Friday, August 30, 2013

Hintz Family revisited - Melvin Hanson's story

When I posted earlier on the Hintz family, I had a careless error in my narrative, caught luckily by my cousin, Carol.  So here's the post that should clear up that problem:

Ancestors of Melvin Hanson

Melvin was one of 5 children of Mabel Hintz and Harvey Hanson to survive out of 11 births.
Melvin Hanson, high school

Mabel and Harvey produced children from 1920-1932.  The 6 children who died, died at birth or before age 2. One curious piece of data is that first-born Maynard (b. 1920) and one of the twins (John, b. 1921) both died on the same day (Feb 10, 1922).  I would suspect illness, like the flu, perhaps.  Mabel had two sets of twins, and only William (Bill, b. 1921) survived to adulthood and old age.

My Dad (Mel) told me those early years were brutal.  Mabel divorced Harvey in 1934. He claims they were essentially living in a tar paper shack, all the kids in one bed.  Often cold and hungry.  He always said that Harvey was a mean drunk and hit his Mom.  He remembered her being hit in the stomach when she was pregnant. He also told a story of his grandma and grandpa Hintz (Karl and Anna) coming in the middle of the night to take the whole family to their house and away from Harvey and the tar paper shack.  My Dad was always bitter about those years, about not having a father, and about "coming from the wrong side of the tracks". He carried that hurt all his life and struggled with it while raising his own children.  It was only after his kids were all grown and out of  the house that I could see Dad mellow and accept to some degree his childhood hurt.  He would have been about 8 years old and so he saw his family through his 8 year-old eyes. I wish I could have heard the stories from other adults in his family, but I never asked and we never talked about it.  Was it really as bad as he remembered? Whatever the truth, he carried his version of reality throughout his life.

I wish I had pressed him more for stories about his childhood.  I do know he lived for a time at his Grandma and Grandpa Hintz' house.  And I know Mabel married Walter Palmbach in 1938, when Mel was 12, so it is likely that it is the years 1934-1938 that Mabel and family lived with Karl and Anna Hintz.  He always loved his grandparents dearly.  In fact, when he married Patricia Sullivan in 1947, the wedding reception was at Karl and Anna's house.

Walter Palmbach & Mabel Hintz Hanson
Wedding Photo, Oct. 25, 1938
Walter was 40 years old when he married 38-year-old Mabel.  They didn't have any children together, but did manage to own a house on Harriman Street that I remember well.  In fact, we lived there with Grandma and Grandpa Palmbach for several months while our house in Appleton was completed.  That was in 1957 from late August till December.

April 1959 Mel Hanson Family
Lynn, Pat, Carl, Nancy, Mel (holding baby Dale), Sharon

There were 6 of us in our family then: Mom, Dad (Mel and Pat Hanson), me, Nancy, Carl and baby Sharon.  I'm not sure how Grandma put up with us and I know my Mom was a bit crazy with the arrangements.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Creating a Legacy from our Ancestry

I have an account.  It's where I first started entering the information about our families years ago before I learned anything about the art and science of genealogy.  I still know very little compared to the experts I am meeting in Facebook genealogy groups and blogs, but I'm beginning to get the hang of documenting what I know about our families and preserving the ephemera of our lives.  I moved to a computer program (Legacy) on my laptop that seemed more full-featured and easier to use than  And so I mostly abandoned updating my Ancestry site a couple of years ago.

But Ancestry has been really helpful in my research.  I have met several distant cousins through the messaging feature of the program and they have provided stories, photos, and data that I did not have.  The personal connections and access to (often) primary source materials is priceless.  And who can resist those shaking leaves?? They have pointed me in valuable directions to both data and other family trees that intersect with my research interests.  So I really like the idea of Ancestry, but just find it limited for serious data entry and reporting.

So, it was time to fix the Ancestry online site.  It's importance is growing as a way to share our family information with my children, siblings and cousins as they become interested in what I know about our family. And I continue to believe that more collaboration will emerge as a result of having Ancestry pages available for public viewing.  But there was a serious issue - there were photos and stories I had attached from other people's family trees that I did not have in my Legacy program.  And, since several cousins and siblings had been given editing rights, some of the people in the tree were fleshed out with information and photos uploaded by these collaborators - information that I didn't have in my Legacy program.  I've been dreading tackling this problem.  I couldn't figure out a good way to make sure I captured and saved all the information I had on the old Ancestry site before overwriting it with a new file (gedcom format) from Legacy.  

Today was the day - a tear your hair out, have 3 laptops on the table and a sister to help kind of day.  We worked most of the afternoon comparing data between the Internet Ancestry and laptop Legacy programs. But by the end of the day, a new Hanson Family Tree had been uploaded and the old tree removed.  (I didn't know that Ancestry would allow you to save two trees with the exact same name.)  I know we missed some details but I hope there is nothing seriously earth-shaking that we tossed.  There are still photos and stories to be reconnected to their Ancestry location (and to Legacy), but for now, both sites have the same information.  

If you are interested in seeing this tree, and you are an Ancestry member, just search for Hanson Family Tree created by lynndosch.  If not an Ancestry member, I am able to invite you to see the tree as a guest.  Contact me at 

Next problem: figure out how to keep both Legacy and Ancestry updated as new information is added to Legacy.

Moral of the story:  Well, there isn't one.  If I knew then what I know now, I could have been more disciplined to dual-enter the data or been more careful in collecting my data and sources.  But you can't figure this stuff out except by jumping in, both feet, and learning by doing.  

This task is just one more in the steps needed to really connect my documents, photos and data to the people who mattered in my life (and before I was born). I'm getting closer to having systems that will assure that generations after me will be able to find and enjoy the important dates and stories of our lives.  It's a legacy I hope to leave to my children and grandchildren.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Connecting the Family: Patricia Sullivan 4 Generation Pedigree

Almost everyone alive knew my mom as Pat Hanson, so for grandchildren and great grandchildren, her family names of Sullivan and Bednorz don't connect Pat with her ancestors.  My daughter, Christie suggested that some kind of chart attached to the family stories would be helpful in knowing who the players were in my Mom's history.
Patricia Sullivan Hanson 4 Generation Family Tree

It turns out that Legacy has a nifty chart maker utility that lets us view the family relationships.  I've experimented with a couple charting options and the one above seems to fit the blog pagination well.  So this is the pedigree for Patricia Hanson nee Sullivan.  You can see that this family is comprised of mid-19th century immigrants - the Sullivans from Ireland and the Bednorz family from Poland.  Patricia's mom (Marie Bednorz) was first generation American and 100% Polish. Her father (William Augustine Sullivan) was second generation American and 100% Irish.  That makes Patricia 50% Polish and 50% Irish.

Tracking this family back to Europe is proving difficult, especially in the case of the Bednorz-Marketon family.  Looking at the birth locations that have come to me via family lore, I see a major issue in confirming the birth location.  There is a city in southern Poland called Opole (Oppoln in German) in the area of Silesia. Schleswig-Holstein, however, is in the northern peninsula of Germany that includes Denmark and the people in that region would be Germans or Danes and not Poles.  (While not on the map below, if you continued up the peninsula from Hamburg Germany, you'd be in Schleswig-Holstein.)

So I'm currently thinking that searching in the Opole region of Poland is a good bet.  That said, there was a lot of upheaval in the mid-19th century across all the Germanic regions as Germany was unifying its duchies and regions into one larger German State.  The Encyclopedia Brittanica (online) has this entry for Opole:

"...southwestern Poland, situated on the Oder River. Opole began as the home of the Slavic Opolanie tribe; the earliest mention of it was in the 9th century. In 1202 it became the capital of the Opole principality, which included the entire Upper Silesia region. The town passed to Bohemia (1327), the Habsburgs (16th century), and Prussia (1742) and was returned to Poland in 1945." Source:

The Sullivan family might be easier to find, but I haven't made any concerted efforts to look for this family in Ireland.  There is still plenty to flesh out about these two families experiences as immigrants in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I have some newspaper articles that may help illuminate the lives of the William Sullivan family members, but need to research the Bednorz - probably in Minnesota - in order to put some flesh on their bones.  More to come....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rutabaga Fest in Cumberland, Wisconsin

Haven't posted in a few days as we were at my mother-in-law's house and she has no use for computers or the Internet.  And we were too busy to be wasting time at a wi-fi hot spot in town.  After all it was the 81st Annual Rutabaga Fest and the Dosch family were all home for the weekend. Always the weekend before labor day, it's a family reunion time of year. It's also a time when many of the kids who've left town for other parts return to catch up with classmates and friends.

Cumberland calls itself the Rutabaga Capital of the World.  (Not sure that any other town would want to wrestle that title from Cumberland.)  Back in the day, there was a rutabaga waxing plant in town. Rutabagas were grown in the area, waxed at the plant and shipped all over by train.  Does anyone even eat rutabagas anymore?

In case you haven't ever tried this root vegetable, it can be eaten raw like carrot sticks but to me it tastes bitter.  My husband says it's an acquired taste.  It can be cooked and served like mashed potatoes.  At Rutabaga fest you'll find it deep fried like french fries.

Maybe not the most exciting food ever found,but the fest is something else. There's something for everyone - a 2 mile fun walk (where they hand out beer tickets on completion), 5 k and 10 k runs, a canoe regatta on the lake, craft fair, fair rides and games, food booths, tractor pull, car show, and more, as well as the crowning of the Rutabaga queen and her court, followed by a culminating parade on Sunday including floats from all the other small towns around northwest Wisconsin who also have their own festival to advertise.

From Thursday evening till Sunday evening there are bands on the beer garden stage set up along Library Lake behind the main street.  The last few years, the Dweebs have traditionally been the last band - a blowback to the 50's.

photo courtesy Dick Thorpe 2009

During the break when you can once again hear and talk to your friends, Dick Thorpe takes a whole group photograph from the roof of the beer stand.  We've been asking ourselves what makes this festival so large, popular enough to attract people from as far away as Minneapolis and St. Paul.  We think it's the bands. The music is good - loud, but very danceable - with a variety of styles to suit all tastes. And it's plentiful with 2 bands playing each night Thursday through Sunday.

Over the years, attending this fest has become a Dosch family tradition.  My children remember it fondly and make a point to get there if possible.  It's become a family reunion time. Grandma's house is 2 blocks from the festival stage and right on the parade route, making it the ideal staging area for the weekend.  There are often family friends who crash at grandma's too, requiring that we tow our camper and set it up in the backyard to provide sleeping accommodations for everyone.  This year we were 11, causing endless commotion handled with extraordinary aplomb by 89-year-old Grandma Lorna.

Family stories and laughter filled the house during meal times when we were all together.  It reminded me that I have to find a solution to record at least the voice of Lorna as she passes on the lore and experiences from her generation.  And I need to do it soon. I want something unobtrusive so that it doesn't feel like a recorded session.  I need to get that figured out before deer-hunting season when once more we will all be together to celebrate life as an extended family.

I briefly tried out the voice recorder on my Evernote phone app and that worked ok - not great, but not awful either.  I will play around with that option on my computer to see if I can get a better quality recording. But Grandma would say, "Who needs computers? Life is better talking face to face."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meet the Hintz family

Mabel Hintz married Harvey Hanson
November 12, 1919

I mentioned my Hintz family reunion in an earlier post.  My father's mother was Mabel Hintz (b July 29, 1900 d September 26, 1978). She was the oldest daughter of Karl Hintz and Minnie Groll (or perhaps Krull or Kroll). 

[update: 8/30/2013 - Thanks to cousin Carol who caught a major error here. Karl Hintz was married to Anna Uhlenbrauck.  His father Frederick Hintz was married to Minnie Groll. Holy cow, budding genealogist, get the details right! Look for the 8/30/2013 post for a family tree chart with the right info in it. Thanks a million Carol.]

There are hundreds of descendants for Karl and Minnie and after my conversation yesterday with my newly-found Ohio Hintz cousin I expect there are many more we haven't yet discovered.

One of the recent serendipitous events in my life happened just an hour after my Mom passed.  My sister and I stopped at Mom's apartment to see if she had any funeral instructions among her papers.  While there, her phone rang, a surprise since very few people knew her new phone number.  The caller was my cousin Carol who wanted to stop by with forms for my Mom to update for the upcoming Hintz family reunion.  The timing seemed strange, but was strangely comforting.  I met with Carol that afternoon and was overwhelmed by the information she brought to share.

Mom had told me that there was family information shared at the Hintz reunions, but she never remembered to find her copies for me.  She couldn't remember who was collecting the information and didn't have a contact.  Turns out Carol made that happen for Mom.  (Thank you Carol!)  

The information Carol shared with me was overwhelming.  The Hintzes have been keeping a database of all the descendants of Karl and Minnie and updating it annually by having family members revise their own information, adding birth, marriage, divorce and death names and dates to reflect changes in their families. Carol adds this all to the database and prints out family spreadsheets for each family which are distributed at the family reunion in September.  I updated our family's information (forgetting to add a death date after my Mom's name - guess that was too new yet) and will attend the family reunion in a couple of weeks.  

Today I finally looked through the data provided by Carol.  Most of these folks are collateral families, but near and dear to my heart as these were the cousins I played with growing up and the uncles and aunts (actually my Dad's uncles and aunts) who always took an interest in our activities.  I've created a citation for this data collection and I've begun to enter the data for my grandmother's descendants - 140 names so far and 35 more to do.  

Grandpa & Grandma Palmbach (Mabel Hintz)
holding my brother Dale with cousin Daryl
Did you ever think you'd have almost 200 descendants by 2010?

There are 12 other Hintz families, luckily only one that is larger than my grandmother's and the rest half or less the size of my family.  

This data collection is a treasure trove and I'm hoping to have it added to Legacy before the reunion so I can print off family group sheets and or pedigrees for the families.  I'm fascinated to learn about the families of cousins whom I haven't been in contact with for 40 years.  I'm looking forward to the family reunion to gather stories that will help flesh out what is currently just a huge list of names and dates.  Adding color to this data will take a long time, but the connections are now there to make that happen.

Someone is watching out for me, making sure I continue to document our family history.  For that I am grateful.  And now I know when the family reunion is.  Hoping lots of Hintzes come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It Pays to Advertise

I started my genealogy journey in a most serendipitous way.  We were living in Germany from 1974-1978. AND...

OK, not Germany, but I did visit Zermatt, Switzerland, and the Matterhorn
In fact, I took this picture.
My husband's parents were planning to visit and wanted to go to Sweden to see if we could find where her family came from.  Her mother immigrated in 1902 at age 18 with her parents and siblings.  The only information we had was the name Hassjo that had something to do with the baptism of the youngest child.  Long story short, we found the church in Hassjo; we found the family records in the church; and we were pointed to the excellent National Records Archives where we found the family back to the 1600's.  As if that weren't enough, we found a living great uncle and his daughter.  Pretty heady stuff.  How could you not get excited about genealogy when you can find family in the "old world".  It's still a great story that is sometimes told to the grandchildren around the dinner table. 

Dave's mother is a great storyteller and keeper of family lore. 
Dave's mother in 1971
 She makes unknown family members come alive.  (What a gift!) She also keeps all the wedding invitations, funeral brochures, obits and other family documents in a folder with family group sheets gathered by her brother.  I wanted to put all this information somewhere where I could make sense of it. In 2006 I started with  Who can resist those tiny shaking leaves?  But really, I found a lot of good information and learned a lot about how to do genealogy from this program.  In addition I found several cousins and some shirt-tail relatives who are a lot farther in researching my families than I am.  Very helpful stuff and expands my social circles as well.

I now use a program (Legacy) on my computer as it's more flexible and more full-featured.  I still have my tree on Ancestry and I have added my tree to WikiTree (a way to post your trees and connect with others who have the same relatives).  I'm working to get all the information into my Legacy program and will then update both Ancestry and WikiTree, which I'm not currently doing.  I have also shared some of my family information with the site and have provided a (now quite outdated) gedcom document to be stored in the LDS archives in the Utah mountains. (Gedcom is the standard file format that can be interpreted by genealogy software.)

Well, tonight, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a cousin in Ohio. A cousin I never even knew existed. An hour later, I had learned a ton of information about my Hintz family that I never knew before.  And, this cousin and I will stay in touch and share more information. I found her because of my family tree on WikiTree.  So it pays to advertise! 

I am constantly surprised by the connections I'm making with family and genealogical researchers.  It's a whole new world for me - one that I hope will become more clear to my family through the entries in this blog.  Perhaps it's a good thing I didn't get too involved in genealogy until I retired.  I would never have had time to work!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Flip-Pal Scrapbook Scanning is completed!

My sister, Nancy has just finished scanning and stitching 72 scrapbook pages - she even scanned Mom's handwritten notes that I used to create some of the narratives in the scrapbook.  She's a scanning diva!  She also took some photos of the scanning process which I'll post below to give you an idea of our process.  This is such a labor of love....

The Flip-Pal is about 6 inches by 8 inches.  Works like a normal scanner when you use the cover.  We've been getting about about 500 scans per set of rechargeable batteries. 

You can detach the cover, flip it upside down, and lay it on whatever you want to scan: 

Flip-Pal right side up

Flip-Pal flipped upside down
There are guide lines in the viewing window to help you line up your scan, but the Stitch program can deal with images that are a bit caddywhompus when it does its stitching thing.

Nancy put a white board down on the table and marked ledger lines on the sides to make a template (since she was scanning 72 pages, it simplified the task). Then with the scanner upside down, she scanned across the 12 x 12 scrapbook page in 3 steps, then moved down the page, making 12 scans in all for each page.  

First Scan
Second Scan
Third scan completes first horizontal pass
Fourth scan starts the second row. 

Note the overlap both vertically and horizontally as  you make the scanning pass.  

The Stitch program is on the SD card that you insert into your computer via your computer's card reader.  So you don't need to install any software on your computer. The images are also on the SD card.  Simply navigate to the SD card and open the Toolbox. Click on the Stitch Scans button and follow the prompts.  Follow the simple prompt for selecting the scans needed to complete your page and click on the Open button.  The software takes it from there and shows you the finished project.


To clean up the white space outside the image, open your favorite photo editing software and crop away the unneeded space.  I use Photoshop Elements 10 and this is my end result. 

  Happy high school graduation, Dad!

 We saved the finished scan in three places (we don't want to have to do this again!)  In the external drive we use as our photo master drive, we created a folder in the genealogy root called Scrapbook Scans.  Inside, we put the scan named as it came out of Flip-Pal.  Then we saved the same scan with a simple name, Scrapbook19.  In a separate folder on my desktop, we also saved the original scans and stitched image in case we should ever need to look at these again. Probably too redundant, but not that much work and maybe it will save some future work.

Just a note of warning:  When we made the paper scrapbook, we used the original photos.  Shame on us (but we didn't know much about research-based genealogy methods)!  For some photos, we have duplicate pictures, but for some, like my Dad's high school graduation photo, the original is in the scrapbook.  Of course, I use archival quality scrapbook supplies, so the photos should be OK.  But a future project will be to identify and scan the originals that only exist in this scrapbook.  A quick look tells me that this photo of Dad's graduating class will be one of them. Future scrapbook projects will use copies of important original photos and the originals will be saved with the genealogy records.  

Watch for these images to show up in future blog posts.  And beware that these pages are my Mom's memories and family lore and so, inaccuracies abound.  

But now that I've got my Mom's photos sorted and boxed away for future reference, I'm ready to tackle finding and sharing the sources to prove or disprove our family stories.  Can't wait.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Meet Catherine Whelan, our great-great grandmother

I was wondering where my inspiration for tonight's blog post would come from, but then my Sulli Cuzzin,
Sali, asked me a couple of questions that bear a public response.

Sali noted that her Mom had spelled our Grandma Sullivan's maiden name as Bednarz (note the "a" in place of the "o").  I have found both spellings as I looked for records.  It's hard to know which is ACTUALLY correct as legal documents can bear both names.  From what I can see, consistent spelling was not a big deal "in the old days".  And so many times clerks or census takers were the ones writing down the information given by the person in question.  I've even seen where families spell their own names different ways at different times.  And to compound the issue, as immigrants sought to "americanize" their lives, they often changed the spelling of their birth names to something more easily recognized by the Americans already here.  So, if you are doing genealogy, do always seek variant spellings.  I have one great great grandparent whose name is Uhlenbrauck (good German name) and I found it in a census spelled as Oldenbrook.  It's distinctly possible that my gg grandparents had an accent different from the census-taker whose experience with names and spelling did not include German.

Sali's other question was about the derivation of the name Whalen.  Her mother was named Ann Elizabeth Whelan Cecilia Sullivan according to my birth record sources.  (Sali, if you have either her birth certificate or death certificate, could I scan a copy sometime? That would provide confirmation or revision of the sources I currently have for her birth.)  Ann was the 5th child and 3rd daughter of Marie Josephine (Bednorz) and William Augustine Sullivan. 

Whelan is the maiden name of William Augustine's mother, Catherine (known as Kate) Whelan.  That means Ann was given her grandmother's maiden name as a middle name. What little I know of Kate is unconfirmed by a birth record.  Family information says that she was born March 1, 1852 in Troy, Rensselaer County, New York.   She died November 23, 1933 in Marshfield, Wood County, Wisconsin and is buried in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Marshfield.  Here's her grave marker: 

Someday I hope to get to Marshfield to take a better photo of this stone.

Catherine married Michael Sullivan, William Augustine's father, our grandfather, in 1873 in Wisconsin.  I haven't been able to confirm the location yet, but it seems likely to have been Erin Township as Catherine's father, John Whelan, died in Erin Township, Washington County, Wisconsin.   John Whelan was born in April 1816 on the Isle of Arran, Galway Bay, Ireland.  He married Margaret Heneyse, born December 21, 1821 in Brandon, KER, Munster, Ireland.  She died April 30, 1901 in Erin Township.  Both are buried in the Monches Cemetery of St. John's Catholic Church.

Michael Sullivan was born and raised in Erin Township.  He was the son of William Sullivan and Susanna Lambert, both born in Ireland, married in New York, and settled in Erin Township about 1844. 

Michael Sullivan and Catherine (Kate) Whelan moved to Marshfield sometime before 1889 since we know their 3rd child David was born in Marshfield.  Oldest daughter Mary Elizabeth (b 1874) and son, William Augustine (b. 1877, our grandfather), were both born in Washington County WI. 

In my poorly organized collection of digital photos and documents, I have a photo that is supposedly Kate Whelan, but it is only by hearsay.  If anyone has any other information or photos of these folks, I would sure like to hear from you!  Here's a copy of the photo I have:
Purported to be Catherine (Kate) Whelan, married to Michael Sullivan

Here's a tidbit of information from Aunt Tiny's memoir (typed copy in my possession):

"Dad was born in Erin, Wisconsin on June 17, 1877 of parents Michael Sullivan and Catherine Whelan. He was named William Augustine but when he met Mama he told her his name was Arthur so she called him Arthur as long as I can remember and Lu’s middle name was Arthur. So… his mother called him Augie, Mama called him Arthur and his friends called him Bill. We called him Daddy, then Dad.
Dad had a sister Mamie, two years older than him and a brother several years younger, Dave. Though Toots and I went to Marshfield several times for visits, I never met Aunt Mamie. She was always working out of town. The only recognition I have of Uncle Dave was a photo of him in his World War I uniform.  He died at the young age of 27 from tuberculosis."

Here's how Aunt Toots described her father in her 1967 Reflection (copy from my files):

"My father, not a musician himself, always appreciated fine music. He was extremely tidy about himself and was always polishing something, be it a window pane, a watch chain, or a pair of shoes....The depression hit our house during my high school years. A large family doesn’t have exactly an easy time when money for food and clothing is scarce. Mom was an accomplished seamstress and earned a few extra dollars at that, besides making clothes for all of us. Dad, who was a lumber buyer, grader, and salesman, was forced at last to be a WPA foreman....It was when I was a senior the blow fell—Mom and Dad having had a particularly frustrating and hard time trying to make short ends meet, became impatient and cross with each other and in April of that year, separated, making our family a “broken family”. This was the greatest hurt of my life. I had just turned seventeen and my youngest brother was only six months old. The two oldest were out trying to make a “go” of it on their own. Besides the pain I felt for a family growing up without a father in the house, I was particularly saddened because I was exceptionally fond of my father. We had always been buddies, and though deep down I planned on entering the convent shortly, I hated to see him so alone, so without the family."

So thanks, Sali, for the great writing prompt.  As you can see there are more questions than answers in the information and so much needs confirmation by additional resources to be sure the information is as correct as we can reasonably hope for.  But, now you know where your Mom's Whelan name came from - it was her grandmother's maiden name.  How special she was to have had that name!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pat talks about her Mom and Dad

We think we've figured out how to scan images from the scrapbook where Pat talks about her Mom (Marie Josephine Bednorz) and Dad (William Augustine Sullivan).  Let's see how they work.  Hoping you will try reading it using your web browser's magnification tool and that some of you will try to download this image and open it in your image viewer.  I'm not sure how Blogger handles image compression, so this is an experiment.  Looking for your input.

This is the first page of the scrapbook where Pat talks about her Mom:

Pat was only 8 or 9 when her Dad left the family and so she didn't know him as well as her Mom.  She uses words written by her older sister (our Aunt Toots, Mary Catherine, who became Sister Mary Augustine when she joined the convent). This is the page about her father:

Just a note or two:  William's birth year is listed as 1874 on his funeral card.  On his tombstone, his birth year is listed as 1883, but family "say" that that year is incorrect.  The information in my Legacy program list his birth year as 1877.  A mystery to be solved in future research.  My Uncle Gerry tells us that Grandma (Marie Josephine) had her ex-husband's remains returned to Oshkosh for burial, paid for his funeral, bought the cemetery plot (Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh) and the headstone where they are both buried.  Grandpa was always broke and according to Gerry, he was an alcoholic which was a huge part of why they divorced in the first place.  More from Gerry once we can interview him and get his story.

Scanning the Scrapbook

A big learning day today.  My sister, Nancy, came over to start scanning the scrapbook today.  A couple years ago, my sister Yvonne helped me create a family scrapbook for my Mom using the stories and photo descriptions I had been collecting from my Mom.  This is the scrapbook my kids told me was a revelation to them - family history they had never heard.  (This is so true, my Hanson family just are not story-tellers the way the Dosch family is. We're more in the moment with activities and card games substituting for talk and story-telling.)

This scrapbook is in a 12 x 12 inch format and so not easily scanned with a flatbed scanner.  But I have recently purchased a Flip-Pal scanner. ( ) This small format scanner is a gem for all kinds of scanning challenges. It is battery operated (but a battery eater, so rechargeables are highly recommended) and scans to an SD card (like those used in a camera).  Yvonne used this scanner to quickly scan about 400 4x6 photos in a hurry and then move them quickly to my laptop computer so that we could create photo boards of my Mom's life for the funeral.  In this mode, it works like a regular scanner, but much faster (it only has to scan a 4x6 area rather than the 9x12 area of a standard scanner) and seems to render the photo very quickly. The feature we wanted to learn today is the ability to scan large items in place through the underside of the scanner.  This feature allows you to scan parts of large scale items overlapping the scans and then "stitching" the image back together in a whole.  It works by removing the scan cover and flipping the scanner upside down to place it directly on top of the item to be scanned.  Since the bottom is clear glass, you can see what is being scanned.

It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how many partial scans were needed to stitch together the 12x12 page (we settled on 12), but once we figured that out, we only had to tell the software which scans to use and the stitching process automatically created the larger image.  We saved the original as named for a master file and then saved a copy of the image for our working copy.  I opened the stitched jpg image in my Photoshop Elements 10 to clean up the edges a bit.

So now comes our test. Tomorrow we will create a print of the jpg and in the next blog post I will upload this image and see how it behaves on the Internet.  It's easy to read in my photo viewer even without using the magnifier.  I trust you'll let me know how it turns out in a working environment.

Another test we'll do tomorrow is to take a jpg photo with a camera and compare how readable it is compared to the scanned version. Stay tuned for our report.

And I'll try to take some pictures of our process so you can see what I'm talking about.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Introducing Marie (Bednorz) & William Augustine Sullivan

Patricia Ethel Sullivan, abt 1945
Patricia Ethel Sullivan was born on August 31, 1927 to Marie Josephine (Bednorz) and William Augustine Sullivan.  This photo is probably her high school graduation photo, although none of the copies I've found so far are dated.  She would have graduated from high school in Oshkosh Wisconsin in 1945.

So much is unknown yet (to me, at least) about her family. She had 3 brothers and 7 sisters, one brother and one sister still living.  Pat was the 3rd youngest in the family which spanned 20 years between oldest and youngest. 

Birth information puts the family in the Minneapolis, MN area until sometime after 1917 when they moved to LaPaz, Manitoba, Canada. Sometime before 1922 they moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Birth information shows that 2 children were born in the Minneapolis area (1915 and 1917), 2 in Canada (1919 and 1920), and the 5th child was born in 1922 in Oshkosh as were the 6 children to follow.

There is still much to sort out, but it is likely that Marie's father, Andrew (Andreas) and mother Francis (Franzciska) Marketon immigrated from western Poland about 1886.  Name spellings and inconsistent birth  locations in records makes finding this family rather difficult.
Marie Bednorz, High School Graduation, abt 1911

More is known about Pat's father, William Augustine.  He was named for his grandfather who immigrated from Ireland (Boherbue, County Cork) about 1836 and settled in 1844 in Erin Township, Washington County, Wisconsin.  A land patent record from the U.S. government lists William as purchasing 80 acres along Donegal Road in Erin Township (the second parcel on the right from County Road K).  The Sullivans are 100% Irish until William A. marries Marie Bednorz.  

William Sullivan (abt 1818-1893) married Susanna Lambert (born 1822 in Mayo County, Ireland) in 1843 (Canadaigua, Ontario, NY).  They had 14 children and also adopted a granddaughter.  Their third child, son Michael (1847-1929), moved his family to Marshfield (Wood County), WI by 1880 when the census records indicate that he works in a sawmill in Marshfield. He died in Marshfield and is buried in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery there along with his wife and a son who died at age 28.  

William A (known to his friends as Augie) was a lumber grader and salesman, until the Depression when he took a job as a WPA project foreman.  There are stories written by his children as well as oral history that needs to be gathered and shared.

This looks like a good place to stop for now as I can see that I need to do some organization of my papers and photos.  I know I have information and stories about the Sullivans and I have several photos of Augie Sullivan, none of which seem to be in my photo file or documents files.  I have information in my Legacy genealogy program, but the citations are missing, so I hesitate to set out the information until I can find the sources I used to come to the conclusions I've listed in my Legacy program.  

So I guess my project for tomorrow includes:

  • Find the photos and get them scanned
  • Find the documents and get them entered into Legacy
  • Find/print the census documents I have and look for any that are missing
  • Create citations and attach appropriately to the information in Legacy (this could take awhile since I'm not good at creating genealogical citations yet, but I have the book Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills)
  • Analyze the information I have for consistency and holes in evidence
  • Generate a list of questions for future research
  • Post what I find out
Yikes, writing this down will force me to actually follow through on my plan....Another of Martha Stewart's "good things".  Hoping I haven't signed up for too much of a good thing!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Doing Genealogy is a powerful healer

Home now from all the chaos and commotion of my Mom's funeral, burial, and all the things that go with that in a large family (6 children, 9 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren) each with their own way of dealing with her death and all trying to gather to support each other and also deal with her property and possessions left behind.  She died 10 days ago and I'm now back in my Madison home and facing the familiarity of normalcy again.  Only I'm not ready to be normal right now.  I don't want to do regular "stuff" just yet.  I want some time to process all that has happened in the past 10 days and to be alone with my sadness for awhile.  I'm not ready to be social just yet.

That's where the genealogy comes in.  My dining room table is covered with the boxes of photos and documents collected from my Mom's house.  I have all the funeral ephemera - funeral cards, sympathy cards, the guest register from the funeral, the obituary, and the death certificate.  I can look at these things slowly, cry a little at the poems in the guest book that my Mom would have loved.  I did that this morning, slowly, tissues in hand.

Now I am going through the photos that were left after each sibling took the photos of their family.  Luckily, most of the genealogical photos had been scanned over the past few years and I had been able to interview my Mom about them.  (Whew!)

We had even compiled a scrapbook of these stories a couple years ago.  In looking over her words this past week, I am reminded that as genealogists we need to always take first person accounts with a grain of salt - especially those told late in life.  I can spot frequent errors in people, dates and events having now gathered some more reliable sources like birth and death certificates that are likely more accurate than her 85 year old memory - especially as she suffered cognitive impairment and early dementia the last couple of years of her life.  I wish I had started the interviews and photo scanning years earlier.  But raising kids and work were all I could manage for many years and while there was curiosity, I didn't even know how or where to start finding out my family's story.

Silly thing is that for many years in my childhood, we attended our Hintz family reunion every year.  I enjoyed it immensely (OK, maybe not when I got to be a teenager) and actually knew lots of my Dad's aunts and uncles.  I had sources for information and didn't take advantage of it.  (Sigh)

My Mom had kept a photo album for each grandchild and great grandchild and when she moved to assisted living a few weeks before her death, she wanted these to be given back to each child.  I promised I would distribute them after I looked through them and scanned any family-important photos - you know, the ones with grandparents, multiple cousins, special events, aunts and uncles or just too cute to pass up.  Luckily, I managed to do a huge scanning project as soon as I brought them home and was able to give these all out to the respective children knowing I had the genealogically important photos culled from the albums. (Whew, dodged a genealogy bullet there!)

So now I'm sorting photos, making index card folders with dates, places and subjects to separate the pictures and allow me to put them in chronological order.  I'm tossing photos that are out of focus or just pictures of things like animals in the zoo.  I'm saving photos that can give me clues to what family homes looked like or significant buildings like family churches, but mostly I'm harvesting the photos of people. Today I got through one box out of three of the printed photos. Further sorting and labeling needs to be done, but I'm getting the photos out of albums and in some sort of order for the time being.  Many remind me of stories that need to be written down for our children and grandchildren to know about events and places our family enjoyed.  And some will need to be scanned. Tasks for the future, but for now...

Genealogy is a powerful healer and a link between who and what is gone and those that remain who have been influenced by what is gone.  It's not all good stuff, but it's our stuff - it's what made us the people we are today.  It broadens my appreciation for my Mom's life and provides perspective to our relationship.  It keeps my Mom alive not only in my heart but in my life.  Genealogy is providing a link between grieving and the normalcy of everyday life.  As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."

Mom left us with a BANG!

My mother was a short woman, getting shorter every year due to osteoporosis.  She was only 4 foot 8 or 9 when she died, but she packed a powerful punch when she left us.  On Tuesday night, August 6, there was a powerful storm that passed through Appleton, Wisconsin, unleashing 7 recorded minor tornadoes and lots of straight-line winds.  The power went out around 1 AM Wed morning, the day of the funeral, causing a scramble for generators all over town, including my Mom's house where my 3 sisters were staying and my brother's house where I was staying.

I figured Mom had met up with Dad in Heaven and was reading him the riot act for leaving her 16 years earlier.  They always did have a "stormy" relationship.  Or perhaps my Dad was responsible for the storm as a result of my brother, Dale, visiting the cemetery and warning my Dad that Mom was coming to join him - and, "this may sound bad to you" (my Dad's favorite way of starting a conversation), "but she's going to be on top."

Whatever the cause, we determined that the funeral could go on as planned.  Caterers had prepared the food the day ahead and enough roads were open that people could still drive (albeit somewhat circuitously) to the church.  The service would use candle light (and luckily many of us knew the hymns by heart anyway) and we'd have to sing a capella since the organ and piano both are electronic.

The funeral was what I think my Mom would have wanted.  Skylights provided plenty of light in the narthex for the visitation and viewing before the service.  The singing was strong, led by the Daybreak Singers, the senior citizen choir that my Mom belonged to for the past 6 years.  The message by Pastor Kurt reminded us of how my mother was devoted to serving wherever she was needed.  The meal afterwards allowed us to catch up with family and friends and share stories and hugs.

It took 2 days to get the electricity back and it will take longer to clean up the debris from the hundreds of trees that were downed in the storm.  And even longer until roofs and windows are repaired in several parts of town.  Luckily there were no deaths or injuries reported.

Take note siblings, grandchildren and great grandchildren:  Don't cross Grandma!  Be good, be kind, be helpful, just as she taught you through her example.  When she speaks, she means it!

Sharing Family History

 My mother, Patricia Ethel Hanson (nee Sullivan) died on August 4, 2013 and
we've just finished all the sad duties related to her funeral and burial. Luckily,
I had been interviewing Mom about her young life over the past few years
and had created a scrapbook with her stories. We had this scrapbook at the
viewing and funeral and it became apparent that the grandchildren didn't
really know much about their family history. As we relived family events
through stories and pictures, the grandchildren hungered for more
information about who their grandmother truly was. The purpose of this blog
is to share this information with them and to track the genealogical journey
I've begun to make in uncovering my family's history. This blog is in your
honor, Mom. With lots of love, your daughter, Lynn.