Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Dad

December 28 was the 53rd anniversary of my dad's death.  He was 49 years old and had never been sick.  He had complained since Christmas day of pain in his arms and indigestion.  It was the holidays and we got a pool table for Christmas that year, so who knew?  Overnight mom became a 42 year old widow with 9 children between 17 and 2 years of age.

I was the 17 year old and was just beginning to know my dad as a person.  Then children remained children, and were treated as such, until they had finished school.

Who was my dad?  Dad was: someone who wrote little poems commemorating life's events, the birth of a son, mom's illness, a sprained ankle, family travels, etc.  He was "Uncle Don" who would visit his sister and her family and empty the change in his pockets by pulling them inside out to make it rain coins so he could watch the kids scramble for the money.  Dad was the husband who worked late on Thursday nights and always brought home the new issue of "The Saturday Evening Post".  Usually there was a pint of butter pecan ice cream or a Mounds Bar included.  Dad was the man who dearly loved walking his family into church on Sunday morning and watching us fill an entire pew.  After church on Sunday, Dad would walk to the bakery to get bismarks (jelly filled donuts covered in granulated sugar) and the Sunday paper.  Dad loved children and babies.  Dad was the official family chauffeur who would take various grandparents and aunts and uncles to the train station for their trips.  In fact, the day he died, the plan was for him to take Aunt Kathy to the train for a trip to Adrian, Mi to watch her niece Sr Marie Mercy (aka Helen Hardie) take her vows as a novice.  Dad was an athlete.  He played on the YMCA state championship basketball team and was always up for a game of driveway hoops or baseball at the beach.  He loved watching the Bears football games and playing poker.  One year dad ordered a set of custom, handpainted plates for the dining room.  They were white plates with faces representing each of us with our names on them.  The faces were in the style of the 1890s with top-knot hairdos and mustaches.  The only colors used were black and red on the white plates.

These have been random memories of dad, in no particular order of importance.  They are just my attempt to show the person I proudly call Dad!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Holiday Happenings

Often times December to mid-January birthdays and anniversaries get over shadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we’re going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.

In my family there are lots of celebrations in December and January and we have always made a real effort to make sure that Christmas and New Years celebrations did not overshadow the other events.  

For starters we have birthdays of two sisters, Peg on Dec 16 and Alice on Jan 1, in addition to the Dec 6 birthday of brother Tom.  Moving to the next generation we celebrate the birthdays of Nieces and nephews Leslie, Nicole, Holly and Nicholas. (Do you see a Christmas theme here?)

There was also the family of my dad's only sister Dorothy.  Dorothy's birthday was Dec 26 and two of her daughters were also born on Dec 26.  Dorothy's husband Robert (Bob) Murray was born on Dec 16.

Overshadowing all of the celebrations was the death of my dad on Dec 28.  He was only 49 and had never been sick.

Dad was extremely proud of his family of nine children and loved to walk us down the main street of town on the way to church on Sunday.  We would fill an entire pew at Mass and then some of us would walk to the bakery after church to get bismarks and the Sunday paper.

I was 17 when dad died, so I can't evaluate him on an adult level, but I don't ever remember seeing him angry.  He worked hard and played hard.  He loved sports of all kinds and wrote poems about events in our lives, births, illnesses, successes etc. 

I often think of him beaming as he looks down on how each of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have developed.  He would be VERY proud of each and every one! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fruitcake - Friend or Foe? Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

I have always liked fruitcake.  Well maybe not always, if I am honest I would have to admit that the candied fruit took some time getting used to, but when touted as a grown-up acquired taste I was eager to like it!  Besides as an afternoon treat served with cream cheese and a cup of hot tea I really did enjoy it.

After I was married and had my own household, I actually made fruitcake as gifts for several years until I realized that others didn't share my enthusiasm.  It was even worse with my kids.  For about ten years they had a fruitcake that they shared by re-gifting it every year.  One year it was left on the floor too long and the ants got it.  End of fruitcake.

Last year my daughter surprised me with a very good fruitcake that she had ordered.  It is wonderful but I could only eat about one fourth of it.  They truly do last forever.  I am enjoying a slice as I write this!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The 2012 Christmas Geneameme

  1. Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family? While it is not a unique tradition we used to do a pinata and Advent Wreath.
  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day? Church attendance has always been an important part of Christmas and has varied between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning depending on the age of the children.
  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa? Doesn't everyone believe in Santa?
  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?  As a child we went caroling in the neighborhood but I think it is a disappearing tradition.  Maybe I can get my granddaughters and their friends to try it this year!
  5. What’s your favourite Christmas music? I LOVE all Christmas music.
  6. What’s your favourite Christmas carol?  That is a hard one but I think I would choose Silent Night.
  7. Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?  Just introduced my granddaughter to "It's a Wonderful Life" never tired of it.
  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  We have had a grab bag for many years since there are nine of us but always for the littles that we see during the holidays.
  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?  Christmas dinner is inside at the home of the host.  Our family rotated the hospitality duties.  Every four years we got to host Christmas dinner.
  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?  That has varied over the years, sometimes turkey or ham, one year my husband and I did roast goose and beef wellington, this year as we celebrate in Texas it will be smoked brisket.
  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?  The only time I make Rum Balls is at Christmas and we do Gingerbread Houses at Christmas.
  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited? No.
  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?  I remember spiced peaches and spiced apple rings.  Fruitcake was always present.
  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  I used to make cinnamon bread and rum balls and sometimes our family grab bag required a homemade gift.  I remember doing a fish shaped clock and etched beer glasses among other gifts.
  15. Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?  When we lived within commuting distance, we rotated between siblings but now we live too far to travel.
  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ? It is different in  that it is smaller without the extended family and we will include others who are far from family.
  17. How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins?  Usually we concentrate on family for Christmas but send cards to friends to wish them Merry Christmas of Happy Holidays.
  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?  We decorate with lights but not over the top.
  19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue? No but most of the houses decorate with lights and lawn displays.
  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?  No.
  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? No I haven't but I believe one of my sisters did in California.
  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  We have always spent Christmas with family whether at our house or theirs.
  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?  When I lived in Illinois we usually had snow, not so much in Florida and Texas.
  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year? Yes always except the year we did a cruise in December and that was just wrong.
  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  We have had both real and artificial trees depending on the circumstances.
  26. Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?  The toy soldiers my husband made.
  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?  Both are important in different ways but the winner is probably Christmas.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cookies

When I was growing up as the oldest of nine children, I don't remember mom doing a lot of Christmas cookie baking.  There were the occasional batches of oatmeal, chocolate chip, brownies and so on through out the year but I don't remember a concerted effort of Christmas baking.  What I do remember is Maurice Lenell Cookies.  Usually a two pound tin of them.  The tins featured a different Currier and Ives type of Christmas scene each year and were always saved!

When I married, my husband worked for the telephone company and the Telephone Pioneers sold the cookies every year as a fund raiser.  We bought them every year and saved the tins.  I used the tins for the cookies I made with my children.  In my house we made rum balls, spritz cookies, and sugar cookies to supplement the cookies which arrived from Ohio every Christmas.  My husbands Hungarian made wonderful cookies filled with apricot, prune, nutmeats,and poppy seed.  I have tried to replicate her cookies to no avail.    I recently came across what I believe is almost exactly her recipe thanks to Lisa of the Smallest Leaf blog and I am anxious to try them.

The first time we went to visit our grandchildren in Germany we began building gingerbread houses with them.  The first ones used a rectangular butter box as a base and instead of gingerbread we used graham crackers.  It didn't matter there was a lot of candy to decorate with!  This year the girls will build five gingerbread cottages.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus

Our family always believed in Santa Claus!  Around Thanksgiving as the days grew shorter, we began watching the frosty windows to see if we could catch the elves peaking in.  Before Santa Clause came, there were other special days to celebrate and add to the mystery and suspense of the season.

December 6 is the feast of St Nicholas and the day to put your shoe on the doorstep for an early surprise.  There were usually a few nuts, an orange and maybe a small toy.  My kids sometimes got something that resembled a prize from a cereal.

December 6 has always had another special meaning for our family - it is my brother's birthday.
Happy Birthday Tom!

santa photo credit

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christman Memories - Outside Decorations

In the 1950s it was not common for individual homes to have outside decorations where I grew up.  Most families tried to put the lit and decorated tree in front of a window so it could be seen by those passing by on the street. There were however wreaths on front doors everywhere.  Wreaths were usually green with red ribbons on them.  Sometimes they had holly berries and pine cones on them.  Occasionally you could see a white wreath or a green one with flocking or fake snow on it.

Our wreaths were very unusual since they were made of candy.  Really!  Aunt Ruth made them for us and we loved them.  They looked like this. Note the scissors attached for easy removal of goodies.  Our front door was very popular with the kids in the neighborhood.

photo credit

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cards

Growing up, Christmas cards were a very important part of the holidays.  At the time our mail was delivered twice a day and close to Christmas that included Sundays!  If the card was addressed to Mr and Mrs and Family one of us kids got to open the card.  After the card was opened and passed around to be admired, it was added to the burgundy tray on an end table.  The tray was similar to the one above but also had gold fruit on the edge.  As the number of cards increased they were placed between the books in the living room bookcase with the fronts facing out.  I know Mom sent out cards every year to all of their friends and family.

When I had my own home, I followed the same tradition, even keeping a list of who we received cards from every year so I wouldn't forget someone.  In several of our homes we had louvered doors in a dining room or hall.  Our cards were slid into the louvers for display.  Other times we taped a ribbon to the top of a door and stapled the cards to the ribbon.

Now that we use social media, I send out fewer cards but there are still some long time friends that I send a card.  Some years I have done a newsletter and some years not.

photo credit victoriasatticca via google images,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 1 Der Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum is how the song begins.  While we think it means O Christmas Tree it actually means O Fir Tree!  Because of my German heritage, I have long been aware of the German custom of Christmas trees and using candles to light the tree.

Over the years we have had various types of trees.  Usually our trees were about 6 to 7 feet tall.  They have been real, artificial, long needle, short needle, purchased from a tree lot and self cut.  My husband and I as well as out kids grew up in the Chicago area so getting the tree always involved boots, gloves or mittens, and usually hot chocolate afterwards.

Growing up we always had real trees but when my children were little and wanted the tree up from early December onward, we switched to artificial trees for safety reasons.  Much later after we moved to Florida, we actually drove to Georgia to go tree hunting with Dave's sister and her family.  It was still snowy and the area was a forest of trees.  We made our selections and had help tying the trees to the tops of the cars.    It worked pretty well going back to town but driving down I-75 back to Florida beat up our tree pretty well.  After that it was back to the artificial trees since there was no hope of keeping a real tree alive for a couple of weeks in south Florida.

Decorating the tree was done in parts.  Dad did the lights and usually the ornaments and the kids got to add the tinsel.  Dad was a perfectionist about the tinsel and wanted each strand individually placed.  As kids we were much more interested in throwing handfuls at the tree to get finished faster.  With the artificial trees the tinsel was replaced by silver and gold garlands.  Dave always adjusted them to his vision.

photo from World Map Switzerland Valais Mund   via google images

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Name Game

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver!  Randy says:  Your mission, should you decide to accept it (where's my Mission Impossible music...drat, lost it), is:

This SNGF is based on the Baby Name Wizard at  

1)  Go to the Baby Name Wizard site and see how popular your name was over the 20th century, and how popular a baby name it is today.  Check out your spouse, your children and your grandchildren (if you have some!) also.  

2)  What does your name mean (find out on

3)  Tell us about it, and show us your graphs, in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, in a Facbook status or a Google+ Stream post.  

I was given the name Donna by my parents in 1942 at that time Donna ranked number 17 and peaked at number 10 in the 1950s.  In the 1970s it ranked number 64 and 208 in the 1980s.  In 2010 it was 984.

My husband was named David in 1939.  Then the name David ranked 11 and reached its peak in the 1970s at 2.  In the 1960s when we named our son David the name was ranked 5.  Our daughter Laura was named in the 1960s and her name ranked 16 and is currently at number 275.  Interestingly Laura was ranked at 21 in the 1880s before it dropped to 87 in the 1940's.  Wonder if the movie "Laura" played any part in that.

Our grandchildren are Aidan named in 1996 when it ranked 311 and currently at 94 after peaking at 40 in 2004.  Granddaughter Mackenzie was named in 1999 when her name was number 96 and it is currently 68.  Brigid was never in the top 1000 in any time period from the 1880s until 2011.  All of my grandchildren's names are spelling dependant.  There are other variants of each of their names which would change the ranking.

The most interesting part of this exercise is how popular Donna was a name.  Growing up I hated my name.  I always wanted to be Cathy, Judy, Patty, or one of those other "y" names.
The meaning of Donna that I was always aware of was Latin/Italian for lady, however in modern terminology it appers that Donna is also the feminine form of Donald (world ruler).  This makes sense as I am a first born and my father's name was Donald.

Thanks Randy this was fun and I learned a lot!  Sorry about the graphs or lack of but I couldn't figure out how to copy and paste them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving - Three Generations of Celebrations

As I spend the day watching my daughter and her family prepare for the Thanksgiving Feast, it brings to mind other celebrations of the day.

My parents celebration preparations began the day before Thanksgiving when the turkey came out of the fridge and took a bath in the kitchen sink.  While under cold water the pin feathers had to be removed.  It was a cold and tedious task.
Thursday morning the work began in earnest.  Potatoes and parsnips to peel, tables to set and decorate, and green bean and sweet potato casseroles to be made.  Aunt Kathy usually made the cranberry orange relish and Aunt Ruth brought a jello mold.  There were also glass dishes of olives and pickles as well as sides of spiced peaches and spiced apple rings.  Under my grandmother's chandelier our huge dining table was transformed into a banquet.  The chandelier traveled from my grandparents home to my parents home and later to my home.  It currently resides in my brother's home.  In addition to that massive table there was, of course, always a kids table.  Both tables were decorated with candles in the shape of Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys.  We loved playing with the candles which were never lit but saved from year to year and later they appeared on many of my Thanksgiving tables.

With time these candles became scratched and nicked but they were still dearly loved and a part of our traditions.  Using the "good" china and silverware was also a tradition and helped to make the day special for everyone.  We were taught to use the best of everything to make our guests, be they family or friends, feel special and welcome.  My mother's green and gold china was a favorite of mine and I loved setting the table for the holidays.  Just imagine a huge table covered with a white damask tablecloth and set with gleaming silver and the green and gold china.  As children our eyes sparkled with anticipation,             

This china is still in the family as in the table it was placed on.  The table has been slightly altered since few people have need or space for a table that seats 10.  The table now lives in my son's home as a coffee table.
It is a large coffee table about 45 x 60.  Great size for doing puzzles and playing games.

Until we had children, my husband and I usually went to his family or mine for the holidays.  Sometimes both one for dinner and one for dessert.  But eventually we had our own home with a dining room and the coveted chandelier of my grandparents.  My dining table was not as large as my mother's but then I didn't have 9 children,  My table had seating for six and with the addition of 2 leaves could seat ten or 12.I didn't have Aunt Kathy or Aunt Ruth to bring their offerings, so I resorted to canned cranberry sauce.  I chilled the can, opened both ends to slide it out and sliced it to make it pretty.  My china was rose and silver and my tablecloth was cotton lace but the Pilgrim and Indian candles came to the party too.  We usually did about a 20 lb turkey but I usually did mine in a Nesco Roaster to save room in the oven for sides and rolls.  Our family tradition was that I always forgot the time and scorched the bottoms of the brown n serve rolls.  The last Thanksgiving we had as an entire family my kids had a $5.00 bet that I would burn the rolls.

Although they are not candles, Pilgrims and Indians still grace the table in my daughter's home.  They are making 2 smaller turkeys.  One in the oven and one in the smoker.  We will share the day with another military family and a single soldier.  The typical sides of green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows will be present along with homemade cranberry orange relish and homemade rolls.  Mackenzie is doing the mashed potatoes while Brigid is making place favors.

I would say that through the generations there is more that is alike than there are things that are different.  Yet another blessing to be thankful for.

The Chair - A Thanksgiving Memory

The chair sat in the corner of the living room.  It wasn't a confy cozy chair so it wasn't used often, but it was a beautiful mahogany arm chair small in proportion and delicate without being dainty.  The seat was covered in a deep purple velvet.  Usually no one used the chair but that changed on Thanksgiving.  The chair was occupied by a lady named Lorraine.  I don't remember if we called her Aunt or not but we probably should have.  (She was almost 10 years older than my dad.)  Lorraine came for Thanksgiving almost every year in the 1950's.  She had short curly salt and pepper hair and usually wore a beige silk dress with a white lace collar.  She sat in the corner quietly waiting for dinner.  If you went over to talk to her she would discuss her hobby of collecting matchbooks.  She had an extensive collection which she would display in local libraries.  I never knew just how she was related to the family but it was enough that she was there.  It seemed almost that the chair was there just for her.

Much later, after I began doing genealogy, I discovered that she was my dad's cousin and a niece to my grandmother.  Lorraine Henrietta Burbach Gist was born in Febrary 1901 to George and Rose Schmitt Burbach in Milwaukee, WI.  She probably was married in Milwaukee to Mr Gist, and sometime after 1951 she moved to the Chicago area  and died there in 1985.  Sadly my father died in 1959 and his mother in 1960.  Unfortunately, we lost touch with that side of the family which only makes finding the details more difficult.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tech Tuesday: My Nook Tablet

Ruth of Ruth's Genealogy wrote recently about turning her IPad 2 into a lean mean genealogy machine and reading her post encouraged me to review how I use my Nook Color.

I purchased a Nook Color over a year ago after losing my original Nook while traveling.  Since I enjoyed using the Nook so much for reading, I decided to move to the Nook Color as a replacement.  I had also heard about using a N2A card to turn the Nook Color into an android tablet.  I got the Nook Color the day after I lost my original Nook and then I went online and ordered a N2A card. It took about 3 days for the card to come.

I've had the converted Nook Color for about a year now and I love using it for everything away from home.  I take it with when I go to the genealogy room at the library and when I go to a Family Search Center for research. The N2A card is the gingerbread version of android (v 2.3.7) and allows me to install android apps at little or no cost.  I have,  Families ( a mobile version of Legacy Family Tree) and My Heritage for genealogy.  I have also loaded the Kindle, BN, and Overdrive reader apps to I am never without a book.    I even downloaded the syllabus for the genealogy cruise I took last spring and was able to take notes and highlight the lectures.  For notes I use Evernote which syncs with my laptop and phone.  Using Dropbox and Google Docs lets me access all of my files and they are also synced automatically.  For printing I use the Google cloud app.  Supposedly with the google cloud app for printing I can print to my home printer from anywhere but I have yet to test that.  The only things missing from my tablet are a camera and a scanner but both of those are present on my android phone.  I have an entire traveling office that fits in my purse.  The extra bonus is that the Nook Color weighs less than a pound.

After a year I am not sorry I chose to go with a Nook Color and a N2A card to create my tablet.  Then the cost worked out to $300.00 now the same set-up would be less than $200.00.  The extra bonus is that if my nook color dies, I can just move theN2A card to a new nook color (currently $139.00)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Motivation Monday - Re-searching Your Research

Last week I received a message from someone who had a question about a member of my husbands family.  His aunt Hazel was something of a mystery and seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.  All I knew was that she had married Larry and had a daughter Sherry.  There was something that had been mentioned about her living in Florida and dying at a young age.  I had never really followed up on Hazel, Larry, and Sherry.  Last week's contact added to the mystery since it seems to reveal that Hazel was married in 1936 at the age of 16.  Her marriage license attests that she has her father's consent.  Interesting since her father was dead at the time!

All of this caused me to start looking at Hazel once again to see what else I could find out about her.  In the 1940 census, she is living with her mother and her martial status is listed as "Divorced".  At 20 in 1940.  I remember that my mother-in-law said that Hazel was learning to be a pilot during the 1940's so maybe there is a record of her receiving a private pilot license.

Find-a-Grave shows that Hazel E Drake b 1920 is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in De Soto County, Florida.  She died in 1955 which would certainly fit in with having died at a young age.  In the same cemetery there is buried a Lawrence W Drake b 1905 and died in 1977.  This would seem to support the reference to Florida that I had heard mentioned.  In family referenced it seemed that Larry either was a pilot or was a flying instructor during WWII.

Further research on Hazel indicates that Hazel Elizabeth Drake died Nov 1957 in De Soto County, FL.  Lawrence Wilson Drake died 3 June 1977 in Sarasota County, Florida.  This is according to the Florida Death Index 1877 - 1998.  Another mystery since her tombstone says she died in 1955 and the Florida Death Index says 1957.

The mysteries uncovered this past week are causing me to look again at what I have recorded for Hazel and Larry Drake and hopefully I will be able to flesh out their story more completely.  I have learned to look again at what I think I know.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sempsrott/Semsrott/Semsroth - Surname Saturday

My husband's grandmother Naomi's maiden name was Sempsrott.  At some point she had given my husband a family tree that covered the years from 1829, when his great great grandfather Frederich Albert Sempsrott was born in Germany, through 1947 when the trail ended.  After we retired to Florida in 1992, my husband came across the paperwork once more and we decided it was time to do something to document the family history.  It seems that their mother, Anna, feared they would be drafted into military service and so she put them on a ship bound for the United States.  Family legend reports that two brothers, Frederich Albert and Johann Heinrich were stowaways on a ship that left Berlin and they ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  From Cincinnati the two brothers traveled to southern Illinois settling in Jasper County.  At some point probably in the 1870s, Johann and his family moved to the Covington, Kentucky area while Frederich and his family remained to farm in Jasper County, Illinois.

This family is one of many which has variant spellings to challange the genealogist.  Some of the variations have included Simperoot, Samscrott, Samesroth, Sempsrote, Sompcrott, Semprote and Samsrott.  In Germany the name appears as Semsrott.  Some have traced the name back to Asendorf, Germany in 1583.  This is about the time Sweden invaded northern Germany.  If this is true could the Semsrotts be descendants of the Sammen (Swedes)?  Still working on this line as every spelling needs to be checked out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Son's Tribute

David Lee Peterson 1 June 1939 to 24 Oct 2005

Today is the 7th anniversary of my husbands death and I am posting a tribute to Dave written by our son David.  I quote with honor.

"On my Dad’s Birthday My Mom, Donna, told everyone about David Lee Peterson.  I am going to attempt to follow her by telling everyone about him as my father.  Growing up, my Dad went beyond being a good provider for the family.  I cannot remember a time where the family went without anything.  I remember that we always had food, a nice home, and clothes.  But that doesn’t tell you anything that you wouldn’t expect from any father. 
Dad was always supportive.  Mom said how he stepped up to become a Scout Leader when I was both a Cub Scout and later a Boy Scout.  Without his support and guidance I would have never become the Boy Scout I take pride in being.  I reached the rank of Eagle Scout because of Dads support.  Being involved in the Boy Scouts wasn’t just about me; Dad was an active participant as well taking on leadership roles beyond the local troop level.  He served on the staff at the National Jamboree in 1985, He attended a training called Wood Badge where adult leaders are trained in scouting in the troop format being assigned to an eight person patrol.  At the end of the training, he was selected as the permanent Patrol Leader for his Patrol.  I was also privileged to serve as the Night Chief when Dad was “Called Out” to receive the Order of the Arrows Vigil Honor, an honor that is rarely awarded to adults like Dad.  I know that outside of Scouting this won’t mean much, but they are distinguished honors that he richly earned.
Now looking at my Dad as an adult I think understand why people were drawn to him.  I believe that he would be there to listen to them without judgment and only if they wanted it would he offer his opinion or advice.  Sometime people just needed someone to listen to and not fix what was wrong.  I remember that during a gathering, it didn’t matter what type, he would find a spot at a table in the back corner of the room and pick a spot where he could survey the room.  Soon, all types of people would congregate to that table where everyone would be sharing “War Stories”, jokes, solving world problems, or just pontificating on whatever was on their minds.  Dad would be sitting there with a smile and throwing his two cents worth in as well and soon the rest of the room was a secondary event.
At a recent work dinner for a group of employees in from around the US and Canada that I was the one at the back corner table with the group of people gathered around while I shared the war stories and had the attention of the group.  Then I had one of those “A Ha” moments and thought of Dad.
After Mom and Dad retired to Florida I didn’t see them as often as I should have and that is no one’s fault but my own.  I didn’t know any of Dads friends from Church or the Knights of Columbus but I know he believed he belonged to the right Parish for him and that he was proud of the Knights of Columbus chapter he was a member of and that he was a big part of bringing a foundering chapter back to a strong chapter. 
I lost Dad too soon.  He was the greatest man I have ever had the honor of knowing and the best thing is he is my Father.  He and my Mother made me who I am today and every day I hope that I am living up to their expectations and that I make them proud.   Dad, I Love You and Miss You and still think about you daily. 
David Michael Peterson.
p.s. The night Dad died I had fallen asleep with my blanket only half on and at some point it was flipped up over my head waking me up.  Dad covering me one last time.   Then when moving Mom out of the house in Florida I “Inherited” Dads beloved avocado green electric carving knife.  I went to use it on Christmas and suddenly I could not find the blades.  The next day as I am putting the clean dishes away I find the blades in the drawer right on top of the other silverware.  Dads sense of humor I guess."

Thank you David for your insight and sharing your perception of your Dad.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven Years Ago

Seven years ago this date fell on a Sunday. It was our 41st Anniversary but we didn't do anything special.  Our relationship was special every day.  Dave and I went to church where we were eucharistic ministers. After church, we went to our local Publix for supplies.  South Florida was getting ready for a hurricane and we saw several friends at the store.  I remember we discussed driving up to Tampa to ride out the hurricane taking aim at the Naples/ Ft Myers area.

Instead of heading to Tampa, we went home with our supplies.  Dave spent the afternoon boarding the windows to protect the house.  Between putting up boards, there was football to watch and that night the White Sox won the second game of the World Series.  We had a nice steak dinner since we didn't know when we would be able to cook after the hurricane.  Little did I realize how prophetic that was.

That evening Dave had a phone call from his sister Pat and another from an old friend and co-worker.  Nothing in the events of this day could possibly indicate how very awfull the next day would be.

The next day I woke to find Hurricane Wilma doing her best to destroy our house and Dave laying on the floor of our bedroom.  We had no power but we did have phone service.  Dave was unresponsive but the storm needed to pass on before I could call EMS.  Finally I could call 911 and they came immediately.  After it was determined that Dave needed to be transported, they had to figure which hospital could accept Dave.  When the ambulance I called a friend and asked for a ride to the hospital.  Dave was in the emergency room and still unresponsive.  X-rays showed severe head trauma with massive bleeding in the brain.  Since the operating room at the hospital was unusable (hurricane damage) Dave was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft Myers.  After meeting with the neurosurgeon, with a discouraging prognosis, I decided not to have surgery attempted.  Dave and I had discussed this part of our lives and I knew he wouldn't want this kind of life.

The plan was that I would come back the next day and make that hard decision.  I never went back to the hospital.  Late that night I got a call from the hospital that Dave had died.  The day was over and it was time to mourn and move on.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Doors of Faith - Oberselters, Hesse, Germany

St Antonius Catholic Church, Oberselters, Hesse, Germany

This church was the home of my German Burbach ancestors as far back as 1732.  I have read the records of marriages and baptisms of this church.  Oberselters was a small village outside of Bad Camberg.  The Burbach family attended this church until recent times and may still be members there.  The name still appears in the cemetery.  My Great-great-grandfather Georg Burbach left Oberselters about 1848 and traveled to the nearby village of Villmar where he met and married Catharina Casperi.  They remained in Villmar until 1856 when they immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with their sons Hermann and Johann after burying their son Adam in Villmar in 1854.

We visited this church in 2003 and took this photo of an informational plaque posted on the wall.

Photo of St Antonius Church, Oberselters by ({Information |Description = Kirche St. Antonius Bad Camberg-Oberselters, Deutschland|Source = selbst fotografiert |Date = 26.01.2008|Author = Volker Thies (Asdrubal) |Permission = siehe unten |other_versions = }}  used under the creative commons license.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doors of Faith

St Mel's Catholic Church in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL.

Sometime around 1912 Michael and Alice Connery moved their family of 9 to a new home at 4140 W Washington Boulevard in Chicago.  In doing so, they became members of St Mel Parish.  St Mel Church, located at Washington and Kildare, was only a block away from their house.  This church is where their youngest daughter Elizabeth was baptized.

Seven of their children were confirmed in this church and three of their daughters were married before it's marble altar.  Several of their grandchildren were baptized in this church and one of my cousins received all of her sacraments in this parish. 

Members of my family remained members of this parish for over fifty years and when my Grandfather died in 1953, the grade school was closed on the day of his funeral.  I remember being highly offended that I was not allowed to attend his funeral but all those other kids could.

This church served the needs of my grandparents and their family for many years and was the foundation of our faith.  Our Irish Catholic roots are strong three generations later and I believe that can be traced to the support my grandparents found at St Mel's Church.

photo courtesy of Eric Allix Rogers via Flick'r used under creative commons license.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001 Looking Back

Some things are forever with us.  We remember exactly where we were and what we were doing.  A sudden death is like that.  You remember every detail of the day it happened.  What you said and did, who you were with, and the emotions you felt.

September 11, 2001 is such a day for all of us.  Like other days that live in our memories this is a day most of us remember vividly.  I say most because my 16 year old grandson did not know of it at the time.  Since they were living in Germany at the time, his parents felt that his lack of knowledge would keep him safer.  His   peers and younger children are very aware of the war that has been waged since that terrible day.

I was at work at a moving and storage company in Florida that morning.  Part of my job was to communicate with the trucks that were doing furniture deliveries.  My husband had taken me to work and then returned home.  As he walked in the front door and turned on the Today Show, the first reports were coming in.  As soon as it began to look like more than an accident he called me at work.  As we spoke, the second plane hit and I knew it was war.  One of the first things I did was pick up the microphone and call our crews to give them the news. I remember saying "This is war!" Some of our crews were too young to fully grasp what this meant but those of us who did get it were both scared and angry.  After work when I went home we watched the re-plays over and over again until sickened we had to turn off the TV.

Our plans had been to fly to Germany the next day in anticipation of meeting a new grandchild arriving shortly.  All planes were grounded indefinitely but finally on Saturday Sept 15, 2001 we were able to board a plane that would take us to Germany to meet Brigid Kathleen, born Sept 14, 2001.  The airline we used was a German one and security was so high that one passenger set off alarms by having a foil wrapped piece of gum in his back pocket.  Our German flight crew had been stranded in the United States for a week and was very relieved to be going home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Olympic Memories

Tonight the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics will take place in London.  It has been thrilling to watch all of the athletes compete after they trained so very hard for so many years.

For years the Olympics have a running thread in my life.  In grade school I was able to ice skate every winter at the park a block from our house.  As I skated in circles around the rink, I would pretend that I was Sonja Henie participating in the Olympics.  In the summers as I took a water ballet class, I would dream of being Esther Williams.  I also remember hearing all the talk of Roger Bannister's 4 minute mile.

In 1980 we watched the United States Ice Hockey Team make a miracle happen by winning the gold medal in Lake Placid.  It was a very cold Sunday afternoon when our neighborhood gathered in one house to watch the game together on a big screen TV.  I think maybe it was a 24 inch screen!  There was lots of yelling and cheering involved. A few adult beverages too.

In 1987 the company I worked for won a trip for 2 to the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  3M was the vendor that awarded the trip to my company.  To award the prize, my company based entry into the contest on attendance.  To enter the contest one had to have perfect and on time attendance for the previous three months.  When the drawing was held and my name was announced, I was amazed!  The irony is that the day after the drawing I was late to work due to snow on the roads!  It was a first class trip all the way.  We were flown from Chicago to Minneapolis and spent the night in a hotel with all of the 3M guests.  Our plane to Calgary was entirely 3M personnel and guests.  I still have the jackets we received on arrival in Calgary.  Since 3M had leased the use of a country club for their guests I was able to borrow a pair of  ice skates and finally skate at the Olympics.  (at not in an important distinction)  Some of the events we attended were the opening ceremony, ski jumping, luge, downhill skiing, and ice hockey.

During the 2010 Olympics I began writing this blog after being inspired by Thomas MacEntee's Winter Genealogy Games.  Overall I would have to say that the Olympics has played a recurring part in my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

SNGF 2012 Genealympics Ancestry Flag

For these 2012 SNGF Genealympics, the motto is "Research, Cite, Analyze, Resolve, Conclude!" 

Competitors can:

a)  Design your own Genealympics flag to represent your ancestry, heritage or personal expression. 

I have chosen to create a personalized flag reflecting my children's heritage. Germany is represented twice since my husband and I both have German heritage. The left side shows my heritage, Norwegian, German, and Irish.  The right side represents my husband's heritage of Scottish, German, and Swedish.
The flags of Ireland and Sweden are a bit larger that the others to reflect a larger percentage of those ancestries.  Of course the American Flag is the central focus since we are both at least 2nd generation Americans.

My blog began during the 2010 Winter Olympics so I definitely want to participate in these Genealympics.  I'll be back!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - 2nd Cousin Once Removed

Week #31 – Cousins

Thorolf and Kari about 1949
Week 31: Cousins. One of the best experiences in family history is meeting with new cousins found through your research. Tell us about your favorite cousin meet-up. How did you discover each other? Where did you meet? What type of information was exchanged and how did it benefit your research?
There were several names running through the background of my childhood.  Names like Munger, Dvorak, and Gist.  When I began researching my ancestry these names came back to me but I could not relate them to my genealogy.  One day when I was looking around on, I came across a tree for the Dvorak family.  As I looked at the tree and read the associated stories, I realized this was the Dvorak family of my childhood memories.  Betty Jane and I were playmates until the family moved away in the mid 1950s.  I never knew her mother Lily was my dad's first cousin.  My dad's father immigrated from Norway in 1892 with his sister and brother.  Another brother followed them later and the third brother Thorolf Hansen remained in Norway to raise a family.  Thorolf's daughter Lily immigrated to the United States in 1939 and met and married Otto (Bud) Dvorak.  Their daughter Betty Jane was two months older than I.
After losing touch for about fifty years, Betty and I have been back in touch via e-mail.  The best part is that Betty told me about her Norwegian cousins and gave me her cousin Kari's e-mail address.  This spring my daughter and I flew to Norway for the Legacy Family Tree Cruise.  At the end of the cruise we planned a couple of days in Norway in the hope of meeting Kari.  The day the ship returned to Norway, Kari and her husband picked us up at our hotel and took us to their home for a typical Norwegian meal.  Two of their daughters and three of their grandchildren also came to meet us.  It was a wonderful visit and there were lots of pictures to take.  I even got to hold and take photos of the medals Thorolf received from the Kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for his efforts as a resistance fighter during WWII.  
Meeting Kari and her family, seeing Thorolf's medals, and visiting her childhood home have truly brought my Norwegian heritage to life and filled in the missing branches of my family tree.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Johns - Solving the Mystery Using Technology

It began with the answer to a question I asked my Grandmother when I was about eight years old.  "Bockie" I had asked "why don't you ever go swimming when we are at the lake?"  She relied that she was afraid of the water since her brother had drowned as a child.  I accepted her statement at face value and moved on.

Years later when I began researching our genealogy and recording census forms, her answer to my question came to mind.  My grandmother was the youngest of six children, two girls and four boys.  Which of the boys had died?  As I was using HeritageQuest online one day I happened on one line from the diary of a Milwaukee policeman.  The line said only "Burbach's boy drowned today".  This I felt totally substantiated my grandmother's statement.  It was true.  Of course in my excitement, I neglected to cite the source!

I still didn't know which of her brothers had drowned and to complicate matters further there were two related families with children of similar ages.  Brothers John and Herman Burbach operated a butcher shop in Milwaukee in the 1880s and 1890s.  Both men were raising families at the same time.

I used to find the quote "Burbach's boy drowned today" and this time I cited the source and noted the date of the occurance.  Next I checked the Wisconsin Death Records online at for the family name and year of 1892.  I found the name John Burbach as having died on May 8, 1892.

Using obituary records from Milwaukee German Language newspapers (ordered from and translated by Gary Rebholz) I found obituaries for both a John and a Johnnie Burbach cousins, both aged 11. The death dates were 1892 and 1895. Who was who?

Using the 19th century newspapers online, Milwaukee Archdiocese Cemeteries online, and the Milwaukee City Directories online to determine which John/Johnnie lived at which address with which father, I was able to document the story of my grandmother's brother John.  An additional nugget or information disclosed in the 19th Century Newspapers was the fact that John Burbach had made his confirmation at St Joseph's Church on the morning of his death.
John Burbach drowned on May 8, 1892 in the Milwaukee River.  His two friends were rescued but John's body was not recovered for two weeks.  He was finally buried on May 22, 1892 in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee.

All of this information was gathered while I was home in Texas!  Hooray for technology!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

John Burbach - Geneabloggers Sunday's Obituaries

This death notice only tells part of the story.  John drowned in the Milwaukee River on May 8, 1892 and his body was not found until May 19, 1892.  He was buried on May 22, 1892 in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

My thanks to Gary Rebholz for his translations of the German newspapers of Milwaukee.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It is WHEN not IF! It's data back-up day.

About a year ago, I was asked to do a general computer tips and tricks presentation to the Family History Center where I volunteer.  It wasn't a large group but they were interested in learning.  One of the topics we discussed was backing up your data.  We covered the need to have multiple backup back-up copies in multiple locations.  One gentleman raised his hand and said he didn't know how to back up his files except on his hard drive.  He had 30 years of genealogy research and it was only on his hard drive!  30 YEARS WORTH!  hoping nothing would happen in the meantime, I told him to bring it the next week and I would show him how to do a back-up.  When he returned he brought his laptop, 2 flash drives, and 3 blank cds.  We created multiple back-ups to be kept in different locations.  Not all at home.  I guess the lesson took because last week he came in with blank cds and asked me to create back-ups before he left for a trip to California!  

It's not just genealogy files, correspondence, photos, finances, anything other than the actual programs needs to be backed up.  Flash drives, cds (for now) and various cloud storage methods (drop-box and mozy are 2 cloud storage back-up methods) can be used.  Back-up often and check your back-ups.  If you don't know how to back-up your data you can google it or ask someone for help.

Friday, June 29, 2012

1940 Census Indexing Updates from FamilySearch

These are the latest News Releases from FamilySearch about the progress of the Community Indexing Project

FamilySearch Posts 5 New States: 1940 Census Index Report—June 28, 2012

Today we are announcing the addition of 5 more states to the list of states that are complete and ready for searching on the FamilySearch website. These new states include: California, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington. This brings the total number of searchable states up to 29. Full Story

Join FamilySearch Indexers to Break a Record and Leave a Legacy

July 2, 2012 (or 1st, depending on your time zone), is going to be an amazing day!
We can feel it! It could be the first day that we achieve “5 Million Name” fame. That’s
right. It might be the day that we index and arbitrate 5 million names (or records) in just
24 hours!… No other name transcription project that we know of has ever come close.
Full Story

Join us for a FamilySearch Social Media Event!

Please join us as FamilySearch hosts a Google+ hangout. Three experts will discuss how to incorporate social media
into your genealogy efforts.  The event will be hosted on the Family Search Google+ page. You may also join the 
conversation via TweetChat using #FamilySearch. Full Story