The last of the Burrell girls

Arthur_2My Aunt Diane passed away in the night. She was the last living daughter of Arthur and Florence Burrell. That means that I (their first grandchild) am now their oldest living descendant. I have nothing profound to say. Just keep in touch with your family and write things down. Remember.

Heroes and villains

On my way to the library in Fort Dodge to volunteer at the Webster County Genealogical Society, I had this thought: everybody has heroes and villains in their family. It's so simple and true. Some people try to hide the skeletons in the family closet, but I think we really shouldn't do that. Maybe I would feel differently if it turned out that a close relative was high in the Nazi party or something along those lines, but I think we have to accept our family history. In my family's case, one known villain was a young man who in a heated moment made a really bad decision. On Saturday, July 11, 1908, Will Carr was involved in a fight with a stranger near the train depot in Gowrie, Iowa, after drinking heavily that afternoon. Town Marshal Thomas Nicholson apparently broke up the fight or attempted to arrest Will Carr. Will (he's sometimes referred to as William or Wilbur) went home and got a gun, then went back to the depot, where he found the marshal and shot him. There  are newspaper accounts of the incident and the subsequent trial. One of the articles mentions that Thomas Nicholson's wife was the sister of Ira Carr's wife. This Ira Carr was the brother of Will Carr. This was confirmed in a book called "The Biographical Record of Webster County, Iowa" which was published by the S.J. Clarke Publishing Company in 1902. That book  lists the children of Richard Quick, including Bessie, married to Thomas Nicholson, a farmer of Roland township, and Leona, married to Ira Carr, also a farmer of Roland township. Roland township is north of Gowrie. I'm sure that time eases the impact of these events. Had this occurred within my lifetime I would probably not be so easy with it. But we are the sum of everything that has happened before us. It shapes our families and it shapes our selves. We can embrace the good and try to learn from the bad, but it doesn't help to hide it away.

What’s in a name?

Blogging prompt from The Accidental Genealogist for March 3:
March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.
My mom and her sisters followed a sort of naming pattern where their children all have middle names from other close family members. My middle name is Elaine, after my Aunt Nancy. My sister's middle name is the same as another aunt's first name, but also the same first and middle name as a cousin of our mom's. I won't go into details about exactly who has what name other than that, because of identity theft possibilities. I followed the naming pattern, giving Amanda the same middle name as my paternal grandmother (because her first name was Gladys and I couldn't deal with that) and Cayla a version of the name of Kent's paternal grandmother, Mary. Donna didn't follow this pattern, and I don't know if my Burrell cousins did or not. But I liked keeping family names in my own family. On Kent's side of the family, there were a couple of instances where a child died and a subsequent child in that same family was given the same name. In one case, both little girls named Olive died. There is also a Lurana and a Lurany in two generations - I have never seen either name in any other context. (According to Baby Name Train, there were five Luranas in 1884 but none since then.)

Picture this

Blogging prompt from The Accidental Genealogist for March 2:
March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?
Janice_Diane_Burrell This is a photo of my mom (Janice) with her younger sister Diane. The youngest sister, Nancy, had not been born yet. I'm guessing Diane was about 1-2 years old here, so Mom would be about 6-7 years old. So, about 1944-1945. I just like this photo. It looks like it was taken at home. Mom's hair is cute and curly. I can really recognize her, even though she is so young in the photo. What I should do now is show the old family photos to Mom - to see if they awaken any memories, and see what she can communicate about them. It's difficult now because of her dementia and speaking in rhyme, but we try to glean the meanings of what she's trying to tell us.

Here we go again

I'm making a second attempt at doing a blog post a day for a whole month. This month is National Women'The Accidental Genealogists History Month, so the blog prompts for March at  are all about women ancestors. March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check. I'm going to include women on Kent's side of the family for some of these. His grandmother and her mother were both married more than once. His great-grandmother was Ada Waite Overend Fletcher, born in England. Her first husband, Albert Overend, must have died. I don't think I have his information. But they had a son, Albert. Ada remarried - Henry Fletcher. They moved to the United States. She had a daughter, Hilda, born in San Diego. Ada died, leaving Henry to raise the two children. Hilda grew up and married Paul Rudolph Rieboldt. Paul was in the Navy. Hilda was living in Pensacola, Florida, when Pauline (Kent's mom) was born. Soon after Pauline's birth, Hilda and Paul took in Hilda's nephew, Albert Richard Overend. His father had died in a military plane accident and his mother had remarried. I think she died in childbirth, and the stepfather didn't want him. So Hilda and Paul raised him. However, there were problems in the marriage and Hilda and Paul divorced. She raised the two kids by herself. She married again, but I haven't found her second husband's name - I have a photo of a wedding or bridal shower cake with the names "Hilda" and "Mac" on it. Mac died, leaving Hilda to raise  the kids on her own again. She met and married Jasper Coomes - called "Jap" - while Pauline was still in school, I believe. I think Pauline looked at Jap as her father figure. I would like to know more about each of these marriages - what happened to each husband. The name of Hilda's second husband. What happened to young Albert's mother. I'll have to check military records for Paul Rieboldt and Albert Overend (2). I wonder if his wife got a pension ... There are more records to check, of course, but I'll need to sit down and decide where to start.

The Christmas Tree

I decided to participate in the Genea Bloggers advent calendar of Christmas memories on this blog. The first blog prompt is The Christmas Tree. Growing up, my family had live trees. Dad made the tree stand himself - it was very sturdy, but it was not very pretty. We had a lot of glass ornaments and a mixture of other kinds. My favorite ornaments were musical instruments. We had glass ones like violin or cello - it can be hard to tell with instruments, especially when you haven't seen the real thing in person (and it was decades ago, so my memory is faint). There were also drums that had little drumsticks. I think they were styrofoam covered in paper and fabric or felt. There were also shiny and dull glass ornaments with glitter designs. And at least one bread dough ornament in the shape of a dove. I'm sure there were home-made (or school-made) creations by Donna and me, as well. We also had two or three tinsel garlands and a garland made of plastic candy. The bulbs were the big, fat kind. I think we had a glass tree topper, not an angel. As I mentioned, it was decades ago. I don't have any photos, and it's hard to remember after all this time. But that's the idea behind this blog.


The mission of this blog is to share family history and memories. Many of my ancestors lived in Fort Dodge, Iowa - there has been an ancestor or relative of mine living in Webster County since 1880, when William and Lydia Burrell brought their family here from Wisconsin. It's possible that some of Lydia's family had been here prior to that - it's one of the mysteries to be discovered. So when I found out about WikiTree, I quickly got an invitation and joined. You can't just sign up - you have to be invited.
embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree
There are many styles of family trees available - some like the one above that show several generations - there are also more vertical formats. Some have images behind the names, such a maps of different areas or photos of places. The image below is what the trees look like when you are working on them:
embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree
At this point, I need to add my photo (if you see the photo that means I've added it since). And I've got more names to add. One thing you should do if you join (and you can ask me for an invitation by email at ) is read carefully and sign (electronically) the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code. It has nine requirements, and you should understand and agree with them before you add to the wiki. The cool thing (well, one of many cool things) is that eventually one of the people you add will be the same as somebody else's person. That means you get access to names of people that perhaps you didn't know about before. And to a genealogist or family history researcher, that is so exciting. I went into this with the plan to create more detailed profiles than simply names, dates and places. So I'm including pictures where I have them, and anecdotes about the people whenever possible. It truly is a great time to be a genealogist.

Addressing issues

So I'm still working on figuring out this photo of the three Swenson girls and my mom, Janice Burrell. Mom assures me that her cousin Jane looks more like her older sister (Beverly, in back), than like her twin, so Jane is on the right and Joan is on the left. The next question is where was this photo taken? At first I thought the building in the very far left might be Phillips Middle School - once known at the High School. But that street is not Fifth Avenue North. It does look like a school, however. So, I went to the Webster County Historical Society and Webster County Genealogical Society and talked with people at both locations. After looking through city directors (1940, 1941 and 1944), looking at maps and photos of defunct schools in Fort Dodge, I still hadn't figured out my mystery. And the city directory was partly to blame. The address for the Swenson family in 1940 was 216 Park Boulevard. The problem is, there is no Park Boulevard in Fort Dodge. I looked at old maps, at Google maps, at the aforementioned photos and still couldn't figure it out. When I was talking to Sue at the Genealogical Society, though, somehow something clicked. I checked the 1940 city directory again, but this time I looked at the reverse listing - by street. I found Park Boulevard. There was a note that said the street was renamed from 17th Street (North 17th or South 17th, depending on location in relation to Central Avenue. Therefore, the address was 216 South 17th Street in today's terms. And at that time (around 1941, I'm guessing), the old Arey School would still have been standing. I didn't find any photos of that school, but there must be some somewhere. And I haven't driven down the street yet to see if the rest of the details match. But, I am excited to have figured this out (assuming I'm correct). those "ah-ha" moments are always nice.

A treasure trove

I managed to get my external hard drive hooked up tonight and went looking through the files for some photos I could use for a speed scrap on Facebook with MyMemories. They do that every Sunday night (and other times). But in the process, I discovered some old photos that I honestly didn't know that I had. They must have come from my mom's cousin, Jack Webb. I used four of the photos for my layout and found a plug-in for WordPress that does photo galleries. So you can view the photos here. It's a page called Burrell photos. There are 113 photos in the slideshow. I already had a very few of them, and the one called Easter girls is one that Jack doesn't have. The girls pictured are my sister Donna, me, and our cousin Neela, all dressed up in identical Easter dresses. I am excited to see the photos - I don't think I had ever looked at them all before. The house in many of the photos is probably the house that Walter and Augusta Burrell (my mom's paternal grandparents) lived in, in Fort Dodge. The house is gone now, but I know where it was located. Someday I'll go down that street and compare the photos to the other houses to verify it. And this one wasn't scanned at that point but is now (April 25, 2012) - A photo of my mom, Janice Burrell, in the center, surrounded by her Swenson cousins: Jane, Joan and Beverly (in the back). To be honest, I'm not sure which is Jane and which is Joan, but I can tell them apart now.

Johanna Cornilsen

(The first part of this is modified from a Facebook post.) Johanna Cornilsen married Heinrich Muhs and had two children: Walter and Frieda. Frieda married Henry Korn and had Arthur and Florence, and Florence married Arthur Burrell, had three kids, one of whom was my mother, Janice Burrell Snyder. Walter and Frieda both got married on 11 April 1917, BTW. And I think Johanna went by Hannah. I think she married again after Heinrich (Henry) died - Anton Dengg? I'll have to look again. Mom told a somewhat amusing story about attending a wedding (possibly Hannah and Anton) when she was about 3 and getting drunk from the glasses of beer left around by the adults. Notes about this family: On Florence Korn's birth certificate, her mother's name is listed as Frieda Ninho instead of Frieda Muhs. Her name was kind of scrawled, so I can see how the indexer(s) got it wrong, but I wish it could be corrected. When I'm indexing sometimes I just put my best guess and hope that the arbitrator catches it ... but obviously that doesn't always work.