Tag Archives: Grandparent

Favorite Photo: Hidden Treasure

This week’s #52Ancestors blog post prompt is “Favorite Photo.” Photographs themselves offer such a perfect glimpse of the past (or sometimes an imperfect and mysterious glimpse) that it is difficult to select favorites. If forced to choose, I would have to say my favorite photo is that of Rita Blanche Wilson, which intrigued me from a very early age, but I’ve already written about that photo here. A close second, though, is an image I had never seen and didn’t know existed until I was 24 years old.

That year, before moving from Idaho to Virginia, I helped my dad and a number of aunts and uncles as we prepared to clean out my grandparents’ house. It was sad to say good-bye to that old house, but I managed to find and save a number of treasures: the old skeleton key from the back door; a piece of white-painted clapboard; the broken pieces of the necklace my grandmother wore on her wedding day; the poster of a boy, his collie, and a train that my dad remembered from his childhood.

But one of the most surprising discoveries came when my dad was removing the washer and dryer from the laundry alcove in the kitchen. There, fallen behind them and unseen for who knows how many years, was a family photograph. It is a beautiful photograph, and remarkably undamaged after all those years behind the washer. Dad handed it to me and confirmed, as I suspected, that the young girl in the back row was, in fact, my grandmother, Blanche Agnes Wilson.

Carl Ozro and Sophie Wilson with Children

The Wilson family was not a wealthy one, so there are not a large number of photographs of them. And none of them depict my grandmother at this time period – there are baby photos, and her confirmation photos at age eighteen, but none of this in-between time, which makes this glimpse of Grandma in her pristine white dress and huge hair bow all the more fascinating. What was she thinking here as she looked down at the book her sister was holding? Was the strain already evident in her parents’ marriage? Was there sorrow still over the two brothers she had lost, one the year after she was born, and one perhaps two years before this photo was taken? There is no way now of knowing these things. But the facts that we do know are these….

The photograph was taken at Wilson’s Studio in Albion, Nebraska. Whether or not the studio was owned by a relative of the Wilson family, I do not know. Captured here in the photo are Carl Ozro Wilson, his wife Sophie Christine (Roberg) Wilson, and five of their eventual ten children, including Blanche, their second child. Their eldest, Anders Clarence, had died of “cholera infantum” on his second birthday, when my grandmother was eight months old. The other children in the photo are Ozro Willie, Pearl Jeanette, Clarence Salmer, and Mildred Genevieve. Woodrow Wilson, born between Clarence and Mildred, lived only two days in the summer of 1917, dying of colic.

Baby Mildred was born in April 1919. I would assume this might have been taken toward the end of that year, though I’m not very good at guessing babies’ ages. If correct, that would make Clarence four, Pearl seven, Ozro eight, and Grandma eleven. I can’t help but wonder if, having lost two baby sons, Sophie and Carl made a point of capturing this family image soon after their next baby was born. I wonder, too, if Sophie’s father, Anders Roberg, could have played a part. Stories tell of Anders purchasing the matching dresses for Blanche and her cousin Martha seen in their confirmation photo taken in 1926. Could he have encouraged (or paid for?) this family photograph as well? By 1915 the family had moved from my grandma’s native Nebraska to Wood, South Dakota, some 200 miles from Albion, but Anders lived in Newman Grove, Nebraska, only 15 miles from Wilson’s Studio.

Whatever the reason or the circumstances, I am grateful to have this photo and its window into the life of my grandmother as a young girl. And grateful for the hidden treasure in the laundry room.

Advertisements

Wednesday’s Child – the Other Paul Hoffmann

chalons

 

If I had been a boy, it’s likely I would have been named Paul, Mom tells me. I would have been one in a long line of Pauls (and Paulas) on the maternal side of my family. A quick search of my genealogy database tells me tells me the name appears 609 times (though some of these are on the paternal side as well).

However, there are only two individuals in my database named Paul Hoffmann (with the “nn” spelling).  One, of course, was my great-grandfather, who emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1883 at five years of age. The other was his first cousin, Paul Auguste Hoffmann, who would have been thirteen years his senior. This Paul was born 19 December 1864 in Marne, France, the eldest child of Jean Nicolas and Marie Louise Gérard Hoffmann.  Jean Nicolas was the next-eldest brother of Jacob Hoffmann, our Paul’s father. Some three years older than Jacob, he had first married Dorothée Sutter in 1855.  Our Paul had a tragic end but did live to adulthood; Jean Nicolas’s Paul did not. He died 9 March 1867 at two years of age.

Jean Nicolas and Marie Louise had three more children. Albert Athanase Hoffmann was born only a month after Paul’s death on 13 April 1867. A third son, Auguste Laurent, was born 7 August 1868 but died less than six weeks later. Finally, Auguste Ludgard Hoffmann was born 30 November 1871. It is to his grandson, Daniel, that I am indebted for all of this history.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Amanuensis Monday – Flo Ought to Be Proud of That

Irene, Lawrence, and Flo Montgomery

Irene, Lawrence, and Flo Montgomery

In the fall of 1945, when she was not yet sixteen, my dad’s second sister left home.  Irene had worked as a babysitter for a family in Idaho; when they moved to Albany, Oregon, Irene went with them to continue babysitting and complete her high school education.

Dorothy Irene Montgomery (known by her middle name) had been born 11 November 1929 in Winner, South Dakota, the daughter of Lawrence Theodore (or Conklin) Montgomery and his first wife, Antonia Marie Jelinek. Irene was four months old, and the elder sister, Flo, only two years older, when their mother died in Yankton, South Dakota.  Later that year Grandpa married Blanche Agnes Wilson (my grandmother); Grandpa and Grandma would eventually have ten more children. Aunt Irene’s letters home provide a glimpse into the life she was living far away from her family as well as her pride in her older sister back home.

Albany, Oregon
April 2, 1946

Dear Mom, Dad & kiddies,

Received your letter yesterday and was I tickled to get it.
Yes, Mom, I am feeling fine now. Am so glad.
We have 2 days of Spring Vacation.

Flo ought to be proud of that because it really [is] a great honor. We had an initiation of the “National Honor Society” last Fri. You have to have real good grades, you have to have some qualities of a leader, and you have to be quite popular, I mean you should [know] most of the kids in school. No, she didn’t write me about it, yet.

Those pictures were awful, but I just sent them.

I don’t have to wear my glasses only when I read they are for close up work now, Mom.

I will find out when [I] get out of school because I want to be there so bad for her graduation.

This coming Saturday the Band is going to Salem for our contest. We compete against all of the cities around here.

I am glad the kids can have some fun like that. Have they learned to skate real well. I can waltz with skates now, but I can’t skate backwards.

I would write to Myrt, but I have so many notebooks, speeches and etc., to get in this week and the next. We have been rehearsing for the concert at nights. Tell Myrt to excuse me this time if she will.

We have had pretty fair weather lately. We are voting for Carnival Princesses & Queen for our big All School Carnival which they have every year. We vote 3 princesses out of each class and a Queen from the Senior. I was a candidate for princess in two rooms, but didn’t get it. Must close.

Lots of love
Irene

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tombstone Tuesday – Uncle Joe

Image

Seven years ago Mom and I took one of our many genealogical side trips while visiting our Fairbury (Illinois) relatives. This side trip took us to Roanoke, Illinois, some forty miles west. I knew a large number of relatives were purportedly buried in Roanoke, and we found the Roanoke Cemetery fairly easily.  Wandering through the rows of graves we saw a lot of familiar surnames: Weyeneth, Fehr, Schumacher, Hodel, Zimmerman. But we couldn’t seem to find any of the really close connections we were looking for.

As luck would have it, it was mowing day, and an older gentleman was at work between the rows of graves. Neither Mom nor I are good at this sort of thing, but we ventured over. Perhaps he had seen “the look” before because he readily asked if he could help. I told him we were looking for some relatives’ graves but hadn’t been able to find them, and he asked who we were looking for.  A little hesitantly, I said, “Well, Joseph Hoffman…” Immediately he said, “Oh, Uncle Joe!” He went on to explain that there was a separate Apostolic Christian Cemetery near the church, farther out in the country, and told us how to get there. I never did figure out if he was really a cousin of sorts (this Joseph Hoffman was my great-great-grand-uncle, not to be confused with my grandfather Joseph Hoffmann), or if everyone in Roanoke knew our Joseph Hoffman as “Uncle Joe.”

Mom and I set off again, another 3 1/2 miles southwest. And here were all the names we had been looking for, Uncle Joe among them. Joseph Hoffman was born May 2, 1872 in Renaucourt, France, the youngest full brother of my great-great grandmother Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing, and a half-brother of my great-grandfather Paul Hoffmann. He emigrated to America with his family in 1883. On February 27, 1898 he married Lydia Hodel, six years his senior. Lydia died January 23, 1940 and is also buried in the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Cemetery. A year later Joseph married Lydia’s younger sister Emma; he was 68 and she was 60. Emma died September 17, 1957 and is buried in the same cemetery as well. Joseph himself lived to the age of 95, dying October 22, 1967 in Morton, Illinois, and being laid to rest near his two wives.

Joseph Hoffman

Roanoke (PNS) –Joseph Hoffman, 95, died at noon Sunday at the Rest-Mor Nursing Home, Morton, where he had lived for six years.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Remmert Funeral Home and at 10:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Church.

Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be 2 to 5 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Mr. Hoffman was born May 2, 1872, in Alsace-Lorraine France, a son of Jacob and Annatte [sic] Meyers Hoffman. He married Lydia Hodel Feb. 27, 1898. She died Jan. 23, 1940. He then married Emma Hodel Feb. 23, 1941. She died Sept. 20, 1957.
Surviving are a brother, Sam, Cissna Park; and many nieces and nephews. Four brothers and nine sisters preceded him in death.

Mr. Hoffman was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, where he served as a trustee and Sunday school teacher. He was a retired farmer and had lived in Roanoke for 71 years.