Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Dance

It's Sunday night as I write this and I'm doing a happy dance. Remember AncestryDNA? Here's an unexpected find, thanks to the project. I've taken the time to look at matches for more distant cousins and have found some matches that solidify an assumption.

Based on circumstantial evidence, family researchers have theorized the names of the parents of Kezziah D Fry (marked in red) who married James Childers or Childress in Madison County, Alabama, in 1828. I've accepted the theory and not done any primary research on that line.

One of my 5th-8th cousin matches is the one shown here, with our common ancestor, Clemens Dunkelberger of Pennsylvania. There are a handful of other trees that match in similar ways, but this new-found cousin has the strongest possibility of correctly following her tree. So I call the Fry theory much closer to proven!

I'm definitely happy dancing!!

Sentimental Sunday

Today I just want to vent a bit. Do you ever get emotional about the records you are researching? I do.

I get frustrated at the census takers and clerks who scrawled. A few choice words might even pass my lips. Like this one. Where did she go from Halleby?

I ooh and ahh over beautifully written records. How about this writer? I wish my handwriting were as beautiful.

As I research the records for a family, I get to know them. I know where they lived and about their extended family and friends. Sometimes I do the happy dance.

But there is one group of records that always leave me feeling bittersweet -- the Swedish church records of the 19th century. They are comprehensive, as long as the parish clerk was diligent. I can follow my ancestors and their families from home to home, parish to parish, birth to death.

What breaks my heart, over and over, is the high infant mortality rate. I'm happily rolling along and then bam! A baby or young child dies and I feel the sorrow.

I'm sure that other countries experienced the same loss, especially during the years the crops failed. I know it's not unique to Sweden.

I've spent quite a bit of time in the Swedish records over the past couple of weeks, especially using the more recent records from the free weekend with ArkivDigital. I decided to follow one of my great-grandfather's brothers who changed his name. As I traced forward, I saw the children dying until only one child remained, a daughter who married. My heart was saddened when she and her first baby died within a day of each other.

Of my great-grandfather and his six siblings, there are only descendants left today from my great-grandfather. I believe that our branch survived only because he came to America with his wife and children.

I leave you with a look at one of these wonderful, yet heart-wrenching records. Dad Carl Lagerholm works on the railroad, I believe as an engineer. Mom Ester Fors is a housewife. We see their birthdates and parishes, their marriage date and the parish from which they came, with the arrival date. And we see the wee one with the little cross in front of his name, with the dates of his birth and death. Erik's birth date is actually wrong -- one of the few transcription errors I've seen. The birth and death details told me that he was born in 1890 and died at two days old.

Carl and Ester did have more children, including a son who joined his aunts and uncles in America.

I have more work to do in the Swedish records. That means more sad times ahead as I look for the remnants of my family.