Sunday, December 9, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Dad's cousin Lorraine

When I was growing up there were people who appeared in our lives who were only there at certain times of the year. I didn’t know if they were connected to our family or not. They were never introduced, they just appeared. Since I started doing genealogy, I have learned many of their stories. One of those people was Lorraine. This is her story.

Every year on Thanksgiving, the doorbell would ring and there would be Lorraine. I don’t know how she got to our house, but she always came for dinner. She was a slender woman with medium grey curly hair. Wearing a beige silk dress with a lace collar she would usually sit in Mom’s armchair in a corner of the living room with her feet flat on the floor in front of her. I m sure she engaged in conversation with my parents and the other adults that were present, but I don’t remember talking to her.

When I started doing a family history for my father’s parents, I learned that my grandmother Henrietta was born to Hermann and Eva Schmitz Burbach in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Henrietta was the youngest of six children in the family and the only surviving daughter.

Her brother George married Rose Schmitt in Milwaukee on 17 Feb 1897[i]. George and Rose had three daughters before the death of Rose on 4 Dec 1901. [ii] Lorraine was my dad’s first cousin!

Lorraine Henrietta Burbach was born 22 Feb 1901, shortly before the death of her mother. She and her older sister Olive became close while their father mourned the death of his wife. Eventually George would re-marry and have eight more children but the ten-year age gap between the two sisters and their half siblings would remain.

So far there are very few records to document Lorraine’s life. She is listed in the census in 1900 and 1910 but I haven’t found her in 1920 or 1930. Her sister, Olive age 20, is listed as a lodger in the 1920 census and in the 1930 census Olive is apparently in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Lorraine is listed in the 1922 Milwaukee city directory as living at 646 Astor and working as a waitress.[iii]

In 1940 Lorraine appears with her husband Wilby Gist living at the Biltmore Hotel in Chicago.[iv] According to the census, Wilby was a bus driver and Loraine was a telephone operator. They had both finished High School and were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1935.
Social Security Death Index shows a death date of 4 Feb 1985 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.[v]

I never knew Wilby, so I can only assume he died during the 1940s and probably in Chicago unless he was in the war. There is no record of Lorraine having children and I have yet to find a gravesite for her.

An article in the Daily Herald from 1968 describes Lorraine’s many
collections and her many accomplishments.[vi] Reading the article makes
me think that her life wasn’t as sad as I had originally thought.

[i] Wisconsin Marriages, pre-1907;Vol 35 page 0337.
[ii] Wisconsin Death Index 1820-1907 ; Volume:27;Page 0306; Reel:89; Index Volume:09;;Sequence Number:048690
[iii] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iv] Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00927; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 103-184A
[v] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014. Number: 387-03-2074; Issue State: Wisconsin; Issue Date: Before 1951
[vi]; Info The Daily Herald (Chicago, Illinois); 1968 September 11

Thursday, December 6, 2018

In Honor of my brother Tom's 75th Birthday, I have transcribed the poem our dad wrote to commemorate his birth.

Happy Birthday Tom!!

It was on the afternoon of December sixth,
That the arrival of Thomas Michael had been fixed.
But too far ahead of the story I am getting you see,
For I had meant to tell is just as it happened to be.

It was a cold morning, one of dark skies and light rain,
The only thing we thought important was Connery departure by train.
Momsie and Pops were going to Florida to see Ellie you know,
They also had in mind the sun so hot and the lack of cold snow.

I arrived home from work about a quarter to ten,
the reason being , that it was raining again.
Betty was in the basement doing her wash in her machine so fine,
I went down to give her a hand, especially with the things that were mine.
All of a sudden she said “Don, I don’t feel so well.”
I said “darling, come up stairs and sit down for a spell”.
We went upstairs and decided after all,
To give Doc Carey the long awaited call.

I said Betty to 4140 I must go to say good by,
Because we have many things to do and time will fly.
After telling Ma and Pa good by, and to have a nice trip,
Down on Washington Blvd. I met Doc Carey and his black grip.
I said, “Doc old boy, from your office don’t stay away,
as my loving wife will be your patient today.”

I then called Pauline, who was sweet to say,
that she would stay with Donna till later that day.
Betty and I then in my car started West,
To complete the doings for the things we were blessed.
After arriving at the Hospital, and starting Betty on the way,
up and down the hall I wandered with my lange chest on display.

After waiting for about and out there in the cold hall,
over the loud speaker my name they did call.
Into the delivery room I then dashed like a kid,
For I was anxious to see just hoe good a job we had did.

Betty was happy to hear it was a boy,
But there was no holding me, overloaded with joy.
Betty looked fine, although tired and weak,
It was at this time I decided things no longer looked bleak.
I then ran to the phone and started my calls of pride,
It seems you just want all to know that your son’s at your side.

The first I did call was my mother, who was on the job in our home,
But it seems that there was no answer, now why should mother roam.
Dorothy then heard from me that it was a boy.
Congratulations to both of you, we shall share your joy.

Then I called Pauline, I was still busting with pride,
I asked her to tell the others before their long ride.
Back in the room with Betty, things were peaceful and quiet,
We both just relaxed, there was no longer a riot.

After sitting there talking, we decided the name should then be,
Thomas Michael Hansen sounded plenty good to Betty and me.
It is now growing late so the door I must close,
Leaving Betty and Tommy is a sleepy repose.

Monday, November 26, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 47 Thankful for a Compiled Service Record!

This week is about “being thankful” and while I have a lot to be thankful for, I will concentrate on a genealogy find I am very grateful to have received.

Oloff Hansson was one of my husband’s 2nd great-grandfathers. Oloff was born somewhere in Sweden. He first appears in the US Federal Census for Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana. He and his wife Marie were living in house # 132 and his stated occupation was fisherman.[i]  They were a seemingly poor family but over time they had children which increased the family to nine children.

Oloff served with Company E in the 4th Regiment of the Indiana Calvary from August of 1862 until June of 1865 [ii], he then returned to Michigan City to resume life with his family,

The family moved to Chicago before 1880 when they appear in the census living at 254 West Chicago Ave and Oloff continued to his occupation as a fisherman. The youngest child in the family was Enert who was six months old.[iii]

Oloff died in March of 1900, before the census was taken. It seemed I was at a brick wall since I had never found his parents or birthplace. I could find no trace of his widow in the 1900 census and the children were all married by then.

His pension did not appear in the online records at fold three although I was able to find an application and pension number. None of Oloff’s naturalization papers gave a place of birth other than Sweden.

I sent off to NARA for his Compiled Service Record which held quite a bit of biographical information. While I still don’t have his parent’s names or know where he was born, I did get the answers to some of my questions.

According to his pension application, Oloff left Sweden about 1855 and traveled to Germany. In Hamburg he married Maria Hepke at the American Consulate and they left Germany for the United States about 1857. I also learned that Marie had died of childbirth in 1881. After the 1880 census there is no record of the infant Enert so it is possible that he died then as well.

So now I am looking for a Swede who emigrated to Germany and then a married couple, he born in Sweden and she born in Germany, leaving Hamburg about 1857-1859 for America.

I am grateful for this find since it limits my search parameters.

[i] ear: 1860; Census Place: Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana; Roll: M653_275; Page: 389; Image: 391; Family History Library Film: 803275
[ii] Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.
[iii] Year: 1880; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 195; Family History Film: 1254195; Page: 163B; Enumeration District: 141; Image: 0521

Monday, November 19, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 43 Cause of Death

John William Peterson appeared in only four records during his short life. He was born to Leopold and Caroline (Neilson) Peterson on 3 June 1876 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts[i]. He was the second child and first son born into the marriage. He was baptized in the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts on 9 July 1876[ii]. It is noted in the record that neither of his parents were members of the church and his father is listed as L P Peterson.

In 1880, John is recorded living with his parents at 520 W Superior Street in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  Also, in the household were his older sister Annie and younger brother Francis (Frank).[iii]

The final record that John appeared in was the Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 which yields the information that John Wm Paterson, age 9, died on 7 June 1885 in Chicago and is buried at Graceland Cemetery.[iv]

A little boy just nine years and four days old was gone and I began to wonder just what caused his death. Was it an accident? Newspaper searches gave no clues so I decided that it would be necessary to get a death certificate to find the answer to my questions.

When I located the death certificate for John, the cause of death was listed as poliomyelitis.  Wow! Polio! Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s I was very well aware of Polio and it’s seriousness but I hadn’t known that it even existed in the 1880s.

A query at Wikipedia gave me more information about Polio and the epidemics associated with it. I never knew that it was associated with water like cholera. There was no epidemic in Chicago in 1885 but I am sure that the water was not the cleanest and a young boy would be drawn like a magnet to any standing water. I will never know how John contracted Polio but now I know the cause of his death.

[i] Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[ii] Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Elk Grove Village, IL, USA; Parish: Emanuel Lutheran Church; ELCA Film Number: S160-161; SSIRC Film Number: S-160
[iii] 1880 U S Federal Census; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 195; Page: 601A; Enumeration District: 133
[iv] Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It’s week 41 and the topic is sports.

Many families have a strong history of sports participation, in our family it’s more sports appreciation.

There is a photo of my dad playing basketball for his school and it has been said that he was playing in the state championship game. I did see that my mother had a ribbon with a gold basketball attached to it but haven’t been able to corroborate the state championship story.

                                                            Dad (center) as a Cardinal

Dad went to Central YMCA High School in downtown Chicago at 19 LaSalle St. A private prep school it was a member of the Midwest Prep Conference in 1927 when dad likely was a senior. The team name was the Cardinals and their colors were red and white. Whether he played on a state championship team or not, dad loved basketball!

Growing up in the 1950s there weren’t many chances to participate in sports if you weren’t good enough to make the school team. I do remember playing basketball on a CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) team in 7th  or 8th grade. These were intra-mural games played locally on Saturday mornings.

Our house was a block from a large community park which hosted a variety of winter sports along with tennis lessons in the summer. In the winter there was ice skating and sledding. The ice rink was lighted at night and it was where the teens hung out after dinner. I loved ice skating and would imagine that I was Sonja Henie, the Norwegian Olympic Skater. Probably due to my Norwegian heritage. In the summers I would take the free tennis lessons offered by the Park District.

In High School, I played girls basketball (1/2 court at that time) and vollyball as intra-mural sports again since I went to a small all girls school. I college my PE classes were lifesaving and golf. In lifesaving and to pass the class I had to rescue the PE teacher. Golf was taught in the gym using wiffle balls.

Our children had more exposure to sports and we had the obligatory basketball hoop on our garage but neither made the team. Since their school was heavily invested into basketball we were big team supporters and went to the state finals with both the girls and boys teams one year.

My daughter chose running as her sport and joined the cross country team.She stayed with it all four years and lettered in her Junior year.

The current generation has turned more to music than sports as all three have been members of the marching band. Their school band travels with the football team so they have developed an appreciation of football. Anybody who doesn’t think that members of a marching band are not athletes hasn’t watched a high school or college half time show lately.

The youngest granddaughter is a competative diver and a definate athlete. She competes both for the high school and her club. She is also hoping to dive in college.

Although our family hasn’t developed any all star or all state athletes, we are very appreciative of the value sports add to our lives. Besides you can’t grow up in the Chicago area without being a sports fan!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 40 "10"

This week’s prompt is “10”. 10 whatever and coincidentally this month I stumbled across the 10th child of my maternal grandparents.

It had always been said that my mother was one of ten children but finding all the documentation has proven difficult. It shouldn’t have been, they didn’t move around, I knew where they went to church, it was a time when good recordkeeping was happening, but it was difficult.

He was the ninth child born to Alice Fleming and Michael Connery in late November of 1910. He would have been the child closest in age to my mother.

One of the complicating factors was that there were two men named Michael Connery living in the same area of Chicago in the relevant time period. They both belonged to the same parish where their children were being baptized during  the same time frame.

As I was doing other research on the family, there it was, the record of the death of “Baby Boy” Connery who was both born and died on 28 November 1910.[i]

Page in list of burials 1910 Archdiocese of Chicago.

Cemetery records from the Archdiocese of Chicago tell us that the premature Infant Connery is buried in lot 10, block 2 of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. The baby had died and was buried on 28 Nov 1910 and the associated address was 4140 Washington Blvd.. The service was officiated by Fr J P McDonnell.[ii]

A search of the baptism records for St Mel Parish on Washington Blvd in Chicago does not yield a record of the Infant Connery being baptized on 28 Nov 1910, so he was probably baptized at birth by the doctor or a nurse which is commonly done if a baby born to Catholic parents is in danger of death. 

This child would have been the fourth son born to Alice Fleming and Michael Connery and without finding the death record, he would have remained unknown to us since he never appeared in a birth record or census.

[i] "Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2018), Connery, 28 Nov 1910; citing p. 58, Ln 2840, , Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,315,049.
[ii] "Illinois, Archdiocese of Chicago, Cemetery Records, 1864-1989," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2018), Connery, 28 Nov 1910; citing Hillside, Cook, Illinois, United States, Mount Carmel, Archidiocese of Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,763,394.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 38: Unusual Source

The topic for this week is “unusual source”. In my ancestry, there are several members who have joined the religious life. Because of this it can be difficult to record a descriptive picture of their lives. Censuses only capture a moment in time on a specific day every ten years.

Sister Marie Camilla, OP aka Alice Connery

My grandmother Alice Fleming Connery had a brother and a nephew who became Catholic priests and a sister in addition to two of her daughters became nuns.

In seeking more information about Alice’s nephew, Fr Thomas Fleming a Jesuit priest who taught extensively in New Zealand, Australia, and China during the 30s, 40s, and 50s, I contacted the Jesuit priory. I was directed to contact the Dublin province where Fr Tom had joined.

That is when I learned that most religious communities (I can’t say all because I only have experience with four of them) require that those entering the community write an autobiography for their records. Usually this includes anything they know of their parents.  What a treasure to read about a family in the words of a grown child of that family!

Not only did I receive the autobiography of Fr Tom which included the names of his parents and siblings, I received the list of all the places he taught in the southern hemisphere. It was a complete record of his service to the Jesuits that he served until his death in Melbourne in 1988. I have even been able to obtain a copy of his book “Of Faith and Morals”, which served as a text for the college classes he taught in theology.

Encouraged by this response, I have since contacted the motherhouse of the Adrian Dominican Sisters for the records of my two aunts who joined this order. For both of them I have received the autobiography and complete record of their assignments including their position, but I also received the homily from their memorial service. This includes quotes from the sisters who knew them from the time they first entered the order.

Alice’s brother, Fr Michael Fleming, became a priest attached to the Diocese of Detroit and was mostly based in Adrian at St Joseph Academy although he did serve several parishes in the Detroit area. I received those records also including the details of his being moved from a cemetery in Detroit to the cemetery on the grounds of St Joseph Academy in Adrian, MI.

Alice had an older sister Hannah, who immigrated before 1880 and joined the Sisters of Providence in Terre Haute, Indiana, taking her first vows as Sr Mary Regina in 1885. I have also received a record of Sr Mary Regina’s assignments and know that she was buried at St Mary-of-the-Woods in Vigo County, Indiana after her death 15 August 1933.

Not everyone will be able to take advantage of this kind of records but it is an unusual source and if you have ancestors who were members of a religious community, I urge you to try to get the records.