Tag Archives: vintage photograph

One of Dakota’s Pioneer Mothers

There can be no question that Christina Marie (Schmidt) Nelson was a strong and capable woman.

Born in Skrydstrup, Gram, Haderslev, Denmark on 11 October 1868, to Jens Madsen Schmidt and Anne Bramsen, Christina immigrated to America with her parents and older sister when she was just twenty months of age. A dugout on a homestead in Dakota Territory was her first home in America; it was from this homestead in Bon Homme County that she spent long hours tending her family’s cattle, experienced devastating prairie fires and blizzards, witnessed interactions with displaced Native Americans, and even once encountered General George Armstrong Custer when he stopped for a drink of water. She was fortunate enough to attend a one-room log schoolhouse through eighth grade, and, in 1889, when she was twenty-one, she married her neighbor and fellow Danish immigrant Frederick Nelson.

Over the course of the next twenty years, Christina gave birth to nine healthy children: Anna Sophie (1891), Julia Marie (1892), Ole James (1894), Andrea Mathilda (1896), Louise Christine (1899), Helena Margaret (1900), Mary Magdalene (1904), Frederick Andrew (1908), and Myron Alvin (1910). Education was of apparent importance to Christina and Fred, as he was known; although their oldest son attended school only through eighth grade, destined to become a farmer like his parents before him, their younger sons and daughters all attended school at least until the age of sixteen. They even saw to it that their four youngest daughters had the opportunity to attend a “normal school” in nearby Springfield, South Dakota, where they received the necessary training to become schoolteachers.

The Fred and Christina Nelson Family, Yankton County, South Dakota, 1912; digital image 2011, privately held by Lori Dickman. Back row, from left: Julia, Anna, Ole, and Andrea Nelson. Front row, from left: Mary, Louise, Christina with Myron, Fred with Fred Jr., and Helena Nelson.

A formal portrait of the Nelson family was taken in July of 1912, likely in Yankton, which was not far from the family’s home in Lakeport; the girls sport bare forearms for the season, their fabric colors light and featuring gingham, stripes, and lace. Christina, while dressed in a dark gown, wears a white collar and whimsical crocheted flowers at her throat. As to the occasion for the photograph, it was not a milestone anniversary year—Christina and Fred would have celebrated their twentieth anniversary the previous spring. However, Christina perhaps realized that, at forty-three, her childbearing years were behind her and now was the time to have a portrait taken of the entire family all together. Furthermore, as her eldest daughter had married in March of 1912, having her first child leave the nest might also have sparked sentimentality and a wish to document the fact that, at least for a short while, all nine Nelson children had been under one roof.

Christina and Fred would go on to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary in 1916, but two years later, a matter of weeks after her fiftieth birthday, Christina would be dealt several harsh blows in short succession. First, Spanish Influenza hit the household, and then, in a turn of events that shocked both the family and their wider community, she lost Fred to suicide, and, one month later, daughter Andrea to undetermined medical circumstances.

Christina persevered. She faced another trial when her father died the following spring, but it was a blessing that her eldest son was home from his service in the Great War and able to help manage the family farm while she continued to raise her two youngest sons. She continued to live on the farm with support from her sons well into her old age; even in 1950, when she was eighty-two, the census reported that she was still “keeping house” for her three bachelor sons. It was at this farmhouse that her children and grandchildren frequently gathered to celebrate birthdays and holidays.

Christina died on 23 January 1961 at the age of ninety-two and is buried alongside her husband and three of their nine children at the Elm Grove Cemetery in Yankton County, South Dakota. A brief biography included in a local history book several years prior had noted, “Mrs. Nelson is well-known by her many friends and relatives as a person who always has a warm welcome hand extended to all those who call at her home. Even today, at the age of eighty-five, she is active with her household duties and retains an active interest in what is going on about her. She is cordial and sympathetic with the many young people who come her way. She is truly one of Dakota’s pioneer mothers who still looks ahead and enjoys her home and family.”

Copyright © 2022 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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What the Well Dressed Secretary Wore

It was 1925 when Fern Thoma graduated from Central High School and entered the workforce in her hometown of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa. Her first known job was as a clerk at S.S. Kresge, a five-and-dime store. Fern did not remain a clerk for long, however; when a likely more lucrative position as a switchboard operator presented itself, she took it. As she recalled years later, however, she immediately found the fast-paced work environment to be much too stressful, and was relieved when her mother told her that she didn’t have to keep the job!

A position as a bookkeeper at the Sioux City Cooperative Dairy Marketing Association, which collaborated with local farmers to market and distribute dairy products, was much more to her liking. Fern had received a certificate of proficiency in typewriting during her final year of high school; perhaps this helped to qualify her for a bookkeeper’s duties. She held this position from 1926 until the summer of 1929, when she married at the age of twenty-one and moved with her husband to Nebraska.

Fern Thoma, Sioux City, Iowa, 1927; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2022. Collection courtesy of David Adam.

A photograph of Fern, dated 19 May 1927, is labeled in her handwriting, “Yours truly in front of Coop Dairy where I worked until I got married and we moved to Norfolk Nebr. What the well dressed secretary wore.” Fern can be seen wearing a loose-fitting, drop-waisted dress with a pleated, tiered skirt. The fabric is patterned with a rose print, and a collared open vest in a solid color is worn over her dress. Short, waved hair frames her face, and she wears heeled shoes. She stands before the brick exterior wall of a building, the bright midday sun casting her shadow behind her.

The “Coop Dairy,” as Fern called it, was located on Howard Street, near the Floyd River. Fern lived with her parents, and although they moved houses several times in the late 1920s, they remained within a half mile or so of Fern’s workplace. The well dressed secretary would have needed comfortable shoes for the ten-minute walk to and from the dairy!

Copyright © 2022 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Michael and Magdalena

Little is known about Michael Noehl and Magdalena Hoffman, a couple who spent their married life in the village of Holsthum, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Holsthum was described by one of their sons as “situated in a lovely valley of rich agricultural land, crowned with fruit trees, and further off, with magnificent forests, between nurseries and rose plantations.” Even now it remains a quaint, pastoral village.

Michael Noehl, one of at least eight children of Johannes Noehl and Elisabeth Gierens, was born in Niederstedem, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on 22 June 1828. Nothing is known of his childhood, but as a young man, he entered the military. According to the memoirs of his son, Michael served as a Prussian soldier in Koblenz between the years 1847-1851; during the Baden Revolution in 1848, he stood sentry at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

After his service, Michael married Magdalena Hoffman, who was born on 21 Jul 1833 in Holsthum, one of at least four children of Mathias Hoffman and Magdalena Ehr. Michael and Magdalena were married on 12 February 1857; Michael was twenty-eight and Magdalena twenty-three at the time of their marriage, which was recorded at Schankweiler. The Schankweiler Klaus is an eighteenth-century chapel and hermitage tucked into the forest approximately two miles from the village of Holsthum, and still stands today.

Schankweiler, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany photograph, 2009; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

Together, the couple had seven sons: Mathias (1858), Michael (1860), Nikolaus (1864), Nikolaus (1866), Mathias (1868), Johann (1870), and Jakob (1873). Notably, despite name repetition among their sons, it is believed that all survived to adulthood. (This is not the first case of name repetition among children of this region that I have observed.)

Mathias Noehl (1868-1950), second from right, with brothers, perhaps Nikolaus, Johan, and Jakob Noehl, Holsthum, Germany, 1938; digital image 2009, privately held by Roland Noehl, Holsthum, Germany, 2009.

A great-grandson of Michael and Magdalena remembered being told that Michael was a forester, and Magdalena certainly had her hands full raising seven sons, but few details are known of their adult lives. One of their sons recalled completing school at the age of fourteen and going to work herding sheep to help his parents pay off a debt on their property; later this same son was apprenticed to a rose grower, so it may be assumed that their other sons were similarly established with apprenticeships.

Michael saw several of his siblings immigrate to America in the nineteenth century; his sister Susanna and his brothers Matthias and Johann all settled in Minnesota. Likewise, Magdalena saw a paternal aunt and a paternal uncle immigrate to Minnesota and Iowa. Later, Michael and Magdalena bade farewell to two of their own children who left their homeland to try their luck on American soil: Michael in 1881 and Mathias (1868) in 1886. From these two sons then came fifteen American grandchildren whom Michael and Magdalena never had the opportunity to meet.

Michael and Magdalena lived out their lives in Holsthum, surviving at least to their sixties, as it is known that their son Mathias came from America to visit in 1894 and found them in good health at that time. To the best of my knowledge, however, their graves, according to German custom, have long since been recycled and are no longer marked.

Copyright © 2022 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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An Old Settler of Illinois

When Mary (Hall) Rhine, the wife of William Rhine, both of Washington County, Illinois, died on 20 May 1898 at the age of eighty-nine, she was the mother of fourteen, grandmother of thirty-one, great-grandmother of thirty-nine, and great-great-grandmother of four children. 

Mary is presumed to be the daughter of Isaac Hall (1776-1852) and sister of Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall, all of whom ultimately settled in Washington County, Illinois. Her identity—both as a Hall and as a member of this particular Hall family—remains unconfirmed, but there are compelling connections.

Mary was said to have been born in Montgomery County, Tennessee, in 1809, and married William Rhine circa 1825 in what is now Saline County, Illinois, where they spent the first years of their married life. Her presumed eldest brother, Jonathan, owned a neighboring parcel of land, and another neighbor, James Hampton, husband of Mary Elizabeth Hall, was believed to be kin. In 1832, William Rhine served with James Hampton’s Company in the Black Hawk War, enlisting in Gallatin County—as did Jonathan Hall, Mary’s presumed brother.

In the 1840s, William and Mary acquired land in what was known as Three Mile Prairie in Washington County. The first parcel purchased was located catercorner from land owned by Isaac Hall (whether this was Mary’s presumed father or brother is unknown) and the additional parcels that they purchased in the years to come were all located within the vicinity of land owned by Mary’s presumed brothers Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall. Worth note is that in 1868, following Elithan’s death, William Rhine received approximately ten dollars owed to him from his estate. Indeed, the Hall brothers, like Mary, all lived out the rest of their lives in Washington County, and she was not the only one to live to an advanced age; Isaac, too, lived well into his eighties and was said to have enjoyed long walks even in his later years. 

Rhine_Mary_Hall

Mary (Hall) Rhine, Washington County, Illinois, circa 1860; courtesy of the Nashville (Illinois) Public Library.

Even if it turns out that Mary was not a member of this Hall family, her obituary relates experiences that may have been common among southern Illinois settlers of the 1810s:

“Mrs. Rhine was one of our county’s and state’s oldest settlers, having come to the state with her parents, who settled in Salene [sic] county before Illinois was admitted to statehood. The relating of her experiences during the early days in this state would make interesting pages of history. She had seen the great state of Illinois in its natural and undeveloped state. She had witnessed the scalping of her playmates and neighbors by the unruly Indians when the settlers were compelled to live in forts as a protection against the Red Men.”

Mary and her family, of course, were among those whose westward movements displaced and antagonized local Indigenous communities. If she was indeed a daughter of Isaac Hall, it is estimated that she and her family remained in Tennessee at least until 1813, when Mary’s presumed brother Elithan was said to have been born there, and arrived in Illinois at some point before it achieved statehood in 1818. 

A number of Mary’s descendants appear as autosomal DNA matches to descendants of her presumed brothers Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall, lending further credibility to their connection. However, additional research is necessary to confirm their relationship and formally add to the Hall family story.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Chicoine Family Reunion, Revisited

Note: The following provides an update to the post “The Chicoine Family Reunion,” which was published in March 2021. 

When I first shared a photograph of a Chicoine family reunion held at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, which took place nearly one hundred years ago, alongside a key prepared by the late Maurice Chicoine, a number of individuals were unidentified and the date of the photograph, as stated on the key, was presumed to be the summer of 1926. Now, after collaboration with numerous descendants of those pictured, additional blanks have been filled in—and the photograph is now believed to have been taken a year prior, on precisely 02 August 1925.

Why the change of date? In addition to the discovery of an original copy of the photograph that belonged to Maurice Chicoine and is now in the possession of Karen Chicoine, which is marked 1925, the presence or absence of several babies provide the primary clues. For example, Thomas and Rachel (Chicoine) Dougherty are pictured holding their children Annette and Richard; Annette, who was born in February 1925, clearly looks to be under a year old. Oswald Montagne, also pictured with an infant, had a daughter Marie who was born in September 1924. In addition, Emma (Chicoine) Beauchemin, pictured without an infant in arms, was expecting; her son would be born in December 1925.

Although initially, the details recorded in a 1925 newspaper clipping about the reunion led me to believe that it was taken the following year, given the other evidence it seems that this was not actually the case. The Sioux City Journal wrote on 04 August 1925 that at the reunion, “The oldest member of the family present was Mrs. Philip Bernard, Sioux City, 70 years old, and the youngest was Rose Chicoine, 6-month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fedora Chicoine, of Jefferson.” Mrs. Philip Bernard, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard, is present in the photograph, but Mrs. Fedora Chicoine and her infant daughter (who was actually named Dorothy; her mother was Rose) were not; it is, of course, entirely plausible that they had left the gathering early or were occupied off-camera at the time that the photograph was taken. Furthermore, the newspaper reporter named the wrong infant altogether—Annette Dougherty was two months younger! For that matter, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard was not the actual oldest member of the family in attendance; that honor may have gone to her sister Elise (Chicoine) Benjamin.

Finally, the location of the photographer’s studio, stamped on the photograph, initially gave me pause. The photographer, Henry Griebel, was listed at the stamped address in the 1926 Sioux City Directory, but his home and studio were elsewhere in the 1925 Sioux City Directory. However, upon consideration, there was ample time for the photographer to have changed locations between January and August 1925. 

Chicoine descendant and fellow genealogist Michael Malloy graciously created the below key (click to view the full-size image) of what is now believed to be a photograph of the 1925 Chicoine Family Reunion, with superimposed text over the individuals in the image to aid in identification:

chicoine-family-reunion-picture

Chicoine Family Reunion, Riverside Park, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1925; digital image with superimposed text 2021, courtesy of Michael Malloy, digital image 2021, courtesy of Jeanette Borich; privately held by Ken Chicoine and Karen Chicoine, 2021.

An updated list of identities is below:

Photo 1 Top Row: Agnes Chicoine, Emma Chicoine, Pauline Lambert, Elsie Montagne, Carrie Chicoine, Odile Chicoine, Luella (Limoges) Chicoine, Delia Brault, Albina Chicoine, Louise (Ryan) Chicoine, Edna (Quintal) Chicoine, Louisa (Chartier) Chicoine, Margaret (Norton) Wyant, Selena (Rubida) Quintal
Photo 1 Middle Row: Alphonse Chicoine, Alex Chicoine, Denis Chicoine, Edgar Chicoine, Edmond Chicoine, Odias Chicoine, Elmer Chicoine, Leo Chicoine, Conrad Chicoine, Emil Chicoine
Photo 1 Front Row: …?, Ferdinand Chicoine, Donald Chicoine, Orville Chicoine, Ella Jane Bertrand, Wallace Chicoine, Teresa Chicoine, Doris Chicoine, Bernice Chicoine, Veronica Chicoine, Madonna Chicoine, Marc Chicoine
Photo 2 Top Row: Ora Quintal, Ella Quintal, Loretta Quintal, Rose Montagu, Martin Chicoine, Cora (Chicoine) Brouillette, Martin Chicoine, Martin Quintal, Adrian Chicoine, Leander Bertrand, Mary E. (Bourassa) Fontaine, Ruth Chicoine, Aloysius Bourassa, Esther Bourassa, Laura (Montagne) Chicoine, Orise (Bernard) Montagne, Rachel (Chicoine) Dougherty with Richard Dougherty, Dalma (Cyr) Beaubien
Photo 2 Middle Row: Eugene Chicoine, Philip Bernard, Joe Montagne, Bert Crevier with Dean Crevier, Fedora Chicoine, Leonard Chicoine, Jean Baptiste Fontaine, William Chicoine?, Thomas D. Dougherty with Annette Dougherty, Arthur Chicoine, Louis Beaubien, Clarence Montagne
Photo 2 Front Row: Hubert Chicoine, Claire Montagne, Sylvia Madonna Chicoine, Gabriel Sirois, Oswald Montagne with Marie Jean Montagne, Lucille Crevier, Maurice Chicoine
Photo 3 Top Row: Evelyn (Cyr) Deranleau, Priest from Salix, Wiska (Cyr) Gregoire, Viola (Beaubien) Montagne, Melanie (Lutz) Adam, …?, Peter Adam, Elizabeth (Courtmanche) Adam, Sophia (Chicoine) Menard, Aglae (Sirois) Bosse, Joseph F. Chicoine, Marie (Pepin) Chicoine, Obeline (Chicoine) Lambert, Corrine (Montagne) Chicoine, Mayme Chicoine, Gertie (Crevier) Chicoine, Leona (Chicoine) Crevier, Yvonne (Morin) Chicoine, Beatrice Chicoine, Rose (Langle) Chicoine, Arsenia (Allard) Chicoine
Photo 3 Middle Row: Joe Gregoire, Sylvester Montagne, Laurence Chicoine with Irene Chicoine, Henry Adam, Ernest Menard, Maxine Chicoine, Charlotte Crevier, …?
Photo 4 Top Row: Simone Sirois, Bertha (Chicoine) Sirois, Genevieve Sirois, Happy Jauron with Elizabeth Jauron, Eva Marie (Chicoine) Jauron, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard, Irene Trudeau, Marie (Perrault) Chicoine, Amanda Chicoine, Regina (Benjamin) Chicoine, Elise (Chicoine) Benjamin, Marcella Chicoine, Christina (Chicoine) Bourassa, Marie Philomine (Brouillette) Bourassa
Photo 4 Middle Row: Fabien Lambert, Raymond Chaussee, Joe Chicoine, Hermidas Chicoine, Jerome Gadbois with …?, Alfred Chicoine, Isaac Benjamin, Alex Bourassa, John Bourassa, Gerald Chicoine, Joseph Lambert, Francis Lambert
Photo 4 Front Row: …?, …?, …?, Pauline Chicoine, Janette Chicoine, Loretta Chicoine, …?, Gerald A. Chicoine, Roger Bourassa

Can you identify any of the remaining unnamed individuals in the photograph?

 

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Frick Family of Rohrbach, Heidelberg, Germany

Although it is believed that our particular Frick family originated in Switzerland, they were present in Rohrbach, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, at least as early as 1699. It was then and there that Johann Georg Frick, allegedly a native of Switzerland, was said to have married Anna Margaretha Nachbauer, and it was there that he died in 1712 at the age of thirty-six. Rohrbach is a district of the renowned city of Heidelberg, situated on the Neckar River in southwestern Germany. Heidelberg today is home to Heidelberg University, which was established in the fourteenth century, as well as the ruins of the thirteenth-century Heidelberg Castle.

View of Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 2019; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

While there is a region in northwestern Switzerland known as Fricktal (“Frick Valley”), it is yet unknown where exactly in Switzerland Johann Georg Frick and his predecessors may have lived. The seventeenth century was a tumultuous time in early modern Europe, and Switzerland saw great religious upheaval; it can be considered whether this might have inspired the Frick family to relocate. Heidelberg also faced turmoil at this time, and was in ruins by 1693 due to French invasions. In the years thereafter, grappling with severe winters as well as warfare, thousands of Protestants living in the German Palatinate would flee, settling elsewhere in Europe and in the “New World” colonies. The Fricks, however, stayed.

Melanchthonkirche, Rohrbach, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 2019; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

The most recent member of our Frick family to live out his life in Rohrbach was Ludwig Frick. Ludwig was born in Rohrbach on 12 November 1883, the son of Martin Frick (1857-1935), who worked as a civil servant for the railroad, and Katharina Feigenbutz (1863-1918). Ludwig was the eldest of eight children; his seven younger siblings included Joseph (1885), Katharina (1886), Johann (1889), Christina (1891), Johann (1894), Susanna (1895), and Peter (1899). Ultimately, however, only Katharina and Susanna would live to adulthood alongside Ludwig.

Ludwig Frick with wife Anna Katharina (Schilling) Frick, center, and daughters Elsa and Marta, likely pictured in Rohrbach, Heidelberg, Germany, circa 1940; privately held by [personal information withheld], 2021.

Ludwig Frick and Anna Katharina Schilling married in nearby Münzesheim, Anna’s hometown, on 09 January 1908, and settled in Rohrbach. Ludwig worked as a locksmith, and he and Anna had seven children together: Wilfried (1908), Elsa Elisabeth (1909), Otto Jacob (1911), Elsa (1912), Erne Elisabeth (1914), Marta (1916), and Wilhelm (1919). Both Elsa Elisabeth and Erne Elisabeth died as infants.

Anna Katharina (Schilling) Frick with her son Wilfried Frick (right) and an infant, likely her son Otto Jacob Frick, Rohrbach, Heidelberg, Germany, circa 1911; privately held by [personal information withheld], 2021.

Few details are known about Ludwig beyond his occupation and the fact that he played piano. It is believed that he and his wife, like generations of his family before him, attended the Melanchthon Church; city directories indicate that they lived for many years on Max-Joseph-Strasse in Rohrbach, in a corner house bordered by a narrow garden. Ludwig died at the age of seventy-four on 28 December 1957; Anna survived him by a number of years, and is remembered as a kindly woman who made lamb-shaped cakes for her grandchildren.


Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

“Baden and Hesse Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1502-1985,” index, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), marriage of Ludwig Frick and Anna Kathar. Schilling, 1908, Münzesheim.

“Baden, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1502-1985,” index, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), burial of Ludwig Frick, 1957, Rohrbach.

“Baden, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1502-1985,” index, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), marriage of Martin Frick and Kath. Elisabetha Feigenbutz, 1883, Rohrbach.

“Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974,” index and images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), Ludwig Frick, 1927, Rohrbach.

“Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974,” index and images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), Ludwig Frick, 1940, Rohrbach.

“Germany, Select Marriages, 1558-1929,” index, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2021), marriage of Johannes Schilling and Elisabetha Christina Kaiser, 1873, Münzesheim.

Grandchild of Ludwig and Anna Katharina [Schilling] Frick, conversation with the author, 2019; notes in author’s files.

Norbert Emmerich, “Johann Georg Frick,” Schweizer Einwanderer in Heidelberg und Umgebung [Swiss Immigrants in Heidelberg and the Surrounding Area] (https://sehum.dynv6.net/201405/11/ofb3k10314.html : accessed 30 May 2021).

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), “Heidelberg,” rev. 14:53, 19 May 2021.

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), “Reformation in Switzerland,” rev. 21:01, 26 May 2021.

An Iowa National Guardsman

Henry Joseph Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, was twenty-six years old when he enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in December 1907. He enlisted for a term of three years with Company L of the 56th Infantry, and received an honorable discharge when his term was complete. His character was noted to be “excellent” and his service “honest and faithful.”

Iowa National Guard Certificate for Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, 1911; digital image 2021, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

In December 1917, ten years after he had first enlisted with the Iowa National Guard, Henry enlisted once again, this time with Company D of the 4th Infantry. The United States had entered the “Great War” in April of that year, and by June the first draft registration was underway. Henry, now thirty-six, was not included in this first draft (which was limited to men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one), but perhaps he saw the writing on the wall and considered that service with the National Guard might put him in a better position than if he were to wait to be eventually drafted. In July 1918, he was appointed corporal, but soon thereafter his trajectory was altered.

Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1918; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

Henry, a carpenter, relocated to Portsmouth, Virginia, where he became an employee of the George Leary Construction Company at the Norfolk Navy Yard. He commenced work on 01 September 1918, and on 12 September, when the third draft registration, for men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, was initiated, he dutifully completed his registration. He was called home to Iowa in late September when, tragically, his five-year-old son succumbed to extensive burns received when he fell into a fire. It could not have been easy for Henry to bid farewell to his wife and surviving son, who was ten years old, to return to the shipyards once again.

In late October, Henry became an employee of the United States government, assisting in the construction of a power plant at the Norfolk Navy Yard. It was on these grounds, as a skilled laborer in a necessary industrial occupation, that he completed a questionnaire claiming deferred classification of military duties. His work entailed building concrete forms; he stated that he had four years of specific experience, and six years of additional general experience. His daily wages amounted to eight dollars and twenty-five cents, and he was the sole supporter of his wife and child.

The questionnaire was signed and dated on 05 November 1918—less than one week before armistice would occur, marking the conclusion of the war on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Perhaps Henry’s questionnaire was never even submitted, or was returned to him in short order, which might explain how it ended up among other assorted family papers and survived for more than a century.

I have no record of when Henry’s employment at the Norfolk Navy Yard nor his service with the Iowa National Guard formally concluded. However, Henry would continue to apply his carpentry skills in the service of the government periodically throughout the rest of his life. During the Great Depression, he found employment with the Works Progress Administration, and during World War II, he was employed at a United States Air Force base near Sioux City before temporarily relocating to Portland, Oregon, where he once again became an essential worker in the shipyards.


Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

Iowa National Guard Certificate, Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, 06 January 1911; Adam Family; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

Military Deferment Questionnaire, Form 1001, Office of the Provost Marshall General, for Henry Joseph Adam, Portsmouth, Virginia, 05 November 1918; Adam Family; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

“World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2021), card for Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives microfilm publication M1509; imaged from Family History Library film roll 1,643,352.

“Henry J. Adam” in Lasher, Louis G., Report of the Adjutant General of Iowa: For the Biennial Period Ended June 30, 1920 (Des Moines: The State of Iowa, 1920), 125; from “U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2021).

The Chicoine Family Reunion

Note: An updated post about this photograph, including a new date and additional identifications, was published in September 2021 and is available here.

A century ago, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the French Canadian blacksmith Leon Chicoine and his wife Marie Vary were in the habit of gathering annually for an extended family reunion at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.

In the summer of 1925, the Sioux City Journal printed the following:

200 ATTEND FAMILY PICNIC AT RIVERSIDE

More than 200 members of the Chicoine family, residing in Sioux City and surrounding territory, held their annual picnic at Riverside park Sunday. Several hundred of the family, which is one of the pioneer families of this part of the country, are located in northwestern Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska.

The majority of those who attended the picnic were from Sioux City, Jefferson, S.D., Elk Point, S.D., and Salix, Ia. The oldest member of the family present was Mrs. Philip Bernard, Sioux City, 70 years old, and the youngest was Rose Chicoine, 6-month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fedora Chicoine, of Jefferson. A basket dinner and a program of games and sports occupied the afternoon and evening.

The following year, a large group photograph—or rather several photographs pieced together—was taken at the family gathering, and featured just shy of one hundred and fifty individuals. The photograph is labeled Griebel Photo along with a street address; according to the 1926 Sioux City Directory, a Henry Griebel was indeed at that address, but his home and studio were elsewhere in 1925. Thus, the 1926 date provided for this photograph seems plausible—and the decade itself is undeniable when taking into account that the women almost uniformly have their hair bobbed! Riverside Park, the location of the reunion, was a popular summer gathering place along the Sioux River, offering swimming, boating, and other recreational activities. 1926 marked the final year that Riverside Park would host the popular Interstate Fair, and an amusement park would open there the following year.

Chicoine Family Reunion, Riverside Park, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1926; digital image 2021, courtesy of Jeanette Borich; privately held by Ken Chicoine, 2021.

There is, fortunately, a key for this photograph, with many thanks to the late Maurice Chicoine. However, it is incomplete and not without error. If you recognize any kin in the photograph, please feel free to comment so that the key can be confirmed and/or updated accordingly. The names from the original key are transcribed below:

Photo 1 Top Row: Agnes Chicoine, Emma Chicoine, Pauline Lambert, Elsie Montagne, Carrie Chicoine, Odile Chicoine, Luella Limoges Chicoine, Delia Brault, Albina Chicoine, Louise Ryan Chicoine, Edna Quintal Chicoine, Mrs. Alphonse Chicoine, Mrs. Bob Wyant, Mrs. Quintal

Photo 1 Middle Row: Alphonse Chicoine, Alex Chicoine, Denis Chicoine, Edgar Chicoine, Edmond Chicoine, Odias Chicoine, Elmer Chicoine, Leo Chicoine, Conrad Chicoine, Emil Chicoine

Photo 1 Front Row: Orville Chicoine, Ferdinand Chicoine, Donald Chicoine, …?, Ilian Bertrand, Wallace Chicoine, Theresa Chicoine, Doris Chicoine, Bernice Chicoine, Veronica Chicoine, Madonna Chicoine, Marc Chicoine, Hubert Chicoine

Photo 2 Top Row: Ora Quintal, Ella Quintal, Rose Montague, Martin Chicoine, Cora Chicoine, Marty …?, Martin Quintal, Adrian Chicoine, Leander Bertrand, Mrs. J. B. Fountain, Ruth Chicoine?, Aloysius Bourassa, Esther Bourassa, Laura Montagne Chicoine, Orise Montagne, Rachel Chicoine Dougherty holding Richard, Dalma Beaubien Montagne

Photo 2 Middle Row: Eugene Chicoine, Philip Bernard, Joe Montagne, Bert Crevier and baby, Fedora Chicoine, Leonard Chicoine, J. B. Fountain, William Chicoine?, T. D. Dougherty and child, Art Chicoine, Louis Beaubien, Clarence Montagne

Photo 2 Front Row: Claire Montagne, Madonna Chicoine, Gabriel Sirois, Oswald Montagne and child, Lucille Crevier, Maurice Chicoine

Photo 3 Top Row: Priest from Salix, Wiska Derauleau, Viola Montagne, Rosella Montagne, …?, Mr. Adams, Mrs. Adams, Sophia Menard, Mrs. Eugene Bosse, Joe Chicoine, Mrs. Joe Chicoine, Obeline Chicoine Lambert, Corrine Chicoine, Mayme Chicoine, Gertie Crevier Chicoine, Leona Chicoine Crevier, Yvone Morin Chicoine, Beatrice Chicoine, Rose Langle Chicoine, Arsenia Allard Chicoine

Photo 3 Middle Row: Joe Gregoire, Sylvester Montagne, Laurence and child, …?, Ernest Menard, Maxine Chicoine, Charlotte Crevier, …?

Photo 4 Top Row: Simone Sirois, Bertha Sirois, Genevieve Sirois, Happy Jauron with child, Mrs. Jauron, Delphine Chicoine, Irene Trudeau, Marie Perrault Chicoine, Amanda Chicoine, Regina Benjamin Chicoine, Elise Chicoine Benjamin, Marcella Chicoine, Christina Chicoine Bourassa, Mrs. Alex Bourassa

Photo 4 Middle Row: Fabien Lambert, Raymond Chaussee, Joe Chicoine, Hermidas Chicoine, Gerome Gadbois and child, Alfred Chicoine, Isaac Benjamin, Alex Bourassa, John Bourassa, Gerard Chicoine

Photo 4 Front Row: …?, …?, Pauline Chicoine, Janette Chicoine, Loretta Chicoine, …?, Bourassa child, Roger Bourassa

Not named in the key are my great-great-grandparents, Henry Joseph Adam and his wife Melanie Veronica Lutz, immediately recognizable to me although I never met either one. Two individuals standing near them, recorded as “Mr. and Mrs. Adams,” are, I believe, Henry’s uncle and aunt, Peter Adam and his wife Elizabeth Courtmanche. Both Peter and Henry’s father Timothy Adam, who died several years before this photograph was taken, were sons of Timothée Adam and Marguerite Chicoine, Marguerite being a daughter of the aforementioned Leon Chicoine and Marie Vary.

I was introduced to this photograph upon meeting for the first time a distant cousin and fellow genealogist, Jeanette Borich, in 2019. We were stunned to find that my great-great-grandmother Melanie (Lutz) Adam was standing immediately to the right of her stylishly-dressed grandmother Viola (Beaubien) Montagne in this photograph, and like to think that they would be pleased that their descendants are in touch nearly a century later.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Identifying “Mother” in a Vintage Photograph

When making an attempt to identify the subject of an old family photograph such as this one, the provenance of the photograph is of the utmost importance.

This photograph was part of a collection of family photographs once held by Cecilia Marie Christensen Petersen (1900-1993). Cecilia Marie, who was called Marie, was the biological daughter of Christen Christensen and Cæcilie Marie Jensen of Denmark. Cæcilie sadly died within days of her daughter’s birth. Marie was thus raised by her paternal aunt, Kristine Marie Christensen, and Kristine’s husband, Jens Christian Petersen. When Marie was five years old, she emigrated from Denmark to America with her adoptive parents; her biological father remained in Denmark.

Unidentified photograph, circa 1905, Vestervig, Thisted, Denmark; digital image 2016, privately held by Nicole Kilanowski, 2016.

Pictured in the photograph is an older woman, rather heavyset, in a loose-fitting dark dress. The dress has a horizontal gathered seam across the bodice, and a flounce over the shoulders. It hangs loosely with what looks to be an asymmetrical gathered seam across her hips. A brooch is fastened at her throat and a ring is on the fourth finger of her right hand; in Denmark, among other countries, this is the customary placement of a wedding ring. The woman’s face is lined and her hair appears gray. She stands looking down at a small dog who is perched atop a table, and holds the dog steady with both hands. The dog itself could be a terrier of some kind; it is possible that it is a Danish-Swedish Farmdog, a breed known for its rat-catching abilities as well as its mild and friendly demeanor as a house dog.

This is not the most straightforward photograph to date, particularly as older women may not have worn the latest fashions. However, an approximate date after 1900 seems reasonable; for one thing, by that point, I suspect that photographs—even in a small village in Denmark—would not have been so unusual or costly that it would have been unthinkable to be photographed with a pet.

Reverse of unidentified photograph, circa 1905, Vestervig, Thisted, Denmark; digital image 2016, privately held by Nicole Kilanowski, 2016.

The reverse side of this photograph has a handwritten note that, translated from its original Danish, reads: “Vestervig. Karbol’s greetings. Mother.” Vestervig is a village in northern Denmark. One can assume that Karbol is the dog and that “Mother” is the woman pictured. One might also assume that the recipient of this message was not currently in Vestervig. Perhaps Karbol was a beloved family pet and “Mother” wished to send a whimsical greeting to one of her offspring away from home.

Although this photograph was in Marie’s possession, the woman pictured here appears far too old to be Marie’s mother—either biological or adoptive—based on the assumption that this photograph was taken around the time of Marie’s birth at the turn of the last century. However, it is possible that she was one of Marie’s grandmothers: her biological maternal grandmother, her biological paternal grandmother/adoptive maternal grandmother, or her adoptive paternal grandmother, all of whom were living at the time of the 1901 Danish Census.

  • Marie’s biological maternal grandmother, Marie Andresen (1835-1912), was a resident of Vamstrup Parish, Ribe, Denmark. This was a distance of more than one hundred miles from Vestervig, the place name written on the back of the photograph.
  • Marie’s biological paternal grandmother/adoptive maternal grandmother, Ane Nielsen (1844-1905), was a resident of Vestervig Parish, Thisted, Denmark.
  • Marie’s adoptive paternal grandmother, Maren Knudsen (1838-1923), was a resident of Hurup Parish, Thisted, Denmark, a distance of about five miles from Vestervig, as of 1901, but by 1906 was a resident of Vestervig.

It would seem that only Marie’s biological maternal grandmother, Marie Andreasen, can be ruled out with any confidence, as she lived a long distance from Vestervig. Marie’s biological paternal grandmother/adoptive maternal grandmother, Ane Nielsen, and her adoptive paternal grandmother, Maren Knudsen, are both strong contenders as both were residents of Vestervig in the early 1900s.

Ane Nielsen was the youngest of Marie’s grandmothers and was sixty years old when she died in early 1905. Although the woman in this photograph looks to me as though she could be older than sixty—or even seventy—it also seems reasonable to consider that a hardworking farmwife and mother of eleven children might well look older than one might expect a woman of the same age to look today. If this is indeed Ane, then, to whom might she have directed this photograph and the accompanying message? One possibility is that she might have mailed it to her daughter Kristine, Marie’s adoptive mother/paternal aunt. Although Kristine did not venture to America until after Ane’s death, she had moved from Vestervig to Copenhagen with her husband and child in 1902. Copenhagen being a significant distance from Vestervig, mother and daughter certainly must have corresponded, and if they happened to have shared a fondness for the family dog, Ane might well have sent this photograph and note simply to bring a smile—perhaps intending that it amuse her young granddaughter as well.

Maren Knudsen, however, is also a plausible potential subject of this photograph. She was sixty-seven years old in 1905, the year that her son, Jens Christian, her daughter-in-law, and their adopted daughter Marie immigrated to America. She lived until 1923, so would have had many years during which she could have corresponded with her son and at some point passed this photograph on to him.

Can this, then, be identified as a photograph of either Ane Nielsen (1844-1905) or of Maren Knudsen (1838-1923), both of Vestervig, Denmark? It seems likely that it is a photograph of one of the two women, but unless another photograph of either Ane or Maren turns up for comparison—or a more conclusively identified copy of this same photograph—it is impossible to be absolutely certain. A handwriting comparison could also be conducted thanks to the inscription on the back of the photograph. In either case, the bond between this woman and her dog is certainly charming to behold and the photograph was surely treasured by whomever received it.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Olsens in the Old Country

Niels Olsen and Juliane Sophie Hennike spent the first twenty-two years of their married life in their native Denmark before venturing together to America.

They had married on 30 July 1852 in Haraldsted, Soro, Denmark. A nineteenth-century stereoscope image of what appears to be the church at Haraldsted was handed down through descendants of their second son, along with a stereoscope image that preserves the view of the village itself.

Haraldsted, Soro, Denmark, 1800s; digital image 2019, privately held by Stevan Worley.

The couple resided in Osted, ten miles or so northeast of Haraldsted, in the early years of their marriage; this is where their sons Ole and Johan Henrik were born and baptized in 1853 and 1855. Niels, Juliane, and Ole appeared in the 1855 census here with two servants in their household, prior to the birth of Johan Henrik. Niels was a farmer.

The family relocated to the Orslevvester district five miles southwest of Haraldsted, near the village of Gyrstinge, within a year or two. Here their children Karen Sophia Dorthea, Karen Kirstine, Sesilie Johanne, Frederik, Anders Christian, Jens Christian, and Anders Julius were born and baptized between the years 1857 and 1871.

Haraldsted, Soro, Denmark, 1800s; digital image 2019, privately held by Stevan Worley.

The 1860 and 1870 Danish census records raise questions about the family’s living situation. In 1860, Niels and Juliane, by then the parents of three children, lived only with their youngest child at the time, daughter Karen Sophie Dorthea, age three. Where were their sons Ole and Johan Henrik? Ole, age seven, lived in Osted with his maternal grandmother. Johan Henrik’s location is less clear, but a census index indicates that a “Jens” Nielsen, age four, born in Osted, was a “foster child” in Jyrstup, located roughly between Osted and Orslevvester.

Although it seems odd that the Ole and Johan would not have lived in their parents’ household, it should be noted that Juliane was in the late stages of pregnancy in early 1860. One could speculate that she might have been unwell and therefore her older children were placed with relatives or friends for a temporary period.

There was no census in 1865 to give an idea of the family’s household structure, but in 1870, Niels and Juliane continued to reside in Orslevvester with five of their seven surviving children: Johan Henrik, Karen Kristine, Sesilie Johanne, Frederick, and Jens Christian.

Olsen Family Home, Soro, Denmark, 1800s; digital image 2019, privately held by Stevan Worley.

Their oldest son Ole, sixteen, and oldest daughter Karen Sophie Dorthea, twelve, resided in a household in Haraldsted where they were recorded as foster children. Three servants, ages sixteen, eighteen, and twenty also resided in the household, so it is notable that their statuses differed from those of Ole and Dorthea; however, the sixteen-year-old servant was female, and one possible theory is that males might not have been considered to be grown men and therefore actual servants until an older age. It seems plausible that the brother and sister may have worked in exchange for room and board, if not yet for a wage; whether they had left their family home for work experience or due to space constraints or poverty is unknown.

In any case, a nineteenth-century stereoscope image of what is believed to have been the family home, presumably in Orslevvester, has also been preserved by descendants. It appears to be an example of a u-shaped housebarn, a practical structure that connects the barn and the house and allows for protection from the elements in a cold climate.

In 1873, sons Ole and Johan Henrik immigrated to America, and in 1874, Niels, Juliane, and their six younger children, namely Karen Sophie Dorthea, Karen Kristine, Sesilie Johanne, Frederick, Jens Christian, and Anders Julius, followed. Their youngest child, Helena, would be born in Dakota Territory in 1875.

Family lore indicates that Niels purchased his farm near present-day Yankton, South Dakota for five hundred dollars; perhaps the sale of the family home in Denmark allowed him to make this cash purchase of good farmland at a time when many other immigrants opted to homestead for a nominal filing fee.

Niels and Juliane made a comfortable life for themselves and their children in America—and it can easily be imagined that they may have gathered around a stereoscope from time to time to view these very images and reminisce about their old home in Denmark.

Copyright © 2020 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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