Sunday, May 20, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20 Language

Doing genealogy has taught me to be creative doing my research. Since my ancestors are recent immigrants, I have been using European Church records from almost the beginning.

I feel very lucky now that I took Latin in high school, since it’s really getting a work out as I use church records in pursuit of my ancestors. Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, and other European countries had state religions which were very strict about recording the vital events in the lives of their citizens. These records were usually kept by clergy members who had been well educated and were written in a mix of Latin and the native language of the country.

As I looked at the records, I realized that the names were usually written in Latin, so they were easily read. Finding the meanings of the column headings was a task for Google Translate.


In the case of my paternal grandmother’s family who lived in Milwaukee after they immigrated, I needed to use some of the German language newspapers to completely understand the details of a drowning death. Fortunately, I made the acquaintance of a gentleman in Milwaukee who has indexed the German language news papers and he was able to provide me with obituaries and their translations as well as other news articles about the family I was researching. For this family I have all their death notices in both English and German.

 There was a book written about my Norwegian great-grandfather in commemoration of his 150th birthday which I have a copy of but it is in Norwegian, so I can’t read it. I do have the author’s permission to translate it but that’s a project for another year.

There are similarities in the Scandinavian languages which helped me with tracing my husband’s Swedish ancestors.

To help me with entering data into my program, I have a chart giving a numeric code for typing foreign letters, so I can enter names and places with the correct diacritical’s.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Mothers - Betty part 2

(part 1 ended with Betty and Donald's marriage)

Donald’s work would require them to live in Atlanta for the first year of their marriage, but then they would return to Chicago where they would live with her parents since Donald and his parents often traveled for the company. Many of the company’s jobs took the Hansens to Wisconsin and Michigan where Donald wrote almost nightly to Betty especially while she was expecting their first child.

After Donna was born, the little family moved to the apartment building, four blocks away, that was owned by Betty’s brother Tom. They stayed there for several years until they were able to purchase a two flat about two miles further west. The house was across the street from the public school where Donna and Tom would attend kindergarten and about two blocks from St Thomas Aquinas Church and School. Betty’s family would grow to number four children while they remained in the City. By now Donald had left the dangerous work in steel construction and taken a job working for Betty’s father handling the Real Estate portion of the business. Donald was a good salesman and enjoyed the work.

As part of his job Donald often went out to look at the new listings of homes for sale. In the fall of 1948 he traveled to Elmhurst to see a 4-bedroom house listed for sale. Inspired, he took a picture of the large house to show Betty. The location of the house was perfect for the growing family. It was one block from both the Catholic and Public schools as well as a park and library. The church was located on the same property as the Catholic school and there was shopping within walking distance. Being close to the train station was also an encouraging factor since Betty did not drive and this would make it easy for her to go to the city to visit family. The family moved into this perfect house in Dec 1948. When it was time for a large grocery shopping trip, Betty would walk to the store and make her purchased timing it so she would be finished when Donald got home from work and he would meet her at the store, load the groceries into the car and take her home.

Life continued in this manner during the 1950’s as the family grew until it numbered eleven with the birth of Donald Joseph in 1957. Betty and Donald hosted family parties from the beginning of their marriage and continued to do so in Elmhurst. Thanksgiving was huge with both families represented by parents and cousins. It was many years later that I finally determined what the relationships really were!

At different times during our childhood Betty had help with housework and childcare. I remember Mary Williams who came to help with the house cleaning on a weekly basis and I remember Emma, a German lady who lived with us to help mom. And I remember Ruth who lived with us one summer to babysit. This help was needed since Betty had suffered with rheumatic fever I think three times, the most recently following the birth of Peggy. Peggy was born before Christmas and we didn’t see mom again until Easter. After her release from the hospital after Peggy’s birth, mother and baby went to Milton, WI where a long-time family friend would nurse her back to health.

In addition to raising her nine children, Betty was a true contributor to society. She was a Camp Fire Leader, in the evenings she would sit and do bead embroidery on cashmere sweaters for the Catholic charity her sister-in-law supported. 

In the summer the family made a trip to the Indiana cottage owned by her sister Kathleen for a vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was no “day at the beach” for Betty as there were none of the conveniences of home. Lacking a dishwasher, Betty stood at the sink doing dishes after each meal of the day while the children were out the door for their adventures. Since the cottage did not have laundry facilities once a week the family would travel to Michigan City and Betty would go to the laundromat to do laundry while the rest of the family would enjoy milkshakes at Scholl’s Dairy or go the movies or the zoo. Since Betty was not yet a driver, Donald was the chauffer on those occasions. Donald also worked while at the cottage, doing painting and other minor construction as needed for it’s upkeep. Evenings at the cottage were meant for playing board and card games and often there was popcorn!

Labor Day meant the return to Elmhurst, school, and work for Donald. For Betty it was a return to her regular routine, so much so that she was featured in the local newspaper as the “Local Mother of Nine” who was asked how she managed her large family. 

Sometime during the late 1950’s Donald and Betty took the only vacation since their honeymoon. They took a driving trip around Lake Michigan with a stop at Mackinac Island. I remember she brought home a cocoa brown dirndl skirt with a boarder of white embroidery just above the hem. About that time also Betty and Donald considered buying a new house that was slightly bigger, but by then the older children were in high school and would soon be leaving home. To increase their income, Donald left the Real Estate business and went back to construction. That did not work out well since his first job was counting the number of times the jackhammer needed to strike to complete the job! When Donald went back to the Real Estate business, he returned to his habit of bringing Betty the “Saturday Evening Post” when he worked late on Thursdays. Sometimes he included a pint of her favorite ice cream which varied between Butter Pecan and Peppermint Candy. And so life continued until Dec 28, 1959.
                                            (to be concluded)

Monday, May 14, 2018

52 Ancestors - Week 19 Mothers - Betty Connery Hansen Part 1

25 September 1917, the world was a war. The headlines of the day in the Chicago Tribune read “2 Air Raids on England – 6 Dead” and “Steel Prices cut in half by President”.[i] This was the world that Elizabeth Mary Connery was born into. She was the tenth child born to Michael and Alice Fleming Connery. Her next oldest sister was eight years older than Betty and Betty was the very pampered youngest child. 
l-r Eleanor, Betty, Kathy, Tom, Jack.

By the time Betty was five years old her sister Eleanor left for boarding school and Betty was alone except for her sisters Kathleen and Pauline who had finished High School and returned home to work for their father.  In fact, the family was so unused to having a small child that when there was a small kitchen fire and the house was evacuated, Betty was left napping in her crib in a room just off the kitchen. Fortunately, all turned out well and there were no injuries.

In 1927 Betty returned from visiting relatives in Ireland, as she traveled with her parents and sisters Mary and Alice. She had traveled on a family passport with her parents. They returned on August 27, 1927 completing a seven-day crossing of the Atlantic from Liverpool to Quebec. The ship manifest shows Betty’s age to be 8 years. [ii] 

Passport for Connery Family Trip to Ireland

When she was about twelve years old Betty was enrolled in boarding school following the tradition of her sisters. This time there was no need to travel all the way to Michigan, since a new school run by the Adrian Dominican Sisters had opened in St Charles, IL. Her sister Alice, also known as Sister Marie Camilla, was one of the teachers. Betty enjoyed life at Mount St Mary Academy and made several life-long friends while there. She did tell tales of mischief while there. A favorite trick was to go in the bakery and walk out with a coffee cake under her uniform jacket! At some point in her stay in St Charles, Betty developed a case of diphtheria and her father flew a doctor from Chicago to St Charles to care for her. The school was also closed for a time.

After graduating in 1935, Betty attended Mundelein College for two years before deciding to attend Art School at the Art Institute of Chicago. Betty’s dreams of being a designer of women’s fashion were dashed when she discovered that she would be expected to design clothing that would fit all sizes with the same design. After she left school she went to work at the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District.

During the 1930’s Betty’s parents began traveling to Miami for the winter every year. While in Miami, they would stay with their daughter and her family. One of the things they did for entertainment was to go to the horse races. One night they met another Chicagoan who suggested that his nephew would be a good escort for Betty. When Betty visited her parents in Miami, she was introduced to her parents friend who asked Betty if his nephew could visit her when she was home in Chicago. With her permission he would give his nephew her phone number and address. 

When Donald Hansen first went to visit Betty, she was out on another date and Donald decided to wait for her return. Things went well and soon they were officially dating. Their courtship was filled with flowers, telegrams, and adventures dancing, and horseback riding, dinners out and nightclub visits.

flower girls Mary Alice Hardie and Maueen Murray

They were married in a nuptial Mass at St Mel Catholic Church on June 28, 1940. This is the very church where Betty was baptized and received her other sacraments. The wedding party included the couple’s cousins and best friends. They also each had a niece as a flower girl. The reception was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. After the reception, the bride changed into a lavender gaberdine suit for their honeymoon trip to Atlanta via Chattanooga.

[i]; Chicago Tribune; Sep 25, 1917; page 1; online; accessed 13 May 2018
[ii] The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 534

Sunday, May 6, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Maiden Aunt, part 3

The third maiden aunt to be considered is Alice Josephine Connery. Alice, named after her mother, was the fourth child and third daughter of Michael and Alice Fleming Connery. She was born on March 29, 1899.

Like her older sisters, Mary and Kathy, Alice attended boarding school in Adrian, Michigan. Although the 1910 census shows that for some time she was living in Victor, Colorado with her Aunt and Uncle Mary and Gus Heisen.[i] Uncle Gus was a miner in a gold mine. On Friday nights Uncle Gus, a Lutheran, would drill her on her catechism lessons before her Saturday classes.  Years later Alice would reminisce about running down the hill to meet Uncle Gus on his way home from work. It is possible that Alice was in Colorado for allergies, since in later years she went to the North Woods during the “hay fever season” in the Midwest.

Alice graduated from St Joseph Academy on June 16, 1918 and then worked for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad until February 14, 1919 when she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St Dominic in Adrian, Michigan. During her postulate she taught elementary grades at St Joseph Academy. After receiving the habit on August 22, 1919 along with the name Sister Marie Camilla, she was sent to teach junior high for a year at Our Lady of Sorrows in Detroit, MI. Her canonical year was difficult due to a succession of five novice mistresses but she made her first profession of vows on August 10, 1921.

Now her teaching career would begin in earnest. Her first appointment was to teach middle grades and freshman year of high school at Visitation School in Detroit for five years, then it was on to Queen of Angels School in Chicago as a junior high teacher. In the 1930’s she taught high school at Mount St Mary Academy in St Charles, IL. During her tenure at Mt St Mary’s her youngest sister Betty was one of her students. The story is told that she was known as “Sister Mary Pussyfoot” because she always caught her rosary on something, breaking it, and wore rubber heels on her shoes, so nobody could hear her coming!

Mixed with her teaching career, Sister Marie Camilla studied during the summers at Detroit Teachers College, De Paul University in Chicago and St John University in Toledo, Ohio. In 1929, she received her BS degree from St John.

She accepted an appointment to St Killian in Chicago as principal/superior but found that the position was not for her, so she returned to Mt St Mary, where she helped in the library as well as taught. During the summers, she continued her education earning a M Ed from De Paul University in 1942, and a BA in Library Science from Rosary College in River Forest, IL. She also took a summer class in theology taught by Dominican Fathers, adding a certificate to her collection of degrees.

In 1950 and again in 1956 she made a pilgrimage to Rome with her Mother and sisters. They had a private audience with the Pope and visited family in Ireland.

The late 1960s and early 1970s brought change to the Church and religious life. It was a time when nuns could choose whether to wear the traditional habit or not, a time when they could choose to return to their original names and a time when many were encouraged to accept employment outside of their order. Sister Marie Camilla retained her habit, although a modified one, and the religious name but she did accept the librarianship at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, Fl a coed school. After 40 years in all-girls schools it was quite a change. She spent 2 years there.

In 1974, at 75 years old, she “retired” to St Helen in Vero Beach, FL where she spent her time doing volunteer work. She even took a behind the counter position at the St Vincent de Paul Store, which she declared “one of the most interesting experiences of my life.”

In 1985 Sister Marie Camilla moved into Maria Hall at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse where she would remain until her death April 16, 1995 having served 74 years as a religious sister. She is buried in the congregation cemetery in Adrian.[ii]

She is remembered as a graceful always happy woman who was a lover of nature. She was a gentle artistic woman who loved fine and delicate things.  I am very glad that she was my aunt.

[i] 1910 US Federal Census; Census Place: Victor Ward 3, Teller, Colorado; Roll: T624_125; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1374138
[ii] Most biographical material taken from her autobiography written in 1978 and on file in the Adrian Dominican Archives

Sunday, April 29, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Cemetery

We all end up there at the end of our lives. It may be a large metropolitan cemetery with multiple gates or a family cemetery on the family farm, or even the cemetery that is part of a churchyard. All of these are represented in my extended family.

My mother’s family has a large plot in Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Chicago suburbs. The plot holds 12 graves and was first used in 1905 for the burial of Leo Connery, my mother’s brother who died at the age of 7.  I believe that there are currently three vacant graves left in the plot. Other than Connery’s there are two Hogans buried there, Louise who died in 1919 and Margaret who died in 1909. They are the daughters of my grandmother Alice Fleming Connery’s sister Eliza who married John Hogan in Ireland. Because of the wide acceptance of cremation, my parents share one of the graves. Since the graves are 32 inches wide and presumably 6 feet long, the family plot can be estimated to be 15 feet by 12 feet. There is a central monument facing east to the graves.[i]

Burbach family plot in Calvary Cemetery,, Milwaukee, WI.
My paternal grandmother’s family also has a family plot in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, there are 64 people with the last name of Burbach In Calvary Cemetery. The earliest burial that could belong to our known family is of a George who was born and died on 9 October 1857.  This fits with the fact that my great-grandfather Georg and his young family settled in Milwaukee in 1856. I plan to contact the cemetery to see who paid for this burial since there were two unrelated Burbach families in Milwaukee at this time.

Sr Antonius Church Cemetery Oberselters, Hesse-Nassau, Germany.
In 2004, my husband and I traveled to Germany and were able to visit the village where the Burbach family lived for over one hundred years. At the cemetery attached to the church in the village, we were lucky to find that the family name is still represented in the Cemetery. This was a surprise since in Europe it is common that a grave is only there for about 25 years before it is replaced by another grave. [ii] 

We also traveled to Villmar, Germany where George Burbach married Catharina Caspari and found the family name on a memorial dedicated to the soldiers of WWI at the cemetery of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

My husband’s families were farmers in a small town in southern Illinois. Both sides of his family used the same cemetery in Jasper County. This was convenient when we went to visit the graves of his grandparents since his great and great-great-grandparents are all in the same cemetery. His third and fourth great-grandparents are in the same county but a different cemetery.

Folk singer Burl Ives (Holly Jolly Christmas) is also buried there. But primarily it is the final resting place for the Ferguson and Sempsrott families. This small rural cemetery is very well cared for.

Small private family cemeteries are still in use in more rural areas but unfortunately, they often are lost to view and those buried there are soon forgotten. Such is the story of Phoebe Hill Barrow Ferguson who died sometime between 1810 and 1825 probably in Kentucky. There is no known date of death or place of burial for her. She was probably buried near the land her husband worked as the family traveled from South Carolina to Indiana. 

These small family cemeteries are still allowed in some areas today. My sister and her husband recently created one on their ranch in Colorado. All that is needed is a fenced piece of land. Their cemetery has a beautiful view of the mountains and Aspens.

[i] Cemetery information received from cousin Alice Sterling in the form of a sketch of the plot with the graves labeled and identified. This sketch is in possession of the author.
[ii] Photo of Anna Burbach’s grave taken in 2004 by the author.
[iii] Photos of Mound Cemetery taken in 2003 by the author.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – A Storm in Kansas

Susan Wisemore married Washington Chapman on 1 March 1846 in Jasper County, Illinois.[i] Washington was a farmer until his death probably in 1865-1866. The 1870 census shows widowed Susan Chapman in Granville, Jasper, Ill with Jefferson 15, Louisa 11, Sarah 9, Elizabeth 7, Charles 6, and Ira 4.[ii]

On 23 Jan 1872[iii] Susan Wisemore Chapman married William Myers in Jasper County and by 1880, the family had moved to Phillips County, Kansas.

In 1880 Sarah is married to Thomas Whitmarsh and the mother of Stella Whitmarsh.[iv] Thomas is a farmer in Glenwood Township.

In 1885, the family had grown to include son Fredrick Nelson and they were still in Glenwood Township.[v]

On Friday, 29 April 1885, Sarah hooked up a team of horses to the wagon and with her un-named infant traveled to Republican City, Kansas to meet her husband, Thomas, who had been in Iowa on business for a week. Arriving in Republican City, Sarah found that Thomas had already left for home with a neighbor. Unfortunately, as she attempted to cross Crow Creek, the water rose and swept the team away, capsizing the wagon. Sarah Chapman Whitmarsh’s body was recovered but not the body of her infant child.

Sarah Whitmarsh was survived by her husband, Thomas, and children Stella and Frederick.

Thomas returned to Jasper County, Illinois with his children. Thomas married again and had additional children.

Stella married John Ferguson of Willow Hill and was a loving step-mother to his two children in addition to loving her own two children. Stella Whitmarsh Ferguson died in 1972 and is buried in Mound Cemetery in Hunt City, Jasper County, Illinois.[vi]

She has always been fondly remembered as “Grandma Dolly” by her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

[i] Illinois, Compiled Marriages, 1790-1860 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
[ii] Census Place: Granville, Jasper, Illinois; Roll: M593_232; Page: 283B; Family History Library Film: 545731
[iii] Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
[iv] 1880; Census Place: Glenwood, Phillips, Kansas; Roll: 393; Page: 83C; Enumeration District: 227
[v] Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, Kansas; 1885 Kansas Territory Census; Roll: KS1885_106; Line: 1
[vi] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Maiden Aunt part 2

“Remembering Kathleen, Whose Life Was Love”[i] there could be no better phrase to describe her!

Kathleen (on left) Graduation from St Joseph Academy
Kathleen Frances Connery was born 10 April 1895 in Chicago. She was the second child and the second daughter born to Michael Connery and Alice Fleming. She was baptized on 14 April 1895 at St Columkille Parish by Fr Thomas Burke and her godparents were James L and Mary Purcell.[ii]

Kathleen undoubtedly followed her sister Mary to St Joseph Academy since her home parish, St Mel, didn’t establish an elementary school until 1906[iii] and Mary had already attended St Joseph Academy. That their Uncle, Father Michael Fleming was the school chaplain added to the feeling of security of the girls.

Kathleen graduated from St Joseph in June of 1916 and went to work in her father’s Real Estate office as a stenographer.[iv]

Kathleen would remain working for her family’s business until her retirement. She moved from stenographer to bookkeeper and ultimately to travel agent as the company grew and expanded.

As a travel agent, Kathleen often sailed to Europe with frequent trips to London, Rome, and of course visits to her Irish cousins in Limerick. The spoils of these trips were lovingly given to her nieces and nephews.

While on trips to England, Kathleen would purchase complete sets of fine china. These were shipped back to Chicago where she would store them in anticipation of an upcoming niece’s engagement when said niece would be allowed to select her favorite of the available patterns. 

Private audience with Pope Pius XII, Kathleen and her mother front row
nuns in rear are Sisters Michael Joseph and Marie Camilla, OP

Trips to Rome included an audience with the Pope, one trip with her mother and sisters included Archbishop Sheil for a private audience with Pope Pius XII.

Sometime in the 1940s her brother Jack bought a summer cottage in Long Beach, Indiana, just outside of Michigan City. Jack named the cottage the Lazy Jane much to the embarrassment of his wife Jane. Eventually Jack sold the cottage to Kathleen who changed the name to "Lady Jane" and kept it for the use of the family. The cottage was rented for the month of July to cover the expense of taxes and general upkeep but for the rest of the year it was for the use of family members. My family went there for the last two weeks of August every summer.  As a senior in high school I could use the cottage for a weekend party with classmates. We were chaperoned of course!

Kathleen was a very complicated person. Full of love for her family, she became the caretaker of her parents as they aged. She also became the family “fixer” at times. If there was a problem she would work to find the solution. She arranged travel for the family as well as her office clients. Although she didn’t become the nun her sisters did, Kathleen did join the Third Order of St Francis. Her devotion to her faith preceded her devotion to her family but one never conflicted with the other.

After she retired from the office, Kathleen moved to Florida where she continued her caretaker duties nursing her sister Sister Michael Joseph before Sister returned to the Healthcare Center in Adrian. Later Kathleen would try to help another sister Betty return to health.

In her efforts to help others, Kathleen always had to do just one more thing. As a result Kathleen was almost always late to everything, to the extent that when my mother invited her to dinner, Kathleen was told that dinner would be at 4pm when it was really planned for 6pm. Among the family it was often said that she “would be late for her own funeral.” And she was!

Kathleen Francis Connery died on 12 August 1986 in a nursing home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her memorial mass was held at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, IL on September 6, 1986[v]. Since she was cremated in Florida, her cremains were shipped to Illinois for burial. We were about a third of the way through the mass when her brother Jack entered the chapel carrying a container which he proceeded to place on the altar.  She was well and truly late to her own funeral!

Kathleen is buried in the family plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

Kathleen you were well loved!

[i] Title of Memorial Booklet designed by her niece Peggy Ann Ryan.
[ii] Illinois, Chicago Catholic Church Records 1833-1925, "," database with images, familysearch ( : online 4 December 2016), Birth and Baptism of Kathleen Connery; Family History Library film # 4332302 page 442.
[iii] St. Mel’s Grade School Centennial book  1886-1986
[iv] US Federal Census: Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 35, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_356; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 2230
[v] Chicago Tribune () , obit for KATHLEEN CONNERY, ( : accessed 15 April 2018)