52 Ancestors #25 – The Old Homestead

This week’s theme is ‘homestead’ and I immediately turned to a picture I have in my office:

OlgaAltaOrvilleWaldoOscar_ErmalIvaCyLindstromThis is my great grandfather and grandmother Oscar and Alta Fuller Lindstrom with a few of their children (Alta had 14 births, of which only 9 survived past infancy).  The are, from left to right, eldest sister Olga, mother Alta, my grandpa Orville (who I’ve been transcribing WWII letters from if you’ve been following me), Waldo, father Oscar, then in front it is Iva, Ermal, and baby Cy.  I can safely date this picture to 1918, since the youngest son, Cyril, was born in September 1917, he looks under 2, it is summer (even tho the long sleeves, it is northern Minnesota after all), and the next child was born in December of 1919.  (I don’t know much about log cabin construction but the roof looks a bit crooked to me.)

Don’t know the story of the cabin, but my great grandfather moved up to Hubbard County, Minnesota from Webster County, Iowa in 1913 and farmed in Hart Lake Township, section 10.  The dark blue dot is Oscar Lindstrom’s and I put the aqua dot as reference to where my mother grew up.

Hart Lake twp
1916 Hubbard Co. plat map, University of MN, John R. Borchert map library.

I wish I could find some more information about why they moved from the fertile black gold soil of NW Iowa to the rocky, boggy soil of northern Minnesota.  Oscar’s parents both died in 1909 and the heirs sold the 80 acre farm on 12 Jan 1911 for $8270.  So that is still a mystery for another day.  But it is nice to put that cabin on the map!

52 Ancestors #23 – June Weddings

I’ve been lax on my 52 Ancestors posts – I’ve been busy working on projects for clients, so I guess that’s a good thing.  Anyway, I thought this one would be easy – “June Weddings” – why do I always think that?  I have a large collection of beautiful wedding photos from my paternal side and seeing that June is the favored month for weddings, I dug in to look.  Surprise, surprise – nothing in the Aprils, Mays, Januarys, and finally … the elusive June wedding!

Oscar Anderson Irene Johnson wedding
from personal collection

This is my grand aunt, Anna Irene Margaret Johnson and her husband Oscar Theodore Anderson on their wedding day June 16, 1920.  I found it interesting that in the 1920 census, Oscar was listed as a farm hand on the Johnson farm!  Her parents must have vetted him very well and obviously liked his potential. I like the details that pictures can add to a story.  His face seems to be more tan than his forehead – a sign of a farmer for sure!  Her huge bouquet of roses, ferns, and ribbons match the ribbons on her dress and that style of veil is so unusual – wonder if that was in vogue, or if it was of Norwegian style?  (They were Norwegian-Americans)  Her hair looks to be bobbed in the 1920s style – how chic! I’ll continue to look for more June wedding photos this week to add to this post – thanks for reading!

52 Ancestors #13 – A One Letter Difference

This week’s 52 Ancestors theme is “different”.  As I perused my family tree for inspiration, a distant relation, whom I hadn’t dug very far into, popped out – Cora Kompelien – her name is one letter different than mine – Cara.  Just by chance, I entered “Cora”  into the search box of my tree -surprise, surprise – there were 4 Cora’s total!  We’ll start in alphabetical order:

Cora A Brodsho is my 2nd cousin 2x removed,  She was one of 13 children born to Jens Brodsho and Clara Jensven, Norwegian farmers in Wild Rice township, Norman county, Minnesota.  Home life must have been a bit harsh, as her father, like his mother before, was declared insane and admitted to hospital for 2 years (1917-1919).  By that time, Cora was married and had moved with her husband, Carl Rots, to Harvey, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago, where her husband worked for the steel mills.  They had 2 girls, Grace and Bernice.  Cora Brodsho Rots continued to live near Harvey until her death in 1980.  [An interesting side note:  Cora’s mother Clara left her husband Jens after his return from the mental hospital.  She took their 4 youngest children and went to Montana, where her oldest sons were homesteading.]

Cora Ellen Christenson is my grand aunt.  She lived a short life – from 1906 to 1908, so I don’t have a wealth of information on her.  I do however, have the privilege of having her baby portrait, complete in a beautiful oval frame, hanging on our hall wall.

IMG_1551Cora Jorgensdatter is the wife of my great grand uncle.  She was born in Norway in 1890, immigrated to the United States and settled in Brown county, Minnesota, where she married Rangvald Johnson in 1926.

The final Cora is the one that I found first.  Cora Kompelien was born in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba, Canada in 1916.  Her mother died 2 years later and all the children were shipped to various relatives in Minnesota.  Here is the manifest of her border crossing in to the United States, with her twin sister, Millie.  Cora was raised in the family of her aunt, Karen Hole Olson and her twin went to live with cousins.  It seems strange that they weren’t kept together.

Cora border crossing
image via Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

So there you have my Coras.  What started as a silly way to define the “different” topic really led me to find some interesting information on the distant twigs in my tree.

52 Ancestors #12 – Family Naming Traditions

This week’s 52 Ancestors theme is “same”.  Upon researching my family and other people’s family lines, I often notice that the same names are passed down from generation to generation (making it easier sometimes to verify that you’re on the right path).  I’ve found that this trend had gone out of vogue in the past 50 odd years, but have seen it coming back with the rise of family “historical nostalgia” (?) for classic baby names.

Being a historical researcher and genealogist, my children bear some of our traditional family names – I’d thought to dig out the pictures of their namesakes and include them also.

My daughter’s middle name is Nicoline, named for her 3rd great grandmother Nicoline Marsine Møller, shown here with her husband Jens Peter Jørgensen.  They lived in the Aaborg region of Denmark in the late 19th century.

Jens and Nicoline Jorgensen; from personal collection

My son has 2 ancestor names gracing his middle name – Christen and Hallberg.  Christen Christenson is his 2nd great grandfather, and was from the Fertile, Minnesota area.  It was especially significant for me to include this name for my son as there are no more males bearing the last name Christenson left in my line.  According to Norwegian custom, the son takes his last name from the first name of his father; thus Hans Olson’s father’s first name would be Ole and thus his son would take the last name Hanson.  Girls did the same but using ‘datter’.  When immigrants came to the United States, they ‘fixed’ the name to make it easier.

Christen Christenson; from personal collection

Carl Severin Hallberg is my son’s Swedish 2nd great grandfather, who came to the U.S. when he was 2 years old.  He settled in Minnesota.

Carl Severin Hallberg; from personal collection

So I hope I’ve helped future genealogists find clues about links in my family tree as well as providing a rich reminder of family history to my children.

Susannah North Martin – 52 Ancestors #3

This week’s theme is “strong women”.  Although I undoubtedly come from a long line of strong females, the one that I gravitated to for this topic is my 10th great grandmother, Susannah North Martin, who was hanged as a witch in 1692 as part of the Salem witch outbreak.

courtesy of Ancestry user seastar7
courtesy of Ancestry user seastar7

Susannah North Martin was born in England about 1621, the daughter of Richard and Joan Bartram North. Susannah was living in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1646 when she married widower, blacksmith George Martin, with whom she would have eight children. Later, they came to live in the new town of Amesbury, Mass.

Susannah was accused of being a witch on several different occasions; first in 1661, and later in 1669.  At the same time as the first accusations Susannah and her husband were involved in a series of legal battles over her inheritance. In 1668 her father, Richard North, died leaving two daughters, a granddaughter and his second wife to share his sizable estate. To the dismay of Susannah and her sister, they received only a tiny portion while the bulk of the estate passed to his second wife, who died soon after her husband. Susannah’s stepmother left the majority of North’s estate to his granddaughter, continuing the exclusion of Susannah and her sister, who pursued a series of appeals, all of which were unsuccessful.

After the death of her husband in 1686, Susannah was left a widow, which in Puritanical New England meant that she was defenseless and destitute.  When the Salem witch hysteria broke out in 1692, it was inevitable that she was again accused. By this time her neighbors were so upset with her because she was outspoken, she had a temper and she did not care what people thought of her, something that would not have been socially acceptable at that time. (sound familiar?)

THE ARREST WARRANT To the Marshall of the County of Essex of his Lawful Deputies or to the Constable of Amesbury: You are in their Majests names hereby required forthwith or as soon as may be to apprehend and bring (before us) Susanna Mertin of Amsbury in ye county of Essex Widdow at ye house of Lt. Nathaniel Ingersalls in Salem village in order to her examination Relating to high suspicion of sundry acts of Witchcraft donne or committed by her upon ye Bodys of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis of Salem village or farmes whereby great hurt and damage hath beene donne to ye bodys of said persons according to complt of Capt. Jonathan walcot & Serg Thomas putnam in behalf of their Majests this day exhibited before us for themselves and also for several of their neighbors and here you are not to fail at your peril. Dated Salem Aprill 30th 1692. John Hathorn Jonathan Corwin Assistants

Rev. Cotton Mather recorded some of her trial:

“[Magistrate] (to the afflicted girls): Do you know this Woman?
[Abigail Williams]: It is Goody Martin she hath hurt me often.
Others by fits were hindered from speaking. Eliz: Hubbard said she hath not been hurt by her. John Indian said he hath not seen her Mercy Lewes pointed to her & fell into a little fit. Ann Putman threw her Glove in a fit at her. The examinant laught.
[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you laugh at it?
[Martin]: Well I may at such folly.
[Magistrate]: Is this folly? The hurt of these persons.
[Martin]: I never hurt man woman or child.
[Mercy Lewes]: She hath hurt me a great many times, & pulls me down
Then Martin laughed again
[Mary Walcott]: This woman hath hurt me a great many times.
Susan Sheldon also accused her of afflicting her.
[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you say to this?
[Martin]: I have no hand in Witchcraft.
[Magistrate]: What did you do? Did not you give your consent?
[Martin]: No, never in my life.
[Magistrate]: What ails this people?
[Martin]: I do not know.
[Magistrate]: But w’t do you think?
[Martin]: I do not desire to spend my judgm’t upon it.
[Magistrate]: Do not you think they are Bewitcht?
[Martin]: No. I do not think they are
[Magistrate]: Tell me your thoughts about them.
[Martin]:Why my thoughts are my own, when they are in, but when they are out they are anothers.”

Despite the lack of evidence against her, Susannah was found guilty of witchcraft and hanged at Gallows Hill on July 19 along with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes.

I agree with historian Carol Karlsen, who interpreted the Salem outbreak in socio-economic terms. Karlsen postulated that accused witches were not only poor, disagreeable old women, but also women of social and economic standing within their community.  Karlsen believed there was a correlation between witchcraft accusations and aberrations in the traditional line of property transmission. She notes that property, particularly land, typically went to the male relatives after the death of a parent.  And with Susannah’s numerous challenges to her father’s will and subsequent court battles, she was targeted as a threat by being a “strong woman”.

In 1711, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution clearing the names of the convicted witches and offered financial restitution to their descendents. Susannah Martin’s family did not wish to be named in the law and did not seek restitution. In 1957, the Massachusetts legislature formally apologized to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials but did not specifically mention any of the victims by name. Finally, in 2001, the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution officially exonerating five of the victims not mentioned in the previous resolutions: Susannah Martin, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.

My mother recently went to Salem, MA and paid homage to our ancestress – I’m glad that women’s rights have come a long way since 1692, but I think we can always look to the past for inspiration to continue the struggle for equality and equitable treatment under the law.

Barb-New England-2014 376


Karlsen, C. F. (1987). The devil in the shape of a woman: Witchcraft in colonial New England [Google eBook].

Salem Witch Trials. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://salem.lib.virginia.edu

Goss, K. (2008). The Salem Witch Trials: a Reference Guide [Google eBook].

Massachusetts Clears 5 From Salem Witch Trials – NYTimes.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/02/us/massachusetts-clears-5-from-salem-witch-trials.html

17th Century Documents & Books. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/17docs.html

LeRoy Forest Hillman – 52Ancestors #2

I’ve been struggling to find an appropriate vein to tap with this week’s 52 Ancestor’s theme.  In honor of the birthdays of Elvis and MLK, the theme is “Kings”.  I had thought to look for a musician in the family a la Elvis – with no luck – or someone with a royal connection – again no luck.  So then I thought of names – King = royal = Le Roy – get it – haha!  I thought there HAD to be  Leroy lurking amongst my tree branches somewhere.

LeRoy Forest Hillman is my 2nd cousin, twice removed.  He was born in Gage County, Nebraska in 1896 to John and Leona (Fuller) Hillman.

picture courtesy of John Thurston
picture courtesy of John Thurston

The farming family relocated to Bourbon County, Kansas (near the Missouri border) in the mid-1910s.  Leroy married Lillie Graham in 1919 and daughter Leona was born in 1923 followed by 3 more children, Forest, Orville and Marie.  I imagine farming on the wild plains of Kansas was not an easy life and perhaps they had a chance to move to more arable land since by the 1940 census, they had moved west into Allen County, near Iola.

The great depression which began in the fall of 1929 affected Kansas just as it did every other part of the country, but on top of it there was superimposed almost a decade of drought and duststorms. In other words, Kansas and neighboring Great Plains states got a double dose of misery and calamity.

The decade of the 1920’s had been a rough one for farmers, although most of the rest of the economy was booming. It will be remembered as a time when all farm organizations were imploring congress to pass relief legislation in order to save farmers from bankruptcy.

The desperate situation of Kansas farmers in the 1930’s can be judged by the fact that the total farm value of Kansas agricultural production in that decade was only 63 percent of what it was during the very lean 1920’s.[1]

Farmers in Eastern Kansas had plenty of trouble but they got off easy compared with those in the west. The dust storms which raged in the Great Plains from 1933 to the later years in the decade are perhaps among the best remembered happenings of that time. They received plenty of publicity and certainly will never be forgotten by those who lived through them.

–from Hope, Sr, C. (1970). Kansas in the 1930s. Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, 36(1), 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.kshs.org

I’ve found several mentions of the Hillmans in the Iola Register “Happenings” section, as social doings were often recorded in small rural communities.  These clippings illustrate how everyday details were noted and immortalized in print – it could either be seen as a nuisance or status, I guess.

Happenings. (1941, February 14). The Iola Register [Iola, Kansas]. Retrieved from http://newspapers.com
Happenings. (1941, February 14). The Iola Register [Iola, Kansas]. Retrieved from http://newspapers.com
Happenings. (1946, December 26). The Iola Register [Iola, Kansas]. Retrieved from http://newspapers.com
It seems Roy and Lillie were successful in farming enough (or tired of the Kansas weather) to retire to San Antonio, Texas as shown by another “Around Town” clipping from 1976:

Happenings. (1976, Nov 30). The Iola Register [Iola, Kansas]. Retrieved from http://newspapers.com
Happenings. (1976, Nov 30). The Iola Register [Iola, Kansas]. Retrieved from http://newspapers.com
Leroy passed away in 1983 at the age of 86.  His wife Lillie followed in 1993 at the age of 92.  I didn’t have any stories or pictures or even any memories of my 2nd cousin twice removed, and I thank this exercise of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for allowing me to make his acquaintance and letting me peek a bit into his life.  Who knows, perhaps one of his descendants will come across this post and reach out their branch to me.

Irene Estelle Fuller – 52 Ancestors #1

This picture is of my great-grand aunts and uncle Fuller who lived at the time of the picture in Otho, Iowa.  There is no date listed, but I assume it is around 1903 because my great-grandmother Alta was married in 1904 and I don’t think she would have posed for a family photo after her marriage.  There has been a mystery surrounding this family that is appropriate to this week’s topic, “Fresh Starts”, which involves Irene Estelle, the youngest daughter.

Carrie, Irene, David, Alta and Fern Fuller ca. 1903?

Shortly after the family moved from Iowa to Hubbard County, MN, two new siblings joined their family.  An adopted son, Robert Steven, and a daughter Ruth, who was born in 1908.  Now the mother of these children would have been 50 in 1908, so it seems a bit improbable that she was the biological mother of said Ruth.  Family rumor always had it that Ruth was Fern’s illegitimate baby and her parents just adopted it – which wasn’t unusual at the time to avoid scandal.

Now Fern had somewhat of an independent streak – she either stayed in Iowa when her family moved to Minnesota, or moved back to Fort Dodge shortly after to marry Clarence Kingsley in 1909.  She divorced Kingsley around 1923 as she was listed in the 1925 Iowa census as being divorced, living in Cedar Rapids, with 2 years of college under her belt.  By 1926 she had married again, up in Hubbard County, MN to an Albert Murk, at the age of 39.  She ended up staying in Hubbard County, having a daughter in 1930 (at the age of 43), until her death in 1944.

You might wonder why I’ve given so much detail to someone other than the subject of this post.  I wanted to give you some background on why I think Fern did what she did to give her baby sister, Irene, a “fresh start”.  It started with my need to verify the birthdate and place of Ruth.  Difficult to say the least because illegitimate births weren’t always recorded.  More family lore was that Ruth was born in Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa which was unusual since that county is in southeastern Iowa and the Fullers lived in Northwestern Iowa.   Luckily my mom worked for Johnson County and was able to call the vital records department – bingo!  There was a record of “Fern Fuller, born 28 Jan 1908 to Irene Fuller”.  Huh?  Did that mean that it was Irene, not Fern that was the mother of “Ruth”?  The birthdate of the mother was given as 29 Jul 1890 – the same as Irene Fuller so she would have been 17 years old at the time.  Did Fern take the heat for the illegitimate birth for her sister all those years so Irene could have a fresh start?

If that was the case, it makes me so impressed at the strength of sisterly love and at the stigma Fern had to face for the rest of her life.   I guess I’ll never know all the details of this family secret but Irene did indeed get a fresh start – she married Alfred Kallstrom in 1914 and together they had 5 children in Hubbard County, MN.  I imagine she saw her sister often and wonder if they ever spoke behind closed doors about their mutual secret.

Mother Marian and Sisters Alta, Fern and Irene Fuller
Mother Marian and Sisters Alta, Fern and Irene Fuller

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

I’m entering the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge as posted by Amy Johnson Crow over at “No Story Too Small“.  I’m really excited to participate as it will give me a chance to flex and practice my writing skills and compile a great “book” on my ancestors by the end of this year!  The premise is that you choose one ancestor per week and write on a chosen topic regarding that ancestor.  The first week’s topic is “Fresh Start” – here goes and hope you enjoy!