Monday, October 3, 2016

My 2nd great grandmother's sewing machine

Finally getting around to blogging about one of the items that I received during my visit with my grandpa's cousin (from my last post).  This cousin asked me if I was interested in my 2nd great grandma Burke's Singer treadle sewing machine.  I wasn't sure what it looked like or where I'd put it but I knew I was interested.  She sent me a few photos and my wife agreed that if it needed a new home that we could do that.








I have a cousin in Australia that got me in touch with a friend of hers that specializes in these and she says it's a Singer 66, manufactured in Elizabeth New Jersey in 1914.  She gave me some ideas for how to fix the finish (refurbish, not refinish) and how to get replacement parts.  My goal is to now get it cleaned up and working and have it be a part of our home for years to come.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Progress leading to another mystery

I recently met with one of my grandpa Korstange's cousins on his mom's (Burke) side of the family.  It was a great visit filled with new genealogical finds (some that I will probably blog about in the relatively near future).  One of the reasons I wanted to meet up with her was to get another shot at scanning some of the photos her father Paul had.  I visited him with my grandpa in January of 2005 but I did a poor job scanning the photos and passed on some that I've been chomping at the bit to scan lately. Her father passed away in January and had been staying on the east side of the state so I was unable to meet up with him again (which I regret).
One of the photos that I had scanned the 1st time is labeled "Grandma Burke's Grandma", which I believe makes her a 4th great grandmother to me, grandmother of Paul's mother Hilma (Kiviniemi) Burke.

The problem is, I don't know which grandmother as I have birth and marriage records for both of them but no death dates for either of them:

Hilma Kiviniemi (and her sister Anna) was born to Benjam Henriksson Kiviniemi and Lisa Greta Johansdotter Känsäkangas 21 Jun 1879 at Karleby Finland.  Benjam's mother was Anna Kaisa Andersdotter, born 18 Dec 1830 at Vahanga Finland and Lisa's mother was Helena Johansdotter Hotakainen, born 06 Jul 1817 at Halsua Finland.  I've corresponded in the past with a descendant of Anna who also had no information on what happened to Hilma and Anna's parents, let alone grandparents.  One of Lisa Greta's sisters settled in the Houghton MI area and the descendants of her have no information.  One of Helena Hotakainen's nieces settled in the Chicago area and I'm starting to work that line now. 

I posted the photo and my "quandry" at the Finnish Genealogy Facebook page.  This put me in touch with June Pelo, who's a veritable wealth of knowledge when it comes to "Swede-Finns" and their genealogy.  Utilizing her resources here and in Finland she was able to tell me pretty definitely that Hilma and Anna's father Benjam abandoned the family and came to America (in 1881, prior to Anna's birth).  The scant records available initially said that Lisa Greta joined him with the daughters in 1884.  From communion books found by one of June's contacts this was not only proven false, but proved that Lisa Greta had a child out of wedlock (meaning there is a sibling for my 2nd great grandmother that nobody had any knowledge of) and remarried in Finland.  *Captions are the notations of the researcher, not my work.
Karleby Communion Book, 1873-1882 (page 587): Benjamin Henriksson to America in 1881...but the last notation for wife Lisa Greta Jonasdr could be a communion marking for 2.6.1884...and not a move to America...   
Karleby Communion Book 1885-1894 (page 625): Benjamin Henriksson shown on page 587 in the previous book (1873-1882)...Communion markings for Lisa Greta Jonasdr in 1887, 1888 and 1889...and a move to the farm on page 690 in 1894...also, she gave birth to a daughter Selma, born 19.8.1885...Selma shown with the patronymic Lisasdr...

Karleby Communion Book 1885-1894: Lisa Greta Jonasdr shown here with 3 daughters...all came here from the farm on page 625 in 1894...Hilma Johanna to Uleåborg, 26.11.1894...

Lisa Greta Jonasdr married again...on 8.7.1894, with Gustaf Robert Väyrynen, born 17.10.1851...also shown here are Anna Elisabeth Kiviniemi, born 1882 (to Maxmo in 1901); and Selma Lisasdr, born 1885 (to Wasa in 1901)...
Selma, born 19.8.1885, Karleby (right page, 3rd name)...the record shows she was born out of wedlock (oä) to Henrik Kiviniemi's son's wife from Storby, Lisa Greta...
Shown here in Vaasa Communion Book, 1896-1905...Selma gave birth to a child out of wedlock, Nils Ragnar, born 18.2.1904, Vaasa (birth records at SSHY only until 1902). There are no communion markings shown for her...and nothing to indicate a move out of Vaasa... 

These communion books are absolutely amazing resources that I'd have never considered to look for.  Because of them and the help of June's researcher I now know that my 3rd great grandmother Lisa Greta didn't come to America as I suspected, and that she had another daughter who had a son (which means potential cousins in Finland on this side of my family).  But alas, nothing about the 2 grandmothers so my photo is still unidentified!  I'm going to beat on this brick wall until it finally crashes down, no matter how long it takes........


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Living genealogy heirloom

Hi - long time, no blog.  I know, I know - I keep saying I'll do better but I've got myself into a huge project that's taking all of my online time.  I got my AncestryDNA test done and after years of refusing, I finally uploaded my tree and got to see what the little "shaky leafs" do.  I quickly saw the benefit of sourcing my file that way and I was off.  I'm currently working through every name in my tree (currently 67,740 people) and clicking off on the sources.  I've corrected some errors, added some people and am learning a lot.  So......when that project is done I plan to blog quite a bit.  Until then, bear with me.

I've had a lawn company redo my front lawn this year so my lawn's been a mess.  I really haven't done much in the way of maintenance in the front yard but when I got home from work the other day I noticed my grandma's hostas.  I say my grandma's, because they came from her yard.  When I bought my first house in 1999 she gave them to me and I planted them in the front landscaping.  When I moved in 2003 I ended up in an apartment for awhile so I dug them out and put them in my mom's landscaping (my grandma passed away in 2000).  When I bought my current house in 2004 I dug them out and brought them with me.  Every year they come up and flower and it's a small reminder of my grandma.  Gardening gave her such joy and I'm sure she'd be happy to know I still have them. 

My wife and I have talked about selling the house and moving and even had a realtor list it a couple years ago.  I had the hostas written into the contract as something I would be taking with us.  I've got no green thumb ability and they aren't your typical "front line" landscaping plant but I will keep them as long as I can. :)



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Another awesome "gift" from California

It's been so long since I've blogged that I'm not even sure where to start.  I've had some exciting finds since last time I wrote.  I decided that I'd write about another find from my cousin in California.  I already wrote one blog about a find that she sent me and several of the Comstock family photos I've blogged came from her aunt's belongings as well.  She told me well over a year ago that she had letters written by my 2nd great grandfather George Delmer Comstock and that she'd send me what she found.  Out of the blue a few weeks ago she sent me one:






I've never seen anything of Delmer's writing so this was neat to see just for that.  It's even nicer to see because he's referencing the death of my grandma's sister Georgia, giving an insight into his thoughts about her.  But the really intriguing part is his talk of visiting with Vernon S. Phillips of Ohio, who contacted him and drove up regarding the Comstock genealogy.  As someone who has made lots of phone calls and sent many letters and emails it's really cool to see that 83 years ago this was occurring as well!  He mentions that they (Delmer and Vernon) along with the Governor (now I have to figure out how he connects to my tree) are from the royal house of William the Conqueror of England (which I'd never seen or heard before).

Today I got to looking in my file to figure out where Vernon would fit.  Delmer mentions their "great grandmothers letters", which I would obviously give anything to get my hands on.  Since my family doesn't have them (which makes me sick since Delmer says he has them in the letter) I guess I need to find Vernon's family.  I looked at Delmer's grandfather Amos Comstock, son of David Comstock and his 2nd wife Hannah Parris (I've never found a death record for Hannah but she was born in 1765 so the listed letters have to be OLD) and found that a sister Hannah married Joseph Phillips.  I check out some family trees and find that they (apparently since I have no actual documentation) had a son Daniel Paris Phillips.  Daniel had a son Vernon Servilian Phillips, who lived in Akron OH.  Doing some digging I found that Vernon died in Akron in 1935 so I'm not sure how much correspondence happened after this letter.  With census records I found that he had a son Stanley Nash Phillips (that I think I found on findagrave dying in 1950) and a daughter Katharine Louise.  I found Katharine married in 1937 to Arthur Harvey Durant and dying in AZ in 1998.  Unfortunately in the 1940 census they had no children so I need to track down her obituary and see if there are any surviving grandchildren of Vernon.  Fingers crossed that this pans out for me!  I'm not sure that after this much time the letters even exist BUT Vernon was clearly interested in genealogy and perhaps someone has held onto his work.  He joined the Sons of the American Revolution (but didn't use his Comstock connection):





Another benefit of researching Vernon today is that I stumbled on someone on Ancestry that had the will of my 5th great grandfather David Comstock (Delmer and Vernon's great grandfather) from 1827:





I'm not sure how long it will take but this family seems to keep coming around offering little tidbits for me to find and research further so I'm hopeful that somewhere along the line I may find the letters and unlock a possible royal connection! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persistence definitely pays off..........

I haven't written much about ancestors that I don't have a lot of information on but a package arrived in the mail today that made me decide this was a good topic.

I wrote last year about my maternal grandmother's family tree and her handwritten tree.  One of the pages was just a drawn out tree that showed that her mother's (Minnie) mother Augusta Muche Comstock (wife of George Delmer Comstock) - it lists that Augusta's mother was "Minnie Schuman" and her father "August Muche".  I had nothing further until I found what I figured was the ship log (based on age and families in Allegan MI):
"Ann & Lizzy 06/15/1866" - Schumann family bottom right

I found a researcher in Allegan that was willing to do some lookups for me (in the link I wrote a little about her).  In 3 packets of information she found so much information for me regarding the Schumann family, even getting information about my 3rd great grandmother "Minnie", proving her mother was Beate Monties Schumann.  I started researching the descendants of Beate and traced several of the families, eventually finding a woman named Nancy in Maryland, who's great grandfather William Frederick Schumann was one of Minnie's brothers.  I emailed her in early 2006, letting her know how we were distantly related, and asking her if she had any photos.  I got a response back 4/29/2006 indicating that she had photos from when her grandparents house was cleaned out but that her grandma's 2 sisters lived there for awhile and all the photos were mixed together.  She wasn't sure how much help she could be but when she had time she'd be in touch.

Fast forward to 7/21/2012 and I get an email from Nancy with the photo of William Schumann and also a photo of Beate!  This sure cemented my reasoning when I tell people why I won't leave my current cable provider (losing this email address that's out there on so many genealogy tangents would cost me).  Writing on the back proves the connection and adds the name of a son Michael that I hadn't been able to track:
Beate Monties Schumann 1806-1887
 This gives me a photo of a 4th great grandmother that I don't have a photo of their child (Minnie, my 3rd great grandmother).  I blogged before about unidentified photos that I believe to be of the Schumann family and may even have Minnie in them but so far nothing.  I even emailed the photo to the Allegan County Historical Society and got no response (which is a shame, a response would have been nice).

Other than the ship log and the 1870 and 1880 census Beate doesn't exist.  She has a headstone at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan but Viola couldn't even find a death record. 
During the 6 year gap between emails I'd been in contact with another Schumann descendant named John in Arkansas.  His great grandparents were William and Emma Tiefenthal Schumann.  They lived in Allegan as well but I hadn't been able to make the connection to my Schumann line, in spite of the fact that Emma's father Frederick's 2nd wife Julia was also one of Beate's daughters.  I sent him this photo to which I got a quick reply that HE also had a copy of the same photo.  He said it was somewhere in his basement in a really old frame and that he'd gotten it out of his great-uncle Arno Schumann's belongings.  Arno would have absolutely no reason to have this photo unless Beate was also his relative which leads me to believe that the son Michael that I'm missing was William's father, who probably died in Prussia prior to the family coming to America.  I'll never be able to prove it as Arno's father abandoned the family and simply vanishes but it's a very plausible explanation.  Even without proving this I've got 100% proof that Beate is definitely my direct ancestor.

I asked John if he could send me a scan of his photo (hoping it was in better shape than the one I got) but didn't hear from him for quite awhile.  A couple months ago I got an email from him that he was driving through Michigan for a trip and wanted to know if he could drop the photo off to me.  He wants the photo with someone that will appreciate it and hold on to it so I of course said I would.  When the trip was made the photo was accidentally left behind so when he returned he called me and made arrangements to mail it to me.  It arrived today, complete in a frame that I can only guess is from the 1880s.
 The damaged part of the photo (her right shoulder) is the same in his copy as in the one Nancy sent me.  The photo (I pulled it from the frame and put it in my acid-free album for the time-being) is a reprint but looks extremely old (I've never seen a photo printed on this kind of paper).  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the frame yet as I want to keep it but it's not in great shape.  Either way I truly appreciate having the photo and the 6 and then 3 year gaps it took to get them prove that you never know when something will find you! 
Sure would be nice if Beate and her family would give me something to let me know where in Prussia to begin looking for their records!  The photo will have to do for now.  :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Impressive longevity in one family - Justis and Jane Ann Hogmire Williams

Now that I'm up and running after my latest fiasco I decided that I'd go off on another trail of descendants on my Hogmire family line.  I have already blogged several times about my 4th great grandfather Samuel Hogmire.  I've done so much work on the Hogmire family on this line that I've been pondering taking it a step further.  A few days ago I decided to start working on descendants of his brother Conrad Hogmire and stumbled into a folder of information I received many years ago from one of his descendants. 

The focus of this blog is Conrad's daughter Jane Ann Hogmire who married Justis Williams and the number of nonagenarian and centenarians produced in this family. 

Justis was quite a bit older than Jane Ann which usually results in a long widowhood but he did Jane right by living to the ripe old age of 98.  Not to be outdone Jane made it to 102.  There were several lengthy articles written about her in the local papers celebrating her birthdays.  The descendant I'd mentioned the "folder of information" from had mentioned how one of Jane's daughters and then HER daughter all lived to be 100 and they all wrote and kept up a journal.  I've often wondered what's in that journal as it encompasses life from the 1820s to the 1980s!  Upon working on Jane's descendants I kept finding more and more people living to 90+ so I thought I'd document it.

Justis and Jane had 4 children, 17 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and  44 great great grandchildren that I can document.  I'm not even sure if this is an anomaly statistically but this is what I found:

Parents lived to be 98 and 102 respectively.
  • Daughter Eliza Williams Chase lives to be 101 and has 6 children.
    • Her daughter Pauline Chase Ritchie makes it to 90.
    • Her other 4 that I can find death records for 46, 61, 31 and 67.
  • Son Francis Williams only lives to be 79 and has 8 children.  
    • His son Herman Williams makes it to 98.
    • His daughter Laura Williams Reese 102, just 2 months shy of 103
    • His daughter Bessie Williams Smith only makes 90 but.......
      • Her son George Smith makes 97
      • I can't find a death record for her daughter Vivian, who may very well be closing in on her 102nd birthday this year.
    • Her daughter Jane Williams Pommerening only makes 77 but......
      • Her daughter Bernice Pommerening Herman makes 92 
    • The remaining children of Francis live to be 46, 80, 80 and 88.
  •   Daughter Hattie Williams Smith dies at 99, 2 weeks shy of 100 and has 3 children.
    • Her daughter Cora Smith Garrett made 101
    • Her daughter Lola Smith Shore made 93
    • Her son Err Lee Smith made 90
  • Daughter Louisa Williams Lenhart drew the short straw and died at 64.  I never find her in census records with her husband and have found online family trees listing 3 children that died young but can't prove any of that.  
So, 13 (with a possible 14th) of the 86 people I've documented in this family made it to 90 and 4 (almost 5 with Hattie) make it to 100+.  Seems like some good numbers.  How do you explain all the early death though?  Eliza makes 101 and Pauline makes 90 but Pauline's siblings average 51?

There are quite a few of Jane Ann's 3rd great grandchildren who have passed away or are still living but none of them that I find are threatening to join this group.  I truly believe that our average life expectancy here in America has peaked and I think as the years pass now the numbers are definitely going to go lower.  Jane Ann's death article lists that she died in her home along the river that she'd lived in for 80 years.  We have more centenarians now but I'm not sure that most of them do as well as they did in the old days if they made it that far.............

This ran in the Avon Herald-News July 3rd, 1985 (some ages are off)


Sunday, August 2, 2015

That was too close for comfort!

I haven't blogged in almost a month, even though I keep promising that I'll be doing more.  My last blog post (from July 7th) was the culmination of months of working on my Korstanje line.  When I got done I uploaded my GEDCOM to www.rootsweb.com.  I'm not sure why because I never use the site anymore but I did.  On July 13th I returned to work from vacation.  On my break I went to work on my tree some more but my computer wouldn't load.  I got a black screen that said I needed to load an operating system.  I talked with a tech geek buddy of mine who said that it's possible the cable to the hard drive had come loose.  I have a toddler who has knocked that laptop down several times so it was a plausible explanation.  I got home from work and when I took it out of the bag my laptop was so hot I had trouble holding onto it (the battery was HOT).  I tried re-seating the drive with the same results.  I then went to Best Buy and bought a new laptop figuring the old one was toast (not only was it hot but there was a burning plastic smell).  I bought an enclosure to try to make my old hard drive into an external drive so I could access the files and all I got was a high pitched squeal when I tried to plug it in.

Now I have been doing genealogy since 1992 and I understand how important it is to back stuff up.  I have a system where my files are all on my laptop and an external hard drive.  When I get new stuff it goes into a "to be sorted" folder and it's sorted into both drives.  The problem is I'm in my family tree file daily and I just back that up occasionally.  Upon loading my new laptop I discovered that "occasionally" meant April 29th, almost 13,000 names ago.  I was devastated to say the least.  I decided to pay a company to try to recover the file so that I didn't have to redo everything.  That too failed.  So I resigned myself to having to redo my work.  Remembering that I'd uploaded to rootsweb I decided I'd have to go family by family and copy/paste all of my work (and then rebuild all the living persons information since I have them privatized).

On the 25th it dawned on me that I'd uploaded the file to rootsweb and perhaps they could recover it for me.  I emailed their support and then googled to see if there was a solution.  I bet that drives those techies nuts when people do it in that order.  Upon googling it I found where to go and downloaded my GEDCOM.  Even though I'd privatized living persons everything was there.  I only lost 6 days worth of work (of which I'm now caught up)!

So, now whenever I finish a family line I'm working on I'm uploading my GEDCOM to rootsweb.  The fact that I randomly chose that day to do it saved me and I'm not risking that again.  I'm also looking into online backup services as I had a temporary scare that my videos of my grandpa and Jacob were also lost (I found them on an external drive I rarely use).  Having never experienced a hard drive failure before this was certainly a wake up call!  There were no indicators there was a problem - just poof, gone...........