Friday, February 25, 2011

A letter or two….

Grandpa Anderson was a quiet man.  Grandpa spent over 25 years by himself after his wife died in 1955.  He had 8 children who all married and had children so he had plenty of places to visit but I think he like his nice quiet home too. Our family kept him involved with our family events and holidays.  He visited regularly and we have very fond memories of his visits.  He came with us on all of our vacations. If we went to the Zoo, Grandpa came with us. Every time we visited the beach, Grandpa came too.  He would sit in his chair at the edge of the water, with his pant legs rolled up and to watch us swim.  I remember more than once a wave came along and caught him off guard and he got very wet but he didn’t care.  He had been around water all his life.  Sometimes he would find some shade and the daily newspaper and before you knew it he was taking a nap. We thought we knew him well.

When he died, we realized that there was a lot that we did not know about him and where he came from. When Mom was going through his house after he died, she found letters and post cards from Norway. She had remembered as a child that her day would get letters from Norway.  She remembered becasue she loved the stamps which came on his mail. She begged him for the stamps off his letters. Grandpa carefully cut the stamps off and gave them to her before tucking the letter in his drawer.

The letters sat for decades collecting dust. Periodically he would get another one, read it and place it in the drawer with the rest. Mom was so sad that she could not read them. She wondered how she would ever figure out what they said. She wondered if he wrote letters back. She thought that he did. She remembered him talking about it but she never really knew for sure if he did. She would take the letters home and tuck them away in her dresser just like he did.  Eventually, she was able to contact Anna, Haakon’s wife, to let her know that Andrew had died. Anna sent a responding letter to Mom.  She would let her know that Haakon had died one month and fours days after his brother, Andrew.

It really bothered my mother that she did not know what the Norway letters said so when she and Dad visited Norway in 1973, she took the letters with her. She and her cousins tried to read them. Eventually, Tormod, cousin Auslag’s husband, said that if it was OK he would keep the letters so he could translate them. He promised that he would send them back with a translation. So Mom left Norway, leaving the letters behind.

Tormod and Auslag - Norway, 1973

After a few weeks, Mom received the first of what would be regular letters from Tormod. Each time she received a new translation she would be so excited. She would read them over and over again. I was a "stay at home" Mother at the time and she would call me to tell me she had gotten another Norway letter. She would read it to me over the phone with such excitement! She would later tell me how disappointed she was that Grandpa had cut the stamps out for her when she was a child because the words behind the stamps were lost for ever. It took Tormod over a year to translate all the letters. Unknown to us at the time his wife, Mom’s cousin Auslag, was being treated for Cancer which she would later died from.

These letters have become a family treasure. We cherish them and the translation which Tormod worked so diligently on for so long enabled us to see a side of our family which would have remained hidden had Grandpa not kept his letters.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grandpa Anderson and yellow toast …

When I was a child, I remember my Grandpa Anderson visited us regularly. My Grandmother died on April 19, 1955, a few months before I was born so I never knew her.  Mom tried really hard to include Grandpa in what ever we were doing as a family.

Andrew Anderson and his three Smith granddaughters, Susan, Janet and Pamela taken in 1955, the day that I was baptized.

He would come and visit us every few weeks when the weather was good.  He lived in Marine City and we lived in Romeo.  He would stop by the bakery in Marine City and buy a special loaf of bread.  I do not know if it was his favorite or Mom’s but he brought that bread every time he visited and before long it was our favorite too.  Mom would make us toast out of it!  I wish I knew what it was called for sure. I have never seen bread like it since. It was creamy yellow in color and a round un-sliced loaf packaged in a clear plastic bag.  I just remember that it is one of my early memories, yellow toasted bread with butter on it.   I asked Mom more than once what it was and she thought it was called Egg Bread. I will have to ask Aunt Benita or Aunt Betty if they remembers what it was.  

Janet, Sharon (with one of the cats), Andrew and Mark Spring of 1963

Miss you Grandpa!

Love, Jan

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Norwegian information overload.....

I have been very neglectful of my blog of late. Well, I don’t know how true that is. The truth is I have purposefully not done much research lately because it has been a long time since I have had any really good new information…until the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, I decided for the heck of it to post a massage on a message board on I was looking around the message boards and found that there was a board for Tjome, Norway. Tjome Norway is where my Grandfather was born and his father before him. I actually have learned quite q bit these last couple of weeks…so much that I have a bit of a headache as a result of trying to absorb all the information.

On, my post was fairly generic. I told them what I knew….Who my Grandfather was and his brothers.  I told them who his mother and father were.  And once again like so many time before, I got an answer the very next day!  The answer would lead to a series of email from a Norwegian researcher who very generously took the time to look up parish records for me about my family.  This would be the beginning of an unbelievable week!
Vivi responded with the Baptism records from the Tjome Church for Anders (my Grandfather) and his brothers, Jakob Hagbart and Haakon Ingvard.  They are the three sons of Han Henrik and Ingeborg Helene Andersen.  They would also provide me with the death record of Ingeborg Helene who died of TB when Anders was 11 years old.  This event would become a major turning point in my Grandfather’s  life.  Well I guess that is a rather silly statement because losing your mother at a young age would be a “major event” but I can go into that with more detail later.
This is a photo of the Tjome Church from my Mother and Dad's trip to Norway in 1973.

Anders (my Grandfather) is listed on line 40 of this record.
They provided me with the marriage record for Hans Henrik and Ingeborg Helene from the parish in Tjome.  Hans Henrik would remarry Mathilde (Seiner) Zainer and they gave me the marriage record for this second marriage also.
Line 16 is Han and Ingeborg’s Marriage record in 1882.
She would provide me with a link to digitized Norwegian records so I could continue with my own research.

She also provide me with a photo from a turn of the century post card showing Grimestad, Tjome, Norway which is the location where my family came from.   She pointed me to a link which would show me additional Post card photos of “Farms” as they call them in Norway.  These farms are similar to villages.  As I looked through the post cards online, I was reminded that we had post cards which were similar which my Grandfather had. I asked Vivi who I could share my post cards with.  This question would begin my crazy week!

A post card received by my Grandfather in 1914.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will continue to post how my week became a week of overload!  So until then...Stay tuned!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - February 8, 2011

Hans Andersen  1859 – 1946

I have been scanning in photos from my Mother and Father’s trip to Norway from 1973. Some of my siblings will be visiting us in March and I am trying to get them photos scanned in so we can look at them while they are here. I have come across a great Tombstone Tuesday photo for today. It is the grave stone for Hans Andersen, my Great Grandfather in Norway.  It appears that he was born in March 25, 1859.  The month is hard to read on the stone.  I suppose that it could also be an 8 so it could be August. I will try to clarify that.  He died on June 15, 1946.  We had hope to go to this cemetery when I visited Norway this summer but there just was not enough time.  My next visit the I will have enough time to go visit it!
He is buried with his second wife, Matilda.

I believe that this cemetery is located on and island just off the coast of Norway in the Olso Fjord south west of Oslo.  The island in called Tjome and it his the birth place of Hans, my grandfather, Andrew and his brothers, Hagbart and Haakon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meet the Densmores

Charles Densmore was born in Dec 23, 1864 the fourth child of John C. and Sarah Louise (Reynolds) Densmore in Mount Clemens, Michigan. On March 27, 1890 a 25 year old Charles would marry Mary Morgan Hayner, daughter of Robert Wesley and Dorothy Ann (Morgan) Hayner who was 18 and born in Port Hope Michigan. They were married in Port Lampton, Ontario. Charles occupation is listed as farmer on his marriage license.

By the 1900 Federal Census, Charles and Mary have three living children, Addie, Charles Ray and Elizabeth and live in East China, St Clair County, Michigan. According to our family records, Mary and Charles had a son born on February 26, 1893. He died on March 18, 1893. The census record indicated that Mary has had four children and three are living. Charles occupation is listed as a day laborer and they have two boarders living with them in a rented home.

In the 1910 Federal Census, Charles and Mary are living in Cottrellville, St Clair County, Michigan. They have eight children living with them and their son-in-law. The children are listed as; Ray C, Elizabeth, Dorothy, (Jay)Morgan, John, Harry, Mary, son-in-law, Andrew Anderson and daughter Addie Anderson. Charles is a farm laborer and they are renting their residence. Ray Charles was a farm laborer also. Andrew is a wheelman on a steamer. (Great Lakes Ship)

In the 1920 census, Charles and Mary live in Marine City and own their home. His occupation is listed as a carpenter who works in the ship yard and builds homes. They have seven children living at home and Mary’s Mother, Dorothy who is widowed and is 78 years old. The seven children are: Charles Ray, Morgan, Dorothy, John, Harry, Mary and Allan.
Back row LtoR: ( Jay) Morgan, Elizabeth, Ray Charles, Addie, Dorothy
Front Row LtoR: Mary, Mary Morgan (Hayner), Harry, Charles holding Allan, John

In the 1930 Census, Charles and Mary are listed in Marine City and his occupation is sexton of the Marine City Cemetery. They have three children, a son-in-law and a grandson who live with them.  They are Ray Charles, Allan and their daughter Mary, her husband, Arthur K Kamer and their son, Richard.

I believe that I acquired my love of cemeteries from Charles Densmore, my Great Grandfather.  He managed the Marine City Cemetery for many years and would later pass the honor down to Andrew, his son-in-law, and my Grandfather.  Ironically neither of these men would be buried in the Marine City Cemetery. They were buried in Rose Hill, which is in East China Township, St Clair County, Michigan.