Saturday, May 25, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 20 Two Cousins in the Civil War (reprinted from 2013)

My husband's Ferguson ancestors were a family of soldiers. They can be found in every war since the Revolution serving their country. This is one of the stories I have found.

Parson's Battery Position
photo - Wikipedia
On 12 April 1861, the day of the first battle of the Civil War,brothers William Fergason and Jeremiah Ferguson were farmers in the small community of Willow Hill in Jasper County in southern Illinois.  The crops typical of the area included buckwheat, Indian corn, oats, wheat, potatoes, and apples.  There were also a few cows, pigs, and chickens in addition to horses used for plowing and transportation.  Soon their concerns about the price of seed or too much or too little rain would turn to worries about the was as each man watched his oldest son go off to war.

Jeremiah was the first to wave good-bye to his son George W as he enlisted on 14 Aug 1862 in Granville, IL.  He was twenty years old and 5 ft 9 3/4 in tall.  He was assigned as a private to Company E of the 123 Il  US Infantry and mustered into the unit on 6 Sep 1862.  His unit was sent to Louisville, Ky then on to join the the 3 brigade of the 10th division of the Army of Ohio under the command of General Buell.  After chasing General Bragg's army into Kentucky they became involved in the Battle of Perryville.  This battle became known as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War with casualties in excess of 7,677 from both sides.
On the Union side 894 soldiers died.  George W Ferguson was killed in action on 8 Oct 1862 at Perryville, KY.  It had been less than two months since he had enlisted.
The Battle of Perryville
photo - Wikipedia
On a cold winter day William A Ferguson, son of William and nephew of Jeremiah joined the Union forces.  7 Feb 1865 Captain Scott enlisted William for 1 year at Olney, Illinois.  He was a Private assigned to Company B 155 IL US Infantry.  William joined the army with Oliver Allison another 18 year old farmer from Willow Hill.  They moved to Louisville, KY and then to their mission to guard the block houses of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad from Nashville to Duck River.  They were mustered out on 4 Sep 1865 at Murfreesboro, TN by Captain Wilson.  William returned to Willow Hill to marry and continue farming.
Cousins George and William Ferguson shared many things, but both did not return from war.  They shared grandparents, occupations, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  They even both had grey eyes.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 19 “Nurture”

google images

Nurturing is “the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.”[i]

Nurturers not only provide food, clothing and shelter, they also instill the values that are important to them. Things like respect for themselves and others, willingness to serve the community, patriotism, love of knowledge and the love of God.

Among my ancestors, the women were the primary nurturers. This is probably true of most families, and I say primary because the men were also nurturers to a degree.
My grandparents and grandparents instilled the love of God in us by being role models in the practice of religion.
My maternal grandparents nurtured their children with a love and respect for education by sacrificing to provide a good education to all of their children. All of their children finished high school and most of them attended some college. This was in the early 1900s when it was not common to attend school for so long. In fact, I was very surprised to find in the 1940 US Federal Census that both of my grandparents had finished high school before leaving Ireland for the United States.[ii]

Volunteering was another quality that was modeled in our lives, again by showing and doing not by preaching. We quietly observed as our mother, a busy mother of nine, found time to serve as a youth leader, and later she volunteered to hand bead sweaters for a charitable group to raffle in a fund-raising project. As a result, most of my siblings have volunteered in their community as room parents, youth leaders, teachers, hospice workers, and community leaders. I feel that this is an important aspect of life and one that is easily passed down in a family. Children imitate what their parents do.

As time passes, I watch with pride as each generation passes these values down to the next generation. This, I believe is how our civilization will survive.

[i] google
[ii] Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T627_982; Page: 9B; lines 57 and 58, Enumeration District: 103-1927;, images online, accessed 11 May 2019,

Saturday, May 4, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 18 “Road Trip”

Every year our family took a road trip. Every year to the same place. Every year to “Aunt Kathy’s Cottage”. It was such a special place that it was always capitalized when we spoke of it.

Our time was always the last two weeks of August. In a time before time-shares, we had a specific slot of time to use “Aunt Kathy’s Cottage”.
Lady Jane cottage owned by Aunt Kathy
First a little background about “Aunt Kathy’s Cottage”. At some time during the 1930’s my Uncle Jack purchased a small cottage on the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan. It was in a little community where the houses lining the beach road were known by name rather than street numbers. Names like “White Waves” and “Swiss Chalet” or family names since the houses stayed in the same family for generations. Uncle Jack named his cottage after his wife Jane, calling it the “Lazy Jane”. Aunt Jane was not amused! The cottage was quickly renamed the “Lady Jane” and soon Uncle Jack sold it to his sister Kathleen.

Kathleen never married but she kept the cottage for the use of other family members. Each of her siblings and their families had their assigned time slot and the cottage was rented out for the month of July in order to cover the taxes and other maintenance costs.

Ready to leave for Long Beach
So each summer about the fifteenth of August, mom would begin packing for the annual road trip to Long Beach, Indiana. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the trip from Elmhurst, Illinois to Long Beach, Indiana tool about four hours. It was a time before expressways and toll roads. Dad would load the white canvas laundry bags that held our clothes. Sometimes there were three of the huge white bags to stuff in the trunk, it depended on how many of us there were at the time. In the beginning three or four children, later all nine children would pile into the pale-yellow station wagon. Provided there were no flat tires, traffic jams, or weather delays, we would arrive at the cottage about four hours later, hot and thirsty. As soon as we were released from the car, off would come shoes and socks and down the steps we would race onto the sand and then to the cool lake waters.

The next two weeks would be spent barefoot and on the beach! The routine was breakfast, beach, lunch, rest time from 1 to 3 (to keep us out of the hot sun and it was also a time when polio was a major concern), back to the beach, dinner, beach till dusk and then read, board games or card playing until bedtime, There was no television or telephone at the cottage. It was an idyllic time. Because we went at the same time every year and there were other families that did the same, we had friendships to renew.
At Long Beach circa 1957
Mom and dad didn’t get a vacation though! Barefeet and beachtime meant there was always sandy floors to be swept even though we rinsed our feet at the back door. The kitchen stove was a gas stove that required that each burner be lit with a match each time it was used. The toaster was one that toasted 2 slices but only one side at a time, so you needed to manually turn the pieces before they burned. There was no washing machine or dryer so when it was time to do laundry, mom would pack up the laundry bags and dad would drive her into Michigan City to the laundro-mat. While mom did the laundry, we would go to the local dairy for a milkshake. Dad always worked on repairs and maintenance such as painting or replacing the outside stairway or re-carpeting the inside stairs. They truly sacrificed to provide us with summers to remember!

Labor Day weekend we would pack the car back up and do a final sweep out of the cottage before the long ride home. The day after Labor Day, we would go back to school, thus ending another summer adventure.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 17 “In Worship”

St Anthony Church, Oberselters, Hesse, Germany
photo credit Volker Thies (Asdrubal)

Our family has long and deep connections with the Roman Catholic Church. Three of my four grandparents come from generations of Catholics. The fourth, a Norwegian, came from a country with a state mandated religion. Most of these churches kept very detailed records of their parishioners. I use the word most because the Irish records record only minimal information.

Most of my family research has been done with Church Records since in many instances they pre-date state or town vital records.

My paternal grandfather, Adolph Hansen was born in Oslo, Norway. His father was a music instructor in the Norwegian Army, so Adolph and his siblings were christened in the military parish of the Akershus Garrison of the Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Using these records I have been able to trace this family’s roots back to 1800 in spite of the use of partonomic naming system. Norwegian church records for a christening include the name, age, and birthplace of the parents of the child in addition to the sponsors. Marriage records include name, age, and birthplace of both the bride and groom and their parents.  In Norway, Confirmation was required before marriage, thus adding another record of a person’s life. After he immigrated, it does not appear that my grandfather practiced his Lutheran faith since he married a Roman Catholic and his children were raised Catholic.

My paternal grandmother, Henrietta Burbach was raised in the Catholic religion by her German parents and grandparents. Her grandfather Georg Burbach had grown-up in Oberselters, Hesse Nassau, Prussia. His family had lived there since 1732 as recorded in the Church Records of St Anthony Parish in Oberselters. German church records included the names, ages, and birthplaces of all the individuals named in a record and also included the father’s occupation. As with other Catholic parish records, the sponsors of a child’s baptism were often a sibling or other relative of the parents. About 1848, Georg Burbach left Oberselters and journeyed to Villmar, a farming village about 15 kilometers from Oberselters. There he met and married Catharina Caspari. They were married in Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where they would bury their first-born son, Adam, just before they left for America with their two remaining sons, Hermann and Johann. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they settled, they became members of St Joseph Parish. That is where their children and grandchildren grew-up. St Joseph Church would see Burbach Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, and Burials from the 1860s through the 1930s and perhaps later.

Meanwhile in Limerick, Ireland Michael Connery and Alice Fleming would grow up in adjacent villages. Alice, the baby of her family, was baptized in Ballylanders but would need to travel to Michigan for her marriage. Alice received her sacraments at the Church of the Assumption in Ballylanders before traveling to America in 1892. Michael Connery attended St Andrew’s parish while he lived in Kilfinane, Limerick. Both Irish parish churches were established in the 1700s. Irish church records usually only tell the name of the child, parents, and sponsors. Only occasionally will they name the place people were from, What to include seemed to be at the discretion of the priest.

The Catholic Church has played an important role in my family history and is still practiced by many branches of the family both descendants of my German ancestors and Irish ancestors.

Monday, April 22, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16 An "Out of Place" Burbach

Johan Burbach, my great-uncle, was born in Villmar, Hessen Nassau on 15 April 1854 and baptized on 16 April 1854 in Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Villmar.[i] He was welcomed by his parents Georg Burbach and Catherina Caspari.
In 1856 the Burbach family left Villmar and made their way across two continents and the Atlantic Ocean to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[ii] They had been encouraged to make the move by Catharina’s aunt and uncle who were already living in Wisconsin.

In Milwaukee, Georg worked at many jobs to provide for his family. He was a peddler, laborer, drover, and eventually became a stock broker at a time when the meat industry was in it’s “heyday”.  His sons attended school and worked hard to achieve the family goal, to have their own business.

John Burbach worked as a butcher alongside his father and brother Herman during the latter half of the 1870s.  The two brothers married and raised their families together in Milwaukee. To all appearances they never left Wisconsin after they arrived in 1856.

Imagine my surprise when a random search for more information on John Burbach turned up a marriage record for John Burbach and Stefania Guember in New York[iii]! What? The names were the same as the information I had recorded for John Burbach in Milwaukee. John and his wife Stephanie appeared in all of the appropriate census for Milwaukee.

Checking the Milwaukee City Directory on fold3, I found listings for both Georg and Herman for the years 1875-1877 but no listing for John who returns to the Milwaukee City Directory as a butcher in 1878.

When did John go to New York? Why did he leave Milwaukee? Records show that Stephanie was born in Baden in 1855 and her parents were Stephen Grumber and Mary Ann Schmidt and her obituary mentions a surviving brother Joseph. Clearly there is more research to be done on my great-uncle and his wife.

[i]  Villmar Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Villmar), Kirchenbuch 1632 - 1884, 16 Apr 1854, Birth and Baptism of Johan Burbach; FHL microfilm 1272247.
[ii] Struck Wolf-Heino, "Die Auswanderung aus dem Herzogtum Nassau 1806-1866," passenger and immigration lists index,, ( : 28 February 2004), immigration of Georg Burbach and family page 141; Gale Research Company.
[iii]  Marriage, (17 September 1875), "New York, New York City Marriage Records 1829-1940: FHL film 1543916; New York City Municipal Archives, New York, New York.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 12 "12" Who was Karen Dorthea?

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks – prompt is 12

For the prompt “12” I elected to use the 12th person back in my Paternal line.
Karen Dorthea Cristiansen is today’s topic.

Karen was born 2 Jan1833 and christened on 24 March 1833 in Kristiana, Norway.[i] Her parents were Pedar Christiansen and Anne Margarethe Olsdatter. Two of her sponsors were Karen Dorthea Siversdatter and Ole Gregersen.

Karen married Daniel Danielsen on 8 Feb 1857[ii] in the same parish she was christened in. According to the church register Daniel’s father was Christen Danielsen. Other than on his marriage record Daniel used the last name of Christiansen.

Daniel and Karen began their family while still living in Oslo with the birth of their first child, daughter Dorette on 2 Nov 1856. She was christened on 27 Feb 1857 shortly after their marriage.[iii]

Looking at these dates and places, I believe Karen’s father and her husband were both in the military at the time of her birth and her marriage. This appears to be a common pattern of behavior for the soldiers of the time. After their military service they returned to their place of birth.

After Dorette’s birth, the family left Oslo and moved to the commune of Fet, where they lived and farmed. In the 1865 census they had added sons Olaf and Otto to the little family.

The 1875 census reveals that the family had added four additional children, Magne, Olga, Oscar, and Dagmar. Dorette would be the first to leave home when she married Johannes Adolf Hansen in Dec 1876. 

Karen Dorthea Christiansen died on 19 June 1884 at the age of 51. She was buried on 25 June at Trefold In Oslo Norway.[iv]

Oscar would be the first of Karen’s seven children to immigrate to the United States in 1885 at the age of 17. Several of Karen’s other children would also cross the seas to settle in America and four of Dorette’s oldest children would also travel to America after their mother’s death in 1887.

Unfortunately, Karen died before she would know the success her children would achieve in America.

 [i] Church of Norway (Oslo, Oslo, Norway), Parish Register No 6, p 165, christening of Karen Dorthea Christiansen; digital image, Digitalarkivet ( : online 24 March 2019).
[ii] Garnisonmenigheten Parish Register (Oslo County, Oslo), Parish Register, p203 - Marriages 1842-1859, Marriage of Karen Dorthea and Daniel; FHL microfilm .
[iii] Garnisonmenigheten Parish Register (Oslo County, Oslo), Parish Register, book 9 page 77, Birth and Baptism of Dorette Christensen; FHL microfilm .
[iv] Norway, Select Burials, 1666-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. FHL Film Number:1282523 Reference ID:              item 3 b IV p 151
Original data: Norway Burials, 1666-1927. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 11 Large Family

google images

This topic gives me a plethora of choices. There is my Norwegian great-grandfather who had ten surviving children with two wives, or there is my German 3rd great-grandfather who had 13 children with two wives. More recently I could choose my own family since I am one of nine children or my paternal aunt Dorothy who has eight children. (I always kind of felt sorry for my dad’s parents who only had two children but wound up with seventeen grandchildren.) I could write about my mother and her siblings, numbering ten or either of my maternal grandparents who also came from large families. Did I say I had lots of choices?

Decision made: I will write about my Grandmother Alice Fleming and her siblings. My plan is to start at the top of the list and take them in order.

Mary Anne was the oldest and the first to marry and the first to immigrate. Mary Ann Fleming married Thomas Walsh on 24 Oct 1863 in Ballylanders, Limerick, Ireland. They immigrated to Detroit, Michigan in the 1about 1865, based on the age and birthplace of their oldest daughter, before settling in Port Huron, Michigan where they raised eleven children before Thomas’s death in 1896.

John H Fleming also initially immigrated to Detroit before settling in Eau Claire to establish an Undertaking business. He married Lavinia Flattery in Michigan about 1873 and after her untimely death in 1882, he married Ellen Waters in 1887 and was the father of six children.

Eliza Fleming was born in Limerick in 1850 and married John Hogan in Ireland. John died in Ireland and Eliza then immigrated to Chicago in 1884 with her four children.

Michael Joseph Fleming was born in 1852 and immigrated to the United States before 1880. In the 1880 census, Michael is living in the Port Huron home of his sister Mary Ann Walsh. Michael became a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit. At one time he was the chaplain of St Joseph Academy in Adrian, Michigan. This is the school that several of his nieces and great-nieces attended. After originally being buried in Detroit, Fr Michael Fleming is now buried on the grounds of the Dominican Motherhouse in Adrian, MI.

Thomas, called “Poor Tom” because of a severe knee injury, came to the United States and worked as a bartender in Detroit. It is not known that he ever married and he died in Detroit, MI in 1891.

Hannah Fleming, born in 1856, was also living in the Port Huron home of Mary Ann Walsh and in 1882 became a Sister of Providence. She joined the order in Terre Haute, Indiana and became Sister Mary Regina, She died in 1933 and is buried in St Mary of the Woods, Vigo County, Indiana.

James Fleming was born in 1858 and immigrated in 1879 at twenty years of age. In the 1900 census, he is living in Biwabik, St Louis, Minnesota with his wife Mary Brennan and three daughters. His occupation was a tailor. During his lifetime, James held several occupations and was said to be something of an artist and a poet. He and his wife had nine children and left the Midwest for Texas before his death in 1958.

Patt S Fleming was born 12 Jan 1860 and is the only family member to immigrate but decide to return to Ireland. It is said that he believed you had to work too hard in America. I don’t have dates for his immigration and return but by 1893 he had opened a “Fine Groceries, Wine and Spirits” shop at One Sandymount in Dublin. He married Kathleen English and they had four children. Patt died in Dublin in 1933.

Ed Fleming was born 12 Jan 1862 and died in Sept 1865.

William Fleming was born 8 Jan 1864 and died 8 Sep 1865.

Edward Edmund (or EE) was born 7 Mar 1866 in Ballylanders, Limerick, Ireland and arrived in the United States about 1885. He may have gone to stay with his brother John since all records indicate that was his only place of residence. He did journey to Chicago in 1890 where he married Hannah G Griffin. EE was in the jewelry business although records show he was also an undertaker with John and had some kind of store selling pianos with John and James. EE had three children and died in Eau Claire, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He and my Grandmother Alice were the closest of her siblings and there were many visits between them.

Alice was born on 1 Jan 1872 in Ballylanders and owing to the advanced ages of her parents was allowed to do pretty much as she willed. Perhaps that is why word was sent to Michigan that she was “running wild” and should be taken to America to be married. Fr Michael Fleming was delegated to return to Ireland to bring his sister to the Michigan home of Mary Walsh. Alice had already set her heart on marrying Michael Connery to whom she was introduced by her friend Ellen Connery. Michael was home to visit and impress his family with how well he had done for himself in America. After Alice moved to Michigan she made several trips to Wisconsin to visit her brothers and may have been able to meet Michael while traveling between Michigan and Wisconsin. In any event, she and Michael were married by Fr Michael Fleming at the Port Huron home of her sister Mary Ann Walsh on 28 June 1893 and moved to Chicago. There they raised their family of ten children. Alice died in 1962 in Chicago.

I said it was a large family and I can’t begin to count the descendants but I’m trying to keep the record straight!