Friday, May 27, 2011

A surprise in the mail…

Last week I got an email from my cousin in Traverse City, Michigan. She informed me that she had dropped a little surprise in the mail to me so I should keep my eye out for it! Low and behold, a few days later I got this small box. So I opened it and this is what I found!

I’ve had only a small amount of time to research this week to see if I could find out more about this item. It appears to be a paper weight which commemorates the dedication of the Uniondale church in Indiana.  Today this church is the United Methodist Church of Uniondale and is still operating.  Back in 1917, it was likely my great, great grandparent’s church, John and Emma Crites. It also shows the original church built in 1888.  It is an interesting piece of our family history which has been kept for five generation now.

John and Emma outside their Uniondale home.

My cousin said that she is slowly going through her mother’s china cabinet and deciding what to do with the family items which have been kept for all these years…Helen Jane, (my cousin) told me that since I had done such a good job of uncovering who our family really was and where we came from, that she thought I might enjoy having this on my desk!  And I do!  It gave me goose bumps when I opened it, wondering how many family members had handled it before me…and who exactly kept it as a treasure before Uncle Fred and Aunt Hazel did! 

It’s a piece of our family history which I can touch everyday!  Now, it is time to clean my desk off and give it a tidy place to stay at least for a few days until I uncover my next mystery and find my next family story.  My desk is almost always piled with papers, photos and copies of old documents.  Everyday there is a new fact to be found and a new story to uncover.

With that in mind this paperweight now presents me with a new mystery! One of these days I will spend some time discovering more about the company who made this paperweight.  It’s the Keystone Badge Company which is still in business today in Reading, Pennsylvania.

This item may well be a one of a kind!

My wish to each of you is to have a safe and wonderful Memorial weekend!

Happy Hunting!

Love Jan

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What a weekend of research....

Cold rainy spring weather made for a good research weekend...Can't garden so I might as well work on my project about Grandpa Anderson. I had been meaning to contact my two living Aunts to ask them some questions about Grandpa Anderson. I went looking for his obit and found that I did not have a copy of it. I was shocked that neither my Mother nor I had a copy of it.…that just can not be!  There must be more family papers at Mom's house.  I thought I had all her documents but now I am not so sure…. I know that in order to write this Bio for the Norwegian Historical Society I will need it.
My first call was to my sister to get Aunt Benita's phone number.  My second call was to Aunt Benita, Uncle John’s wife. She was surprised to hear from me and we had a delightful conversation. She did have a copy of Grandpa's Obit and read it to me over the phone. She told me that she would make me a copy and send it to me. She was able to tell me that Grandpa retired in 1948 from Detroit Edison after 30 years of service. So now I know that this retirement photo, which we all love, was taken in 1948 at the St Clair substation on his last day of work.  This is the Grandpa that all the grandkids remember!

I went out to and found his WW1 draft record from 1918 and sure enough he listed his occupation as Substation Operator for DU Railway or Detroit United Railway.  I remember that this record had puzzled me years ago when I first saw it.  I thought I had kept a copy of it .  In my early years of research, I was not always consistent about making or keeping copies of all the records I found online.  My thinking was that I could always find it because after all, it is online….Well I know better now! I was sure the record was his because it has the correct birth date, the correct address and even my Grandmother's name appears but I never knew he worked for the railroad!  No one ever talked about that job.

My next call was to Aunt Betty, Uncle Ray's wife. And with a little prompting, she gave me a bunch of information to work from. Betty was able to remember Grandpa’s railroad days..”Well the truth is they were electric rail cars which traveled from Detroit to Port Huron.” She told me. “I don’t know when it became Detroit Edison but they are some how connected “, she told me.

As always when you get answers to one question, it often leads to another mystery to solve. I spent a good deal of time researching the Detroit United Railroad this weekend. I still have more work to do on this topic! I was trying to figure out what my Grandfather did for the railroad and how he became an employee of Detroit Edison all in the 30 years that his obit stated that he worked for Detroit Edison. I would find out that Grandpa did indeed work for the DU Railroad in 1918.  He worked in the substation where the electricity was generated which ran the electric rail cars. In Grandma Addie’s photo album, there were photos of the electric rail cars and of the substation.

An electric rail car in Marine City, Michigan.

St Clair Substation is where the electricity to run the electric rail cars was generated.

I will in the coming weeks share with you what I have learned about Grandpa Anderson employers.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Article for Norway

I am in the process of writing an article about my grandfather for the Tjome Historical Society.  The subject of the article is about a Tjome born native Norwegian who became an American.  That sums up Grandpa Anderson pretty well!  I currently am trying to put together a timeline of events in my Grandfather’s life.  There are many documents available which will help me starting with the Norwegian church records and of course ending with his funeral card and his obituary. The events of his life which are sandwiched between his birth and his death will require some additional research. Some of it will require searching thru public records and I am hoping that I can get some details from family members who are still alive.  With my Mother gone, I will need to find out if either of my remaining Aunt’s can answer any questions.

I have been trying to determine what my Grandfather did from the time he got out of Grammar school in 1898 an 1904 when he decided to immigrate to America.  He is listed in the 1900 census in Norway with his Father and Step-mother but it is noted that he is working out of London, England. I believed he sailed the Atlantic from England to America and back several times.  I have been searching thru shipping crew lists to see if I can locate who he worked for in London but so far I have not located him.

This photo is of Anders soon after his arrival from England. I am estimating that he is about 20 years old.  This is a cropped photo which also included a shipmate and friend.

He began sailing the Great Lakes soon after his arrival in Michigan in 1904. His occupation was listed as Sailor in his first Naturalization records submitted in 1909. The first application was denied because he had not been a residence of the state of Michigan nor had he known his sponsors for five years or more.  One of his sponsors listed on his application was Charles Densmore,  his future father-in-law. His citizenship was granted after submitting a second application in 1911.

He lived and worked with Gus Englehart prior to marrying Addie Densmore.  He sailed on the Great Lakes Steamer Geo King. Postal mail addressed to him from his family in Norway was sent to Anders Andersen in care of Gus Englehart on the Steamer Geo King.   The Steamer Geo King transported timber from Minnesota to south eastern Michigan where it would be used to build homes and businesses or move via railroads to other parts of America.

This photo shows Anders (Center person in the back row.), now known as Andrew, holding the life ring and posing with the captain and his shipmates.  The photo is not dated and no one else is identified. The ship name on the life ring is the Steamer Walter Scranton. I find that the Walter Scranton’s Captian was M. M.  Stewart in 1905 and the Engineer was Henry Graves.  I am still attempting to determine how long this ship sailed and if there are any crew lists available.  I have not found any so far. This ship was owned and operated by Mitchell & Co, Rockefeller Buildling, Cleveland, Ohio.

He and Addie Densmore were married in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on December 9, 1909. This is their wedding photo taken in Chicago shortly after they were married. According to my mother, her parents spent their first winter as newly weds in Chicago. Their home would be aboard a ship in the harbor where they would “watch over the ship” for the winter. I am sure it was an interesting city in the winter of 1909-1910. By the 1910 Census, they are living in Marine City, with Addie’s parents, Charles and Mary Densmore.

Happy Hunting!