Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sepia Saturday - Winter Heels and Tube Socks

Sepia Saturday- Winter Heels and Tube Socks

                               ................... No, not at the same time. Thank God.

   I couldn't decide what to post, so I chose between two very different decades of styles.

The first photo here, we have My great Grandmother Esther Stenman Jonsson and my grandfather, Arthur Jonsson, in front of the house they built in the growing suburbs of Chicago. It's about 1930 here.

  Now, my great grandmother seems to be chancing fate in a number of ways here. Hanging out on the steps partially covered in snow and ice with those wonderfully fashionable shoes that I'm sure have the traction of ice skates... or really just going out in the windy city in the middle of winter with those things on... I'm sure it's some kind of safety violation.
  Now, at least she has bundled her self up against the elements with her thick wool coat and hat. I mean, it's not winter in Kansas. This is Chicago. The windy city's wind gets a mean chill to it in the winter. ....which brings me to my second point.... my grandfather is standing next to his bundled up, snug as a bug mommy in his sweater and shorts....and....boy tights? Leg warmers? Where's DCFS when you need them? oh, I'm just kidding! I'm sure his beanie and mittens are keeping his body temp safe. In your face, Hypothermia!

             Fast forward to the mid 1980's.....
        Winter's over, and summer is here.
              This is my dad holding me. We were up on the Wisconsin/Upper Michigan border visiting my grandpa's cabin. There was a picture taken the same day of him, me and my sister picking raspberries that grew on the side of my grandpa's backwoods dirt road. I loved that place.....
   It's classic 80's. Cutoff shorts, trucker hat, hightops and tube socks. YESSSSSSS. I think my dad was really disappointed when Hightops went out of style. He was a big fan. As a lifelong tube sock wearer, I can bet from ankle to mid calf, his legs are smooth as a baby's hairless bottom....
               And I'll leave you all with that thought......

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (but not really) - Thompson Township

This Wordless (but not really) Wednesday  I'm gonna show some love to my Olsen Family, of which not so much is known.

    My great grandmother was Hannah "Joanne" Olsen, second wife to AJ Smith. They had 5 Children together before he passed in 1945.
    It appears that every record I have of her, both formal and informal, she is known as "Hannah". But in our family, she is referred to as "Joanne", who my mother was named after.
    Hannah/ Joanne was, as far as I know from research, one of 3 children of Ole Olsen and Hanna Johnson, Who also went by "Annie". The elder Hanna was from Finland. There is confusion surrounding her birth date, as her death certificate lists her birth month as February, and census records list it as January. Either way, she died when her daughter was small. December 5, 1909 in Thompson. It appears she died from Emphysema, which was related to pneumonia she had come down with. From illness to death, it appears it was 16 days.
     Her husband, Ole Olsen, was from Norway, born November of 1870. He emigrated in 1888, but I'm not sure of the way. My guess would be Canada, but I have yet to find any immigration records for him. (Or Hanna, who emigrated in 1895.)
     Ole was a laborer in a saw mill in Thompson. in the decades around 1900, that's what brought people to schoolcraft county.... a booming lumber industry. In fact, the township of Thompson was named after E.L. Thompson, president of the Delta Lumber Company that had set up shop there in 1881.

The pictures I found come to you from Thompson Township Michigan website. It's a nice little site that gives some history on the township, but it's also a work in progress, so some pages are "under construction". But they had some great pictures.

Thompson in the 1890's

Crew of men, working at the mill.

Lumber Mill

This sort of life seems so foreign, and sometimes really rough. But at this time, Americans, new and not-so-new flocked to this small area from all over to take part in this booming industry. I'm sure they all had very high hopes. 3 of the 4 families that came to Schoolcraft county came because of the lumber boom. They all had ambitions to take part in it. (The Smith's, Olsen's and Billing's. As for the Waters', he actually owned a jewelry store and was a watchmaker, so I'm not quite sure yet how the Waters; ended up in Schoolcraft...)
   It seems the labor pains of the Great Depression were felt hard in this area before other areas of the country. In the spring of 1927, it is said that AJ couldn't "sell a stick". He, and the bank that backed him lost everything. The lumber business piddled out after this, which is when AJ bought a pool hall, that he bootlegged liquor out of.
    When all was booming, Thompson had 537 people. (as recorded in 1884). After the industry's demise, the growth seemed to completely stopped. As of the year 2000, there were still only 671 people.

   The aspect of this that I find most, hmm, what's the word I'm looking for........inspiring? maybe? is that this small slice of history in this tiny part of America paints a picture of what made "Americans". You have The Olsen's... brand new immigrants going straight to a place that maybe they'd heard from other immigrants they could make a living. A place that was supposed to have a promising future. This same idea drew the Smith's, the opposite of the Olsen's, to the area. A well established family that had been in America well before the Revolutionary War. They both had the same idea, or "dream" if you will. Both families, from completely different backgrounds partook in this rough and often dangerous life in the northern wilderness with hopes of being successful. They took a chance coming, and worked HARD. Being a lumberjack is by no means an easy job, and going from "farmer" to "lumberman" I'm sure was a huge change. But they did it. They made their way.
     "America" means "industrious"...  and that is exactly what they ALL were. You don't see that too much anymore. People are always depending on others, like the government, to take care of them. To give them a life instead of making one for themselves. It's kind of sad when you think about it.....

Sorry, but I have zero pictures of Ole and Hanna. I hope to come across some someday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jr. Smith's Ambitions for Sheriff

There's a website I've come across a few times in the last few years that looked pretty darn useful. But you had to pay. So I looked elsewhere. Well, I bit the bullet. For a whole $5.83 a month. I'm in my 30 day free trial right now, and as far as I'm concerned, with the information I've found already, it's more than paid for its worth.
   What site is this? Genealogy Bank. It's awesome.

  I spent some time searching the Smith family of Schoolcraft county in this database. I found 37 news pieces mentioning them in the Evening News, which was Manistique's newspaper. It was a small town, so this included things like " AJ Smith and John Winters from Hiawatha were in town Monday."  - Riveting, I know. :) But still cool, none the less, in my view.

  There were some articles that shed some light on not so known facts. For instance...

                Here's his official political announcement....


                       It seems AJ dabbled in quite a few things looking to find his niche. He farmed, ran a lumber company, logging camp, bootlegged, and ran a "pool hall" type joint, which fronted for his bootlegging. And now, as I found out, had ambitions for County Sheriff.

                        Maybe his defeat in the County Sheriff's election had something to do with his bootlegging.... 1+1=2, right? 
                         Oh AJ, you rascal, you.......


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday -

It's Wednesday ALREADY?! This week is going by fast!

Here ya go...
For this week's wordless Wednesday ....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In honor of Valentines Day, I wanted to post about a couple of sweethearts....

Art Jonsson & Ora Jean Wille

Ewwww, grandparents kissing!.... ok, just kidding....

This is a picture of my grandparents before they were married. I like that Nanny is wearing his coat. :) How sweet!
I would say he was my grandma's high school sweetheart. I can't say the same for him, as he was already in college when they met. He was 21, she was 17.
They met at Keeler's Candy store. He was an engineer student at the University of Illinois. At the time, he was dating Ora's friend, Carol. I tisk-tisked my grandma when she told me that, be she assured me it wasn't "like that" and her friend was ok with it since they had broken up. lol. Oh, Nanny....
The first time Art met Ora's parents was on a Sunday morning. And it wasn't a good first impression. Apparently Ora's dad, Henry the hard-nosed German had a fit when he saw Art. And why, you ask?
....He was wearing BLUE JEANS on a SUNDAY!!!!!!!!! 
(Oh the Horror of it!!!!) 
He redeemed himself in time, and was a well loved guy in the Wille family. :)

They dated 3 years, and he proposed on Christmas. He had asked my grandmother what she wanted for Christmas. She told him a pair of slippers to wear around her house. So he came over Christmas morning, and gave her her gift. House shoes. Just like she wanted. But, there was also a little box inside the slipper. You can guess what was inside. And she said yes. :)

Their marriage was cut short by Art's untimely death from a brain tumor. As I grew older, I often asked her about her memories with him. What kind of person he was, what their relationship was like, and their lives together. She referred to him as her "great love"and that they were "Sweethearts". It became even more evident to me once I married my husband. Nanny took an immediate liking to him, and would say so many times, after a visit with her when he and I were dating, "He reminds me so much of your grandfather, Art!" 
After we married, she'd be laughing, and enjoying a conversation with him about the antics he and his friends would get into when he was younger, and then out of the blue, she'd say "I wish you would've been able to meet Art. You and him have so much in common.You would have loved him. You just remind me so much of him" My response? Uhhh, how does my black haired Mexican police officer remind you of my Blond headed Swedish engineering grandfather?
Apparently they were both Hockey freaks, and die hard blackhawks fans. :) my grandfather was a little social bug too, who had a group of buddies who would get into antics of their own.  The stories my husband shared with my grandma prompted her to remember the practical jokes my grandpa and his friends played, and the goofy humor he had. Even after all the years that had passed, she recalled with much fondness, the easy going, social, and friendly nature he had about him. The conversations she had with my husband made her recall and share stories about my grandfather that I had never heard of, and maybe never would have, if not for the similarities she found in the two of them. I was grateful for those recollections. It helped me get a picture of a grandfather I never got the chance to know.

  Recalling this makes me thankful this valentine's day for the blessing my husband is and was. He loved being around my grandparents as much as I did. As soon as we'd come visit, my Poppy would wave him into the sun room where they'd talk and talk and talk.... and talk. (and I'd sit there being chopped liver. lol)  I'd hear Poppy sharing stories with him I had never even heard, and then after dinner, it'd continue around the table. Poppy would go watch the news, and Nanny stuck around with us in the kitchen, where they'd share stories and I'd again begin to hear tales I had never heard. I wonder sometimes how many stories would never have surfaced if it wasn't for my conversation loving husband who always took the time to relish in the memories and stories my grandparents shared. :) 
Happy Valentines Day, Hunny. 

Adam and I with my Nanny and Poppy and cousin before we were married.

  Best Grandparents EVER. :) ... just so you know.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sepia Saturday - Scientists & Swedes

How funny that books are the topic this Saturday, after my last few posts about Sune Bergman and the gazillion pictures of books I posted. :) Well, I love books, so lucky for you, (sarcasm),  I have a whole bunch more to post for this topic. Ha!

 This topic is a great exercise in self restraint, as I collect old books (For no other reason than I just simply like them.) I had to fight with myself not to go crazy and post my collection. Because really, who cares about some smelly old books? (I'm raising my hand right now.) I just kept it to a couple that have family ties, since this IS a genealogy blog, after all....

Now, I don't mean to be giving my Swedish roots more stage time here and neglecting the others, but My grandfather, being an only child, was the only one to pass his parents belongings to. So after he passed, his wife, my grandmother, kept everything. So it was basically all in one place and not spread out amongst different families. That pretty much explains my surplus of Jonsson goodies... No hard feelings to my Smith and Wille families! :)
    Okay, on to the pictures....

 Little Artur Jonsson
What a little toe headed cutie.
I love the photos that were taken inside the homes of family. You get a little snapshot into their lives. And looking at these, I've noticed now that there may possibly be Sune artwork hanging on the walls. A wooden drawing in this photo, and two of his Litho engravings on the sides of the fireplace in the other photo... interesting....
My favorite part of this picture? The Swedish flag sitting proudly on the dresser next to a stack of books. They were definitely a people that didn't leave their culture behind when they left their Motherland. On the contrary, they actually went back to visit when they could....
That may have something to do with the amount of times I heard my German grandmother say, whenever we'd discuss Swedish things, "Geeze, you guys, you know your GERMAN too!" 

Next is my grandfather again, reading in the big velvet chair in his knickers. :)

And now, more books!

These were printed sometime in the 1800's. There's no copyright date in them, and not knowing exactly which edition these are, (apparently at least one is considered "classic" literature, from what I've read, so there are quite a few editions out.)
They are in Swedish, and belonged to my great grandparents. 

Helge Sigurd Jonsson

 The next book, I like in particular because my great grandfather, Helge Jonsson, immigrated to the US as an engineer/inventor/scientist. He was a nose in the books kind of guy. When I asked my grandma to tell me what she remembered about him, she said that Grandpa Jonsson was very kind and friendly, but anti-scocial to an extent. He didn't prefer talking. He preferred reading. If there was a family gathering, or a party, he was often MIA at some point. This is because he would always bring his own book and you would find him sitting off in some corner reading.   .....I also think that the prerequisite to becoming a scientist was that you had to have an affinity towards bow ties. This Swede here in particular does a fine job rockin' his bow ties.             -------->

this books' been through the ringer and by the notes and dog-eared pages it looks like it was handled quite a bit.

 I found this letter inside...

      It's dated 1913. It struck me as something I should look into for a couple reasons. I have come across this Hanson name before, and for some reason I think I saw it while looking through ship manifests. It may have appeared as a name given for the immigrants' "destination" person. I will have to look into that. Also, I recall this N. Clark street address in Chicago. I can't remember if it was an early address for my great grandfather right after immigration or what, but I remember it from somewhere. And lastly, judging by this letter, Mr. Hanson was a scientist who worked for a Chicago company. Helge Jonsson was also a scientist who worked for a large science corporation in Chicago. He was working at Gaertner when he died, and I doubt he was there his entire career after immigration. So I don't know if there is a link here.
     Either way, he apparently received or borrowed this book from this Mr. Hanson with a familiar address.
  I think I feel another mystery to solve coming around..... :)  These Sepia Saturday topics have inadvertently caused me to notice things I never noticed before and give me new leads to look into. Very convenient!!

  Thanks for indulging me in my odd love for antique books....

ADDITION: I saw a beautiful picture on another blog, and it reminded me of one of my favorite memories so I just HAD to go find the picture...
My son and my Grandma, "Nanny" had a truly unique and special relationship. They were great friends. As soon as we'd come over, she would disappear somewhere in the house with her great grandson, leaving us all to fend for ourselves. :)  We could find them in some room reading, playing, jumping on the bed (my son, not Nanny) and "racing". My favorite was walking in on him, my 3 year old son, and her, my nearly 80 year old grandmother, dancing together in the toy room, both laughing with huge smiles on their faces.
      She read to him a lot. She'd never tell him no when he asked for more pages. sometimes an hour would go by, and we'd say "Nanny, you don't have to keep doing it, it's been an hour!" and she'd insist she keep going, and just bring her a glass of water because her mouth was getting dry. lol. I am so thankful for the relationship those two got to have.

My husband is the ginormous child on the floor. He liked listening to Nanny's stories too. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sune Bergman: Part Två

After the first post about Sune Bergman, my dear friend Google and I did some more searching. Again. No hits on his books. But after just searching "Sune Bergman" and "Norrbotten" (a county he wrote about, and where my Swedish family emigrated from) A page came up from a Swedish Antique store with one of the wood drawing that looked a lot like the ones we have, and like the photos from his books.

   By searching for his art, I was able to find so much more about him! from what I read, Sune Bergman was a self taught artist, born May 23, 1890 in Nederkalix.

   "Bergman is an artist self-taught. Separate appearances, he has held in Örnsköldsvik, Luleå, Piteå 1924 and 1925, Norrtälje 1929 and in Uppsala in 1931 and 1933. Participated in 1939 in an exhibition at Norrbotten Museum in Lulea. In his images - often performed with glow plugs on birch bark, Bergman depicted Lapp life ("Break the nomadic school" in 1939, high school in Kalix). As an artist he worked with linocut."
Litt, "An Artist Norrbotten and Lapland portrayer" (in the Daily News 1/11 1925)

                                   Glow plugs and birch bark!! There's the name of one of his books! Ok, it makes so much sense now!

   "Sune Bergman belonged to the calix family that owned Waldemarsudde in Stockholm, Johan Bergman-Olson was the titular owners during 1800 talet.Släkten sold Waldemarsudde til Prince Eugene in 1899. Sune Bergman has also illustrated the book "With the covered sleigh Kalix Waldemarsudde" as another relative, Gunnar Bergman, wrote in 1959.Den enkle Farmer's son Johan Bergman-O from Näsbyn Kalix took apart the W-tip several properties in Sthlms inner-city-one of their offices he had on the wharf-addition, he owned several mansions in Norrbotten. He became one of the largest shipowners but also ran the other companies. He was a big contributor to the arts, but above all to "needy" in Lapland." 

                    - Some good info obtained from a forum query made in 2009 over at AntikPrat. (link also has some more examples of his drawings.)

    The most important information I found came from that forum. It mentions his parents,  Johan August Bergman and Emma Ingeborg Taube. And that he was married in 1923 with Linnea Jonsson. 

            And there it was. The link to Sune.... Linnea Jonsson. As in, Emma Linnea Jonsson from my family tree. Born October 15th in 1893 in Nederkalix..... My Great grandfather's sister. Sune Bergman was my grandfather's uncle. He was brother in law to my great grandparents. So my assumption from the notes in the books was wrong. He WAS family!  It feels great to finally know who Sune is. But we are still left with the confusion of these drawings.

        You can compare others of Sune's with the ones our family has.... This first one of the tree is the one I have hanging on my wall. Bottom corner says "ART." I compared this with the one found here, and the branches seem to be styled the same. They look similar in style.

These are the others that are owned by our family.....

Now, compare the cabin of the last with the picture from Sune's book, below. It looks familiar.
There are more drawings from his books that look similar to the drawing of the other cabin, complete with the walking planks and all. Also there are several examples in his book illustrations of his background trees, which are identical to what you see in these pictures.

   The confusion is, we were told these belonged to my grandfather, Arthur Jonsson (Sune's nephew.) That in itself is not disputed. But there is confusion when it comes to who drew them. The story that came to us, was that these drawings on wood were drawn by my grandpa, Arthur Jonsson when he was visiting Sweden as a boy. It also says ART. in the bottom corners of the drawings. But after researching, these are drawn on the same surfaces (wood and masonite) of the same size and with the same mediums (glow plugs and crayons) that was attributed to Sune's  unique artwork. The styles are also strikingly similar. 
So, I think these may be Sune's. The only way I can explain the similarities is that perhaps Sune taught my grandfather how to do this. But, what accounts for such striking similarities? You'd think my grandfather would have his own style as he was learning. So the confusion still stands. Did the hand that drew these belong to my grandfather, or his uncle, Sune Bergman?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - South American Train/My Engineer, Poppy.

This is one of my favorites of my Poppy. 
He married my grandma after the death of my grandpa Art Jonsson. The nurse who cared for Art during his brain tumor cared for Poppy's wife at the same time in the, who was also dying from cancer. The nurse later introduced the two widows. They married in the 1960's. They were wonderful grandparents, who we referred to as "Nanny & Poppy"
  Although I have no blood relation to my Poppy, Imre Rokay, I have a deep interest in his history. His life is remarkable, and surrounded in a lot of mystery. He was raised in a military family in Hungary. Hungary was forced into WWII by it's dependence on Germany before the war. Imre's father was a Colonel in the Hungarian/Austrian army. After the war, like many people at that time, his family applied for citizenship to anywhere that would take them. Chile accepted them. They fled to Switzerland and then by boat to Brazil, and made their way to Chile. 
This photo was taken in South America, years after emigration, where my Poppy was an engineer.

He saw and experienced a lot of horrible things in his life. A lot he never wanted to talk about. But despite it all, he was an incredibly gentle man with a soft spot for his grand daughters. I feel blessed to have been his "Little Dudu" (insert Hungarian accent....)   :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sepia Saturday - Hunting Mutts

Sepia Saturday: Theme - Dogs.

   This is my Smith family at their homestead in Hiawatha, Schoolcraft County in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The photo was given to me by one of AJ's other great grandchildren.  I love this picture!
   I'm guessing the dogs in the picture are sitting by their own owners.  Quite a mixture of mutts for hunting dogs! (If that's what they did indeed use them for.) The first on the left looks like a terrier mix belonging to Ray Allen Smith, a great great uncle. The next pup is at the feet of my great grandfather, A.J. Smith. The last one is sitting between the legs of my great-great grandfather, Adoniram Judson Smith (Aka, A.J.) who was Sheriff of Schoolcraft County about the time this picture was taken.
   All the pups look pretty relaxed for their photo shoot, except maybe Adoniram Judson's dog. It sort of looks like he's trapping him to make him stay in place. lol.      

The next is just a bonus picture of my Dad when he was a boy. I actually think this is the dog that has a pretty tragic boyhood story attached to it, and I believe it was his first dog. 
Don't you think he's raging coolness in his highwaters and skinny turtleneck? :P

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Branching Out - Searching Stepfather's Mueller Lines

     I'm a little swamped in genealogy at the moment. I've got some juicy bits and pieces from each of my lines that have popped up that I'm chomping at the bit to get to (and some interesting new info on Sune Bergman....)  I've got my husband's maternal line, and working on getting that verified so I can add it to the tree finally. And my step-dad has asked me if I'd look into his family's history and put something together for an upcoming family reunion. Of course I said yes!! :)

      I am finding I enjoy looking for other peoples' family members. And this in particular is good for me, because it's allowing me to research a new place... My home state of Wisconsin..... which I haven't been able to do yet, believe it or not. My mom came to Racine from Upper Michigan  in the late 60's-ear;y 70's I believe. My dad came to Racine from Illinois in the early 1960's.  Both of their fathers had come for work. Which is very ironic, considering these days Racine is #1 for unemployment in the state. Ah, how times change, right?

     So searching for my step-dad is allowing me to research close to home, which may give me the opportunity to try some day trips (which isn't always easy with 3 kids 5 years and under tagging along), and do some in person record searching, which I haven't been able to do yet. It's an experience I need, but have not had the chance to learn.

     His Mueller family are Washington County Germans, and even though half of my dad's family is German, this will broaden my research and experience with Germany/German culture/history, as the Mueller's are from a different area. They are also Roman Catholic Germans, which I had not encountered yet. You don't really find many Roman Catholic German churches where my German family settled. Everyone and their mother was Lutheran. So this is also something new to me.

    One thing I appreciate about genealogy is not only the fact that I get to learn about my family history, but I also learn about culture, customs, and history of different groups of people around the world. I love history, so this is a great bonus. It brings you beyond just dates and names. It helps you understand the roots of your ancestors, and see the bigger picture. The lives of our German farmers were completely different from those of our Lapland Swedish fisherman, which were different from those of our medieval English families. And their cultures and customs and national histories play a gigantic role in who they were and why they made the choices they did. So even though I may feel a little overwhelmed by adding a whole new family into my researching at the moment, I look forward to the experience it's going to give me and the things I will learn from it.

I'm a nerd.