Covering genealogy, family history, historical events and places, and anything else related!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Society Saturday: Friends of Wayne Historic Museums

Schuyler-Colfax House. 25 June 1936. Photo by Nathaniel R. Ewan [Public domain]. Available from Library of Congress and Wikimedia Commons.

The Friends of Wayne Historic Museums is a service organization which is dedicated to preserving and creating awareness of the heritage of Wayne, New Jersey.

Three museums are owned and operated by the Wayne Township Parks and Recreation Department: Schuyler-Colfax Historic House Museum, Van Riper-Hopper House, and Van Duyne House. More information is available on the Historic House Museums page of Wayne Township's Web site.

I am a member of the Hester Schuyler Colfax Chapter, NSDAR. The chapter has planted bulbs at the Schuyler-Colfax House, and is working on raising money for the restoration of the house, which is the oldest in Wayne. The house was built by Arent Schuyler in 1695.

Members of the Hester Schuyler Colfax Chapter are pictured on the Volunteer page of Wayne Township's Web site.

A Friends of Wayne Historic Museums membership application is available online.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Continental Army Enters Valley Forge

The Encampment at Valley Forge, PA. Lossing, Benson John. Field Book of the Revolution. Vol. 2. New York: Harper Brothers, 1855. Page 128. Available from Wikipedia.

On 19 December 1777, George Washington and his Continental Army entered their winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. 12,000 men marched in from their encampment at White Marsh (now Fort Washington State Park). They began constructing huts; the first one was completed in three days.

By the end of the winter, more than 2,500 soldiers had died from diseases such as dysentery, influenza, pneumonia, typhoid fever, typhus, and smallpox.

My 5th-great-grandfather Stephen Mayo was at Valley Forge. He was in Weedon's Brigade, 14th Virginia Regiment.The muster roll shows that he was sick in the winter. Fortunately, he survived. 163 men from his brigade died at Valley Forge.

Every December 19 at Valley Forge National Historical Park, there is a march in to commemorate the arrival of the Continental Army.

Annual March In of the Continental Army Commemoration
Continental Army enters winter camp at Valley Forge
The Encampment 
History & Culture - Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge
Valley Forge Legacy: The Muster Roll Project
Washington leads troops into winter quarters at Valley Forge

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, St. Louis, Missouri

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church is located at 1919 South 7th Street, St. Louis, Missouri, in the Soulard neighborhood.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish was founded in June 1849 by Father Simon Sigrist. It was created to serve the Germans of the first ward of St. Louis. The first church was made of wood and was located on the site of the sanctuary of the current church, but it faced Allen Avenue. Construction began on the second church on 1 October 1851. This church, made of brick, faced 8th Street. It was dedicated on 23 October 1853.

In the early 1870s, Father Franz Goller decided to build a new church with a German Gothic design. Franz Georg Himpler designed the new church, and the cornerstone was laid on 12 June 1872. The church was dedicated on 12 December 1875. The stained glass windows in the sanctuary and above the side altars were manufactured in Innsbruck, Austria. The church's tower was built in 1890, and in 1891, five bells were installed. The interior of the church was completed in 1895, when oil-painted Stations of the Cross from Beuron, Germany were installed.

My Schneider and Gersbacher ancestors attended Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Family baptisms, marriages, and funerals took place there. My maternal grandmother Margaret Ann Schneider was baptized there, and she married her first husband Herbert William Foerstel there.

My cousin and I visited Saints Peter and Paul in August 2012. We were glad that we were able to see the church that was so much a part of our family history.

Sanctuary in Soulard: The First 150 Years of Saints Peter and Paul Parish. St. Louis, MO: Saints Peter and Paul Church, 1999.
Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church: Our History

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: My Parents' Engagement Announced in Fraternity Publication

My father was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. His engagement to my mother was announced in a fraternity publication. Only the clipping was saved, so I do not have the exact source information.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Margaret Ann (Schneider) Boe's Passport

My maternal grandfather John Boe was Chairman of the Board and President of P. F. Collier, and he frequently traveled. My grandmother Margaret Ann (Schneider) Boe often traveled with him. My aunt Joan has a copy of her passport, which was issued on 20 December 1966. I have scanned the passport. It is fascinating to see the places that my grandmother visited. She and my grandfather traveled all over the world.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Military Monday: Battle of Nashville

The Battle of Nashville took place on December 15-16, 1864. It was the last major battle of the Civil War. This year is the 150th anniversary of the battle.

After the Battle of Franklin, Lieutenant General John Bell Hood and his Confederate troops pursued Major General George Henry Thomas' Union troops to Nashville. They arrived on December 2. Thomas' troops attacked the Confederates on both the left and the right flanks. The attack on the right was intended to be a diversion. Troops from General James B. Steedman's Provisional Division advanced on the right flank at 8:00 AM on December 15. However, the diversion did not work; Hood realized that the main attack was coming from the left, and he moved some of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee's troops to the left flank.

At 10:00 AM the attack on the left flank began. Brigadier General James H. Wilson's cavalry corps and Major General Andrew Jackson Smith's "Detachment of the Army of the Tennessee" headed west and then south. Brigadier General Edward Hatch's cavalry brigade headed to the Belle Meade plantation, where they burned Brigadier General James R. Chalmers' supply wagons. Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood's IV Corps advanced on the Confederate line. The five Confederate redoubts on the left were attacked. The last one to fall was Confederate Redoubt No. 1.

On December 16, Major General Thomas once again utilized the strategy of creating a diversion. Two brigades from General Steedman's provisional division and two brigades from Samuel Beatty's division of Brigadier General Wood's IV Corps attacked Peach Orchard Hill. Hood sent reinforcements to Peach Hill; the Confederate line of defense at Compton's Hill (now Shy's Hill) became thinner.

At 3:30 PM, Brigadier General John McArthur told Smith and Thomas that unless he was given orders not to within the next five minutes, he would attack Compton's Hill and the Confederate line to its east. Shortly afterward, McArthur's three brigades began their attack. They captured 1,533 men, 85 officers (including Brigadier General Thomas Benton Smith), and eight cannons. Colonel William M. Shy was killed.

The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society's events in remembrance of the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Nashville began on Saturday, 13 December 2014, and continue on Monday, 15 December 2014 and Tuesday, 16 December 2014.

Map of the battle of Nashville, 1864. 18 March 2007. By Andrei nacu [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

Nashville, Tenn. Federal outer line. Photo by Jacob F. Coonley, 16 December 1864.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Available from

Battle of Nashville
Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, Inc.
150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: Battle of Nashville
Zimmerman, Mark. Guide to Civil War Nashville. Nashville, TN: Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, 2004.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #50 Halvor Eriksen Otterholt

My 3rd-great-grandfather Halvor Eriksen Otterholt was born on 28 June 1821 in Bø, Telemark, Norway, and was baptized on 1 July 1821. He was the son of Erik Halvorsen Sønstebø (also known as Erik Halvorsen Brenne) and Aaste Kittilsdatter. Erik was the sister of Kari Halvorsdatter Sønstebø; both are my 4th-great-grandparents through different lines of descent.

On 17 July 1845 in Bø. Halvor married Guro Hansdatter Askilt. They had seven children in Norway: Erik, born 25 April 1846; Hans, born 5 August 1847; Kittel or Kjetil (later known as Charles), born 11 September 1850; Torkel, born 6 September 1852; my 2nd-great-grandmother Aaste, born 3 February 1854; Anne, born 25 February 1858; and Kari, born 7 September 1861.

In 1865, Halvor and his family lived on the Otterholdt (or Otterholt) farm in Bø. He was listed as a Gaardbrgr og Selveier (farmer or owner, freeholder).

In 1867, Halvor and his family immigrated to the United States. In Boe (Bø) and Halvorson-Otterholt: Shared Roots in Telemark (compiled by Melvin and Alpha M. (Boe) Broadshaug, 1984; published by Arlene (Boe) Christensen and Marjorie (Boe) Bergee; printed by Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa), there is a quote from a letter written to Leland Otterholt by Aaste Lie: "The Otterholts were a prosperous people. Halvor loved the horses and bet on them but lost. Being proud, he decided to emigrate to America with his family." Although there may have been other reasons for the family's emigration, I suspect that there is at least a grain of truth to that statement. The family left Norway from Skien, Telemark on the Rjukan, and they arrived in Quebec, Canada on 30 May 1867.

Halvor and his family settled in Canisteo, Dodge County, Minnesota. About 1868, Halvor and Guro's last child, Johanna, was born. The family was enumerated in Canisteo in the 1870 United States census. Halvor was a farmer. His real estate had a value of $800, and his personal estate had a value of $340. In the United States, he was usually known as Halvor Erickson. Some of his children used the surname Halvorson, and some used the surname Otterholt.

By 1875, the family had moved to Swenoda, Swift County, Minnesota. In 1880, they lived in West Bank, Swift County, Minnesota. Halvor became a citizen of the United States on 18 May 1880.

Halvor applied for a land patent through the Homestead Act of 1862, for 80 acres of land located in the south half, northwest quarter, section 32 of Township 120 North of Range No. 41 west of the Principal Meridian, Swift County, Minnesota. He had settled on the land in June 1873 and built a house and a stable, and dug a well. His patent was issued on 25 July 1882. His son-in-law Jorgen Jorgensen Boe (my 2nd-great-grandfather) received his certificate the same day, for nearby land. Halvor later applied for an additional land patent, for 80 acres of land located in the east half, northeast quarter, section 31 of Township 120 North of Range No. 41 west of the Principal Meridian, Swift County, Minnesota. His patent was issued on 1 April 1892.

Halvor died on 14nuary 1898. He was buried in Big Bend Lutheran Church Cemetery in Milan, Chippewa County, Minnesota.

Telemark county, Bø, Parish register (official) nr. 6 (1815-1831), Birth and baptism records 1821, page 100-101.

Telemark county, Bø, Parish register (official) nr. 7 (1831-1848), Marriage records 1845, page 289.

Telemark county, Bø, Parish register (official) nr. 9 (1862-1879), Migration records 1868, page 382.

Passenger list, Rjukan, 1867. Passenger Lists, 1865–1935. Microfilm Publications T-479 to T-520, T-4689 to T-4874, T-14700 to T-14939, C-4511 to C-4542. Library and Archives Canada, n.d. RG 76-C. Department of Employment and Immigration fonds. Library and Archives Canada Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Available from Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

Halvor Erikson naturalization, 18 May 1880. Swift County District Court, State of Minnesota. From Halvor Eriksen land entry case file no. 4485, 1882.

Halvor Eriksen, Swift County, Minnesota. Certificate no. 4485. United States Bureau of Land Management, 25 July 1882.