Monday, June 15, 2015

Photo of the Day: Old MacDonald's Farm

For many summers, my family visited Old MacDonald's Farm on the Darien/Norwalk border. This "farm" began operating in 1955, and closed in 1979.  The farm consisted of a restaurant, general store, bakery, a large petting zoo, and an amusement park. I remember they made the most awesome cinnamon donut holes! Here I am standing up in my stroller trying to get a closer look at the ducks, next to my two brothers and my mom. I really loved this place and even worked there one summer in high school, managing the general store. 

You can find more information/photos on Old MacDonald's Farm here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oh No, It's Almost Summer!

And I haven't done the change of my wardrobe!

I promise after that is done next week, I will begin posting regularly again. It's been a crazy, hectic, and unsettling year, and I miss posting regularly to this blog. I have many more family stories to post and photos to share. I hope you come back. I am committed to posting at least once a week.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Photo of the Day: Luna Park, Pittsburgh

General market in downtown Pittsburgh, circa 1900-1910. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photo of the Day: Frances Steiner

Thanks to a distant relative that I met through, Bonnie Chaffee, I have this wonderful photo of my great, great, great grandmother, Frances (Frannie) Koomer Steiner (Bonnie and I both share Frannie as our 3x great grandmother). Frannie was born on April 26, 1818, in Switzerland and married Johan Jacob Steiner when she was only 17. They had a few children, moved to Pennsylvania, and had a few more – ten children in all. She died when she was 71, on April 11, 1889, seven years before Johan. Thanks, Bonnie, for sharing such a wonderful photo with Louisa's ancestors!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day, Cousin Jack Veckly

My first cousin once removed is the little boy on the left, Jack Veckly, with his father John. My mother Nancy is on the right, with her mother Sally. Jack and Nancy were very close throughout their childhood, having been born only four months apart. Both families lived in the same house together in Cleveland when they were born. Jack died when he was only 19 years old, on November 1, 1951, in the Korean War. Jack was in Company 2, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He died in the battle referred to as the "Battle for the Punchbowl", the hardest fought battle of the Korean War. This post is dedicated to him, and to all other veterans who lost their lives in the Korean War.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Norwegian Family: The Stangelands

This post is my father's unedited, genealogical research of the Stangelands, my paternal grandmother's family, which dates back to the early 1400's. He sent this document to every known descendant of this family back in the late 1990's. This document was one of the reasons I became interested in genealogy and carrying on his research, both on my father's Norwegian side of the family and the German/Italian side of my mother. This document was a huge help, and on, I was able to confirm that his information was correct.
Notes: Genealogical practice in developing family trees is to follow the line of eldest son to eldest son to eldest son, and so on. In the Stangeland Family there is a direct line of eldest sons from Øystein Askildson to Andreas Kristiansen. From Andreas the direct line would be through Lars Stangeland, who had both a son and grandson. So that the rest of us can continue our family histories, I am showing other of Andreas’ children as being directly in line.

Note that the surname of each child is his father’s first name, plus sen or son (son of), or datter (daughter of) Sometimes the farm location is added (Hompland, Maudal). This practice continued until the 19th century, when surnames were fixed. In this family tree you will see that father’s first name plus sen or son continues through to Andreas Kristiansen, my great-grandfather. His children all took Stangeland, the location of the family farm, as their surname. The practice of father’s first name plus sen continues in Iceland to this day.

Pre-Family: The first recorded history in Norway was in the late 700's. Vikings were active from 793 to about 1200. The country was unified by Harald Hårfagre about 900 in a battle outside of Stavanger, making him the first King of Norway. In 995, Olaf I brought Christianity to Norway and Olaf II (St. Olaf) strengthened its foundation in 1016.

Dynastic wars weakened the country by 1270, with Germans establishing important trading operations in Bergen and other cities. From 1320 to 1513 Norway was ruled by Kings of Denmark and Sweden, and from 1513 to 1814, by Denmark alone, and then to 1905 by Sweden. On May 17, 1905, Norway declared its independence.

The Black Death was carried on a ship arriving in Bergen in 1349. The effect on isolated farming communities was devastating; estates could not be maintained when workers were dying everywhere. Norway’s population declined one-half, to 180,000.

Denmark levied heavy taxes on the population, and collectors rode to farms for produce in lieu of cash. The Roman Catholic Church was consolidated with the Government, and owned and controlled much of the country. 

The Stangeland Family – 1430

In each of us there is a drop of blood and some genes from Øystein Askildson and Maurits Fintland.

Øystein Askildson owned the farm in Hompland, in Fintland, in Sirdal commune (county), just across the border from Rogaland commune, where are located Stavanger, Kleppe and Maudal. In 1469, because of misconduct toward his local priest and for living in an immoral way, according to Diplomatarium Norvegicum (a large collection of Middle Age letters), Askildson had to mortgage his property to the church (Catholic). The mortgage was paid in full by Maurits Fintland’s grandsons.

It is difficult to get earlier information because many records were lost or destroyed when Lutheranism replaced Catholicism in 1563. Øystein Askildson’s connection to Maurits Fintland in unknown, but as rights to the farm descended to Maurits and his descendents, it can be acknowledged that Askildson was the first known man in our family.

Maurits Fintland is mentioned in the 1519 and 1521 censuses as the only person listed in the part of the Sirdal valley which lay within Stavanger county. In addition to the Hompland farm, he owned the farms in Maudal and property in Bjerkreim. In addition to the two sons listed below, quite possibly the families living in on Fintland, Finsnes, Lindland and Osen are also descendants of Maurits.

A county court judgement in 1574 recognized that Maurits’s sons Kjetil and Tollak were valid heirs to Maurits’s property. The 1563 census shows Tollak living on Hompland: In later years he was called Tollak Lindland. Kjetil is listed in the 1575 census, on Hompland.

Maurits Tollefson Maudal was born on Osen in Sirdal in Fintland, and moved to Øvre Maudal in 1603. He was the owner of Øvre Maudal, Austrumdal, one quarter of Nedre Maudal, and had shares of Hovland, Espeland and Nevland. In 1603 and 1612 he paid taxes of one dollar and, in 1624, five marks (all in coin). He also paid, in 1624, measures of butter in Maudal, Øverbo and Austrumdal, and corn in Espeland and Hovland. He was listed in the census of 1617. 

Anna’s paternal family all lived in Øvre Maudal: Her maternal line lived in Ims, Mele, Ims in Høle, Froyland in Riska, Mele in Forsand, and Øvre Bjørheim. In 1660 her grandparents were married in the church in Høle. Movement like this is surprising, until it is realized that in large families children had to leave home to find work. 
Marita’s parents were married in 1686 in the church in Høle. Her paternal family came from Nedre Espedal, Frafjord, N. Rossavik, Kristi Frafjord, Rossavik and Kjosavik. 
I visited the Stangeland farm in August, 1996. The farm is now owned by Martin Stangeland (no relation) who has 20 dairy cattle, sheep, chickens, and grows corn and wheat. Martin pointed out some low buildings on the slope below his house and barn and said that was where our Stangeland family lived and worked for four generations. He said that other families also lived in the buildings and that everyone lived communally. 
This new information about Johanna being Andreas’ mother came from KLEPP GARDS- OG ÆTTESOGA, which states that Johanna was a 23-year old “gjente”, which translates to housemaid. Family consensus now is that after ten years of marriage to Berta without child (the first marriage was to Ingeborg, who died after one year) Kristian was 40 years old, and very much wanted a child. So, he and Berta apparently made a contract with Johanna for her to bear Kristian’s child. She did so, giving birth to Andreas, and after completing nursing him, gave him to Berta, who raised him as her own. When Andreas was 13, Berta died, and Kristian married Elen two years later. The contract apparently was kept secret: Peder’s daughters believed Berta was their great-grandfather and Gerhard (George) told his granddaughter that his grandmother was Elen. 

Andreas Kristiansen
A family comment about this news - Johanna had good genes, implying “Look at us all now!”. After giving up the infant, Johanna left the household and married soon after. She had a number of children, all of whom emigrated to America. She lived in Kleppe her entire life, and apparently had good relations with Kristian and Berta. 
When Kristian died, one-half of the farm was given to Andreas and one-quarter each to his step-brothers. Since to farm one-quarter of the rocky farm was not viable, each sold his portion to Andreas. Lars emigrated to Iowa, worked on a homesteader’s farm, married the daughter, and inherited an enormous, rich farm when the father died. Johannes emigrated to Oregon. 

When Andreas Kristiansen left the farm and moved to Stavanger the communal arrangement that had existed was broken up and everyone separated. The reason Andreas moved to Stavanger was that he had been raising beef cattle and sheep, and would slaughter them and take then to the market in Stavanger. He saw an opportunity to be a full-time butcher, and so decided to move his family to Stavanger for that purpose.

From 1825 to 1925, 800,000 persons left Norway, mostly for North America. Included were the three sons and three daughters of Andreas Kristiansen indicated above with an asterisk. As a result of this mass migration there are more people of Norwegian ancestry living outside of Norway (5 million) than there are today in Norway (4.3 million). The impact of the migration of mostly younger persons resulted in labor shortages today, compelling the Government to encourage immigration of foreign refugees to Norway. Immigrants from over 100 countries now live and work in Norway. 

Note the birth and death dates of Gina. All birth dates were copied from Andreas’ family bible by Anne Mae Gunstrom Alter, the granddaughter of Maren. The bible is in the hands of Anne Marie Drange in Stavanger. I have the letter that the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco sent to my aunt, Clara Stangeland Endresen. The letter states that Gina died December 21, 1991. Gina died exactly one month short of 110 years of age. I visited Gina in the hospital, with my wife and son, in September, 1989, when she was 107. She remembered me and my mother, and asked how was Mrs. Ambrose. 

Alfrida emigrated from Norway when she was 17. Her mother had died, her father was planning to re-marry, and she did not like her prospective step-mother. Her grandfather Andreas, to the chagrin of her father, suggested that she go to Syracuse, New York where she had two aunts and two uncles. Andreas said if she remained in Norway she would become the surrogate mother to her two younger sisters. Alfrida did so, sailing to Montreal enroute to Syracuse. 

Alfrida met Edwin Ambrose, born in Horten, Norway, at a Norwegian Lodge in Syracuse. Edwin had served one compulsory year in the Norwegian Navy, then completed a two-tear program at Horten Technical Institute, where he learned to be a draftsman. Since there were no employment opportunities in Norway, he sailed to Montreal and to Massena, N.Y., where he heard there was work in Syracuse. He found a job, and was employed all during the depression. Edwin was born as Øivind Ambrosiusen, son of Martinus Ambrosiusen and Hilda Hansen. He anglicized his name to simplify his life. He worked 35 years for the Solvay Process Company, a division of Allied Chemical Corporation. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kaptein Peder Stangeland

Today, September 21, I celebrate my great grandfather Peder Stangeland on his birthday. He was born in 1873 and lived to be 95 years old.

Below is my very lame attempt to translate a 1933 Norwegian article about Peder Stangeland's 60th birthday. Many of the clippings in my grandparent's scrapbook were Norwegian, of course, and though I should enlist the help of my many relatives in Norway, I used Google Translation, with limited success as you can see (corrections or proper translation is always welcome!).

Captain Peder Stangeland, who will be well known to the traveler audience on our side, turns 60 years on 21 the latter. He is Klepps by birth, but in 8-year-age he moved with his parents to Stavanger, where he was confirmed, and 5 days after graduation he went to sea for long voyages, only 14 years old. Stangeland stayed until 1895, when he came home and took navigation school, after which he went out with Professor Nordenskjold on long voyages.

In 1897, Stangeland was married, and thus was the end of the road in distant waters. He was appointed as Officer on Eira and was there for 4 years. Later he was 2 Officer on dpsk. Sandnæs (now Gann), where he served for 7 years to 1910. This year bought Farmann, something Stangeland led the route Bergen - Hardanger and Stavanger, and then sold the boat to Sandnes, followed by Stangeland. Later he became agent for the Oscar and Eira here in town and served as such until 1923. In some moments between he led among others on Eira.

But Stangeland went again in some distance and led among others, the steamer Majoren, something sank en route from Iceland with a purse of herring, etc. The crew was made ​​up of an Ålesunds-fishing boat and were landed there. In 1928, led Stangeland Hanseat, which was in foreign trade and coasting, but this boat was sold after a years time. The last boat Stangeland led was Hundvaåg, associated shipowner Pedersen. Last year he had to end the sea because of a foot injury and now runs his farm on Våland.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marching from Liverpool to LeHavre

Another oral story and a week of journal entries from my grandfather, Carl O. Ericke, from WWI.

Well anyway, we crossed the Channel, went to Le Havre, and from there on the joy riding was over. We were no longer in the cavalry, as I said, and after hours of taking the American three-inch guns apart, we were now being trained on the French 75, which was a new job altogether, and we had to learn all over again. They put us through some rather hectic days learning about the French 75.        See it in action, here:

And the only thing we had to do with horses from then on were with the horses that carried the caissons. We had to take care of them even though we didn’t ride them. And when I say take care of them – I mean it. We had to wash their privates with soap and water. It's a nasty thing even to talk about it, but they didn’t make it easy for you. We had to take care of them because we depended on them to pull the caissons, so that's about all there is to say at this time.

Saturday, June 8, 1918

Piled off the boat in Liverpool. Oh what a great feeling to stand on real ground after 14 days of water. They left half of our battery to do the work at the dock, Eck too. What a glorious feeling, as we hiked along. Our eyes bulged. Buildings are not very tall. Passed a factory. Lot of girls working in overalls watched us go by. Glorious feeling with the band playing Illinois, girl motormen, double-deck cars with big windows. Few young men but bunches of children and women and old men. Very hilly and we soon showed signs of fatigue. Marched 8 miles to a rest camp called Knotty Ash: big orphan home. Band made up of little kids in sailor suits escorted us for a half mile or so. Mostly uphill – after being on boat so long was pretty hard. Few dropped out. Letters home ought to get out.

Camp consists of about two dozen big tents, 20 men in a tent. Little straw ticks. Coffee nice and bread is all we got. Band played a concert. Couldn’t even go to the fence. Seems as if a regiment before us had bought wine and booze from women and as a result the colonel killed two of the men. He is being held for trial. We’re always out of luck. Some camp followers stood at rear fence and talked a lot of rot. Lots of women flirted with us but that’s all. Guess we’ll be here tomorrow too. They call it a rest camp. Believe me we needed it after that hike.

Sunday, June 9, 1918

Left at about 10am for the train, right near camp. Got more rations of corn willy and hard tack. Funny little cars where you get in on the side, like you see in the movies, eight to a compartment.

Got into Winchester at about 9:30pm. Then a 2-mile hike to barracks at Dinam Hill. Seems everything is hills and we always go up them. Pretty tired and hungry but no eats. It was 4pm in Chicago when we went to bed. Mighty tired carrying those packs.

Monday, June 10, 1918

Slept till 8am. Breakfast of bread (2 pieces) and jelly and coffee. Not much for hungry tummies. Don’t like English camps much.

Went to the English canteen and American YMCA. Wrote some letters. Can’t get any cake or cookies. Very little candy – and expensive. Everything costs a bob (shilling) or more. Five-count bag of Bull a shilling and a two pence. Fierce. Have wet canteen – too bad as usual we are not allowed in.

Tuesday, June 11, 1918

Lieutenant Jones took us for a hike thru Winchester. It is England’s first capital. Last Parliament met there in 945. Saw the Winchester Cathedral. One part of it was built in year of 500. Saw palace of King William the Conqueror, some palace – old dump. Also Parliament Building, King Arthur’s original Round Table, Carving of Queen Victoria, King Lear, etc. Also old relics and souvenirs. Great stuff, all that ancient stuff of which England is proud.

Wednesday, June 12, 1918

Left Winchester and mighty glad of it. English rations two meals a day be damned. A lot of them drilling in howitzers. Took a look at them. We could handle one better than they in a week. The American 3” is the hardest ever. Forgot to mention that on the boat we got all the news, baseball scores and all via wireless from New York. Then about the seventh day out we got war dope from the Eiffel Tower. Oh yes, when we hit Winchester we heard about the subs, getting some boats in NY harbor. Bet it gave the folks a scare. More corn willy and train to Southampton. As we marched to the dock we passed a big hospital. Some cheerful sight just before going over the channel. 

Laid around watching arriving planes and talking to Australian soldiers. They say the English Tommy isn’t worth a rot. They’re yellow. The French and Americans do the fighting. Also give Germans credit for being wonders in the air. Told us to kill but not take Boche prisoners. Also to be careful about picking souvenirs. Handed us a lot of bull about first night in the trenches and a lot of stories how they were wounded etc. Some fellows from Alabama stole a 50 lb. key from Winchester and tried to pull down a statue, etc. As punishment they were put in front line trenches. However, they were full of pep and went over the top more often in one month than the English have since the war started. Captured a German on No Mans Land. Stripped him, gave him a kick and told him they would get him later when they finished playing cards. Can you imagine Fritz.

Well, we got in the side-wheeler La Marguerite at about 6pm. We and Australians (that is our battalion – the other stayed at Winchester) on boat and terribly crowded. If we got hit we wouldn’t have a chance. Wore life preservers again. Passed a lot of half sunk boats about six on way out of bay. Out past Portsmouth and fleet of chasers joined us. About five transports. Made lots of speed. Guess about 24 knots an hour. Soon got dark. Big dirigible
passed in moonlight. Corn willy and hardtack. Got awfully damp. No chance to go below, far too crowded. After all I heard about rough water, the channel was smooth as glass.

Thursday, June 13, 1918

After no sleep, at about 4:30 am we stayed on boat till about 8:30am. Even from the water, the land of France took in a different aspect. Marched thru LeHavre to American Rest Camp called Point 1. All the kids held our hands and coats. People at all the windows, American flags and women throwing kisses, and wounded English soldiers (they wear blue denim uniforms). Mostly old men, women, and loads of children. Some classy dolls in nightgowns gave us a cheer. Mu-la-la. Latrines right on corner. Can see your feet under then, your head also. Those for women are the same. And some dolls on the street. Children all wear black jumpers and artist hats – chapeaus. German prisoner camp here too. Saw bunches of them. Big saw-boned fellows, big round patch in back of coats and legs. Could hear them talk – some were building a shed. Seemed funny to understand German. Have canteen where you can buy beer for 25 centimes. Bull stuff though! Quite a novelty though.

Slept in tents, 12 to a tent. Corn willy warmed us. First warm stuff in long time. Right in channel. See lots of aeroplanes. Were given instructions what to do if there was an air attack. And we haven’t gotten pistols yet! Wrote a letter home.

Friday, June 14, 1918

In the afternoon, marched through town again to the trains. Got three days rations, same stuff. Left about 8pm. Ate and tried to get comfortable. Slept sitting up. Can sleep on our heads now.