Given the increase in testing for ethnicity alone, I’m seeing a huge increase in people who are both confused by and disappointed in their results. And of course, there are a few who are thrilled, trading their lederhosen for a kilt because of their new discovery. To put it gently, they might be a little premature in their celebration.
Last night I watched the retirement of Washington product Daniel Bryan on WWE’s Raw. At the same time, I was researching Ernst Sundberg, the son of Nils Johan Sundberg, subject of my previous post. He emigrated from Sweden to Canada. Because he lived most of his life in Canada, I don’t have as many resources I can use to research him. The easy sources are the Canadian censuses, where Ernest Sundberg appeared in the 1911, 1916, and 1921 Canadian censuses, and his details matched up with what I knew about Ernst Sundberg.
I also have a couple of Manitoba newspapers I can view at newpapers.com and newspaperarchive.com. I found nothing about an Ernest Sundberg. However, there were a couple of references to Ernie Sundberg, featherweight wrestling champion. Going on gut, I searched online for him using Google. What appeared near the top of the results was a history theses by Charles Hatton, “Grappling on the Grain Belt: Wrestling in Manitoba to 1931”. It’s the story of early catch-as-catch-can wrestling in Winnipeg, featuring numerous bouts starring Ernie Sundberg, the hero of the local Swedish community.
Mr. Hatton’s thesis gives Ernie Sundberg’s date of birth as 2 Mar 1884 in Luleo, Sweden. And what do you know that matches up exactly with Ernst Sundberg’s entry in the Luleå birth register. We have a match!
At the end of the thesis, Mr. Hatton has images of many of the wrestlers mentioned. Two of them are of Ernie Sundberg. So not only do I now have a relative who was involved in wrestling, a form of spectacle I find very entertaining, I have photos of him!
A few days ago I got an email from someone asking about a mutual ancestor, Joseph Tornander. She sent me a portion of her pedigree chart showing her connection to him and his wife. Naturally, I wanted to add those relations to my own tree, so I started doing so. Two of them are Anna Amalia Almqvist, granddaughter of Joseph Tornander, and her husband Nils Johan Sundberg.
But I quickly came on a discrepancy. On his death record, the date of birth for Nils Johan Sundberg is listed as 14 Aug 1848. But I could find no record of his birth that matched that. Most of the online trees that include Nils Johan indicate he was born in Nederluleå parish or Överluleå parish. Neither of those has a record for a Nils Johan born on that date. Now, Sweden is a big country, so there are lots of places he could be from and possibly one of them has a matching record. But it is pretty likely that Nils Johan was born somewhere in Norrbotten. So I dug a little deeper.
There was a birth record for 21 Feb 1948 in Överluleå for a Nils Johan, born to an unmarried Greta Stina Johansdotter. And one person had an online tree that matched that. My gut feeling was this was the correct date of birth, but I need evidence for it.
To find the truth, I started with the marriage record for Nils Johan and Anna Amalia, the one record I knew referred to both people correctly. It only listed the year of birth for each. Nils Johan’s was 1848. Then I looked at the husförhör record for Nils and Anna immediately after their marriage. It also gave a birth date for Nils Johan of 14 Aug 1848. Each husförhör record includes a reference to the previous record for that person. So I created a table, and started tracing backward in time, record by record.
As an unmarried farmhand, Nils Johan moved quite frequently, but it only took going back a few years. The record for him from 1 Nov 1871 to 5 Oct 1872 has his date of birth as 21 Feb 1848, which matches up with the birth record in Överluleå. Still not solid enough to call it good, but enough to know I was on the right track. Continuing to trace back, Nils Johan appears in a record covering 1855 to 1869, with a birth date of 21 Feb 1848, in a family with parents Olof Gustaf Nordström and Margareta Christina Johansdotter. Greta Stina Johansdotter. There is a strong likelihood this is the same Nils Johan Sundberg, now living in a family with his mother and step-father.
I continued tracing backward. The first appearance of Nils Johan Sundberg in Piteå parish is in 1855 in the family with Olof Gustaf and Greta Stina. He’s listed as having joined the household in 1855. His mother joined the household in 1853. Both from Nederluleå parish. It doesn’t say where in Nederluleå for either, and there are many places they could have lived in Nederluleå.
In addition to tracing backward, I also traced Nils Johan forward from the birth record. However, shortly after his birth, Nils Johan and his mother are listed as moving from Överluleå to Piteå parish. It doesn’t say where, and there are a lot of villages they could have moved to.
Överluleå C:1 (1831-1855) Image 178 / page 174
Överluleå AI:2a (1841-1848) Image 218 / page 206
Överluleå AI:3a (1849-1858) Image 222 / page 208
The record in the next row is for Greta Stina Johansdotter; Nils Johan does not appear.
So I have a gap of 5 years for Nils Johan and a 3 year hole for his mother that I should account for in order to complete something that withstands the Genealogical Proof Standard. It’s possible that my Nils Johan son of Margareta Christina Johansdotter is a different person than the one born in Överluleå. I haven’t yet performed a reasonably exhaustive search. Both their names are common enough there could be others.
But I have enough to satisfy me for now. And I absolutely can answer the question as to what Nils Johan’s date of birth is. It is 21 Feb 1848.
And I even have a pretty good idea how the change in date happened. If you look at the attached image for the record that shows him living in Rosvik from 1871 to 1872, you will see the person listed below has a date of birth of 14 Aug 1842. When Nils Johan moved and a new record was created, the religious official who created the new record looked to the old one to fill out the information properly. It looks likely to me that he transcribed the day and month from the person listed below. Every record created after that copied the same, incorrect, birth date until the day he died.
Some of my third great aunts and uncles from the Parker family have been really easy to trace. Some have not. One of the latter is Thomas Parker, and one of the mysteries has been his second wife, Ellen Clinton. According to his marriage record, he married Ellen on 10 Sep 1868 in New London, Wisconsin. The record does not indicate who Ellen’s parents are, her age, or anything that is a direct clue as to who she is. The best clue from that are the witnesses on the record: Thomas Broove and E.P. Perry.
Some time ago I happened across a message board transcription of an obituary for a Mrs. Kate Hutchinson. The transcription, posted in 2002, mentions an Ellen Parker of Belmond, Iowa. A couple of weeks ago, I got around to requesting a copy of that obituary from the Waupaca Area Library and I received it today.
And while the main part of the transcription is pretty close to what was published, it appears the transcriber took liberties with the headline as well as a poem that doesn’t appear in the original. What’s even more interesting is that the original says “Ellen Parke” rather than the transcribed “Ellen Parker”. I’d be willing to bet it’s the right person nevertheless, but what luck in that it is a mistranscribed name that led me to the clue.
Why do I think it’s the right person still? In the 1900 U.S. census and 1905 Iowa census, there is no one by the name Ellen Park or Parke in or around Belmond. There are two Ellen Parkers, however. One is married to my great uncle Frank Parker and one is married to my great uncle Thomas Parker. The Ellen Clinton who shows up in Kate Clinton’s family in the 1860 U.S. census is about the same age, and New London is just a skip away from Waupaca. Worth pursuing.
What I still haven’t found is Ellen Clinton Parker’s death. She’s in the 1910 U.S. census in Belmond, but not the 1915 Iowa census. She’s got no marker in the Saint Francis Cemetery where many other Parkers, ostensibly including her husband, are buried. Did she die? Did she divorce Thomas Parker? Did she abscond? Currently a mystery.
I’m still working through my backlog of evidence, transferring it to my better-sourced database. Over the weekend, I worked on what I know about second cousin twice removed, Julia Charpiot. We share as ancestors my third great grandparents, Johann Theodore Voigt and Maria Agnes Thuernich. Julia’s mother is my relative, Louise Zimmerman. Louise married Henry Charpiot and the two of them lived in Denver where he was a lawyer and for a time the consular officer for the country of France.
Henry’s parents are Frederick Charpiot and Julia Riche, both born in France. Frederick became quite rich as a businessman in Denver, owning and operating Charpiot’s Hotel from 1860 to the early 1900s. The hotel entertained the rich and famous of the world, including many of the American West’s most notorious such as Buffalo Bill. It housed a pre-eminent French restaurant, which Charpiot styled The Delmonico of the West.
GenealogyBank has archives of both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, so I searched through them for information on the elder Charpiot’s as well as Julia (Henry is for another time). Both papers had extensive obituaries for both of them.
In 1903 or 1904, Frederick and Julia left their business affairs in the hands of Julia’s brother and retired to Branges, France. Frederick died there in 1907.
Julia lived several more decades, including through the first World War. She died in Branges in 1921.
Two of the interesting things revealed in their obituaries was where they were born. Frederick was from Bart in France’s Doub department, where he was born in 1829. Julia was born about 1834 in Joncherey in what what was at the time the Haut-Rhin department. After the two of them emigrated to the U.S., control of Haut-Rhin was subject to a treaty settlement between France and Germany in 1871 after France lost a war. The department was split and most of it became part of Germany. Joncherey remained part of France, but the new border was just a short distance away. This was still the case when the Charpiots returned to France. Rather than retire to their childhood home cities, they got somewhat away from the border in Branges. Julia would live to see the territory around her birthplace restored to France after the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. Nevertheless, she was still close enough to the western front during the war that she saw some of the atrocities inflicted on the combatants.
Henry, with his second wife Edith and his daughter Julia, also relocated to Paris in the early 1900s where he established an international law firm. Julia benefited from a rich person’s overseas education and became part of Europe’s social scene. There she met Andre Sardou, son of famous (at least that’s what I gathered from the blurbs and the fact that he has a Wikipedia page) playwright Victorien Sardou, and they were engaged.
The following blurb from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in early May 1920 is representative of the short pieces that ran in many U.S. newspapers. I had a hunch it was the correct Julia Charpiot because of the reference to the French consular agent at Denver, but I had little other information in the newspaper archives I had access to when last I researched the Charpiots.
Until this weekend, that’s what I knew of what happened to her. But with my recent subscription to GenealogyBank and their archives of Denver papers, I took another look. And lo, there were items in the Denver Post with more details than what was published in other newspapers, one from 12 May 1920 on their engagement and one from 26 Jun 1920 on their marriage:
So the wedding did happen!
So far, none of my direct ancestors have come from France, so I’ve never spent much time researching French people. Ancestry and FamilySearch don’t have a lot of databases devoted to France so my two easy sources weren’t much help.
Some Googling this time around brought me to this post on a blog devoted to French genealogy. In the sidebar there are links to online departmental archives, and Alpes-Maritimes (where Nice is located) is near the top (hurray for alphabetical order!) so I clicked through.
And they have already digitized Nice well past the 1920 date of marriage for Sardou and Charpiot, and ten minutes of paging through those records brought up their marriage:
Not only did it give me the date and location of their marriage, but it also gave me their exact birth dates and cities of birth. In Julia’s case, it’s the first record I have that does so.
The birth registrations won’t have anything on possible Sardou-Charpiot children, as those records are confidential for 100 years. But death records are only confidential for 25 years, so there’s a possibility I can find those with some diligent searching.
I’ve previously written about my relatives Alfred and Mae Sorenson, who were involved in the Lemberger murder case, and their daughter Mary Evelyn. At their deaths in 1958, both Alfred’s and Mae’s obituaries stated that their daughter was living in Los Angeles as Evelyn Tanner. That was the latest I’d been able to track her.
Birth Date: 9 Mar 1914
Birth Place: Madison, Wisconsin
Father Name: Alfred Sorenson
Mother Name: Mae S Griffth
Death Date: Oct 1990
Notes: Feb 1937: Name listed as MARY EVELYN FREDERICKS; May 1944: Name listed as MARY EVELYN GRANTZOW; Feb 1955: Name listed as MARY EVELYN SORENSON; May 1956: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE SORENSON; Oct 1956: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE NEWTON; Nov 1957: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE VONHAUZER
That looks a lot like what I know about Alfred and Mae’s daughter. I have previously found a marriage announcement for Alfred’s daughter under the name Mary Evelyn Fredericks where she married a George Grantzow:
One of the reasons why I was unable to find her after 1958 is that it appears she started going by the name Frances Marie rather than Mary Evelyn. I now have a different trail of breadcrumbs to follow.
For years I’ve used the FavePersonal theme by CrowdFavorite for this blog. I really liked the underlying Carrington structure, which let me do different things for different kinds of posts.
Unfortunately, something has changed with how the CSS is displayed. My Chrome browser did something different with how it renders, and I don’t have the desire to debug and fix. It appears CrowdFavorite is no longer maintaining Carrington or FavePersonal, as the last public update was in 2013.
Reluctantly, I have switched to a new theme. For now, it’s the Twenty Fifteen theme by Automattic. We’ll see how I like it. I already tweaked how blockquotes are displayed, and I’m not sure I like how text flows around images, but for now I’ll deal. If, when viewing a post, something looks really bad, please comment to let me know.
And here’s the books I’ve read since my last reading update.
Sundown Towns by James Loewen
James Loewen is the well-known author of Lies My Teacher Told Me which is an excellent primer on the portions of history that aren’t really covered in school. Sundown Towns is his treatment of the practice of counties, towns, and suburbs that intentionally excluded blacks and other non-whites from living within their boundaries. Such towns popularly had signs at the city limits that stated things like “No niggers after sundown!”, hence the term.
I listened to the audio version of the book. I’ve found that in audio form, repetition in a book is really drilled into my brain. In a work of fiction, repeated story tics become extremely apparent and are distracting. In a book like Sundown Towns the sheer number of examples of sundown practices is a flood in my brain. I didn’t think about much else for the duration.
And Loewen’s examples in the book alone become a litany. The conception I, a suburban-educated middle-aged white guy, had was that they were ugly but not particularly common. The best examples Loewen has litter Illinois and Indiana to the point that non-exclusionary towns were in the minority in those states. In addition, descriptions of the practices themselves make me think that the North’s sundown towns were far more racist than the South’s Jim Crow laws. That’s an outside assessment by a white dude after reading this book, so I don’t think it holds a lot of weight. But I think it’s clear that us northerners can’t be smug about the South being the racist part of the country, which I often have been.
My criticism of the book is mostly that a lot of the book is based off hearsay and oral tradition. As far as a broad survey that this book is means that it doesn’t affect the conclusions on a broad basis. That there’s an oral tradition of a place being sundown is part of sundown practice itself. But when I am concerned about a specific place and the practices there, hearsay leaves a lot to be desired. I am very interested in specific places where my family is from. More than one is mentioned in the book, and I wanted to know way more than what oral tradition could pass on.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My ebook reader told me I was 56% of the way into this book at the point I gave up. In theory, mixing epic fantasy with Westerns should delight me, but in practice I was bored despite giving it a go. Roland Deschain is the gunslinger in a desert landscape, possessing some wizard like powers, chasing after a mysterious man in black. Why? We don’t know. Sometimes mysterious means my interest is piqued to find out more, but in this case it meant I couldn’t bring myself to care about one-dimensional mystery characters.
Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
A rich woman’s rich husband has a heart attack and spends some time clinically dead. On revival, he has realized that his distant workaholic ways can’t go on, so he resigns from the company he founded and starts giving away all his wealth, vowing to pay his wife the attention he should have over the years. Rich woman doesn’t take too kindly to this, as she views the wealth as her payment for putting up with rich dude’s years of neglect. Will they reconcile? Will things get really ugly? Engaging enough that I wanted to find out what happened, but I didn’t like either main character and mostly wished ugly things would happen to them. Minor spoiler that this is a redemption story, though not in the way I thought it might be. Still, I would have preferred ugly things happen to the characters.
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Another fantasy book. It came highly recommended by a friend of mine. I also have followed Hines’ blog for many years and I really like that. However, it’s the first time I’ve tried to read a story of his. Libriomancers are basically wizards who have the power to turns what happens on the pages of a book into something in real life. Need a ray gun? Find old science fiction and go through the proper magical steps and it’s yours for a time. Of course there are opposing factions fighting a magical war. We need some sort of conflict in order to have a book, but this was so cookie cutter. Too much as-you-know-Bob. Too breezy. I gave up very quickly. I might try Hines’ work again some time, because I want to like his books because I love his blog. But I’m not hopeful.
I was away on holiday most of September, and that meant that I had a lot of travel time to listen to audiobooks. Brief notes follow, so I can remember what I read in my older age.
In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
I remember getting crap from girls in junior high when I read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. “But that’s a girl’s book!” The thing is, Judy Blume writes compelling characters, and so I liked the book despite it not being for boys. In The Unlikely Event follows a lot of characters living in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1952, when three planes crashed in the suburb while trying to take off or land at the nearby Newark airport. This isn’t a set of tales of surviving as told by the victims of the crashes or their family members (mostly). It captures the daily lives of witnesses, bystanders, and responders. A lot of it is just normal stuff, but Blume uses the crashes as a device to expose their psyches. Very enjoyable, though a bit hard to keep who is who and how they are connected straight sometimes.
The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø
The concluding volume in the three book storyline of Harry Hole vs. the evil cop Tom Waaler. At the beginning of the novel, Hole is on his last legs as a detective. He’s convinced that Tom Waaler is behind the murder of his colleague Ellen Gjelten (in The Redbreast). Unable to prove it, he’s gone on an alcoholic bender that has his superiors draw up his termination papers. Even though he has only three weeks left before they are final, the brass has him work a case with the aforementioned Tom Waaler investigating a serial killer who leaves pentagrams at murder scenes. The reader, Harry, and Tom all know Harry’s got Tom pegged but has nothing to back it up. So how will they work together? Given that Tom Waaler has a history of murdering people who might finger him in the two previous books, I’m surprised he didn’t do the same to Harry Hole at the beginning of the book. But then, there wouldn’t be a story anymore, so we have to suspend some disbelief. Lots of tension here, and worth a listen.
How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
Part memoir, part humorous “self-help” on race relations. The self-help is ostensibly directed at black people, but it didn’t really feel like that was his true audience. It really comes across more as a way to explain to white people what tics black people have developed as a result of micro-aggressive racism from white people, and what methods they’ve devised in order to deal. I don’t think the latter part meshed all that well with the memoir part. You constantly jump between intensely personal memoir chapters to more distant “hypothetical” how-tos on race. Hypothetical in quotes because, while I am sure the situations are all real, Mr. Thurston doesn’t talk about them in first person voice or even third person description of what’s happened to people he knows. Those parts are in second person. Still, had those points been made how we normally make them, the book might not have garnered the attention it did. I liked the personal bits more though, particularly the writing about Sidwell Friends and race relations at that school.
Update: It appears the NLI has changed their terms since I posted this. They now license some content with a clean Creative Commons license, and other content with their own license. Oddly, they also claim they have no copyright in the content licensed under their own license. I thought you kinda needed to own the copyright (or some other form of intellectual property) in order to license a work, but I what do I know?
Yet again, I find an organization doesn’t understand the terms of the licenses they purport to use. The latest is the National Library of Ireland (NLI), which released digitized scans of Catholic parish registers this summer. I’m interested in those, because I have Irish Catholic ancestors who appear in them.
The Materials are licensed by the National Library of Ireland (the “Licensor”) under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution 4.0 International License, as supplemented by these terms and conditions (together, these “Terms”).
But wait, there’s some terms of the Creative Commons licenses they appear not to have read:
No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
The NLI purports to be able to revoke the license as well:
The Licensor reserves the right to vary these terms and conditions at any time. registers.nli.ie will specify the latest date on which these terms and conditions have been amended.
which is in conflict with the following term of the Creative Commons license they link to:
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Those things are in conflict. Now, if the NLI does indeed hold the copyright on those registers, they can release them under whatever license they want. Organizations often release works under two or more licenses. For instance, the GNU Free Documentation License or a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. But making it a combination (e.g., “and” instead of “or”) of licenses, or a Creative Commons License plus additional terms makes it no longer a Creative Commons license. It’s something else. Which brings up a whole host of issues:
Second, and most important, I cannot publicly incorporate work released under this mish-mash of a license into anything. Why? Because as someone who doesn’t own the copyright on the original, I can’t say “no additional terms” (as is in the license) and “here are the additional terms”. I violate one part or another. I cannot modify the terms, so I cannot leave out the “no additional terms” part for the “here are the additional terms” part. The NLI can do so (though still violating the trademark policy), but I’m automatically in violation as I do not own the copyright. I also cannot offer a non-revocable license where someone else can revoke the license. That’s just nuts.
There may be a slick way to release a derivative work with this license, but that’s going to require a lawyer. That’s what Creative Commons licenses are supposed to avoid. I certainly can’t do it without violating Creative Common’s trademark rights like the National Library of Ireland did.
So, to sum up: what a mess! Don’t do this.
Image Don’t Wanna Work Together composed of an image from Wanna Work Together released under a CC Attribution 2.5 license by Creative Commons and the public domain No Sign published on Wikimedia Commons.