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

Monday, September 15, 2014

National Hispanic Heritage Month

U.S. Army South celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. 30 September 2009.  Photo by Army Sgt. Nina Ramon 345th Public Affairs Detachment (United States Army) [Public domain]. Available from the United States Army and Wikimedia Commons.

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. During the month, the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic Americans are celebrated. September 15 was chosen as the starting date because it is Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Also, September 16 is Independence Day in Mexico, and September 18 is Independence Day in Chile.

On 17 September 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-498, which authorized the President to designate the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week and on 24 December 1968, President Lyndon Johnson issued Proclamation 3869. On 17 August 1988, Public Law 100-402 was enacted, and the period between September 15 and October 15 was proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Although I am not of Hispanic heritage, members of my family are. My sister-in-law is from Peru, and my niece is half Peruvian. The wife of one of my cousins is from Mexico.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

National Pet Memorial Day

More than 40 years ago, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories established the second Sunday in September as National Pet Memorial Day. Pets are members of the family, so today I would like to honor my beloved pets that have passed away.

Sunshine (July 15, 1990 - November 13, 2010) was the first cat that was all mine. I adopted her when she was 8 weeks old. We had a very special bond.

Velvet (left, March 23, 1991 - March 23, 2001) and Ember (right, July 15, 1994 - July 6, 2009) were inseparable. Velvet was a blue point Birman. Ember was a Bombay. Velvet was an alpha female and Bombays like to be dominant, so it would seem more likely that they would not get along. However, they bonded almost instantly (within a few hours after Ember moved in) and were constantly together. Being co-dominant worked for them.

In May, I found three two-week old kittens abandoned in my backyard. Unfortunately two of them did not survive. I never even had a chance to name the tuxedo boy on the right. I called the girl on the left Willow because she was like a pussy willow: small, soft, and gray. Fortunately the tuxedo boy in the middle, Flash, is still with me.

Schatzi was my first cat. I got her as a kitten when I was four years old. I named her after my maternal grandparents's dog.

Fluffy was Schatzi's daughter. She was a medium-haired cat. I originally named her MarshmallowFluff, but her name was eventually shortened to Fluffy. Fluffy was born when I was 5 years old (and then we had Schatzi spayed). Schatzi is in this picture too, in the background.

Silky was my childhood dog. She was a Scottish Terrier. Sadly, she died of cancer at a fairly young age.

My canary, Sunny, perched on top of the wreath

Star, my cockatiel

Rainbow, my sun conure

Saturday, September 13, 2014

52 Ancestors: #37 Charles Halvorson, Minnesota State Senator

Kittel (or Kjetil) Halvorsen Otterholt, the brother of my great-great-grandmother Aaste Halvorsdatter Otterholt, was born on 11 September 1850 in Bø, Telemark, Norway. He was the son of Halvor Eriksen Otterholt and Guro Hansdatter Askilt. He was enumerated with his family in the 1865 census of Norway, living on the Otterholdt farm in Bø.

On 20 April 1867, he and his parents and siblings left Norway from Skien, Telemark on the Rjukan and arrived in Quebec, Canada on 30 May 1867. The family settled in Canisteo, Dodge County, Minnesota. They were enumerated there in the 1870 United States census. Kittel was listed as a farm laborer. He also clerked in a drug store from 1869 to 1873.

Kittel changed his name to Charles Halvorson. On 9 January 1878, he married Julia Baronette Olson in Dodge County, Minnesota. In 1879, they moved to Montevideo, Chippewa County, Minnesota. Charles was a bookkeeper for two years.

Charles and Julia's first child, daughter Ella Gurina, was born on 11 January 1880. Sadly, she died three weeks later. A second daughter, Ella Josephine, was born on 5 November 1880. In 1881, Charles became a partner in the general store Stone & Halvorson in Lac qui Parle Village, Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota.

On 24 November 1884, daughter Cora Elizabeth was born in Dawson, Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota. In December 1884, Stone & Halvorson left Lac qui Parle Village and split into two stores: Stone & Halvorson in Madison, Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota and Charles Halvorson in Dawson, Minnesota. The Madison store was only open for a short time.

Daughter Olga Beatrice was born on 13 January 1887. Daughter Effie Amanda was born on 31 December 1889. Twin sons were born on 19 June 1893, fifteen minutes apart: Charles Stanford and Walter Stanton.

In 1897, Charles' modified Queen Anne style home in Riverside, Dawson was built. It had seven stained glass windows and a wrap-around porch with columns. It cost $10,000 to build and was one of the finest homes in the area.

On 8 November 1898, Charles was elected to the Minnesota State Senate. He was a Republican and represented District 18, Chippewa and Lac qui Parle counties. During the 31st legislative session (1899-1900), he was chair of the Illuminating Oils committee and also served on the Forestry and Fire Protection, Internal Improvements, Public Parks, Railroads, State Prison, and Temperance committees. During the 32nd legislative session (1901-190), he was chair of the Retrenchment and Reform committee and also served on the Forestry and Fire Protection, Grain and Warehouse, Public Lands, Public Parks, State Prison, and Temperance committees. His term ended on 5 January 1903.
On 27 February 1906, there was a fire in the Dawson business district. Charles' store there was burnt and did not reopen. However, he had other business enterprises. He was a partner in the men's clothing store Halvorson & Olson in Montevideo, Minnesota until 1908.

On 17 April 1909, Charles was appointed to the Minnesota State Board of Control. He replaced Leonard A. Rosing, who had died. Charles' term expired on 3 April 1911.

Charles was considered an honest, honorable, and dedicated man. He died in Hennepin County, Minnesota on 25 June 1913 and was buried in Grace Lutheran Cemetery in Dawson, Minnesota.

Telemark county, Bø, Parish register (official) nr. 8 (1849-1861), Birth and baptism records 1850, page 22.

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.

The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. State of Minnesota, 1901. Page 124.

The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. State of Minnesota, 1901. Page 125.

 The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. State of Minnesota, 1901. Page 671.

Journal of the Senate of the Thirty-Sixth Session of the State of Minnesota. St. Paul, Minnesota: McGill Warner, 1909. Page 1223.

Sixth Biennial Report of the Board of Control of State Institutions of Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Syndicate Printing Co., 1912. Page 27.

From 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.

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.
Journal of the Senate of the Thirty-Sixth Session of the State of Minnesota. St. Paul, Minnesota: McGill Warner, 1909. Available from Google Books.
The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. State of Minnesota, 1901. Available from Google Books.
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: Legislators Past and Present
Ronningen, Johan. "Charlie Halvorson." Telesoga 29(1) (May 2008): 26-28.
Sixth Biennial Report of the Board of Control of State Institutions of Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Syndicate Printing Co., 1912. Available from Google Books.
Telelaget of America. Telemark to America: Volume II: Settlements. 2nd ed. Telelaget of America, 1992, 2009.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Through a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I learned about eHistory, the Web site of the Center for Virtual History, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia. The Center was founded by Stephen Berry and Claudio Saunt.The Center has created online projects.

The Invasion of America is an interactive map which shows Native American land cessions between 1784 and 1887.When the slider on the map is moved, changes from year to year are visible. By clicking on the map, one can see who ceded the land, and when it was ceded. Pop-up boxes link to documents, including the text of treaties.

IndianNation contains pages for Native Americans counted in the census of 1900. I found Louis Thifault, the father-in-law of my first cousin 3 times removed Ralph Edwin Boe, listed on the site. Louis lived in Rolette, North Dakota and was a member of the Ojibwe tribe. The site did not have much information on him. People can register and add information to the site. I registered and began adding information.

Pox Americana contains information on the smallpox epidemic of 1775-1782. Cases of smallpox are shown on an interactive map; if you click on a case, details about it are provided.

The Georgia Virtual History Project includes maps, tutorials, and videos on the history of the state of Georgia. A mobile app is also available.

Other projects being developed by the Center are Born Unfree (biographies of former slaves interviewed by the Works Progress Administration), Common Tongues (the Corpus of American Civil War Letters Project, a collection of letters by Civil War soldiers who wrote "by ear"), CSI Dixie (coroners' inquests for the state of South Carolina between 1840 and 1880), Freedmen's Teacher Project (biographies of teachers in freed people's schools), Fugitive Federals (Union prisoners who escaped the Confederacy), and Mapping the American Population (demographic changes in North America between 1500 and 1800).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11

I was driving to work the morning of September 11, 2001 when I heard the news about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it must have been a terrible accident, but then I heard that a second plane had also crashed into the World Trade Center. At work, we brought a small TV into the workroom to keep up to date on the news. I also searched online for updates. We then heard that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. I looked out the window and saw planes circling around the area. They were probably doing surveillance, since we were in northern New Jersey, close to New York City. But at the time, under those circumstances, the sight of those planes made me nervous. I was horrified when I heard that the World Trade Center towers had collapsed.

We were sent home early and had the next day off as well. My Birman cat Velvet had died on March 23, 2001, and since then, I had not been able to bring myself to wear my two Birman T-shirts. But on September 11 and 12, I wore them. Feeling like Velvet was close to me brought me comfort. It was a very frightening time. I had always thought that I lived in a nice, safe neighborhood. But the terrorists were so close to me. They did practice runs for the 9/11 attacks at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey (the next town over from me, about 5 minutes away). The hijackers of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon had shopped at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey (also the next town over from me, about 5 minutes away) the weekend before the attacks. They had gone to the sporting goods store. They were probably buying box cutters, knives, and other supplies for the attacks. Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, had been hijacked at Newark Airport, the airport I use when I travel.What if my flight had been hijacked? For quite some time, I could not look at a plane in the air in the same way. The view over the New York skyline was sickening; the gray dust hovered over the city. My aunt and cousin live in New York City, fairly close to the World Trade Center. It must have been even worse for them, having to breathe that air.

A woman from my hometown, Sara Manley, was killed in the September 11 attacks. She was working in the World Trade Center. I didn't know her very well because she was younger than me, so she was in a different class at school, but my parents know her parents. A woman that I work with knew a priest, Mychal Judge, who was killed on September 11 while serving as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department.

Last December, I visited the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the former Twin Towers, and took the pictures below.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Workday Wednesday: Telephone Operators

To keep up with the growth of telephone networks, multiple switchboards were introduced. Operators sat before the middle panel of a three-panel board which contained jacks for subscriber lines, and could stretch to reach the jacks on the left and right panels. They sometimes worked in groups of three. Almost all telephone operators were women. They often answered 125 calls or more per hour.

Telephone service came to Middle Tennessee in 1880. In 1885, my great-great-grandfather's sister Jennie Tarkington worked for the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Co. in Nashville. The following year, her sister Julia also worked for the company, which moved its headquarters to Nashville in 1888. For more than thirty years, members of the Tarkington family were telephone operators. My great-grandmother's sister Margaret "Maggie" Tarkington was working for the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Co. in 1898, at the age of 14. In 1903, her sister Viola Maydell Tarkington and her cousin Susie Tarkington were also working for the company. Jennie and Julia's sister Adeline Sophronia "Fronie" Tarkington worked as a telephone operator for the East Tennessee Telephone Co. in Chattanooga in 1904. In 1905, Maggie, Viola, and my great-grandmother Gertrude Tarkington were all working at 180 3rd Av. N. in Nashville, where the East Tennessee Telephone Co. was located. By 1910, Maggie was the only one still working as a telephone operator, and she continued working in this field through 1917, when she was an operator at the post office.

Hello! The Telephone Girl
Lipartito, Kenneth.  "When Women Were Switches: Technology, Work, and Gender in the Telephone Industry, 1890-1920." American Historical Review 99 (1994): 1074-1111.
Telephone service comes to Robertson

Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company stamp. Available from

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1885

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1898

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1908

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1898

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1903

Chattanooga, Tennessee city directory, 1904

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1905

Nashville, Tennessee city directory, 1917

"Operators at Work in the Telephone Exchange", New Orleans, 1893. Artist not credited; signed but not legible (Via Times-Picayune archive) [Public domain]. Available from Times-Picayune Archive and Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Travel Tuesday: John Boe's Business Trip to Paris, 1956

In 1956, my maternal grandfather John Boe traveled to Paris, France with P. F. Collier and Son. He was Vice President of the company  at the time. He and John G. Ryan, President of P. F. Collier, presented a hand-tooled leather set of the anniversary edition of Collier's Encyclopedia to M. Julien Caen, the administrator general of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. He also met Guy Mollet, Prime Minister of France.

He returned to New York on 30 December 1956 on a Crowell Collier charter flight on Pan American World Airways. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Year: 1956; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8823; Line: 4; Page Number: 114.