohio” marriage place…  We have our man.)

Now:  what can we learn about this gentleman from censuses alone?

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census being the first after Elmer & Sarah marry, I decide to start with that.  The household is composed of:
Elmer E Kitchens . . age 33, born Nov 1866 in Illinois; occupation, farmer; his home, rented; his father’s birthplace, Ohio; mother’s, Indiana
Sarah E Kitchens . . age 30, born July 1869 Illinois
L
uther O Kitchens . .age 6 (Son) May 1894 Illinois
E
lsie A Kitchens . . . age 4 (Daughter) May 1896 Illinois
W
illiam Fasig . . . . . age 79 Apr 1821 Pennsylvania
M
ary S Fasig . . . . .  age 32 May 1868 Ohio; occupation, house keeper

1900 U.S. Federal Census, Illinois, Clark County, Elmer E Kitchens household

Seventy-nine-year-old William is Sarah’s widowed father.  Mary S. Fasig, one of Sarah’s three older sisters (although that middle initial “S” was mistranscribed:  it’s in actuality an “L,” and, I know from past research that it stands for, “Lucinda”).  Mary is single here.  All of the adults in the household can read & write.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census is wonderful in that it gives the month of individuals’ births instead of just the estimated year.  (The year given is often off by one, but the month, rarely inaccurate in my experience.)  This census also tells us how many children a woman has had at that point and, how many of those are yet living. In Sarah’s case, she’s had three children; one has died.

Now let’s skip back to an earlier Census when Elmer lived yet with his parents:  1870.  The household is composed of:
George Kitchen . . . . age 32; born abt 1838 New Jersey; occupation, farmer
Emaline Kitchen . . . .age 27; abt 1843 Indiana; keeping house
Ellsworth Kitchen . . .age 4; abt 1866 Illinois
Clara Kitchen . . . . . .age 2; abt 1868 Illinois

1870 U.S. Federal Census, Illinois, Clark County, George Kitchen household

Living next door to George & Emaline is 59-year-old “Julia Kitchen;” five will get you ten she is George’s mother / Elmer’s paternal grandmother, and, the four other Kitchens in the household ranging in age from 16 to 36, George’s siblings, but, we won’t explore that here.  Just a note, though:  in the 1800s, one very commonly finds family households if not adjacent to, at least, quite close to one another.

While this is just a start on researching Elmer Ellsworth Kitchen(s), we’ve got quite a good picture already, from a mere two censuses — not bad…

Elmer Elsworth Kitchen’s & Sarah E. Fasig’s grave marker at Ridgelawn Cemetery, Martinsville, Clark County, Illinois2

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SOURCES
1 “Office of the Illinois Secretary of State,” “Departments,” “Illinois State Archives,” “Databases,” “Illinois Statewide Vital Records Databases,” “Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763–1900,” at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/marriage.html . CyberDriveIllinois.com:  love it.
2 FindAGrave.com, “Elmer Kitchen,” Memorial ID 22187985, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22187985 , accessed Feb., 2018.  Photo contributed to FindAGrave by Jeffrey Winnett.
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invite to dinner: dear 3rd-greatgrandmama eleanor (lemon) noble or is it lemmon or lemmons, the pleasure of your company is requested…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 4 prompt:  Invite to dinner.
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Both hands up to the sides of my head, I’m frozen in indecision — just one?!  Invite just one guest to dinner?!  (Oh that it was possible to bring ancestors out of the frieze of time for answers to some questions; brick walls might not exist.)

Two ladies in Great-Grandma Alta Maria (Falls) Greger’s line come to mind most quickly as desired dinner guests:  my 4th great-grandmum Sarah (Showers) Falls and, my 3rd-great-grandmother Eleanor (Ellen) (Lemmon) Noble (February 21, 18111 Kentucky2, USA–March 31, 1895 Iowa; buried Winslow Cemetery, Jefferson Township, Poweshiek County, Iowa1,3).  They are both longstanding brick walls.  I haven’t a clue as to either’s respective fathers.

It’s Eleanor, I decide.  She’s getting the invitation.  I mentally draft my invite.

Alta Maria (Falls) Greger (Family photo.)

But to fill you in on how the line goes, let’s back up once more to Eleanor (Ellen) (Lemmon) Noble’s granddaughter and, my Great-Grandma, Alta Maria4 Falls (July5 106, 18645 Illinois5–October 13, 1934 Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri6; buried Anderson Cemetery, Anderson East, McDonald County, Missouri6).

Alta first apears in the household of parents “Jarry” & Mary Falls at age seven in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census of Jefferson, Poweshiek, Iowa, dwelling number 86, her forename mistranscribed as “Atta.”  Iowa marriage records tell us that Alta [again mistranscribed “Atta,” although very clearly “Alta” on the original record] M. Falls, father listed as “Geremiah” Falls, mother as Mary Noble, marries “Graurille S Gregor”7 [Granville Smith Greger] on September 28, 1892 in Benton County, Iowa.  This takes us up nicely to my 2nd-great grands Geremiah Falls & Mary Noble.

“Geremiah Falls,” or as he’s more commonly referenced, Jeremiah (Jerry) Falls, took “Mary Margaret Noble” as his second wife on September 14, 1851 in Mercer County, Illinois.8

Grave Marker of Mary Margaret (Noble) Falls (Contributed to FindAGrave.com by Pat Faulkner.)

We first see “[Mary] Margaret Noble” (February 2?, 18319 Indiana2–February 20, 1899 Polk County, Missouri; buried Greenwood Cemetery (Sec 5 Lot 23), Bolivar, Polk County, Missouri9) at age 19, in the household of [parents] Joseph & Ellen Noble in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in “Township 14 N R 5 W, Mercer, Illinois,” family number 382.10

We last see Mary M. in the 1895 State Census of Belle Plaine, Benton County, Iowa, as widowed head-of-household “Mary Falls,” age 60, with her widowed mother Ellen Noble — 84 born Kentucky — the only other person in the household.11

And that takes us up to my dinner invitee, 3rd-great grandmum Eleanor (Ellen) (Lemmon) Noble.

Eleanor is visible in the 1850 through 1880 U.S. Federal Censuses in the household of husband Joseph Noble; seen in an (unreferenced here) 1885 Belle Plaine, Benton, Iowa State Census again with husband Joseph; is widowed in the January, 1895, household of eldest daughter Mary Margaret; and recorded buried at Winslow Cemetery, Poweshiek CountyIowa.3  But, somewhere in there, Eleanor or Ellen was born.  TO, whom?  What siblings if any, did she have?  Where were her parents from?

Dear Grandma Ellen!  It’s so good to meet you!

I hope you like chicken — I figured baked was a pretty safe choice, and, the Penzey’s Mural of Flavor seasoning I use, with, Himilayan pink salt have gone over so well with previous dinner guests.  If you’d prefer fish, though, I’ve salmon filets waiting in the fridge just in case.  Baked potatoes, salad, & rolls will round things out and, I’ve purchased wonderful mini tarts from Whole Foods Market for dessert.  Would you like some coffee or tea while we chat a bit?

I have to ask first, please, who were your parents and, what siblings did you have?

I cannot find a birth or baptism record naming your mother & father, nor a marriage record with same.  No other genealogy researchers out there — none I’ve seen anyway — has ventured a guess as to your parents and quite frankly this is just driving me nuts.  I’m lost for leads.  Please please:  tell me the answer(s) to this riddle, and then, all about your life growing up and, yours & Grampa Joseph’s together…

Grave Marker of Eleanor (Ellen) (Lemmon) Noble  (Contributed to FindAGrave.com by “The Locator.”)

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SOURCES
1 ” ‘Iowa, Cemetery Records, 1662-1999’ {database on-line}.  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.  Original data:  Works Project Administration. Graves Registration Project.  Washington, D.C.:  n.p., n.d.;” “Grave Stone Records of Poweshiek, Iowa; Page Number: 536,” at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=4711&h=388439&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383952&usePUB=true , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
2 U.S. Federal Censuses of 1850:  “Joseph Noble” household, “Township 14 N R 5 W, Mercer, Illinois,” family number 382; 1860:  “Joseph Noble” household, “Township 14 N 5 W, Mercer, Illinois,” family number 1651, dwelling number 1651; 1870:  “Joseph Noble” household, “Jefferson, Poweshiek, Iowa,” dwelling number 62; 1880:  “Joseph Noble” household, “Belle Plaine, Benton, Iowa,” dwelling number 537.  All four give Ellen’s (1850, 1870) / Eleaner’s (1870) / Eleanor’s (1880) birthplace as Kentucky.  Census of 1850 notes daughter “Margaret” as born Indiana.
3 FindAGrave.com, “Eleanor ‘Ellen’ Lemmons Noble,” memorial ID 61418799, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/61418799 , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
4 Anecdotal family knowledge.
5 U.S. Federal Census of 1900:  “Granvil S Greger” household, “Field, Jefferson, Illinois,” sheet number 12, “number of dwelling in order of visitation” 238, family number 239.  (As of Jan. 31, 2018, at Ancestry.com at, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7602&h=78703146&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405382591&usePUB=true .)
6 FindAGrave.com, “Alta M Falls Greger,” memorial ID 31743986, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31743986 , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
7 “Iowa Department of Public Health; Des Moines, Iowa; Series Title: Iowa Marriage Records, 1880–1922,” at Ancestry.com as “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940,” at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=IAMarriageRec&h=904036251&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=60716 , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
8 “Illinois State Marriage Records. Online index. Illinois State Public Record Offices,” via Ancestry.com’s, “Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920” at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60984&h=1713482&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405384674&usePUB=true , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
9 FindAGrave.com, “Mary Margaret Noble Falls,” memorial ID 45374884, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/45374884 ,  accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
10 U.S. Federal Census, 1850, “Joseph Noble” household.  Ancestry.com, at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=8054&h=16451571&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=diana34405384674&usePUB=true , accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
11 ” ‘Iowa State Census, 1895,’ database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VT3J-TV4 : 30 June 2016), Mary Falls, Benton, Iowa, United States; citing p. 55, 1895, State Historical Society, Des Moines; FHL microfilm 1,021,711;” at FamilySearch.org, accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
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longevity — elsa (fern) walden

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 3 prompt:  Longevity.
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Can longevity mean more than simply the years an individual lives?  I think so.  I see lives remembered long after individuals are gone, as, a sort of longevity, too.

Elsa (Fern) Walden4

I think longevity when my 3rd cousin once removed, Elsa (Fern) Walden, comes to mind — born on a Wednesday afternoon at “the Plummer place” around 5:30 p.m.1 May 24, 1922 Grand River Township, Livingston County, Missouri, USA2; died November 5, 2004 at Carle Foundation Hospital3, Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois, from a head injury due to a fall2) — Elsa was the daughter of one of my Greger-side kin, Bessie Opal Gray (November 11, 1887 Sidney, Champaign County, Illinois–October 17, 1975 Champaign, Champaign County, Illinois), & Elbert Earl Walden (February 2, 1885 Hale, Livingston County, Missouri–February 13, 1927 Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri).

Cousin Elsa first came to my attention when our mutual cousin and my fellow Greger-line genealogy researcher Larry G. Greger (1944-2007; rest in peace Larry, thank you &, I love you), son of Chester H. (Chet) Greger (1902–1975) & Juanita Fancher (1912–1988), sent me a copy of Elsa’s flat-out wonderful The Waldens on Old Grand River, 1910-1927.  I could not believe the wealth of family data in her book.  Right on page two I read:

~ 1906 ~
Charlie [Charles Elmer, my 1st cousin three times removed] and Nanny [Nancy Jane (Sutton)] Greger had sold their property on the Douglas and Champaign County line in 1906, taken their two children, [Mary Ethel] Ethel and Chester [Larry G.’s father], and moved to Missouri where Charlie’s Uncle Jerome Greger [Jerome Walter (1841–1914), brother of my 2nd great-grandfather Emanuel H.] had settled.
Charlie wrote to Grandma Gray [Metta Jewell (Leeds) Purcell Greger Gray], his stepmother, and to his sister, Suda ‘Sude’ (Greger) Gray [Suda Alice], encouraging them to follow.  The Gray and Greger families had been friends in Clermont County, Ohio, as early as 1850.  The various sons and daughters had followed each other in covered wagons across the grasslands of Indiana and Illinois, with one or two continuing into Missouri.
Sude wanted to be near her brother, so Grandma Gray sold the farm south of Sidney, Illinois, and Frank [Francis Marion Cyrus (1864–1927)] and Sude Gray disposed of their farm north of Sidney and prepared to continue the westward migration, this time by rail.”1

The entire book details events in the lives of these collateral kin of mine, from flooding so bad that animals & furniture are described floating by, to an infant daughter accidentally suffocated by sleeping in her parents’ bed between them.

________________________________________________
SEGUE:  The Greger & Gray families were so close that they made for some meticulously careful genealogy sleuthing.  As Larry G. once put it in an email to me aimed at helping sort out the convolutions, “Now comes the confusing part with Greataunt Suda Greger, when she married Francis Marion Cyrus Gray.  When Metta [Leeds] married Davis Gray the father of Francis M. C. Gray who married Suda, Metta was Suda’s great cousin then became her stepmother and Suda married her stepbrother and became stepmother to Francis’ children who were Emanuel H. & Eliza Ellen Greger’s [<- my 2nd great-grandparents] great-grandchildren…  This is enough to drive you crazy, but that’s how it is or was.”  And down the rabbit hole I went, coming out the other side elucidated.  END SEGUE
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“Bye Bye Birdie” original playbill, 19606

The more I read Elsa Walden’s wonderfully detailed family history of the Waldens on Grand River, the more interested I became in her.  Googling, I learned that her colorful career had included a 1960 stint as Assistant Stage Manager and then Stage Manager for a Broadway stage production of “Bye Bye Birdie” featuring Dick Van Dyke.5  “The production was a Tony Award winning success in the 1960–61 season,” reads an (undated) UnderTheDuvetProductions blog post titled,”Broadway Flashback 1960: Tony Award Winning Bye Bye Birdie Starring Chita Rivera & Dick Van Dyke, Music by Charles Strouse; by Lisa Pacino.”6

In an earlier, 1957 Broadway production called “The Tunnel of Love,” Elsa was both understudy for another performer and, Assistant Stage Manager.5

Apparently as much of an Elsa Fern Walden fan as myself, and, then some, our mutual kin Anabeth Dollins has compiled extensive bio on Elsa.  Dollins lists resume content for Elsa including items as varied as stenographer, legal correspondence clerk, & secretary to, actress &, writer of “three full-length plays for stage and two film scripts, plus shorter works.”4

Elsa (Fern) Walden4

Making her live long in my mind and those of other Greger-family genealogy researchers whose lines it covers, though, will always be Elsa’s The Waldens on Old Grand River, 1910-1927.

On April 9, 1998, the Villa Grove News included this: “Thanks for the generosity of another donor the Camargo Township District Library has improved its offerings to the public.  Elsa Walden of Urbana, Illinois, a former resident of Villa Grove and a graduate of Villa Grove High School, donated the money to purchase a reader printer for the Genealogy Department.”  That same year, Elsa Walden attained DAR membership.4

Rest in peace, cousin Elsa, and, thanks for the genealogy research help!

Elsa’s grave marker7 at Villa Grove Cemetery, Villa Grove, Douglas County, Illinois:


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SOURCES
1 The Waldens on Old Grand River, 1910-1927, Elsa F. Walden, 1992.
2 Anabeth Dollins’ Penn State University personal page, “Genealogy,” at http://www.personal.psu.edu/axd2/genealogy/genWalden.html , accessed Jan. 21, 2018.
3 Champaign [IL] News-Gazette online, at www.news-gazette.com/story.cfm?Number=17084 , accessed Nov., 2004.
4 “Elsa Walden — her life : May 24, 1922 – November 5, 2004,” Anabeth Dollins, at http://www.personal.psu.edu/axd2/genealogy/WaldenElsa.html , accessed Jan. 21, 2018.
5 “Elsa Walden Broadway and Theatre Credits,” at https://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Elsa-Walden/ , accessed Jan., 2018.
6 “Under The Duvet Productions” WordPress blog post, at https://undertheduvetproductions.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/broadway-flashback-1960-tony-award-winning-bye-bye-birdie-starring-chita-rivera-dick-van-dyke-music-by-charles-strouse-by-lisa-pacino/ , accessed Jan. 21, 2018.
7 Photo of grave marker submitted to FindAGrave.com by “Tori;” see memorial (no. 86560004) at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86560004/elsie-f-walden ; accessed Jan. 21, 2018.
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favorite photo

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 2 prompt:  Favorite photo.
___
Old photos are my “favorite photo.”

I could no more single one out as my favorite anymore than I could single out one chocolate chip from a bag as my “favorite;” I love them all so much.  My favorite photo of this particular moment, however, is this one:

Many thanks for this gem, cousin Knut Asle Røsnæs!

Seated with the three youngest of their 11 children, my maternal great-grandparents Carl Johan EILERTSEN Fjelse, Sr. (Mar. 12, 1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Between 1911-’30 Norway) & Ingeborg SIGBJØRNSDTR Homma (Feb. 11, 1871 Homma, Gyland, Vest Agder, Norway–1953 Norway).

While I don’t know when this photo was taken, I’m going to speculate between 1926 & 1930, based on my guess of the daughters’ ages in it.  The youngest of the three pictured, Judith Synnøve EILERTSEN Fjelse (Apr. 8, 1911 Flekkefjord, Norway–Feb. 15, 1977 Norway), looks to me to be aged no more than her mid-teens; in 1926, she would have thus been, at the most, about 14 or 15; in 1930, 19 or 20; so, I think a 1926-to-1930 date-taken guess is pretty solid for this photo…  This would make Ingrid Elise EILERTSEN Fjelse (Aug. 11, 1909 Fjelse, Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2003 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) aged 16-to-22 here, and, Gunhild Solveig (Solveig) EILERTSEN Fjelse (July 14, 1907 Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2001 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) somewhere in the 18-to-23 range.  [<- Your feedback?  Appreciated.]

It’s a tie as to who jumps out at me first in the photo:  my grandaunt Ingrid or, my great-grandfather Carl Johan.  Ingrid because, I had an Oh my gosh! reaction to how much she resembles both myself and my next-down sister in the face, and, as someone who never saw any photographs of her Norsk-side kin (other than of my own grandmother, who died when I was four) until she started researching her ancestry, this just felt so extraordinary, astonishing:  I look like these people.

But, Great-Grandpa Carl Johan because, WOW.  I mean, just look at him…  To me, he looks to have stepped right out of Johanna Spyri’s, Heidi, among my very favorite childhood reads, and, the wonderful 1937 movie adaptation of the book featuring Shirley Temple as Heidi and, Jean Hersholt as the mountain-dwelling grandfather.

A genealogist cousin1 in Norway told me that Norwegian bygdebøker (farm record books) show Carl Johan’s occupation as woodworker.  While I don’t know exactly what sort of “woodworking” was involved, I look at those hands — long fingers, and I imagine artistry.

Then my eyes move to my Great-Grandma Ingeborg — and may I just interject here, isn’t it neat to see photos where the subjects are not all looking straight into the camera?! — and, she seems a softly elegant contrast to “Heidi’s mountain-dwelling grandfather,” i.e. my Great-Grandfather Carl Johan.

Ingeborg’s hands too, long-fingered and much like my own, and, I know from family lore that she was an excellent seamstress, a skill she passed on to at least two of her daughters, my grandmother Sally Marie (Rosalie) EILERTSEN Fjelse (June 4, 1892 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Oct. 22, 1952 Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA) and, eldest daughter Emilie Katinka EILERTSEN Fjelse (Nov. 25, 1889 Norway–Sept. 15, 1975 Enfield, Hartford, Connecticut, USA).  (Grandma Rosalie & Emilie are said to have joined in a dress-making & -designing effort in New York at one point, early on before they both married.)  My hunch, all of the clothing in this picture was made by women in this family…

I could study this photo repeatedly; it hasn’t stopped talking to me, yet.
_______
SOURCES
1 Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Norway.
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starting your family history research

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 1 prompt:  Start.
___
When I first delved into researching my family history, I quite literally didn’t know where to start.  This was back in the 1990s when the internet was young and, before Ancestry.com became synonomous in the minds of millions, with,genealogy research…  (And, hint:  Ancestry.com?  But one source of many, folks.)

Even now, in this age of genealogy websites all over the internet; PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow; &, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., if I bring up genealogy research — my latest discoveries, a particularly neat find — I’m met frequently with, “That sounds so fascinating but I wouldn’t know where to begin…”

First step?  S t a r t.
Beginning is mostly
a, Just Do It, kind of thing.

Start with what, though?
What you already know and, have on hand.

YOUR BEST RESOURCES INCLUDE:

FAMILY PAPERS (see gold box above)  They truly are, gold.  Scrounge for all you can find.

I will add to this one, medical records of deceased family members.  Ones I unearthed revealed trivia I’d learn nowhere else…

ELDERS IN YOUR FAMILY  That’s right; the old coots.  The furthest-out-there generations still living that you can find.  They can provide facts and, wonderful anecdotal information & stories you just will not find elsewhere.  By the time I began my research, my mother & maternal grandparents were long dead; my paternal grands were deceased; and my father had the beginnings of dementia; etc.  That made for a harder road.  Talk to those people while they are yet alive!  (Take a page from Native American culture:  Value your elders.)

They drop like flies after a certain point. 😐  For heavens sake, interview them while you can.

When I began my family research in the 1990s, my mother’s siblings were gone; my father’s, also long gone.  I did however make brief contact with a paternal aunt, Geraldine (Geri) (McGinnis) Buckner — who abruptly died (old people simply do that; be fast) after we’d exchanged a couple of letters and were in process of arranging a visit.  This experience “learned me” in regard to older kin:  Waste no time!  And, Act with expedience!  Seriously.

But before she did leave this world, Aunt Geri told me an astounding fact:
I had a paternal first cousin I was completely unaware of!  (I have a mental image of myself circa, Hmmm, 1st or 2nd grades, standing in our living room asking my father, who was virtually 100% estranged from his family, “Does Aunt Nell have any kids?”  I can still “see” the both of us — center of the room, standing to one side of the staircase — my father sort of chewing his lips and frowning slightly before answering, “No, she doesn’t.”  Well, I learned from Aunt Geri that that was a blatant fib.)

“Oh yes,” Aunt Geri told me over the phone, she in Missouri, me way up in Wisconsin, “Nell had a baby daughter.  She lost her, looked and looked for her for years & years…  It was so sad.”

My aunt Nell, only sister of my father, had a daughter; “lost” her; and, my own father somehow didn’t know of this tragedy??  (Or, had purposely kept it from me?…  Why?)

Much digging turned up a near-made-for-tv-movie type story on this very-much-not-lost, yet, only-discovered-through-genealogy-research first cousin, but, that I will save for another blog post.  Suffice it to say, you will be surprised at some of what you find in your ancestral attic.

ONLINE MESSAGE BOARDS  Without these?!  I might not have learned (so soon, anyway) that among my 6th great-granduncles is an infamous cryptid 😮 known as “the Jersey Devil.”

Third cousin once removed Larry G. Greger (1944–2007 Illinois), whom I met online in a message board and learned more of my Greger-side ancestry from than anyone or any place else since — Larry was one of those walking encyclopedia types where family history was concerned — turned me on to this fact.  (It so alarmed me when first I heard it that I would not hear, or, even peek at anything regarding it for over a year.  “Don’t start, Larry,” I would say if he tried to bring it up. 😀 )

MY ALLEGED 6TH GREAT GRANDUNCLE & LEGENDARY CRYPTID, THE JERSEY DEVIL2

This alleged offspring of my 7th Great-Grandparents Japheth Leeds, Sr. (circa 1682-’88 New Jersey–abt Feb. 5, 1735-’36 New Jersey), & Deborah Smith (abt 1685–1748 New Jersey), per the The New Jersey Historical Society, is generally traced back to my very own 7th Great-Grandmum Deborah, “who emigrated from England in the 1700s to marry a Mr. Leeds [Grampa Japheth].  The Leeds family lived in the area of the NJ Pine Barrens…  Mrs. Leeds had given birth to 12 children and was about to give birth to her 13th.  The story goes that Mrs. Leeds invoked the devil during a very difficult and painful labor and that when the baby was born, it either immediately, or very afterwards, (depending on the version of the story), grew into a full-grown devil and escaped from the house.”  Other versions of the story give variations on this account, one being that the child was born “a monster,” i.e. deformed.  “It may be that indeed Mrs. Leeds gave birth to a child with a birth defect and given the superstitions of the period, the legend of the Jersey Devil was born.  People in the 1700s still believed in witchcraft and many people of the period felt a deformed child was a child of the devil or that the deformity was a sign that the child had been cursed by God.”1

Nevertheless, “In the last 200 years or so, there have been a number of ‘sightings’ and the hearing of eerie noises/wails in the forests which have been attributed to the Jersey Devil,…”  Poor uncle. :-/  (And poor Grandmama Deborah, to go down in history so “memorably?” :-/ )1

Over the years, “People have found ‘strange’ tracks and attributed them to the Jersey Devil. One instance of such tracks was reported, (along with loud shrieks), near May’s Landing in 1960. Also in 1960, merchants in Camden offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil. They said they would build a private zoo to display the creature if anyone could capture it. The reward is unclaimed.”1

SNAIL-, E-MAIL & PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH KIN MET ONLINE  Just invaluable.  Absolutely invaluable.

Multiple cousins from Clark & Crawford Counties, Illinois, have provided me so much background on the huge number of my Buckner kin in those areas:  from photos to anecdotal data to history to you-name-it.  From one of them I first learned of my paternal grandfather Jesse Grant (Grant) Buckner’s (1882 Illinois–1941 Missouri) orphan background, along with that of his siblings after their mother’s sudden & unexpected death.

I first learned the following factoid regarding my paternal grandfather, Jesse (Grant) Buckner and, his parents/my great-grands, from several Clark & Crawford County, Illinois, cousins met online:

…Richard and Mary Elizabeth Buckner were living on their farm between West Union and Martinsville in Clark County, Illinois…  The mother, Mary Elizabeth, became ill while visiting friends on a nearby farm on Dec. 20, 1886, and died on December 24.  [Christmas Eve.  Can you imagine?]  Dora and Lula [ages 13, &, six at the time] were taken to the home of [their maternal grandparents] Christian and Catharine Fasig.  The boys [Perry Comodore, age 11; William Frederick (Fred), age nine; Grant, age four; & Edward D. (Eddie), age two & 10 months], except Homer [six months], were taken to a soldiers orphanage at Normal, Illinois, where Edward died at the age of two.  Edward’s grave has never been located.  Homer was taken by the family of Jacob Serwise.  …”

Major genealogy data!

HISTORICAL SOCIETIES  Even teeny small ones.
&
MUSEUMS  Yes, museums.  A recreational drive in the Wisconsin countryside in 2001 took me into Mt. Horeb and into the Mt. Horeb Area Museum, such a little-bitty hole-in-the-wall at the time that I almost missed the entrance.

What did I see sitting on the counter in the museum gift shop but, the bright red cover of a Mt. Horeb-Presettlement to 1986 book.

Now, while I did know that Grandunk Dr. Homer Buckner supposedly lived & had a clinic at one time somewhere around Dodgeville or Mt. Horeb, that was the extent of my knowledge.  But serendipity led me to pick up the book; turn to the index; and look for, Buckner.  I was floored to read:

“On November 4, 1918, five Mt. Horeb businessmen went to Prairie du Sack to induce Dr. Homer M Buckner to set up an office here [in Mt. Horeb].  The prospect of having an operating room was a proposition he could not resist.  Dr. and Mrs. (Marie) Buckner arrived in Mt. Horeb on Armistice Day, 1918.  He used St. Olaf Hospital to perform many surgeries until December 1921, when he purchased the spacious three story residence at 408 East Main Street, built by Onon B. Dahle in 1895.3

“In 1922, he opened a 22 bed hospital with offices…on the first floor.  …3

“….H. M. Buckner…retained several of the elegant rooms on the first floor for living quarters for himself and his new bride, Marie Pierstoff.  His skill as a surgeon gave him a large practice and he performed major surgery as well as countless tonsillectomies, which were almost routine during that period for children with sore throats.  One pleasure that usually followed the tonsillectomy was that the patient got a malted milk, for it soothed the throat as it provided nourishment.  …3

“In 1939, the Industrial Commission complained that the hospital was not sufficiently fireproof and early in 1940 informed Dr. Buckner it could no longer function as a hospital.  Dr. Judson A Forman purchased the property for an office and consultation rooms.  Dr. Buckner moved May 1, 1940, to Dodgeville where there were hospital facilities.  …3

“….[Dodgeville’s] larger hospitals provided better facilities for his surgery.  He became especially adept at removing gall bladders.  Many of his Mt. Horeb patients continued to seek his services after the move.”3

The museum even had glassed-in “reproductions” of what his offices looked like at the time.

CENSUSES  Census images reveal more than just names.  Value of property owned; educational level; year of immigration; year of marriage:  different census years offer a variety of information.

OLD BOOKS  Googling turns up all sorts of things.

AND MANY, MANY, MORE  Imagination helps.  (Never give up.).
___
SOURCES
The New Jersey Historical Society, at http://jerseyhistory.org/legend_jerseydevil.html , accessed Jan., 2018.
2 PHOTO, the Jersey Devil:  public domain.
3 Mt. Horeb-Presettlement to 1986, Mt. Horeb (WI) Area Museum* gift shop; pages 47 & 121; 1986 softcover edition; purchased fall, 2001.  *[Now called the Driftless Historium; website, http://www.mthorebhistory.org/driftless-historium.html .]
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