Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I wrote about my brother Mike on Dec 16th for the Christmas postings, and since Mike was born today in 1951 and died today in 2005, I thought that I would repost it in his memory.

My brother Mike was born on December 30th. He was 2 years younger than I. He died on his birthday at age 54. He was my second and last brother to die. My brother Bill had died 15 years before. Mike had knee surgery in June of 2005 and had developed a staph infection in his knee. He had 3 surgeries to try to clear up the infection. He died following the 3rd surgery. He came out of surgery alright, but sometime that night, his heart stopped and he died.

Mike was a small kid, always small for his age. However, as an adult, he put on lots of weight and was nicknamed "Bear", because he was so big and always had a beard and just kind of looked like a bear.

Mike was the kind of kid who was never in trouble. He always did what he was told to do, never talked back, never got in trouble. It used to make me crazy, because I was just the opposite and was always in trouble. But, boy, you couldn't make him do anything that he wasn't supposed to do. Perfect child at home and at school. He even started out that way...he was about 10# when he was born, and would have to be woken up to eat. The perfect baby...never cried, just slept.

I guess as he got a little older he began to make up for it. By the time I left for college, he had started drinking and had some "incidents" that were alcohol related. He finally wasn't the perfect child, which was fine with me!

Mike finished high school and tried the junior college, but just wasn't interested in school. He loved cars and became a mechanic. He got involved in tractor pulls and had an old tractor that he competed with in the tractor pulls.

Everyone knew "Bear" and he was well-known for being someone who would do anything for anyone. He was a truly generous person, never talked badly about anyone and had a great sense of humor.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goals and hopes for 2010

I am going to spend the next couple of days working on goals for 2010 in several different areas of my life, but genealogy is probably the number 2 area, only preceded by wanting to work on health and wellness! I will post when I have finished determining my goals. Meanwhile, I would love to hear what goals others are setting for genealogy in 2010!

I printed out a Problem List (I use RootsMagic) that is 6.5 pages long! So that has been my project this week. I began from the end of the list and am working backwards. It is amazing what all can be found when you start to correct some of the errors in the database!

Advent Calendar-the end!

Wow...I really dropped the ball the last couple of days of the Advent Calendar!

I really don't have anything to tell about the Christmas and Deceased Relatives topic. I already shared my private time that I spend in a quick toast and remembrance on Christmas Eve of those I love who are not here. I don't recall any family traditions at all around this topic.

Christmas Sweetheart Memories-Even though we were already engaged, the first time that I met my husband's family was on Christmas Day 1970. They were very nice to me and the meeting went well. I was especially taken with his grandmother! Very sweet woman, who died in 1973. We named our first born after her! She raised my husband until he was 5 years old and was always crazy about him!

Now there is a newer Christmas Sweetheart Memory. My son proposed to his wife on Christmas night 2006. They had started a tradition the year before of giving each other a new tree ornament on Christmas. Alex asked me if he could have one of my old ornaments that had been my parents. He tied the ring to it and wrapped it up. Megan opened it Christmas night. I thought it was very romantic. He gave her my grandmother's engagement ring.

Of course, the funny thing was that at first, Megan was mad that he hadn't even bothered to go out and get a new ornament. That was before she saw the ring!!!

I have already written about our Christmas Eve tradition of making gifts for the person whose name we had earlier drawn. This year the tradition carried on with great gifts! I sponge-painted a pot for my daughter, and I received ornaments filled with shells from Mexico and AL (2 trips we took this year), one son-in-law got a hoodie with #1 Inlaw on it, Megan got a pillow with an F embroidered on it, Alex got a copy of a photo print that was taken by another son-in-law of the Stadium in St. Louis, our other daughter got coasters with photos from our trip to Mexico, our other son-in-law got a promise of new bookshelves from my husband ( he is beginning them this week), etc. I know that I have left some out, but at this moment, it is all that I can remember!

Merry Christmas everyone! The picture is of our tree Christmas morning this year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas Music

We have always had lots of Christmas music around during the holidays. When we were younger, we used to go to the community sing downtown at the Courthouse. We even went caroling at friend's homes.

I have many favorites in Christmas music, but probably my number one is "I'll Be Home For Christmas". Very touching song and is always meaningful to me. After my grandfather died in 1976, the song first made me cry, and so it has continued all these years! Sometimes the tears are joyful, such as the 5 years that my son was in the Marines...he always made it home for Christmas! Or just thinking about all of our children and grandchildren coming home each Christmas holiday. Other times, I miss my grandparents and brothers.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar-Religious Services

Growing up we often went to Midnight Mass at our church. I thought it was a wonderous time, let alone the thrill of actually being allowed to stay up that late! We continued the tradition with our children as they got older. We loved going to the Cathedral for Midnight was even more special because the priest/later bishop was a good friend of ours (and still is, but is no longer in our area), so that added to the specialness. The Cathedral has always been especially beautiful at Christmas time. My grandparents often went to the Cathedral, so I was used to going there since I was a young child.

When our children were small, we went to the Children's Christmas Mass where our children would either be participating in the Nativity scene or in the choir. Those were very special times, too.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas Shopping

As I wrote in an earlier post, one of most favorite memories of Christmas shopping are the years that my dear Nanya took me on the Rocket (train) from Peoria to Chicago to see the Christmas sights and do some shopping! Great fun! I was so lucky to be the first grandchild, and the only girl for the first 9 years of my life! I was my grandparents "angel on top of the tree".

I don't remember my parents doing shopping, but I know that most of our presents were hidden at my grandparent's home, so we wouldn't find them! Which is exactly what I did when my kids were small, too!

I have always gone on Christmas shopping trips. When my kids were young, I always went with either my mom or some girlfriends. Since my girls have grown, we have begun a girl's Christmas shopping weekend each year. After my son married, his wife, Megan, is part of our girls weekend, too. We have a great time! The last 2 years we have shopped literally until we have dropped in St. Louis. It is great fun, with lots of laughter, talk, shopping and eating! We wouldn't miss it for anything!

As far as my husband's shopping, he does some himself, but he also relies on our daughter, Maggie, to be his Christmas helper. She pretty much has free reign and he then reimburses her. Works out well for him and for me!

Advent Calendar-Christmas Stockings

My two brothers, sister and I had stockings that my Aunt Mildred made for us when we were growing up. My grandmother also had stockings for us at her house, too, so Santa was always quite busy with us! We didn't have a fireplace in our home, and I don't remember where the stockings were. At my grandparents, the stockings hung from the mantle.

When our first born arrived, a friend of the family made her a knit stocking.

Shortly after that, my mom began knitting and she made BIG knit stockings for my husband and I. As each of our children arrived, she made stockings for her randchildren. So all 5 of us (my husband and our 3 children) had homemade knit stockings. We had a non-working fireplace in our home, so the stockings were hung there. As our daughters married, Mom made stockings for their spouses. As they had children, my mom made stockings for her great-grandchildren. The last stocking that she made was for Lucy in 2004.

In 2007, my son married. Unfortunately, my mom is no longer able to knit, so Alex's wife, Megan, still doesn't have a knit stocking, but we are still working on it! Mom hasn't found her patterns, but I am sure that I can find someone who can make one for Megan. It is my mission!

These knit stockings are so important to our Christmas traditions! Now that we are in our new home, we don't have a mantel, so the stockings are laid on the hearth of the fireplace for Santa to find. He does a good job filling those big stockings!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can't find Lucina

Last night I searched the Illinois State Census' (on for some of my Adamson ancestors, mostly in Richland County. I was hoping to find something that might help me solve a long unsolved mystery of what became of my great-grandfather's sister, Lucina Adamson.

In October of 1861 in Richland County Illinois, Lucina married John Dewhirst, who was from Clay County, Illinois. John then, at age 22, came down with typhoid and died in March of the following year, leaving Lucina as a 19 or 20 year old widow.

What follows is a huge puzzle, that I have had no luck in solving. I checked the Illinois State Archives Marriage Database online and found a record showing that Lucina Dewhirst married Washington Lewis in October of 1863 in Clay County. I was thrilled to have found that, but quickly became aware that Washington Lewis had married Nancy Wattles on 4/6/1862 and Nancy is listed with him in the 1870 and 1880 census'.

So it obviously was not this Washington Lewis who Lucina married. I sent for a copy of the marriage record and, sure enough, it is clearly written on there "Washington Lewis", so it wasn't a transcription error.

I have gone over and over census readings for a Lucina Lewis in 1870, but no luck finding mine. So when I realized that I could check the 1865 census for Illinois, I was hopeful that perhaps this would give me some answer. Alas, no...still no luck.

So, Lucina still remains missing. The only other piece of information that I have is that she was not living in 1900 according to her mother's census information. I am guessing that she did marry, but that the groom's name was incorrect on the marriage record. Could that be?

It wasn't a lost night, however. I did find census readings for other family members that were helpful in adding to their family information.

3 January 2015-an update to this post.  Lucina was found! See the post dated October 4, 2014!

Advent Calendar-Grab Bag

Today's topic is author's choice-a topic that helps you remember Christmases past. I have two topics that come to mind.

Our first born, Emily, was born in our hometown. However, my parents had moved to Marinette, WI that year, so we spent Emily's first Christmas there. While we were there we had Emily baptized. Her godparents were my brother Bill and my great-aunt Genevieve. Aunt Gen had been my mother's godmother, and my godmother, so we thought it was kind of cool to have her be Emily's godmother also! The picture on the right is of Bill and baby Emily.

My other Christmas remembrance is from 2002. Our son, Alex, had joined the Marines in 1999, for a 5 year enlistment. We were very lucky that he was able to be home every Christmas. However, when he came home for leave at Christmas in 2002, he announced that his leave was being cut short because he was being part of the first wave of Marines being deployed for the Iraq war. Not what a mother wants to hear ever, least of all at Christmas.

We had a really wonderful Christmas that year and the time that he had home was really short. Christmas came and then it was time to take him to the airport. I held myself together pretty well. As he passed through security, Alex looked back and, of course, I was watching him and we had a last wave goodbye.

I was so mindful that Christmas of all my ancestors who were mothers and sent their sons off to war. I thought of one who had 5 sons fight for the Confederacy, with only one of them returning. I thought of my grandmother who sent her 3 sons off to fight in WWII. Thankfully, they all returned. There is a special feeling between mothers who have sent their children off to war. There is not another feeling that you can compare it to. And I wish it upon no one. My prayer is that one day no one will ever have to deal with that.

It seemed like Christmas again when my son returned home in July of 2003!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas at School

Again, no memories of this for me. Many memories of years of going to my children's school programs. Most memorable:

Our middle daughter, Maggie, at preschool (age 3) not singing along with anything, but just sitting there sucking her thumb and rubbing her belly button;

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar-The Holiday Happenings

This blog is supposed to highlight memories of a loved one who had a birthday or anniversary during the holiday months. The picture is of me and my brother with our grandparents in 1955.

My brother Mike was born on December 30th. He was 2 years younger than I. He died on his birthday at age 54. He was my second and last brother to die. My brother Bill had died 15 years before. Mike had knee surgery in June and had developed a staph infection in his knee. He had 3 surgeries to try to clear up the infection. He died following the 3rd surgery. He came out of surgery alright, but sometime that night, his heart stopped and he died.

Mike was a small kid, always small for his age. However, as an adult, he put on lots of weight and was nicknamed "Bear", because he was so big and always had a beard and just kind of looked like a bear.

Mike was the kind of kid who was never in trouble. He always did what he was told to do, never talked back, never got in trouble. It used to make me crazy, because I was just the opposite and was always in trouble. But, boy, you couldn't make him do anything that he wasn't supposed to do. Perfect child at home and at school. He even started out that way...he was about 10# when he was born, and would have to be woken up to eat. The perfect baby...never cried, just slept.

I guess as he got a little older he began to make up for it. By the time I left for college, he had started drinking and had some "incidents" that were alcohol related. He finally wasn't the perfect child, which was fine with me!

Mike finished high school and tried the junior college, but just wasn't interested in school. He loved cars and became a mechanic. He got involved in tractor pulls and had an old tractor that he competed with in the tractor pulls.

Everyone knew "Bear" and he was well-known for being someone who would do anything for anyone. He was a truly generous person, never talked badly about anyone and had a great sense of humor.

Merry Christmas, little brother. I hope that you and Bill are celebrating with Nanya and Gramp!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar-Fruitcake

This one is easy. I have no memory of fruitcake at all! Apparently not something that my family did!

Advent Calendar-Travel

The only time that I have traveled at Christmas was for the 3 years that my parents lived in Wisconsin shortly after we married. Otherwise, family has always come home to our hometown for Christmas. Now we have 3 adult children with spouses and 4 grandchildren and they come home for Christmas here.

Advent Calendar-Charitable/Volunteer Work

When we lived in town we participated every year in our church's Sponsor a Family at Christmas time. We would draw (usually several) children of various ages and try to fill some of the needs and wants that they had for Christmas. I have heard my adult children talk about doing this now with their own children and it is wonderful to hear that the tradition goes on!

Advent Calendar-Other Traditions

My grandparents' traditions on Christmas Eve was for the men to get stinking drunk....perhaps a long Irish or Swedish tradition??? Actually, I wasn't really witness to the grand old days, but have heard plenty about them! I guess by the time I came along, things had tamed down a bit. I do remember that every Christmas Eve my dad would have to go to get presents from my grandparents, because my grandparents would be with at one of my grandmother's siblings having their usual Christmas Eve bash.

To give my parents credit, they did not get involved in that family tradition! They joined with their best friends for Christmas Eve and we would have a pot-luck dinner. The adults had drawn names and they had to make their gift for Christmas Eve. As we each turned 18 years old, we were allowed into the drawing. This tradition began probably about 1955. It continues to this day, with some changes. The family that we did it with dropped out early in the 1970's, but our family had expanded enough that we kept it up with my parents, and brought in in-laws as we married. At it's peak, we had 15-16 people in the drawing.

In 2006, my sister and her family dropped out, and my brother, Mike, had died the year before, so it just became my family and my parents. We have 3 adult children with spouses, so last year there were still 10 of us in the drawing. This year my parents are not in the drawing and we did not draw names among us. It felt sad to let the tradition go after over 50 years of doing it. This past weekend, my daughters decided that we couldn't let it go, so with only 12 days until Christmas, the 8 of us drew names. Rules are the same, we have to make the gift!

It is always such great fun to see what people have come up with for gifts. We have had some really great gifts over the years, and some not so great. There are certain people that are easy to make gifts for, and there are certain people that you hope get your name because they make such great gifts!

The other tradition that I have all to myself that I have never even shared with anyone began years ago, after my grandfather died. Some time during the evening of Christmas Eve, I slip quietly away for just a few moments and silently toast the loved ones who are no longer with us. It is comforting to spend a few moments alone with them on Christmas Eve. They will never be forgotten.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas Gifts

Any gift I get from my husband or kids are my favorites! But a couple that stand out are:

One year my husband searched high and low (well, he may have sent my daughter to do the searching) to find stationary that would reflect my interest in genealogy. I liked what was found and thought that it was a very thoughtful gift. Another favorite from him was diamond earrings a couple of years ago. I was floored! They are incredibly beautiful!

Probably the best gift that I ever received at Christmas was right after my brother Bill died (Oct. 1990), my mother gave me my beloved grandmother's diamond engagement ring. It's a beautiful ring and meant so much to me!

One of the best gifts that I ever gave was also the Christmas after Bill died, and we surprised our kids with a trip to Florida to visit my parents in March during spring break. We had never taken the kids to the beach in FL before, so they were in heaven when they opened the package that had pictures of the beach and the promise of the trip!

It is really hard to remember my best many come to mind now...since we built this house, my husband often surprises me with items that are FLW or at least arts and craft related. And he has made furniture for me. I have never had a bad Christmas as far as gifts are concerned!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar-Grab Bag

Here is one of my most treasured Christmas memories:

My grandmother used to take me to Chicago on the train (the Rocket) for the day to see the Christmas decorations, especially the windows in Marshall Fields, then we would have lunch in the tea room at Marshall Fields, where there was a huge Christmas tree! It was always such a wonderful, special day! My grandparents are probably the most special parts of my Christmas' growing up!

Advent Calendar-Christmas Cookies

My family didn't seem to be too big on cookies. I do remember making cut-out sugar cookies with my mom while growing up, but I don't have any special memories, etc. I tried to do the same with my kids while they were growing up, but again, nothing special!

Tonight I am making Swedish Butter Cookies (to honor our Swedish heritage) to share with my daughters this weekend when we meet in St. Louis for our annual Christmas shopping trip...perhaps they will be good enough to become tradition!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Calendar-Holiday Parties

Well, I am pretty much a dud on this one. I don't remember any holiday parties occurring in our family when I was growing up, nor do I remember attending any! Since being married (now in our 39th year!), we have had quite a few Christmas/holiday Open Houses, with the last one being 2 years ago, which we combined with having people over to greet the newly-weds (my son and his wife) who got married in Mexico in November 2007. A couple of years before that, we had a holiday pot-luck party with about 8 couples.

We have always had various Christmas parties to attend with work. And we usually get together with good friends in December to go out for dinner for the holidays. We are invited to 2 parties this year, one that we can't attend, but the other we are going to attend. Should be lots of fun...meeting up with old friends!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent Calendar-Santa Claus

Another interesting topic that came at a good time! My parents (in their 80's) just gave me their box of Christmas pictures, with free reign to take what I want. I have gone all through them and there are not any pictures of me or my brothers or my sister with Santa. I find that so odd, because I am sure that we visited Santa. One year I remember Santa coming to visit (turned out to be our neighbor) why no pictures?? I have several pictures of my husband with Santa, and numerous pictures of my own children with Santa.

I do remember writing letters to Santa as a child.

Do I still believe in Santa? You bet. I have never seen that magic matched! And I honestly do look in the sky on Christmas Eve each year, because there is something deep inside that totally believes in the magic. I felt it with my own children when they were young, and I feel it now with my grandchildren. There is no magic that comes near the look on those faces while they wait their turn to see Santa. How could anyone question that Santa doesn't exist when you look at those faces? He exists in our hearts forever.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent Calendar-Outside Decorations

Not much to say on this post! I don't remember any outside decorating going on when I was a child! That doesn't mean that there wasn't any, but I sure don't remember if there was! However, I do remember my dad driving us around town to view other homes that were all lit up!

My husband began putting up lights at our old house sometime ago, along with a big wreath spotlighted on the house. The house looked very nice and festive. Since we have moved to our new home, we put a small real tree on the front porch with lights on it and a big wreath hangs from our pergola. We also have lights on a Blue Spruce pine that sits by the lake. That looks really cool! I would love to have solar lights to put up on the pine trees out at the front of our driveway, but they are WAY too expensive.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas Cards

I think that my parents usually sent out Christmas cards, although I don't remember being involved in it at all. I do remember going through and reading the cards that they would receive, however. I don't think that we ever had any family picture cards when I was growing up.

As soon as our first born turned 1 year old (she was born in 1973), we began sending out cards with pictures of our children on them. For a few years, since the children have been gone, I made our cards. However, last year and again this year, we are sending out cards with pictures of the grandchildren.

I have a Christmas card that my husband's parents sent out in looks so old!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Calendar-Christmas Tree Ornaments

Today's topic came on a good day...I put up our Christmas tree today!

I don't remember any special ornaments when I was a child, other than it seemed like they were all breakable! We didn't string popcorn or cranberries, but my dad LOVED tinsel, so we got to put lots of tinsel on the tree. Of course, it couldn't just be blobbed onto the tree, but strategically placed in small strands...I still love tinsel on the tree.

It is especially fun to have the grandkids over, either while putting up the tree or later, and watch them find familiar ornaments each year. Right now, the youngest grandchild is 5 years old, and she loves the Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Sponge Bob ornaments that we have.

I have my very favorite ornaments that are on our tree. One is a USMC ornament that we bought while in San Diego when our son graduated from boot camp. Another is a Celtic Cross from Peoria Notre Dame, where my kids went to high school. I have a couple of shamrock ornaments that I love. And ornaments from my trip to Sweden. And ornaments from our trips to Mexico. All of these ornaments bring back such wonderful memories! And of course, there are the Grandma and Grandpa ornaments. One of my very most favorite is from my oldest granddaughter that says " Grandma and Me...bestest friends." .

We also have some beautiful ornaments that our daughter Maggie made for us that really shine on the tree!

We have a second tree in our living area that is a small one, lit with small white lights. It has only 12 ornaments, one for each member of our family, with their name on it. The ornaments are white with gold lettering. It is a very special tree for me!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Calendar-Tree and Foods

I missed beginning this Advent Calendar yesterday so today will be filling in the first 2 prompts!

I remember going out to tree farms to get trees some years. It was often cold and snowy, but always great fun. My dad usually had trouble getting the trunk of the tree into the tree holder, so we were supposed to leave him alone while he did that part! (Some things never change, I guess-trees are still hard to get straight in those holders!). We usually had the tallest tree that our home could accommodate.

There were 4 of us children, so decorating the tree could get hectic as we each wanted to put certain ornaments in special places!

Then when I married and we started our own family, we began the tradition of always buying at least one new ornament each year. We always bought fresh trees until about 15 years ago when suddenly one Christmas season, I became incredibly allergic to the tree and we had to move our tree to the back porch and view it from the sliding glass doors! That was the end of real trees for our family.

Since we moved to our new home in 2000, we also put a real tree with lights on our front porch, and have lights on a big Scotch pine in our backyard. Now we have 4 grandchildren and they are sometimes here to help Grandma decorate the tree. An angel that our daughter Maggie made in grade school remains the topper for our tree!

I don't remember certain foods being a tradition for Christmas in our family, other than we always had turkey. What I do remember is that my grandfather and 2 uncles would always go out and get really drunk on Christmas Eve. Of course, by the time I remember this, it was quite mild to years past when they were younger.

I do try to celebrate our Swedish heritage in some way at Christmas, usually by making my great-grandmother's Swedish cardamom bread.

Our tradition over the past 15 years has been to have appetizers on Christmas Eve, where each family brings one or two and that is what our dinner is for the night. That continues on......

A Great Christmas Idea!

I had an email today suggesting doing an Advent Christmas blog for the 24 days before Christmas. The site gives 24 prompts to follow, one for each day. I love this idea, and will begin today! Below are the prompts:

The Prompts
December 1 - The Christmas Tree
Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

December 2 - Holiday Foods
Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

December 3 - Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?
(Note: this post can be used for Treasure Chest Thursday as well)

December 4 - Christmas Cards
Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

December 5 - Outdoor Decorations
Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

December 6 - Santa Claus
Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

December 7 - Holiday Parties
Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

December 8 - Christmas Cookies
Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

December 9 - Grab Bag
Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

December 10 - Christmas Gifts
What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?
(Note: this post can also be used for the Smile for the Camera carnival)

December 11 - Other Traditions
Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions form their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

December 12 - Charitable/Volunteer Work
Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

December 13 - Holiday Travel
Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?

December 14 - Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?
Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?
(Note: you can also post about a "fruitcake ancestor" and use it for Madness Monday!)

December 15 - The Holiday Happenings!
Often times December to mid-January birthdays and anniversaries get over shadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.
(Note: this post can be used for the 86th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy)

December 16 - Christmas at School
What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

December 17 - Grab Bag
Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

December 18 - Christmas Stockings
Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?

December 19 - Christmas Shopping
How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

December 20 - Religious Services
Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

December 21 - Christmas Music
What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?
(Note: perhaps there is a particular Christmas song that drives you mad - a perfect post to use for Madness Monday as well!)

December 22 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives
Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?
(Note: you can also use this post for Tombstone Tuesday)

December 23 - Christmas Sweetheart Memories
Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart? How did you spend your first Christmas together? Any Christmas engagements or weddings among your ancestors?

December 24 - Christmas Eve
How did you, your family or your ancestors spend Christmas Eve?

Monday, October 26, 2009


In my last blog, I wrote about finding a divorce mentioned in a census reading on my great-uncle. I sent for marriage records to see if he had been married before, and nope, his marriage to Helen was his first. So was the census reading wrong? Nope, but guess was not him in the census that I read. It was another Fred with the same last name and same age, living in the same town.

I share this to remind all that 1) always check all sources, and 2) don't always trust census readings!

This week I have been doing some genealogy for a friend of my parents and so far have found 4 birth date sources:

Civil War records: b. 1840
1880 census: b. 1842
1900 census: b. June 1849
IGI record: b. 1842

That's quite a difference between 1840 to 1849. Right now I am going to go with the 1842 as date of birth. Though not impossible, he probably wasn't only 13 years old when he enlisted in the Civil War. I am hoping to find a death certificate that might have a more accurate date of birth, although that is a secondary source. He came from Sweden with an incredibly common name, so I don't know that I will get as far as trying for birth records!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Well, here is an interesting, and all-to-familiar as I was entering some information into my RootsMagic database, I noticed some information was missing. My dad's cousin, Barbara (who turned 80 this year), had written to me answering some questions that I had asked her about her family. As I entered the data, I realized that I had never checked/entered the census readings for her parents. They were married in May of 1920, so I first checked the 1920 census. Well, the census there was taken in January of 1920, so her father was listed alone, as a "roomer" in someone's home. What caught my attention, however, was that he was also listed as "divorced". What? I never heard that before? I called my dad...he had no knowledge of Barbara's father having been married before he married Barbara's mother.

Now the I ask Barbara about it? Does she know that her father had been married before he married her mother? It is a sticky subject, as I have learned from past experience. The last time this happened to me was when I learned that my mother-in-law's father had been married before he had married her mother (again, found in the 1920 census). When I asked my mother-in-law about it, she became terribly upset and said that her father had NEVER been married before, and that was the end of that. I learned at her funeral from her nephew, that her father had been married several times before he married her I don't know if she knew that and didn't want others to know, or if she truly did not know that he had been married before. I am often surprised at how upset some people will get when faced with facts that occurred 50 or even 100 years earlier.

Anyway, back to the immediate problem. When I talked to my dad, he did not think that Barbara would be upset if I asked her about her father being married before, so I have written a letter to her asking what she knows.

Meanwhile, I have written a request to the county where her parents were married to request their marriage applications. That should have whether he had been married before or if it was a first marriage. It is only costing me $3 to solve this one!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Just a reminder

Just a reminder to myself....I have spent the past week checking on what census reading were missing for my Smyth family. I have been working on this family for a good 10 or more years. When I went to check on census readings done for various members of the family, many were missing!

I always have to remind myself to go back and look over old work that I have done. I will invariably either find a new clue that I missed before or see something that I had missed and need to check out.

With 2010 quickly approaching, I am hoping that the 1940 census will be out soon. I need to at least be caught up with the 1930 readings! So this past week, I have chosen various family lines and reviewed the census listings that I have, then gone to find what is missing. I have found most of the missing. Where it hasn't been found, I make a note of it in the Notes section, so that at least I know that I have searched before.

I began working on a story that I came across last year about a young 9 year old girl whose father brutally raped her in the woods, and when she was finally convinced that her father could no longer harm her, she reported that he had killed her mother earlier that year (1889). The father was convicted and sentenced to 34 years in the penitentiary. When I had requested records from the penitentiary, it came back that they had no record of him. I have not been able to learn what happened to either the daughter or the father. I began going through what papers I had gathered on the story last year, and looked for areas that I might have missed. I came up with a few leads, so will be following up on those this week.

Again, Note to Self: always go back and review your research!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Influencing Others

Last week I was visiting an old friend in Colorado and I began talking about my genealogy obsession, uh, I mean adventures and she began asking questions. Before we knew it, we were on and I was showing her how easily one could begin looking at the old census records. She got hooked! She talked to her parents, and her father got enthused and her parents came up with some old records, notes, pictures, etc. and she is off and running!

That is the first time that I have gotten anyone interested in actually doing genealogy and it was a quite satisfying feeling! It was so nice to be able to share the enthusiasm and excitement of learning even the most minuscule detail of an ancestor's life. I just wish that we lived closer to each other! I have always told my husband that I need a genealogy friend!

I was not able to help her with choosing a program, however, because she is using a Mac and I use RootsMagic which doesn't appear to be compatible with Mac computers. So I don't know what she will end up using.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, today was a good example of all the hours needed for researching one tiny single thing of one's family, and how one little bit of information leads to more searching. I started the afternoon trying to find out more about Crystal, Pembina County, ND, which is where my gg-grandfather settled when he left Sweden in 1888 (leaving his wife and children behind for evermore). I did many Google searches looking for some history or any information and found little. Checked all of the genealogy message boards related to the state, etc. Posted a query on one of them requesting some history of the area. Checked Ebay for anything related to the area. Nothing.

Finally in desperation, I began going through each of his children and looking to see if there was missing information on any of them. Began searching the Social Security Death Index and came up with 5 dates of deaths to take to the library for obituary searches. That was very worthwhile. However, I still couldn't find anything on Charles and Ida Seeber's last child, Earl.

I did know that his wife had remarried after his death. She would be about 89 now. She isn't listed in the SS Death Index so I am guessing that she may still be alive. I did a Google search with her name and came up with an article form the LA Times written in 1998, after her second husband died. In it was listed the married name of Earl's only child.

Thus began another search, trying to find an address for her with the information given in the article. Tried many different searches, and finally! may have found who I was looking for! In fact, I am positive that it is her. Now, is the address current?

I have written a letter to the name and address and here's hoping! Meanwhile, 4 hours on-line have passed by. Do I feel like it was wasted time? Heck, no! These were possibly huge finds for me! And if I get a response back, and it's her, the whole family will rejoice! After Earl died, the family didn't have much contact (they lived in CA and we are in IL), so we are all anxious to learn how they are, etc.

More to follow! Never give up!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

60 Years Celebrated

My parents, Dick and Pat, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in April. I am remiss in not remarking on it until now, but it is certainly of a historical, genealogical nature!

They married in Peoria in 1949, and moved to Chicago where Dad was working. They remained there until shortly after I was born in December of 1949, and then returned to Peoria, where they both were born and raised. Dad was hired on at Caterpillar Tractor and they settled into married life. They went on to have 3 more children, Mike, Bill and Sandy.

In 1973, Dad was transferred to Marinette WI, where they stayed for 3 years. It was quite a change for them, living up north. They learned to ski while living up there and have had many enjoyable ski trips over the years. Bill and Sandy went to high school while in WI, and Bill went on to college in Milwaukee. Mom and Dad came back to Peoria in 1976.

Dad retired from Caterpillar in 1986 and they have had 23 blissful years of retirement (just ask them!). They have spent most winters in either Florida or Alabama, and all spring, summer and falls in Indiana at the lake.

Sadly, during this time, Mom and Dad have lost their 2 sons. Bill died in 1990 in San Francisco, and Mike died in 2005 in Peoria.

Mom and Dad have been blessed with 6 grandchildren: Emily, Maggie, Alex, Mandy, Lee, and Rich. So far, they also have 5 great-grandchildren: Lexie, Chris, Connor, Libby and Lucy.

All in all, 60 years has produced much of what life is composed of: great joy and sadness, and many, many blessings.

Matilda Hertel Segh

Matilda Hertel was born in 1853 in Herrestad parish, Ostergot lands, Sweden. She married August Jonasson Segh in 1871 and they settled in Vadstena (Wadstena). After 2 years of marriage, August and Matilda (now 30 years old) became parents of twin sons. Karl Oscar Fromhold Segh and Gustaf Adolf Segh were born on November 6, 1873 in s:t Per parish in Ostergotland, Sweden.

Around July, 1874, when the twin boys were 9 months old, Matilda became pregnant again, and on April 18, 1875 another son, Johan August Segh, was born. Around January 1876, Matilda was pregnant again. Her twin sons would have just turned 2 years old, and Johna was about 9 months old at that time. On September 9, 1876, a fourth son, Axel Edward Segh was born. Now Matilda had 4 sons, all under the age of 3 years old!

Nine months later, Marilda was pregnant again with twins. On March 14, 1878 a daughter, Matilda Sofie Segh was born, It was reported that she was a twin, however, her twin must not have survived. Now she had 4 year old twins, and almost 3 year old, a 1 1/2 year old and a new baby. Sadly, baby Matilda died August 1st at age 4 1/2 months old. Around October of that year, Matilda was pregnant with twins again. In January of 1879, Matilda and August's son, Axel, died at 2 1/2 years old. She delivered another daughter, Elin Mia Segh, on July 11, 1879, and again , it was reported that she was a twin, but the other twin did not survive. Tragedy struck the family when baby Elin died in September at almost 2 months old.

It is incredible to think that all within 6 years, Matilda had 5 pregnancies, 8 children, and 5 of the 8 children had died. By this time, Karl and Gustaf were almost 6 years old and Johan was 4 1/2 years old.

August Segh died in 1901. It appears that Matilda lived with her son, Johan until she died. Her son Gustaf died in 1908, and his twin Karl, died in 1933. Matilda died in 1934, having survived 7 of her 8 children. Johan remained in Vadstena until his death in 1952. He was a single man.

I am struck by all of the hardships and tragedies that Matilda must have gone through. She lost at least 5 children very early, and 2 more later. Her oldest son, Karl, left for America in 1892 and she never saw him again.

Interestingly, Karl Oscar appears to be the only one of Matilda's children who had children. Matilda had 6 grandchildren that she was never able to meet. Such a sad story!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Journey to the Past

This week my 82 year old Dad and I took a day trip to Olney, IL in Richland County. Dad's grandparents had lived in Olney (as did his parents for a brief time, before coming to Peoria). Some of his father's siblings had remained in Olney for years, although no one is left there now. We went to Ebenezer Cemetery and found the grave sites of his grandparents and their children who had died young.

Then we found the actual home where Moses and Lydia Adamson had lived until their deaths. I was surprised that the house was still standing, but it appeared to be in good shape.

It is rather unusual for anyone to be alive today that can say that their grandfather or great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, but Dad and I can. Moses and Lydia spaced their children out over 23 years, with my grandfather being second to the youngest, thus a generation was skipped.

Moses Thompson Adamson was born March 29, 1838 in Edwards County Illinois, the second of seven children born to Aaron W. and Martha Thompson Adamson. His father, Aaron, died around 1850 when Moses was 12. His mother, Martha, remarried to Joseph Hedrick in 1851 and the family settled in Richland County, Illinois.

In September of 1861, Moses joined the 38th IL Infantry, Co. I. In December 1862, Moses was taken prisoner at Stone River and was taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. His time in the prison appeared to affect the rest of his life. He married Lydia Ann Bullard in Richland County IL in April of 1863. In September of 1863, he was wounded at the Battle of Chickamanga. He was honorably discharged in October of 1864, and returned to Olney, Illinois, where he and Lydia remained until their deaths.

By the time Moses was discharged from the service, he and Lydia had a 2 month old son. They went on to have 12 children, then took in another child in their older years (around 1900). Six of their twelve children died before reaching adulthood.

Moses died in 1917, at age 79; Lydia died in 1935 at the age of 90. Both are buried at Ebenezer Cemetery in Olney, Illinois.

A New Discovery-Never Give Up!

I know that probably anyone reading this who does genealogy is aware of it, but I don't think that it can be stressed often enough...never give up! I have been researching the Segh/Seeber family for 15 years now. I have asked everyone in the family for any known pictures. My parents have given me boxes and boxes of pictures to go through over the past few years. This week, I was at their summer place in Indiana and they had 3 small boxes of pictures for me to look at. Where do these keep coming from? I obediently began going through them and when I was going through the 3rd box there were a couple of obviously very old pictures. I turned them over and, in my grandmother's writing, one said "Gustave Adolf Von Seger-Borksen". It was taken in Wadstena (in Sweden) is a picture of my great-grandfather's twin brother! Who would have ever guessed that there was a picture of him? (If you have read my previous blogs, you know that my great-grandfather, Karl Oscar Segh/Charles Seeber has been a great mystery to the family).

I was so thrilled with the picture! It gives me great hope that more will eventually be uncovered! It also gave written proof of what a crazy last name he presented as his.

In a follow-up note, I did hear from his father's brother' descendant and the family does not remember hearing anything of the Segh family at all. However, she did mention that some of that family came to the US, so that is another avenue. One piece of the puzzle leads to another!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Phyllis Moreland 1929-2008

My mother-in-law would have turned 80 today. I have been thinking about her and her life and the many questions that she left unanswered. She had an interesting life. I'm not sure how she would have categorized her life, however. She was a very private person and kept many parts of her life unknown to others.

Mary Phyllis Elizabeth Moreland (also called "Babe") was born in 1928 to what she described as poor, middle-aged parents, George and Margaret McIntee Moreland. She was the 3rd of 4 children of her parents. She also had 3 half-siblings from her mother's first marriage. She attended St. Boniface grade school in Peoria, IL and told us that when she was completed 8th grade, Msgr. Middleton was appointed her guardian and she was sent to St. Mary's Academy in Nauvoo, IL for her freshman year of high school (1944-1945). She did not return to school after that year, since she was 16 years old by that time, and her father wanted her to work.

Phyllis married my husband's father in 1948. My husband was born in 1950. She was divorced in 1951 and her son went to live with his paternal grandparents. She never raised him, but often kept him on weekends.

By 1966, Phyllis was a supervisor for AT&T and worked there until retirement. She was president of the labor union for many years and very active in the union activities.

My husband knew of 2 marriages for Phyllis over the years since his parents had divorced, but family members told us that Phyllis had been married more times than that. We have learned that she was married before 1948 to someone in Peoria named "Robert", but have not learned anymore than that. As far as we know, her last marriage was in 1976, and her husband died in 1978. She lived alone after that until her death.

In 2007, we got my husband's birth certificate and learned that Phyllis had another child living when my husband was born. That means that she had a child sometime between 1944-1948. We have questioned the few people that we can think of who might have known about the child, but have had no luck. As her friends said, she was a very private person. Since she had been a guardian of Msgr. Middleton, we thought that perhaps the child had been put up for adoption. We contacted Catholic Charities and they searched their records for an adoption, but none was found.

It strikes me as so very sad that she had a child and apparently was never able to tell anyone at all about it. We continue to search, but feel that we are at a stuck point right now. Perhaps if we could learn who her first husband was, we could find out more. Of course, time continues to pass, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities to find someone.

Phyllis died in 2008, taking her secrets with her. She left one son, perhaps another child, and 3 grandchildren (more perhaps?).

Children of Charles and Ida Seeber

Here is a picture of Charles and Ida Seeber's children. The photograph was taken at Christmas in 1927. In the top row standing are: Hazel, Harry and Richard. Sitting in the bottom row are: Vera, Earl and Mabelle.

Hazel was born in 1910.
Harry was born in 1907.
Richard was born in 1903.
Vera was born in 1901.
Earl was born in 1913.
Mabelle was born in 1905.

All of the children were born in Peoria, Illinois.

Mabelle was my grandmother. She adored her father and often talked of how witty, charming, talented and entertaining he was. Charles died in 1933, at age 59. Ida lived to be 101, and died in 1974.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Karl Oskar Segh

Here is a picture of my great-grandfather, otherwise known as Charles Oscar Seeber. He was born 6 November 1873 in Ostergotland, Sweden. He left Sweden 10 June 1892 and arrived in the United States on 24 June 1892. From Ellis Island, it is believed that he went to Hobart, Indiana, where his mother's sister and family had settled. By late 1899, he met Ingrid (Ida) Olauson at a dance hall in Rankin, Illinois and married Ingrid just 3 months later on 3 March 1900. Charles and Ida had 6 children, and divorced in 1926. Charles died 4 January 1933 in Peoria, Illinois, and is buried in Parkview Cemetery in Peoria.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Beginning

I have been actively doing genealogy since about 1994, when we got our first computer on which we were able to access the internet. And I have been hooked ever since. I hope to use these pages to share my journey with research, and some of the stories that I have uncovered. I hope that family members might find some of the information interesting! I have 15 years of work to share, and I continue to research. I retired a month ago so hope to have even more time and energy to put into the search!

One of the most exciting things that have occurred in my research happened today!

For years, I have been trying to learn more about my great-grandfather, Charles Seeber. A number of years ago, a researcher in Sweden found his family and was able to give me some accurate information about him, that he had not shared with the family. I have been trying to learn more about him, especially about his life in Sweden and possibly, why he left Sweden when none of his family did. And why he told such elaborate stories about his earlier self.

A couple of weeks ago, a volunteer researcher in Sweden began seeking any relatives to my great-grandfather, Karl Oscar Segh (Charles Oscar Seeber), who left Sweden in 1892 and came to the United States. His parents, August and Matilda Hertel Segh, had 8 children, with only 3 living past early childhood. Karl and his twin brother, Gustaf, were the oldest, then brother Johan. The next 5 children didn't survive. Neither Gustaf nor Johan had children, so the only descendants of August and Matilda were the 6 Seeber children that Charles and his wife, Ingrid, had. Matilda had 3 siblings, and I have had contact with the descendant's of her sister, Johanna, who came to the United states. There are no descendants from her other 2 siblings who remained in Sweden. The descendants of Johanna did not know anything about Charles.

Today, my researcher found that Charles' father, August Segh, had a brother David who does have some descendants living and are anxious to contact with me! Finally, there are some of Charles' family located in Sweden! I am certainly anxious to hear from them!

Other immediate genealogy plans include trying to get to Olney, Illinois this summer to find the gravesites of my great grandfather, Moses Thompson Adamson, and his family. I am hoping to take my Dad with me, as we can explore where the family lived, etc.