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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mappy Monday: Hotzenwald

Karte der Region Hotzenwald im südlichen Schwarzwald (Map of the Hotzenwald region in southern Black Forest, Germany). Map by Thoroe (Thomas Römer)/OpenStreetMap data [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

The Hotzenwald is the southernmost part of the Black Forest. This map shows the Hotzenwald region and the elevation (in meters) of the land in and around the area. It includes information about mountains and their height.

My great-great-grandfather John Gersbacher (Johann Gerspacher) was from Görwihl, which is located in the Hotzenwald and is shown on this map. My great-great-grandmother Kunigunde Dreier was from nearby Niederwihl; the couple lived there before immigrating to the United States, and their German-born children were born there. Niederwihl became part of Görwihl in 1975.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dutch Veterans' Day

Since 2005, Dutch Veterans' Day (Veteranendag) has been observed on the last Saturday in June. The date was chosen in honor of Prince Bernhard, who was born on June 29. Veterans who served the Netherlands in wars or international peacekeeping operations are honored on this day. A parade takes place at The Hague, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force performs a flyby. Local events are also organized in other cities.

On 29 October 1932 in Bowling Green, Wood County, Ohio, my great-grandfather's sister Anna Elizabeth Gatlin (Anna E. Morrison at the time of her marriage) married Cornelius Thomas de Kam. Both were living in Detroit, Michigan. They divorced in Wayne County, Michigan on 26 November 1935, and Cornelius remarried his second wife, also named Anna.

Cornelius (Cornelis) was born on 15 August 1873 in Wissenkerke, Noord-Beveland, Zeeland, Netherlands. He immigrated to Canada, and then to the United States. According to his attestation paper for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, he had served in the Dutch army for six years. I searched, which contains militia records from seventeen Dutch archives, and I found that a record is available for Cornelis Thomas de Kam. Unfortunately, payment for the image must be made by bank transfer, and with added bank fees, it would be expensive to purchase the document.

Screen shot from, showing that a record is available for Cornelis Thomas de Kam.

Cornelius continued his military service after he immigrated to Canada. He agreed to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 22 September 1914.

Attestation paper, Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. Cornelius Thomas de Kam. 22 September 1914. Available from Library and Archives Canada.

Cornelius was a major in the Calgary Cycle Corps. He was also director of the provincial military school in Alberta, Canada. The infantry school was conducted in one of the city schools, but moved to Camp Sarcee in Calgary, Alberta in 1916.

Dutch Veterans' Day: last Saturday of June
Netherlands Veterans Institute

Saturday, June 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #26 John Gersbacher, "Street Angel, House Devil"

My great-great-grandfather John Gersbacher was born Johann Gerspacher on 2 September 1843 in Görwihl, Waldshut, Baden, Germany. He was the son of Fridolin Gerspacher and Maria Bär. His parents, first cousins, were the grandchildren of Joseph Bähr and Magdelena Huber; Fridolin was the son of Johann Gerspacher and Magdalena Bär, and Maria was the daughter of Jacob Bär and Magdalena Kaiser.

On 16 February 1871, Johann married Kunigunde Dreier, and they lived in Niederwihl (now part of Görwihl). Their son Friedrich (later known as Fridolin) was born three months later, on 15 May 1871. Another son, Hermann, was born on 30 May 1873, and died on 24 August 1873. The next child, my great-grandmother Paulina, was born on 13 August 1876. Another son named Hermann was born on 26 September 1877 and died on 18 December 1878. On 8 May 1879, son Josef (later known as Joseph John) was born. Daughter Augusta was born on 29 January 1881, and son Edward was born on 26 November 1882.

Johann left Germany for the United States when Kunigunde was pregnant with Edward, and changed his name to John Gersbacher. Kunigunde and the children arrived in the United States to join him in St. Louis, Missouri on 26 July 1883, and son Edward died in St. Louis on 10 August 1883. Three more children were born in the United States: Anna Maria was born on 25 August 1886, Emma Louisa was born on 15 May 1888 and 1 August 1888, and Rosa Louisa was born on 17 December 1890 and died on 13 July 1891. John's oldest son Fridolin died on 30 May 1892, and his wife Kunigunde died on 6 January 1893.

According to a letter written by my grandmother Margaret (Schneider) Boe (the daughter of Paulina Gersbacher), John Gersbacher was "a mean drunken carpenter who ruled his wife and kids with an iron hand" and that he was called "a street angel and a house devil!" After Kunigunde died, John abandoned his family. When their mother died, Paulina was 16, Joseph John was 13, Augusta was almost 12, and Anna was 6.

On 26 March 1900 in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois, John married Theresa Vollmer. Both were residents of St. Louis. When he filled out the marriage return, John answered many questions untruthfully. He said that his father was John and that his mother was Kunigunde Dreher (his first wife!) Since he already owned the family burial plot, maybe he wanted  to claim that the woman buried there was his mother, not his wife. He claimed that the marriage would be his first. He said that he had been born in St. Louis (he was not even a United States citizen at that time). He also took 7 years off his age. Theresa Vollmer probably did not know about his children at that time, and she may have thought that she was going to gain United States citizenship by marrying him. John became a citizen later that year, on 8 October 1900.

John died in St. Louis on 8 February 1914 and was buried on 10 February 1914 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in St. Louis.

Johann Gerspacher baptismal record, 2 September 1843. Katholische Kirche Görwihl. Kirchenbuch, 1648-1900.

Faller, Helmut. Familiengeschichte der Gemeinde Görwihl. Bad Säckingen : H. Faller, 2000. Johann is listed as the second child of Fridolin Gerspacher and Maria Bär, and the date of his marriage is given.

Faller, Helmut. Familiengeschichte der Gemeinde Görwihl. Bad Säckingen : H. Faller, 2000. Kunigunde and the children actually left in 1883.

Illinois State Board of Health. Marriage return, John Gersbacher and Theresa Vollmer, 26 March 1900. Note the numerous incorrect answers given by John Gersbacher.

John Gersbacher naturalization record, 8 October 1900. St. Louis City Court of Criminal Corrections. Second, Soldiers and Minors Papers. Naturalization Cards. St. Louis City. Reel no. C 25793, vol. 17, page 135. Apparently he was able to convince the court that he had conducted himself as a man of good moral character!

John Gersbacher death certificate, 8 February 1914. Missouri State Board of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Note that the maiden name of his mother is incorrect; his first wife's name was given!

Record of funeral, John Gersbacher. Wm. Schuhmacher Funeral Home, St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis County Library, Special Collections Department. Funeral Home Records, microfilm reel 17.

Gersbacher tombstone, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri. The stone is inscribed with the names and dates of John, Kunigunde, and their oldest son Fred. Fred's death date and Kunigunde's death date are off by a year, so the stone was probably erected after John Gersbacher's death, most likely by John and Paulina (Gersbacher) Schneider.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday's Faces from the Past: Harry Ashby Lee and John Boe

This photo was taken on 2 May 1953. My maternal grandfather John Boe is seated. With him is Harry Ashby Lee, the husband of his niece Joan Elise Roberts (daughter of Florence Boe and Earl Mason Roberts).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Avaldsnes, Rogaland, Norway

Avaldsnes med Avaldsnes kyrkje frå Karmsundet. Photo By Michael Spiller from Bradford, UK (Trees). File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

My great-great-grandmother Marthe Elisabeth Erickson (Eriksdatter) was born in Avaldsnes, Rogaland, Norway on 8 April 1853. Her mother Marthe Maria Jacobsdatter was also born in Avaldsnes. Avaldsnes is now part of the municipality of Karmøy, along with other towns on Karmøy Island, including Torvastad, the birthplace of Marthe's father Erik Svendsen Haavig (or Håvik).

Avaldsnes was named after King Augvald, who had lived there according to the Norse sagas. Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, resided at Avaldsnes after the unification of Norway about 870. Notow was a trading port in Avaldsnes.

King Håkon Håkonsson ordered the construction of a church about 1250. The church, St. Olav's Church of Avaldsnes (Olavskirken), was completed in the early 1300s.

 Avaldsneskirken, 2004. Photo by Tor-Egil Farestveit. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

The Virgin Mary's Sewing Needle is a monumental stone near the wall of the church.

Die Nähnadel der Jungfrau Maria [The Sewing Needle of the Virgin Mary]. 29 January 2011. Photo by Frank Hüncke. Available at Wikimedia Commons and File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany.

Rekonstruiertes Winkingerlanghaus auf der Insel Bukkoya bei Avalsnes (Reconstructed Viking boathouse at the Nordvegen History Centre). 29 January 2011. Photo by Frank Hüncke.Available at Wikimedia Commons and File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany.

Archaeological discoveries at Avaldsnes have shown that the coast of Norway was controlled by kings long before the Viking Age, and confirmed that a royal manor was present in the Middle Ages.

Avaldsnes – Norway’s oldest royal seat
Avaldsnes, Norway's oldest throne
Avaldsnes in Norway (Viking Ship Museum)
Viking Settlement at Avaldsnes - a feeling of being back in the Viking Age
Church of Avaldsnes
Nordvegen Historiesenter
Pre-Viking hotspot on the Norwegian Coast
Archaeologists discover medieval Royal Estate
Avaldsnes Royal manor project
13th Century Rural Residence Discovered in Norway
Medieval Royal Hall: Royal Norwegian Estate from 13th century found at Avaldsnes
Ancient coin confirms saga

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Virginia Statehood Day

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789. Richmond, state of Virginia. In convention, Wednesday, the 25th of June, 1788. Available from American Memory

On 25 June 1788, the Virginia Ratifying Convention voted in favor of ratifying the United States Constitution, and Virginia became the 10th state. The convention met in Richmond in the temporary capitol building and was made up of 170 people. The Federalists favored ratification. The Anti-Federalists opposed ratification because they did not want the central government to be too powerful. The vote was close (89 to 79).

Some of my ancestral families (including the Mayo, Isbell, and Gordon families) lived in Virginia at the time of ratification.

References and Additional Resources
Virginia Ratifying Convention Journal, June 25, 1788 (Virginia Memory)
Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Journal Proceedings (June 25, 1788)
Virginia Ratification Bicentennial Stamp, 25 June 1988

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Julia Elizabeth (Tarkington) Johnson

Julia Elizabeth Tarkington was the daughter of my 3rd-great-grandparents Joseph Tarkington and Amanda Russell. She was born in Tennessee on 9 April 1865. She married Fred R. Johnson in New York City on 13 August 1898. They had one stillborn child. By 1900 they had separated and she was living with her parents in Nashville, Tennessee. She worked as a telephone operator. Julia died in Nashville on 18 March 1950 and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, section 13 lot 75.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Military Monday: 4th Australian Field Ambulance, World War I

Group portrait of the 4th Australian Field Ambulance, Steenwerck, France, 11 March 1918. Available from the Australian War Memorial.

My first cousin 3 times removed George Arthur Troedson was the son of Ola Peter Troedson, brother of my great-great-grandfather Andreas Troedsson. George was a private in the 4th Australian Field Ambulance. In this photo, he is third from right in the fourth row.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Census Sunday: Were They Really Widowed?

My great-grandmother's sister Augusta "Gussie" Gersbacher married Emil Glaser in 1903. By 1910, they were no longer together. In the 1910 United States census, Gussie was enumerated as head of household in St. Louis, Missouri. She ran a rooming house and lived with her younger sister Annie. She was listed as married.

1910 United States census, St. Louis City, Missouri, Ward 7, population schedule, enumeration district 111, sheet no. 5A.

Her estranged husband Emil Glaser was also enumerated in St. Louis. He was living with his mother Lena. His marital status is given as widowed.

1910 United States census, St. Louis City, Missouri, Ward 15, population schedule, enumeration district 243, sheet no. 9A.
Divorced/separated people often claimed to be widowed. I have seen many women listed as widows when their husbands were still alive, but Emil Glaser was the first man that I found listed as a widower when his wife was still living. Gussie was Catholic; maybe Emil was too. Divorce would be an even greater stigma for a Catholic family. Emil or another member of his household may not have wanted to admit that his marriage had failed. Perhaps his mother provided the information to the census taker and did not want to say that her son was married but not living with his wife.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #25 William D. Gatlin, Convicted Felon

Crime ran on both sides of the family of William D. Gatlin. His paternal grandfather William Dow Gatlin (who he probably shared a name with; I suspect that his middle initial D stood for Dow) was tried for an ax murder. His mother's half-brother Tom Cox was sentenced to death for killing a police officer. William D. Gatlin never killed anyone (as far as I know), but he was frequently in trouble with the law.

William was born on 10 December 1886 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was the third child of John William Morton Gatlin and Sarah Claire "Sadie" Dyer. By 1904 he and his older brother Henry (my great-grandfather) were living together in Chicago, Illinois. Henry was working at Hazlitt Printing Company. I am not sure what William was doing, but at some point he got himself into trouble, because he was enumerated in the 1910 United States Census as a prisoner in Southern Illinois Penitentiary in Chester, Randolph County, Illinois. He had been released by 1911, when he and his brother John were in Bloomington, Indiana, where their older sister Mary Florence (Gatlin) Pate lived with her husband Downie Campbell Pate. The brothers spent time in Kentucky before going to Indiana. On 7 July 1911, William and John got into a fight. George Alexander was sitting on his front porch and tried to break up the fight. He went inside and got his gun. One of the brothers fired a revolver at George. George fired back and did not hit the men, but he was shot and seriously injured. Five police officers pursued the Gatlin brothers, and the men shot at each other. John claimed that he was the one that had shot George Alexander and asked that William be released. However, because William had a criminal record, had given a false name when arrested (he said his name was George Gatlin), and got into more trouble throughout his life than John did, I am not sure if John was telling the truth.

On 11 August 1912, William was arrested again. He stole guns, ammunition, a knife, and 36 pairs of scissors from a hardware store in Bloomington, Indiana. He then stole a horse and buggy to escape, and when he was arrested, he handed the police officers a $10 bill that he had taken from the till at the hardware store.

William was free by 5 June 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft in Chicago, Illinois, but on 16 October 1917, he was sent to Joliet Prison. On 22 September 1919, he and another prisoner, George Cechota, attempted to attack a prison guard while they were being taken back to solitary confinement. Another guard, Henry Springer, came over to help, and he shot William. Three other prisoners escaped during the conflict. William died the next day at the penitentiary hospital. He was buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Cook County, Illinois.

1910 United States Census, Chester precinct, Randolph County, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district 101, sheet no. 4A.

Indianapolis Star, 8 July 1911

Indianapolis Star, 9 July 1911

Indianapolis Star, 12 August 1912

 Chicago Daily Tribune, 24 September 1919

State of Illinois, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Death certificate, William Gatlin. 23 September 1919.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Two Anniversaries

Edward Theodore Anderson, Ellen Victoria (Dahlquist) Anderson, Helen Martha Marie (Anderson) Gatlin, and Henry Cornelius Gatlin

On 20 June 1910, my great-grandparents Edward Theodore Anderson and Ellen Victoria Dahlquist married in Chicago, Illinois.

Twenty-nine years later, on 20 June 1939, my paternal grandparents Henry Cornelius Gatlin and Helen Martha Marie Anderson (daughter of Edward Theodore Anderson and Ellen Victoria Dahlquist) married at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois. I do not think that this is a coincidence; I think my grandmother intentionally chose to get married on her parents' anniversary. My grandparents were happily married for sixty-two years.

Cook County, Illinois Marriage license and return, Edward T. Anderson and Ella V. Dahlquist, 1910.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Borg Home, Baillytown, Porter, Indiana

My 3rd-great-grandparents John and Johanna (Samuelson) Borg and their family lived in the Swedish community of Baillytown in Porter County, Indiana. They lived in a gabled ell house which was similar to the nearby Chellberg and Nelson homes. These old family photos show the Borg home, which was designed by A. J. Lundquist. The Borg family had a farm and engaged in animal husbandry.

Unfortunately, the Borg home has deteriorated over the years and is crumbling.

John Borg Home, Porter, Indiana. Photo by Chris Light [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons.

Swedish Baileytown: A Nineteenth Century Rural Enclave
Swedish Farmsteads of Porter County, Indiana
Swedish Historic District
Swedish Homesteads

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

War of 1812 Declaration - 202nd Anniversary

National Archives and Records Administration. Office of the Federal Register. Record Group 11: General Records of the United States Government, 1778 - 2006. Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789 - 2011. National Archives Identifier: 299950. Act of June 18, 1812, 2 STAT 755, Declaration of War with Great Britain, War of 1812.  Available from or

On 18 June 1812, the United States Congress passed an act declaring war on the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the War of 1812 began.

Some of my family members participated in the War of 1812. The ones that I have identified so far are my 6th-great-grandfather Francis Hardgrave and his son Skelton Hardgrave, my 5th-great-grandfather Andrew Russell (Francis Hardgrave's son-in-law), and my 5th-great-grandfather Chapman Gordon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: John and Margaret Boe

My maternal grandparents John Boe (28 April 1908 - 24 November 1977) and Margaret Ann (Schneider) Boe (16 March 1911 - 4 August 1986) are buried in Valleau Cemetery in Ridgewood, Bergen County, New Jersey. Their tombstone inscription "THEY WERE LIFE ITSELF" fits them well. This photo was taken around Christmastime.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Maritime Monday: Robert Mapplebeck, Mate of a Home Trade Passenger Ship

Robert Mapplebeck, the uncle of my great-grandmother Kathleen Graham's stepfather/adoptive father James Mapplebeck, received his Certificate of Competency as mate of a home trade passenger ship in 1868. He passed his examination in Hull, England on 28 May 1868, and the certificate was issued at the port of Goole on 4 June 1868. UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Master's Certificates. Greenwich, London, UK: National Maritime Museum.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day/Mom's Birthday

Today is both Father's Day and my mother's birthday, so I am sharing a family picture that was taken when I was five years old.

I am also sharing a recent picture of my father bottle feeding my kitten Flash. He has been such a big help. Thank you, Dad!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flag Day

The "Betsy Ross Flag" flying outside City Hall in San Francisco, California, 11 October 2008. Photo by Makaristos (Own work) [Public domain]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

On 14 June 1777, the Flag Act of 1777 was passed by the Second Continental Congress. Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the American flag.

Bernard J. Cigrand was the first to propose that June 14 be observed as Flag Day. On 30 May 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued Proclamation 1335, requesting that June 14 be observed as Flag Day. On 3 August 1949, President Harry Truman signed Congressional legislation designating June 14 as Flag Day.

Flag Day (United States)
National Flag Day Foundation
This Day in History: Continental Congress Chooses New Flag
Today in History: June 14 (American Memory, Library of Congress)

Friday, June 13, 2014

52 Ancestors: #24 Andreas Troedsson/Andrew T. Anderson

My great-great-grandfather Andreas Troedsson was born on 24 February 1851 in Grevie, Skåne, Sweden, and was baptized on 2 March 1851. He was the son of Troed Andersson and Christina Jacobsdotter. The EmiHamn database records his date of emigration as 11 March 1872; he left from Copenhagen, Denmark, and his destination was Chicago, Illinois. He was the first of his siblings to come to America; two brothers and two sisters followed him. After he arrived in America, he changed his name to Andrew T. Anderson. His middle initial was from his original patronymic, Troedsson, and his new surname was probably chosen because it was a modified version of his father's patronymic. His brothers also adopted the surname Anderson and used the middle initial T.

He married Marthe Elisabeth Erickson, an immigrant from Avaldsnes, Rogaland, Norway, in Chicago on 31 March 1877. They had seven children: Anna Matilda (born 13 April 1878), Emma Christina (born 2 June 1880, died 9 June 1881), my great-grandfather Edward Theodore (born 10 August 1882), Albert Bernard (born 28 March 1885), Esther Elizabeth (born 1 September 1889), Reuben Alexander (born 19 December 1892), and Ruth Elvira (born 18 June 1896).

He was a wood turner. He made a set of chairs and gave one to each of his children (except baby Emma). My father has the chair that belonged to Edward Theodore. By 1910, he was a clerk for the Cook County Board of Review.

In 1912, he returned to Sweden to visit his sister Carolina. He also saw his brother Johannes while he was there. He returned to the United States on 28 July 1912. He arrived at Ellis Island on the Caronia, which had sailed from Liverpool, England.

He died in Chicago on 24 January 1916 and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery on 27 January 1916.

Birth/christening record for Andreas, 1851. Grevie CI (1837-1861), image 79. (AID: v99277.b79, NAD: SE/LLA/13113)

Cook County, Illinois Marriage license and return, Andrew Anderson and Marte E. Eriksen, 1877.

Anderson family ca. 1906: Esther, Andrew, Albert, Reuben, Ruth, Edward, Marthe, Anna.

1910 United States census, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Ward 31, population schedule, enumeration district 1351, page 15B.

City of Chicago, Department of Health. Certificate of death no. 2930, Andrew T. Anderson, 24 January 1916.

Chicago Daily Tribune, 26 January 1916

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Helsinki Day

June 12 is Helsinki Day (Helsinki-päivä), a celebration of the founding of Helsinki. The first Helsinki Day was celebrated on June 12, 1959, the 409th anniversary of the founding of the city. The celebration includes many free events such as morning coffee, music, dance, films, food, sports, and tours.

I have not discovered any Finnish ancestors, but I visited Finland, including Helsinki, in 2008 and had a wonderful time. Helsinki is a beautiful city.

Helsinki Cathedral