Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hilma's letter from Oregon

I know I already blogged today but I'm getting ready to go on vacation and won't be able to post for a couple of weeks so I thought I'd squeeze another in today.

My grandpa's cousin Shelly found a lot of letters that Hilma had written that she ended up with.  My grandpa had given me 3 letters that Hilma wrote to him but Shelly had an additional 18 of them.  It's nice to have her handwriting and you can tell how she spoke by the way she spelled different words.  She very obviously had a thick Swedish accent but did know English.  One letter in particular struck me as potentially helpful to my research, but it took me several years to figure it out.

I have to preface the letter by posting a communion book record that I posted in my last blog, and that I posted in the blog I referenced from 2016.
When I was revisiting these records I'd received I took note of the family listed below Lisa Greta's family - Stina Johanna is most definitely Benjam Kiviniemi's sister.  This record shows her husband and 6 children.  I added them to my tree and moved on, since I'm having so much difficulty tracking these families beyond the communion books.  That was until I revisited this letter:






Of course the stamp and postmark were cut off so I don't know what year this happened but it definitely is a visit to a cousin.  On the 2nd page of the letter she mentions "may kusen" (my cousin).  She mentions that the cousin didn't remember her and that the last time they saw each other was when Hilma left for America, when the cousin was 9 years old.  Because I had seen that Stina Johanna's family was listed on that communion record I knew I had some of Hilma's cousins in my tree, one born in 1888.   I went into ancestry.com and searched for all women named Elna, who were born about 1888 and lived in Coos Bay Oregon and lo and behold:

The 1st record I found was the Oregon Death Index, which has her middle name Johanna truncated and no birth day but a potential match showed in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and there it was, a perfect match on the birthdate.  

I then found her in the census records and discovered that although Elna married, she never had any children.  It was still nice to see who it was Hilma was referring to in her letter.  






I then did the "Member Connect" (ancestry's matching of uploaded family trees) to see if anyone had Elna in their tree and several people did.  Upon looking a bit I found that Stina's daughters Judith and Alma also came to America and I was able to trace those families (and have reached out to a descendant already).  I got one of the daughter's obituaries and it also listed a sister Ida so there is one child not yet born yet when the communion record was written.  

I found the Petitions for Naturalization that Alma and Judith filed, both listed their maiden name as Gustafson (their father's patronymic) but that they sailed under the name Kiviniemi, which was Hilma's maiden name.  

Hopefully this leads to more connections and more information.  For now I'm happy that reading over the records and the letters led to the connection in the first place.





Off to vacation - everyone enjoy their 4th of July!

Revisiting a record I already had

So in my last blog about Hilma I referenced another blog.  I wrote that in 2016 shortly after receiving the new information that I had received, which completely shocked the descendants of Hilma who had no idea that she had an additional sibling Selma (that we aren't sure what happened to but guess didn't come to America).  I'm not going to repost the additional record for Selma or for the birth of her son Nils Ragnar but I did want to revisit some of the records because I completely missed something the first time.

So as mentioned twice previously, Hilma was born to Benjam(in) Henriksson Kiviniemi and Lisa Greta Johansdotter Känsäkangas (have also seen her listed as Rasmus).


Benjam was born 14 Feb 1859 at Kivijärvi Finland to Henrik Mattsson Kivijarvi (1829-1887) and Anna Caisa Andersdotter (1830-????).  He's listed as Benjam and Benjamin in various records.  As stated before, he abandoned the family about 1881 and allegedly went to America, although I can't find him anywhere.  His birth is listed as record #17 on the upper left section of this book page.

Many thanks to Alan for finding Benjam's birth record and marriage to Lisa Greta for me today!


Lisa Greta was born 18 Jan 1855 at Kaustinen Finland to Jonas Johansson Känsäkangas-Virkkala (1818-1868) and Helena Johansdotter Hotakainen (1817-????).  There is a project that was turned into a book called the "Caino-Torp" book that takes the Känsäkangas family back to the 1500s.





Benjam and Lisa Greta were married 4 Nov 1877 at Karleby Finland.  Their marriage record is the last record on the bottom of the right page.










So, these are new records that weren't listed in the previous blog - where is the information that I missed from the records in 2016?


So in this communion book for 1885-1894 Lisa Greta is shown with her family (although there is a note that her husband left for America in 1881).  She's listed with her in-laws above her, her 3 daughters, including the illegitimate Selma, and her sister-in-law and her family below.

When I was initially sent these records I didn't see the possible connection in the next record.





I was also given this communion book page, which covers the exact same time frame (1885-1894).  In this one Lisa Greta is almost listed as a member of the family of her 2nd husband Gustaf Robert Wäyrynen, tacked onto the end of his family, which included his 1st wife and their 4 children, and again Selma.

I don't quite understand why she's listed twice, although I know in American census records there are times people got enumerated twice.  Perhaps it's a simple as that.


Lisa Greta marries Gustaf Robert Wäyrynen 22 Jul 1894 at Karleby Finland.  His 1st wife passed away 5 Jun 1893 at Karleby.  Lisa Greta is 39 years old when she remarries and her husband is 42 years old and they have 6 children between them.  Surely Hilma doesn't have any further siblings (at least on her mother's side)?







This is the record I missed.  I was given it, with an explanation of what the notations in the right column were and filed it away.  As I was going back through records and corresponding with Alan again I noticed another child, Karl Emil, listed with the family.  Who is Karl and what is he doing with the family?  I asked Alan who did a little digging and...........





.......lo and behold, Karl Emil was indeed born to Gustaf and Lisa Greta, who had (what I think is) her last child at the age of 42.  His birth is the middle record on the right page.

I'm not sure how I overlooked this child the first time but it proves again that you need to have to have a pair of studying eyes when you look over documents.  Overlooking something like this can limit future benefits of receiving the document.  How you ask?



For me, I work on the ancillary lines - descendants of my direct ancestor siblings.  I'm trying to track down what happened to Lisa Greta - if one of Karl Emil's descendants works on the tree (alas there is nothing that I can find to indicate this yet) but I don't have him in my tree I may not make a connection.  Same with a photo of Lisa Greta - entirely possible that there's a photo of her - perhaps it's the unidentified photo in the first post I referenced.  Perhaps one of Karl Emil's grandchildren is still living and has a photo.  Again, he needs to be in my tree for that to work.  What about DNA testing?  If one of Karl's children or grandchildren get DNA tested, they may eventually show as a match in my tree.  If Karl isn't in my tree it's entirely likely that the connection could be missed.  In my mind the ancillary lines are just as important when you're trying to track down records and photographs that, if they exist, are in the hands of descendants.  I know for a fact that Hilma and Anna's descendants do not have them so I have to rely on Selma or Karl Emil's descendants.  Perhaps one of them will read this and solve the mystery for me?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Hilma Johanna Benjaminsdotter Kiviniemi, aka Hilma Johanna Stone

This is my 2nd attempt at this blog.  I had a full blog written last night but went to publish it and it wouldn't.  I rebooted my laptop, figuring my browser would reload as it always does and it did, with just the title of the post.  Needless to say I'm more than irked by that.

Anyway, I've already blogged twice about Hilma, once about some new information that was found about a sibling we didn't know about and once about her sewing machine.  It's time for a post dedicated to just her information.

Bottom of left page

Hilma Johanna Benjaminsdotter Kiviniemi was born at Gamlakarleby Finland 21 Jun 1879 to Benjamin Henriksson Kiviniemi and Lisa Greta Johansdotter Känsäkangas.  She had a sister Anna Elisabeth born right around when her dad apparently left the family and vanished, allegedly to America.  Her mother went on to have a daughter Selma born out of wedlock and then a son (that's for another blog).  I have found no correspondence for Hilma with either parent, but all indications are that her mother stayed in Finland.



I haven't been able to find a ship log for Hilma or her sister Anna coming to America but the same gentleman that found Emil's ship log for me did find this record of her passport being issued 19 Aug 1897 so I assume she left for America shortly after that.  Given that she's listed in a communion record with Emil's family and came before her sister I assume that she came here to reunite with him.





This document was folded inside one of the bibles that my grandpa's cousin Shelly gave me.  I posted a picture of it on a Finnish genealogy Facebook group and this is the translation that was provided:

The text is in Swedish (used as official language before in Finland). It says:  Lodger Hilma Johanna Benjaminsdotter Kiviniemi (Finn. Hilma Johanna Benjaminintytär Kiviniemi), from the Storby (Finn. Isokylä) village of this parish, born 21.06.1879 here, is eligible for Holy Communion in this Evangelical-Lutheran parish, is vaccinated and is enjoying trust as a citizen. In Gamlakarleby (Finn. Kokkola), August 18, 1897. F.W. Neunstedt, Pastor.

Given that this is dated one day prior to her passport being issued, I'm guessing she needed this to get the passport.

This photo came from Hilma's grandson David Johnson (1930-2018), who was the adopted son of her daughter Ellen.  He lived a few streets over from my grandpa and would occasionally walk over and say hi.  My grandpa brought me over to his house once and he showed me a gallon sized Ziploc bag of photos that had one belonged to Ellen.  He let me bring them home to scan them and when I returned them I asked if I could keep this one to put in my acid free photo album to protect it (and he agreed).  I think he'd have given me the whole bag if I had asked - he was a great guy.

Emil and Hilma married 5 Dec 1899 at Ashland Wisconsin and although I have a plethora of photos of them, I don't have a wedding photo.  This one could be her in her wedding dress, although having seen the photo of her sister's wedding I tend to believe she'd have been in a more elaborate outfit with a decorative headpiece.  I'll never know but it's still a great picture of Hilma as a young woman.


So why do I have an aka for Hilma?  She is a Kiviniemi in every single Finnish record found, even those written in Swedish.  My grandpa wrote a family tree and listed her as "Sten", which is Swedish for stone.  So how did they get Stone from Kiviniemi?  "Kivi" in Finnish means......you guessed it, stone.  So it makes sense that Hilma adopted the Americanized version when she came to America.  If her dad came to America I believe he probably lived as Benjamin Stone and perhaps started a 2nd family, just as Hilma's mother did.  He is a ghost who may be destined to never be found.

Hilma holding a ghost-faced child


With daughter Ellen and possibly Ruth


Mildred Jennie Phyllis, Porkos wife, Evelyn Ellen Hilma (seated) Burke


Hilma on the left.  The other 2 woman are in quite a few photos but I have no idea who they are.  If you do, please contact me!


With sister Anna 18 Aug 1946


Is this the royal blue velvet couch Shelly referred to?


1952 - from my grandpa's photos


Photo says Jan 1969 - perhaps taken Christmas 1968.  This is the last known photo of Hilma.  




I still don't have Emil or Hilma's death certificates, but will be getting them next time I make a trip to Muskegon.  From her record of funeral she passed away at the age of  91, 21 Sept 1970 in Muskegon of "gangrene of left foot".  She was laid to rest next to Emil and their son Arthur at Oakwood Cemetery in Muskegon.











 I find it strange that my grandpa had her funeral card but not Emil's, as it's definitely something my grandpa would have kept.  I know he went to Emil's funeral as his signature is in the funeral register.

Muskegon Chronicle 22 Sept 1970

I have several more blogs to write that are Hilma-related (so stay tuned).  I have more photos, documents and memorabilia for her than any other 2nd great-grandparent.  She only died a little under 7 years prior to my birth so was easily my last 2nd great-grandparent to pass.  That said, I wish I had asked my grandpa more.  He was obviously close with them, and even lived in Muskegon for a bit as a child.  I've gotten wonderful help from his cousins and have a pretty decent picture of their life but I just wish I knew more.  My dad remembers them both (he says Emil was so old he scared him) and that Hilma was always baking.  In the color video she pushes her hair back and he told me he remembers she did that all the time.  My grandma remembers that Emil had some sort of character that was a guy's head and he "smoked" a pipe (it blew bubbles) but Hilma hated that it depicted smoking and hid in the attic, in spite of Emil thinking it was hilarious.  Stories like that can really complete the picture and I feel like I had ample opportunity to ask my grandpa more and just failed to do so.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

"Guest" blog entry regarding the Burke family

I'll admit to being a touch lazy with this post but it's not because it's something I wasn't going to do.  I have sorted through what I want to post about Hilma but I'm simply too tired to put the thought into posting it yet but I want to get a blog up this week so I'm posting this post early.   

A couple of years ago I asked my grandpa's cousin Shelly to write her remembrances of Emil and Hilma.  She's a published author and has an appreciation for family history so I figured she'd be willing and to date, is the only relative that I've asked to write memories that has actually come through for me.  As stated in my blog about Emil I appreciate her help with the Burke family more than I'll ever be able to repay.  I post this entry (as written except I added the links for the bread recipes, that are undoubtedly not the same as what Shelly remembers) with her blessing:


Grandma and Grandpa Burke

Grandpa Burke
I don’t have a lot of memories of Grandpa Burke, but I do remember he liked to sit on the royal blue velvet couch just to the left of the front door in Grandma and Grandpa’s living room. He’d look out the window onto the street or sit on the front porch and people-watch. In his later years, he slipped into dementia, and I remember my father trying to correct Grandpa’s actions in Swedish. The only words I remember are flicka (girl) and poiken (boy).

Grandma told me that all the girls in the lumber camp chased Emil, but she was the one that caught him. She always told that story with a big smile and great pride.

Grandma Burke
Of course, my memories of Grandma are from a child’s perspective. I loved her baked goods—delicious frosted cinnamon rolls and limpa and bula breads. Sweet, white bula was my favorite. I loved to layer it with butter and eat slice after slice as I followed Grandma around the kitchen. I was fascinated by her huge flour bin that was built into the cabinets Grandpa had built. I was almost as big as me and tilted outward into the room. My mother and her friends didn't have anything like it. Mom always measured flour out of a five pound bag with measuring cups. But Grandma scooped flour out of the bin with her hands and threw it onto the counter. From my perspective, Grandma’s baking was magical—she didn't measure anything and simply added ingredients and mixed them until they felt “right” in her hands. Her linoleum floor and kitchen counters were always covered with a dusting of flour, and Grandma’s house always smelled like yeasty fresh-baked bread. I loved it.

Grandma was known to be tight with money. One of her favorite phrases was “too much penga, or money. But whenever I visited, Grandma would always give me a quarter to buy candy at the dime store across the street. She always had pink peppermints and anise candy in dishes around the house, but those weren't my favorites. I couldn't wait to slip across the street to buy a handful of Pixie Stix or a few candy necklaces, compliments of her generosity.

I also remembered that Grandma loved to watch Rex Humbard on TV and send him occasional financial gifts. I’m pretty sure my dad didn't have a high opinion of Rev. Humbard, and he certainly didn't wants Grandma sending him her hard-earned money. But it was important to her, and I remember her as a person who cherished her Bible and hymnal. In her earlier days, she attended one of the Swedish churches in Muskegon, and from what my dad has told me, I believe she took her children to church there because she believed it was important for them to know about the God of the Bible and believe in Him.

From the stories I've heard from my dad and his siblings, Grandma wasn't a warm and fuzzy parent, but I believe she loved her kids. I also believe she gave everything she had to provide for them during the years of the depression—taking in laundry and baking in order to provide extra income. I know things weren't easy for her. And I believe she loved the indulgences that came in later years from her grandchildren—like beautiful dresses from my cousin Ruthann and gifts from her adult children, as well.

It was a challenge for me to share my bedroom with Grandma when I was a teenager. We didn't always see eye-to-eye on fashion or music or dating. But I've never regretted that my parents cared for her in our home. Their decision shaped my own caregiving choices and commitment to care for others, in spite of the cost.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Emil Burke continued

I mentioned in my last blog that there was a lot to blog about regarding Emil and Hilma.  I don't have as many items of Emil's to share as I do of Hilma, but there are still a couple items that are pretty neat.  I also want to share more photos of Emil and even a couple videos of him.





These are notes from a blue notebook that Emil wrote as he studied to become a U.S. citizen.  I didn't know he ever became a citizen so I need to find those documents still.  I don't know when these were written but there were only 48 states at the time, given that he wrote that there were 96 senators.  Other than his signature on the Social Security application from the previous blog, this is the only handwriting of Emil's that I have.

Emil was a cabinet maker and this is a little wooden box that Emil made.  It's only about 10 inches long and about 2 inches high but it's nice to have a piece that he made by hand.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it but someday when I get the room I want to put my genealogy stuff in, it will have a place in the room.



Most of the photos I have of Emil and Hilma came from Paul Burke's daughter Shelly and I got some photos from Mildred Burke Thomas' grandson John.  John has also sent me 2 of the 3 videos I have of them.  Shelly has been a phenomenal genealogy connection (and a great person) who I've met with several times.  I've never met John but he's also been a great contact.  I can't thank either of them enough!



Ashland Wisconsin






My favorite picture of them


Looks like Clark Gable






With brother-in-law Erick Newman






With cousin "Porko"


Sons Carl and Paul, brother-in-law Erick


1948







There are several Burke family group photos - this family loved to get together and photographed many of them.  Many of these photos were in their daughter Ruth's possession and she would send copies that she labeled.  My grandpa was in a few of them so it's nice to see that he stayed in contact with his mom's family.

This photo was probably taken in White Cloud and was provided by Melvin Burke, grandson of Emil's brother Herman.  Back row starting on the right is Elmer Burke, Judith Burke, Carl Burke on car bumper, Paul Burke,  Hilma Burke, Emil Burke, Homer Fry, Edwin Burke, Sophia Burke, Alice Terwilliger Fry , unknown lady, unknown man.  Front row starting on the right is Tura Burke, unknown girl, Herman Burke, Evelyn (Edwin wife) Burke.  In the back row on the left the unknown woman looks similar to a photo I've seen of Hilma's mother's sister Maria - if Emil's brother and his family that wouldn't make sense but......

Left to right (written by Ruth Burke Warren) - Paul Burke, Donald Maynard (Ruth's son), Paul's wife Phyllis, Emil, Hilma, Arnold Burke, Mildred Burke Thomas, Ruth Burke Warren, Ellen Burke Johnson and her husband Charles - behind Arnold his his wife Evelyn Trimmier Burke and their son Arnold Burke Jr.  My grandma and grandpa are behind Ruth.


Al Delora (Jennie Burke's husband), Charles Johnson (Ellen Burke's husband), "Porko", Orville Thomas (Mildred Burke's husband), Carl, Emil and Arnold Burke.

This last photo disappoints me a big since this was held at my grandpa's aunt Ellen's house, just a few blocks from where my grandparents lived and they aren't in the photo.  I'll have to assume they were busy/out of town and that's why they didn't attend.  Handwriting is again Ruth's.

"Porko" from the photos is Andrew Burk 1875-1949.  He was born Anders Karlsson Porko in Finland, son of Greta Sofia Magdal Lillhonga and her 2nd husband Karl Johan Johansson Porko-Saarukka.  Her 1st husband was Johan Johansson Björk, brother of Emil's mother.  That means they weren't related but the families were obviously close.

This video is from Mildred's grandson John.  Mildred and Orville are helping Emil with the puzzle.

This video was from my grandpa's old films.  I'm not sure who took it since he and my grandma are in it.

The thing that has always struck me about Emil is that he never went gray.  In the 2nd video he's 85-86 years old and still has jet black hair (and even his eyebrows).

Well, that's all I have for Emil - on to Hilma next.