Petra Hendrickson: Born in Norway, she lived a classic American farm life

PetraMalum“She always had time for me,” Dad said. It’s probably the most important thing I remember my dad saying about his paternal grandmother, Petra Malum Hendrickson.

Petra was born in the village of Faeberg, near Lillehammer, Norway, more than 150 years ago today, to Peder Malum and Christina Roening Malum. Petra was born in 1867 and came to the United States as a young girl with her family in the mid-1870s, although Census data vary a little on their arrival year. One of my genealogy goals is to find the magic ship manifest that will reveal the right answer. The family likely arrived on the coast of Quebec before making their way to the Midwestern United States by a combination of water and rail travel. One story has them stopping in Chicago before finally settling in Iowa, where Petra’s father Peder Malum, like so many others in the area, set himself to farming. They eventually settled in central Iowa, specifically Hamilton County, a region that at the time was home to many Norwegian-Americans and where Petra would live most of her life, marry the son of Norwegian immigrants, and eventually raise her children.

The Malum family, whose original name was Solberg before they adopted the farm name Malum (or Maehlum), went back many generations in Norway.  Petra’s grandparents participated in the 18th- and 19th-century Haugean religious revival movement within the Lutheran Church of Norway before later generations migrated to America.  Once in America, the family seems to have moved between the Lutheran and Methodist churches. Peder Malum helped organize the local Lutheran cemetery, where his own grave is located, but he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the time of his death.

As yet, I do not know much else about my great-grandmother’s childhood years … before she married my great grandfather, Martin Hendrickson, a farmer, in 1889 when she was about 21 years old. Petra and Martin would have six children, including my grandfather Carl, all of whom grew up on the Hendrickson farm near Kamrar, Iowa, but later scattered across the Midwest and beyond. Petra and Martin lost one child, Alice, at age 2. Petra was remembered as a Methodist, but some of her children, including my grandfather, were baptized at the Bethesda Lutheran Church in Jewell, Iowa.

During the years she was raising her children, Petra lived near extended family from the Malum clan. Her sister Anna Malum Tolstrup lived with her family on a nearby farm. Petra also had a twin brother Nels, whose family lived a bit farther away in Des Moines. The obituary of Petra’s father Peder Malum indicates that in his widower years he lived with Petra and Martin’s family.

In brief searches of the local newspaper notices of the day, Petra turns up from time to time as “Mrs. Mart Hendrickson,” mostly going with a friend or family member to visit Webster City, the county seat, for a day or attending a family celebration. She is noted visiting Webster City with her husband Martin, her daughter Clarice, and her daughter Bert, among others. Here’s a taste of other brief excerpts, mostly from the Jewell Record.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Mart Hendrickson and little son Donald visited Sunday at the Jackson Groves home.
  • Mrs. Mart Hendrickson and baby left Wednesday for a week’s visit with relatives at Des Moines.
  • Mrs. Mart Hendrickson returned Wednesday from a few days visit at Hampton.
  • The Hendrickson relatives of various points in Iowa enjoyed a family reunion the last Sunday in August. The affair was held at the Radcliffe Park. A bountiful picnic dinner was served, after which the time was spent socially and in taking pictures. Among those who attended were … Mr. and Mrs. Mart Hendrickson.

BertPetra2After Martin died in 1931, Petra would live for another 16 years. She lived at various times with some of her grown children, including my dad’s family in Sioux City. These were the years that my dad remembered her always having time for him and even occasionally serving as his champion in disciplinary matters, gently pointing out to Dad’s parents, apparently, that he was “just a child” when he got into mischief. At right Petra is seen walking through town with her daughter Bert, who also lived in Sioux City.

Petra is believed to have died in Illinois, where she also had family, in 1947.  She is buried in Iowa, next to Martin under the shade of a tree in the Graceland Cemetery in Webster City, with the grave of their little daughter Alice just behind them. My dad remembered attending the graveside service. Also near them is the grave of their young grandson Dean, who was their daughter Bert’s only child and died as an infant.

MartinAndPetraI look forward to learning still more about Petra. The portrait at the top of this post, in which I can see features of my grandfather, is one of the photos that piqued my curiosity and started me on my family history journey.

I’m glad Petra’s parents brought her to America. And thank you, Great Grandma, for raising my beloved grandfather and being a good friend to my beloved dad when he was a youngster. Happy Birthday, and rest in perfect peace.

This is the sixth post in the birthday profiles series. The series includes descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down the data-gathering and consider individuals in their totality. 



Posted in birthday profiles, Hendrickson, IOWA (Central), Malum, NORWAY | 4 Comments

Her name means ‘narrow bridge’: Happy Birthday, Hendrika Smalbrugge Kreykes

HendrikjeMy 2nd great-grandmother Hendrika, a Dutch immigrant to America, was born 181 years ago this weekend. She was born on August 17, 1838, to Jan Smalbrugge and Aleida Horsman Smalbrugge in Rijssen, Overijssel, in the eastern Netherlands.

Before I started my family history research, I knew little about Hendrika, other than that my grandfather had apparently told his family that his grandmother’s maiden name meant something like “little bridge.” Indeed, it does.

I have three aged photos of Hendrika … two with her husband Jan and the third a family portrait. I do not know if the light appearance of her eyes here is natural, a trick of the camera, or the result of photo deterioration, but I was startled by it the first time I saw it. My best guess is camera light, and I’m still trying to bring greater clarity to the photo.

KreijkesfamilyHendrika was the second wife of Jan Willem Kreykes (Kreijkes), whom she married in 1869, following the death of Jan’s first wife Janna. Twenty years later, Jan and Hendrika boarded the ship Rotterdam to travel to America with three of their children. In addition to Jan’s children with his first wife, the couple had at least three, possibly four, more children, including my great-grandfather Arend (“Arie”), who arrived in New York with them as a teenager in 1889. There was no Ellis Island operating at this time, so it’s likely they arrived at Castle Garden. My great grandfather Arie Kreykes is pictured in the family portrait at right, standing behind Hendrika.

According to the ship manifest below, Jan and Hendrika and their family were headed to Alton, Iowa. They eventually settled in Hospers … same county (Sioux), just a couple of communities away.


The little I know about Hendrika comes mostly from letters (translated from Dutch) that her husband Jan wrote from America to family and friends back in the Netherlands. Jan wrote mostly of spiritual matters but also of the family’s life in northwest Iowa and of their children and grandchildren. Hendrika is mentioned specifically a few times … sometimes to convey simple greetings to loved ones, including the Smalbrugges (“[R]eceive our hearty greetings and in particular from my wife Hendrika.”).

Hendrika is mentioned when Jan discusses their home in Iowa and a daughter back in the Netherlands. Jan wrote of their home:

KreijkesHome“My wife and I … have purchased a little land upon which we can raise enough food — and we have built a house upon it. We are going to live by ourselves. I can work that land myself. Our Johan and Arend Jan and Jenneken are paying for that land from their earnings. Now they say we have our own home, and my wife and I are happy to have it. There is nothing better than having one’s own hearth — isn’t that true? … My wife is very happy.”

Jan also wrote to and about a daughter Janna in the Netherlands, who became ill. Jan shares his and Hendrika’s laments in his letters:

“Yes, friends, I hardly know what to write. I am heartbroken about our Janna, and her mother, my wife, is worried about her. Up to that time, my wife was happy.”

And later:

“Yes brother, I became frightened when I received the letter stating that our Janna was very sick … I called upon God to be merciful to her, and amid my sighing I heard these words — she is in an exalted state. I was in the living-room and with joy went into the kitchen and said to my wife that I believe that the Lord had shown her mercy … or that she might already be in Heaven. My wife wept — and I did too … A day or two later we received a letter stating that she had fallen asleep in her Savior Jesus Christ.”

Hendrika died in November of 1919, nearly 10 years following the death of her husband Jan, in Hospers, where she is said to be buried. I know little about Hendrika’s life during her widowed years, nor much yet about her Dutch family of origin, the Smalbrugges, except that they may have originated from an area north of Rijssen. These are the unknowns, along with the origin of Hendrika’s maiden name, that I hope to be able to fill in further on this family history journey. Rest in perfect peace, Hendrika.

This is the fifth in a series, Birthday Profiles. The series includes descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down the data-gathering and consider individuals in their totality. You can read more about Jan’s letters to the Netherlands here.]

Posted in birthday profiles, IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Sioux County), Kreykes, Smalbrugge | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday to my late Great-Grandfather Hendrickson

MartinHendricksonThis week is the 156th anniversary of the birth of my paternal great grandfather, Martin Hendrickson. He was born in Nettle Creek, Illinois in 1863, to Hendrick Hendrickson and Berthe Malene Haldorsdatter, who had arrived in America in the 1850s from the southwest coast of Norway. I have visited Nettle Creek, which is a  peaceful spot in the road amidst several small, rural communities southwest of Chicago.

Martin’s death certificate says he was born on July 4. While I vaguely remember a separate record indicating July 3, I can’t put my hands on that record right now, so for now I’m going with the Fourth of July because … why wouldn’t I?

Martin’s mother died young, shortly after the birth of one of Martin’s sisters, and the children were raised by their father Hendrick, who was said to have been a “stern Lutheran,” and by a stepmother Julia (Guro) who was also from Norway. With a father named Hendrick Hendrickson, Martin was destined to be a Hendrickson with either the American or the Norwegian naming tradition. Last year I did an extensive research project on Martin’s birth mother to pin down a single identity for a woman who, because she was a Norwegian American at a certain time in history, had several names in both the American and the Norwegian patronymic traditions.

Martin grew up around aunts, uncles, and cousins because his father Hendrick was one of several siblings who settled in the same region after migrating from Norway. While some had been cobblers in the old country, most became farmers in their new home. 


Petra Hendrickson

Martin eventually moved west to central Iowa, along with others from his community, including siblings and cousins of his generation. Martin married my great-grandmother, Petra, at right, in Hamilton County, Iowa, in 1889. Petra was born near Lillehammer, Norway,  and had arrived in Iowa with her family at about age 12. Martin and Petra lived the rest of their lives in central Iowa. They had six children, the fourth of whom was my grandfather, Carl. Martin and Petra lost a daughter, Alice, in 1907 at age 2, and she is buried near them under the shade of a tree in the Graceland Cemetery in Webster City, Iowa.

It was only after I started researching old newspaper archives that I realized my great grandfather had gone by the name “Mart.” One of my favorite articles about him offers a glimpse of their community in 1912:

Tuesday afternoon while Harm Tapper was untying his team, the horses became frightened, jerked away from him, and ran north on Main Street. They collided with Mart Hendrickson’s buggy in front of the blacksmith shop, where they were stopped. No damage resulted except the breaking of one of the buggy wheels. Little Cleo Kayser, who was standing directly in their path, would surely have been run over had it not been for Mart Hendrickson, who caught her and carried her to the sidewalk.

According to other accounts, when Martin was first learning to drive a car after years of driving a buggy, he would pull up to where he wanted to stop, pull back on the steering wheel and say, “Whooooa ….”  I guess every generation lives in an age of technological transition. Another quote attributed to Martin, said to emerge each March was, “That south wind is cold whichever direction it blows from.”

A nephew of Martin’s, who grew up on an adjacent farm, at age 83 wrote of the community’s Fourth of July celebrations: “The 4th of July was one day they looked forward to as a day of rest when they could see neighbors and friends. A picnic dinner, a social day with lemonade and homemade ice cream. Croquet and horseshoes furnished the entertainment.” That same nephew remembered their Iowa community as a place “where the wind blows free and where everyone I have ever met has treated me fine.”

By all available accounts, Martin was a gentle, hard-working man who farmed for his entire life.

Unlike the other men in his Hendrickson line, Martin died at a fairly young age, in his late 60s. His widow Petra survived him by 16 years. My Dad, who was only 7 months old when Martin died in 1931, never got to know his grandfather well but was closer to Petra, who as a widow lived off and on with their family. Martin’s death certificate identified him as a Methodist, consistent with family memories, and more specifically, with Dad’s memory of Petra.

While most of Martin’s sons and daughters remained in the Midwest, the farm was eventually sold. One of  Martin’s sons came full circle and is interred back in that original Illinois community in a Lutheran cemetery not far from Hendrick. Martin’s son Carl, my grandfather, raised my dad just a few miles west in Sioux City, Iowa, before retiring in California, where his grave and my grandmother’s are located in a cemetery in Escondido. Later generations scattered more broadly across the country.

A few years ago, at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, I came across a map that showed where Martin’s farm was located in Hamilton County, Iowa. Unfortunately, not enough context is available for me to place it precisely just yet, but it was in or near the town of Kamrar, and I have research on land records on my agenda to try to solve that mystery.

My great grandfather is one of those ancestors about whom I can say that the more I have learned about him, the more I wish I’d had the chance to know him. I sense we’d have gotten on well. Rest in perfect peace, Great Grandpa.

This is the fourth in a series, Birthday Profiles, which includes descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down on gathering data and focus on individuals in their totality.


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Happy Birthday, Grandma: Hattie Kreykes, 1910 – 1995

GKBMy maternal grandmother was born 109 years ago today. Hard to believe. I loved my Grandma Kreykes and was blessed to know her into my own adulthood.

Hendrikje (Henrietta) or “Hattie” Van den Bosch Kreykes, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, was born in and lived her whole life in northwest Iowa. The area was settled by Dutch immigrants in the 19th century. Those settlers included her own parents and two sets of grandparents. It was, and to some extent remains, a conservative culture strongly influenced by the Reformed Church.

Grandma’s father, Gerrit Van den Bosch, came to America as a young man from Doornspijk, a village near Elburg in the province of Gelderland. Her mother Merrigje (Mary) Van der Maaten, whose family originated from the same region of the Netherlands, arrived as a girl with her parents, Herman and Lubbigje (Lucy), and some of her siblings.

HattieVandenBoschGrandma’s early years were spent on a farm with eight siblings. Her mother died at the age of 46, when my grandmother was only 16, no doubt having a profound effect on the family. Sorrow followed the family for a time when the youngest child, Margaret, died only a few years later at the age of 5. The family eventually moved into the small town of Boyden, where Grandma and her siblings took on extra responsibilities due to the loss of their mother. Grandma married my grandfather, Joe Kreykes, in Boyden in 1930.

My grandparents spent their first years as a family in Boyden, where my own mother, one of four children, was born. They would later move south to farm near Seney, then eventually into the town of Orange City, the county seat of Sioux County. In Orange City, they ran a hardware store on the main business street downtown. While my grandparents lived their whole lives in northwest Iowa, they were able to take vacations to places such as Colorado, New York, Texas, Utah, Canada, and even back to the Netherlands in their retirement years. They also visited us in New Mexico, a place that probably remained a bit of a puzzle to them.

JLGrandmaK_croppedWe used to visit my grandparents in Iowa in the summertime, traveling from our home in New Mexico. I remember spending at least one Christmas with them there. I earlier wrote about our visits to Orange City, where we helped Grandma pick vegetables from her backyard garden, snapped beans for dinner, played in the neighborhood park and pool, went to church at First Reformed, where Grandpa always had a bag of peppermints on hand, visited neighbors and relatives, went for ice cream, and sometimes concluded our visits with a walk to the Dutch Mill Pharmacy for a souvenir. We also spent a little time in the hardware store, where my strongest memory is of making bows for packages on the device they kept at the front counter. I wrote about the hardware store earlier as well.

GerritAndMary When I am working on my family history, I often think of the time that Grandma brought out some old family photos, including one of her parents. While I didn’t fully grasp their importance at the time, I remember Grandma remarking about how much they meant to her. The moment has always stayed with me, although it means even more to me now than it did then. I’ve never really forgotten one of the photos she showed us of her parents, which appears at the right.

Grandma was a quiet person who had strict standards and didn’t like me using words like “golly gee,” which I learned after casually singing a song that contained those words. She was kind and patient in correcting me.

She went through a battle with breast cancer in her later years, and eventually suffered from a form of dementia that may have been Alzheimer’s. I remember that while her short-term memory had suffered, she still was able to draw up old memories that pre-dated me. She passed away in 1995, a couple years after my grandfather. I’m exceedingly grateful to have known her for as long as I did. I find that, more and more, I am realizing how much I learned from her that mattered. I love and miss you, Grandma. Rest in perfect peace.

This is the third in a series, Birthday Profiles, which includes brief descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down and focus on individuals in their totality.


Posted in birthday profiles, General, Kreykes, Vanden Bosch | 2 Comments

Getting to know Gerrit almost 300 years later

dutchboyToday is the 299th anniversary of the birth of my ancestor Gerrit Kreijkes, who was my 5th great grandfather. Although I know almost nothing of his life beyond a few dates and names, I’m mentioning him briefly as part of my birthday profiles series, because he is evidence of the Kreykes family’s deep roots in Rijssen, Overijssel, Netherlands. I previously wrote about Rijssen here.  Perhaps I can learn more about Gerrit for the 300th anniversary of his birth next year.

Gerrit was born in Rijssen in 1720, a time when the area seems to have been dominated by farming and an emerging textiles trade. His father’s name was Bernt, and his mother’s name was Beerte. Gerrit’s parents both were also born in Rijssen, taking this family’s history there back to at least the 17th century. Bernt and Beerte were 30 and 28, respectively, when Gerrit was born.

Gerrit married Janna Ligtenberg, likely in the 1740s. I do not know how many children Gerrit and Janna had, but I assume it was many. It was at least four, one of whom was my ancestor and 4th great grandfather, Jan Kreijkes, also born in Rijssen.

LocatieRijssen-HoltenThis effectively sums up my knowledge of Gerrit, although I can assume things about his life based on where he lived … a small, largely agricultural town in the eastern Netherlands. I have many questions, though, that for the time being are likely to go unanswered. Was he a farmer? Where did he live? What was his home like? What were his values? What did my ancestor, Jan, learn from him? What caused his death? Gerrit Kreijkes died in Rijssen in 1784.

This is the second in a series, Birthday Profiles, which includes brief descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down and focus on individuals in their totality, including some I might otherwise miss.

Posted in birthday profiles, Kreykes, NETHERLANDS | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Grandma: Dorothy Hendrickson, 1904 – 1991

Dorothy_ClausenMy grandmother was born 115 years ago today. Both of my grandmothers were born in March. Today, though, is the 115th anniversary of the birth of my paternal grandmother, Dorothy Mignonette Clausen Hendrickson. Taking cues from other family history bloggers, I’m writing occasional birthday profiles of my ancestors, and Dorothy — my “Grandma Hendrickson” — is the first.

Dorothy Mignonette Clausen was born in the small, central Iowa town of Duncombe in 1904, the second-youngest of seven children. Duncombe is a tiny town surrounded by farmland and situated between Webster City on the east and Fort Dodge on the west. Her eldest brother was born in 1883 and was already an adult by the time she was born. The only one of Grandma’s siblings I remember well is her younger sister Hazel, whom I met a few times and who was a common part of family conversations.

RDMy grandmother’s life is still in many ways a mystery to me. Her father Jacob was a Danish immigrant who arrived in Iowa in the 19th century with his parents and two brothers, Hans and Rasmus. Her mother’s family history stretches back to America’s earliest days, with deep roots in colonial Virginia and quite probably the north shore of Long Island, among other places, before later generations made the trek westward across the Ohio Valley to Iowa. Most likely the descendants of Puritans, these ancestors bore Biblical names like Obadiah, Theophilus, Martha, and Lydia.

As a girl, Grandma went from Duncombe to Dubuque in eastern Iowa to attend St. Joseph Academy, which has recently become a subject of interest and research for me. My curiosity is piqued about what she was doing there, as she didn’t talk much about it, and I learned of this mostly from my father. Like most Danish immigrants, Grandma’s father had Lutheran roots in Denmark, and the family was essentially Methodist/Nazarene in America, so I don’t have an explanation for why she was sent to a Catholic school away from her central Iowa home. Her parents met and married in eastern Iowa, so pursuing that connection is a future line of research for me.

Grandma would eventually attend college and spend time teaching English. I believe she was a significant influence in my father’s lifelong love of reading, which he passed on to me. She seems to have been fairly close to at least one of her older brothers, and I earlier wrote about her trips to see his family, including a niece, Mignonette, who shared her middle name.

withparentsShe married my grandfather, Carl Hendrickson, in 1927 in Sioux City, Iowa, officiated by a Lutheran pastor. They raised my father, an only child, in Morningside. They were married for more than 60 years.

My earliest memories of my grandmother are scattered across Iowa, where all of my family originated … New Mexico, where we lived … and southern California, where my grandparents eventually retired.

When my sister and I visited her and my grandfather in California, my grandmother would bring out a box of dolls for us. I still remember how special those dolls seemed … for no particular reason, I think, other than that they were hers and only came out when we came to visit. As kids, we accompanied them several times to the beach at Oceanside … or to San Diego, where we took tour boats out into the harbor and visited Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, and perhaps my grandmother’s favorite, Balboa Park.

readingwithgrandmah_croppedMy grandmother was a quiet and fastidious woman who collected glass birds and teacups. She liked to play bridge and travel with my grandfather. In their later years, she and my grandfather volunteered at the hospital in Escondido. She eventually developed Parkinson’s disease, among other complications, and she died before my grandfather did. I was in graduate school when she passed away, so was blessed to have had her in my life for a long time.

teacupcroppedMy grandmother and I were different in many ways but similar in others. I understand now that she experienced both sorrows and joys in her life. I think of her often, and I miss her. Family history research always provides new insights and appreciations for those who went before us, even those we think we knew. Given the chance today, I would have many questions and so much I would like to understand. Some day. Rest in perfect peace, Grandma.


Posted in birthday profiles, Clausen, IOWA (Central) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

When your DNA ethnicity estimates are revised

DNA_iconIt gives you pause. When you’ve completed an Ancestry DNA test, received your results, already gone through the mental gymnastics of understanding your ethnic breakdown and it finally makes perfect sense to you, even though it still kind of doesn’t, and then Ancestry updates its estimates and revises your results … I’m just saying it gives you pause.

I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that it makes all of those times that you said you took the results “with a grain of salt,” even though you’d actually gotten attached to them, actually mean something. Take them with a grain of salt. And be ready for them to be updated.

Ancestry already went through one update, and my results came out unaltered that time. So it was a slight surprise to see them revised recently, even though the changes weren’t that dramatic.


The “Sweden” category includes a broad swath of Scandinavia.

My biggest portion is still Scandinavian, but Ancestry now identifies this more specifically as primarily Norwegian. But then I knew that. All of my paternal grandfather’s ancestors came from Norway, going back many generations. However, my Scandinavian now also includes a small percentage of Swedish, even though I have no known Swedish ancestors. I have two working theories for this:  Either it comes from waaay back in my mother’s Dutch line or, more likely, it comes from a known Danish line, the Clausen family, on my dad’s side. Ancestry’s results have no distinct “Danish” DNA category, and the Swedish category overlaps with Denmark (see image above).

Ancestry also increased my West European percentage, which is sensible because I always thought it was low, given Mom’s Dutch heritage. Now, however, they’ve identified it with a new label, “Germanic European,” which refers to Germany-Netherlands-Luxembourg-Belgium, a test group they placed me in with my initial results. But then I knew that, too. All of my mother’s known ancestors came from the Netherlands.

So what’s up with Ireland? When I first got my results back, I marveled at the unexpectedly high percentage of Irish. I could not make sense of it. “Come on, Ancestry,” I said. “I have no known ancestors from Ireland,” I said. In the intervening months I’ve unearthed one Irish line. Given my results, I had expected to find more.

Then came the revision. Apparently a lot of folks had their Irish percentage reduced. My Irish ancestry shrunk to 3 percent, while something called England-Wales-Northwest Europe, zoomed to 30 percent. This seems closer to my documented history. The new English percentage at first seemed a bit high to me … at least until I looked at the map again and realized that this category still includes all of the Netherlands, about half of France and a quarter of Germany, among other smaller countries. It’s a bit of a catch-all.

It all seems more like a re-working of labels than an actual revision of results.

Alas, the changes are not, overall, that dramatic. It’s true that I’d finally resolved to find Irish ancestors … but it seems I may have found the lot of them … or perhaps not.

I also lost my “low-confidence” Iberian Peninsula results, which were always less than 1 percent. It appears a lot of people lost Iberian Peninsula.

I fully expect these results to continue being revised as Ancestry processes more samples and collects more data. It’s mostly a process of refinement as finer distinctions between historic categories are identified. It just means “taking the results with a grain of salt” now really means something.

Posted in RESEARCH PROCESS | Tagged | 2 Comments

Dear Ancestor … Author Unknown

dearancestor“Your tombstone stands among the rest; distinct, but not alone. The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marble stone. It reaches out to all who care. It’s not too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born.

“Yet each of us are cells of you … In flesh, in blood, in bone. Our blood contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.

“Dear ancestor, the place you filled, one hundred years ago, spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.

“I wonder that you lived and loved; I wonder if you knew … that some day I would find this spot and come to visit you.” ~ Author Unknown (adapted) 

Do not stand at my grave and weep


“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.”    ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye

260 (2)For all the saints

“For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia. O blest communion, fellowship divine. We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine. Alleluia, Alleluia.

“But when there breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of glory passes on His way. Alleluia, Alleluia. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, through gates of pearl, streams in the countless host, in praise of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia, Alleluia.”

“… so great a cloud of witnesses.”

ArieMattie“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”    ~ Hebrews 12: 1

“Every single moment of life that we experience on this planet is tied to eternity.”

~ Rev. Dr. R.C. Sproul


MartinAndPetra“I think of the saints I have known, and lift up mine eyes … To the far-away home of beautiful Paradise,

“Where the song of saints gives voice to an undividing sea. On whose plain their feet stand firm, while they keep their jubilee.

“As the sound of waters, their voice; as the sound of thunderings. While they all at once rejoice, while all sing and while each one sings;

“Where more saints flock in, and more, and yet more, and again yet more, and not one turns back to depart thro’ the open entrance-door.

DSCN1286“O sights of our lovely earth, O sound of our earthly sea, speak to me of Paradise, of all blessed saints to me:

“Or keep silence touching them, and speak to my heart alone, of the Saint of saints, the King of kings, the Lamb upon the Throne.”

~ Christina Georgina Rosetti (1830 – 1894)

JoeHat_rosesSaints and Angels

“It’s oh in Paradise that I fain would be, away from earth and weariness and all beside;

“Earth is too full of loss with its dividing sea, but Paradise upbuilds the bower for the bride.

“Where flowers are yet in bud while the boughs are green, I would get quit of earth and get robed for heaven; putting on my raiment white within the screen, putting on my crown of gold whose gems are seven. Fair is the fourfold river that maketh no moan, fair are the trees fruit-bearing of the wood.

“The road to death is life; the gate of life is death.”

vandermaaten2“We who wake shall sleep; we shall wax who wane; Let us not vex our souls for stoppage of a breath, the fall of a river that turneth not again.

“Be the road short, and be the gate near– Shall a short road tire, a strait gate appall? The loves that meet in Paradise shall cast out fear, and Paradise hath room for you and me and all.” ~ Christina Georgina Rosetti

Norwegian Rivers  ...“Yah, now shall they see, the affluent grandchildren, how strong and supple minds ran those rebellious rivers into the sea. And now, yah, shall they hear the low music of springs watering those impoverished mountain meadows.

hendrickHendrickson_Lisbon“Then, yah, it was then, stout in their sadness, they stuffed their childhood into rosemaler trunks, clamped them with iron bands, locked once and for all on the eastern hemispheres, and down those rutted trails and noisy rivers, out through the western fjords, they rode for half a century over the Atlantic on one great ascending wave toward the virgin hills and wide inland valleys of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“And now, yah, even now, grandmothers sitting in their rocking chairs, and watching their children’s children in Bergen and Decorah, Hardanger and St. Paul, say, half to themselves, yah, they are so kind of restless, they always have somewhere to go, hearing under their half-drooping eyelids, the melancholy of those hard hills, and those old stones, and rivers calling under the walled-up fjords, to the muffled horns of the sea … ” ~ Joseph Langland

“A life on the land is thick with sin and grace, with death and resurrection.”

LarsSerinaHendricksonStone“So many miles over so many years, so many hands in so many generations, but one single story on the land … but where once there were Hendrickson farms up and down the dusty roads of that part of Iowa, now there is only one … The rest are gone … like the names that once plowed that rich prairie. Yet the prairie remains; it lives and thrives and produces so much more … The names have changed … but the song of the prairie goes on in a new key … In the country you are surrounded by Biblical metaphors. A life on the land is thick with sin and grace, with death and resurrection. A farmer of fields and flocks and herds quickly learns what it means to take up his cross … what it means to lose your life, only to find it again.”  ~ Rev. Dr. Marion Lars Hendrickson


“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” ~ Deuteronomy 32:7

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Malum_Stone“So do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.”   ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye

Dear ancestors,

“Your tombstones stand among the rest; distinct, but not alone. The names and dates are chiseled out on polished, marble stone. The names reach out to all who care. It’s not too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born.

“Yet each of us are cells of you … In flesh, in blood, in bone. Our blood contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.

“Dear ancestors, the place you filled, one hundred years ago, spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so. I wonder that you lived and loved; I wonder if you knew … that some day I would find these spots and come to visit you …”

Case stone all

“His toils are past; his work is done. He fought the fight, the victory won.”

(Gravestone of Joseph Royalty Case (1830-1899) and Elizabeth Russell Case (1831-1898)



Pointing skyward – Hope of Heaven 

(Gravestone of Obadiah James Case (1801-1868) and Louisiana “Louisa” Case (1811-1878))

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Richard Hendrickson, 1930 – 2018

RichardHendricksonIt’s been just about a month and a half since we lost my dad. And today my parents’ church observed All Saints Sunday, honoring those who have passed on in the last year. It seemed like an appropriate time to write a few words here. As my father takes up his place in the communion of saints … and in the family history … his life and presence are still too palpable and the grief is still too fresh for me to have much that is profound to say.  And yet, I need to honor him here, as a vital part of our family history, not to mention our family present, before I can move on. So I have decided to simply share a revised version of the words I shared during the remembrance portion of his memorial service in September:

“My father was a complicated man. I loved him with all my heart, but he was a bundle of paradoxes.

dad_baby“He was a man of great fortitude and fighting spirit, from his war service in Korea to his valiant fight against cancer, during which he suffered considerably but never gave up, never gave in, and at each step, took the next bit of hopeful treatment offered.

“But he was also a man of real sensitivities, who amazed me with the way he remembered the appearance and songs of most of the birds he grew up seeing in Sioux City, Iowa. I once gave my parents a book about birds that included a button you could push to hear their songs. We made it a habit when I visited on Sundays to listen to a few of those, and he almost always had some new bird he remembered and wanted to hear … at least until his failing hearing made it more difficult.

“Many of my childhood memories of my dad involve him puttering outside in the hot desert sun of New Mexico … digging up rocks, trying to get things to grow, something he was successful with surprisingly often. But he was equally content to sit in the comfort of his home and read. Even during his last week in the hospital, he started conversations with me about books … listing the ones he thought I should read. Crime and Punishment came up a couple of times, and I was a little embarrassed to tell him that I had not read that one yet.

“One of my earliest memories of my father involves him helping me learn to tie my shoe while I was sitting on a stool in a kitchen in Iowa City. He had just arrived home. I have this image of him year after year, leaving for and returning from work with a brief case and a thermos of coffee. It took a long time before I really understood what he did and finally realized that, day after day, as a social worker, he probably did not always see the most beautiful side of life. Much like his war service, he did not talk about it much in specific terms when we were growing up, but later in life he would occasionally reflect out loud about it. I now know that for most of his life he was routinely immersed in some of the most difficult aspects of human nature.

Dad8“Like the rest of us, my father was an imperfect person who was haunted by his own unique set of demons and occasionally suffered from what I thought of as a kind of Scandinavian melancholy, and yet he also had a subtle and wry sense of humor that was not designed to impress but was simply a part of his outlook on life. I discussed with my sister last night how impossible it would be to convey it with an example because I did not inherit his sense of delivery. Even in his final weeks of radiation, when he had resolved incorrectly, based on a casual conversation with someone at the cancer center, that he was finished with his treatments, I told him the doctor said he had one more treatment and had to come back Monday. My father simply said of the doctor, ‘Well, he doesn’t have the sources I do.’

“My father loved his family unconditionally, never complained about or blamed his circumstances for anything, and genuinely sought to do good in the world. These were among the most important things about him. He was a huge and important presence in our lives, and while he was unpredictably capable of holding a grudge, he was also one of the most forgiving people I knew when it mattered.

“There was no pretension in my father. He was curious and liked to talk about ideas, and while he had some strong opinions, he really didn’t have much to prove and seemed just as content to lose a debate as to win one … at least with me. Because this is such a rare quality, it always caught me off guard, even in his final years. For several years in New Mexico, he had an old beige pickup truck he drove around on the desert property … and I kind of think he took pleasure in how beat-up and lowly it was.

DadDom“You can tell a lot about people by the earthly things they choose to love. My father loved his family. He loved America. He loved wide, open spaces. He loved the desert. He loved reading and history. He loved Shakespeare. He loved pepper or hot sauce or salsa on everything he ate, which was pretty good for an Iowa boy. He loved living, even when it was hard, because he loved what mattered.

“He loved my mother. In his final weeks, I was spending many nights at my parents’ house. It was mostly for the reason I told my mother — in case there was an emergency in the middle of the night — but it was also because I sensed our time was short and wanted to spend as much time as possible with Dad. He was still fascinating company even in his last weeks. One evening, as he wrestled with recovering from radiation treatment, he told me some days he thought he would be okay and some days he thought he was going to die. As his hearing failed, he began to speak more loudly, even in routine speaking. Later that evening, when I was in an adjacent room, I heard him say to my mother, rather out of the blue, “I love you, Shirl.” I’m pretty sure her response was, “I love you more.” He responded, “Not possible.”

DadRead_B&W“So to my dear Dad, thank you for loving us unconditionally, for your authenticity, and for modeling gratitude for everything that came your way. I promise to honor your memory, to take care of Mom, to do justice to the things you taught me, and yes, to drive carefully … and even to read Crime and Punishment.

“Dad’s life was not always easy, but he fought for it. Even when his ears and his eyes and his lungs and his legs were failing him, he kept choosing to fight for life, which is only one of the things that makes it so hard to let him go. And yet … I also know that he had been growing weary of the fight.

“So I take comfort in thinking of him in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain because the old order of things has passed away. Rejoice in your true home, Dad.”


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School’s out.

genresearchIn the last couple of days I have wrapped up a 15-week, summer class through the Boston University online genealogical research program. It’s been a great deal of work, but I’ve learned a lot. My research will probably never be quite the same.  The class has been a significant part of my day every day since it began in mid-May. I was in Iowa enjoying the beautiful springtime tulips for a few days during the first module of the class, and now, after several challenging assignments and a long, hot Texas summer, that feels like quite a while ago. I still l have a lot to learn, and eventually I’ll be looking into the new learning opportunities I’ve become aware of since taking the class. However, right now I am ready to reclaim the time for more important things and to put what I’ve learned into practice at my own pace.

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