Monday, January 31, 2011

Mystery Monday....Who Have We Here?

Liverpool Man circa 1925
Liverpool Woman circa 1925
Burrell & Hardman photography

unknown man, photo date unknown

photo taken in Dublin date unknown
These photographs were found in the ceder chest of my grandma, Ellen "Nell" Johnstone Borgreen. She had no recollection of who these people might be. The two Burrell and Hardman portraits, which I've affectionately dubbed Liverpool Man and Woman, might be identifiable and I've made efforts to contact the curators of their collection. I'm just waiting to hear back. The two older framed portaraits are much more a mystery to me. The woman's portrait says "Ellen" on the back. I don't think the name "Ellen" refers to Grandma though. Grandma's godmother's name was Ellen, according to her baptismal certificate. I'm hoping and wondering if this might be the godmother, Ellen Coleman, who I suspect was the sister of Grandma's mother, Mary Alice Coleman Johnstone. The man has a familiar family resemblance. When I first saw this portrait I thought he looked like one of Grandma's brothers. Grandma's godfather's name was Thomas Coleman. I've long suspected that he might be Mary Alice's brother. But I have no proof. The fact that these portraits were found together, similarly framed and the same size would lead me to think they might be related, somehow. Such a mystery. So much fun to try to figure out. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

RAGK...Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

This post led to several emails from Cheryl at Heritage Happens and offers to help translate the document.
Today I received a translation of the document from Cheryl. It reads as follows:

Transcription of text in document
Certificate for Moving Out
1. Nir. 30 page 31
2. Farm hand Johan August Johansson Berggren
3. From Ossjo Westergard, Ljunga parish
4. Born 1863, (sixty three), Ljunga parish, Kronobergs county
5. October 8, named and confirmed by the Lutheran doctrine
6. He is a minor but is free to marry
7. -
8. -
9. Has had cowpox
10. Can read....Approved
11. ...Passable...Christianity Knowledge
12. ......Been on the interrogations
13. Entitled to the Holy Communion
14. -
15. Enjoying Civic trust
16. -
17. -
18. Completed this year's military service. (He is too young)
19. Moves to ..America...
20. Registered for census...Here for next year.....
21. Testified...Ljunga....parish, Kronobergs county
22. Sweden, June 9, 1883

? Svenson

transcriber added "Parish is Sodra Ljunga in Kronoberg county
page 31 = the page in the Church Book of Household
pastor's first name is unreadable.

This new information led me right to the Swedish Church Records at and this entry that has eluded me for months and months. #53, second from the bottom. Now to decipher the names of his parents.
But in moments, I've jumped miles ahead in my research of this stubborn brickwall Great Grandpa. 
Big thanks to Cheryl and her translators for all their help with this document. I can not say thank you enough.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...The Grand Canyon Tour

Johanna "Jennie" Borgreen, her daughter and son Carl Borgreen
Grand Canyon circa 1930
Of course they're visiting the Grand Canyon, look how they're dressed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sentimental Sunday...Grandma's Black Purse

Grandma Nell's Black Purse
This is the black purse. It hung on the door knob of the back bedroom at Grandma Nell's (Ellen Johnstone Borgreen) little yellow house for years and years. Truth be told the purse wasn't always the same purse. She would change them out, but they were always black. What was inside this purse? Stuff, junk, treasures. The stuff changed as often as the purse changed, but it was always full of something fun and interesting to a little kid. Maybe an old pocket calendar, a doll from the dollar store, an old empty lipstick tube, a deck of cards (not all of them, of course), some plastic plates for a tea party, a note pad and pencil.... It didn't really matter what was inside, it was new to the kids. I didn't actually play with the black purse as a child. I don't think Grandma had the flash of inspiration until my cousins came along. But my kids all played with it, and when Grandma passed in 2000, the purse came to live at my house. It received a thorough cleaning out and inspection for safety then was tucked away for the future.

 The little dumpling on this scrapbook page is my granddaughter, Dani, playing with her great-great grandma's black purse.  Last year I brought the purse out of the closet to share with her for the first time. She was enthralled with all the stuff inside. Such a simple thing full of random "junk" to keep a little kid busy for a  while. Like Grandma Nell, I'll change the contents out frequently, but the purse shall remain the same for as long as it holds up. Then it will live the rest of its days in my treasure chest of family memorabilia.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Little Branch on the Family Tree

My new little niece arrived late last night. A new baby to carry on the family line.
I look at that little face and I see all the past generations along with the hope of the
future. Welcome, Little One. You are well loved, already

Monday, January 17, 2011

Messages from England

Original photos sent by email and copy of message from 2002

Photo after applying a bit of photoshop magic
Great Great Grandpa William Johnstone

I've been in contact with a UK cousin. Philip is a third cousin once removed to be exact. He has been generous to share a family three, photos and some old family details that I didn't have previously. I've been able to share some immigrant information and details about the American cousins. It's been fun and enlightening and thoroughly wonderful. Some of the UK relatives had no idea they even had American cousins. We had no idea what had become of the UK clan. The best part of this whole thing continues to be the sharing and reconnecting with long lost family. I have lots of information to sift through and put into context. There are lots of name and dates to add to the tree. And now I have some faces to put with those names. Who would have thought? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crossing the Pond

I bit the bullet and subscribed to the World Delux membership at for one month. In the first few minutes of active membership I found a host of information and quickly zeroed in on my maternal Great Grandfather, William H. Johnstone. Months ago, I received a scap of paper with the names of William's siblings on it. Using those names and the names of his parents I was able to find William and his family on both the 1891 and the 1901 England Census. The information gathered here is phenomenal.

Name:                              Willie Johnstone
Age:                                   6
Estimated birth year:       abt 1885
Relation:                           Son
Father's name:                 William Johnstone
Gender:                            Male
Where born:                     Stanley, Westport, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish:                     West Derby
Ecclesiastical parish:       Stanley St. Ann
County/Island:                  Lancashire
Country:                           England
Registration district:       West Derby
Sub-registration district: West Derby (Rural)


Name: William Johnstone
Estimated birth year:abt 1885
Father's name:William Johnstone
Mother's name:Elizabeth Johnstone
Where born:Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish:West Derby
Ecclesiastical parish:Stanley St Anne
Registration district:West Derby
Sub-registration district:West Derby, Eastern

Of course this same information was available for all members of the family, so I found place of birth and
approx. years of birth for the parents and siblings too. It helps to put everyone in their proper context within the family unit. I did notice a difference in place of birth info on these two censuses. In 1891 William's place of birth is listed as Stanley, Westport, Lancashire, England. In 1901 it is given as Liverpool, Lancashire, England. This tells me that I need to research a gazeteer for that place during those years. Perhaps the place name changed. 

 I can see from the actual census document that they lived at the same address all that time. This tells me that I should look in that place for other records as well. 

This was time and money well spent. Hopefully the remainder of my one month membership will be as fruitful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11...That's 1911

Wednesday, January 11, 1911
Top News Headlines This Week:
Jan 13 - Gerhart Hauptmann's "Die Ratten" premieres in Berlin   Jan 13 - Roald Amundsens anchors at Walvis Bay   Jan 13 - South Africa's 1st win over Australia, at Adelaide   Jan 16 - Pandora becomes 1st 2-man sailboat to round Cape Horn west to east   Jan 17 - Failed assassination attempt on premier Briand in French Assembly   Jan 17 - Percy Mackaye's "Scarecrow" premieres in New York City NY  
Top Songs for 1911
Ragtime Violin by Irving Berlin    Baby Rose by Louis Weslyn    
Jimmy Valentine by Edward Madden    All Alone by Will Dillon    
Daly's Reel by J.M. Daly    Honey-Love by Jack Drislane    
The Oceana Roll by Roger Lewis    When You're Away by Seymour Brown    
1911 PricesUS President
Bread: $0.05/loafWilliam Howard Taft
Milk: $0.34/galUS Vice President
Car: $500James S. Sherman
House: $4,800 
Stamp: $0.02/ea 
Avg Income: $983/yr
DOW Avg:   82
People born on January 11
1757 - Alexander Hamilton, West Indies, 1st US Sec of Treasury ($10 face)
Top Books in 1911
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm    
copyright 1997-2011 dMarie Direct Inc

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Banner Days

Yesterday was a banner day for my research. I received an envelope from O'Connor Funeral Home in Great Falls which contained records for 4 great grandparents and one great great grandparent. Big thanks to Stephanie who helped to look up the information and sent it to me, free of charge. Now this info wasn't really earth shattering. I did learn the married names of the daughters of one set of great grandparents and I learned the locations of their children at the time Great Grandpa died. I also learned that one great grandfather had 3 surviving siblings in the UK, two sisters and a brother, but no names there. I have the list of the siblings' names and maybe I can figure out who was still living. The fact that nothing really vital was learned here isn't really the point. It's another record of an ancestor to help to track the events of their life and death and it'll be filed with everything else for posterity. It was really interesting to see what the going cost of a funeral was in the 1930's, though; $400 and change, roughly.

In addition to the funeral home records, I received an email from cousin Rainer in Liechtenstein which contained ancestors' names and vital dates going back three more generations than I had found in my research. Not only direct ancestors but all siblings, spouses and children. Using that information I was able to go back one more generation on Those films, containing church records of baptisms and marriages, are on order and should be arriving shortly. They will be in German, so hopefully I can scan them and email them to Liechtenstein for translation.

Lastly, I connected with one more  relative, a second cousin who lives just 3 hours away from me. He and his wife had found my tree on Ancestry and had accessed some of the files I've attached there. I saw their activity posted and sent them a message to please contact me. We've emailed a couple of times since and I've shared what I have with them. Hopefully, we can meet up some day soon. We live so close. What a fun and fruitful day it was. Reach out, connect, share and reap the benefits of each other's research.

Friday, January 7, 2011

And the Award goes to.....

Yesterday I posted about the Ancestor Approved Award. Today I present to you my top ten surprising or humbling facts about my ancestors and also my ten blog choices to receive the award.

Ten things about my ancestors that has humbled or surprised me.
1. one of my great grandfathers may have been crossing an international border without documentation.
There is no record of him entering the US EVER and he seems to have been going back and forth for work purposes.

2. family lore has it that a great grandmother was from County Cork Ireland, but her death certificate states Bristol England as her birth place.

3. a great grandmother with 8 children was caring for both her husband and her mother who were dying of cancer. They died about a year apart. What must she have gone through?

4. a great grandfather was building a homestead about 10 miles from the nearest town. He had to go into town for additional work. He'd walk to town to save livery fees, work all week and then walk home on the weekend carrying all the food and supplies for the family on his back. They had 14 children to provide for.

5. a great grandmother, who's life before coming to the US is a complete mystery, may have been living right next door to a brother and his family. They lived near each other in both WY and MT.

6. a grandfather may have been in some branch of the military, if only for a short time. An undated photo shows him in military garb standing in front of a military issue tent.

7. a grandfather's sister may have been divorced. A census record lists the sister and a small child with a different last name, living with the family and her relationship to head of household is "daughter". But he was probably her grandfather.

8. a great grandfather and great grandmother may have actually been cousins. Records show many marriages between these two families in the small village they lived in for centuries.

9. in searching a grandfather, I kept finding another individual with the exact same name and very close birth date living in MN. The grandfather only ever lived in MT.  I later found out that the MN man was grandpa's first cousin, born in the same town, with the same name and a very close birth date. Had me confused for a minute.

10. a great grandfather who reportedly homesteaded in WY during the WY land rush, may not have actually proved up his claim. No land patent has been found. The search continues.

My top ten bloggers to receive the Ancestor Approved Award are

1. Deb Ruth Adventures in Genealogy
2. Sue Family History Fun
3. Jennifer Climbing My Family Tree
4. Jo Images Past
5. Alasdair Your Scottish Ancestry
6. WWII London Blitz Diary
7. Wading in the Gene Pool
8. Paula It Just Never Came Up
9. Grandma Austin's Diaries
10. Pamela Clarence's Letters Home

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ancestor Approved

Today I received the Ancestor Approved Award from Nancy at My Ancestors and Me. I am both humbled and shocked. I started this blog project as a way to keep myself on track and record my genealogical findings. I thought it would be an easy way to share my progress with my family. What has happened has been beyond anything I could have expected. It's helped long lost relatives find me and its helped me to learn and grow in my research skills in ways I hadn't even thought about. 

The Ancestor Approved Award was created by Leslie Ann Ballou. You can read Leslie's blog at Ancestors Live Here. Leslie Ann asks award recipients to "list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass it along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud."  I'm going to take a day or two to make my list of ten things and to find ten bloggers to bestow this award on. 

I want to thank Nancy for this award. I suddenly feel sadly underdressed in my bathrobe and slippers. If I had realized the the morning would be so eventful, I'd have at least run a comb through my hair first. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wedding Wednesday....Matt and Mary Bell

Marriage certificate of Matt and Mary Bell, 1893
May I just say that the changes to Family Search are awesome?
I was never really a fan of that site and everyone said it was the go to site for genealogy. It was just never user friendly enough for me. But now things are different and I'm in serious like with Family Search. I especially like the scanned documents that are being shared on the site. 

This marriage certificate is one that I found just minutes ago. I'd been to the public library today and happened to find a book in the research room called At the foot of the Beartooth Mountains: A history of the Finnish community of Red Lodge, Montana -  (1998) by Leona Lampi. I remembered that my great great grandpa, Matt Bell, had lived there and my great grandma, Elina Bell was born there. I scanned the index and found Matt's name and a couple of photos of his boys. I know little about this branch of the family tree, so I placed a hold on the book through the interlibrary loan program and jotted a down a few notes from the copy in the research room. I came home and logged onto Family search to see what I could find and lo and behold the marriage certificate popped right up. It's a boon too, with names of both the bride's and groom's parents' and the towns they came from in Finland. All new info to me. Also, the marriage month and date were information I didn't have before. Now I can't wait for the copy of the book to come so I can scour the pages for more information. Another productive day of sleuthing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mystery Monday.....I've found you Andrew!

1900 Federal Census
Today just confirms further why it's so important to search the collateral lines. I've been searching for my great great grandfather Andrew Marxer. I knew he came to the US in the 1880's and that he stayed in MN while his son Joseph, my great grandfather came to MT. I knew there were at least two of Andrew's children with him in MN. What I didn't know is who he lived with in his later years. Through family information and a compiled county history I tracked down his son-in-law, Frank Nascher. Frank married Andrew's daughter Maria "Mary" and I found Andrew living with them until at least 1900. But I had to search for Frank Nascher to get any result. Andrew just wasn't showing up on the indexes. Evidence points to a 1909 death date for Andrew, so now I'll be searching St. Paul city directories for even more information. I've also located a MN death entry for an Andreas Marxer in the FHL catalog. I'll be ordering that film to make sure that it's really great great grandpa Andrew and to glean any more information I can find there.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"New Year's Resolutions"

For 2011 I'm going to journal on paper. I've created a lovely composition book for this very purpose. I've been blogging for years but realize that I want my descendants to have something to find some day when I'm gone. So back to pen and paper I go. My second and last resolution is to fully utilize the Family History Center in my town. I've not done that enough and will be changing my ways this year. The old excuse of not enough time, or maybe tomorrow will be put to rest....hopefully.

Happy 2011 to all. May it be prosperous and productive.