I was very thrilled
recently to obtain a photo of my great grandparents. It was
taken in 1859, the year they were married in Germany. They had four children,
three boys and a girl. All emigrated to the United States in 1880 and 1881.
Henri was a Lutheran minister. He died in route and was buried at sea. My grandfather, Charles
(Karl), had left Germany first along with several cousins and began working for a
railroad in Chicago. My great grandmother and the other siblings eventually
made it to rural Woodbury Minnesota, now a large eastern suburb of the Twin
Cities, where they established a farm. Later my grandfather moved to St. Paul where he raised his family of six children. They lived about 10 miles from his mother and siblings farm.
Here is the farm. I magnify the picture closer and closer. Horses, cattle, a dog, chickens, geese, farm implements, sheds and a house, partially hidden behind some trees, emerge. You can see some people. It appears there are both children and adults. I can't see their faces though. Nor know their individual stories. The year is 1908. One year before my father was born. The people are, no doubt, his Uncle, Aunts and cousins.
They call it genealogy. It is a subject of which I am quite ignorant. Woodbury in 1908 was a small rural crossroads east of St. Paul. Now it’s suburbia, with attendant housing developments and shopping malls. There my great grandmother established a farmstead on 160 acres with the help of several of her sons and a daughter.
They had left the German city of Bremen aboard the ship, General Werder. On that voyage my great grandfather (who was a Lutheran minister) developed pneumonia, died and was buried at sea. Charlotte (my great grandmother) and three of her children arrived at Castle Garden, Manhattan, New York on September 29, 1881.
It's a long and complicated story of which I know only bits and pieces. My grandfather, another of Charlotte’s sons, had arrived in Chicago a year earlier. There he was working for a railroad. He later moved to St. Paul, where he was employed as a railroad chef on transcontinental routes. There are large gaps in his story, which I would like to learn. I began by visiting a Methodist cemetery in Woodbury. This was the home church of his mother. Hopefully, there is more to be learned.
I am not interested in my family's geneology as much as my brothers are. I do admire my ancestors for their spirit and their bravery. They left a sclerotic and class bound society where everyone knew their place and stayed in it for a land where they could re-invent themselves and be judged, as MLK said, by the content of their character-ReplyDelete
I found this to be very interesting. You did a wonderful job tracking down this information and these pictures of your ancestors.ReplyDelete
Those photos are priceless!ReplyDelete
Fascinating, TB. How long did it take to research this? Your ancestors got the land under the homestead act? The acreage sounds like it...ReplyDelete
Personal history is really important, and most people don't understand that. It tells them how they got where they are.
Wonderful old photos! You are lucky to have them!! I find geneology interesting..and love all the old stories. You are on a journey now..good luck with your research! :)ReplyDelete
You will have a great time, Troutbirder, and a frustrating, exciting, and hopeless time. But don't give it up. One of the popular ways of doing this is to buy a good program for your computer like Family Tree Maker or whatever is coolest these days and start with your nearest family , just working back as you go along.ReplyDelete
No, I didn't do it, but I did help my cousin who did!
I really enjoyed reading this post. The pictures are wonderful.ReplyDelete
It seems you got your photo problem fixed somehow. Nice ones! My brother is the one in my family who is interested in genealogy; I'm glad somebody is! :-)ReplyDelete
Ah, you are at the start of a wonderful journey - the amount of information that is "out there" and remarkably available is really surprising. Since you know the names of your forebears, and where they lived, you'll start to find clues everywhere - even Google searches can be fruitful if the names are sufficiently unique.ReplyDelete
You may already know this, but a subscription to Ancestry.com yields by far the most clues and is very much worth the subscription price!
Looks like a fun endeavor, I have some pics, bbut don't know of who in most.ReplyDelete
Interesting family history! I tend to get caught up in the stories, imagining the joys and sorrows the immigrant families experienced. Exploring ancestry.com is one of my favorite pasttimes. I really get excited when I discover some new tidbit. I'm impressed that you were able to find such an early photo in excellent condition.ReplyDelete
Family history really is a fascinating subject. I have a distant cousin (who now lives near me) that has done much work with our family tree. Best wishes on this endeavor!ReplyDelete
Genealogy is fascinating. You can get more information on your relatives by going to http://www.ancestry.com -- just type in your family name.ReplyDelete
But how wonderful that you know THAT much. :c)ReplyDelete
Fascinating ... we have it so much easier than our ancestors. I can't imagine arriving in a foreign country with three children and no husband ... especially since he died as they were both on their way to a new life. It will be really interesting for you to fill in the blanks.ReplyDelete
That is such a strong connection to your family that I get goosebumps just thinking of you standing at your great grandmother's grave. That is quite a connection. I wish I had those kinds of connections but genealogy just seems so difficult. Happy New Year to you!ReplyDelete
How wonderful that you are finding history of your ancestors. And photos to boot - excellent! My great-great-great Uncle was Bill Minor. Canada's first train robber. Now isn't that a terrific claim to fame! LOL!ReplyDelete
Hi There, Oh how I love Genealogy... I have done quite a bit of research on my family's history. SO interesting... I just need more time in my life to do this since it takes SO much time. Visiting cemeteries helps--but then we just become more interested in learning more.ReplyDelete
Your Great Grandmother must have been a strong, smart woman---to come to this country alone (after losing her husband)and eventually owning a 160 acre farm (with the help of her children)... Wow.. That is quite an accomplishment.
Thanks for sharing.
I love the old photographs and the stories about those who came here so long ago. We love finding out about our ancestors. Some things not so nice but all still interesting. Good luck on finding out more.ReplyDelete
Very cool -- I love those old photos.ReplyDelete
I'm very intrigued by family history & genealogy.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this part of the story, and I do hope you find & share more.
We have relatives that live in Woodbury. Hard to wrap my mind around a place like that, paved over in malls & parking lots, being quiet farmland not that long ago in the grand scheme of things.
I was just to see my grandmother this weekend, the land here, where my great grandparents settled from Finland, has not changed quite so much.
Genealogy, my project I keep putting on the back burner. So lucky you are to have the farm and early family photos. You could write a book just on what you see in that farm photograph. Photo treasures for sure. -- barbaraReplyDelete
Always great to find out your roots.ReplyDelete
I get a lot of my writing way too much from my mother's grandfather. He was also an educator.
The way they are dressed makes for such and interesting photo! those old photos are a treasure. I had a few of our historic family members but unfortunately many were lost.ReplyDelete