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!