Sunday, October 23, 2016

Betsy Hagen- A 20 Year Mystery Solved!

Every genealogist has a "brick wall" or mystery to be solved. And The Dead Relative Collector is certainly no exception. In fact, I come from a family riddled with mysteries & brick walls.

One of my longer standing questions involved a Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Beret "Betsy" Hagen, who as a young wife & mother left her home in Northern Norway and came to the United States, settling in Minnesota.

In 1873, four months after the birth of their 12 child, Betsy's husband died; leaving her to tend to their large family and the farm. As her older daughters were already married, before long some children moved in with their older siblings and eventually, Betsy remarried Peter A. Williamson and they continued farming while raising their blended family.

Unfortunately, the family lived in a very rural part of Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. While vital records begin in the 1870s, there were not many newspapers that picked up news from that rural area... they were just too far away from the larger towns that had newspapers.

An extensive family history, written in the late 1950's by a cousin had sketchy information on Betsy & her husband, as by that time all of their children and some of the grandchildren had died.

Betsy had 3 possible death dates listed, ranging from 1891 to 1898. I was able to rule out the earlier dates, as Betsy & Peter show up in the 1895 State Census.

The rural Lutheran Church Cemetery that the family is buried at, is full of unmarked graves. And other than 1 infant granddaughter who died in the 1880s, NONE of the Hagen family has markers. I've been to the cemetery on two different occasions and walked it diligently, to no avail.

Lutheran records, at least in Minnesota, have been digitized and I was able to find death/burial records for all the Hagen family members in Kandiyohi County, EXCEPT Betsy... and I searched year by year from 1895 (when she was last known alive) to 1900 (when Peter Williamson appears widowed). No death or burial showed up for the small Lutheran Church that Betsy was a member of for 30 years. I was pretty much certain, at this point, she must have died elsewhere! 

Peter & Betsy had children living in North Dakota (where Peter himself would die in 1908) and in Cass County in Northern Minnesota. Unfortunately, death records that early are very sketchy (non-existent) for those areas at the time of Betsy's death.

Newspapers for the area are limited... and news coverage for their rural area is even more limited. And after scanning reel after reel of microfilm hoping to spot anything, I pretty much gave up all hope. Chronicling America does have Willmar newspapers, which I have searched previously, hoping to find something.

Finally, this last week, I hopped on Chronicling America again... I searched very vague names and very vague dates.... And FINALLY I hit the jack pot! A small death notice, loaded with details, in a Willmar newspaper, that gave her date of death & location... AND confirmed that she was buried at the cemetery.

She had a daughter (my ancestor) and a son who lived as neighbors to each other in 1898 in Cass County, but she was probably living with her daughter whose family was mostly grown by that time.

After over 20 years of trying to confirm the details of her life, I've finally gotten some answers about Betsy Hagen!

Next up, to tackle the Norwegian records and see if I can determine, for sure, who her parents & siblings were. One mystery solved... countless more to go!

Monday, October 17, 2016

North Star Conference & Genealogy Education~

With the busy days of Summer becoming a memory, and Autumn (at least here in Minnesota) beginning, albeit seemingly behind schedule, It's now been over 2 weeks since The Minnesota Genealogical Society put on another quality North Star Conference. Spread out over 3 full days of great speakers & information-- The 2016 Conference showcased the immense talent & knowledge of Blaine Bettinger and Dr. Michael Locapo. As well as various speakers from the genealogy field who shared their expertise on a wide range of topics!

We're very fortunate in Minnesota that we have an active Genealogical Society at the State level that coordinates conferences throughout the year and is able to get some of the most knowledgeable speakers in our field, to present.

As a genealogist who is always trying to further his understanding of DNA & how it can apply to my research, I was looking forward to the always knowledgeable Blaine Bettinger, who is at the forefront of DNA research. He released a new book, "Genetic Genealogy in Practice" earlier this Spring.

However, I was most excited to have 2 days of plenary sessions with the great & entertaining Dr. Michael Lacopo. I'm assuming any reader of 'The Dead Relative Collector' has surely read/followed/loved Hoosier Daddy, the fascinating blog written by Dr. Lacopo. If you haven't read it yet, stop reading mine right now & click the above link to his. You won't be sorry!

Among the other speakers I was able to enjoy was Dianne Plunkett Latham who gave wonderful information on joining the various lineage societies & groups out there [I must start my SAR & Mayflower quests this Winter] as well as Kelli  Bergheimer who shared online tools that I didn't even know about, to connect & collaborate with cousins! Katherine R. Willson talked about the serious subject of what to do with our genealogy once we're gone... and to make sure our wishes are fulfilled. 

There were other speakers that I also heard lecture... as well as some I couldn't fit in, but hope to next time... and whole new subjects that I know nothing about... but should.

Even though Autumn is well underway... and before we know it the hustle & bustle of the Holiday Season... and while some of us have to balance jobs, families & other distractions from our research... there will be plenty of opportunities to further your genealogical educations! 

I know I'm already thinking about to RootsTech next February... checking out the speakers & topics to see what might interest me, if I was to make the trip to Utah for the first time. 

And, like I said, luckily Minnesota has a very active genealogical society and there are plenty of opportunities over the coming weeks & months to learn something new!

Conferences like this are a great reminder how much more to genealogy there is (or can be)... it isn't just Facebook groups & "shaking leaves"... regardless how helpful & great they are. Make sure you aren't missing out on some great opportunities.

Are there any conferences on your calendar? What topics are you interested in? Have you been to any previously?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mystery Photo-- Fairmont, Minnesota

This unidentified photo comes from Southern Minnesota
Compliments of a Fairmont, MN (Martin County) photography studio

These two ladies remain unidentified... from a collection a photos connected to the Weber & Krumholz families, it is likely that they are relatives. One of them shows up in other photos as well... also unidentified.

Hopefully someone out there will recognize these ladies so we can give them names once & for all

Thursday, August 25, 2016

TBT- Photos of Yesteryear-- Weerts Daughters

Spotlight photos from my extensive photo archive
This week it is my 
Great-Great Grandmother- Elizabeth (Funk) Weerts
& her 4 daughters

Lucy, Grace, Anna, Elizabeth, Helena

Elizabeth (Funk) Weerts was born September 17, 1862, in Petkum, Ostfriesland, Germany. She was adopted at a young age by the Funk family. She was married to Herman "Harm" Weerts and they eventually left Germany for the United States, joining relatives in Iowa. Later moving to Southern Minnesota and finally settling in North Dakota. Elizabeth died at the age of 93, after suffering a stroke on June 20, 1956.

Among the 10 children in the Weerts family were the 4 daughters above-- (left to right)
Louise "Lucy" (Weerts) Schultz (1892-1989)
Grace (Weerts) Schultz (1890-1957)
Anna (Weerts) Cramer (1907-1973)
Helena "Lena" (Weerts) Ludemann Muller (1888-1988)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Genealogy Conferences, Workshops & Education

We are in the waning days of Summer... in fact, as I write this we are entering our final full week of August! Where, oh where, did the Summer go? If you are like me, it flew by with record breaking speed and you're left wondering not only where did the time go, but what did you do with it all?!

While these busy times of Summer were not a total loss for The Dead Relative Collector, as always I wish there were more things that had been accomplished. But we'll save the "review of Summer" for another posting... and instead focus on the post of this one.... Genealogy Education!

Yes, I know. I tout the virtues of furthering our education quite regularly... bear with me. 

We have 4 months left of 2016. [I know. WHERE did the time go?] And after some looking, there are still many genealogy conference & workshops left this year.

Next week is the 40th Anniversary Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference, which is taking place in Springfield, Illinois. Even if you can't attend (it's getting late, I realize), check out the link as they also have the 2017 & 2018 conferences & it doesn't hurt to plan ahead! 

The National Genealogical Society has many upcoming events listed! This link will take you right to the events tab, but I encourage you explore the page and see what else they have to offer.

For you researchers residing in Minnesota, Iowa & Wisconsin (or anyone else willing to travel to the Minneapolis, MN metro area), tomorrow- August 23, is the last day for the early bird registration of the upcoming 9th Annual North Star Conference. I won't repeat what I've already said regarding the Conference, other than that I can't recommend it enough-- feel free to check out the posting I wrote last month regarding it!

Besides the large conferences, many smaller societies offer workshops & continuing education. Are you involved in any local genealogy groups? Often a simple Google search will do. 

An early posting I did regarding furthering our education is here, there are also a few other links to schedules there as well. Feel free to have a look see.

I'd suggest checking out/following the Southern California Genealogical Society 'jamboree Blog' as they offer many opportunities of continuing education & also have info about their 2017 jamboree!

And if you know about an upcoming workshop or conference, it's always important to spread the word & share the details. So often I hear folks lament, "If only I'd known about it"...

If you are a social media user, you can also share any events or items of interest with The Dead Relative Collector's Facebook page or with a Facebook group such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, a group with over 23,000 members. There are so many different ways to spread the word!

So... what about you? How was your genealogical Summer?
Do you have any plans to participate in any genealogy activities this Fall?
Spread the word & Share the chance. Grab a genie pal and 'learn' something new! 
You'll be so glad you did

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mystery Photo-- Southern Minnesota or Iowa?

This photo came from some old snapshots belonging to my Great-Grandmother & were left in an attic to to the elements & critters before being found in an old box.

Many of the photos appear to be taken in Southern Minnesota... but they also had relatives & friends in Iowa and California... and I noticed a few of the photos were from there. 

While I do not know the identifies of any of the individuals, I do recognize a couple of them from other unidentified photos.

It's very possible that these folks are some how connected to the George or Averill families. But I have no way of knowing for sure. They may just be friends.  Either way, it would be wonderful to identify them all once & for all!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mystery Photo- John Cole of Minnesota & unknown?

This photo was most likely taken in Northern Minnesota. Seated in front is John Cole, the two standing gentleman remain unidentified.

John Cole [1882-1962] lived in Cass County, Minnesota his whole life. I really can't recognize either of the men in the photograph with him. 

They could be relatives of the Cole - Hagen - Wilson families... hopefully someone out there will be able to identify these 2 mystery men