Tombstone Tuesday: Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese

It can often feel like a lost cause to submit Find A Grave Photo Requests for graves that are situated in enormous, urban cemeteries, but as I learned last week, when an anonymous contributor answered my plea for two photographs from Concordia Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois, it is possible to get lucky.

Joachim Wiese Grave

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 July 2014), photograph, Joachim Wiese (1841-1915), Memorial No. 123360232, Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook, Illinois; photograph by Anonymous, 2014. Note: The German script reads, “Hier ruhet in Gott” [Here rests in God].

Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese were Pomeranian immigrants who spent most of their adult lives in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. On 1 November 1868, accompanied by their infant son, Frederick “Fritz” Wiese, and a host of other relatives, they boarded the Electric in the great port of Hamburg.1 Their voyage lasted nearly two months; they arrived in New York the day after Christmas, 1868.2

Apparently without further ado, the family made their way to the Midwest. 1870 found them living in the urban center of Chicago, where Joachim was employed as a day laborer.3 The Chicago Fire of 1871 must have had an impact on their early years in the city; the family belonged to the predominantly German First Bethlehem Lutheran Church,4 established in an area that was developed in the years following the fire.5 By 1880, Joachim Wiese was employed as a tailor,6 a trade he continued at least for the next two decades.7 Perhaps Sophia was able to assist her husband with his work, in addition to raising their children.

Sophia Wiese Grave

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 July 2014), photograph, Sophia Wiese (1843-1907), Memorial No. 123360289, Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook, Illinois; photograph by Anonymous, 2014. Note: The German script reads, “Hier ruhet in Gott” [Here rests in God].

In all, six children were born to the Wiese family: Frederick (1868-1914),8 Mary (1870),9 John C. (1873-1943),10 Minna (1876-1945),11 William (1879-1882),12 and Arthur Louis (1886-1932).13 Five children survived to adulthood; sadly, William died of diphtheria at the age of two.14

Sophia (Cammin) Wiese died of pneumonia at their home on Marion Place on 26 May 1907, at which time she was said to be sixty-four years of age.15 Joachim Wiese died at home on 2 June 1915 at seventy-four years of age.16 Their funeral services were held at the First Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and they are buried beside their son at Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Cook County, Illinois.

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A Golden Anniversary

One warm afternoon during the summer of 1902, a crowd gathered at the home of local pioneers Niels and Juliane Sophie (Hennike) Olsen. The couple, who had retired from farm life several years before, was celebrating fifty years of marriage, and all of their children and grandchildren were invited to their home located near the center of town at 605 Broadway in Yankton, South Dakota.1 The event was surely a memorable affair, and the local newspaper gave a glowing report of the afternoon’s activities:

Mr. and Mrs. Nels Olson celebrated their golden wedding yesterday afternoon at their home on Broadway. All their children, eight in number, were present with their families. Their names are as follows; Ole Nelson, Mission Hill; John Nelson, Viborg; Christ Nelson, Lakeport; Fred Nelson, Lakeport; Mrs. J. Nissen, Yankton; Mrs. C. Calleson, Yankton; and Miss Helena Nelson, Yankton. Rev. C.K. Solberg spoke a few words appropriate to the occasion and presented to the venerable couple two fine presents from the children, a gold headed cane to “father” and pair of gold glasses to “mother.” The “old folks” came from Denmark in 1874 and made their first home in America near Lakeport, S.D. Eight years ago they moved to Yankton, their present home. They are in fairly good health and enjoy comfort and happiness surrounded by kind children.2

Niels Olsen and Juliane Sophie Hennecke had married in Haraldsted, Soro, Denmark, on 30 July 1852.3 For the first twenty-two years of their married life, they resided in Denmark; their twenty-second anniversary, however, was spent aboard ship as they ventured to America.4 Their years since had been spent in southeastern South Dakota, where they claimed a homestead and where Niels had recently served a term as a rural postmaster. All eight of their surviving children remained in the area, and to commemorate their fiftieth anniversary, an informal group photograph was arranged on the porch of their home beneath the shade of several large trees.

Olsen Golden Anniversary

Olsen Golden Anniversary, Yankton, South Dakota, July 1902; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

The couple of honor is seated near the center, surrounded by those in attendance. Niels wears a wool three-piece suit and tie, as do most of the men, while Juliane wears a patterned shirtwaist with a bow at the neckline. Patterned, striped, or light-colored cotton fabrics seem to be popular choices among the women for their summertime wear. The adults, including the couple’s children, sit or stand in two rows, and three infants are perched on laps. Nine young grandchildren – including four sisters in matching dresses – cram together in the front, sitting cross-legged on the wooden plank floorboards. The group is relaxed; there are a few smiles, several women cross their arms comfortably, and a few maternal faces are turned away from the camera, intent on minding the couple’s many grandchildren.

I have to hope that this well-dressed crowd had the opportunity to partake in some refreshing lemonade in honor of the occasion!

In the back row, from left to right, are Reverend Solberg, Mrs. Solberg, Harry Nissen, Fred Nelson, Ole Nielsen, Harry Nielsen, John Nielsen, Eric Boysen, unknown, and Chris Callesen. In the middle row, from left to right, are unknown, Dora Nissen, Cleora Nielsen, Hannah Nielsen, Stena Callesen, Cecilia Boysen, J. Chris Nelson, Niels Olsen, Juliana Olsen, Helena Olsen, Jennie Nelson, Edith Nelson (child), Christine Nelson, and Helen Nelson (child). In the front row, from left to right, are Robert Nelson, Anna Nelson, Louise Nelson, Andrea Nelson, Julia Nelson, Bessie Nelson, Ole Nelson, Alvin Nielsen, and George Boysen.5

SOURCES
1 “Mr. and Mrs. Nels Olson Pass the Half Century Mark of Wedded Happiness,” undated clipping, ca. July 1902, from unidentified newspaper.
2 “Mr. and Mrs. Nels Olson Pass the Half Century Mark of Wedded Happiness,” undated clipping, ca. July 1902, from unidentified newspaper.
3 “Denmark, Marriages, 1635-1916,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 10 July 2014), Niels Olsen and Juliane Sophie Henneche, 1852.
4 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2014), manifest, S.S. Humboldt, Stettin, Germany, to New York, arriving 4 August 1874, Niels Olsen; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 392, line 149.
5 Harold W. Jorgensen, “Olsen, Niels,” in Ben Van Osdel and Don Binder, editors, History of Yankton County, South Dakota (Yankton, South Dakota: Curtis Media Corporation and the Yankton County Historical Society, 1987), 53.

Back to the Land: Finding an Ancestor’s Iowa Homestead

While tracking down the exact location of your ancestor’s land may seem daunting, last month, I learned that it’s entirely possible to get from this: Timothy Adam BLM…to this:

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Timothy Adam Homestead Site, Moville Township, Woodbury County, Iowa; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that my ancestor Timothy Adam homesteaded in Woodbury County, Iowa.1 I was excited to find that his homestead was just a short hop from the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in rural Moville Township, making it an area that, thanks to my years in 4-H, is familiar to me. I thought how funny it would be if I would happen to know who lived on his land today.

That thought remained in the back of my mind as I prepared to plot the location of the NE ¼ of Section 29, information obtained online from the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records and verified in record copies from the National Archives. Armed with the legal land description, I turned to the Plat Book of Woodbury County, Iowa, available online through the Iowa Digital Library.

After locating the quarter section where the Adam family spent the latter part of the nineteenth century, I took note of any landmarks – including nearby towns, roads, and waterways – that would help pinpoint the homestead site on a modern map. As Moville Township is still comprised of farmland broken into the orderly squares that make up the Midwest’s patchwork landscape, it was easy enough to identify the right quarter section via satellite image on Google Maps.

Timothy Adam Google MapsAfter zooming in on a grove of trees on the appropriate quarter, it was even possible to see that there was an old home site located there. Thank you, Google Maps!

Timothy Adam Home Site Google MapsThe next step, of course, was to visit the land where Timothy and Odile (Millette) Adam, pictured here, once lived. My parents and I embarked on an expedition to the back roads southeast of Moville, where we stopped at a neighboring farm to ask if we might have permission to trek to the home site. There, we discovered that the owners were, indeed, a family that we knew from 4-H! Despite the shock of us showing up on her doorstep for perhaps the most unexpected reason imaginable, our friend kindly gave us permission to take a shortcut across the pasture with our truck.

According to a local newspaper, a tornado that hit the area in 1928 was said to have caused significant damage to what remained of the homestead: “Southwest of Moville on the old Timothy Adam farm now owned by W. H. Rawson trees in the orchard were uprooted, corn crib, machine shed, barn, hog house and chicken house were swept away. The house is the only building left standing.”2 Today, not even a house remains, but it was fascinating to explore the old foundations and to imagine just how little, perhaps, the view from the homestead had changed.

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Timothy Adam Homestead Site, Moville Township, Woodbury County, Iowa; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

SOURCES
1 Timothy Adam (Woodbury County) homestead file, final certificate no. 2560, Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2 “Tornado Destroys Property Near Here,” Moville (Iowa) Mail, 10 May 1928, p. 1, col. 3; digital image, findmypast.com (http://www.findmypast.com : accessed 3 July 2014); citing Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com).

Dressing Well in Dakota Territory

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Christine Marie [Schmidt] Nelson,  Yankton County, Dakota Territory, ca. 1886-1888; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

Christine Marie Schmidt, spelled “Christiane” on the back of this photograph and called “Dana” by her close friends, would not have remembered Denmark, as she was still an infant when she accompanied her parents to America in June of 1870.1 Her father homesteaded in Dakota Territory later that year, and Christine grew up a hardworking farm girl on the prairie near what is now Tabor, Bon Homme County, South Dakota.2

This photograph may have been taken in Yankton, the onetime capital of Dakota Territory located a dozen or so miles east of the family’s homestead. Christine’s hair is styled in true 1880s fashion with frizzled bangs – which could not have been easy to achieve – and a smooth high bun.3 She wears what looks to be a heavy pleated dress with velvet panels adorning the bodice vertically from shoulder to waist.4 The same velvet trims the collar and cuffs, where a white under-layer peeks out. No fewer than twelve large buttons adorn her dress, and a horizontal pin is affixed to the stylish high collar. Christine is clearly corseted to enhance her hourglass figure.5

Christine married in the spring of 1890 at the age of twenty-one; her wedding portrait suggests that she was a bit younger when this photograph was taken.6 My guess is that she was about eighteen, give or take a year, dating this photograph circa 1886-1888. Although green cardstock, as seen on this cabinet card, technically peaked in popularity several years earlier,7 another photograph from my personal collection with cardstock of the same dark green color dates to approximately 1889. Its popularity may well have been ongoing, at least in the Midwest.

Christine almost certainly sewed her dress herself, likely in the company of her mother and older sister, and she stands so as to display it to its best advantage. A subtle painted backdrop nearly touches the floor behind her as she rests her left hand on the back of an upholstered chair, gazing into the distance. In spite of her rural upbringing, Christine strikes an elegant pose, demonstrating that the latest fashions had found a place even in Dakota Territory.

SOURCES
1 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 June 2014), manifest, S.S. Allemannia, Hamburg, Germany, to New York, arriving 30 June 1870, Christe Schmidt; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 331, line 38.
2 Jens Madsen Schmidt (Bon Homme County) homestead file, final certificate no. 124, Springfield, South Dakota, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
3 Maureen Taylor, Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 (United States: Picture Perfect Press, 2009), 102-103.
4 Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1997), 424.
5 Severa, Dressed for the Photographer, 379.
6 Wedding Portrait of Fred and Christine [Schmidt] Nelson, South Dakota, March 1890; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.
7 Maureen A. Taylor, Family Photo Detective (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2013), 52.

 

Wedding Wednesday: A Question of Nationality

I’m not sure if it was meant as a joke, or if newlyweds Gerald and Fern (Thoma) Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa were genuinely confused. When asked to state their nationalities at the time of their marriage, their answers should have been simple; they were the American-born children of American-born parents, after all, so there was really no question that they were American themselves. Jerry, however, stated that he was of French nationality, while Fern declared that she was German-English.1

GeraldAdam1929

Gerald Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1929; digital image 2012, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

FernThomaAdam1929

Fern Lavonne Thoma, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1929; digital image 2012, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

From a genealogical perspective, I love it. How often does one have the chance to learn what their forebears knew of their own ancestry? However, if I didn’t already know so much about this couple and their heritage, I might have been thrown off. Jerry’s ancestry was indeed French – and French Canadian, and Polish. Fern’s ancestors, many of whom were likely early arrivals on American soil, can thus far be traced to Germany and the British Isles.

I don’t know when exactly the couple met while on their way downtown to the movie theater, but Jerry and Fern married in their hometown on 8 June 1929 – eighty-five years ago this week.2 Fern was twenty-one, and although Jerry would not celebrate his twenty-first birthday for eleven more days,3 he claimed to be the same age as Fern.4 Their wedding attendants were close friends Merle Montgomery and Dorothy Thompson,5 and, following their ceremony, led by Reverend R. M. LeCair of St. Jean Baptiste Church, the couple took a “motor trip” to the Black Hills of South Dakota.6

Gerald_Adam_Fern_Thoma_Marriage_1929

“Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 June 2014), Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37,” microfilm, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.

If your ancestors married in Iowa between 1923 and 1937, be sure to visit Ancestry.com’s digital image collection, “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” new this year. This database has plenty of detail to offer, as marriage records included such information as age, place of residence, occupation, place of birth, father’s name, mother’s maiden name, number of marriages, and the names of the officiant and witnesses. It’s also an opportunity to see the signatures of the couple – likely the last time the bride would sign her maiden name. Have you found any surprises in this record set?

SOURCES
1 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 June 2014), Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37,” microfilm, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.
2 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com, Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City.
3 “Iowa, Births and Christenings Index, 1857-1947,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 June 2014), entry for Herald [Gerald] Joseph Adam, 19 June 1908, Sioux City.
4 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com, Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City.
5 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com, Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City.
6 “Mr. and Mrs. George Thoma [...],” undated clipping, ca. June 1929, from unidentified newspaper.

2014 SCGS Jamboree

Just one month after the 2014 NGS Family History Conference began, it was time for the 2014 SCGS Jamboree. The many volunteers at the Southern California Genealogical Society work hard to host the Jamboree year after year in nearby Burbank, and the fruits of their labors are apparent. There was an excellent lineup of speakers, a jam-packed exhibition hall, and, from what I could tell, enthusiastic attendance. This was my second year attending, and I definitely stayed busy.

I filled pages of notes during lectures on the records of widows and orphans and the history of American divorce by Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, and came away with plenty of inspiration for preserving some tricky rolled family photographs after a lecture by Denise Levenick, The Family Curator. I caught several appearances by Joshua Taylor, and whether speaking about advanced online research techniques or how to engage the next generation of genealogists, he knows how to reach his audience. In addition, I attended the annual blogger summit, which is precisely what gave me the final burst of inspiration that I needed last year in order to start blogging, once and for all. I donned the blogger beads worn by the other Geneabloggers and joined in the annual group photo, which you can see here.

IMG_3344Of course, it wouldn’t be a conference without its fair share of socialization – and social media. I fed off the energy of Jen Baldwin, Twitter extraordinaire, to up my number of Tweets per session, and also caught up with fellow NextGen Genealogy Network board members, the aforementioned Josh and Jen, and a wonderful group of supporters at our evening meetup. Last but certainly not least, throughout the conference, I met several of my favorite bloggers face-to-face for the first time. If you’re thinking about attending next year, the SCGS Jamboree is a great way to spend a weekend!

All Aboard Mr. Laughlin’s Palace Photo Car

Not all photograph studios were stationary. Your ancestors may have had their photographs taken aboard a boat or even a specially outfitted railroad car, as did this group of gentlemen around the turn of the last century.

GeorgeHiramThoma

George Hiram Thoma a.k.a. George A. Neilson, top right, Iowa or Nebraska, ca. 1900; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

George Hiram Thoma, also known as George A. Neilson, is the slim, fair-haired young man pictured at top right in this photograph taken aboard Mr. Laughlin’s Palace Photo Car.1 George, born in 1880,2 was raised in Clayton County, Iowa,3 but his exact whereabouts during his late teenage years and early manhood are up for debate. He may have spent some time in Cedar County, Nebraska,6 before winding up in Osceola County, Iowa, where he married in 1902.5 This photograph was likely taken at a train station somewhere in northwestern Iowa or northeastern Nebraska circa 1900.

The men all wear dapper hats, jackets, and ties. The man next to George seems to be the trendsetter of the group with a check or plaid jacket, striped bow tie, eyeglasses, and his soft felt bowler or derby hat at a jaunty angle. The man at front right is the only one who is not clean shaven; he also appears to be somewhat older than the others.

Who were these men, and what were their relationships to one another? None bear a remarkable resemblance to George, with the exception, perhaps, of the man next to him. Perhaps the men were friends or business associates, although thanks to George’s elusive lifestyle prior to his marriage and his use of an alias, much is left to the imagination as to with whom, exactly, he may have associated.

Perhaps somewhere there exists another copy – or three – of this very photograph, taken long ago aboard Mr. Laughlin’s Palace Photo Car.

SOURCES
1 Osceola County, Iowa, marriage of George A. Neilson and Leota Fenton, 23 March 1902; Recorder’s Office, Sibley.
2 “Iowa, Births and Christenings, 1830-1950,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 28 May 2014), George Hiram Thoma, 29 September 1880.
3 1895 Iowa State Census, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa, Gorge H. Thoma [George H. Thoma]; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 May 2014), citing State Historical Society of Iowa.
4 1900 U.S. census, Cedar County, Nebraska, population schedule, Belden, Enumeration District (ED) 40, sheet 2, p. 81 (stamped), dwelling 35, family 37, George Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 January 2014), citing National Archives microfilm T623, roll 919.
5 “News of Osceola County,” Sibley (Iowa) Gazette, 27 March 1902, p. 8, col. 1.