Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Emily - Palm Sunday 1987
The Edwards family (- Matt) 1989
This was juuuust a few years ago - back in 1989. We usually went from church over to Vince's parent's house for the afternoon on Easter. That's where this picture was taken. Emily was 7 and Brittany was about 7 months.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Mom was a Multifacited Teenager - Wordless Wednesday

Vera Dibbens on their farm near Murdock, Kansas.

Vera Dibbens in town (probably Kingman, Kansas) wearing a new dress. (abt. 1945)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

iLike my iphone - Tech Tuesday

You would think I would have heard all of the stories by now. I've been asking questions and I've known him my whole life. That doesn't seem to matter. My dad thinks of a new story almost every time I talk to him. The problem is, I don't trust my memory and many times we are in the car and I am driving! We were on the highway coming back from a trip to Osage City, Kansas, where his mother grew up. He started talking about his Grandpa Nelson who came to Kansas from Sweden when he was about 20 years old. He recalled the Swedish words that his grandpa used to call his horses to him. Then, he repeated the words from so long ago. I scrambled for my iphone and touched the button for voice memo. I now have it recorded and saved to my computer. A few weeks later I mentioned to my dad's younger brother that I had heard how Grandpa Nelson called his horses. Immediately, he repeated the same words with the same thick Swedish accent. I wish I knew what the words meant but neither of them have a clue! I have voice recordings of many special people thanks to my iphone!

There are many iphone apps that I use in my genealogy work. The obvious ones besides voice memo are Ancestry, where I can look up basic data from my entire family tree and Genealogy Gems for great podcasts. Of course, I use Google, Maps and History Lite to find more information about events and places I am studying. I have a new App called Research Logger that I hope will help me during my genealogy adventures this summer.

My iphone has proven to be a great tool to have along wherever I go. Oh, it also makes a great phone!
Does anyone have other Apps they use for genealogy?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday's Child - The First and the Second Arthur Theodore Johnson

My grandpa was the second Arthur Theodore Johnson in the family. He was born a few months too late to meet his older brother, the first Arthur, but nevertheless, he was there. It's possible his mother was aware of his presence but there is no way of telling.

It was a spring day in the countryside near McPherson, Kansas and my great grandparents, John and Ida Johnson, were on their way into town with their young family. The date was May 14, 1889. As Arthur 2 rested in his mother's womb, maybe feeling his two-year-old brother Emil pressing against him from their mother's lap, Arthur 1 ventured toward the back of the wagon. Four-year-old boys are curious and can get in trouble when they find themselves with a few minutes of time behind their parents' backs.
I have no way of knowing what alerted their parents to the tragedy. The back gate of the wagon must have made some noise when it flew open but they stopped the wagon and looked behind them to see their precious firstborn son lying in the dust of the road. He was gone before they could get to him. The fall from the wagon had broken his neck.
The emotions that surrounded that little piece of road had to have been strong. My great grandparents probably wailed with their grief as little Emil stood by taking it all in. He was too young to realize that his life had changed forever in the seconds after the gate opened. That one event threw him into his brother's place as "the oldest child"; cemented it in his mind by the horror of the scene, and left a scar that would stay with him for the next 70 years. Did the 2nd little Arthur feel the grief of his mother as she cried for her son?
The scene was worse than anything I can imagine and yet it would get worse before too many minutes. The wagon stood in front of a neighbor's farm and soon that family had entered the picture. The neighbor proceeded to berate the grieving father for being so careless with his child. How could he leave his small son in such a dangerous place? He should have known this would happen! Hurtful words saturated the heavy air and did nothing for the family’s grief and, never forgotten, would be repeated even 3 generations later. I’ve been told that John never fully recovered from those words. The first little Arthur was carried to the same neighbor’s farm until arrangements could be made for a funeral. A simple trip to town had turned several lives upside-down.

First born son, Arthur, was buried in the cemetery behind the Swedish Lutheran Church outside of McPherson, Kansas. We aren’t sure where because there is no longer a stone. Seven months later my grandfather, and the first Arthur’s namesake, was born on December 4, 1889.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Translating 19th Century Family History for 21st Century People - Tech Tuesday

     Two cousins and I are preparing for our Rutkowski - Warnken family reunion at the end of May. the last few reunions have seen dwindling attendance and the loss the last two sisters of the family, my great aunts, on the Rutkowski side. In the past, they spent the time after lunch and meeting playing something like BINGO or a number draw to win door prizes brought by various family members. It was well liked by the older generations but as the years went by, they noticed fewer young families coming. Regrettably, I was one that didn't always make it. The traditional activities just don't seem to attract people anymore. Hmmm...

     We've been  attempting to "reinvent" the gathering by choosing a more interesting venue (from a shelter at a park to a beautiful nature center) and changing up the activities in hopes that we can attract more from the younger generations. 
     So far we will have lunch, pictures in the gardens of the center, a fishing derby for the kids, and a short meeting. As a genealogist, I like to try to promote our family history in an engaging, 21st Century way that might interest others to learn more about our ancestors. Last year I used Photostory 3 to created a slide show of family pictures set to music. Each family went home with a CD of the slide show. Everyone was so excited to get their own copy.

     What should I do this year? We have decided to drop the formal meeting protocol of our parents' generation. (The gavel can stay home this year.) Letters went out but also email. I have beautiful scrapbook paper with a family tree theme for them to write their information on. I have enough pictures for a second slide show.

Any ideas?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Genealogy Friends Are Everywhere! - Motivation Monday

My eyes scanned up and down the racks of scrapbook paper, searching for the colors and designs that might indicate a family tree theme. I zig-zagged my way down the crowded aisle, peeking around people and shopping carts. Twice, I had made my way around the other shoppers to continue my search to the end of the asile.

I was about to give up when a woman next to me pulled a sepia colored square from a paper rack. I recognized it immediately as a pedigree chart and exclaimed my excitement. It was what I was looking for and on sale as a bonus! When I realized her eyes hadn't glazed over at the mention of genealogy and family history, I ventured more of an explanation; family reunion activities that needed a boost. Within a minute I was listening to her story about the fact that her family no longer had aunts, uncles or grandparents so she was researching her husband's family. A questioning look from me was all she needed to explain further. Most of her family, except for her parents, hadn't escaped Germany and had died in a concentration camp. The strength of the emotions that still surrounded the story were very evident in her voice. She spoke of frustration at the amount of divorced couples in her husband's family and how hard it was to depict it correctly and easily in a scrapbook. I encouraged her to tell her family's story as well as she moved on to another aisle.

As she left, a couple slowly walked down the asile toward me as they talked about their choices of paper. They commented on a bit of conversation they had heard me exchange with the first woman about messy family history because of divorce. When they noticed the pedigree chart I held in my hand they began telling me about their recent venture into genealogy. Within a few minutes I found I was speaking to possible relatives of a 15th century knight from England and Lady Godiva according to a brother who was a genealogist. I told them about one of my great grandfathers who had been knighted during that time period, also. They expressed their excitement about a family tree program that they had just ordered. We talked a little while before they continued on down the row of  racks, choosing more paper. I moved on to find my daughter. As I walked on, I thought... everyone has a story and about genealogists?...

We're everywhere!