Back in the saddle again

After almost a year hiatus from my beloved Sherlock Homes and with great apologies to my readers, I am ready to begin again.  I’m ramping up my business and marketing plans, setting short and long term goals, and determined to network and get my name out there.  I’m excited to be volunteering down at the Missouri State Archives once again, have joined a small business group, and joined the National Council on Public History, the American Historical Organization and renewed my memberships to the National Genealogical Society and the Missouri History Museum.  Whew!  So look for me to post once a week about interesting tidbits in history and genealogy.  I’m happy to be back 🙂

Call the Midwife

Tina Johnson's Mother
Marit Stavem Paulsdatter (1843-1926), family collection

So my 2nd great grandmother (stor bestemor – I have to keep practicing my norsk)  was a midwife.  Marit Stavem Paulsdatter was born 25 April 1843 in Lesja Norway (middle upper central-ish) and immigrated with her husband Amund Olson to Minneapolis in 1869.  I have family lore that she went to Oslo to study as a midwife, but cannot find any verification. (Yet!!) She was listed as “Mrs A Olson, midwife” in the 1871 Minneapolis city directory and was listed in the 1880 census as being a ‘housekeeper – midwife’ (husband Amund was listed as a stonemason).  The 1882 Minneapolis city directory gives her a separate listing as “Mrs Mary Olson, midwife” – this is a big deal as women did not very often get a recognition for their work, and probably meant she was either advertising or well known in her community.  Also, her husband being a stonemason could have conferred her some status.

By this time, she had 2 children and another on the way (my oldemor) yet she still kept practicing.  The 1885, 1890, 1894 (now as Mrs. Marit Olson) ,1897, 1901, 1903, 1907, and 1910 Minneapolis city directories listed her at the same address.

In 1910, she was listed in 2 censuses  – not impossible as they were taken over the course of several months.  She was in her usual location in Minneapolis, (though interestingly listed as divorced and her husband Amund was not living with her) then she was listed as living with her daughter’s family in Pembina, MN.  It makes sense as her daughter was expecting her 5th baby and probably needed expert midwifery mothering!

Marit was living in Minneapolis with her youngest single daughter Ella in 1920 while her (ex?) husband Amund was living in Pembina MN with their other daughter and her family.  She passed away at the home of her daughter in 1926 at the age of 83.

So Marit seems like an interesting woman – educated in Norway as a midwife, immigrating to America, raising her own children, divorcing or separating from her husband, and continuing her profession until into her 70th years.  Proud to be her barnebarn.

p.s. – feel free to contact me at 314-292-9153 to learn more about your ancestors — CJ

Detective Work and a New Cousin

(I hope I can tell this story clearly enough without using the names – I don’t want to betray any privacy without permissions)

So I was recently contacted through Ancestry (a genealogy database that I have subscribed to for ages) by someone who had done their DNA test and reached out to me as their 4th cousin.  Now I’ve gotten those requests before and I usually reply cordially, with a “nice to meet you, thanks for contacting me”, but this one was more intriguing.  She said that her mother was adopted and she knew who her birth grandmother was (I’ll call her EM) but my dna match was from what she suspected was her birth grandFATHER’s side (whom she knew nothing about).  She told me a few background details that sent me scurrying to those branches of my family tree to check things out. (I love a good mystery)

So I thought if I could place the family of her grandmother (EM) near or around the suspected grandfather’s family (JG), there may be some evidence that my JG was indeed her grandfather.

EM worked at the Albert L Stockman beauty shop in 1940,41,42. The address was 218 Lyceum Bldg, which was on W. Superior (corner of 2nd) which was part of the ‘Bowery District’. (that historic part of Duluth was demolished in the 60s in the name of urban renewal) She lived with her family and son (whom she kept and raised) nearby.  JG was married with 4 daughters in 1940. He worked at the First Street store (131 W First Av corner of 2nd Ave). He was unmarried by 1942 and living at 2801 W. Superior and then remarried in 1946 (she was listed in 1948 as a beauty operator). A theory could be that since his work was so close to EM’s shop (same cross street, one block up), that they may have met? Coincidence also that he became divorced around the birth of EM’s second child as well (1942) …

So I sent these details off and she responded that there was a family rumor about her grandmother being ‘a mistress’ (there’s usually some truth to those family rumors) and that she looked at the 4 daughters of JG from 1940 and one of them popped up on her DNA matches as a second cousin!  Confirmation and mystery solved?

She contacted this second cousin and it was confirmed that JG was their common grandfather so she is hoping to get to know her new relatives and see pictures of her half-Aunts and cousins.  Her great grandmother and my great grandmother were sisters, so we are more distant, but still family.

I am so happy that this worked out for her.  I’m honored to have been involved and to have provided some resources to help.  This is one of the most satisfying parts of being a professional genealogist and historian.  And also a big shout out of thanks to old City Directories being transcribed and indexed!!

p.s. – feel free to contact me at 314-292-9153 for your family mysteries — CJ

Quirky Hobbies

I love transcribing historical records and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Because I use digitized, searchable records almost daily in my research, I consider indulging this hobby as contributing and enhancing my business success.  (At least that’s how I justify the obsession)

photo courtesy of DariuszSankowski, CC0 Creative Commons

Currently, I’m working at the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers site and transcribing records of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established on March 3, 1865. The duties of the Freedmen’s Bureau included supervision of all affairs relating to refugees, freedmen, and the custody of abandoned lands and property. These documents come from the Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of North Carolina, Series 4: Letters Received.

However, I am not the speediest transcriber as I have a researcher’s penchant for looking up every minute detail and fact – I have learned so many interesting details about post-Civil War reconstruction in North Carolina that I feel I could write a book. (well, not really, but…)  I also transcribe for the Missouri State Archives and Ancestry’s World Archives Project.

So if you happen to ask me what I’m working on, be prepared for my obsessive rant about some detailed account of what I’ve been transcribing lately.  Because if I’m between ‘paying’ research projects, that is more than likely what I’ll talk about.  It’s one of my quirky hobbies!


Call me at (314) 773-2881 or contact me to discuss your historical research, legal, writing, or genealogy needs.

Reblogged: “Neighborhood Watering Holes”, Marquis, 2005

My “Peeking into the Past” column and this article originally ran in the Lafayette Square ‘Marquis’, which was published monthly by the Virginia Publishing Company until 2011. It’s always fun to go back and see what I was working on in years past – it inspires me to keep digging too!

Peeking into the Past: Neighborhood Watering Holes

By Cara Jensen

Around the turn of the century, St. Louis was known as “first in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League”. It seemed St Louis residents took this slogan to heart, as there were over 1100 saloons/saloon employees listed in the city directory in 1890! The term highball was said to have been coined at a St. Louis saloon that catered to railroad workers. The drinking glass was nicknamed a ball, and the workers who only had time for a quick drink started calling their whiskey and water a “highball”. In 1874, St. Louis native M.W. Heron, bartending in New Orleans, created a peach-flavored bourbon whiskey that became known as “the grand old drink of the South.” Heron named his invention Cuffs and Buttons, a takeoff on a popular beverage of the era called Top Hat and Tails. He changed the name to Southern Comfort only after moving back to St. Louis. Whether you prefer to call them bars, pubs, taverns, or ale houses, here are a few that called this area home:

1700 Russell: McKinley Heights saloon run by Leonard Bachmann.

2400 Menard: Soulard establishment operated by Robert Zanto and family.

1700 S. 11th: LaSalle canteen run by Anton Filip who resided at 1046 Soulard Ave.

1700 Geyer: Soulard taproom operated by Thomas Hause.

900 Geyer: Soulard pub owned by Bernard Duesterhaus.

2800 Missouri: Benton Park tavern kept by August P. Koebbe.

1800 Park: Lafayette Square lounge managed by John Schnieder.

NE corner of Menard/Emmet: Soulard saloon run by Charles Kreichelt who lived nearby at 1019 Emmet.

The Lost Homes of I-44: Marquis, 2005

My “Peeking into the Past” column and this article originally ran in the Lafayette Square ‘Marquis’, which was published monthly by the Virginia Publishing Company until 2011.  It’s always fun to go back and see what I was working on in years past – it inspires me to keep digging too!

Peeking into the Past: The Lost homes of I-44

By Cara Jensen


In 1950, the population of St. Louis peaked at 856,000.  The city could not grow beyond its fixed borders, and much of the housing stock had been become neglected.  The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 paved the way for suburban development and facilitated the population’s westward expansion. The construction of Interstate 44 cut block-wide swaths through St. Louis city neighborhoods,  permanently altering the landscape and changing the very identity of each community. Thankfully, this loss prompted the genesis of historical preservation legislation in St. Louis and emphasized the importance of community stewardship.  Here are a few memories of those lost homes of I-44:

1821 California:  Home of Joseph Kocien, a Bohemian frame carver and gilder.  Frame carvers were skilled artisans, crafting wood to enhance the beauty of each painting.  Gilders applied finish to decorative church and cathedral fittings, altarpieces, architectural ornaments, and panel paintings.

1803 S. Compton:  Home of Frank P. Crunden, president of Udell, Crunden & Co., makers of wooden and willow ware.  Frank was the brother of the St. Louis Public Library’s first chief librarian and director, Frederick Crunden.

1743 Missouri:  Home of German born William Bodeman, president and owner of Wm. Bodeman & Co.’s Tobacco. In 1873, St. Louis was the largest chewing and pipe tobacco processor in the United States. By 1890, St. Louis hosted the largest maker of plug-style chewing tobacco in the world – Liggett and Myers.

3300 Lafayette:  Home of Martha Roe, widow of a prominent St. Louis steamboat captain who mentored Samuel E. Clemens.  The vast estate included the family of her widowed daughter Emma Copelin, who dedicated Copelin Avenue when the land was subdivided in 1885, her California born nieces and nephews,  eight house servants, a German-born teacher, two African-American coachman, and two gardeners.

1818 S. Compton:  Home of Annie and Peter Oakes, owners of A. Oakes & Co., a candy manufacturer and confectionery shop with employed eight female salesladies in 1890.

Cara Jensen is the founder of Sherlock Homes, a historical research company.  She is the past president of the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association, serves on the Grand South Grand House Tour committee, and is active in the 8th Ward Independent Democratic Association. Contact Cara Jensen at 773-2881 or for information about your historic property.




Loyalist to Mormon – Syphers continued

I’ve decided to really dig in to this branch of my family because it is so intriguing, has several plot twists, and is an international thriller (from New Brunswick to Maine, Ohio, Utah, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota).  These Syphers relatives seem to have it all.

So in the last post, I found the Loyalist claim that Lodewyck Syphers had made in 1784 to the British Crown for compensation for his “losses to the Rebellion”.  They were settled around the Grand Lake/Gagetown/Jemseg area just downriver from Fredericton (sorry, just need to post another beautiful picture to remind me to plan a visit)


Grand Lake, NB via wikipedia commons
Grand Lake, NB via wikipedia commons

So Lodewyck Syphers’s eldest granddaughter, Sarah Ferndon Syphers, married a William Henry Earl in 1814ish and they became part of the Mormon Pioneers – William was baptized in 1843 as a member of the Ordained Seventy, ordained in the Nauvoo temple in 1846, and made the Mormon Trek to Utah.

William and Sarah were married in New Brunswick, where their first four children were born, then they moved to Scarborough, Ontario in 1823 (birth records are so useful for tracking migrations), where their next six children were born. I assume this is where they became familiar with the Mormon religion as they then picked up and moved to the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois where Sarah was baptized in 1841. They may have been baptized in Toronto as well?  From “The History of the Church in Canada”  –

“Parley P. Pratt’s 1836 mission to Toronto was equally impressive. One of the first people baptized in Toronto, Isabella Walton was the key to several important conversions. She introduced her brother, Isaac Russell and his friend Joseph Fielding to Elder Pratt, and before long, they joined the Church. Her friend John Taylor and Joseph Fielding’s sisters Mary and Mercy also joined. Branches were organized in Toronto, Scarborough, Churchville, and Markham.”

I happened to check the Cypher spelling in the LDS temple records index that I’m browsing and found a bunch of baptisms at the Nauvoo Temple in 1841!  They all were at the instance of Sarah Syphers Earl – William, her father, Lodavich, her grandfather, William, her great uncle, and Elizabeth, her great aunt.  Now I know these baptisms weren’t in person, as they all were not living.  It seems in 1841, Joseph Smith revealed the ‘baptism for the dead’ doctrine  – so Sarah was able to act as a proxy for her deceased family members.  Interesting who she chose or didn’t choose, isn’t it?

members performing baptisms for the dead via


I don’t mean to spend too much time on an indirect line, but I find that information can be pieced together when every angle is approached.  So we have established that the elder sister of my 3rd great grandfather was heavily entrenched in the Mormon community.  Now let’s see if any other siblings followed… stay tuned for next time!





American Loyalist Claims – Lodewick Syphers, my 5th ggpa

I’ve written about my Dutch ancestors of Sleepy Hollow and how they were prominent settlers of the Tarrytown/Poughkeepsie area in the late 16- early 1700s.  That side is named ‘Storm’ and here is my mother and I during our trip to Sleepy Hollow last year repping the family crypt: (it was around Halloween and the cemetery was quite busy, headless horseman and all you know…)

But today’s story is about the descendant side of Petronella ‘Nelle’ Storm, granddaughter of the above Dirck Storm, and her marriage to William Syphers (sometimes seen as Cyphers, as in my other post) around 1732.

Their son, Lodywyck, (Lodewick, Lodewyck (etc., etc.,) was born in 1737, married at the Reformed Dutch Church in Hackensack, NY, in 1770 and then fled to New Brunswick as a Loyalist.  I’ve really been fascinated with this part, wanting to know the reasoning and the drama, I’m sure it was quite horrible.  It’s made a great story too, telling people that my Dutch ancestors were Loyalists and fled to Canada and settled a place off the Saint John River called “Syphers Cove” (yes it’s still there – need to plan a visit!)

Saint John River near Fredericton, photo courtesy of Canoe New Brunswick

So today, I just decided to revisit ye olde Syphers side on my family tree to see if there was any new info to be found, when up popped up the “American Loyalist Claims” for Lodewick Sypher.  Amazing!

To the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament to inquire into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists.

–The Memorial of Lodewick Sypher late of the Province of New York but now of Nova Scotia


That your Memorialist was ever uniformly and steadily attached to His Majesty’s Person, and the British Government, and was opposed to the measures of the American Congress.  That he joined the Royal Army in 1776 and rendered them every service in his power for the suppression of the Rebellions and the reestablishment of the British Government in America.

That in 1770 he was attainted by a Law of the State of New York – for having joined the British Army, and, his Property an account and appraisement of which is herewith presented, was Confiscated, Sold, and applied to the use of the State.

That your Memorialist has thereby lost his <underlined>all and is reduced to great Want, and Distress, and by the unfortunate determination of the Rebellion, he has been obliged to leave his Native Country, and has removed to Nova Scotia.  In full confidence that he will there have extended to him the benefit of the late Act of Parliament for the Relief of the American Loyalists.  He prays that you will take his case into consideration in order that he may be enabled under your report to recieve such aid, and relief, as his Losses and Services may be found to deserve.  He further prays that time may be allowed him to produce further Proofs of the Facts contained in this Memorial of also of his losses by the Rebellion.

–Lodewick Sypher, by his attorney, Isaac Ogden

Newman Street No. 64

19 March 1784

So this gives a bit more info – I’d like to find out where their land was, and what occupation Lodewick followed, etc.  He stayed in Nova Scotia up to his death in 1822, when one of his sons, William Syphers, moved a few miles west into Houlton, Maine and my line continued from there.  That line became Mormon which makes for another interesting story that needs much more research…

Until then.

St. Louis Piano Companies and Their Beautiful Adverts

Our neglected piano, the one that I learned on and was graciously given to me by my parents, is being tuned next week and I couldn’t be more excited.  I have been lazy musically and was using the sad state of our piano as an excuse, but not anymore.  It’s part of the reclaiming of my creative nature that I’ve been focusing on as of late.  Anyway, it made me think about about pianos in general, then pianos in St. Louis, and wonder if there were any piano factories or dealers here – I’m sure there were and that they made beautiful and creative advertisements.  I’ve been creating a late-Victorian style advertisement for Sherlock Homes and so have those design motifs on the brain too!  (Check out my facebook page to vote on the design)

Here’s what I found:


Tuesday Twigs: Creative Muses

Everyone should be listening to their muse and expressing outwardly their creative juices.  Too often we do not.

Clio, muse of History
Clio, muse of history, my inspiration; image in public domain

I thought today to climb around in my family tree looking for ways that my ancestors expressed the creative.  Let’s sing, dance, and be merry!

In the 1950s, my 2nd cousin once removed, Verjean Mardelle Rancore (such a creative name, right?) sang at 4-H meetings, was in the 4-H sewing club, and was cast in her high school play, “Aaron Slick from Pumpkin Creek”.  In 1956, she was cast as Aunt March in the all-girl production of “Little Women” at Falls City (Oregon) High School.  [1]

She won the ‘Homemaker of Tomorrow” contest at her high school in 1956 (love that name, huh?) and was eligible for a scholarship and a trip across the United States. [2]  Verjean was valedictorian of her 1956 graduating class and attended Pacific University at Forest Grove, Oregon, where she studied optometry. [3] [4]

She married Charles Simpson in 1960 and disappeared from the newspapers.  Then this from the 11 May 1963 Oregon Statesman:

verjean Rancore

But then look what I found from the Pacific University online site!!

“Boxer Love Story: Jean (Rancore) Simpson ’60 and Chuck Simpson ’60, O.D. ’61

by Jean (Rancore) Simpson ’60
Friday, February 14, 2014

Chuck and I attended Pacific from 1956-1960. We worked at the movie theaters in Forest Grove to put ourselves through College. Chuck was an optometry student and I graduated as a secondary teacher. Meeting at the theater and working together for 3 years, we became good friends. I had a few different boyfriends at that time and never thought of Chuck in that way. We made a bet my senior year on a Pacific football game. I lost and had to buy us coffee; that was our first date.

He asked me to a dorm party for Christmas, and by the time Christmas break was over, he had asked me to marry him. I said yes but we didn’t announce our engagement (because in those days, you announced it in a special way at a sorority meeting, etc.). My roommate had gotten engaged over vacation, and I didn’t want to steal her thunder. I got my ring from Chuck on the second of February; he couldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day as he had planned. We announced our engagement and planned an August wedding.  As the end of school approached, we decided separate summer homes and a big wedding was a waste of money, so we made plans for May 7.  We were married in Old College Hall on May 7, 1960 and spent a weekend honeymoon at the Oregon coast. We graduated with a BS a couple weeks later.  Another year at Pacific got Chuck his OD and boards passed. Then we left for the Army in Penn. where our 1st child was born.

We eventually settled in Baker City, OR (on the dry side) with 2 daughters and a very happy life. Chuck died in 2003, long before he should have. We had been married 43 years. I still remember our days at Pacific and wish he were here.”

So I guess this turned into more of a quick biography than a melange of creative glitter – thank you for your indulgence.  I guess this could be a theme as I am always looking for those special details about people.  Creativity manifests in so many different ways and the outlets certainly change according to the times.  How will your creativity be remembered by the future historians?



1 –  The Oregon Statesman [Salem, OR] Wed 25 Jun 1952 pg 15:

2 – The Oregon Statesman [Salem, OR] Wed 31 May 1950,pg 2:

3 – The Oregon Statesman [Salem, OR] 7 May 1956, Sun, pg 11:

4 – The Oregon Statesman [Salem, OR] 13 Sep 1956, Thurs pg 9:

5 –