Sunday, October 22, 2017

Family History Month - post 20

A few years ago, I came across a site that had a series of pictures where families would try to recreate an old family photo. They were hilarious - photos of dads with babies on their lap became grandpas with their grown children sitting on them, grown men playing with rattles and binkies, etc. I wanted to try that with my siblings, and make a humorous gift for my mom for mother's day a few years ago.

First, the original photo:

It's a cute picture, taken over 30 years ago. For reference, I'm the buck-toothed boy on the top left. Now my sibs live a ways away, my sister in Seattle (not too far, only 30 miles) and my brother in Iowa while going through med school. But they were able to recreate their photos and send them to me, which led to the creation of this masterpiece:

When mom saw this picture, she laughed louder and longer than I have ever heard her laugh. It was so absolutely awesome. Hands down, this is in the top 3 of the best ideas I've ever had. 

Family History Month - post 19

This picture is from a few years ago. it was taken at my aunt's house while a bunch of us were gathered together for something (I can't recall what exactly).  The cool thing about this picture is these kids are all from the next generation of my family - my kids and my cousins' kids. I don't get to see my cousins often, so it's fun to see how our kids all play together when we do have a mini-reunion. 

I hope we can find ways to help them all keep in touch as they grow up.

Family History Month - post 18

My 18th post for Family History Month should have been made on the 18th, but as you've noticed, I'm running a little behind. October 18th is my son Levi's birthday. He would have been one year old last Wednesday.

So much has changed in the year since he was born. We got to experience the craziness of trying to do things with four little kids, carrying diaper bags for two kids in diapers, creating Halloween costumes for six people, all of it. And we loved it. Every minute of it.

That sweet little boy made everyone happier just by virtue of being there. No matter how tired or grumpy I was when he needed feeding or changing at 2am, when I saw his little face, all of that just melted away, and I was ready to do anything for that little boy.

At his funeral, I remember having this sense of peace, and comfort, and actually a feeling joy at being able to do something to commemorate my little boy, and being amazed at how many people there were. I loved having my family there, especially since Lisa's sister and mom flew in, as did my brother and his whole family. It was a feeling of love and togetherness that we sorely needed, and just reveled in while they were all there.
Since then, the outpouring of love and help and comfort we received was overwhelming. Friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers stepped in to carry us through those days and weeks. It was very humbling to be the recipient of so much love and attention.

I can honestly say that in many ways I'm a different person than I was a year ago. My priorities have shifted, I cut out a lot of stuff in my life that wasn't making me happy, or helping me become who I wanted to be. The grief I felt is still there, but it's morphed into something different - I still miss my son more than I can say, but I have a deeper assurance that death is not the end of life, that there is more to come and I will be reunited with Levi again.

This experience has also shown me something I never expected to see - the unrelenting goodness in so many people. The people that still reach out, that leave small expressions or tokens of understanding and sympathy, that lend a hand to others despite their own heart-wrenching sorrows. This kind of stuff doesn't make into the news, but it should, because it just builds your soul to see and experience that kind of love from other people. Just knowing that there are so many good people out there is hugely comforting.

It has been amazing to see the impact of Levi's life in my life, the lives of my family, friends, the kind souls at the Tears Foundation, and many others. Even more amazing is that the ripples are still continuing - people are still reaching out, blessing others, helping others, because of him. If one little boy, who lived a total of 66 days, can have that kind of impact, imagine what all of us could do, all the lives we could touch and help and lift. I think I can make that my gift to Levi - taking what I felt when I was around him, and helping others feel it.

Family History Month - post 17

I posted earlier that I had two pictures of my 5th-great-grandfather, Lewis Parks Shute. I found that I actually have three. However, I think two of them are duplicates. The more I look at them, the more I think they are the same picture. The top one has actually been flipped horizontally, for easier comparison.
I've always wondered, did he do his hair that way on purpose, or was he making the best of what he had left?

Family History Month - post 16

On July 30, 2011, my cousin Jimmy Pushard passed away at his home. It was sudden and unexpected, especially since I had been chatting with him on Facebook just a few days before. I was shocked and saddened, as Jimmy was such a wonderful guy, so nice and friendly, always smiling. He'd even emailed me not long before he passed away, and asked me to do some family history research on his Pushard ancestors. It was the first time an extended family member (not a parent or grandparent) had ever asked me to look into their family history, and it was really neat to be able to find info for him and share it with him.

He loved being outdoors, and while most guys build their "mancave" in a basement or garage, his was an actual cave. His wife Danyl passed away back in the 90s, and their son is now married and raising the cutest little boy. I have no doubt Jimmy would be proud of his son and the family he is raising, and would have been the best grandpa to his grandson.
It's hard to believe it's been six years, it still feels like it was more recent than that. Of the more than 20 first cousins I have, Randi, Arianne, and Jimmy are the only ones that have passed away. I haven't lost any aunts, though I have lost one uncle, two grandparents and two great-grandparents. But to have lived almost 40 years, I'd say I've gotten off lucky that my losses only go that far.

Family History Month - post 15

This post is a special one, dedicated to two cousins of mine, two of a set of triplets, that I never got to meet. Their names are Randi Katherine Gibson, and Arianne Rose Gibson. They were born July 10, 1977 in Vancouver, Washington. Randi passed away the following day, and Arianne two days after her sister. I've known of them for many years, but today I went to see if I could find records of their brief lives. I found death records for both of them in Washington state, but also in Oregon state, which surprised me. I guess because Vancouver is so close to the Washington/Oregon border, it was recorded in both states. The records below are from the Oregon indexes.

Having lost a child myself, I can't imagine the pain of losing two little ones so soon after their birth. Luckily the third daughter survived to adulthood, as did the daughter who followed her. But I wanted to be sure that my cousins Randi and Arianne are not forgotten, and are remebered along with the other relatives that are waiting for us on the other side. Like someone said, history remembers the famous, genealogy remembers everyone. 

Family History Month - post 14

This is a picture of my grandpa's aunt Olga Joseph and her first husband, Gustav Haft. Gus, as he went by, was from the same area of Volhynia that Olga and her family were from, though they married in Canada before moving to the US. My grandpa says he could speak 7 languages, and was a really friendly guy. He could also play the fiddle like you couldn't believe, and would have parties in their home where they would roll up the carpet and dance until very late. Gus died in 1949, and Olga remarried to a guy named Mike McKeown (who also lost a spouse), but he died just shy of three years later.

Family History Month - post 13

This post is of one of two pictures I have of my 5th-great-grandfather, Lewis Parks Shute. This one is of him and his second wife, Lucinda Foote. They were married in 1856, and he died in 1869, so the picture would've been taken sometime in between those years. He is the ancestor furthest back in generations that I have any pictures of. For most of my other lines, if I have a photo of my 3rd-great-grandparents, I consider it lucky. So having a picture of someone born in 1811, I think is just amazing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Family History Month - post 12

I thought for this post, I would post something a bit more unusual.

This isn't a photo of an ancestor, or their headstone, or a house they lived, or even the city they lived in. It's the A on the mountainside next to Anaconda, Montana as seen from the Mount Carmel Cemetery. You can see the A from the highway, but I thought the view from the cemetery gave a different perspective on it. Several of my ancestors are buried in that cemetery, including my great-grandmother Augusta (Joseph) (Staffan) Gibson, her father Samuel Joseph, Sam's son Elmer. I went to this cemetery during a family vacation to Montana back in 2009, and I brought my son with me, though he was just 3 at the time. The cemetery is actually really high up on a hill, and there are a few places where it drops pretty steeply. I remember having a very tight grip on my son's hand as we walked through the cemetery locating the graves of my family.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Family History Month - post 11

This census record is from the 1851 Canadian census. It's the earliest record I have so far of my 4th-great-grandfather, George D. McDonald. He's the one who died on December 23rd, that I wrote about a couple months ago. I've always thought it interesting that his surname is McDonald, yet he was apparently from England. I would love to track down a male-line descendant and have them take a Y-DNA test.

He and his wife Jane (nee Dobson) were both from England, but I think they married in Ontario, Canada. Need to find a marriage record to prove it though.

Family History Month - post 10

For this post, I wanted to throw it back a few centuries. This is the baptism record of my 7th-great-grandfather, Johannes Andersen Flantzaas. He was baptized on 14 November 1728 in Evanger, Voss parish, Hordaland, Norway. Flantzaas was the name of the farm they lived on, which was also spelled Flantsaas and Flansås.

The family moved to the Berstad farm, where Johannes' mother Marita was from, and his family stayed on that farm for the next four generations. His great-grandson, Sjur Johanneson Bergstad, moved his family to the US, and after 20-30 years, the family took on the name of the family farm as their surname - Bergstad.

Family History Month - post 9

For the ninth day of Family History Month, my bloggie gave to meeee...

A photograph of my awesomely long-named ancestor Johanna Maria Dorothea Elisabeth (Hildebrand) (Wilken) Kruger. According to the notation on the copy I received, it was taken about 1870, when Johanna would have been about 51.

She was the mother of 11 children, and outlived both of her husbands. She traveled halfway across the world and raised her family away from everything she knew growing up. I really think she was a tough lady, who endured a lot. It was her daughter, Mathilda, who had to deal with the fallout of her husband's dishonesty, and went through federal examination because of it. I think she got some of her strength from her mom.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Family History Month - post 8

For today's second post, it's another DNA-themed post. After my last one, I went to 23andMe to see what my mom and uncle's matching segments looked like. I would've gone to FTDNA, but I haven't unlocked their full results yet so that option's not available. I will unlock them all eventually, but I have other DNA projects to get done first. But back to my mom and her brother.


So there are three colors in the chart, representing three match levels:
Gray - no match
Purple - half-identical (meaning they share segments from one parent or the other)
Dark purple - completely identical (meaning they share segments from both parents)

I think I'm beginning to really see why siblings only share 50% of their DNA on average - the probability of sharing the exact same data from both parents all across all 23 segments is really low. My mom and her brother have a little over 3000 cM of half-identical segments, but only 1200 cM of fully identical segments. Chromosomes 18, 19, and 20 are almost all identical all the way across, but all the rest were only fully identical in bits and pieces.

Chromosomes 21, 22, and X all have no fully identical segments. With 21 and 22, that's due to the random recombination of DNA, so they could have had fully identical segments there, they just happened to not get them. With the X, they couldn't have any fully identical segments, as my mom has X DNA from both her mom and dad, while her brother only has X DNA from his mom.

So this was really interesting for me to see, and helped me see how DNA inheritance among siblings works. I've known in my head for so long how much siblings should share, but it's really eye opening to see it work in action.

Family History Month - post 7

Yesterday was absolutely nuts, so I didn't get a chance to post anything, so I'll post twice today. Today's first post is DNA-related, since I can't get enough time to work on my genetic genealogy as much as I'd like to.

I was curious to see how much DNA I shared with my maternal grandmother, in terms of what chromosomes and how much of each. I posted the percentages before, that I calculated using the free tool from Legacy Tree Genealogists. But now that I've uploaded my results to FTDNA, I wanted to do some further comparisons.

A few things surprised me. First, my grandma and I share no DNA on chromosome 3 at all. I thought I would share DNA on every chromosome with someone so closely related, but no. That means that anyone that matches my mom and I on chromosome 3 has to be related through my mom's dad's side. Very interesting.

Chromosomes 6, 13, 15, 18, and 21 are almost entirely from my grandma. I guess this was surprising as I didn't expect to have so many chromosomes entirely match. If anything, I expected more of a match on the X chromosome, but most of my X comes from my maternal grandpa. It'd be interesting to test my daughter (the only one of my kids to get an X from me) and see how she compares.

The most surprising thing is all of this orange represents only about 25% of my DNA. Now that I think of it, it really represents about 50% of my chromosomes, but only the ones I got from my mom. Maybe I'll compare my mom and my uncle and see what they look like.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Family History Month - post 6 - Carol Poole

I learned today that my maternal grandma's cousin Carol Poole passed away yesterday. Carol was the daughter of Elsie Craddock, one of my great-grandma Edna's sisters. I can't recall having met Carol in person (though I may have when I was younger), but we connected on Facebook several years ago. Since then, I've chatted with her many times about our shared ancestors. She was a huge supporter of my genealogy research business, and was my first paying customer. She encouraged me over and over again when I got down on myself, or doubted my research skills. She reminded me that God gave me the talent and desire to do this, and that with His help, I would be successful at it. Now, a year and a half later, I've been blessed with the opportunity to research my own clients, as well as those found by Legacy Tree Genealogists, and helped over a dozen different families learn more about their ancestry, including helping a recent client find and connect with her birth family. I'm going to miss sharing my Craddock discoveries with her, or reading her comments about my latest blog post.
She loved her family, and constantly created beautiful scrapbook pages for both her kids and grandkids, as well as for extended family. I have one of her creations hanging on the wall in my library, with baby pictures of my grandpa, my dad, me, and my oldest son. Below are some of the pages she made of herself with her kids and grandkids.
In my mind, she really exemplified these words from Shakespeare's Hamlet:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
God be with you till we meet again, Carol.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Family History Month - post 5

Today's second post is about Jacob Beilstein, my 3rd-great-grandfather. He was born in Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany in 1851, and came over to the US as a baby (though I'm not sure who with, as his father Georg Christian Beilstein died just a few months before he was born). He was raised by his older sister and brother-in-law, Maria and John Frederick Beilstein (the parents of Bertha Beilstein, whom I've written about before). He apprenticed as a butcher to his brother-in-law, and stayed with that vocation all his life. He moved around a lot - back and forth between Nebraska, Chicago, and Pennsylvania. He married Amelia Waechter and had two daughters with her, and supposedly three sons that all died in infancy, though I've yet to find any actual record of them. He supposedly died in Pennsylvania just shortly after the 1900 census was taken, but I've yet to find his death record. For having lived a relatively short life (passing away at 49) I'm glad that I have several photos of him.

Family History Month - post 4

I thought it might happen eventually, but time got away from me yesterday and I missed my daily post. So here's the first of two posts today.

This is a picture of my 2nd-great-grandparents, Lena Beilstein and Ernie Craddock. This is the only picture I have of the two of them together, even though they were married for more than 15 years. I've written many times about how hard Lena's life was, and Ernie didn't have an easy go of it either - his divorce from Lena, remarrying and then losing his second wife in a car accident, having to put his daughters in an orphanage because he couldn't provide for them adequately. But at least, here in this one photo, the two of them look reasonably happy. Life is like that I guess - lots of hard or uneventful times, interspersed with moments of joy and happiness. Like this picture, I want to focus on the good, not ignoring the bad or pretending it doesn't exist, but not letting it define my life and outlook.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Family History Month - post 3

Today's Family History Month post is about my great-great-grandfather, Charles Frederick Wagner. He was the son of Charles Wagner and Friedericka Wendt. He was born around 1870, though I'm not exactly sure where, due to a lot of discrepancies in the records he appears or is mentioned in. I can't recall the exact source, but I learned years ago that he went by the nickname "Ding" for some reason.

Charles Frederick Wagner in 1906

He spent some time in Chicago, and ended up in Mille Lacs County, Minnesota, where he met and married Eldora Shute on 14 April 1898. Charles and Eldora's first child, a son (reportedly named Dewey) was born 6 March 1899, and passed away 9 days later on 15 March 1899. Having buried a son myself, I can only imagine the heartbreak they went through. They went on to have five more children together, a girl named Gertrude, and four boys - Charles, Howard, Ralph, and Donald (who went by Bill).

Sometime after 1910, the family moved to Snohomish County, Washington. According to my grandma Blossom (Charles's granddaughter), he would disappear for days or even weeks at a time, then come back, and then disappear again. No one apparently knew where he went during these absences. It may have been these absences that led Eldora and Charles to divorce by 1920.

I don't know much about his life after the divorce. He sent postcards to his son Charles (whom he called Charlie) with unusual messages, like:

You would make a St. Pat, if you had a girl just like me - Dad

Rem[em]ber the Sea - See
hoping to See Sea - you aga[i]n - Seen  (Dad)

He spent his later years in a nursing home until he became really sick, at which point he called Gertrude (who was living with her family in California) and went to live with her until his death on 13 November 1934.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Family History Month - post 2

Today's post is about one of my most stubborn brick wall ancestors - my 3rd-great-grandmother Orlena Hazeltine Martin. She was born in Missouri around 1855 to a father from Tennessee and a mother from Virginia. I'm still working on determining who her parents were, and I have some leads, but nothing definitive yet.  (Most online family trees have her as the daughter of Lewis Martin and Deborah Ryester/Register, but I disproved that years ago by finding the death certificate of that Orlena, who died in Tennessee under her married name, Orlena Slaughter, in 1916.)

She married James Craddock on 20 February 1875 in Dent County, Missouri. They had four kids in Missouri, then moved to Montana for reasons unknown, where they had three more, including my ancestor Ernest Craddock. Orlena died shortly after the birth of her last child in 1899, which leads me to believe it was due to complications from the birth. Her passing happened a few years before death certificates were kept, so I don't have an official death record for her. Actually, I only have two records of her existence - the marriage record, and the 1880 census shortly after.

I've been in contact with relatives who believe they have identified a half brother, her mother, and step-father. I keep getting distracted before I can fully investigate these leads, but eventually I will get there! I would love to find out more about her.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Family History Month - post 1

In honor of October being Family History Month, I've decided to do something a little crazy - I'm going to try to post something related to my family history every single day this month! The posts will likely not be very long, as some days I have very little free time.

For today's post, I'm posting a photo of my McDonald ancestors. The man in the middle is George D. McDonald, my 3rd-great-grandfather. The woman on his right is his daughter Mary Ann McDonald. I don't know who the woman on the left is, unfortunately I don't have a better copy of this picture and no one has been able to identify her. George was born in Ontario in 1857 to George D. McDonald and Jane Dobson. He married Jennett McDonald (no relation, as far as I know) around 1881, and they had six kids together. They moved to the US in 1902, and he passed away in Fairview, Montana in 1941. He worked as a farmer, and I actually got my kids to change the words to Old McDonald, so now they sing "George McDonald had a farm, EIEIO."