52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 4 – Close to Home

What comes to mind for me when you say “Close to Home” is when families stay in the same general area for several generations. When grandchildren and grandparents grow up and old together. When cousins grow up together and are your first and longest friends. When adult siblings remain close and they often are doing things together. In 2020, I believe that this is a rarer occurrence than ever. The small towns of America just do not have the jobs that can support families. Adult children need to move to locations where they can find good employment opportunities. Retirees move to the small towns where the cost of living becomes more affordable.

I have found through my family history research that our families were wanderers. Searching for that right place to raise families. We have many lineages who have moved to another county, state or territory in search of a better life. We will look at one family today and their descendants.

James and Susannah (Overly) Smith and their fourteen children were a prime example of a wandering family.  They were from Darke County, Ohio and they left Ohio for Indiana between 1843 and 1847. James W Smith was the last child born in Darke County, Ohio in 1843 and John F. Smith was the first born in Nine Mile, Indiana in 1847. The older adult children moved with their parents but most of them stayed a very short time in the Nine Mile, Indiana area before moving on.

Margaret Smith married Benjamin Davis after his first wife died in 1851. Benjamin, his wife and family had come from Darke County with James and Susanna along with several other families. In the 15 years that Margaret and Benjamin were married, they had 6 children. Benjamin had six children from is first wife. His three oldest children were married before Margaret and Benjamin were married but the three youngest were raised by Margaret. Margaret died in her mid thirties after the birth of her last daughter, Elnore in 1866 and prior to Benjamin Davis marriage to Hannah J Spencer in 1868. I have not found the exact date that Margaret died. With the death of Margaret, Hannah now raises Margaret’s children and two of her own.

Mary Ann Smith married Jonathan Kimble in Pleasant township, Allen County, Indiana in 1852.  They had their first son, Jacob in Indiana in 1853 before they moved to Pickaway County , Ohio.  By the 1860 Census, Mary Ann has had three additional children who were born in Ohio. It appears that Jonathan and Mary Ann return to the Nine Mile area when Mary Ann and her daughter Susanna became ill.   Mary Ann and her daughter, Susanna died in 1868.  They were both buried together in the Nine Mile Cemetery with the rest of the Smith family members.

Sarah married Robert Hood and they settled in Columbia City, Whitley County, Indiana. Sarah and Robert Hood had three sons; Robert F., James A., John William. James died at 2 months old. Sarah died in 1873 at the age of forty.

The Smith brothers, William and Branson along with several of the Benjamin Davis’s adult children moved to Madison County, Indiana in the late 1850’s and early 1860. They settled in Pendleton and married two sisters, Hannah and Emily Kinnamon.

Charles Smith died in the Civil War and a daughter Kisiah died a short time after Charles. They are both buried with their father in Nine Mile Cemetery.  Joseph Smith moved to the Grand Rapids area of Michigan with his sons after the death of his wife in 1890. John Franklin and Henry Charles have been very elusive. In the 1900 census, I find John F Smith living with his niece, Dora E Whitely in Grant County, Indiana. He is listed as single, never married.

Of all of the adult children of James and Susanna, only three remained in the Fort Wayne area to raise their children. My two times Great Grandfather was one of those three remaining adult children.

James W Smith FamilyCP

The James W Smith Family –  1909 

Front row: James F. Wert, Lulu Etta Wert, Alvin Sparks, Everett Smith, Virgil Sparks, Talmedge Sparks, Nora Sparks, Ethel Straley

Second row seated: Ruth Jackson, Dora Smith Jackson, Cora Crites Smith holding James Fredrick, James W Smith, Oella Denny Smith, Dessie Heckman holding Virgil.

Row three standing: William H Jackson, Alvin O Smith, William Sparks, Della Smith Sparks, Oscar Jackson, Homer Wert, William F. Smith, Francis W. Smith, Arena Straley Smith.

James and his wife Oella (Denney) Smith had five children who they raised near Nine Mile, Indiana.

William F Smith was a farmer who lived in nearby Wells County. My Great Grandfather, Alvin Smith and his wife, Cora Crites and their two children left the Fort Wayne area in 1919 for Flint Michigan where the new auto industry was flourishing and providing many new opportunities for employment. Alvin landed a job at the auto plant which today is the GM Truck plant. By 1920, Alvin’s brother Francis also came to Burton and became an auto worker too. In 1925, Alvin who was 51 years old, had a fatal heart attack while working the assembly line.

Cora and her sons, Everett and James Fredrick remained in Burton, Michigan. Everett became a minister and Fred followed in his fathers foot steps by working his entire career in the auto industry.

Everett-Marine CityParsonage-Crop

My Grandfather was Everett Smith. Everett’s ministry took him and his family to three Michigan counties during his career; Genesee, Lapeer and St Clair counties. In today’s mobile environment these three Michigan counties are relatively close together but in the mid 1930 through the late 1950 they were quite a distance apart. He was ordained in the Methodist church. They moved every few years as the Methodist Church found new places that he needed to attend to. He served in 8 churches in three counties. Everett and his wife Lillian had two children. Their first daughter Lucille died when she was six years old. Their second child was my father, Harold.

Harold met my mother Leah while his father was the minister at the Marine City Methodist Church. When they married, they lived in Lapeer near Everett and Lillian for four years and Harold worked in retail for J.C. Penney.  In 1955, shortly after I was born they moved to Romeo, a small farm town in Macomb County, Michigan, where Dad found employment with a family run clothing store called Egelstons.

We moved into a new small rural subdivision built by the Fritz Family and lived on Fritz Drive. We had no family nearby.  Our Grandparents live in opposite directions thirty miles away. We had no cousins on my fathers side of the family. My Mother was one of eight children so we had many cousins on her side but we lived so far away that we only saw them for special family events.

Our neighborhood was filled with young families who had come from all over Michigan or even from around the country to fill jobs being created by industries that were directly or indirectly related to the automotive industry. These young families became our friends, our cousins, if you will. The Randalls, the Jacobsens, the Trombleys, the Hughes, the Deaners, many of whom were are still friends with sixty years later.

Happy Hunting,




52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 3 – Long Lines

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week Three – Long Lines


Long lines … interesting.    Long lines could mean a lot of things.

Return lines at Walmart after Christmas.

Or check out lines at a grocery store before a good winter storm in Michigan.

Or lines at a gas station in the south before a hurricane.

Or the dreaded TSA lines at the airport or customs lines

In genealogy or family history, long lines can have a few different meanings too.

Ancestors who were all fisherman, preachers, career military, scholars, teachers, lawyers, shop keepers, inn keepers, farmer,  patriots, government officials, statesman, Earls, Dukes!

Or your long lines can be lineages, lengthy lineages…

So lets look at my mother’s side of the family.

In Norway…

Soren Ostre Kjole (1565-1604) – 9th Great Grandfather

Anund Olsen Sevik (1613-1697)  – 8th Great Grandfather

Ole Evansen Vestgarden (1620-1680) Kristi (1630-1693) – 8th Great Grandparents

These Norwegians are all fisherman.

In the Netherlands…

Andries Van Valkenburg (1540-1609) Lea Kittel (1560-1609) – 11X Great Grandparents

He was a nobleman.  This family left the Netherlands but at this time in history the borders between Germany and the Netherlands changed often  depending upon which warring faction raided the area this week.  In the midst of the Palatine persecution, Many Germans/ Dutch people left for safer countries.

In England…

Sir John Reynolds (1590- 1641) Sarah Chesterfield (1614-1657) – 8th Great Grandparents

Sir George Reynolds (1555-1634) Thomasyn Church ( 1566-1634) – 9th Great Grandparents

Sir John Spencer (1300-1386) Alice Deverell – 18th Great Grandparents

Sir Richard Deverell (1275-) – 19th Great Grandfather

Sir Richard Polard (1278) – 19th Great Grandfather

John Bailey ( 1618-1696) Lydia Backus (1637-1696) – 8th Great Grandparents

Henry Baylie (1583-1638) Elizabeth Reade (1590-1620) – 9th Great Grandparents

William Backus (1606-1664) Elizabeth Ellen Cook (1603-1643) – 9th Great Grandparents

Sarah Moss – 10th Great Grandmother

John Alexander (1603-1677) Agnes E Graham (1597- 1677) – 9th Great Grandparents

Sir John Thomas Graham (1573-1626) Margaret Ruthven ( ) – 10th Great Grandparents

John Pratt (1565- 1619) Elizabeth Webb (1567-1615) – 9th Great Grandparents

William Gooden ( ) Elizabeth White (1591-1676) – 9th Great Grandparents

Robert White (1558-1617) Bridget Allgar (1562-1605) – 10th Great Grandparents

Edward Dix ( 1616-1660) Deborah (1615 ) – 8th Great Grandfather

Anthony Dykes (Dix) (1580-1638) Tabitha Pittman (1605-1688) – 9th Great Grandparents

John Perry ( ) Judith Vassell (1582- 1650) – 10th Great Grandparents

John Vassell (1573-1625) Anna Russell (1549-1593) – 11th Great Grandparents

Lord Jean de Vassal (1519-1612) Anne Hawes (1528-1545) – 12th Great Grandparents

Frances Russell (1527-1585) Margaret St John (1524-1594) – 12th Great Grandparents

John Burnham (1500- ) Dorothy (1501-) – 11th Great Grandparents

Thomas Andrews (1512-1593) Anne Wiley (1544-1633) – 11th Great Grandparents

Johane (Thomas) Franklin (1514-1570) Alice Alme (1525-1622) – 11th Great Grandparents

And on my father’s side of the family….

In Germany ….

Jacob Cruetz (1680-1753) Maria Catherine Pette (1685-1719) – 8th Great Grandparents

Hans M Raupp (1623-1694) Anna Catharina (1625-1683) – 9th Great Grandparents

Hans Simon Nagel (1623-1693) Catharina (1625-1691) – 9th Great Grandparents

In England….

William Dudley (-1684) Jane Lutman ( ) – 9th Great Grandparents

Edward Slade ( -1604) – 12th Great Grandfather

Sir Thomas Leete (1520-1582) Lady Dorothy of Warde (1528-1587) – 12th Great Grandparents)

Robert Shute (1530-1590) Thomasine Burgoyne (1527-1577) – 11th Great Grandparents

George Strong (1556-1636) Ann Bond (1560-1628) – 11th Great Grandparents

Deacon William Holton (1608) Mary Winche (1612-1691) – 9th Great Grandparents

All the English ancestors listed for both the paternal and maternal side of the family are early Colonial Settlers and /or their parents who may have remained in England. These that came to the colonies all arrived as free man and many are or have ties to nobility which is why the families have been painstakingly recorded. Peasants have much less accurate information. This is by no means a complete list but I thought it was enough for illustrate some “long lines”.

All the German/ Dutch ancestors left due to warring factions and instability in their home countries and promises of a new beginnings in the colonies. The Dutch and German except for nobility, came as indentured  settlers who became free after several years of dedicated service to colonies and the current Crown.

I had not really looked at theses lines for a time and was pleasantly surprised how many there were.  A number of years ago, I used a iPhone App called “We’re Related”.  It was a Metadata Crawler program which once started just continually ran comparing your tree data to other data on Ancestry.com. It was an app under the ancestry.com umbrella of tools.  Much of these long lines were established  through the use of this app and then researched to verify the accuracy of the data.

I have a new phone and I can no longer find the app in the app store.  I am not surprised the app is no longer available.  I am certain that the app reeked havoc with Ancestry’s network.  It was good while it lasted.  After the first year, I was so overwhelmed with data, that I started a spreadsheet and maintained it for  few years. All that data is now a part of my research pool.  When I have extra time or a research puzzle.   I dig into that data, use ancestry, familysearch.com and all my other tools.

So there you have it…a few on my “long lines”.

Happy Hunting,


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week #2- Favorite Photo


Emma (Amanda) and John Crites my 2X Great Grandparents

Family Photos had an important place in my journey into our family history search. They were a launching pad that laid quiet for twenty nine years.  The launching pad’s foundation was laid one summer day at the picnic table in the back yard of our home in Imlay City.   We were having a picnic.  My Father had gone to Detroit to get his parents and bring them to Imlay City for the day.  Grandpa had MS and was wheelchair bound. They lived in a retirement home that would enable them to have a somewhat independent living environment but also give Grandpa the 24 hour a day medical care that he needed.   It was an early version of the assisted living type centers of today.   Grandma brought a large box of old dusty photos with them.

After eating our picnic lunch, Dad went back to work at the dime store, Mom went off to do dishes and Grandma brought out the box!  It would be her job for the day and I soon learned that it was mine too.  It was one of the last boxes that she needed to go through since they moved there five years before.  “Janet, I need you to help me” she said.   “Darn it”  I thought. I had lingered at the table just a few minutes too long.   “I need you to write on the back of these photos for me. ”  she exclaimed.  “Why do I have to?” I whined.  She  stated that my handwriting was better than hers.  And with that I was stuck for the next couple of hours being her scribe!


Smith Picnic – 1968

She dumped the content of the box of photos on the table and it created a nice size pile. I thought this is going to take hours!  I sat at the picnic table with Grandma Lillian and Grandpa Everett and we sorted through old photos. The Photo’s were of people from a long time ago.  Faces I had never seen, young and old, in small towns in front of unknown houses. They were of Grandpa’s  family, the Smiths, his parents, grandparents,  his uncles, aunts and assorted cousins. It was almost like a game. Grandma would show Grandpa the photo like a flash card and he would tell us who it was.  She would hand the photo to me to write the name on the back.  So I wrote the names that I heard; McGoogan, Wert, Sparks, Meeks, Crites, Jackson, Smith and Denney. I wrote them on the photos in my 13 year old hand writing. Most were misspelled but I was in a hurry! I had better things to do, you know!


John and Emma Crites – Uniondale, Indiana

Some time later, Grandma went thru the photos again and wrote notes on the back trying to describe the family relationships. Notes like Grandpa Crites’ sister, Everett’s favorite Cousin, Grandma Crites’ mother. All added to assist someone to understand who these people were many years from now when she and Grandpa were long gone and someone decided to look at the old photos in this dusty box.

Twenty nine years later, I decided to add the people that I “know” to a family tree in Family Tree Maker. I had bought Family Tree Maker for my husband for Christmas. He had been using an old DOS based software for his family information.  My father had died the year before and I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at this while my mother was still living.

I was trying to figure out who Grandpa Smith’s parents were and where they came from. Grandpa Smith told me that he was born in Indiana, I remembered that much. I talked to my Mother and she tells me that she has this dusty old box of photos that were Grandma and Grandpa’s. My next visit to Michigan, we got the photos out. As I search through the dusty box, I was startled by handwriting on the back of the first photo. Chills ran up and down my back and tears began to well in my eyes. Suddenly I was flooded with the memory of the afternoon at the picnic table with Grandma and Grandpa. I am in awe as I notice that Grandma wrote on the photos too. Grandma was talking to me loud and clear.

She sent me research hints to find twenty nine years later. Some of the hints sent me on wild goose chases and some goose chasing were of my own doing when I spelled the name wrong but each stoke of her pencil and mine gave me a place to start. After spending an hour or so with the box, I realized that it was much smaller than I had remembered. And there weren’t THAT many photos! Oh what I would have given to be able to ask Grandma and Grandpa some questions now. I was so lucky to be able to spend “that time” with my Grandparents that day. It was a gift that I will always cherish.

If you are the keeper of your family history, make sure you find someone to share it with a generation or two younger than you. Even if they do not seem as interested in it as you would like. It is important for these memories live on. Label your photos and make sure the young children in your family hear the family stories so they can understand and experience the joy of keeping the memories of their ancestor alive.

How my Grandmother knew that I was the one who would take on this mission, I’ll never know but she knew. Thank you, Grandma Lillian! I love you too!


Lillian Losee Smith at about the age 10

Having to pick one favorite photo is really difficult because I love them all.  The all speak to me at high volume!

Happy Hunting!


Communication with Relatives Across the Globe – 1900-2020

In the last 120 years communication around the globe has really changed. I wish I could tell my Grandfather how easy it is to talk to our cousins in Norway in 2020. I just meet a new one on Facebook this week!


This birthday greeting came from Andrew’s Grandmother, Olava, for his 25th Birthday in 1908

My Grandfather, Andrew Anderson left Norway and arrived in America in 1904. Through the years he was in contact with his family through letters which at times of good/bad news were fairly frequent but at other times were scarce. He often received a post card like this birthday greeting from his Grandmother in the early years in America.

During WWII any mail sent to or from Norway was subject to search by the Germans who occupied Norway. If the mail was deemed inappropriate, it would be confiscated. The following is an envelope from a letter which Hans sent to Andrew. In the letter he tells of his wife’s death just before the war. He assures his son that he is in good heath and safe. The seal on the envelope allowed the mail to continue on it way to America and proves that it was read.


After Andrews father died in 1946, Andrew seem to quit communication with his sister-in-law, Anna, for a time. Anna had legal obligations that she had to do to close Hans’ estate. She pleaded with him for answers. She was left in Norway to handle these details with Andrew in America and Haakon in Japan. Her requests seemed to go unheard by Andrew. She begins to think she doesn’t have the right address.


Haakon was a fairly frequent writer from China and Japan. Being a missionary and away from his family for long stretches of time, letters were his only way of communicating. Andrew seemed to answer his letters but it may have been his wife, Addie who was pushing him. Haakon wrote to him in Norwegian so he had read them, Addie could not. When Addie died, Andrew wrote his brother. As the years went by so, the length of time between letters grew and the communication became less and less.


When Andrew died in 1971 and my mother found his letters from Norway which of course were in Norwegian and she was unable to read them. They were wrapped in a bundle and placed in his top drawer of his dresser. She had found an address for Anna, the woman she knew who was her Aunt so she sent her a note to tell her of Andrew’s death. She had no way to know if she would get it or not. It was returned, address unknown and was lost.

In January of 1972, my Mother got a phone call from a man in Minnesota who introduced himself as “a cousin of Sigrunn Ingwardo”. Mom did not recognize the name except Ingwardo .  He explained that she had married my mother’s cousin, Bjarne Ingwardo. Now that name she knew was her cousin in Norway. Bjarne and Sigrunn were planning a trip the America to visit family in Minnesota and were hoping that they could visit Bjarne’s family in Michigan also while they were in America. This January phone call established contact with the Norwegian and American cousins after a decade of silence.

Bjarne and Sigruun came that summer to visit and we all had a wonderful time getting to know each other. Before Bjarne and Sigrunn left to go back to Norway, my parents had already made plans to visit Norway the next summer. I was married and had a nine month old son so I stayed with my siblings while Mom and Dad took their trip. Mom and Dad met the whole family including the children.  My Father took a lot of photos.


Front Row: Knut, Leah (Mom), Anna, Rita Standing ; Nina, Elin, Anna Maria, Elsa’s husband, Elsa’s daughter and her son, Sigrunn, Elsa, Harold (my Dad) – 1973

Soon after this trip that my younger sister, Sharon and our cousin Rita became pen pals. For several years Rita and Sharon corresponded regularly.

My Mother was finally able to give Anna the news of Andrews death and we were given the news that Haakon had died the year before Andrew.  My Mother corresponded with her Aunt Anna after they returned but eventually Aunt Anna died and the letters stop too.

In 1997 I started my family history search adventure. It was after my Dad had died in 1996. About 2000, I started working on the Norwegian side of the family. I used a tool that I frequently used on RootsWeb. I posted a message on a Norway message board trying to locate Ingwardo family members in Olso. Within 24 hours, I had a response. A kind fellow Norwegian researcher, gave me postal addresses and a couple of email address.

The first email I had was to Olaf Ingwardo. Olaf was Bjarne’s older brother, I remember him from my Mother and Dad’s trip. I sent him an email and explained to him who I was and that I was trying to connect with my Norwegian relatives. We conversed quite regularly for about 18 months.

He caught me up on the family news. He told me about his three daughters and their families. He told me that Bjarne  and Sigrunn had divorced. and that he had moved to Copenhagen and had married a Danish woman. He told me that Sigrunn had died. He told me that he had divorced.

Through our email conversations I determined that he seemed angry and a bit bitter. in one email I wanted to talk to him about his father who had been a missionary in China.  I got an earful. I learned that I had to be careful with the topics of our conversations. He was bitter about the German occupation of Norway during Worlds War II, Anna and her children were in Norway and Haakon was stuck on China. Life was difficult for Anna and the children in Oslo. My Mother was still alive then and I told her about what Olaf had said. She said that they had been warned when the visited Norway that Olaf was bitter about the war and it was probably not a good conversation topic…

All the while that Olaf and I are conversing I assume that he is sharing news about the relatives in America with Bjarne and his sisters. One day he sent me a short email.  He told me that he was going to have to go to the hospital. I knew that he had some medical issues but did not know anything specific. I told him that I would pray for him and that unleashed a scathing email about God. I was stunned. He was convinced that there was no such thing as God or why would he have placed Anna and the kids in Norway and Haakon in China during the war. I was speechless. I did not know what to say. It was the last email I received from Olaf.

I waited about three weeks and I sent an email stating that I hoped he was ok and recovering…no response. Waited another three weeks, no response. Sent an apology, no response. After many months of no response I wondered if maybe he had died. So I went out to my Rootsweb Message board and sent a message looking for a Ingwardo in Denmark. Once again, within twenty four hours I received a response. They gave me a postal address to Bjarne Ingwardo in Glostrup, Denmark.

I wrote Bjarne a letter and mailed it on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 2004. In my letter I included my address and phone number. At the time, I was living in the suburbs of Chicago. On Memorial Day, I received a phone call “ Hello Janet, This is your cousin Bjarne in Denmark! Have you had a good Memorial Day Holiday? “ I was stunned. Bjarne confirmed what I suspect. Olaf had died during his hospital visit. He had no idea that Olaf and I had been conversing for the last two years. We spoke on the phone several time in the next few weeks as he made plans to visit us.

Bjarne and Ingrid arrived on Tuesday after Father’s Day 2004 and stay for nearly three weeks. He spent most of the first week with us and I took them to see the sights of Chicago. Then I drove them to my Mother’s house in Harbor Beach where they spent a week with the family members there. My brother from Grand Rapids came and got him in Harbor Beach and the last week I went to Grand Rapids to retrieve them for their flight back to Denmark. From this time on we have been able to maintain fairly regular communication with Bjarne and Ingrid by phone and through the internet.

In 2009, my Mother died. After all the legal stuff was taken care of we, all six of her children, decided that we would take apart of our money and we would go visit Bjarne in Denmark and hopefully Norway as well. So we contacted Bjarne in the spring of 2010 and asked it we could come for a visit in September of 2010. He told us that they would be delighted to have us and asked if they could come to visit us in time for our Annual Camping trip during the summer.



Bjarne and I – Summer 2010

We visited Denmark in September of 2010. In the middle of our trip we took an overnight cruise across the North Sea to Oslo where we finally got to meet our cousin Rita in person. She became our tour guide for the day as she proudly showed us Oslo. It was a wonderful tour but much too short.

I had spent many months of researching, translating and pouring over Norwegian databases. I had learned that our Grandfather was from Tjome which was an Island located on the south west side of the Oslo Fjord. While we were cruising back to Denmark about dinner time I stopped to look at the GPS map which showed me the ships current location. I was just in time to see that we were passing Tjome.  I knew someday I would return.

Made by Samsung DVC

GPS Map from the ship on our return to Denmark from Norway

We speak with Ingrid, Bjarne’s wife regularly thru the internet. He is aging and his health is not good. In 2016, my sister, Sharon and my sister-in-law, Diane visited Germany when my niece Kelsey was studying abroad. During their two weeks in Germany they decided to take the train to Denmark to surprise Bjarne and Ingrid with a visit.  During that trip Sharon convinced Rita to come to Denmark to visit from Norway. They were ecstatic when she came too.

In 2017, my sister Sharon purposed that we (she and I) should go to see Bjarne since his health has been getting so much worse. She reasoned that it would not cost much because we had already done a lot of sight seeing. We would not need to do any of that!

After a bit of thought, I told her that I agreed but I was not going to go all the way to Denmark and not go to Norway. I said the trip would have to include Norway for a few days so we could visit Tjome.

Since our visit in 2010, I had made several important contacts in Tjome. I had met Inger Zeiner who was the great niece of our Great Grandfather’s second wife, Matilde.  She had helped me to fill in many holes in our Norwegian heritage. What Inger could not tell me, her friend Lars could. I had written a lengthy article for their historical society biannual publication called Tjome, about Andrew, our Grandfather and his life in America. They were looking for a Tjome native who immigrated. Where did they go and what did they do?

So we quickly formulated our plan which included Norway. She casually mentioned to her son Zach, that we were planning to go and he decided to make the trip with us. Personally I think that he thought that she and I should not do this trip alone. Bless his heart!


Sharon, Zach, Rita and I – Standing outside of  our Great Grandfather’s house

It was important to us to meet Bjarne’s children so we can stay in contact with our Norwegian Family.  Its quite easy these days to communicate with family around the world. I have connected with Bjarne and Olaf’s, children and grandchildren through Facebook and on the internet. And we stay in touch with Bjarne through his wife Ingrid.

What a difference 120 years makes for communicating. It is totally amazing.

Happy Hunting.




Andrew and the White Hurricane

This is a rerun of a blog that I did some years ago. I decide to post it here because I had published it on a different platform.  When I wrote it I lived in Fox River Grove, Illinois.  Today,  I live in Harbor Beach, Michigan at the tip of the ‘Thumb”.  We are getting ready for an early November winter storm much like a storm that I talk about in this blog.  The White Hurricane hit the same area in 1913.  The National Weather Service is currently changing it’s forecast hourly.  The scenario is very similar with two cold weather fronts converging over the area after roaring across the relatively warm waters of Lake Huron.   In 2019, if we get dumped on like the 1913 storm, it will be much easier for us to recover.  The ships today have great navigational systems and early warning systems.

Imagine though that it is 1913…


The crew of the Walter Scranton.  Andrew Anderson is holding the life ring

Andrew, my grandfather, was a thirty year old young man.  He was a sailor on at least two Great Lakes steamers in Michigan after coming to the United States and worked on several schooners while still living in Norway.  He had been working aboard ships for seventeen years.  I can not be absolutely sure when he stopped sailing but on his WW1 draft record in 1918 his occupation is listed as Substation Operator for DU Railroad. While I was researching this weekend, I found a horrific weather event which occurred in November of 1913. This event would surely have made anyone question why they would want to sail the Great Lakes for a living.

This weather event was much like “The Perfect Storm“ depicted in the movie which was release in 2000. If you have never seen it, check it out. The movie, The Perfect Storm, occurs in the northern Atlantic but the storm known as the White Hurricane occurred in the Great Lakes with the most severe conditions located in the Lake Huron region. No other storm has struck Lake Huron with the power that this storm had. It took 235 lives and there were 40 ships wrecks, 8 of which were large Lake Freighters which sank in Lake Huron. The following is an excerpt of reporting of this historic storm that I found online.

This fall storm began on November 7th and raged through November 12, 1913. It started as two separate weather systems, a rather weak low pressure system tracked east across the southern U.S., November 6th through the 8th, while a low pressure area and associated Arctic front moved south out of Canada and approached the northern Great Lakes by Friday morning, the 7th. The air behind the Arctic front was extremely cold for November which plunged temperatures into single digits across the Northern plains. A storm warning was issued on Friday, November 7th at 10 AM because of very strong winds which were expected as the Arctic front approached and were expected to continue after the front passed through. A large dome of high pressure extended from Canada south to the northern Rockies. While the low pressure and the Arctic front moved across the Great Lakes on Saturday, November 8th, storm force winds gusting to 50 knots battered the Great Lakes as it moved first from the southwest while shifting to the northwest. Winds with gusts over 50 knots were accompanied by snow squalls and blizzard conditions, yet the worse was yet to come.

Storm Warnings continued to fly over all the Great Lakes as northwest winds of extreme velocity turned to the north and churned the waters viciously. An enormous area of snow and blinding snow squalls developed across the Great Lakes as the Arctic front blasted its way across the relatively warm waters of lakes. The blizzard conditions buried the Lake affected communities with over two feet of snow and huge drifts. Port Huron, which usually gets Lake effect snow from Lake Huron with mainly a northeast or north wind, got buried with heavy snow and snow squalls creating 4 to 5 foot drifts which immobilized the city. Marine City where Addie and Andrew Anderson lived was due south of Port Huron a mere 19 miles.

By Sunday afternoon the wind at Port Huron, at the base of Lake Huron, increased steadily with maximum winds averaging 40 to 50 mph early Sunday afternoon and increased even further to 50 to 60 mph later that afternoon and continuing throughout the evening until to almost midnight. A maximum wind of 62 mph was recorded in Port Huron at 9:02 pm with similar readings at Harbor Beach.

In Detroit, they recorded a steady increase of the average wind to 45 mph with gusts of 70 mph recorded. Keep in mind, these readings were recorded on land not at sea. It was at this point of the storm when the Lake Carrier Association filed the following report which best summed up the Great Lakes ” white hurricane”:

“No lake master can recall in all his experience a storm of such unprecedented violence with such rapid changes in the direction of the wind and its gusts of such fearful speed!

Storms normally of that velocity do not last over four or five hours, but this storm raged for sixteen hours continuously at an average velocity of sixty miles per hour, with frequent spurts of seventy and over. Obviously, with a wind of such long duration, the raging violent seas that were created were such that the lakes are not ordinarily acquainted with. The testimony of masters is that the waves were at least 35 feet high and followed each other in quick succession, three waves ordinarily coming one right after the other. They were considerably shorter than the waves that are formed by an ordinary gale. Being of such height and hurled with such force and such rapid succession, the ships must have been subjected to incredible punishment!”

As stated earlier, approximately 235 people lost their lives on the ships with most of them from the eight large freighters (for that time) sunk on Lake Huron. They include the John McGean, Isaac M. Scott, Argus, Hydrus, James Carruthers, Wexford, Regina and Charles S. Price. Most of the vessels sank over central and eastern Lake Huron, in Canadian waters.

As I read about this storm, all I could think about was where was my Grandfather at the time. Was he aboard the Walter Scranton, the steel hulled vessel which measured 416 feet in length and was 50 feet wide? Or was he lucky to have been held in port somewhere? The only storm warning system in place at this time were flags that were flown at strategic points along the shoreline of the Great Lakes. As this storm raged, there was no hope of seeing a warning flag. If you were on the Lake, you were stuck in it if you could not get to port.

My next thought was for my Grandmother and her year old child, Olga. What fear she must have felt if Andrew was indeed somewhere on the lakes. I can not imagine.

So starting tonight, Sunday, November 10, 2019,  our own storm will rage over Lake Huron.  Snow fall should begin overnight and the Winter Storm Warning goes into effect beginning at 4 AM Monday morning and it will likely go until Tuesday Evening.  Lake Huron is at an all time high level this season.  We have had lots of shoreline flooding and erosion. We expect that to continue depending on the direction of the wind.  A northerly wind is expected at the beginning of the storm but as the two front converge, we will have to watch and see what happens.

I am retired so I have no where to go and can sit in my warm house and watch out the window.  If we loose power, we have a generator and we do not lived right along the lake so we have no worry about flooding.

The ships of today are much different than those of 1913 but it was a gale much like this one on Lake Superior forty four years ago today that brought down the Edmund Fitzgerald. I have an app on my iPhone called Marine Traffic that I use to watch the freighters as they navigate the Great Lakes. Currently listed on my App are nine  freighters in Lake Superior which are currently southbound.  There are two new ships entering through the locks and three exiting into Lake Huron.  There are six southbound freighters in Lake Huron and four northbound. There are also six tugs in different locations in Lake Huron tonight.  Freighter traffic is light in Lake Michigan tonight.   Seven ships are in Port at various locations on the Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin shorelines. There is one ship in the shipping lanes, the Cason  J. Callaway whose destination in Calcite (US) which is a port on Lake Huron, south of Rogers City, Michigan and another ship, Stewart J. Cort, running along the Michigan shoreline headed to Duluth on Lake Superior.  The Cason J, Callaway’s  expected arrival is 19:00 UTC tomorrow. I will keep an eye on the progress of this ship and all the others in Lake Huron tonight.

On land in the Thumb, it will be difficult few days for our farmers. There are many fields that still need to be harvested.  The predicted amounts of snow, eight to 12 inches will make that a very difficult process. For now all we can do is wait and see.

Happy Hunting,


More From “We’re Related”

It has been over a year now that I have had the “We’re Related “ tool running on my iPhone. It has provided me with a lot of information to work off of. For the first 6 months, it spewed information at me so fast I could not keep up. I worked as diligently on it as I could but there was no keeping up! I did not worry because I figured the data would just keep accumulating. All the new data would need to be verified.

Somewhere about the seven or eight-month mark, I went looking for one of the original connections so that I could work on verifying it when I discovered that I could not find it in my list. It was at that point that I realized that the tool would drop off some of the older connections. This seems to be around 200 individuals.  At that point, I decided that I need to keep a spreadsheet of the data.

So each time I get a match, I open my spreadsheet and open the family tab and record the data, my data and the matched data. The new finds have slowed down to a rate of several a week so this task isn’t really large. I have also started to get back some of the matches which had dropped off, as was the case this week with General Douglas MacArthur.

So I recorded the data and decided that I would investigate at least my family connections here. I remember working on this last year and becoming frustrated and stopping.

I am the daughter of Harold A Smith who is the son of Lillian Losee who is the daughter of Mae Evelyn Boyer who is the daughter of Austin Boyer who is the son of Nancy Leet. These family connections are accurate.

Janet – 1955 => Harold Smith – 1928/1996 => Lillian Losee – 1905/1980 =>Mae Eveleen Boyer – 1883/1914 => Austin Boyer – 1848/ 1908 => Nancy Leet – 1814-1900 => Jonathan Leet – 1775-1861 => Asahel Leete – 1755- 1791 => Mercy Dudley – 1719-1801 => Rachel Strong – 1679-1769 => Thomas Strong – 1638- 1689 => Abigail Ford – 1619-1688 => Thomas Ford 1587-1676

Douglas MacArthur – 1880-1964  => Arthur MacArthur – 1845-1912  => Aurelia MacArthur –  1818-1864 => Olive Keep – 1789- 1845 => John Keep – 1753-1838 => Experience Lawrence – 1719=> Eleazer Lawrence – 1674-1754  => Peleg Lawrence – 1647-1692 => Elizabeth Cooke – 1611-1663 => Thomas Ford – 1587-1676

When I began my search on Jonathan Leet, I found that he lived in southern Illinois in Wabash county and I thought to myself how could he be the father of my Nancy Leet? Nancy states that she and her husband Valentine are from New York. So I began my search on Jonathan Leet. I started at Ancestry.com as I usually do. And I found a photo, of all things, of this couple. It looks like it may be an old tintype. I have contacted the contributor to see what they can tell me about this couple.


What I learned this week about this couple really was quite remarkable. They did originate from New York. They were married in 1807. Jonathan served in the War of 1812. He was a private in the New York Militia. He served from June 22, 1813, until September 30, 1813, for the duration of 90 days and was discharged at Niagara, New York. In the 1820 Census, Jonathan and his family are located in Leicester, Genesee County, New York. He has nine members in his family, seven of whom are under the age of sixteen years old and two adults over the age twenty-five. By the 1830 Federal Census, the Jonathan Leet family now has thirteen members. They remain in New York in the same town which is now listed in Livingston County instead of Genesee. There are two adults between forty and forty-nine years of age. One son who is at least twenty years old and ten children under the age of twenty.

In a Michigan Territorial Census in 1833, Jonathan is listed in Michigan. Jonathan and Deborah’s last two children, Polly and William, were born in Michigan according to later census records. During this same time frame, all of the adult Leet children are also recorded in Oakland County, Michigan. By the 1840 Census, Jonathan and his sons, Daniel and Victor are now in Illinois in Wabash County. Jonathan has six children remaining at home, two sons and 4 daughters. The adult sons, Victor and Daniel are raising their own families and are counted as if they are living next door to each other and their father. Nancy has remained in Michigan where she has married Valentine Boyer. I have never found their marriage record. I assumed that they had married in New York but I do not know for sure. By the 1850 Census, Jonathan and Deborah are living with the remaining two children; a nineteen-year-old William and a seventeen-year-old Polly Ann. As a result of his service, Jonathan was given two Land Grants in Wabash, County, one was for 40 acres and one was for 120 acres. He received the 40 acres parcel on July 10, 1852.

Jonathan died in Wabash County in 1861. Deborah died on August 1, 1871. There is 46-page pension file for Jonathan and the case was still open well after both he and Deborah have died. I can not tell if there were ever payments made to him on his pensions. There was an attempt to get his benefits for his wife but it appears they were never successful. The problem seems to be that she did not have an official marriage certificate. The file contained letter after letter verifying that Jonathan and Deborah were married and lived as man and wife for all those years. One that I found of particular interest was from David Leet. He is their oldest son and was living in Mayville, White County, Illinois. He identifies himself as their 66 years old son. The letter is written and sent in 1874. They are at this point trying to obtain money to recover the cost of her burial which had taken place three years before. In this letter, David states that his parents had 20 children born to them and that 8 remain living at the time of the letter.

Nancy’s Michigan death Certificate does not list her father’s first name nor her mother’s surname. It states that her father was Leat and her mother was Debrah. Through my research, I have not found another Deborah Leet.


Jonathan is the son of Asahel Leete and Polly Nott, Asahel is the son of Roland Leete and Mercy Dudley, Roland is the son of William Leete and Hannah Stone, William is the son of Andrew Leete and Elizabeth Jordan, Andrew is the son of William Leete and Anne Payne.

This Leete family is well documented in early colonial America, in a book written by Edward Leete in 1884. It is titled, “ One of the First Settlers of Guilford Connecticut and Governor of New Haven and Connecticut Colonies”

William Leete was born in Dobington, Huntingdonshire, England in 1612 or 1618. He was the son of John Leete and Anna Shute of Dodington. John was the son of Thomas Leete and Maria Slade of Ockington, Cambridgeshire, England.

William came to America in 1639 with Rev. Whitfield’s company and was one of the original signers of the Plantation Covenant on shipboard, June 1, 1639.  The ship arriving in New Haven on July 10.  After holding many public offices in colonial Connecticut, William Leete was elected Governor in 1676 and held the office until his death in 1683.

Through the “We’re Related” app, we have 24 connections with famous people listed in our spreadsheet.  Some of these people include; John Wesley (my father and my Grandparents would be especially proud), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Stewert, Douglas McArthur, Hank Williams Jr., John Quincy Adams, Jonathan Swift, Conway Twitty, Thomas Paine, Franklin D Roosevelt.

In 2010, I had my brother do the ancestry.com dna test for our Smith line of the family. At the time there were no Smith matches but it listed the Adams family name within 15 generations and sure enough there it is.  Ancestry.com has changed the markers that they are looking at in the standard dna test today which has now invalidated my data.    I can no longer see the names that they had mapped to our family but I remember a few of them

So this week we have connected the dots for our Leete family which takes us back to mid-1500 in England.

Happy Hunting,





Halloween – When it Began and Today -October 31, 2017

Ever wonder how Halloween got started…Ghost, Goblins, Devils, Witches, Spirits…Me too so I googled it and the History Channel came back with a pretty interesting article on it.

Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic (pagan) festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to disguise themselves and ward off spirits of the dead or ghosts. In Celtic tradition, this day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter.  Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. It was on the night that they celebrated Samhain, that the Celts believed that ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory.  In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.



On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1 around 1000 AD.  It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related church-sanctioned holiday, All Saints Day.  In England, All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, the last day of October, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils.

The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion and All Souls Day in England, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.



Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country. In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.



The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry.

On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. In an effort to keep ghosts away from their houses, the English people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.


vintage Halloween-1920

Halloween Party – 1920

By the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism once again began to plague some celebrations in many communities during this time.

By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young children. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.


Halloween – 1948

And in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.



Shadow and Midnight – 2008

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.

We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred (it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe). And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

Modern Day Halloween

Fifteen years ago, Greg and I began taking our popup camper to Door County, Wisconsin for Columbus Holiday Weekend (first Weekend in October) to go camping for our final trip of the season. We went there annually for about ten years, Egg Harbor had a large pumpkin festival and the local campground took advantage of the weekend by having it’s own Halloween festival. They had hayrides, pumpkin carving events, campsite decorating contests and Trick or Treating! We would haul our Halloween decorations and fix the campsite into a Haunted cemetery. It was so fun. We looked forward to our last camping event. It was often really cold and sometimes we even had flurries! It was probably the only time we ever used the heater in the camper.


Door County, Wisconsin – 2004

We did not camp for a few years in the fall until we moved to Harbor Beach and decided to camp at our local campground and invite the Grandsons to come join in on the fun. We start our Halloween season this year the last weekend of September. Christa and the boys came up to camp with us. It is fun to build special memories with the boys that revolve around Halloween and camping!


North Park, Harbor Beach – 2017

My husband goes to great lengths to decorate for Halloween at our home too. Most of his decorations are of the blow up balloon variety…with the exception of a few other props that we have collected through the years. My brother-in-law is very creative and he makes very real looking witches and scary figure. He made one for me and she sits proudly on my porch guarding the house.


My husband found the witch from the Wizard of Oz or Wicked online so he added her to our collection….so she stands guard too.


It is fun to see the reaction of all the kids as they come up on the porch in search of a treat. We are lucky to be living in a small town where kids can still safely go from house to house. We added black cat eyes to honor our black cats, “Midnight and Shadow” who used to love their own special holiday!


I hope that you have enjoyed this blog about Halloween. I learned quite a lot about the holiday and since we have Irish roots, I think it is appropriate that we are carrying on old traditions!


Halloween – 2014

Happy Halloween!



Sad Story of the Dr John Mason Carpenter Family.

Recently while writing a blog for Tombstone Tuesday, I stumbled unto a family story that I thought I just had to investigate further…It is the tragic story of a doctor in Kansas who committed suicide. His name was Dr. John Mason Carpenter. I had to ask myself “WHY”? Of all people, a doctor, a person who preserves life, not takes it. This is the obituary on Findagrave.com.

“Death of Dr. John M. Carpenter – The entire county was pained at the startling intelligence Wednesday morning of the death of Dr. J. M. Carpenter. The Doctor had been in ill health for some time, brought on by over-work in attempting to attend to the duties devolving upon him from his immense practice, and had sought rest and recreation by travel and sojourn in the East, North and Northwest. He returned about six weeks ago from a long stay in Minnesota and Dakota, where he had been seeking to recuperate his worn and overstrained physique. He appeared much better than when he went away, and his friends and family fondly hoped he would soon be as stout and hearty as ever, but in a week or two he seemed to relapse into his condition before going away, and became sad and melancholy. The day before his death he was missed about the home some time, and the family, becoming uneasy, instituted a search and found him lying in the barn apparently helpless. They had him taken to the house and sent for Drs. Haldeman and Hoover, who found him melancholy and unwilling to talk, but beyond this could find nothing unusual about him. Dr. Haldeman thought he had rather a strange expression about his eyes, but beyond this noted nothing unusual except melancholy and sadness. About 11 o’clock Tuesday night Dr. Carpenter raised up in bed and started to get out. His wife caught hold of him and he turned and slapped her, from which she fainted. He then ran out of the house. Mrs. Carpenter called for help as soon as she became conscious, and friends and neighbors came in. They immediately searched for the Doctor, and after some time found him lying in a field adjacent to the house with his throat cut from ear to ear, and grasping in his hand a razor. The Doctor’s brother-in-law wrenched the razor from his hand, where the grasp was so strong that it was necessary to break the handle off the razor in order to extricate it. He could not speak, and by the time they conveyed him to the house he was dead. Thus died one of the ablest, best and most influential citizens of Miami-co., and of him it may be said: “A truer, trustier, nobler heart – more loving or more loyal, never beat within a human breast.” “

John Mason took his own life on August 8, 1882. One of the first things that I found was that in June of 1879, he was the attending physician to his father-in-law when he died of chronic nephritis. His father-in-law was Sardis M. Lewis.  After reading through his probate papers and his will, I discovered that his wife Mary Adeline Lewis Carpenter died in October of 1882. Before her husband’s estate was settled. I have not been able to find a cause of death or an obituary for Mary A. Carpenter. Five children have become orphaned in the space of a few months.

John’s father was Joseph Carpenter and his mother was Cynthia Rogers. They came from Lancaster, Erie County, New York through Michigan and on to Kansas sometime between the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census according to the 1865 Kansas State Census. John’s parents were married on July 4, 1837 in New York.

John’s wife, Mary Adeline Lewis and her family came to Kansas in the same time period. Mary’s Grandmother Mary is found living with the Carpenters at the age of eighty Nine years in the 1875 Kansas Census. Information in the Kansas Census states that the Lewis family came to Kansas from Ohio.

Reading thru the will and probate papers for Dr. John Carpenter reveals that he was a very successful physician and farmer. Ten thousand dollars was given to Mary Adeline soon after her husband’s death. Ten Thousand dollars in 1882 is the equivalent to Two Hundred Twenty thousand dollars today.  The inventory of goods sold by the estate of Mary after her death was several thousand dollars also.

Guardians were appointed for each underage child by 1883. George Lewis was appointed as the guardian for Cynthia Belle Carpenter.  D. B. (could not determine the given name) and Harriet (Lewis) Cooper were appointed guardian of Frank C. Carpenter. Columbus C. Proctor was the guardian for Albert.   S. R. Smith was the guardian for Carrie Carpenter. Geo B. Hanna was appointed guardian for John B Carpenter.

Arthur C. Carpenter was of age when his parents died. He is living with James Requa for a time after his parents died . The James Requa family lived close to and seemed to know the Lewis family and most likely the Carpenters. James Requa was referred to in the probate and guardian papers. In 1888, Arthur married Lucy Nunnlly in Fontana, Miami County, Kansas. In 1891, Arthur marries a second time, this time to Ettie F. Tracy. I find Arthur and his wife Ettie in Federal Census records in later years

In the 1885 Kansas State Census, John and Mary’s fifteen year old daughter Belle, is living with her Uncle and Aunt, George Lewis and his wife, Mary. Belle marries Thomas Crites in 1891.

Frank C Carpenter is seventeen in the 1885 Kansas State Census and he is found with the D. B. Cooper family in Osage, Kansas. Harriet Lewis Cooper is a half sister to Mary and Aunt to Frank C. Frank C Carpenter died in 1888 at the age of 20 years old. His occupation was listed as Farmer. I can not determine the cause of death at this time. He is buried with his parents and his estate papers helped me to verify who the guardians of each of the Carpenter children were since the court was distributing his share of his inheritance from his parents.

Carrie Carpenter’s guardian was S.R. Smith. On November 17. 1896, Carrie Carpenter married Charles T. Wheeler on May 31, 1894 in Miami Kansas. They lived in Pueblo, Colorado at the time of the 1900 Federal Census but returned to Paola, Kansas to raise their family by the 1905 Kansas State Census.

John B. Carpenter’s guardian was Geo B. Hanna. In 1901, John enlisted into the Army where he served for two years. He was discharged on March 3, 1903 at Fort Logan, Colorado. In the 1915 Kansas Census, I am able to find John B Carpenter with his wife Clara and a daughter Ruth.

Albert C Carpenter lived with the Columbus C. Proctor family. Columbus Proctor became his guardian in February, 1883. Columbus Proctor died on February 20, 1894 and his wife Nancy was appointed guardian Albert in April of 1894.

I did discover that all of the guardian of the Carpenter Children who were not family members were veteran of the Civil War. I can not help but wonder if they served with John Mason Carpenter or Sardis Lewis.

I wish I knew how Mary died such a short time after her husband. And I also wish I could find out about Frank. It is a sad story about a family which was torn apart over the course of a few months.

Happy Hunting,


Norway Bucket List – Part Four

After leaving the Tjome Church, Inger took us to the Historical Society which was just a few minutes away. In 2011, I wrote a chapter for their bi-annual book on Tjome. They were looking for a story about someone from Tjome who immigrated, and when Inger and I connected, they found their story. This red cottage was relocated to this land which is owned by the historical society.


This building is full of historical information about sailing, fishing and how the people of Tjome made a living on the Oslo Fjord. It was very interesting and a huge part of our family story.  For as far back as I can track the records of our family on Tjome, they all worked at something which involved the sea.  They were fisherman, they were deck hands, seaman or captains.  They took people from one place to another or moved goods from one place or another.  They all sailed.  Hans was a sailor and so too were his sons, our Grandfather, Andres and his brother, Hagbart.  Hagbart died at sea near the Cape Horn when he was twenty on a sailing ship bound for Australia in March of 1909. This building with it’s special displays dedicated to the sailors of Tjome, was a special treat.


They have several houses and a barn on the property. This is a typical Norwegain home at the turn of the century on Tjome.


As we entered the front door, we could not miss the tapestry hanging on the wall.  A beautiful family crest of a proud Norwegian family above a large sailors trunk.  Notice the musical instrument hanging on the wall and the large farm bell! It was all a warm welcome to this wonderful home.


The home had a small sitting room, the green sofa is a piece that has been handed down through Inger’s Family which she donated to the Historical Society.


Typical Norwegian dining room. Today, families throughout the Scandinavian countries, still all sit at the table for dinner every night.  Most families have candles on the dinner table which are lite for every meal. It is a wonderful tradition which has been lost in America with the rushed life that we live. We have a hard time finding all of our children much less time to all sit at a table for a meal…and set the table with real dishes, silverware and napkins. We need to bring our families back to the dinner table.


A beautiful old sideboard used to store dishes, silver and linen for the dining room.


And a sunny Kitchen with a small table which was probably used to have tea or coffee, a snacks for the children after school and to prepare meals on. You could just imagine the children sitting at the table telling Mom how their day went at school.

It is a great compact home full of warmth left behind by the family who lived within the walls….

From the Historical Society, we returned to Inger and Eva home for lunch. …well, it was really more like an early dinner by then but we enjoyed a traditional Norwegian meal made for us by Eva, bless her heart while we trouped around Tjome with Inger.


Inger called it “Storm Soup”. It was wonderful and warmed us up nicely inside.  As I savored those first few bites of soup, I thought this would be a great recipe to get so that once we arrived home I could make it.  It would help use to remember this wonderful day!  So I asked for the recipe and she smiled. Inger knew I would ask for it. I do it all the time through email when we talk about our gardens and what we are growing and eating! She smiled…and replied “ Sailors would make this soup on board a ship when a storm was coming” They would throw everything that had in a big pot and put it over the fire or stove to simmer. “It was always a BIG pot because they never knew how long the storm would last or when they would get to cook again.” She told us. “If the storm was short, they would eat it until they were sick of it but if the sea raged and the storm kept up, the sailors were thankful for a hardy soup which warmed them from the inside out and gave them strength to keep manning the ship.” “Sailors would often use fish or beans and all the vegetables they had on hand. Today we have beef, tomorrow it could be pork or chicken!” , she laughed as she told us the story about the soup.

So the recipe is just like what we would make when a winter storm hits. At a time when you can not go to the store to buy specific ingredients so you search through your cupboards and make soup with what ever you have! I will think of Storm Soup every time I make it!  It was the end of a wonderful day on Tjome and time for us to say our …. “till next time!” to Eva and Inger, knowing that we will return again.

Next time we want it to be summer.  Next time …we want our stay to be for several days or a week so we can really explore this island that our family called home for many generations. Next time, I want to sail in the Fjord like my ancestors did!

Till next time…Happy Hunting,


Norway Bucket List – Part 3

It’s a cool, gray day in Michigan today. One of those days where you think it’s gonna rain anytime so you don’t water the garden….and then it doesn’t so maybe you should have. Even though the calendar says June 6, 2017, it feels more like April. The gardening can wait for a warmer day later in the week.

I really need to get my Norway Bucket List – Part 3 post written and published. I had planned to have it done long before now but life has gotten in the way. In the last few weeks, the sun has risen on the horizon and the days are longer. The ground is warming and the weeds in the garden and the flower beds have woke up. The yard has come alive with activity and that means work for me. I’ll take this opportunity today try to get this done…

So let’s go back to where we left off in late February, with our visit to Tjome. After leaving the house of our Great-Grandfather, Hans Andersen, Inger’s plan was to escorted us to the Tjome Kirke (Church) where all of our ancestors were baptized and buried. On our way to the church, she decided to take a brief stop at a small house. This house was of special interest to our cousin Rita because it was the house her Grandmother was born in and spent her childhood in. Rita’s Grandmother was Anna Charlotte Skafjeld Andersen.  This was the Skafjeld home.


As we exited our car, there it is… the front door of the house. There was not enough room to park the car safely on the side of the road so Zach pulled up a little ways until he could get the rental car off the road.


Anna’s childhood home

It was a cute house but today it sits right on a two lane highway. As you can see from the picture there is no more than a few feet between the front door and the two lane street. “It is for sale”, Inger tells Rita. Rita laughs and says she doesn’t want to live in the road. Times have changed, I am quite sure that in Anna’s time it was a quiet little lane and a wonderful place to grow up.

When my parents visited Norway in 1973, Anna brought them to Tjome and gave them a tour of the island. Anna was the last living relative from my Grandfather’s generation when Mom and Dad visited. It has been fun to look at Mom and Dad’s photos of Tjome and compare them to our photos.

Anna’s son Bjarne, Rita’s father is the last living relative from my Mother’s generation which was what made this trip so important. Important to see him, important to meet our cousins from our generation while he is still with us and important to introduce the next generation of our family in America to our Norwegian family in Norway. All of these things we did that day!

From there we went to the Church and the cemetery.


Tjome Church

From the early 1600’s through nine generations of our family, the Tjome Church has been apart of our family. In the record books kept by the clergy of this church, you see the family as it has grown through the births, baptisms, weddings, and eventually through the deaths and burials. Most all of these family members are buried in this cemetery. Many of the men were sailors. Some were lost at sea or were buried at sea but the event was recorded here. It is an amazing building. Our families climbed the stairs and opened the doors and worshiped within the walls. I wish we could have gone inside. Next time we will be there on Sunday, so we can. As we walked the grounds, we could feel the presence of all the people who were there before us.

When Mom and Dad were here in 1973. The church looked much the same but the cemetery looked different. It was, of course, a different season, summer rather than winter. They were able to enter the church. Their visit was at a time when you could leave a church unlocked and people could enter the house of God when they wanted or needed.  Today it is locked unless it is in use just as the churches in America are.


Cemetery in 1973 with Mom, Anna, Tormod and Auslag searching for Han’s grave.

I wish I knew if they were standing in front of Han’s grave. I did not have this photo with me when we were there. Not that it matters because we still would not know for sure if this was the exact site of his grave. Luckily, they did take a photo of his tombstone when they found it.



The Tjome Church from the back of the cemetery in February 2017

We searched for tombstones just as they did. We searched and searched for it, but it is gone. It is the custom in Norway that family graves are only persevered if there is money to maintain them. If the family stops paying to maintain them then the stones are removed and the grave site recycled…(that is so hard to say) We, American found this to be a very difficult reality.  In this space, in this ground, we have nine generations of family member’s remains, the cemetery is not that large so what else could they have done. It is a small island of rock and with a little dirt and sand. Here in this place, it is literally ashes to ashes…


Zach searching for Hans tombstone

In the back of the cemetery there is a row of stones which have been removed from graves and we searched through those too, in hopes of finding Hans’s tombstone. The physical evidence that he was here. We did not find it.

It was a peaceful place where we all felt that we belonged. We lingered as long as we could. The sun sank in the western afternoon sky and the cold air began to creep into our bones. Eventually, we knew it was time to leave. We will come again in the summer, when its warmer and next time I’ll bring the 1973 picture. Not that it will matter because as you stand there you feel them all around you. You know they are there and they know that you are too!

Part 4 coming soon…they day is not yet over.

Love,  Jan