Sunday, February 17, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 7 “Love”

All my Grandparents have a love story to remember and although there are differences in their stories, many things are the same: faith, loyalty and a commitment to each other. Their stories serve us well as examples of love.

Michael and Alice
photos probably taken at their respective commencements in Ireland.

In 1890, Alice was a young woman who had finished her education and was adrift to travel the meadows and glens of County Limerick with her cousin Molly. Her parents were aged since Alice was the youngest child and almost all her siblings had immigrated to the United States. Soon word was sent to the siblings in the States that something needed to be done about Alice, so her brother Michael returned to Ireland with the intent to take Alice back to Michigan with him where she would live with their married sister Mary Ann Walsh. Mary Ann was 26 years Alice’s senior and had children Alice’s age and older. There was friction in the family as Alice suffered the taunts and insults of her sister’s children for her old country clothes and manners. 

Alice frequently traveled between Michigan and Wisconsin to stay with her brothers Edmund or John as a way of escaping the teasing of her nieces and nephews. On one such trip she ran into Michael Connery, a young man she knew from her home in Ballylanders. Michael had immigrated to the United States several years before and when Alice first saw him and “set her cap for him”’, he was home visiting his parents and repaying them for the cost of the farm animal he had sold to pay for his ticket to the America. Michael had settled in Chicago, Illinois and done well for himself, so he was happy to show off his fine clothes and gold headed cane to the neighbors.
Alice was happy to meet Michael again and endeavored to find out about his traveling plans since he lived in Chicago and her brothers were based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Evidently Michael traveled to Wisconsin often, and Alice arranged her visits to coincide with his. And so their romance bloomed.

Michael and Alice 28 June 1893
Port Huron, Michigan

On 28 June 1893,  Alice Fleming married Michael Connery at the Port Huron, Michigan home of her sister Mary Ann Walsh. Fr Michael Fleming, brother of the bride was the officiant, while the witnesses were members of both the bride and groom’s families. The newlywed couple journeyed to Chicago where they would make their home.

Michael’s profession changed over the years from barkeeper to Saloon owner, then as he branched out into real estate, he also invested in property ownership himself. At Alice’s request he eventually gave up the liquor business and concentrated on the real estate.

Life was good for the young couple and they prospered as their children were born and the family grew as the west side of Chicago grew and prospered.  They eventually had eight children, six daughters and two sons, who survived to adulthood. Unfortunately suffering the loss of their first son, Leo, who died at the age of seven in 1905. As time passed Michael and Alice often returned to Ireland for family visits, often taking one of their children with them. This may have spawned the love of travel so many of the children exhibited later in life.

Strong supporters of education, all their children attended boarding school at some point. The girls going to St Joseph’s Academy in Adrian, Michigan and the boys to a Jesuit High School, Champion, in Prairie du Chine, Wisconsin.  It probably began when Alice’s brother Michael, then a Catholic priest, was assigned to serve at St Joseph’s Academy in Adrian. There the girls would grow close to their Uncle Michael.
As time passed Michael Connery’s business grew and expanded to include the travel and insurance industries in addition to real estate. He provided employment for his children when they finished school and two of his children would remain with the business until they retired, and the business closed in the 1960s.

Michael worked at his office into the 1950s when illness forced his retirement. He died in 1953 having raised his family to be outstanding citizens who worked hard, attended church and were raising the same strong families that their parents did.
Michael died in 1953 ending a sixty-year marriage that saw their love demonstrated to their family friends in their respect for each other and sharing of their faith. Faith got them through the loss of their son Leo and a stillborn infant, it helped them survive the depression years when Michael sold half of his real estate to pay off mortgages on other properties.

On the occasion of Michael’s funeral, the parish grade school was given the day off to attend the funeral. A sure sign of the respect Michael and Alice commanded in the parish they had belonged to for over fifty years.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 6 “Surprise”

This week’s theme is “surprise” so I will tell you about the surprise I got when I ordered a compiled Service Record for one of my husband’s mysterious Swedish ancestors.

Oloff Hanson is my husband’s great-great-grandfather and he first appears in the 1860 [i]census with his wife Mary living in Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana. As recorded in the census he is a Swedish born fisherman. Oloff’s wife Mary was reported to have been born in Hanover, Germany in 1842.

Oloff and Mary had eight children between 1860 and 1879. They remained in Michigan City until they appear in the 1880 census living in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
All of the children are reported as having been born in Michigan (It appears that the census taker heard Michigan but not City as the actual records are for Michigan City which is in Indiana.) in the 1880[ii] census taken in Chicago.

Oloff died before the 1900 census was taken and I could find no trace of a widow in the census and no obituary record.

I was at a standstill with the family.  Even two trips to Salt Lake City with finding something out about Oloff as a priority were unsuccessful except for finding out that he had served in the Indiana Calvary during the Civil War. He was honored by La Porte County, Indiana in 1867 for his service in the war.

What did I know about Oloff? I knew he was born in 1824 or 1831, that he appeared in the census in 1860, and 1870 in Indiana and the 1880 census in Illinois. He served In the Civil War and fathered eight children.  Those are the only documented facts I had for Oloff.

I had no record of Oloff coming into the United States and found no marriage for Oloff and Mary. I had no place of birth or names of parents for Oloff.

Having no success with finding other records for Oloff, I sent for his Compiled Service Record from the National Archives hoping it would hold his Letter of Intent, which I hoped would tell me where in Sweden he came from.

It came faster than I thought it would and held several surprises! His biographical record told me that he left Sweden and traveled first to Germany before coming to the United States. While in Germany he met Marie(Mary) Hepke and they were married in the American Consulate in Hamburg. I further learned the names of all of his children and that Mary had died in 1881 in Chicago.

OK, I still don’t know where Oloff was born but I know where he was married and about when. I know when and where Mary died and since I found her death record, I know she died as a result of childbirth. I also know that I need to look for Oloff, a Swedish man leaving Hamburg with a wife born in Hanover.

I haven’t quit looking for Oloff! I'm just taking a different path,

[i] Year: 1860; Census Place: Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana; Roll: M653_275; Page: 389; Family History Library Film: 803275;, online images, accessed 10 Fem 2019
[ii] Year: 1880; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 195; Page: 163B; Enumeration District: 141; ,images inline, accessed 10 Feb 2019; Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 5 “At the Library”

The Library I grew up with.
Elmhurst, Illinois

My love affair with libraries began in first grade, when we moved to Elmhurst, Illinois, just west of the city of Chicago. The location of our new home made it easy for a six-year old to enjoy the independence of a magical journey at any time. We were only a block from the stately mansion that had been turned into the city library. Inside the library Mrs Zimmerman was in charge of the children’s desk where we would present her with the books we wanted to borrow and our library card. 

If you couldn’t write/print your name you had to use a parent’s card. I think I decided at a very young age that I would love to work in a library surrounded by all those wonderful books that could transport you to anywhere in the world you wanted to go.

Summer story hours were obligatory for this girl. As I grew older, I began to .explore the different types of books at the library and about third grade I discovered the chapter books in the form of the “Bobbsey Twins”, a series of books about a family with two sets of twins and their adventures. Later I graduated to the Nancy Drew mysteries. After that came the Judy Bolton series and the Hardy Boys. I was hooked on mysteries and I still am!

As years passed my use of the library grew and expanded to more than just borrowing mysteries. I learned to use the card catalog to find the books that held the information I was seeking.

My children were introduced to the library at a very young age since it was one of the places we could walk to. We lived in a small farming community and the library was in a community building which also housed the Village Board meetings and a resale shop for the VFW. For a couple of Summers, I did the story hour for the library and later served on the library board. Even though it was a small library only open part time, there were regulations to be followed and funds to be accounted for. When we moved to an even smaller are,  there was still a public library. This time it was inside the grade school building. It was also part time and shared the position  of Librarian with the previous library. Once again, I served as a member of the Library Board and learned about the importance of circulation numbers and how they affect the funding of the library.

Moving to Florida exposed us to a library system that hosted many branches and more hours open than ever before. This is about when I began to work on genealogy. Being part of a larger library system, I now had access to even more reference materials. It was in a library that I found the books “Germans to America” a series of volumes detailing German immigration in the 1830 to the 1870s. In them I found that my German ancestors came to the United States from the village of Villmar in the Hessen province of the Dutchy of Nassau. That led me to looking at the church records for Villmar where I found a marriage record for Georg Burbach and Catharina Caspari. The record indicated that Georg was from Oberselters. Church records from Oberselters showed that the family had lived there for over 100 years.

Recently, I have been spending Sunday afternoons in the Genealogy room at our library here in Texas and I found a book in the library about the early colonists of Virginia which mentioned my husband’s Ferguson line which prompted me to look for them in the Soldiers of the American Revolution books there two shelves below. Now I am gathering evidence so my son and daughter can become members of the SAR and DAR.

Libraries expand my world and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 4 “I’d like to meet…”

There are so many of my ancestors I’d like to meet but for this week, I am choosing my paternal grandfather Adolph Halfdan Hansen. Adolph died when I was only four years old but I still remember his twinkling blue eyes and the Sunday afternoon trips to Kiddy land at Amlings Flowers. Let me tell part of his story before I tell you why I’d like to meet him and what I would ask him.

Adolph Halfdan Hansen
1880 - 1946
Adolph was born to Johannes Adolf Hansen and his wife Dorette Cristensdotter on 29 Jan 1880[i] in the military parish on Oslo, Akershus, Norway. He was baptized there in the state religion Lutheran faith on 18 April 1880[ii]. He was the third child of the marriage following after Dagny and Artur.

Adolph’s father was a music instructor and composer in the Norwegian Army. He and his wife went on to have four additional children before Dorette’s death from childbirth in 1887.[iii]

Two years after his first wife’s death, on 2 Feb 1887, Johannes Adolf married nineteen-year-old Nathalie Egeberg in Olso.[iv] Apparently, Nathalie’s young age caused problems with the older children especially with the oldest daughter Dagny Amanda.

Johannes Adolf and wife Nathalie in Bergen with family
shortly before the 1894 emigration of Dagny, Artur, and Adolf

On 21 May 1894, Dagny, 17, along with her brothers Artur, 15 and Adolf, 14 traveled from Bergen to Kristiana where they boarded the Thingvalla ship the Norge[v] which arrived in New York on 8 June 1894. They had a single suitcase between them and each had $1.00 U.S.. They were traveling to Chicago.[vi]

The three siblings traveled on to Chicago where they went to stay with their mother’s sister Olga Petersen and her family.[vii] By the time of the 1900 census Dagny had left the family to work for the Charles B Ayers family as a servant.[viii]

All of the siblings made a successful life for themselves in the United States and were eventually joined by their younger brother Sigurd. Only Thorolf remained in Norway and the 1901 census shows him living in Oslo with his grandmother Sofie.[ix]

Nathalie and Adolf( as he was by then called) had a family which included the five children of that marriage and moved from Oslo to Bergan shortly before the three of Dorette’s children emigrated.

Adolph remained in Chicago where he finished his education and went to work for his Uncle Oscar in the iron work and shipbuilding business. This business required frequent travel since the company had many jobs going on in locations around the country.

On 30 Oct 1907 Adolph married Henrietta Eva Burbach at a nuptial Mass in Gesu Church in Milwaukee, WI.[x] There would be frequent trips between their home in Chicago and Milwaukee where Henrietta’s family lived. Including a trip in 1907 to be the Godparents of Herman Adolph Burbach, Henrietta’s nephew.

There is lots more to say about Adolph, but I wanted to present the backstory so I could explain why I’d like to meet him.

I would like him to tell me about his mother. Other than the basic dates there is very little known about her. Did she tell her children stories, did she sing to them? Were her eyes the same twinkling blue as his? Was she tall? How was the seventeen day trip across the ocean for a fourteen-year old? Were the seas calm or rough?

How was he, a Lutheran, able to have a Nuptial Mass, become a Godparent in a Catholic Baptism, and finally be buried in a Catholic Cemetery at a time when all of these were denied to non-Catholics?

This inquiring mind wants to know!!

[i] Aker, Garnison: Den Norske Kirke, Births 1857-1880, Birth and Christening of Adolf Halfdan Hansen; FHL microfilm FHL film 255742 batch C428255.
[ii] ibid
[iii] Norwegian Lutheran (Oslo fylke), Ministrial Book #12 Dode og begravede, page 300, death and burial record of Dorette Christiansen;, Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
[iv] Norwegian Lutheran Church, , FHL film 1282501 ITEM 2 bk 13, , Marriage of Johannes Adolf and Nathalie; FHL microfilm .
[v]  "," Norwegian Digital Arkiv,  ( : accessed 6 June 2002), transcription, "Emigrants from Bergen 1874-1930," .
[vi] Norge passenger manifest, 8 June 1894, ; in Ellis Island Records; (Washington, D.C.: National Archives), .
[vii] 1900 U S Census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Ward 28, ED ED 844 precinct 4 West Town Chicago city, 11B, 204, Adolph Hansen.
[viii] 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 35, Cook, Illinois; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 1132; FHL microfilm: 1240291

[x] Adolph Hansen and Henrietta Burbach marriage, 30 October 1907, Marriage Register of Gesu Church (English): v. 4 p. 76, Roman Catholic.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - America was Her Name

La Motte Township
From Crawford County 1930c, Illinois
Published by W. W. Hixson & Co. in 1930c 

My husband’s family tree has an America Sempsrott as the spouse of his second great-uncle. In tracking America there were several roadblocks. Looking at the records there appeared to be two women named America in Crawford County, Illinois in the 1870 – 1931 time period but further research revealed that there are three marriages and multiple names involved.

America Ellen Snyder was born 29 April 1869 in Lawrence County, Illinois to William Snyder and Nancy McCarthy.[i] America’s father died in 1878 in Lawrence County and her mother evidentially returned to her birthplace in Crawford County, Illinois.
In 1885 America married William Martin Tennyson and they lived in Crawford County, Illinois. The 1900 census shows them living and farming in Robinson, Crawford, Illinois with their children Claud, Effie, Pearl, Charles, and Jessie. America is recorded as Maggie E Tennyson.[ii]

In 1910 Andrica and William were still farming in Robinson and had only their three youngest children still at home. William was a “General Farmer” and an employer rather than an employee but they did rent the farm.[iii]

William Tennyson died 28 April 1912 in Robinson and is buried in the Palestine Cemetery in Crawford County, Illinois.[iv] America was forty-four years old.

On 24 Nov 1914 William Sempsrote, a widower with two young children, married Ellan Tennyson in Sullivan County, Indiana in a ceremony performed by Earl A Kennedy, JP.

In 1920, America E Sempsrote was living in Lamotte with her second husband William on the farm that they own. His children Opal and Glenn are still at home.[v] By 1930, Ellen and William Sempscote were still farming in Lamotte and enjoying each other’s company. [vi]

America died on 4 May 1931 in Palestine, Crawford, Illinois and was buried as America Ellen Tennyson on May 6 in the Palestine Cemetery.[vii]

In various records she has been identified as America Ellen, America E, Ellen, Ellan, Maggie E and Andrica. At different points in her life her surname has been recorded as Snyder, Snider, Tennyson, Sempsrott, Semperote, Sempscott, Semporad. She was a woman who had 7 children, six of which survived infancy, she survived her first husband and went on to remarry and raise the two children of her second husband all whild living the difficult life of a farmer's wife in rural Illinois in the early 1900s.

America I am glad I could unravel your story and find your place in our tree!

[i] "Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916–1947." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original records.
[ii] Year: 1900; Census Place: Robinson, Crawford, Illinois; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1240295
[iii] Year: 1910; Census Place: Robinson, Crawford, Illinois; Roll: T624_283; Page: 27A; Enumeration District: 0032; FHL microfilm: 1374296
[iv] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

[v] Year: 1920; Census Place: Lamotte, Crawford, Illinois; Roll: T625_364; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31
[vi] Year: 1930; Census Place: Lamotte, Crawford, Illinois; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0006; FHL microfilm: 2340244
[vii] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks II – Week 2 Challenge

This week’s prompt is "challenge” which is not an unusual thing in genealogy. It seems that our ancestors are always trying to thwart us. They hide in the records, they change their names and ages, and are less than forthcoming about their place of birth among other things.

I have dealt with all these things but the biggest challenge I have had so far has been dealing with Irish records.

National Library of Ireland map

We have all heard about the burned records from the time of the “troubles” during the period between 1918 and 1925. Yes it happened but many local parish records survived and have been put online for free by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) . They are not indexed, and you need to read them page by page.

Challenge number one: you need to know the name of the parish where the event took place.

Challenge number two: you know the naming pattern to expect but how many aunts and uncles did the subject have who all used the same names for their children? A subject might have six or seven first cousins about the same age with the same name.

Challenge number three: Did the event actually take place where the family lived?

Challenge number four: What information might a record provide?

Challenge number five: Will the record be legible?

An example: I am looking for a marriage record for John Hennessy and Mary Hayes who I know were Catholic and lived in Limerick, Ireland. Limerick, Ireland has in excess of 50 parishes. I also know that Bulgaden is a parish in Limerick which has been mentioned in connection with the Hennessy family. I believe the marriage to have occurred between 1804 and 1813 based on unsourced information obtained from others. The marriage records before 1812 are not available so now what?

I have developed a work pattern. I will go to Find My Past on a free Friday and do a name search for John Hennessy born about 1785 (+/- 10 years) in County Limerick and note any marriage events. If I see one that appears to be what I am looking for, I will note the parish and then move over to the NLI records to scroll for the record. 

If I do find a record and it is legible, it will show the names of the two parties who married and where they each lived. It will also show the names of the witnesses present who were usually a member of each family. It may also show the groom’s occupation depending on the priest. The record may be in either Latin or English again depending on the priest.

So far in my quest for the marriage record of John Hennessy, I have search the records of ten parishes in Limerick with one more to go before I switch to the adjacent counties of Cork and Tipperary. I have encountered about twenty John Hennessys and probably fifteen of them married a Mary.

To help with my search I have printed a map of Limerick showing all of its parishes which I have marked as “searched”. I am also keeping a research log so I can keep track of where I’ve been.

If you come across a John Hennessy and Mary Hayes of County Limerick with children named James, Thomas, Patrick, John, Michael, Winifred, Mary, Alice, Margaret please let me know I’m looking for them.