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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Independence Day (Finland)

Finnish flag on independence day 2011, Tähtitorninmäki, Helsinki, Finland. 6 December 2011. Photo by Htm [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

Today Finland is celebrating 99 years of independence. Before the Parliament of Finland adopted the Finnish Declaration of Independence on 6 December 1917, Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire, the Grand Duchy of Finland.

Evening News (Harrisburg, PA), 8 December 1917, page 1

Law professors at Berlin University declared that the Parliament of Finland had the right to proclaim independence. They believed that the change in Russian government had dissolved the union of Finland and Russia.

The Times (London, England), 6 December 1917, page 8

Sweden supported Finland's independence.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 December 1917, page 3

Monday, December 5, 2016

Military Monday: Battle of Verdun

The Battle of Verdun was one of the longest battles of World War 1. It was fought between the French and German troops, and lasted for nearly 10 months, from 21 February 1916 to 18 December 1916. More than 3/4 of French troops fought in this battle. There were more than 700,000 casualties, at a rate of about 70,000 per month.

Battle of Verdun, 1916. By Gdr [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

My first cousin three times removed Josef Eschbach was an Obergefreiter (corporal) in the Bavarian Army, Fußartillerie-Bataillon 21. He participated in the Battle of Verdun.

Fußartillerie-Bataillon 21. 15106-Kriegstammrolle. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Kriegsstammrollen, 1914-1918. Bavarian State Archives. Department IV, War Archive, Munich.

Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt)

The Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt) is a tradition that goes back to the late Middle Ages in the German-speaking areas of Europe. It is a street market with open-air stalls which is held during the four weeks of Advent.

Today I attended the Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market in Sparta, New Jersey. Although it was the 15th annual Weihnachtsmarkt,  I had not previously been aware of it. It is the largest Christmas market in New Jersey, and the only one that is run to donate back to the community. More than 110 vendors were present. The merchandise included jewelry, clothing, paintings, and German Christmas items. There was a petting zoo, the opportunity to visit with Santa, and an entertainment tent.

Since I am 1/4 German, some of my ancestors probably shopped at Weihnachtsmärkte. I enjoyed the experience and hope to go again next year.

Christmas market
History | Weihnachtsmarkt
Weihnachtsmarkt | Annual Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market, Sparta, NJ, USA

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friend of Friends Friday: Runaway Slaves of William and John Sutton

Kentucky Gazette, 1 August 1799, page 6. Kentucky Digital Library.

Twenty Dollars Reward.
RAN AWAY from the subscribers, on the night of the 4th of July, 1799, a Negro man, about 24 years old, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, by the name of PHILL, perhaps he may try to pass by the name of PHILL BURLEY, yellowish complexion, thick lips, spreads his mouth when he laughs, has a bad scar on his left little finger, occasioned by a reap-hook ; took with him a mixed cassimer coat, with a split on the left shoulder, narrow backs, with the pockets inside, a pair of mixt overalls of country cloth, white shirt, and marseilles vest. Also a mulatto man nearly the same age, rather smaller, and nearly the same height––hath a peace out of the left side of his nose, one of his fore teeth out, took with him divers cloths unknown––his name MAJOR, once passed by the name of JAMES, sometimes by the name of PETER ROBINSON : if tightly examined will reply, why do you think so ? Or, what makes you think so? If the above negroes are taken and confined in any jail, so that the subscribers get them again, the apprehender shall receive ten dollars, and if brought home shall receive the full reward with reasonable charges.
                                                   William Sutton
                                                   John Sutton jr.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Siege of Fredriksten

Plan of the Siege of Frederiksten, 1718. Holm, Edvard. Danmarks Riges Historie, vol. 5, 1907. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

On 30 November 1718, Charles XII of Sweden's troops attempted a siege on the Norwegian fortress of Fredriksten in the city of Fredrikshald (now Halden, Østfold). This was the last invasion of Norway during the Great Northern War. Charles XII was killed by a projectile while he was inspecting his troops' lines.

I am not sure if any of my ancestors participated in the Great Northern War, but I could have had ancestors on both sides, since I am both Swedish and Norwegian.

Siege of Fredriksten

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

1783 Earthquake

The most powerful earthquake to strike New Jersey was the one that occurred at 9:00 PM on 29 November 1783. It measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, and VII on the Mercalli intensity scale. It was felt from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania.

In Philadelphia, it was reported that items were thrown off shelves and sleeping people were woken up.

Maryland Gazette, 11 Dec 1783, page 2

Damaging Earthquakes Felt in NJ
Historic Earthquakes: New Jersey 1783 11 30 03:50 UTC (Local 11/29)
"Philadelphia, December 2." Maryland Gazette, 11 December 1783, p. 2.
1783 New Jersey earthquake
Weather trivia: The day New Jersey shook like no other

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mary Winters

Mary Winters, the daughter of my 4th-great-grandparents Hugh Winters and Mary Bennet, was born 176 years ago today, on 27 November 1840. She was baptized on 13 December 1840 at St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. The baptismal sponsors were John Finegan and Cath Boylan.

She arrived in New York, New York on 12 June 1849 on the Pursuit with her father and most of her siblings.

Passenger manifest, Pursuit, 12 June 1849. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C. Year: 1849; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 080; List Number: 706. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 

Mary's mother and sister Margaret apparently traveled separately, but the whole family was together in Brooklyn, New York by 1850.

1850 United States census, Brooklyn Ward 10, Kings County, New York, population schedule, p. 131A. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.

In 1855, Mary was a servant in the home of John and Mary Blair. Her mother had apparently died by this time.

New York State Census, 1855, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 19 November 2014), Mary Winters in household of John Blair, E.D. 2, Ward 12, Brooklyn City, Kings, New York, United States; count clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 1,930,199.

Mary died on 12 September 1876 in Charity Hospital, Blackwell's Island, New York, New York. The causes of death were phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) and alcoholism. Asthma was a contributing cause. She was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

New York, New York. Board of the Health Department. Death certificate no. 248060, Mary Winters, 1876.