Missing Grandma …

GKBMarch 20 was the birthday of my late Grandma Kreykes, who was born back in 1910. I miss her very much. I have strong memories of  my grandmother and think of her often.

That’s Grandma in  the middle of the photo with two of her older siblings. The more family history research I do, the more I find myself thinking about what their lives must have been like … and the more I admire them.

Grandma, who lived her whole life in Sioux County, Iowa, shared a birthday with my sister. I often find myself thinking about her on the same day I’m wishing my sister a happy birthday.

Life is like that.

Posted in IOWA (ALL), Kreykes, Vanden Bosch | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Photo mysteries

BertPetra2I have only a few photographs of my great grandmother, Petra Malum Hendrickson. Here she is, on the far right, with her daughter, my great Aunt Bert. I wonder where they were going that day in those smart hats. And who thought to take this candid photo? I remember visiting my Aunt Bert, a lovely lady, in later years when she was living in Sioux City, Iowa, but this photo is from well before I was born. It provides no notes as to the location pictured, but this scene is most likely to have been in central Iowa, in the Webster City area, where they lived most of their lives … possibly Illinois … but most likely Iowa. The sign on the building behind them could be a clue. Another woman in a lighter-toned coat and hat appears to be walking behind them. I’ve tried to enlarge the background detail, but unfortunately, the resulting images were not clear enough to provide new information.

I happened upon this photo in an old album I’d not looked at for a long time. The picture was most likely taken around the 1940s (or ’50s). I appreciate the photo even with the mystery location, as I can see hints of my grandfather in both of these women. I’ve found some photos on the Internet of downtown Webster City from that era but have not located a similar-looking building. Perhaps they were traveling and in another city. If anyone recognizes this location, please let me know!

Posted in Hendrickson, IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Central), Malum | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

In the news … gathering at the Tolstrups

CarlHBooneRiver (2)Boone_River_According to newspaper archives, in February 1915 our grandfather, then about 12, and several other ancestors and friends attended a gathering at the farm home of our great aunt Anna Malum Tolstrup and her husband Hans. The occasion honored the Tolstrups’ move from their Central Iowa farm to a new home in nearby Webster City. Our grandfather’s siblings, both parents, and a host of other relatives and friends of that era also attended … all listed by name in the article.

It was only after I’d started my family history research that I really began to visit and become familiar with the part of Iowa in which these families lived. The photo at the lower right, taken in 2011, is of the Boone River, which runs through the region. The photo above it is of my grandfather as a boy by that same river, probably in the same general era that the gathering at the Tolstrup home took place. It is one of few photos I have of these families from those years.

The article from February 26, 1915 tells us that “a most delightful surprise was carried out a few evenings ago when about sixty-five of the neighbors and friends gathered at the pleasant farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Tolstrup, southeast of town.” That February day in 1915 could well have been a wintry one for a party in central Iowa..

The article continues: “The evening was spent in social conversation and also various games were played, and at the close of the evening, a delicious repast was served, the guests having brought well filled baskets. Mr. and Mrs. Tolstrup were presented with a sum of money in token of the high esteem in which they are held. Mrs. Tolstrup was previously presented with a beautiful gravy ladel by the Grand View ladies mission society of which she was a member. The guests departed all wishing Mr. and Mrs. Tolstrup much happiness in their new home.”

This is not the first reference I’ve seen to Grand View. I’ve been unable to locate a town, village, or neighborhood called Grand View in the region in which my ancestors lived, which did include such communities as Kamrar, Stanhope, Jewell, and the larger Webster City. The Des Moines area has a Grand View, but that is some distance south of where these families lived, so it’s hard to know if there is a connection.

But what would family history research be without mystery? Where was Grand View? What did the mission society do? What was in those baskets the guests brought? Was it snowing that day? Why were the Tolstrups moving? Where was the new house in Webster City? Who would live at the farm when they left? Is the farm house still there? Who organized the gathering? How far did the guests travel to attend? And by what means?

The 1915 article, like many similar ones, also causes me to note how families who likely worked very hard in farming and in business made time to make life gentle and pleasant. It is perhaps not that different from how we live life today, but I always enjoy the notice taken of such events in newspapers of that era.

Posted in Hendrickson, In the news..., IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Central), Malum | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Bloggers are readers, too …

team_awardI am honored and pleased to have been nominated for the Wonderful Team Member Readership award by Jana at Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, one of my regular and inspiring reads. Here are the rules: (1) Thank the nominator and link back to their site; (2) Display the award logo on your blog; (3) Nominate readers of your blog you appreciate and let them know; (4) Finish this sentence: “A great reader  … approaches the words of others with respect and careful attention and responds in the same manner.” Continue reading

Posted in General | 6 Comments

Blogging in the new year

liebster-blog-award-smallAs 2013 dawns, my blogging may be slowing down for a little while as my job takes a temporary turn toward the … intensely busy. I’ll still be hanging around and look forward to reading everyone else’s blogs, but will probably not be posting quite as often until summer. In the meantime, I’m honored to have received a Liebster Blog award from blogger “Mom” — whose blog with the wonderful title of “Maybe someone should write that down”  is an interesting and authentic adventure in family history storytelling. I’m starting my new blogging year by accepting and passing on the award. Continue reading

Posted in General | 14 Comments

Merry Christmas, everyone …


My sister and me, Christmas, 1960s

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and new year!

Posted in Hendrickson, IOWA (ALL) | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Climbing through those Illinois branches

WLisbon_roadbychurchWe are a family from Iowa. On both sides. Sure, our grandfather talked about his ancestors being from Illinois, but since he himself grew up in Iowa and his parents are laid to rest there — right in the middle of the state — well … our family … simply put … they’re Iowa people.

So it was a bit of an adventure to start climbing a little further into the family tree to explore the Illinois branches. I first researched where our great-grandfather Hendrickson was born — in Nettle Creek, Illinois, it turns out, not far from  where the picture above was taken. I also found out more about his parents, who immigrated from Norway and settled there among a community of other Norwegian immigrants.

NorwgnMem_Nor NorskMuseum2_NorMy research culminated in a recent trip to the western part of Illinois that is a couple of hours across the Iowa border, yet still not far from Chicago, where I discovered the existence of Illinois towns like “Norway” and “Stavanger” (named for the Norwegian city). I stopped on my way through Norway to view the modest monuments to the Norwegian immigrants who helped settle the area. Pictured at right, above, are a state memorial and one dedicated by King Olav V of Norway in 1975, honoring Cleng Peerson, “the father of Norwegian immigration.” I tried on two separate days to look inside the town’s church-turned-museum, but it was locked both times. A sign identifies the little white church as the Norsk Museum, and a metal sculpture of a Viking ship stands outside.

H_stones WLisbonChurchIn a Lutheran cemetery in the adjacent town of Lisbon, within sight of a large-ish Lutheran church surrounded by farmland, I found our great-great-grandfather’s gravestone. It is mostly Norwegian immigrants who are laid to rest here, and this includes a great-great aunt and uncle, Serena and Lars, among other relatives. The area was exceedingly peaceful. I drove up to the church and learned that it had been rebuilt in 1926, about 12 years after our great-great-grandfather’s death. I was delighted to find a street sign for Nettle Creek Rd., though, sadly, it had somehow become broken.

My brief time in Illinois was marked by cloudy, cold, late-October days with a wind that persisted to the point of discomfort sometimes, mainly because I had not planned ahead and so was not dressed properly for it. It was also a unique chance for a brief visit with my sweet cousin’s family. Most of my photos, however, had already been taken by the time sunny blue skies arrived.

Upon my return to Texas, I did further research and learned that there was considerable migration of Norwegian immigrants from the part of Illinois I’d just visited into Central Iowa, where our own ancestors finally settled and our grandfather grew up. It helps explain the strong Norwegian presence in that part of Iowa. I’ve learned from the Central Iowa Norwegian Project that the Norwegian community in Illinois sent a “scouting” group into Iowa in search of farmland. As I drove between Illinois and Iowa by car on the interstate, crossing the Mississippi River, I thought about what that travel must have involved for them in the 19th century.

It’s been an education for me, discovering the close communities in which my ancestors lived before more recent generations scattered more broadly across the country. I’ve also enjoyed learning about how their travels were part of broader migration patterns … and look forward to learning more about what their lives may have been like. It’s always interesting to me to visit the places they lived and try to imagine their lives in their time. Understanding more about how my ancestors came to settle in Iowa gives me a greater appreciation for their journey.

I’ve been interested to see that many Americans who migrated west did so as communities — and not just the Norwegians. I love that I’m learning so much about American and Midwestern history.

VelkommenSign_Nor (2)

Posted in Hendrickson, Illinois, IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Central), NORWAY | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Wednesday’s Child: the Clausen sons

This gravestone was discovered on a walk through a small-town Iowa cemetery … on a search for the final resting places of our Clausen ancestors. The discovery of a gravestone for Clausen children came as a surprise. J.J. and M.J., the infant boys’ parents as inscribed on the stone, were most likely our great grandparents, Jacob and Martha.

One is struck in researching family history by the more prevalent loss of infants in earlier centuries. The children rest in peace, and my prayer is that their parents found a measure of the same until they were reunited.

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart… (Isaiah 40:11)

(Wednesday’s Child is a weekly blogging prompt from Geneabloggers focusing on the gravestones of children.)

Posted in Clausen, CLOUD OF WITNESSES ... COMMUNION OF SAINTS, IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Central) | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Surname Saturday — street sign discoveries

With my frequent visits to semi-rural cemeteries in recent years, I’ve often found myself in little Iowa towns about which I’ve heard stories but that are otherwise unfamiliar to me. A couple of times I’ve also found myself standing under street signs bearing ancestors’ surnames — specifically, the Danish name Clausen and the English name Case.

Mind you, I’d never even been to these towns before I started my family history research and do not know the stories behind the naming of these streets. I’ve simply been struck by the interesting coincidence of the street signs turning up bearing the surnames I’ve just been viewing on my ancestors’ gravestones. I hope eventually to explore the real stories.

The street sign phenomenon tends to happen in tiny towns … with populations of about 500 people.  In the case of the top two photos on the right, after completing my cemetery sojourn, I drove through the adjacent town, only to look up and see the family name welcoming me to turn down a new street. The towns are small and the streets ultimately lead to farmland. While I hope to look into the signs’ real history some day, for now I just stop, smile, and snap a photo. Because it’s consistent with the theme, I’ve included a similar photo taken in the Netherlands in the 1970s by my grandparents, who had the Dutch name Kreykes, about which I posted previously here.

I wish the quality of my street sign photos was better, but I’m usually trying to take them without getting run over or drawing the attention of the neighbors…

I hope everyone had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving with family and friends …

Surname Saturday is a weekly blogging prompt from Geneabloggers encouraging family history bloggers to post about a surname,  its origins, and how it fits into their genealogical  research.

Posted in Case, Clausen, IOWA (ALL) | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Letters to the Netherlands: Before the throne of grace …

In a previous excerpt from our 2nd great-grandfather’s letters from his new home in Iowa, he spoke of his distress over the illness of his adult daughter, who had remained in the Netherlands. He would later learn that she did not survive. Her children, then orphaned, seem to have been taken in by relatives or friends. His letters to the Netherlands indicate that he prayed for his daughter’s spiritual well being, then found joy in learning that she had not died unconverted. I’ve chosen not to share some of the more immediate personal excerpts, but the collection of brief excerpts below (as translated from Dutch) followed some time after the death of his daughter:

“I called upon God to be merciful to her… I was confirmed in the belief that the Lord is a hearer of prayer. I was privileged to pray for her continually after we had left for America, for her and for her children, before the throne of grace.

“The saying says ‘blood creeps where  it cannot walk’  – and it is also true that at such a distance the tie becomes stronger. And when the Lord himself places the prayer in the heart, the poet says, ‘he has never turned prayer aside.’ Experience has often taught me that lesson – and the Lord teaches that to all people in distress by His grace…  It is wonderful for parents to see their children depart that way, or children their parents. There God will wipe all tears from their eyes – there will be no more weeping, but peace alone will reign…

“Oh, my heart still breaks as I write – May the death of our Janna be for all those living at and around the mill, and also for us, a means of drawing us closer to God… that is my hearty wish and prayer …”

March 1890

These letters are part of a larger collection of Dutch immigrant letters in the archives of the Christian Reformed Church at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am occasionally posting very brief excerpts in no particular order.

See other posts in this series: Letters to the Netherlands

Posted in CLOUD OF WITNESSES ... COMMUNION OF SAINTS, IOWA (Sioux County), Kreykes, Letters to the Netherlands, NETHERLANDS, Smalbrugge | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments