Wednesday, December 31, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Jesse David Webb and Friends Playing Cards

[Jesse Webb (far left) and friends pose for a fun photo, undated image courtesy of Olive Kennedy]
My 2nd great grandfather, Jesse Webb (1860-1935), was born in Texas but lived in Iowa and Nebraska most of his life.  He was a carpenter.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Working on Wednesday: Daniel Darling (1682 - 1745/6), Blacksmith, Saw Mill Owner and Farmer

A life-long resident of Mendon in the "Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England," my maternal sixth-great grandfather Daniel Darling, "being sick and weak in Body, but of Sound and disposing Mind, memory and Judgment, Thanks be given unto God," made his will in the winter of 1745/46.  As you can see in the fourth line below, he was a "Blacksmith."

["Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925," images, FamilySearch (,1073167801 : accessed 31 December 2014), Worcester > Case no 15386-15470, Darling, Alpheus-Darling, Simeon, 1731-1881 > image 179 of 1094; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.]

But that's not all we can learn from his will. He was a partner in a "Saw Mill" and left his interest in it to his three sons, Daniel, Samuel*, and Peter.

["Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925," images, FamilySearch (,1073167801 : accessed 31 December 2014), Worcester > Case no 15386-15470, Darling, Alpheus-Darling, Simeon, 1731-1881 > image 180 of 1094; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.]

Of course Daniel was also a farmer, raising "Indian corn and English grain" and a "Stock of cattel.' He left land to his four** sons and four daughters after making provision in his will for his "dearly beloved wife Lydia Darling."

["Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925," images, FamilySearch (,1073167801 : accessed 31 December 2014), Worcester > Case no 15386-15470, Darling, Alpheus-Darling, Simeon, 1731-1881 > image 188 of 1094; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.]

Daniel Darling died on February 26th and his will was presented in court for probate on March 24, 1745/46. He was buried in Old Cemetery in Millville (formerly part of Mendon) in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

In the 1831 map of Mendon below, on the north side of the Blackstone River (in the lower left corner) you can see that there were still a lot of Darlings living there nearly 100 years later.

[A map of Mendon, Worcester County, Mass. 1831
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu; 
Digital Id g3764m ct004101]

*I am descended from Samuel Darling, whose son David (a veteran of the Revolutionary War) was the husband of Mercy Phillips.
**His fourth son, William Darling, received land but not part of the saw mill.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mappy Monday: Digital Version of Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (1932)

[Federal Land Grants for the Construction of Railroads and Wagon Roads, 1823-1871, snapshot taken from the New York Times article.]

Released just over a year ago by the team at Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond (Virginia), this "Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States" (1932) is an amazing resource for visualizing American history.  According to the website:
Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas's nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.
The New York Times noted that the atlas is especially useful in understanding the broad historical patterns and shifts throughout our history.  Map images include animation when there are a series of maps over times, and the option to view the original text as well as a relevant blog post or other details (when available).  An interesting example of the clicking on the map for more detail is the "Free Negroes, 1810" map.  The Charleston District in South Carolina had 1,783 people who were free African Americans (2.8% of the district's total population), and neighboring Colleton District  had 211 people were free African Americans (0.8% of the district's total population), while a Effingham County, Georgia only had 1 free African American (I'm always a little surprised there were any in the South).

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Monday Is for Mothers: Timney P. Watts (1805 - 1863)

Although it took us years to discover the surname of my paternal great-great-great grandmother Timney P. Watts, a 1824 Morgan County marriage record from Georgia's Virtual Vault finally settled it*.

[Image Courtesy of Georgia Archives]

Her husband Jesse Warren Jr's obituary and her father-in-law's will, signed early in 1826, give us an insight into the drastic changes that had just taken place in Timney's life.
Georgia Journal, 21 Feb 1826**
page 3
"On the 6th instant, at his residence in Morgan county, Jesse Warren, Jr in the thirty-sixth year of his age, of a lingering disease, leaving a widow and infant son to lament their irreparable loss, and aged parents and brothers and sisters to lament the loss of a dutiful son, and an affectionate brother, and a number of friends and acquaintances who were conciention(?) to acknowledge him an honest man, a worthy friend and moderate(?) citizen."
Hancock County Probate Records (from
"Item 9: I give unto my grandson (at this time without a name***) the only son of Jesse Warren decd one thousand dollars...should he live to legal age."
Further research showed that "Timmen" Warren married John Phillips in 1827 in Morgan County, Georgia.

[Image Courtesy of Georgia Archives]

In the 1830 U.S. Census the Phillips family were living in Troup County, Georgia, where where they were still located ten years later.

[ 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

The last of Timney's seven Phillips children was born in Macon County, Alabama, in 1846. As the 1850 U.S. Census shows, John Phillips owned real estate valued at $4,000 and the Slave Schedule that year lists his human property as 35 men, women and children ranging in age from 1 to 55.

[ 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

[ 1850 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432, 1,009 rolls.]

1850 is also the year that Timney and John's youngest daughter Columbia died at the age of nine.

John Phillips died on March 22, 1852 and by the end of the year two more of their daughters, Elizabeth Ann (wife of Alanson Lockwood) and Tabitha had joined their father and sister in Fort Cemetery. My great-great grandfather J.T.S. Warren moved with his wife and children to Cass County, Texas, about that time.

In the 1855 Alabama State Census, Timney is the head of a household with seven white members and fifteen slaves.

[ Alabama State Census, 1820-1866 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. This collection was indexed by World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Alabama State Census, 1820, 1850, 1855 and 1866. Montgomery, Alabama: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Rolls M2004.0008-M2004.0012, M2004.0036-M2004.0050, and M2008.0124.]

By the 1860 U.S. Census only Timney's youngest child, 14-year old John C, is living with her along with Miss Molly Morgan (15) and Franklin T. Morgan (8), whose relationship to her (if any) is unknown. According to the Slave Schedule, she owned eight slaves who account for most of the $5,000 listed as her "Personal Estate" in the census records.

[ 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.]

[ 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.]

In February of 1863 tragedy again struck with the death of John C Phillips at the age of 17. Timney herself died on September 5, 1863 and is buried along with most of her family in Fort Cemetery in Macon County, Alabama.

[Photo from Created by: Guy Rush Record added: Feb 26, 2013 Find A Grave Memorial# 105834645]

Timney's will and probate documents are waiting for us on a microfilm stored at the local Family History Center and we hope to view them after the first of the year.

*We still don't know what that "P" stands for.
**Source: Georgia Historic Newspapers
***My great-great grandfather Jesse Thomas Simeon Warren (J.T.S.).

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

How Many Ancestors Do You Have?

The answer is lots! Ancestry does the math for us...


This is why I'm a descendant of Charlemagne (and so are you if you have European ancestry).

[Bust reliquary of Charlemagne 1350, Cathedral Treasury, Aachen, Germany
Metalwork, Silver, part gilt 86 cm. Source:]

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Famous Friday: Lloyd Leonard Nosler, Early Film Editor

Sometimes I find a very interesting relative in my tree.  Lloyd Nosler (1900-1985), a 2nd cousin 2x's removed from me (my great grandmother Minnie Nosler's 1st cousin 1x removed), is one for sure.  Born in Riverton, Coos, Oregon, to Charles Sumner Nosler and Ida Belle White, he moved to Los Angeles sometime after the 1910 Census.  His 12 September 1918 U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card showed that he was already a film editor for the Universal Film Company at the ripe age of 18!
[Lloyd Nosler's WWI Draft Registration Card, from Registration State: California; Registration County: Los Angeles; Roll: 1530903; Draft Board: 14]

Six years later, in October 1924, he applied for a passport which included the one picture I have of him.  He was scheduled to visit (and I presume film in) Italy, France, and Switzerland for Metro Goldwyn Meyer.  He sailed from New York to England and on from there, and finally returned to New York on 24 February 1925.
[Picture of Lloyd Nosler in 1924, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications: Chicago, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, 1914-1925; Box #: 4159; Volume #: Volume 21: Special Series - New York]

The timing of this trip, and the film company, makes me think it was for the filming of "Ben Hur," Lloyd Nosler's most famous movie, with the legendary chariot race scene (which I could only find in this French commentary, but as a silent movie it isn't that important to hear anything).

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

[Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "December 25, Christmas Day." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1910.]

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Page from the Fall 1915 Sears Catalog: "Everything For Your Xmas Tree"

[From the Fall 1915 Catalog: Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Sears Roebuck Catalogs 1896–1993. Vol.102–228 K. Chicago, Illinois: Sears, Roebuck and Co.]
As I sit here, wrapping up my Christmas shopping and looking at my Christmas tree, I think about how Americans shopped for Christmas in the past.  I can remember when the print Sears catalog  was available.  For a long time Sears was where you could buy all kinds of things by mail order, from underwear to homes(!). has a great database of the Sears Catalog, from 1896-1993.  From the database description:
From a printed mailer in 1888 to the final publication in 1993, the Sears Catalog has grown into an important record of what life was like through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning with mail order goods the company followed the railroad in America’s westward expansion and quickly became a national institution providing a wide variety of goods. This particular database contains images of these historic catalogs over the years.
Do you know what your great grandparents would have worn? What would they have wanted for Christmas? Get an idea by looking at the Sears Catalog through the years. The original 1888 mailer carrying watches and jewelry expanded into a catalog in 1894 that kept growing offering an ever-widening range of products: sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, and clothing. In the late 1800s the catalog began carrying Christmas holiday items leading to its eventual status as the “Wish Book.”
Other interesting facts about the Sears and Roebuck Catalog include some of the people who were involved in the making of it. Big name 40s and 50s film stars Lauren Bacall and Susan Hayward model fashions in pages of the catalog. Also featured are Ted Williams, a major baseball player in the 40s, Al Unser, a race car driver, and Gene Autry, “The Singing Cowboy.” If your ancestor was a member of a fraternal organization such as the Freemasons or the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers you may be able to find pictures of pins created for their organizations. Music history in America also credits Sears catalog with changing American life style because of the inexpensive but quality musical instruments offered through mail order.
Here is more info on the history and significance of the catalog from the Sears Archives site.

As a sidenote I thought it was interesting that the catalog used the term "Xmas."  I have heard this spelling for Christmas can be controversial, and I thought it was a more recent invention, but apparently it was used as early as the mid-1500's and has been used extensively in advertising for a long time, since it doesn't take up as much space, which is at a premium.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Fantastic Find: Swedish-Language Newspapers Archived Online

As this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune explains, more than one million Swedes left their homeland in the 19th century and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their families. And that naturally led to Swedish-language newspapers.
Now, an international partnership of the Royal Swedish Library, the American Swedish Institute, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., is leading an effort to digitize some of the more than 600 Swedish-language newspapers that were published in the United States in the 19th century and early 20th centuries.
[Chicago City, Minnesota. A Swedish-American reading his Swedish newspaper, 1942. Jack Delano, photographer.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540] 

This project began in 2008 and should be completed by the end of 2015.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Working on Wednesday: Lewis Logan Slater (1855 - 1905), Lawyer, Notary and More!

In the 1880 U.S. Census, 24-year old Lewis Logan Slater*, my maternal great grandfather, was a law student living in a hotel in Hillsboro, the county seat of Montgomery County, Illinois.

[ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. All use is subject to the limited use license and other terms and conditions applicable to this site. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record]

[City of Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Illinois. Publisher: Brink, McCormick & Co., 1874.
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

[View: Montgomery County Court House, Hillsboro, Illinois. Publisher: Brink, McCormick & Co., 1874,
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

He was admitted to the bar in 1881 and moved to Kansas about two years later, probably along with his parents.
[Lewis Logan Slater, courtesy of Olive Kennedy]

1885 was a big year for Lewis--he was named postmaster for Severy, Greenwood County, in August and got married to Rufina Tomlinson in December.

["Postoffice changes in Kansas during the week ending Aug. 8, 1885, furnished by Wm. Van Vleck, of the postoffice department:"
The Daily Commonwealth (Topeka, Kansas), 11 Aug 1885, page 4.]

[Greenwood Co., Kansas. L.H. Everts & Co., publishers, Phila., Pa. (1887)
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

In 1890 he was commissioned as a notary in Severy.

[The Topeka State Journal (Topeka, Kansas), 13 Aug 1890, page 8.]

His occupation is given as lawyer in the 1895 Kansas State Census and the 1900 U.S. Census. In the 1905 Kansas State Census he's listed as an attorney. On the 1903 Severy map below, he owned property on Main Street between Hobart and Severy, lots 5, 6, 7, and 8.

[ U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.]

But there's more that we know about him from a private email from a Severy postal worker named Marcia Moore received by Christine several years ago. Ms. Moore was writing a history of the community and hoped to get a picture of Lewis Logan.
"He was a postmaster here, a schoolteacher (for a short time), the city attorney and the clerk of the school board in this district."
We were able to help her, thanks to Olive Kennedy who shared her treasure trove of Slater family photos and other records.

[Lewis Logan Slater, courtesy of Olive Kennedy]

He died in 1905, aged 49 years, 6 months, and 27 days, and is buried in Twin Grove Cemetery.

[Courtesy of Olive Kennedy]

*His parents were George W. and Sarah M. (Matthews) Slater.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 54 Weeks: Week 9: Mette Karine (1876-1935), My Great Grandmother

Mette Karine was born November 25, 1876, in Askedalen, Nedstrand, Rogaland, Norway, to Lisabet Odsdottar (b 1850).  She was born "uaegte", out of wedlock.  My understanding is that her father was Gustav Andersson (Bergehuin?), a Swedish roadworker, possibly the "railway worker" Gustav Andersson from Lidköping, Sweden, who was living in Kvål, Høyland, Rogaland, Norway, as found in the Norwegian 1875 Folketelling.

My understanding is that Lisabet had another child out of wedlock, Laura, 1879 (I've been told that she also had the "uaegte" designation when she was born), and then Lisabet married Martin Anderson, a watchmaker, in 1880 (Mette was 3).  I am not sure but Martin might be Laura's biological father?  After Lisabet was married to Martin she sent Mette to live with her mother's parents, Od Knudsen Bakke (1824-1890) and Mette Halvorsdottar Lillerod (1825-1904), I think in Askedalen.
[Mette with her grandparents, Odd and Mette, probably in the 1880's]

Lisabet had 5 children with Martin Anderson.  At least 2 of them, Matilda "Tillie" and Magnus Loritz, came to the Kendall/LaSalle county area, and along with Laura have descendants in the US.  I would like to know the relationship between them, Laura, and Mette Karine.
[Mette (left), Tillie (in back), and Laura (right), in an undated photo]

[A later picture of Lisbet Oddsdotter, Mette's (Mary's) mother]

According to Census records Mette came to the US in either 1892 or 1893, when she was 16 or 17.  I cannot find her immigration record.

At this point I will call her Mary, as she was known in the US.
[Mette/Mary about the time she got married]

When she was 17 (almost 18) she married Berdines Rasmussen aka Benjamin Fister, October 18, 1894, in Norway, Mission Township, LaSalle County, Illinois.
[Wedding photo for Berdines "Ben" and Mette "Mary" Fister]
[Mary (bottom right), with Ben (bottom left) and Ben's brother Frank Fister and Frank's wife Olive, probably about 1895]

Her first child, Roy Alexander Fiester (1895-1972) (notice that he was the only child who used this spelling), was born September 6, 1895 (Mary was 18).
[Ben, Mary, and little Roy]

Until recently we had thought that Ben and Mary had only 12 children, but another Fister researcher recently uncovered a baptism date for both Myren and a Gladys Fister at the Fox River Church in 1905 in Norway, LaSalle, Illinois.  The researcher believes that Gladys was subsequently adopted by relatives, John Duvick and Randa Svelland Nelson, apparently relations of Ben and Mary, although a relative/descendant of John and Randa's son refutes her being adopted (comment section on Glady's profile on Ancestry has this discussion).  Either I'm barking up the wrong tree or Gladys was adopted, and I am not sure why she was given up, although maybe it was just too much for Mary?  This is still up for speculation.  At any rate, Mary did not count Gladys toward her children in the 1910 Census.

Mary was 19 when her son Lyle Fister was born June 28, 1897.

In late 1897, possibly early 1898, Ben went back to Norway.  He came back in early March 1898.  I wonder who Mary stayed with during his trip, as it seems unlikely that a 20 year old woman with 2 small children under 2 was living on her own.  Her sister Laura (abt 18) was likely in the US already, but was yet unmarried.  Mary's younger siblings Tillie and Magnus did not come to the US until the early 1900's.  I think it is likely Mary was staying with Ben's widowed brother Faltin "Frank" Fister.  Tragedy had struck Frank's young family, with his wife Olive dying November 24, 1896, and their young son Corvin Orville Fister, who died on his 2nd birthday, November 1, 1897.  I have a picture of Ben and Mary and Frank and Olive around the time they all married, and I have to wonder that the tragedy was also felt strongly by Ben and Mary.  Frank's surviving daughter, Ruby, was living with her grandparents, Ole and Caroline Paulson, and Frank was nowhere to be found, until his death record in 1938 in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

Alvin Reginald Fister was born July 12, 1899, when Mary was 22.

In the 1900 Census 23 year old Mary was living with Ben and their 3 children in Sheridan village, Mission Township, LaSalle County, Illinois, in a rented home.
[Roy, Lyle, and Alvin Fister]

Lyla Marie Fister was born June 29, 1901, when Mary was 24.

Tragedy struck when her 2nd child, Lyle, died a few months later, August 18, 1901, when he was 4 and she was 24.  Now she had 3 children, Roy (5), Alvin (2) and Lyla (2 months).

Russell Gayhardt Fister was born August 14, 1903, when Mary was 26.

Myren Benjamin Fister and Gladys Mae Fister were born August 20, 1905, in LaSalle County, Illinois.  3 months later, and 5 days after Mary's 29th birthday, the twins were baptized in the Fox River Church in Norway, Mission Township, LaSalle County, Illinois.  She now had 6 children: Roy (10), Alvin (6), Lyla (4), Russell (2), and the twins Myren and Gladys (3 months).  As mentioned above, there is a possibility that Gladys was adopted out to relations.   Alternately she may have died before 1910, but it is interesting to note that Mary did not count Gladys toward total children born in the 1910 Census (has had 8 children, 7 still living).  I am not sure why they would adopt out a child, although I speculate that the twins put too much of a burden on Mary.

Fern Evelyn Fister was born December 4, 1907, when Mary was 31.  It is believed Mary's mother Lisabet came over around this time and lived a few blocks away from Mary's sister Tillie in Sheridan, LaSalle, Illinois.  It is then thought that she moved back to Norway, remarried (this husband's name is unknown to me) and never returned.  I would like to know when she died.

Sometime between December 1907 and February 1910, Mary and Ben moved to Emerald Township, Fairbault, Minnesota.  Daughter Edith Olina Fister was born there February 20, 1910, when Mary was 33.  The April 15, 1910 Census reveals that they were living in a mortgaged farm, and Ben was listed as a farmer.  He had worked as a carpenter but perhaps thought he's make a go of being a farmer.  My understanding is that that house tragically burned down after one of the boys accidentally set fire to it.  By the time my grandmother, Margaret Alvira Fister was born, May 12, 1912, they had moved to Kendall County, Illinois.  Mary was 35 when Margaret was born.

Ival Sven Ingvald Leonard Fister (not entirely sure about all those names), was born April 4, 1915.  Mary was 38.
[Ival and Margaret (my grandmother) toddle about while Mary looks on, about 1916]

Alvira Ruth Fister was born January 29, 1918, when Mary was 41.

By the 1920 Census they were living in Newark, Big Grove Township, Kendall County, Illinois.  The census taker was uncertain if the house was owned or rented.  Mary was 43.  The census taker was also unable to determine if she was a naturalized citizen.  I'm starting to think she may never have gone through with the process.  A month after the census her oldest son Roy married Marie Erath (1901-1997).

Her first grandchild, Roy's daughter Carolyn, was born in Feb 1921.  7 months later her last child, Doris, was born September 12, 1921.  Mary was 44.
[Mary with her youngest child, Doris, probably about 1930]

Tragedy struck again on July 9, 1924, when her second youngest daughter, Alvira Ruth, 6, died of whooping cough in Plano.  Either my father or my grandmother mentioned her a few times while I was growing up, and I remember how sad I felt when I was told she said she was ready to go to Heaven when she died.  This must have been a terrible blow for the family.  Mary was 47.

By the 1930 Census Mary, 53, and Ben owned a house on 207 Center Ave in Little Rock Township, Kendall County, Illinois, worth $3800 (no radio though) (address number derived from his later death record).  He worked as a carpenter for buildings.  I'm not totally sure, but I think it is possibly the same property as today's 207 S Center Ave, Plano, which was built in 1900 and was a TV and appliance store for a while.
[Mary and Ben, 1930's]
[Ben and Mary, 1930's]

Ben Fister, her husband for almost 40 years, died May 2, 1934, age 69, in Plano, Kendall, Illinois.  He was buried in the Little Rock Township Cemetery 2 days later.  Mary was 57.

Mary died 7 months later, at age 58, on January 7, 1935.  Her Illinois death record has "11 years of this place, 50 years in U.S."  She is buried with her husband in the Little Rock Township Cemetery, where they share a headstone.

A big Thank You to my cousin Tom Cairns for the all the images.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Monday Is for Mothers: UNKNOWN

 This is for all those women whose names we don't know, and probably never will*.

[Mother and child--Sunlight 1906, Edward Steichen, 1879-1973.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA]

*But not for lack of trying.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fantastic Find: Fixed in Time: A New and Helpful Guide to Dating Daguerreotypes

[Angry Child; Albert Bisbee, Child on a Rocking Horse, about 1855, daguerreotype, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase from the Charles Isaacs Collection made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment]

You might be lucky enough to have a ancestral daguerreotype tucked away in a drawer and you've been wondering when it was taken. There is help!

Sean William Nolan has come to your rescue via a post on the blog of the Photographic Historical Society of New England (PHSNE).
"His hard work and his scholarship are impressive. In Fixed in Time, available for all through a free download, he methodically lays out the process for making a best guess as to the age of cased daguerreotypes. He has spent years on this and it shows."
There is a Facebook page for Mr. Nolan's book and if you share you contact information with him, he has promised to keep you up to date on his research.

If you don't happen to have a daguerreotype but would like to look at some, there are online collections of them available from the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, The J. Paul Getty Museum and the George Eastman House.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 19, 2014

52 Ancestors in 54 Weeks: Week 8: Anna Pedersdotter (born 1830)

[I believe this is a picture of Anna, probably about 1900]

Anna Pedersdatter Dahl(?), my 2nd great grandmother, was born in Rogaland, Norway, on September 13, 1830, to Peder Jonsson (?-?) and Britha Clausdatter (born about 1804), likely in Hjelmeland Parish (she was baptised there on September 26 of the same year).  She had at least one sibling, a sister, Susanne Pedersdatter (born 1827).

Anna married Rasmus Pedersen (1827-1876) sometime around 1850, when Anna was about 20.  They had at least 8 children:

  • Rakel Karine Fister (1851-1873), an opera singer who died of consumption.
  • Peder Fister (1856-1860)
  • Peder "Per"R Fister (1857-1913), a farmer and fisherman who stayed in Norway
  • Peder Olaus Fister (1859-1861)
  • Peder Olaus Fister (born 1861), a seaman
  • Berdines Rasmussen Fister (1864-1934), my great grandfather
  • Falentin "Frank' R Fister (1867-1938), who came to Illinois at the same time as Berdines
  • Ivar J Fister (1874-1926), who also came to Illinois originally but then settled down as a farmer in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

  • Anna, 35, and her family appear in the 1865 Census ("Folketelling") in Sandvik, Hjelmeland Parish, Rogaland, Norway.

    Anna, 45, and her family were in the same place ten years later in the 1875 Folketelling.

    Unfortunately, Anna's husband died the following year on May 6, 1876, when Anna was about 45.

    By the 1900 Folketelling Anna, about 70 was listed as "Anna Sandvig," a "husmandsenke" (cotter's widow, as her husband had been a "Husmand med Jord") and was living with her son Peder "Per" and his young family.  He has "Fister herred" as his birthplace, so maybe Sandvik became Fister?  I am not clear on that point.

    I do not know if Anna ever sailed to America to visit some of her children there.

    Anna died about 1915, most likely in Norway.

    © 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Nebraska Research

    Ancestry has just released "Nebraska Resources: Family History Sources in the Cornhusker State", another of its free guides to state resources for the genealogist.


     © 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    (Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Alta Mae Slater (1917-1986), The One Who Started All This

    [Alta Norville, President of the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society, late 1970's]

    I always knew my mom was adopted.  And from the time I was 10 or so I knew the name of her birthmother, Altamae Slater, since my mom had her original birth certificate.  Altamae was an unmarried 29 year-old schoolteacher from Colorado when she had my mom in 1947.  Since she had neglected to sign all the release papers for my mom's adoption, my mom's adopted parents had to track her down to sign them, and I had the letter from the private investigator indicating that over a year later she was now Mrs. Alta Norville and was living in Alton, Illinois.  When I had decided to track down Alta in the mid-1990's I discovered that her last known address was in Casa Grande, Arizona.

    Tracking down birthparents, or birth grandparents in this case, is exciting, daunting, and scary.  You don't know if the reunion will turn out well or if it will become a family tragedy.  At the time I just wanted, more than anything else, to know what Alta looked like and get an idea of what kind of person she was.  I knew all about my dad's side of the family, but my mom's side was a blank, and not knowing who her people were (and therefore who MY people were) kept gnawing at me.  At the same time, I knew that my appearance could cause a serious upset in her life.  Nevertheless, my curiosity won out over any fears I had.

    So I decided to email the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society first.  I told them that I was looking for Alta Norville and would they have any ideas on tracking her down.  Imagine my complete surprise when they emailed back that Alta Norville was a past President of the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society!  What??!!  No way.  Well, that was easy.

    She had died the same day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, so there was no chance of meeting her (or upsetting her!).  They promptly mailed me the photocopied picture above as well as several articles and the eulogy given at her funeral.

    I'll never forget seeing that face for the first time.  I could see the resemblance immediately.

    It's amazing what you can find if you just ask the right people!

    © 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

    Great News for Irish Ancestry Research!

    [Source: Vintage Holiday Crafts at]

    Through a recent post on, we discovered that the National Library of Ireland recently announced that they expect to put 390,000 parish records online by the summer of 2015.
    "There will be no charge to access the information, mainly baptismal and marriage records, that dates between the 1740s and the 1880s, and includes some 1,091 parishes throughout Ireland. The Catholic Church allowed the library to make microfilm copies of the information, in the 1950s, and the information is considered vital to any historical research, as census records from this period were destroyed, when the Four Courts building, housing the Public Records Office, was destroyed by fire in 1922, during the Irish Civil War."
    The MassLive post also includes other online resources for researching Irish ancestors,

    © 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.