Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all

My Childhood memories of Santa are vivid. I would get so excited for Christmas that I would just shake and I still remember the physical ache of anticipation. I don't think I ever stopped believing. I never felt tricked or deceived by the stories. The thought of a benevolent old soul toiling all year to bring gifts the all the good boys and girls of the world just makes my heart glad. The sight of a Santa and child makes me misty eyed. Part of that may be hormones, but part of it has always been that way.

Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. "Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. "Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' "Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?"VIRGINIA O'HANLON."115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Funny...Merry Christmas to all

Ancient Faces

Osgood's Christmas Eve 1901

Osgood Company's photo of Christmas Eve 1901. A little girl (two or three years old?) who obviously was in the middle of getting reading for bed (one shoe off and one shoe on!), hangs her stocking for Santa.

So cute - and so 1901!

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Osgood Company.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday Funny....Great Gams!

Nell and Carl Borgreen
circa 1940
There are two funnies here. First is this uber attractive pose of Grandma Nell's. Goodness knows what she was thinking here. The second funny is the quality of this photograph. I asked Uncle Jimmy for some copies of photos he has of the family at the cabin. He was very quick to oblige, but sent me B&W photocopies, instead of nice, clear color copies. Note to self, the next time I go to visit, I need to remember my scanning wand, so I can get good quality scans of all the really neat photos in his collection.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The story of Sister Martina Marxer

Death Certificate of  Sister M. Martina Marxer
Here we have the death certificate of M. Martina Gabriela Marxer. She was born on 29 Mar 1862 to Andreas and Anna Marie Marxer, in Eschen Liechtenstein. She was my great grandfather, Joseph Marxer's sister. She came to the US with her father and siblings in 1884 and lived, for a time in St. Paul MN. By 1926 she was living in New Riegel, Seneca County, OH as a Catholic Nun with the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Her death certificate states that at the age of 72 and suffering from senility, she was working the garden of the convent in 108 degree temperatures  She suffered heat stroke and died. I find this scenario so sad. I've sent a request to the archives department of the Sisters of the Precious Blood for any other information, stories or photos they may have of Sister Martina Marxer. I hope to hear something very soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Carl Borgreen obit

Great Falls Tribune Nov. 1959
Today we mark the passing of Carl T. Borgreen who passed away, suddenly, on 22 Nov 1959, while on a hunting trip.
I never had the chance to meet Grandpa Borgreen, but everything I've ever heard about him tells me that he was a wonderful man who was much loved by all who knew him. We love you Grandpa. 
You can read more about Carl Borgreen Here 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mystery Monday.....Can you identify this uniform?

original post in August:

This is grandpa, Carl Borgreen, circa 1925. Can anyone help me identify this uniform?
He graduated H.S. in 1925 and would have been about 18. Thank you in advance.

Update! 4 Aug 2011
 The mystery may be solved. I sent an email to an uncle (son of this grandpa) and received this reply:

Hey Bum, Thanks, these are great. I have never seen these actual photo's  before, but  the one on the right is in the 1925 GFHS yearbook. I have 2 copies. What I remember Dad saying was that he graduated early and joined the army, so I am sure these are when he was in boot camp. He went in as an enlisted man and came out an officer, 1st. Lt. , your Mom has one of his silver officers bars. For a time he was in the cavalry on the border chasing bandit's into Mexico. He loved that country, spoke the language well, loved bull fights and Mexican food. He was a smart, tough, cocky, daredevil in his younger years. Was a barn stormer biplane  pilot, rode motorcycles, was a great athlete and outdoorsman. Not to mention a great husband and father. SOOO, there is a little info for you sweetie. 
Thanks for doing all this, it means a great deal to me as well as the rest of the family.
Love you, and looking forward to seeing all of you soon.
Uncle J

So more research on this new development. Things to search out; HS grad info, 1925 HS yearbook, military enlistment records, service records, those officer's bars that my Mom may have, etc. 
To Be Continued....

Update: 14 Nov 2011

Nothing is panning out. Mom says she doesn't have any officer's bars. There are not records, that I can find, that indicate military service. There is no mention in any written material re; Carl Borgreen, to support this claim either. I'm stumped, and I'm not convinced that the uniform is military at all. It could be a boy scout uniform, for all we know. Beating my head against this brick wall.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Workday Wednesday....Gary on the Ranch

Dad during branding 2005
This is dad, who grew up on a ranch, worked for years in the feed and fertilizer business and retired to play on his son-in-law's family ranch. This photo was a quick snap that I caught during branding in 2005 and is my absolute favorite picture of Dad. It just captures his true self.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Monday... The Plot Thickens

A few weeks ago I posted a family mystery titled What Was Elvira Up To? Since that time I've dug deeper and found some very interesting items. 

*Eleanor's born on 22 May 1914, in MT...SSDI
*Elvira married Fred Goldhahn on 23 Jun 1914 in Geraldine MT....marriage record at
*Elvira and Fred divorced before the 1920 census...1920 US Federal census

*Elvira married Walter Lofstedt on 20 May 1920...marriage record at
*Walter was also reportedly married to Elvira's sister, Ruth. There are three children with the Lofstedt surname. A girl was born in 1915 and twin boys in 1917. Ruth died in interview, census records.
*In 1930 the twin boys are living as 14 year old boarders in CA. The girls is living with Ruth and Elvira's parents in MT.....1930 federal census
*Elvira married John Whiting ...Gust Borgreen probate 
I still have no idea where Elvira ran off to when she went missing, but she obviously had a baby while away. 
This is all news to the remaining family members, who were all either too young to remember or weren't born when this all transpired. Next step is to track down Eleanor's death certificate and try to determine exact place of birth. Then order the birth certificate to try to determine paternity. I have Eleanor's marriage record, which shows Walter Lofstedt as her father. But, she may have just used his name when he and Elvira married. This is about as mucky a mess as I've found in my family research. I'm determined to sort it out as best I can with the records available.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Funny....from the joint

Carl Borgreen, Ellen (Johnstone) Borgreen
and Elvira & John Whiting
For more Friday Funny posts, click here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Workday Wednesday....Nurse Nellie

Nellie Johnstone
Ellen "Nell" (Johnstone) Borgreen graduated from the Columbus School of Nursing in Great Falls MT in 1933.
She was employed by Dr. C. H. Peterson for a time, before her marriage to Carl Borgreen. After Carl's untimely death in 1959, Nell went back to work as a nurse, first at Park Place and then the Cascade County Convalescent Hospital.

I remember going to work with Grandma Nell and all the antics she would share with us. Her stories were hilarious and even though she griped about her job, I'm sure she secretly like the work because of the way she told the stories.

There was the man who hoarded sugar packets in his boots.
One day, as she walked past a patient's room she was hit with a bucket of water. The poor man thought he was back on the farm and cleaning stalls. Once she heard a woman's voice coming from the closet. When she opened the closet door the old lady shouted "I'm not done yet!" She thought she was in confession. But another resident had shut her in the closet because they were tired of listening to her talk.
One elderly lady needed something to do every day to keep her busy. Grandma Nell found a basket of hand towels and that lady folded towels happily. When she got near the bottom of the basket, Grandma would "accidentally" knock the pile over and the lady would gladly start folding again. There are too many stories to share on one small blog. Grandma Nell was a colorful gal who brought fun and frivolity everywhere she went.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mystery Monday...What was Elvira Up To?

Elvira Borgreen Anaconda Standard May 27 1914 Anaconda MT
27 May 1914, 19 year old Elvira Borgreen goes missing from her home in Great Falls MT. A clue suggests she may be in  Spokane WA.
To date, I've found no follow up articles related to this mysterious disappearance. But I do know that Elvira found her way home, somehow, because on the 1920 US census we have Elvira Borgreen living at home with her parents. And we also have a new little someone living with the family. Elinor Goldhahn, age 5 years old. On the census she is listed as the daughter of Gust and Jennie Borgreen, but the family knows that this isn't true. She was the daughter of Elvira and was born in 1915, in MT. On this same census, Elvira is listed as single. This story of Elvira's disappearance, however was news to everyone in the family and I'm determined to find the records that tell the whole story. It will take some digging, but I know the truth is out there somewhere. The reason this story got "lost" is because everyone who would have known about is now gone and the oldest living relatives weren't born when this all transpired. By the time this generation of relatives came along, Elvira was married and everything looked all neat and tidy. This should be an interesting story to follow.
1920 US Census

Mystery Monday is where you can post about mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in your genealogy and family history research which is currently unsolved. This is a great way to get your fellow genealogy bloggers to lend their eyes to what you’ve found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

update: 3 Oct 2011

The SSDI lists a birth date for Eleanor at 22 May 1914. It would seem that Elvira was in the family way and delivered little Eleanor while missing. I will be ordering the birth certificate to verify.

update: 13 Oct 2011

Developing a timeline.
Eleanor's born on 22 May 1914...SSDI
Elvira married Fred Goldhahn on 23 Jun 1914 in Geraldine MT....marriage record at
Elvira and Fred divorced before the 1920 census...1920 US Federal census
Elvira remarried (John Whiting) after the 1920 census...Gust Borgreen probate 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Funny....why didn't I think to spell it like that?1910 Census

1910 US Census
click to enlarge
So misspellings in the census is just a given, right? I thought I'd seen every possible spelling of the surname Borgreen.That is, until I found this one. Banyteea. I had to laugh at the thought, but then I noticed the misspellings of most of the family's first names. Gus became Gee. Ebba became Adda. Levi became Louis and Carl became Rarl.
I like to think that this poor indexer was on his/her 1000 entry of the day, or drunk. Yeah, drunk. That sounds likely.

If you have your own genealogy or family history related blog, you can participate in Friday Funny. What is it? Friday Funny is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. have you come across something genealogy-related that makes you laugh or smile? Post images, stories, quotes and more during Friday Funny. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Workday Wednesday...Joseph Marxer and Crew Make Hay.

Has No Crop Faliures
Meisenbach, Mont. Nov. 11, 1901.
Left Minnesota in 1890 for Great Falls. In 1893 settled on 160 acres, homestead, and afterwards bought 80 acres more. Had 1,250 bushels of wheat off 40 acres; 19 acres of oats, 900 bushels; 4 acres of rye, 112 1/2 bushels; 300 sacks of potatoes off 3 acres-about 1 1/2 bushel to a sack. Have 42 head of cattle, 11 horses, 5 hogs and 100 chickens. Seeded 10 acres to timothy [hay] last spring and intend to seed 10 acres more. Fair farm buildings. Crops are good enough for me without irrigation and have never had a crop failure. Sell my grain to the Royal Mill at Great Falls at good prices. Farming pays in Cascade county, and I am satisfied with the climate, crops, and people. 
Yours truly,
Joseph Marxer

taken from the "Great Northern Bulletin" and published in the Great Falls Tribune, Sunday, February 23, 1902

type written copy found among the papers of the Edward Marxer estate.

Joseph Marxer's Land Patent

Workday Wednesday – a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc. This prompt has been suggested by Denise Spurlock of the Denise’s Life in the Past Laneand Reflecting on Genealogy blogs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Funny

A new blog prompt at Geneabloggers

"To participate in Friday Funny, post anything genealogy related that makes you smile or laugh. It could be anything from funny epitaphs, census entries, photographs or family stories. Let's start the weekend with a smile and a laugh."

We're starting a new prompt called Friday Funny. You won't see the prompt on Geneabloggers for a couple of weeks, but post now so we'll have some content when Thomas McEntee announces it for the whole blog community.
You can see some examples at Friday Funny
Let us know if you've posted a Funny by commenting here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Join us for Friday Funny....

A new blog prompt at Geneabloggers

"To participate in Friday Funny, post anything genealogy related that makes you smile or laugh. It could be anything from funny epitaphs, census entries, photographs or family stories. Let's start the weekend with a smile and a laugh."

We're starting a new prompt called Friday Funny. You won't see the prompt on Geneabloggers for a couple of weeks, but post now so we'll have some content when Thomas McEntee announces it for the whole blog community.
You can see some examples at Friday Funny

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Workday Wednesday...Meet Carl Borgreen, Safety Engineer at the Anaconda Company

Carl Borgreen (right) inside the smoke stack
at the Anaconda Company smelter
Great Falls MT circa 1956
The Anaconda Company
Great Falls MT
click to enlarge

Workday Wednesday – a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc. This prompt has been suggested by Denise Spurlock of the Denise’s Life in the Past Laneand Reflecting on Genealogy blogs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Talented Tuesday...My son's last song

Alex, 2010
Miss You.
I'm really gonna miss you
Now I'm driving away
I hope that when I hold you
It'll be okay
On my way out of state
I'm counting the cars
Hoping to get my wish for you
Out of the stars
I hope you're having fun
And I hope you're laughing loud
No matter where you are
I can see hearts in the clouds
When you say 'hi'
I say 'hey cutie pie!'
My heart jumps in circles
Cuz I don't wanna say good-bye
When I hug you
It means I love you
When I leave
I'm gonna miss you
So hug me now
While you still can
And please don't stop
Till I'm an old, old man.

My son passed away in August 2011 and this is the last song he wrote and recorded. By clicking the link in the song title you can hear his last recording. We're blessed that he left notebooks full of song lyrics and several recordings of his music.

Talented Tuesday – Got ancestors who had a special talent? Be it musical, comical, or any manner of skill, post at your genealogy blog through words and pictures.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Darling Boy

Our loss is Heaven's gain.  

an excerpt from Alex's obituary:
"For 14 glorious years, Alex Pak lived and on Saturday, August 13th 2011, Alex left us.

He was born on October 23, 1996 in Renton WA, into a loving family. He was the only boy in a house of four girls. He was called many things in his life, Little Man, Alex man, Panda man, The “Prince”, and the “Caboose”. But his real name had been chosen many years before he was born. Alex’s parents were still dating when a little old man approached them and said, “You are such a cute couple. If you ever have a boy, you should name him Alexander. It’s a good name and has served me well, all these many years.” Alex’s paternal grandmother bestowed the name Xie Hong long before Alex joined the family. With each pregnancy Alexander Xie Hong was always the boy’s name and his parents would scramble to name each new girl who came along. It was 12 years before Alex would claim his name.

In 1998 the family moved to Missoula where Alex would spend the rest of his life. He attended school at Chief Charlo Elementary and Meadow Hill Middle School. He was preparing to enter high school in a couple of weeks. He would have attended Sentinel with his many friends.

Alex was not a joiner, but a free spirit who liked to pursue his own passions. He loved to collect pandas, skateboard, ride his bike and mostly he loved to play his guitars. He was self taught and exceptionally talented. He would play those guitars until the rafters rattled and we begged him to turn down the amp. Alex spent this summer playing his guitar at the Farmer’s Market and Out-to-Lunch. Alex called his guitars his “kids”. He loved them and we fondly remember the very first time he saw his first guitar. His dad brought it home after work, late one night and Alex could not have been more excited. They sat on the couch together and his dad taught him some cords. From that moment on he would play, morning, noon and night.

It seemed that everything came quickly and easily for Alex. He learned to ride a unicycle in minutes; he could juggle without even thinking about it, if he heard a song he could pick out the notes and cords and play it. He was a wonder to us all. One day, at age 4, he asked his mom to teach him to ride his bike without training wheels. She did the standard “hold the seat and run along” bit. Alex instantly saw the flaw in this plan and asked his mom to go in the house for a minute. When she came out just 10 minutes later he was whizzing around in the street on two wheels. Before the day was over he had taught two other neighbor kids to ride their bikes. Alex knew his own mind and heart and was fiercely independent. He wasn’t afraid to go against the grain or make a wave. He spoke his own truth without a care for what was popular opinion.  He had the wicked sense of humor and would use it at will.
Alex, we love you with every ounce of our being and will miss you forever. You brought us so much joy and happiness with your silly antics and wise cracks. There are not enough words to tell you how much we love you and miss you. Our hearts are shattered but we know that you are safe with those who left before you. We will see you again one day.

We want to express our sincerest thanks to all the people who tried so hard to bring Alex back to us. We are grateful for all the love and support that we have received from our friends, family and our community. We could not travel this road alone. We are humbled by all that we have received." 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday....for the kindness of strangers

Katherine Marxer
I posted a query on's message forum asking for help locating information on several ancestors who all lived in the same community. Yesterday I opened my messages to find this:

"From "The Helena Daily Independent," published at Helena, Montana on Saturday, April 13, 1935:

Great Falls, Apr. 12. -- The will of the late Katharina Marxer, who died January 5 last, was Wednesday admitted to probate in district court following a hearing before Judge W. Neigs. George Marxer of Eden, a son, was named executor of the estate.

The estate has a value of about $13,050, consisting of 1,600 acres of land valued at $10,000, 60 head of cattle valued at $1,500, 7 head of horses valued at $400, farm machinery with a value of $250 and other personal property valued at $900. The heirs are several children and grandchildren.

I was able to find the above article from a paid database, Newspaper Archives. I was unable to find any other articles in reference to the other names you listed. I hope you find the above article of use. I am not related."  
The submitter of this info is known only as volunteerMT. I'm very thankful for people like volunteerMT who take time from their busy lives to help others. 

The Joseph Marxer Homestead

Thankful Thursday – Create a post that expresses gratitude for a person (past or present), resource, family history tool or anything connected to you or your and family history that has had a positive impact on your life. This prompt has been suggested by Carolyn Murphy of Family Tree Gal and has been in use by Mary Warren of Mary’s Musings for the past year.