Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ida Matilda Johnson - 52 Ancestors

Ida Mathilda Jonsdotter was born 21 October 1865 in Brånhorvan, Vena, Kalmar län, Sweden. She left Sweden with her family when she was 5 years old. Her family homesteaded on land northeast of McPherson, Kansas.  

She grew up on the farm and when she was 16, married the next door neighbor, Johan August Johannesson on 1 Sept 1882 in McPherson. Because of a shortage of marriageable women in the area, John waited until Ida was old enough to marry and married her. Their American names were Ida M. and John A. Johnson. Ida moved next door and so, came to live in the house that she had always been able to see from the window in her parents’ home.

They had 9 sons and 2 daughters. All but the first 2 sons survived and helped run the farm.

Arthur and John (both died as children)
Arthur (my grandpa)

By 1920, they had left the running of the farm to their son, Arthur and his wife, Ida, and moved to the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas. They built a vegetable and fruit farm near Alamo, Texas.  Several of their children helped them with both of the farms.
After John died in 1940, Ida and Edith stayed in Texas; moving to the house at the right. This is the last house they lived in. Ida died 17 August 1952 in Alamo, Hidalgo, Texas.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Uncle Reuben's Journey Movie - The Uncle Reuben Project - Year 3

School is out for another year and I have more to add to "The Uncle Reuben Project" files. I was afraid that by the 3rd year, I wouldn't have anything else new to do for the project but that isn't the case! 

In January, my class had enjoyed making a movie about Simeon Swartz for our Kansas/Pioneer unit and they enjoyed it so much that I decided we needed to do that for Reuben, also. The story is a fairly long one so each child had to have 2 parts. They drew pictures and I filled in with some photographs from my genealogy files. I wrote the script from notes taken during interviews between Uncle Reuben and my Uncle Don.

When we were finished, we shared the movie with some other classes and our principal. They enjoy sharing their work with others. I let parents know the show times and several showed up to watch. We also invited the students from years 1 and 2 of the project (now 3rd and 4th graders) to see the new addition. 

We hope you enjoy it!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Never Give Up - Friday's Faces from the Past

My family tree has a few researched branches so long they almost reach the sky. I can't take the credit for most of that growth. Much of it was accomplished years before I ever began my research.
Memorial stone in Byarum Parish, Jönköping, Sweden
My loose translation: Memorial To the memory of the
532 Byarum residents who 1853-1930 emigrated to America,
to seek their 
My great grandfather, Johann August Johannesson, was one
of the 532 that left Byarum in 1869.
I have had help and I've been fortunate to meet some wonderful cousins along the way who dropped crumbs for me to follow when I needed it.
Other branches have only grown a few inches in all the years my family has been working on our genealogy.

One of the most stubborn branches has been my dad's Johnson and Nelson lines. All four of his grandparents came to America from Sweden in the mid 1800's as young, single adults. We had vague stories of Sweden, and a few names that had been passed down, but little else.

If you know anything about Swedish names before the 1900's, you know that each generation received new last names.

August Johannesson really was Johannes' son! Johanna Håkansdotter really was... you guessed it, Håkans' daughter!

That makes for very difficult searching made even harder by the fact that I didn't speak much more Swedish than "thank you," "yes," and the names of some traditional dishes.

It was a very slow growing branch! 

The information I had on my Swedish ancestors existed on my Ancestry.com tree for years without comment, as the branches around them grew with new information and newly found cousins.

Years of searching and waiting ended abruptly one day last spring when I opened a message from a
Anders and his family in their home in Jönköping, Sweden
woman in Sweden claiming that her grandfather, Anders, and my great grandfather, John, were brothers. John had come to America while Anders had remained in Sweden.

The pictures started coming and I found myself looking into faces of family. Familiar family resemblances! I never dreamed this would happen after so much time.

After many questions, much research, and major breakthroughs in my understanding of Swedish records, I am proud to call Gunnel my cousin. We write back and forth and share new and old bits of family news.

And... I've started planning a trip to Sweden!

Never. Give. Up.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Finding the Time and Space - Motivation Monday

This week is my "deep summer" week. I know it's summer and hot outside but, in my mind, this mid-week of summer (5 out of 9) feels cool, calm, and refreshing.

You see, I'm a teacher, and my summer months are very different than my winter months.

Much of my days have been filled with doing the things in my house that have waited for me all year. So far, I have painted two rooms and turned one of those into an office - for ME! I'm working on the rest of the house also, but my office is where I want to be. There is plenty to do in here! I have spent hours filing, sorting, and scanning.

I've been blessed with a large collection of old pictures of ancestors, along with letters, documents, and artifacts. I'm very grateful for it all but, I also feel the pressure of responsibility, as the family genealogist, to keep it safe and honor it with some attention.

Now that I have a spot, I am motivated to begin setting down goals for future work in my new space!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Summer Memory 1963, Age Eight

It's the first day of summer. Summer mornings bring back memories of home.

I wake to my open window as the sun and a cool morning breeze hit my white cotton curtains. They sway in the air, nudging me from my dreams. I stretch, enjoying the morning coolness that will be gone all too soon from this summer scene, and then lay still to listen for the noise of others in the house. Hearing nothing, I sit up, put my feet on the smooth wooden floor, and gaze out the window in front of me. I'm looking for my mother. After a few moments perusing the straight rows of corn, potatoes, beats, beans, and other assorted vegetables, I spot white fabric billowing in the breeze. I know it must be Mom's housecoat I've spied between the single row of fruit trees and the blackberry bushes that stretch the length of our small grove. 
Shari (8), Kristi (6), Laurie (3)

I open the door and step out into the hall where I can see my little sisters, still sleeping in their twin beds, through the slightly open door across from mine. It won't be long before they wake and the house becomes active and full of life. 

As I walk past my parents' room, I notice their bed is neatly made and ready for the day. The windows have been opened and the single air-conditioner, that has run through the night in my parents' window, is getting a rest; waiting for the sun to make its way to the room's west windows. Dad's watch, pocket protector with his pens and mechanical pencils, and change for his pocket are no longer in their spot on the corner of the dresser; a sure sign that he has already left for work for the day. 

I make my way through the living room with its large picture window, on through the dining room, and into the kitchen. Every room looks, smells, and feels like summer.
My Mom is nowhere to be found in those rooms but I see signs of her presence. The double doors in the dining room lead to the backyard. They are open and doing their best to bring in cool air before the afternoon heat takes over. A coffee cup with a brown liquid ring sits on the kitchen table next to a small plate displaying evidence of toast with jelly; a crumpled paper napkin completing the picture. 

Vera Dibbens Johnson
I continue past the churning washing machine in the utility room and out the wooden screen door that leads to the north side of the house. I feel the cool morning breeze as it penetrates my summer pajamas. The small porch sits comfortably between two large flowerbeds full of columbines and snap dragons. English ivy has wound it's tendrils over the red brick of the north wall for so many years that the brick is no longer visible.

I run barefoot, down the steps and into the wet grass, on my way to the garden; our collie, Laddie, matching my steps on the other side of the chain link fence.

As I scan the garden again, I spot Mom bending over a row of snap beans. Her fingers working quickly to pull the ripe pods from their branches. She has nearly finished filling the large plastic bowl. She looks up and smiles as I come to stand beside her on the soft, cool garden soil. I help her finish filling the big bowl and we head for the kitchen where I will help her snap the ends off of the fresh beans. 

As my sisters bounce into the kitchen, I know the rest of the day will be full of summer activity. But, the early morning time with Mom cements the rich memories in my mind forever. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Don't Forget the Actual Names on the Picture!

This post is too late to help the poor mystery people in the picture below but, you can keep something just as terrible from happening to your family, simply by following my advice!
When labeling your pictures, it is always best to include actual names in the description. Just using clever words won't be enough. Images need actual names in order to be useful to anyone but yourself! Do you see these happy people smiling from this picture? Little did they know, at the time, that they would become part of a mystery and their names would be lost to the world. Let's see what caused this catastrophe!
I have to give the writer of the description kudos. He really tried but for all that effort, he completely missed the point of writing a description and they will forever remain nameless to me.
I came across this picture when sorting photos from Uncle Reuben's envelopes into stacks of family and friends. When I came to this picture, I turned it over and saw a long description on the back. It seemed like I would get a quick answer as to who their identities; that is until I began reading...

  Bottom Row - left to right
Youngest & Eldest daughter and
Mae who never aged a year since

   Top Row Right to Left
son and yours truly

The rest - daughter and sons in laws and their childrens - dog included

How many names did YOU read? I counted one, unless you count "Yours Truly."
I'm hoping these are friends of Reuben and Marge, or possibly Marge's family and not someone I should have on my family tree chart. Until I have asked the people who might know them, this picture will live in my "?" box. The writer must have put much effort talking about so many people while giving away no identities, except for his wife, Mae!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Workday Wednesday - Sharing the Work

I recently came across this picture when looking through my uncle's genealogy files. It was taken on my grandparent's Kansas farm during harvest one year, long ago. Grandpa Art Johnson is seated in the middle, Grandma, Ida, is on the far right, Art's cousin Harry and his wife are standing on the left and Grandma's sister, Helen, sitting in front.  Everyone except for poor Harry found some personal shade beneath those wide-brimmed hats. I've been told that Grandpa always wore one when he was working out in the fields.

I'm sure they were working hard the day they took this picture but, I have a feeling they also had some laughs.