Tuesday, May 27, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #21 Matilda Vilhelmina Viberg

My great-great-grandmother, Matilda Vilhelmina Viberg, was a member of the last generation of my family to live their entire life in Sweden. She watched her children move between Sweden and America and I doubt that she ever met most of her American grandchildren.

Quick drop page from Vogue digital kit, Club Scrap

Matilda was born in 1843 in the parish of Eskilstuna (Fors), Södermanland, Sweden, to Johanna Olafsdotter and Pehr Eric Jonsson Viberg. She was the eighth of eleven children born to the couple, with four more younger half-siblings making a total of fifteen children in the family. Three of those siblings died young.

At age 21 she married a railroad worker, Erik Edvard Fors, in Vårdinge. The Fors family moved often, following the railroad.  Having moved often myself, I understand how frequent moves leads a child to have a curiosity about other places and a willingness to pull up stakes and move.

Matilda and Erik had six children: three daughters and three sons. The youngest, Hildemar Wilhelm Fors, lived less than a month. The remaining five must have saddened her with their wanderlust.

The three girls were Agnes, Ester and Gerda. Each of them spent time in America. Only my great-grandmother Agnes stayed and made it her home. Son Anton also made his way to a new home in America. Ester's son, Carl Lagerholm later made a permanent move to America.

One son, Arvid Edvard Fors, has evaded my research. I'd like to know if he came to America or stayed in Sweden. He was born on August 23, 1873, in the parish of Vårdinge, Stockholm, Sweden. He went to the city of Stockholm in 1890, where I have so far lost him.

Matilda and Erik moved to the Södermanland parish of Frustuna after his retirement. Matilda died there on August 11, 1922,  at the age of 79. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #20 Christian Peter Bosseck and the Year Without Summer

Why would a parent indenture a baby? Ever since a cousin shared the indenture of Christian Peter Bosseck, that question has nagged at me. I can't find the original record, so I won't share exactly what I've been told. If the Botetourt County records are filmed or preserved in the future, I hope to find and share that indenture.

But let's assume that the researcher shared a true transcription and that the 18-month-old Christian Bosseck was indeed indentured to Jacob Peter in December of 1816.

For some years I've been vaguely aware that 1816 was known as "The Year Without Summer." I've identified some migrations in my family history that happened in 1816 and 1817. Just recently I've learned much more about the impacts of that awful year.

A dramatic book cover caught my eye while I was wandering in a bookstore. It's "The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano that Darkened the World and Changed History," by William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman. It's not a hard book, nor is it an easy one. If you see marriages, deaths and migrations in your family history in 1816-1817, you may want to check this book out at your local library. The authors have written about events in the British Isles, Europe, Canada and the United States, as well as the damage and destruction in Indonesia.

In the United States, the summer of 1816 brought crop failures, cold weather and drought. I can imagine that the parents of young Christian Bosseck might not have been able to feed him or their other children. Jacob Peter was a man of some substance in Botetourt County, Virginia. Indenturing Christian may have been his parents' best hope for saving him from starvation.

Christian Bosseck showed up in Montgomery County, Indiana, when he married Elizabeth Rettinger on August 23, 1838. Elizabeth was part of a community of Swiss-Americans who were known as German Baptists, now Church of the Brethren. Members of the community had migrated from eastern Pennsylvania down into the area of Roanoke, Virginia, then to the area of Ladoga, Indiana.

Christian was a farmer and a minister. He and Elizabeth migrated on from Indiana, through Illinois, to Kansas. Again, there was a family community who settled together in Labette County, Kansas.

The Bossecks had eight children, losing two sons in the Civil War and two others as children. Another son served in the Civil War and never married. Two daughters and one son married and gave them grandchildren who soon spread through Kansas and beyond.

Quick drop page from Comfort Zone, ClubScrap

Christian died in 1896 and Elizabeth in 1892. They are buried together in Elston Cemetery, near Altamont in Labette County.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #19 Laura Ann Pryor Allee

I still remember that early morning phone call that I received while in college. My last living great-grandmother, Laura Ann Pryor Allee, had died on February 9, 1975, at the age of 90 years, 6 months and 7 days. I barely remember her, as we didn't often visit her home in the city of Pueblo, Colorado. She was the loving mother of eight children, four of whom predeceased her.

Laura Ann Pryor was born in Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas, on August 2, 1884, the fifth of six children. Her father, Benjamin Franklin Pryor, died when she was five years old. Her mother, Mary Jane Smith Pryor, did her best to run her small farm, looking to her extended family for help.

On August 31, 1902, the eighteen-year-old Laura married Thomas Merrill Allee in Mineral Wells. Their marriage record was issued in nearby Parker County, as the courthouse was easier to reach. Family legend tells that they married in the church, but the marriage index reports the marriage was performed by a Justice of the Peace. Perhaps they had two ceremonies.

The couple farmed in Oklahoma, where they buried two children. Their eldest son, Thomas Gilbert, died at age 16, and Ura Maggie, twin to Ima Nora, died in infancy. The couple moved on to Pueblo County, Colorado in 1928, farming in Rye. They moved to the city of Pueblo in 1942.

Laura was widowed in 1948. She lived on in Pueblo, nurturing her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren until her death. She was buried next to Thomas in Brookside Cemetery in Rye, Colorado.

Quick drop page from All That Jazz, ClubScrap, 2010

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #18 Mary Ellen Vossler McFarlane

My great-grandmother has left me with three big questions:
  1. What was her nickname?
  2. Where was she raised?
  3. By whom was she raised?

Quick drop page from Love Blooms, ClubScrap

Mary Ellen Vossler was born March 22, 1870, near Decatur, Illinois. She had one older brother, John, and five older half-brothers. Little is known about her father, George Vosseler. He was an immigrant from the German principality of Wuerttemberg.

Mary's mother was Elizabeth Childers, who was born about 1833, in Bristow Cove, Alabama, and was the widow of John Wilson. By 1875, Elizabeth and George were dead or missing. McFarlane family legend reports that Mary was then raised by a childless aunt and uncle in far southern Illinois.

Mary Ellen married Walter McFarlane on April 7, 1897, in Chicago. They had two daughters: Ruth Dorothy McFarlane and Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" McFarlane. Mary lived as a typical Chicago housewife. As she grew older, she was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. She was remembered as being loving and kind with her grandchildren during the years she cared for them. She died on October 23, 1935, in Chicago, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines.

Family legend reports that Mary's nickname was "Molly". However it is more likely to be "Polly", a common nickname for Mary. If she was raised by German relatives, might she instead have been called Marie? She is nowhere to be found in the 1880 census under any of these names. I've searched for many years and never found her. If that elusive census record comes to light, it should solve all three questions and put the mystery of Mary Ellen to rest.