Posts

On the Road--Again?

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Maybe it's cabin fever, maybe its Covid isolation reaction, whatever, I've felt an urge to look at travel and tourism guides! Read any good local histories lately? Maybe you’ve found a glowing biography of your ancestor’s brother in a 19th century mug book. You know the type—”George came to Smithtown with his parents and five brothers and sisters when he was three years old.” Precocious, wasn’t he? If the book had named the parents and siblings, you might have some proof of family connection, albeit secondary. But some editor determined that non-resident parents and siblings were not essential to the story. Local histories provide invaluable tidbits of information. Imagine reading that your ancestor was the first white child born in Houston County, Minnesota, or that the elderly chief of the nearby tribe always found a warm welcome at your family’s home on a snowy night.   A recent search for US tourist travel books at books.google.com revealed some astonishing and invalu

How I found my Norwegian Relatives

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Hafslo, Norway By G.Lanting - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org February 2018 we were all watching the Winter Olympics. Norway was collecting lots of gold medals. My husband and I had recently moved back to Washington state and I was homebound and feeling sad that I had no Norwegian relatives.  Logo from Clipartmax ESPN Screenshot I had relatives, but who? My grandma, Anna Otto Johnson, (1884-1972) and her family had moved from Norway when she was a young child. They settled in Minnesota near aunts and uncles who had arrived earlier in America. I knew that one aunt, Berte Ottesdatter Kjerringness, had married in Norway and stayed back in the old country. That contact had been lost years ago. Norway had a tradition of name changes when people moved to a new farm so how would I ever find a living person?  Otto Family, 1895 Bird Island, Minnesota  Photo courtesy Carol Larson Anna Otto is in front row We had an old family tree that showed Aunt Berte’s married name and

2020 was a year! And yet, a good year for our Society

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Image by  Miroslava Chrienova  from  Pixabay   Covid stopped us cold in March 2020, and yet only two meetings were cancelled. As we learned how to host virtual meetings, our online group communication became busier and more of a comfort to all of us. The time just to chat after meetings became so precious that we created " Genealogy Books Q&A " April 27 and it was a huge success.  We've not traded lookups much since, but our monthly chats have continued, now the fourth Monday afternoon each month. We have made friendships, deeper and stronger than one would ever expect with joy in having found each other.  We even had a New Year's Eve party! Virtual is safe, fun and EASY Since April, our monthly third Saturday general meetings have continued with presentations by society members and nationally known speakers, all accessed safely by virtual media.  And we aren't through yet!  We have speakers planned through May 2021 and a virtual seminar with Judy G. Russell,

Challenges and Opportunities

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  It is once again the end of the year; a new year begins in a few days.  In the past we asked if you had reflected on the old year.  Had you made goals, genealogy related, for the coming year?  Many of you had clear plans for attending seminars, conferences, and research trips.  Some had specific plans for further education; others planned to learn more about local historic facilities. This year started much the same way but there was a hint of a problem, a virus, half a world away.  By mid-March we were closing down meetings, isolating ourselves and hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer!   And we were changing our plans.  We postponed travel and cancelled meetings.  We were social distancing and loving it--NOT.  We, as individuals, and as society had to make some very quick changes. Online Groups Fortunately, the South King County Genealogical Society was more prepared than we had thought. When the Rootsweb lists died in 2019, it seemed like a disaster. We decided then to use Grou

The Christmas Ornaments

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Mystery gift from afa r It was an unexpected arrival – and as I strolled back from the mailbox I was full of anticipation at the surprise package from my father. Small, the size of a box full of checks, what on earth could this possibly contain – and why? It was between holidays – right after Thanksgiving and enough “before Christmas” not to be a Christmas gift. I smiled with delight. Packages from home and my parents were always fun. And in this case, somewhat mysterious, given the timing. In the house, I carefully cut through the layers of clear packing tape that encased the box. As I lifted the lid off, there was a note labelled in my father’s unmistakable handwriting: Care Package. Like any kid with a new toy, I laid the note aside (the adult kid did this very carefully) and then I just stared at the contents. I took another look. Jumbled together in the bottom of the box were not quite a dozen crumpled red and silver foil balls, some with narrow wire sticking from them and

A Gift from Kaake*

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(Continued from SKCGS Blog, December 7, 2020 ) Then I heard our inadequate anti-aircraft go into action. A figure leaped over the edge of the depression and slid down almost against me. In the split second that I glimpsed him against the sky, I recognized him as one of the kids of our outfit. I called my name and he answered, giving his own. “Listen, Hearn,” I said, “Doctor Land was on that Higgins boat with us coming in. I talked to him a little. You’ve got to get him and bring him here or this person will die.” “The Hell I will,” growled Hearn: “I’m gonna stay right here in this hole.” I was about to curse him but I stopped myself before the words came. I hit him from another angle. “Hearn,” I said, “I have often heard that this business of war was quick to separate the men from the boys. Your mother back in Kansas still thinks of you as her little boy, but deep down inside her heart she knows that she has a man out here fighting for her. If you are not too scar

A Library Burns

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  Image from Facebook Last February, what seems like eons ago, a weekly blog started with the following: Year of Anniversaries 2020--Have you noticed that there are some momentous anniversaries this year?  The  Mayflower landed at Plymouth in 1620--400 years ago !  Do you have Mayflower ancestors?  Are you planning to attend any Mayflower celebrations? A bit closer to present day is the  100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment--Women's Suffrage .  Did you have an ancestor involved with that struggle for equality? There are many other anniversaries this year-- 75 years from the end of World War II ,  40 years after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens,   You can probably name many more and please do! Opportunity Knocks There followed a challenge, an opportunity for people to write stories. A few weeks later the world that we knew came to a screeching halt due to Covid 19. Fortunately, we learned how to have virtual meetings and in early April we were "back in business". Not on