Monday, November 30, 2009

My First Blogger Award !

Karen from the great blog Ancestor Soup has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! What an honor from Karen especially since I love to read her blogs too. All of us who blog do it for the love of it but it is wonderful when our peers recognize our efforts! I am a little slow with this response but I want to thank Karen again so much for the nomination.

As the winner I am to list seven things about myself and then pass the award along to seven other bloggers who I think deserve the award also.

1) My days are filled with as much genealogy reading and or research as I can possibly squeeze in. Wish the days were even longer!

2) My husband is a railroader so he is gone a lot but even when he is home I usually get in a few hours on the computer. He leaves me alone in my own little world most of the time, but he does think meals are still pretty important. He indulges my whims to the max as to tech equipment and travel with my sister-in-law to pursue my research or find the next cemetery.

3) For years while I was running our business, I didn't have the time to "play". Now I am trying to make up for lost time! My grandchildren are far away but it is for them that I blog and research so they will know their family history and have that precious treasure also.

4) Five years ago , I didn't even know how to turn on a computer. Wow, what an experience of learning. I have loved every minute of it and looking forward to many more years of learning.

5) I am also engrossed in digital scrapbooking and photo restoration so I work at fitting time in each day for some of that also. I am an avid collector of antiques and memorabilia, photographs and especially old family pictures so all this keeps me busy. My photo library has grown to almost 28,000 now with old family slides, cabinet cards and photos.

6) I love doing heritage crafts, studying history and reading, which also goes along great with my genealogy work. My Dad passed on his love of country and history to me, which I am so thankful for and thus I can't think of anything better than the prospect of always learning something new about family, country, or life!

7) I have two spoiled dogs that keep me company--and force me to take time off from the computer occasionally. They keep daily life interesting on the home front.

I try to read about 20 blogs every day and many more that I get caught up on about once a week. Many offer such good content and stories--and learning opportunities. Below are a select few of my favorites, the seven that I have chosen to pass the Kreativ Blogger Award to:

Roots and Leaves

Relatively Curious

West in New England

Grace and Glory

Nebraska Roots and Ramblings

George Geder

What's Past is Prologue

Please check out these great blogs if you haven't already! If you are like me, you will always enjoy new reading.

Cheri Hopkins aka The You Go Genealogy Girl #2

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why We Blog, The Value Of It All!

Blogging- a past time, a passion, a labor of love.

Blogging for me was a far off thought just about a year and a half ago, but the bug has bitten and I love the world of the blog now, especially those with great stories and photos. Blogs that teach us about our world of genealogy from the computer techniques of it all, to the ones that showcase new databases online. They all are wonderful ways to keep in touch with others who love the world of genealogy and what it has to offer. My world has broadened and I feel that I have been blessed with making new friends in the world of blogging.

At the insistence of my sister-in-law, The You Go Genealogy Girl #2, I decided to venture into the world of bloggers. She wanted to do a "partner" blog about our travels and fun times with genealogy research. Who in the world would want to read about our antics? Two silly Grannies who often act as though we don't have a brain cell between us! She insisted that I learn to blog so we both took the plunge and established our new blog, The You Go Genealogy Girls. It has been great fun and what a ride! We write about our travels to conferences, about genealogy research finds, family, give what we consider to be great tips, and most of all we have fun doing it. When we are not together, living and breathing our love of genealogy- then we write about it. We actually have followers, so we must not be the only souls who love this world! ( We actually have been nominated in Family Tree Top 40 Blogs, so check us out and above all-vote.)

For me, I love to spend time reading the new tech blogs, those that relate to the world of genealogy. If you need info, how-to tips or new research ideas, they are all available in the world of blogs. Books of course have their wonderful place but the personable tips and timely information that can be found on many of these great blogs is so valuable. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, Genealogy Blog, Nebraska Roots and Ramblings,and Genealogy's Star are but a few of the great information blogs that are out there. If you are not taking the time to peruse a few of these great blogs then you are missing some wonderful "free" resources that are available to genealogists and history buffs.

The question comes to mind as to why many of us have chosen to write blogs? Our human souls long to be with others or connect to other people, whether they be friends, family or even people we have never met. All those people validate our existence. Years ago our ancestors often kept daily diaries or journals to try and fulfill that need. Where would we be today without all those wonderful gems that have been preserved by families? Our knowledge of "Great Grandma Lee" would so much less exciting. Today, many of us blog for the exact same reason that our ancestors left wonderful writings. In our busy lives, we do not sit down and write in a daily diary. We will often take the time to sit and write on our computer, the journal of "our time". I write for the enjoyment of it and to leave a legacy to my children and grandchildren. If I had to journal the thoughts in a diary, it would never get done! Five minutes on the computer leaves what I hope will be a precious legacy. The frosting on the cake is when others can also enjoy what I write or learn from it. Reading the writings of others in the genealogy world of blogs is the same for me, I love the history, the wonderful personal photos, the touching stories. If I pick up a great tip in the course of things then that is a bonus. Lots of writers have the great ability to draw you into their world! Often you feel as though you are part of their family and if you can draw others in then you have done a great job! I faithfully read about 15 blogs a day, those that I don't want to miss their timely presentations. Totally, I follow 53 others, mostly genealogy but a few scrapbooking and photography. Those I get caught up on at least once a week. I have learned so many great things from my favorite blogs, many even help me with my research and thought process.

If you are a genealogist, you probably love the blogs that center around family stories. Many of these are written for the same reason that I blog, to preserve their thoughts for future generations. I love the personal and family blogs more than all the rest. As an added bonus I have learned about different areas of the country and customs of the people from reading many of these blogs. What wonderful writings have come forward from so many people, from the professional genealogist to the beginner who just wants to tell their family story. Several of my favorites that offer a lot of "family" content are: Ancestor Soup, Growing Up Genealogy, Everything's Relative, Greta's Genealogy Blog, Little Bytes of Life, and a personal favorite; Phillip Family Blog. The latter is the blog of friends whose family I grew up with throughout my childhood. We have grown apart as we have gotten older but they hold a special place in my heart and it is wonderful to keep up on their family. If you are considering the writing of a family blog, you might take the time to check out the Phillip Family Blog. It is so good and includes all the family in different ways.

What ever your reason for blogging, keep up the good work. Many of us out here in this world appreciate all that we read. It is history in the making!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Swedish Research: The Truth Uncovered

All good genealogists know that supposition can lead to many ills and sometimes it takes years to get back out of the mess that is created! I was a lucky one and the incorrect information that had been handed down in our family and taken for truth did not stay within my records for long. The value of ones own research and findings can be like finding "gold" and can lead to the TRUTH UNCOVERED.

Back in April and May of this year(2009), I did a series of three articles on "My Swedish Research". Since I am relatively new at this, my writings told of my approach to the records and what I had learned and techniques that I was using. All of these blogs may be accessed at one, two, and three for your reading pleasure. This has been a wonderful ride so far in the quest for my husband's Swedish ancestors. I have hit a few bumps along the way, but the eventual rewards have been wonderful. With only a few short months of researching at both The Family History Library in Salt Lake City and also on the Swedish site: Genlines, I have found many wonderful documents that recorded the lives of our ancestors. New names have been added, the truth was uncovered concerning others, and some great new mysteries have been brought to light--hopefully to be solved!

Part 1 of the previous story was somewhat incomplete. Our Great Grandfather, Fredrick Albert Larson was born May 24, 1867 in Lugarp, Floby, Skaraborg, Sweden. He did emigrate from Goteborg to the US in 1888. Fred married Wilhelmina "Minnie" Anderson in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois on Dec 2, 1891. "Minnie" was born July 25, 1869. We are still unsure of her exact birth place in Sweden.

Fred's brother, Johan Gustafsson was also born in Lugarp, Floby, Skaraborg, Sweden on Aug 4, 1864. Johan's name was changed to "Hellgren" upon entering the military service. He married Maria Christina Andersdotter on April 11, 1886 in Floby, Skaraborg, Sweden. Wilhelmina and M. Christina were sisters who married brothers. I have found several records for Johan, both military and civilian, and his marriage and banns. He became John Hellgren once in the United States. Both Fred and Johan had dropped the Gustafsson patronymic name; Fred went by the last name of Larson and John by the name of Hellgren.

I can't stress enough the value of studying these wonderful Swedish records with a serious eye for the unexpected. A scant few clues can open up a world of knowledge. Another error in our records was with an old photo we had (one of only a couple we have from the old country). It was of supposedly, Gustav Larson and Clara Edlund, the parents of both Fred and Johan. I even erroneously labeled that photo in part 2 of my former blog posts as such, according to the information we had always had. Not so-the photo now has the right names, the truth has been uncovered and these ancestors now have been rightly identified as Gustaf Larsson and Klara Hansdotter. They are our Great Great Grandparents!

One of my best finds recently was of the records for Klara Hansdotter. With help from a wonderful lady at the Family History Center, her birth place was deciphered so that records there could be scoured. I recently found Klara, using Genlines records, in Brevins (Hasselo), Loftahammar, Klamar, Sweden. The prize: her father's name was Hans EDLUND. We now know where the Edlund name came from that was passed down and incorrectly attached to our photo of Gustaf and Clara. I learned that Klara was a twin, her brother's and sister's names AND...her parents, Hans Edlund and Hanna Andersdotter both drowned on July 2, 1842 in Brevins(Hasselo) , Loftahammar, Kalmar, Sweden.They left several small children orphaned, including our Klara. She has been traced to having lived with a set of Grandparents. She is listed in the household roll as Granddotter, so I have one more generation back to Jacob Bengtsson, b. Loftahammar 1798 and Stina Cajsa Andersdotter, b. Loftahammer 1812. I have not determined which side of the family they belong to as of yet.

As more information comes to light, our family has begun to really take shape. We are beginning to know them! More mysteries have unfolded which will need t be solved: the big one for me now, is how Hans and Hanna both drowned at the same time? We assume they were possible fishermen in the coastal waters around Loftahammar, but we must be very careful to assume or be led down the stray path......

More to follow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Memories To Last a Lifetime

Reunions....just the word conjures up so many thoughts. Fun, family, food, kids, rekindled friendship, love,happiness, smiles, great photos, new babies, games, old stories, and so much more. Sometimes there are mixed memories of other kinds too- sadness, regret, being thankful and even some tears.

Early in 2006, I decided to organize a family reunion of family from my Dad's side of the family. My Grandmother, Opal Gardner Coleman, had come from a large family of 15 children from the Westerville/Broken Bow area of Nebraska. All the children of this family stayed very close through out the years and the many descendants also were a close knit family. Lots of the cousins have been lucky enough to keep in touch over those years. It had been a long time since we had all been together however, so it was time to get something organized. At the onset of this undertaking, I did not have knowledge of several future happenings but looking back, I don't think I would have changed a thing anyway. Life must be lived with the always positive outlook of "looking forward". I believe that is what makes us special- our ability to dream and hope for something better to come.

At the time I began to organize my reunion, my brother Dick, was fighting colon cancer along with some other ailments but he was still working every day that he could at his job. As hard as it was, it helped to keep him going forward in his life. When I announced to him and his wife that I was planning the reunion, his response was somewhat unexpected: "he didn't want anything to do with it and would not be coming". His wife and I are very close as sisters-in-law go. She is a professional genealogist with 50 years under her belt and we travel together and blog together as The You Go Genealogy Girls. We were both surprised as my brother had always been close to family and enjoyed such things. We knew it was his illness causing him to have no interest and to be even somewhat put-out about the whole thing, but I went ahead with the reunion plans for the summer of 2007.

Planning a big reunion is a massive undertaking to say the least. Mine was planned and executed over almost a year and a half. I rented a big family hall at Chadron State Park in northwest Nebraska. It had a large central gathering area, kitchen and patio which was great. Meals were planned for 75 people for the three day weekend. Kitchen help was arranged and several of my great family members "pitched" right in and helped when they arrived. I supervised! There were also activities there for all the kids. Swimming pool, hiking, riding and games. I also reserved a block of the bungalow cabins there for all the families. Letters went out to known family to gather addresses for others. Over the next year, I sent periodical letters and reminders about the upcoming event with plans and cabin information etc. No matter where we had planned it, it would have meant travel for some, so I tried to pick a fun location for all. Another project that I started was collecting photos and the genealogy of the ancestors of my Dad's family. I did the same for all the descendants of the original 15 children of Willis David Gardner and Effie Mae Copsey Gardner. Luckily I had two great family historians to help with that task. My ultimate goal was a family book for all to take home. The book began to take shape and reservations had begun to come in. I was both tired and excited for the big day to come. Brother still was not very receptive of the reunion but his wife, Ruby, and I continued to work on the book, hoping he would warm up to the idea.

My brother's health had begun to decline badly in early 2007 and he had made plans to finally retire from a long career in banking. At the same time my other brother's wife became gravely ill and was hospitalized in Rapid City. The plans for the reunion were moving along but I had reservations about going ahead with it because of the seriousness of the health of both my loved one's . My sister-in-law told me she thought that I should go ahead as we did not know what would happen in the family. My husband also wanted me to go through with the plans, even knowing that some of the immediate family may not be able to attend. It was a hard decision to make at the time but we did decide to go forward with plans. The reunion was only about 2 months away at that time. All of a sudden, my brother decided the reunion was a great idea and he began to look forward to coming. We all knew that his health was bad and it would be difficult for him to come, but he was excited for it and that was great. I, for one, hoped all my close family could be there.

Three weeks before the big day: my sister-in-law who had been ill in Rapid city for weeks, was brought home and she passed away here in Alliance. It was a sad time, of course and I knew that brother, Bill would probably not want to come to the reunion so soon after. At the same time my brother, Dick, found that his cancer had spread and he retired early from his job. He went to Omaha for treatments and it was doubtful that he and Ruby would be able to come to the reunion, but small miracles sometimes show themselves in the face of adverse times.

Our reunion was to go on and my brother, Dick, recovered enough to make the trip. June 15th, Father's Day, rolled around and the reunion was on in full force. I got Dick and Ruby a small cabin with a pretty little deck looking over one of the pine tree canyons in Chadron State Park.
He seemed to enjoy the view and the little "roughing it" cabin. He said he had not stayed in a place like that since growing up and camping with family and it had brought back many good childhood memories to him. Families began to show up and set up housekeeping in the cabins and the park campgrounds while I worked on the meals and entertainment at the big hall. We had family that came from several places within Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Texas, South Dakota, and even New York! Our party was in full swing by the first night. We all gathered, had a buffet style meal, and got reacquainted. It was fun and the weekend promised to be a fun one! Saturday was greeted with coffee and rolls for all and a noon buffet was served again. The hall was perfect for a huge long table area and plenty of room to visit and share stories. The kids found lots of entertainment both inside and out with games, swimming and playing ball. I devised a fun question, riddle, and answer game involving facts about people and they all had to write their answers as to who in the family they thought it was. It was lengthy and took several hours to complete but it was fun for all and the winners got take home some of the table centerpieces for their patios. We also had old photos to look at and some to try and identify. My family book, RELECTIONS- The Descendants of W. D. and Effie Gardner ended up to be 400 pages of easy to read genealogy, family recipes, and hundreds of photos and was a big hit. THAT was a massive undertaking to design and self print, but everyone loved it and conversation over the book sparked many stories and memories. ( I am so proud of my book, but after 60 copies,and still counting, would never recommend anyone to self print such a project!) Saturday evening we had a surprise "retirement" cake and honored my brother, Dick, for his many years of serving the public in his banking career. He loved getting to see all the family and it was the first time, in a long time that he, Ruby, and his two children got to be together as a family. Tears were plentiful with us all, knowing his career had ended and also recognizing his health condition.

Sunday, Father's Day, and our last day of the reunion. Our family is home to at least two ministers of the gospel and several others who are well versed in such matters! We had a sweet, short prayer service in memory of our ancestors and to honor all our Dads who were in attendance at the reunion. My other brother did decide to come, along with one of his sons and grandsons. He too, enjoyed being with family. I knew he was deep in grieving with the recent loss of his wife but he said afterwards that he was glad he had come and enjoyed being with all the family on a happy occasion. After another great meal, we all said our goodbyes and began the trips towards home.

Are reunions worth all the work? Absolutely, no matter what it takes and no matter the circumstances. Ours was great. I hope my family still thinks of it fondly, as I do. My brother, Dick, passed away from the ravages of cancer just one week after our reunion. The memories are certainly bittersweet but oh so worth it!

This is a little saying that my nephew signs all his emails with. I thought it was so appropriate for a " family reunion" blog carnival. "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY" (Jerry Seinfeld, actor and comedian). I respectfully disagree, any family reunion offers great fun and fond memories for ALL the family. As you may notice in some of our photos, even the adults were having FUN. Life really is what you make of it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

WILLIS TROYER, "Cowboy and Early Settler"

Willis Troyer is a name that I have heard for all the years since my marriage into his family, nearly 40 years ago. Wyoming was made for cowboys and that is what he was...and much more.

All these past years of knowing the name and some dates but not many facts. Very recently I got to add some important facts and make a visit to his gravesite to honor the Man. Quite unexpectedly, my mother-in-law made connections with a man through that helped to fill in some names, dates and places for several of our Troyer family ancestors, including that of Willis Troyer. I spent an evening of online searching to get more information about the Hillcrest Cemetery in Lagrange, Wyoming where many of the family were buried. My search yielded an index to the cemetery and to my surprise there were many Troyer and McComsey relatives who were buried there. A trip to the little cemetery was quickly planned and you can read more about it here.

Our Grandma Alda who was Willis' niece had often talked about him but typical of most younger people, we did not document her stories and as she and time passed, we lost the knowledge that we once had. All that were left were a couple photos which we have cherished.

Willis Troyer was an early settler to Lagrange, Goshen Co., Wyoming and was a cowboy and blacksmith for the L-D Ranch which was part of the famous Swan Land and Cattle Company. He worked for his father, Andrew Troyer, who was the ranch foreman and he also rode with Ben Smith, a fellow cowboy/ranch hand who became my husband's Great Grandfather. Ben Smith married Barbara Elizabeth Troyer "Lizzie", who was Willis Troyer's sister and through her was my husband's tie to Andrew and Willis by blood.

Our great- great uncle Willis was an all around ranch hand and according to John Rollinson in his book "PONY TRAILS IN WYOMING", Willis was the resident blacksmith for the L-D Ranch when Mr. Rollinson worked there as a young man. He stated that Willis was willing to teach others about his trade and that he was well liked by those he worked with. After the Swan Company, Willis Troyer owned/operated his own blacksmith shop in the town of Lagrange, Wyoming for many years. It was located on part of the land that is now The Frontier School of the Bible in Lagrange. Willis' granddaughter, Iris, still remembers the distinct smell of her Grandpa's blacksmith shop-recalled from her childhood. She also tells us that Willis worked on other ranches through the years around the Lagrange area and often he could be found at Hawk Springs, pole in hand, as he was an avid fisherman. He and his wife, Ida, also enjoyed and maintained a monsterous garden every year.

How great is genealogy? Our recent discovery of more Troyer and McComsey relatives in the Lagrange, Wyoming cemetery has also brought wonderful new acquaintances and "shirt tale" relatives into the light. Steve from Belen, NM and Iris from Cheyenne, WY are our newly found relatives. Iris has actually known my mother-in-law for some time but I just met her by phone and had a great visit, with anticipation to meet her soon. Both Steve and Iris have added precious pearls to our knowledge base and we have shared family ancestry and photos. Thanks to them both for adding new memories!

Willis Troyer and his family are still fondly remembered and honored by his grandchildren, great grandchildren and by us, his great- great nieces and nephews. We now have visited his final resting place and will visit often as we travel to Cheyenne often via the Lagrange, Wyoming route.

Links from the past,to the present,and back again to the precious they are!

You can read more on The You Go Geneaology Girls blog "Have Bike, Will Travel" about my fun research trip to visit these family gravesites - with a light hearted tale of travel and discovery to the Hillcrest Cemetery in Lagrange, Wyoming.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


As I have sat the last couple days and reflected on this very busy summer and it's memories, the one thing that always seemed to be in every thought was food! I got to thinking about it more and came to the realization that nearly every meaningful memory that I have seems to involve food in some way. Comfort food as I call it. Part of our lives and memories.

My own personal memories are scattered in their times and places but all those great meals when the family was all together seem to really stand out. My own wedding rehearsal dinner the night before I was married in 1971. The family gathered at an old hotel here in Alliance which is no longer here but the photos and the meal are vivid in my mind. Anniversaries which were many over the years and included special places that we went to eat a nice meal. Our family celebrated the 60th anniversary of my parents in 1996 with a large gathering and fancy meal at our local country club. That was one of the last times in our lives that all our large extended family was together. My parents were the anchor for us all and their passing has left a huge void in our lives but the many memories which I have gathered over the years with them keeps me going. It seems there was always food, meals, and cooking within all those memories.

Birthdays and cake-they just go with family. All those old memories and all the new memories of Grandchildren and their first birthdays. Cake abounds! Sometimes they were homemade and sometimes from the bakery but each one held a special place. A few years ago, I made an angel food cake for my husbands birthday as they are his favorite. I had made hundreds before but that year brought the manufacture of 3 of those cakes before I gave up. Each one fell as it cooled and finally I just filled in with frosting and we ate them all, lopsided and lumpy. We still laugh about those today. I once served what we affectionately call "squirrel cake" to company. I had sat out the cake to cool on my deck and forgot it and a friendly squirrel dug out a piece of the corner before he was caught. I was on a short time dilemma so I cut off one end of the cake and went ahead and frosted it. My company was told about the cake and we all ate it anyway. It was delicious and we all remember that meal often and laugh about us serving them "squirrel cake". Were it not for the cake incident, that ordinary gathering of friends would have been lost to memory!

As my children were growing up, we did a lot of camping out and participated in the old time mountain man "rendezvous". Cooking over open pit fires with old utensils was great fun and I hope gave my sons some great memories to carry through life with them. They learned the value of modern amenities and history along the way. Not to mention some great meals with wild game- even turtle and snake graced our table! Our dutch oven peach cobbler is great and even though we camp somewhat more modern now days, we still love that peach cobbler over an open fire pit. I wonder if son Jason has prepared that for his 8 children while out camping? He could probably fore-go the snake and just include that as one of his family memories !!!

Grandma Opal Coleman was the grandest of ladies, born before 1900, the oldest of 15 children and she was an awesome cook. I am the lucky owner of several of her recipes but my offerings never have compared to hers. I never really saw her use a recipe anyway and I loved to spend time with her while she cooked. She made the most wonderful, yet simple "fried potatoes". I stayed with her a lot and begged for them each time. To this day I have not been able to make mine taste like hers. I can still taste and smell them each time I think about it, the memory of them never goes away. They were definitely comfort food of the highest degree! Each Christmas she made two favorite kinds of cookies. She stored them in tins in the cool basement and of course all the Grandchildren loved them and they were the most special cookies ever. I make those almost every year too but they will never compare to the ones from Grandma's tins!

My Mom, Irene, was an awesome cook too and I guess it just came natural as her Mother was also a grand cook. As a child I would cook with her often but looking back, wish I had paid better attention at times. Many things my Mom made are things that I cook today. Our comfort foods are her homemade noodles, hamburger soup, kidney beans and meat balls and more. When I can't think of something to cook on a given day, I turn to Mom's comfort food. She never had cooking failures but for one which came later in life. She had nearly lost her eyesight and made meatloaf one day. She had some stewed tomatoes in the refrigerator to add but got hold of the left over strawberries instead. It was my son's girlfriend who was coming to dinner but they all had a good laugh and ate it anyway. We will never forget the strawberry meatloaf. My niece, Suzanne, also wrote about her Grandma Irene and some of her food memories in one of her blogs on "Growing Up Genealogy". Mom passed her legacy on to myself and all of her Grandchildren. Even though most of them did not cook with her, they certainly got her great cooking skills. My son, Daniel, loves to cook and grill. He cooks and smokes meat for all kinds of meals and celebrations and is becoming a master "brewer". My other son, Jason is also a wonderful cook. His char-grilled ribs are to die for and his own recipe for jalapeno/cheddar bread is wonderful and the envy of the farmers market in his city. I wish I could take credit but I really think they came by it naturally form their Grandma Irene. Her other Grandsons, Randy and Bill are also grand cooks. Randy makes pies that would turn most "Grandmas" green with envy and Bill is expert at cooking wild game and fish. As you can see, we will never starve with our wonderful legacy in hand. Food does invoke many of those wonderful old family memories.

Freddie, my Dad, was a lifelong railroader but he also liked to cook. We grew up camping a lot in the summer and Dad often was the chief cook while we were out. Fried fish which he and Mom prepared together that had been fresh caught and were great tasting! His camp food was simple but boy was it good--comfort food for the soul. Dad often cooked meals at home if he was in from a trip on the railroad and Mom was working all day. He was good at cleaning out the refrigerator. Mom always said that she had to be careful what she left in there as it might end up in tonight's dinner. Often those meals were kinda strange in their ingredients but they were always delicious. I only have one bad memory of food and that was something my Dad cooked: lamb. To this day, I won't eat it. I walked home from school each day for lunch and I could smell the lamb cooking a block away when he was preparing it! One vivid memory of his cooking was on one of Mom's working days and he decided to make homemade noodles to surprise her.(She made the world's best noodles). He used baking soda instead of baking powder and they turned black as spades while in the drying process. I don't remember if we ate them or not!

How many of us who consider ourselves to be family historians and genealogists have stopped to consider our family's food legacy? I have included many memories and recipes which have been handed down in my family in one of my Family Books: "REFLECTIONS", The Descendants of Willis and Effie Gardner. Some may just be simple scraps of paper like the one shown above from my Grandma Pearl Moore but they are all worthy heirlooms. My family now has comfort food at their finger tips anytime that they want to take a trip home! Just stop and think for a moment and I will bet that you too can conger up many family memories that have centered around food or the dinner table. Recipes as well as memories and ancestors are precious.

When we want to go "home" and can't, our comfort foods can take us there, if only for a brief moment in time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swimsuit Beauties? Maybe Not, But Family We Are!

Hunt as I might for some awesome bathing beauties in my family, I did not find much. They have all been the modest type! Thousands of great photos but very few with bathing suits and pools, guess I got the genes too as I am not a pool enthusiast either, but that did not stop me from posting a few precious pictures of family.

The three ocean photos were taken in 1958 when my family traveled by train to Los Angeles, California to visit my aunt and uncle: Brig. General M.M. Beach and Stella. They had a beautiful home which he had built in Garden Grove. We had a wonderful trip there on the passenger train and saw many great sights while visiting. Of course Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland were tops on the list. Disneyland had only been open 2-3 years at that time and it was a thrill for me, a girl who was 6 years old at the time. My big brother, Dick, who was about 17 got the great job of escorting me on many of the smaller rides at Disneyland. Looking back, I bet that really thrilled him, but they are my memories for a lifetime!

Our relatives lived quite close to the ocean and we took a picnic and spent one whole day there. It was my first visit and I have only seen the ocean 2 other times since, in my almost 60 years. My photos of that day bring back very fond memories! I can very clearly hear my Dad calling to my Mom, telling her to "run" as a big wave was coming. That "gotcha" photo is a prized possession. That is my Mom, Irene, The Bathing Beauty. It appears as though she didn't quite make it ahead of the wave. We probably didn't pack any bathing suits for the trip so we all just had summer clothes. I can still see that black sun dress that my Mom wore and my Dad always had his pantlegs rolled up in the summer , especially if he was boating or fishing.

The lone picture is my Dad, Freddie. It is an old slide and the picture was taken before I was even born in the late 1940s. My two brothers, Bill and Dick were about 10 and 7 years old. My parents spent as much time as possible in the Black Hills of South Dakota in the summer. We only live about four hours away and to this day it is a favorite vacation spot for all my extended family. The family had gone there for one of their camping and fishing trips. They had rented a small cabin close to a small lake near Hill City, South Dakota. My Dad was an avid fisherman and as a younger man he used to walk many miles a day while fly fishing along the streams in the Black Hills. On this day, he had gone in nothing but his bathing suit and fishing shoes. To this day, I don't know why but he paid the price dearly! In the picture he has a very bad sunburn. He got very ill and they had to call the doctor while there. The family had to stay over a few extra days so Daddy could even get clothes on comfortably enough to get back home. Over the next 55+ years of his life, he often went without a shirt when fishing and working outdoors but he was always careful not to do so to the point of burning. Lessons learned!

My two "bathing beauties" are gone now, but the precious memories live on. Some say computers are the greatest invention of technology but I respectfully disagree. Cameras have given us the treasures of a lifetime! Life would be pretty dull and geneaology quite boring without our great photo reflections.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Success and a great beginning to finding our Swedish ancestors! My recent trip to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library proved to be a wonderful learning experience and I am so thrilled to have found quite a lot of information on my husband's Great Grandfather and some of his ancestors, dating back to the early 1800's.

In part 1 of FINDING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY, USING MAPS TO LAY A FOUNDATION and Part 2: STRATEGIC STUDY PLANS AND FINDING THE RECORDS, I put forth a plan that I hoped would help to lead me through the research process to find important records. I must say that diligent use of maps and study of the handwriting really did pay off for me. While the old Swedish script is not terribly difficult to learn, had I not studied it well beforehand, I am sure the task would have been much more difficult and may have taken days longer. Having a working knowledge of the handwriting and vocabulary made the records and names begin to "pop" out before me as I started to go through microfilm of old records. Nearly all the film numbers that I thought I may have needed were looked up ahead of time and I had planned which records to tackle first. In my case I choose birth records since I was relatively sure of the parish of birth. We did have the birth date of our GGrandfather, Fred Larson and sparse clues as to where he was born: possibly Floby, Sweden. Birth records are not always the best place to start with Swedish research, but for me it worked since I had some starting information. I had studied maps a lot before I left for the Family History Library and was prepared to branch out the research area in necessary.

The first hour was spent setting up my work area and learning to use the microfilm readers which I had very limited knowledge of before my trip to Salt Lake City. Hour two and I was deep into reading documents and wondering already if my eyes could last all day long. I began looking for Great Grandfather Frederick Larson's birth records and in so doing, just lucked onto his brother Johan's records as the first one I found. What a thrill to find the first record of fact after preparing for nearly a year! Luckily the name of the parish was correct as passed down in the family. From this record I learned the real name of our GGreat Grandmother, Klara Hansdotter. We had for many years known her as Clara Edlund. That name was never for sure but was the only one the family had heard or known for her. The picture of Gustaf Larson and his wife which I had shown previously now finally had the right names. Klara Hansdotter and Gustaf Larsson had finally become "real" to us. We had our first concrete proof as to who they really were. From this birth document for Johan Gustafsson I learned the age of his mother, Klara. She was 25 years old when Johan was born in 1864. That made her birth about 1839. Johan was born in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden. Our first clue to the actual place our family may have originated from. Johan's birth record also gave the names of persons who were in attendance at his birth, presumably Godparents and/or other relatives. I was then able to narrow down to the Lugarp area of Floby for more records.

The second record I found was the birth of GGrandfather, Fredrick Albert Gustafsson (Larson). He adopted the name Larson upon coming to America. Fredrick's first name did not contain a second "e" which had been used by family in his name and he was born in 1867, in Lugarp, Floby. Klara was also his mother and she was 28 at the time Fredrick was born. Godparents were listed in attendance to Fred's birth.

My next microfilm examination was some "household rolls" for Lugarp. I found the family listed and to my surprise there was a daughter, Anna Louisa, born in 1869. She was a sister to both Johan and Fredrick and we never knew of her before! Fred had mentioned two other brothers but never a sister. That record gave me the birth dates of both Gustaf and Klara and where they were born. GGreat Grandfather Gustaf was born 1834 in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden and Klara was born 1839 in Loftahammar, Kalmar, Sweden. Each type of record gave more bits and pieces of information.

I had started with only a date of birth and approximate place for Fred Gustafsson(Larson), Three hours into my search had revealed birth information for Fred, his brother Johan, sister Anna, and also birth dates and places for the GG Grandparents, Gustaf and Klara.

My next film provided the birth records in 1834 of Gustaf Larsson. It confirmed that he was born Oct 22, 1834 in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden. His father is listed as Lars Andersson and his mother as Cajsar Bengtsdotter. We were now back to about 1810 with the addition of the GGGGrandparent's names. Godparents(attendants) were listed for the birth of Gustaf which may eventually prove to be another generation.

Record searches that day provided several more great documents. I now had the marriage Bann's and Marriage records for Gustaf Larsson and Klara Hansdotter who married in July 1864. Found among the hundreds of names was the marriage of Johan Gustafsson to Maria Christina Anderdotter (Anderson). Johan had become a Swedish soldier and been given the last name of Hellgren. Our family had known of Johan's name change to Hellgren. It was common practice to rename individuals upon entry into the military to a name that reflected their traits or personality. Hence Johan Gustafsson became Johan Hellgren. Johan and Christina were married in 1886 and soon thereafter emmigrated to America. Johan again changed his name and became John Hellgren. Several other records surfaced that day which defined the Gustafsson family as having lived in the Lugarp, Floby area for some years. I did not get time to begin looking for any death records or to explore for records of other family members, all that will be for another trip or done later on the Swedish genealogy site Genline.

Maria Christina Andersdotter(Anderson), wife to Johan Gustafsson( Hellgren)was a sister to "Minnie" Andersdotter(Anderson) who married our Fredrick Larson. Fred emmigrated from Sweden to America in 1888 and "Minnie" followed later that year. They were married in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois in 1891. To this date both "Minnie" and her sister, Maria Christina have eluded me as to their actual place of birth and origins. More searching for another time.

In total while at the Family History Library, I spent 1 1/2 days working on my Swedish ancestry. I did spend several more days on other record searches. My next step in the quest for more family records is a subscription to the Swedish records site GENLINE. I hope the summer researching will bring many more ancestors to light, especially the Anderson sisters and more of their family history.

I firmly believe that my mapping studies and taking the time to learn Script, patronymic naming and some old language really did help in aiding the retrieval of records on my first visit to the FHL. I am now again into map study of the area of Loftahammar, Kalmar, Sweden. This area will be one of my first stops on Genline for records of our GGGrandmother, Klara Hansdotter.

In conclusion: I am thrilled with the information I got at the Family History Library on my first visit.

1. Correct names and spellings for several ancestors.
2. Names, birthplaces, actual records and dates for at least 3 generations of the family.
3. Marriage dates and records for 2 ancestral couples.
4. Several household records of daily living for our family.
5. Acquired names of Godparents who will likely prove to be even more ancestors to add to our ''tree".

If you have foreign immigrants in your family, don't hesitate to tackle overseas researching. It may take a little extra study time to learn about the country, language, and record availability but it should be fun and the payoff can be great. I am relatively new at genealogy research and that is proof that anybody can and should tackle looking for their ancestors, wherever in the world that they may have come from!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


What a week here in Salt Lake City ! The You Go Genealogy Girls drove to Salt Lake last Sunday and have been busy, busy all week at the Family History Library. Great fun and finding lots of good stuff on all the ancestors. I have been busy on the Swedish lines and having a great time with it. My eyes are about gone reading old Swedish writing on microfilm but it is so worth the effort. By day's end it is great to step outside and see the daylight after being sequestered in the library basement in the dark all day. They dim the lights in the reader area for film. I am anxious to get home and sort out all my findings. I found my husbands GGGrandparents and GGGGrandparents in the Swedish records. Family has been looking for them for 50 years or so. They have finally come to light and have names !

Today I worked on our Amish Mennonite connections and found some great information there also and will work more on them tomorrow. As long as the days are here in the library, they are not long enough to get all done !!!!!!!

I am anxious to share the experiences of researching with you in Part 3 of RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY next week after I return to Nebraska.

Join us on "The You Go Genealogy Girls" blog for daily fun updates. Enjoy the pic I am putting on my blog tonight of the beautiful garden wall at the Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

" MACEY GIRL", All Creatures Great and Small

Very few photos of early family pets seem to be in my collection of old ancestral photos. The only conclusion I have come to is that raising dogs and other animals has all been passed down to me. I think I make up for all the generations before me. I am the lucky one who has filled my home with enough dogs to makeup for all the ones that my ancestors did not have or did not photograph. My camera shutter rarely stops. Life, scenery, grandchildren and animals, dogs in particular- all find their way into my photos!

Our beloved "Macey Girl" is one of many family pets through the years but she was also one of our most prized companions. She was a gorgeous, smooth coat, liver colored Border Collie. Macey came to us in a round about way but was just meant to be part of our family.

Our youngest son got her from someone he knew who didn't want her anymore and who never took very good care of her. She was about 2-3 years old at that time. Jason, our son, lived in the country and Macey fit right in his new family. She loved to herd the farm cats and anything else she could find. They had no cattle so she made do with what she could find! What a beautiful and obedient girl she was, she just seemed to be thankful that she was loved and adored. Her former owner did not treat her well and she came to Jason with a somewhat fearful and sad emotional condition. Her life showed through her eyes. All it took was loads of love to show her that people really could love and care for her. In time her timid and reserved ways subsided and she gave back to all of us a thousand times more love. The light came back into her eyes!

When our son moved his family to eastern Nebraska and couldn't take Macey along we agreed to care for her until he could find a place to live that would allow a dog. We already had two other loving animals in the house, a little black cocker spaniel and a big sharpei/chow mix dog. We really did not want another dog at the time. Macey moved in with us and we fell more in love with her and never gave her back. She became my husbands pride and his best friend.

Anyone who has ever lived with a Border Collie, knows that they want to rule the roost. She bossed the other dogs and often used her eyes to let everyone know that she thought they should be doing what she wanted them to do. Our Sharpei was not thrilled by it all. Macey was gorgeous and affectionate, especially to the little male cocker at times! She never forgot to let us all know that she was thankful to just be loved and have a good home. Her only goal in life, other than herding all the birds into one bush and the squirrels into one tree, was to please us-the rest of her pack.

For 6 1/2 years Macey, our" beautiful redhead" brought pleasure to us all. She was a big dog but that never kept her from being our constant travel companion. If we went, she went along. She rode for hours at a time and never made a peep or acted wrestless in the car, she loved to watch for other animals as we went along. She was a great camper and always made us feel safe, just by her presence. I used to camp alone occassionaly when my husband was working and she was my protector. We also owned a sporting goods business and she rode to work every day with one of us. People would remark that she scooted right up next to my husband in his old truck and proudly rode there, ears perked up, just like she was his "girlfriend"-driving down the street with him. They had quite a reputation in town! At work she greeted our customers and knew many as good friends, they stopped to see her and say hello, we were secondary.

Our Macey got cancer but she persiviered on for about 3 years and she never quit or complained in her daily life. She was ready to go along right up to her last day.

By the way, our Macey Girl could really sing too. Not your ordinary dog howling but she had her own unique singing voice. She loved music and kept in quite good tune. She could sing along when all the grandkids put on their music and they delighted in hearing her. The Annie Lennox song "Into The West" from The Lord of the Rings was her favorite.

What a great pleasure it was to have had her as part of our family. Life will never be the same without her, just as it is when we lose any loved one. Our family was so lucky and priviledged to call her one of us. We never owned her, she owned us - heart and soul!

Future generations of my family will have many photos of Macey Girl and all of our beloved pets to pass down, right along with the precious photos of their human ancestors.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY-PART2- "Strategic Study Plans and Finding the Records"

Finding elusive and unknown ancestors can pose quite a challenge to those of us who are genealogists, but study and planning ahead can be the key to success. In Part1 of "RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY, Using Maps To Lay a Foundation"- I covered my strategies for using maps to aid in this venture. Here in Part 2, I will give some tips about old handwriting that have helped me to prepare for what I hope will be a successful search for my husbands ancestors when I soon make the trek to Salt Lake City for research.

My family only has two old photos of our Swedish ancestors. These have been handed down through several generations but unfortunately they lack much as to identification of our loved ones. These two photos and other scant information have founded the basis for my search to find our Swedish ancestors. The LARSON and ANDERSON patronymic names will be my starting point.

The old Swedish language differs somewhat from the modern language so I have chosen to learn as much as possible about the language as used prior to about 1900. For about a year I have been studying this beautiful language and samples of old handwriting. The goal is to have the best chance for successful record transcription when I can search old church files or film. Many useful research tools are available but these are a few I have found to be excellant help, primarily for Swedish handwriting, and language study. All are simple enough for the beginner, yet offer very good information.

1.--A recent article in the 2009 January issue of Family Tree Magazine, titled "Writing Riddles". This has some very good basic information.

2.--"Your Swedish Roots" A Step by Step Handbook. Written by Per Clemensson and Kjell Andersson. This hardbound book has excellant information for those researching Swedish Ancestors.

3.--Family offers a great General Word List with translations. I printed the entire list off to study it often.

In addition, The Family Search site has a lot of great research titles under the heading of SWEDEN. I took time to look at them all, there is a wealth of info there to help researchers. After reading all their titles, you can then go to the catalog to find the call numbers and details of what ever records you might want to search. Print them off and take them along on your trip to the Family History Library. The book "Your Swedish Roots" is superb, I have reviewed it several times and it has a wonderful glossary and other information in the back of the book. In addition to these sources I have compiled my own word and phrase lists as I have found something of interest that was not included in these other sources. There are several good online translators for these. I like Freedict and Lexin2. Both have worked fairly well for me and are easy to use.

I have studied all these sources and others along with old maps as explained in Part 1 of my "RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY, Using Maps To Lay a Foundation". Learning the words, their meanings, handwriting styles, and writing shortcuts will be a big asset to successful researching. Practicing what I learned by reading a few old Swedish films at a local Family History Center helped me to know what areas I still needed more study in. I want my trip to the Family History Library to be successful with lots of good record discoveries in the limited time I have.

My sister-in-law, Ruby Coleman, and I will soon head to Salt Lake City for 8 days of intense research. We will make several stops on the way to do even more at other locations. Check out one of her blogs: Genealogy Lines and her latest blog post "Genealogists At Work-Do Not Disturb". She has some really great tips on planning ahead for a research trip to Salt Lake City. She has guided me on setting up a research notebook with an outlined strategy for finding my records. Ruby has been on the trail of ancestors for over 50 years now and offers great professional, albeit lighthearted tips for research strategies on her blog. All of these mentioned tactics combined with learning my historical context, studying old handwriting and learning words commonly used in records will make for a successful and hopefully enjoyable trip.

I invite you to follow along with Ruby and I on THE YOU GO GENEALOGY GIRLS blog (Grannies on the Go!) while we are traveling, having fun and researching for the next 20 days or so.

Watch for Part 3 of "RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY, Successes and Conclusions" back here on my blog. I will let everyone know if my strategic plans for finding records and interpreting them has paid off and how my plans were put to work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"GERONIMO", High Flying War Dog of the 507th

Down from the heavens he gracefully soared, all fours extended for a soft landing. Sergeant Geronimo the parachuting war dog of WW II was master of his trade. Named for the famous "jump shout" of the paratroopers, he did his job as well as any proud soldier of the 507th.

During the month of June 1942, Alliance, Nebraska was authorized as a new site for establishment of an Army Air Base. The unique Sandhills area just east of Alliance were considered ideal for softer landings and as a good training area for paratrooper's jump training. The base was ultimately used to train paratroopers, glider and C-47 pilots. Within a few short months an entire military community sprang up about 3 miles east of town, eventually raising the combined total population of the once small community to close to 20,000. Helping to build the base was a great undertaking by the small agricultural community. The entire base was built from the ground up wth over 775 buildings being erected. The base became a functioning city of its own and became the largest air field in the state of Nebraska. The landing strips still serve this community and are to this day some of the longest of their kind in the United States. At its height in 1943 more than 14,000 paratroop infantry men were training here. One of the best known of these soldiers was "Geronimo", the Sergeant canine who was a member of the 507th Paratroop Infantry Regiment. He was the mascot of the 507th and their jumping partner.

Geronimo was believed to have been part coyote, part German Shepard, and he had been picked up as a stray by Kenneth Williams who was a soldier with the 507th. The men trained the dog to jump from the airplanes and he had his own special parachute and beautiful canine "coat" which sported his Sergeant stripes. It has been said that he came to love jumping and often had to be restrained from leaping out of the airplanes too soon!

The canine was actually trained and used in demolition work during the war. Starting early in 1943 when the 507th began training here at the Alliance Base, Geronimo made several appearances as a paratrooper. He made jumps from Omaha throughout Nebraska and even over Denver, Colorado. His exhibition jumps thrilled audiences when ever he performed. During a large ceremony in Alliance in 1943 he performed for what was thought to be nearly 60,000 people who had gathered for a parade and to watch the paratroopers. At Denver he performed for well over 100,000 spectators. Sergeant Geronimo was featured in many magazine and newspaper articles of the day, including a great layout in "Life" magazine which I am lucky enough to own along with some other nice momentos of his life. Over his great but short lived career, the Army figured that the public popularity of the war dog had helped to raise millions of additional dollars in war bonds.

My uncle was Brigadier General Maurice M. Beach and he was, in 1943, the Colonel and Commander of the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing which was stationed in Alliance at the Air Base. His men trained with the paratroopers and gliders in preparation for what was to become the invasion at Normandy, France. He had many photos which were taken at the base and had told us stories about Geronimo. You can read more about General Beach and the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing on one of my earlier posts. The 507th Paratroop Infantry Regiment deployed to Europe shortly after leaving Alliance and became an integral part of the Normandy invasion forces.

The war dog Geronimo, was considered a hero by all of his fellow soldiers when he helped to save the life of his friend Kenneth Williams when Kenneth was injured badly on maneuvers to destroy a bridge. He alerted his fellow paratroopers who came to the aid of soldier Williams. After nearly a year, Kenneth Williams recovered from his injuries and both he and Geronimo were given honorable discharges. They retired to the Denver Colorado area together.

Geronimo was tragically killed by a hit and run driver in 1947 when he got out of the yard of his home. He is buried in the Denver Pet Cemetery in Commerce City, Colorado. Over the years since then, two markers have been erected as memorials to the brave canine by subsequent members of the 507th Paratroop Infantry Regiment. His grave site may be visited by the public. I am proud that Geronimo was part of the history of my home town- Alliance, Nebraska.

In his memory:

I dedicate this article about Geronimo who was a special character in my local history to our precious "Macey Girl" who we lost recently. Most families have been touched by a special canine at one time or another. Some were WAR HEROES like Geronimo, some were awesome service dogs, and some were just beloved family pets like our Macey, but "family members" in any shape or form can be included in a genealogists prized collection of treasures.

Friday, April 24, 2009


When I started down the road to find my husbands Swedish ancestors, I never dreamed that I would become obsessed with finding these people that we had very little knowledge of and had never known. As I began this journey, I discovered that maps could play a major role in solving some pieces of this mystery and thus using them has become a big part of my quest towards the discovery of these ancestors. One can easily get so engrossed in antique map study that consequently sometimes I must remind myself of the original goal of finding the elusive LARSON and ANDERSON ancestors!

For nearly 50 years now there has been genealogists in my husband's family who have searched for our Swedish relatives. First was Aunt Hazel. She began the research on this family including those who were her Great Grandparents. Nearly all research at that time and for many years forward was strictly hands on and involved a lot of legwork. Aunt Hazel's work has given us some wonderful records to work with. Her sister, Kathleen, who is also my Mother-in-law, picked up the cause and worked hand-in-hand with Hazel through the years. Kathleen worked tirelessly for several years, pouring over records in the Mesa, Arizona Library while she lived there and she now works almost every day at her computer, still doing her research. Over time, many little bits and pieces have been added to our Swedish records but they have come painstakingly slow for a variety of reasons.

Finding good records and especially MAPS was difficult at best. Kathleen was able to copy a few early maps while in Mesa and this helped us to begin to find our way. Two pictures with scant information and a couple of birth records are about all we started out with. Great Grandpa Larson and his wife "Minnie" did not seem to talk a whole lot about their life back in Sweden and as most people, brought only a few personal things with them as they immigrated to the United States. We had places of birth for them so that has been the starting point on my map quest and studies. Floby and Falkoping, Skaraborgs Lan, Sweden.

Our Great Grandfather , Frederick Albert (Gustafson) Larson,was born May 24, 1867 Falkoping, Sweden and emmigrated from Goteborg, Sweden to the United States in 1888. He first arrived and went to the Illinois area where his brother, John(Johann) had come before him. Last names of Gustafson and Larson had been used and to complicate matters, John changed his last name to Hellgren. Already we had confusing usage of different Patronymic names and then Hellgren was added to the mix. Both brothers married Anderson sisters who also had come from Sweden. Frederick Larson married Wilhelmina "Minnie" Anderson who was born July 25, 1869 in Falkoping, Sweden. They married on Dec 2, 1891 in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. John had been born in Floby, Sweden and married Christina Anderson abt. 1886- we believe prior to coming to America. We are lucky enough to have a photo of Gustaf Larson and Clara Edlund who were the parents of Frederick Larson and John (Gustafson) Hellgren. We also have a photo thought to be another sister(with her family) to "Minnie" and Christina Anderson. We believe they probably stayed in Sweden so this quest may eventually lead to many cousins!

As I have now begun the next phase of the search for our elusive Swedish ancestors, I have made an effort to learn all that I can about my ancestors where they came from, language, how they might have lived, why they left their homeland. This ultimately is a quest to find their parents and extended families. Using maps as a starting point has already rewarded me with great new clues and has had the added bonus of imparting more education and exercising the brain cells!

Early Swedish maps are hard to find especially involving specific time periods or dates. A few days ago, a great new website came online. WORLD DIGITAL LIBRARY is free, quite different and offers some great digital maps, photos, and documents from around the world. In looking under the Europe>Sweden section, I found a wonderful old map "The Kingdom of Sweden" dating from 1797. This is just the right time frame for covering the approximate dates that I will be primarily researching within. I was able to pinpoint the locations of both of our town sites. This great map also has illustrations of topographical features and shows the locations of established church parishes.You can read more about this great new site at the Genealogy Insider blog for Family Tree Magazine. The study of topography of an area can often help to determine how people moved around or may have interacted. Marriages often involved people from other neighboring communities within a small geographic area and land barriers played important roles that affected the interaction of those communities. Using the topographical features of a map, often helps to solve mysteries of where and why ancestors moved.

Google Earth and Google Maps are both very useful for showing the beautiful topographic features of the land. You can see the awesome land features with great clarity. Rivers and streams usually change course over time so I have been using both old maps and the new technology together to get a better overall perspective.

As I am part of the You Go Genealogy Girls Team and will soon be heading to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have studied their catalog for listings of maps on Sweden. In preparation I have printed off papers listing all the call numbers and locations of the maps that I want to study while there. Some are in book form and many are on microfilm. This will save several hours of "catalog" time while there, allowing me more time in other search areas.

Knowing much more about the land and the neighboring communities should help me to be more successful in locating hard to find records. If I should be unsuccessful finding records in the locations that I believe are the most likely- I can then easily branch out into the nearest village or parish area. Knowing the geography and topography beforehand may save several hours or even days of precious time trying to figure out where to look next.

As I progress forward with my Swedish family research I will share with you what I hope will be a successful journey to find my husband's GG Grandparents and other ancestors.

Watch for PART 2 of this post: RESEARCHING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY - "Strategic Plans and Finding the Records".

In PART 2, I will use the knowledge I have gained through the awesome help provided by You Go Genealogy Girl #1 - to show the organized plans that I have for finding my records once I get to the Family History Center.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Maurice M. Beach
Maury on his 80th birthday
Maurice M. Beach wrote his memories titled as "The Saga Of An Average American Boy" but to all his family there was nothing average about this wonderful and warm hearted man that we all loved and cherished. I am so proud that he was my uncle.

Maurice Milton Beach was born on April 1, 1903 in Caro, Michigan. He married my aunt, Stella Moore O'Brien on Nov 15, 1947 in Macon, Georgia. Uncle Maurice spent nearly all of his adult life in the service of his country. He never went further than the 10th grade in school, dropping out to pursue his own interests. He was a self taught master mechanic in addition to aspiring to grand heights as an Air Force Commanding officer. If any appliance, vehicle or motor needed an overhaul, he was the one who could do it, and do it right. Before and after his distinguished military career, he was a mechanic and owned/operated successful car garages. This knowledge also helped him several times as he moved up through the military ranks.

Ft. Wayne at Detroit, Michigan was where he began his military career in 1923. Over the course of the next 20 years he worked his way up through the ranks starting out by hauling gravel to build hangar floors. His sole early goal was to enter Flight Training which he was able to do in 1924. During his early years he was part of a light Bombardment Attack Unit in Texas and then the 19th Pursuit Fighter Squadron, stationed in Hawaii. By 1935 he was involved in Reconnaissance operations training back on the mainland of the United States. Next stop was the Air Corps Supply Depots, moving passengers and supplies throughout the country flying mostly DC-3 aircraft. In 1938 as First Lieutenant, "Maury" took over the Air Transport System that operated between Panama and Alaska. Shortly before December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, some of his transports were released to start training with paratroops and gliders. By late 1941 he had been promoted to Major and was Commander of the 10th Transport Group with C-47s (DC-3s) and was continuing to train with the paratroopers and gliders in different areas of the country. Reserve officers who were commercial pilots were assigned and as the war was going in earnest by then, the men were "busy as hell" as Maurice later wrote. He was by then a Colonel. Soon after he was promoted to Colonel he became the Wing Commander of the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing. This was part of the 9th Troop Carrier Command. At that time he was rated as Command Pilot which was the top rating of the Army Air Corp.

The next several moves of the command included one to my hometown of Alliance, Nebraska. Here again his command was training with the gliders and paratroops. It was in Alliance that Maurice first met my aunt, Stella Moore O"Brien, who was the secretary to the base commander. Soon after their training ended in Alliance the troops of the 53rd were sent across to England and North Africa for final training before the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France.

Maurice Beach's Headquarters for the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing were set up at Greenham Common, England which was near London. It was from there that he commanded his troops in training for the upcoming invasion of Normandy, France on D-Day-June 6, 1944. One of his groups, the 438th under the command of Col. Donaldson, led the paratroop aircrafts. Approximately 350 loads of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions headed for France starting at 12:20 am. Maurice Beach left England at 4:00 am in the lead glider "tug" plane. He took the first group of gliders into France. General Eisenhower was at their headquarters in England to see them off.

During the invasion of Normandy and for many months after, the troops of the 53rd took part in many actions. These included Rome-Arno, Normandy, Northern France, Southern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. The 53rd Wing under the command of Lt. Col. Beach carried over 206 million pounds of supplies, moved over 149 thousand airborne troops and evacuated 114 thousand casualties during WWII. Maurice and his boys delivered over 3 million pounds of gasoline to General Patton while he was stranded near Chartres, France. Maurice was promoted to Brig. General in early 1945.

While stationed at the Air Base in Alliance, Nebraska during 1943, Maurice had proven the ability to tow 2 gliders at once by towing them from Alliance on a flight to Fayetteville, N.C. and this tactic was used during the final operation of the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing when they flew across the Rhine River to Vessel, Germany.

After V-E Day in 1945, Maurice continued with the mission of occupation in Europe until his return to the states later that same year. He retired from active service in late 1945 but he continued to attend military meetings for many years. During his distinguished career he was awarded the following medals: American Defense, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Bronze Star, French Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre, and the WWII Victory Medal. His great speaking voice and love for the military led him to spend most of his retirement years giving speeches and showing military movies to various groups, in particular at International Rotary Clubs. He loved to teach others about those important years from our history. Maurice passed away Jan 17, 1987 and was interred at Sun City, Arizona with full military honors.

Aunt Stella and Uncle Maurice had no children of their own but he loved all of his nieces and nephews as if we were his own. To me and the rest of the family he was our Uncle "Maury". Brig. General Maurice M. Beach was a great veteran but more importantly he was a loving and awesome Uncle. He loved people and treated everybody with respect. He really was one of the few who could truly be called an "OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN".

Thanks for stopping by my blog, come back soon-Cheri

Links to other great articles featured in this edition, titled ("Uncle, Uncle"), can be found within the 70th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy at Creative Gene. Uncles from all walks of life are spotlighted in this edition of the carnival. Pour a cup of coffee and settle in to read some great postings!