Friday, December 18, 2020

As promised, the start of the Siersema letters

So I blogged on 12/3 promising to blog more and then vanished for 16 days.  I guess that's par for the course.  I do have a pseudo-excuse though!  I got to looking through the letters written by Albert Siersema to see what ones I wanted to post.  I read Albert's letter from 21 Jul 1866 where he mentions to Paulus den Bleyker that "nephew Klaas Vlaming has died in Halifax, Canada".  I knew that his wife Tryntje's sister Pietertje married to Biem Vlaming so I went to find Klaas.  Klaas was born 4 Nov 1832 at Texel to Biem and his 1st wife Antje Bakker.  I started to write him off as not actually related until I noted that the marriage record of Biem and Antje 19 Dec 1830 listed Antje's parents as Cornelis Bakker and Trijntje Dogger.  Klaas was indeed related, just in a different way.  (The number of cousins from Texel that married is mind-blowing, in today's day).  I got down the rabbit hole of working on Cornelis and Trijntje's family and then the siblings of Trijntje. With the records available online I found (in the last 16 days) 711 new people to add to my tree.  These kinds of rabbit holes are a big reason I end up not blogging.  

Anyway, since I mentioned that letter I'll start the Albert Siersema letters with that one.  The translation at the end is courtesy of my stepmother, who has been a godsend when it comes to translations.





















North-Holland, Michigan, USA

July 21st, 1866
Dear Brother-in-law,

We have received your letter in good health and from it we also learned, to our delight, about your well-being.  Nowadays it is with us and the here living family also well, except for our little Duwertje, who is suffering with the reed in the front finger of her right hand for 4 weeks and suffered a lot of pain.
After a long wait, I can inform you that here, in the previous week, we received the message from Pella, Iowa, that nephew Klaas Vlaming has died in Halifax, Canada, but which day we don't know yet.
A. Eelman has received this message on his letter from a man, who arrived with him and who knew nothing else to report. We will further investigate the time and circumstances via a man, who stayed behind with Klaas at Halifax and arrived eleven days, after the first in Pella.
A. Eelman bought 80 fields of land for a thousand dollars. It is on the same road where Sakom Dogger lives. Just a mile north of him. There is 40 fields between Aris (Eelman) and that what Paul now owns.
It is, as far as I know, very beautiful and a good field. I would not be able find a better field here in North-Holland, Michigan.
Paul already offered him 100 dollars in profits when he was here with his goods.
Paul also has a good piece of land, but has with his experience deteriorated a lot, but this is how it goes, if man is so unsatisfied with the appreciation of God's benefits.
The crop are generally good here and if there isn't much weevil (an insect) in the wheat, which have been detected initially, it can yield good results as far as the crop is concerned.
There is also quite a lot of grass.
Warm greetings from us to you and your wife and children and friends.
With respect and wishing you good health.
Written in haste.

brother-in-law,

Albert Siersema.


I was hoping to discover who was in Pella Iowa that would have written Albert but I didn't make a connection. When Trijntje Dogger's husband Cornelis Bakker died in 1812 she remarried to Meijert Boon. She had a daughter Cornelisje who married Jan Eelman and had a son Arie Eelman, who is possibly who Albert is referring to. His family appears to settled in New Jersey, not Iowa, so that mystery isn't solved yet.

In a letter 14 Dec 1866 he informs Paulus the following update about Klaas Vlaming's death:

Since I wrote to you last, we have also received further information from Pella (Iowa) about Klaas Vlaming. Namely that he died on the night between April 22 and 23.  He also came to his end under sad circumstances.  While the Dutch, who looked after him a bit during the day, left him alone at night, so that they found him dead in the morning and already robbed of what was still valuable to him.  His money, that he still had with him because he still had hope for a better future.
Still a sad situation, so abandoned of everyone. To die alone under a piece of canvas.

These finds are really cool because in all of the online trees Klaas exists in, none of them had a death date for him. This letter is probably the only existing proof of what happened to him, although I don't know why he was in Canada. His wife Neeltje Boon and his daughter Antje both died in 1864 so he had no immediate family at the time of his death.

More letters to come.  

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Where have the last 17 months gone?

So, I haven't blogged since 2 Jul 2019. What on Earth happened to cause that? We went on a family vacation/work trip for my wife on Jul 3rd and I had every intention of continuing to blog when I returned. The problem was my laptop. I have insisted on buying Windows laptops for the last 10+ years, in spite of the fact that they become v-e-r-y slow within a couple years. The last one I bought ended up taking 10+ minutes to boot (if it would - I'd often have to reboot it several times to get to the desktop). I was doing most of my genealogy on my iPad anyway so I decided not to spend the money to replace it. The problem with that was that I don't really know how to use Mac products and the thought of blogging with an iPad was a bridge too far.....so I just stopped. It was compounded by me taking a different position at work, resulting in a different shift. It doesn't mean that I didn't want to blog or didn't find new items to blog about. I finally decided on Black Friday that the time had come to replace my laptop and I went with the new MacBook Air with the M1 chip and the 512GB hard drive. It was a few hundred dollars more up front but I think it'll last at least twice as long as my Windows laptops. After a week of using it I thought I'd see if I can successfully blog with it. The file system on these is not user-friendly at all but I'm going to try. For posterity sake I'm going to update my tree numbers. I blogged 18 Mar 2019 (the last time I'd been away awhile) and my tree had grown to 107,895 people and I'd attached 249,223 records (the little "shaky leafs" on ancestry.com). I'm actually shocked at the current numbers, thinking they'd be higher given how much work I'd done on my tree in the last 17 months but I still made some progress.
I left off on my blogs about items I'd received from my grandpa's cousin on his Burke side. I do have more I can blog there but I'm going to switch gears and do a few blogs regarding the most exciting genealogy find I've had in years, courtesy of my Kraai cousin Mary. 

Mary frequently uses Google to find new records/websites about our Dutch ancestry (I have a plethora of her emails I'm catching up on now that I have a laptop and can start updating my tree with her new information). One set of our shared ancestors are my 4th great-grandparents Albert and Trijntje (Dogger) Siersema. I have blogged about them a couple times already. Mary wrote that she found the information like this: "It all began when I started a Google search for Hertje Sakomsz Dogger, grandfather of Albert Siersema's wife, Trijntje Dogger. I located a site that gave a link to information on him, as well as other Texel people, including a link to Albert Siersema: https://vandekrol.org/histories/Book13-5thEdition-bewerkt-2.pdf. (On page 80, the author refers to letters by Siersema at Bentley Library.) Then, I contacted you about going to Ann Arbor together. What a great day it was! We hadn't gotten together in probably a couple years, but our conversation was nonstop all the way there and back!"

The Bentley Historical Library is part of the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and 2 hours from Grand Rapids.  We made the trip on 16 Dec 2019 because she contacted the research librarian there who stated there were (2) letters written by Albert Siersema in the collection.  4 hours round trip is quite the hike to scan 2 letters but I love these kinds of finds and hadn't seen Mary in awhile so we decided to go for it.  (Little did we know COVID would destroy any chance of doing anything like this for at least a year shortly after the trip).   

We don't know why the Bentley Historical Library has this collection but it's the collection of Paulus den Bleyker, who's 2nd wife was Neeltje Dogger, sister of Trijntje.  Several of the families came to America together from the island of Texel.  Paulus was a wealthy landowner who settled in Kalamazoo Michigan, while most of the Dogger and Siersema families settled in and around Holland Michigan.  From the letters we scanned, Paulus gave a lot of economic assistance to many of the families and was highly regarded.  He was a prolific letter writer and apparently kept everything, which worked out well for us.

My stepmother translated all of the letters for us (which we are both eternally grateful for) and, in spite of driving to Ann Arbor to scan 2 letters from Albert Siersema we ended up with the following:

45 letters written by Albert Siersema, dating from 3 May 1856 - 21 Oct 1872  
4 letters from Texel written by Biem Vlaming, Trijntje's brother-in-law (via her sister Pietertje Dogger, who wrote on 2 of these 4 letters and wrote 1 letter of her own)
3 letters from Texel written by Cornelis Dogger, uncle of Trijntje
4 letters from Texel written by Hertje Dogger, brother of Trijntje 
48 letters written by Paulus den Bleyker (starting in 1848) - we only scanned letters written by him that appeared to have mention names we recognized
5 letters written by Pieter Dogger, nephew of Trijntje who appeared very close to Paulus
13 letters written by Sakom Dogger, brother of Trijntje
1 letter written by Trijntje herself (she also finished one of Albert's 45 letters)

That's 124 letters she translated along with another dozen or so that were scattered random letters or were people less recognized in the family.  One of them was from Lambertus Mepjans, who happens to be the brother of Hilligien Mepjans Wieghmink, mother of Gertrude Wieghmink Kraai (my 2nd great-grandmother and Mary's great-grandmother).  Gertrude's husband Albert Kraai was the son of Jacob and Demutje (Siersema) Kraai, Demutje being Albert and Trijntje's daughter.  Lambertus wrote to Paulus because of money he owed him.  It's a benign letter but cool to see his handwriting.  I doubt that he or Paulus had any idea of their familial "relationship".  

There were 10 boxes to go through and we went fast.  I took photos with my iPad because trying to scan them would have taken forever.  The library would only allow one box at the table at a time, in spite of 2 of us researching and there were 10 full boxes of folders/papers so we realistically did not have enough time.  I wanted to return this year and take more time going through the collection but alas, it will have to wait.  I will say that it was absolutely incredible holding original 164 year old letters written by a direct ancestor but I was disappointed in the care that the library is showing for the collection.  The letters are all in folders, many paper clipped together with rusty paperclips.  None of them are in archival sleeves and it appears that there has been no attempt to actually preserve the collection.  The entire time we went through the boxes I kept thinking that I needed to just take the letters home (I obviously wouldn't have and didn't) so that I could preserve them.  I think the only reason they were in the condition they were in is that it's probably not a collection that is gone through often.  In spite of that, it was a great day spent with a wonderful cousin.  This blog has gotten lengthy so I will save the start of the actual letters for my next blog (which I promise to do within the week).  Stay tuned!

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 bit 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.