24 November 2013

Nearby Norwegians at Yulefest

The Nearby Norwegians spent Saturday morning over kaffe and conversation, enjoying the cultural festivities at the Nordic Heritage Museum's Yulefest in Ballard (Seattle), Washington.  We even took a few minutes to wish "God Jul" to Santa before all the little kiddies arrived and needed his attention.  After cookies, we went shopping among the craft vendors, of course! 

(Left to right) Back row:  Luci Baker Johnson, Cathy Lykes, Carolyn Merritt, and Barbara Holz Sullivan.  Front row:  Chery Kinnick, and Santa himself!

17 June 2013

The Scandinavian Celebration of Midsummer

Midsummer celebration (e-how.com)

The Midsummer Night and Day near the end of June (summer solstice) are called the Jonsok or Sankt Hans, both named after John the Baptist.  However, the roots of this special celebration surrounding the shortest night and the longest day of the year reach all the way back to pagan times, when everybody paid tribute to the powers of the sun god with bonfires signifying the defeat of darkness.  In addition, it was as good an excuse as any for a bit of "whooping-up," knowing as they did that soon the long, dark fall and winter months would engulf them.  And on this night out of the deep forests, down from the mountains, up from the rivers and fjords would come the magic creatures--the trolls, the hulders, the nisser, the fosse-grimmer and the nøkker--invisible partners in all the merrymaking..." [1]

File:John Bauer 1915.jpg
Trolls, as envisioned in 1915 by illustrator, John Bauer.
Wikemedia Commons

"How to Celebrate a Norwegian Midsummer" (synopsis):

--Decorate with plenty of alpine-like flowers, similar to those that grow in Norway.  You can also display strings of paper Norwegian flags and use the flag colors of red, white, and blue in table settings.

--Boil up a pot of shrimp.  They are plentiful in Norway in midsummer, and are typically served with homemade mayonnaise.

--Get your smorgasbord on.  Some suggestions are:  smoked salmon, pickled herring, Jarlsberg cheese, flatbread, lefse, and other Norwegian specialties.
--Offer shots of Akevitt to guests.  If you can't find Akevitt, then go with a Danish beer.

--Put on a pot or two of coffee, as "...true Norwegians drink it at all hours of the day throughout the year."
--Have a bonfire, or light as many candles as you can when the sun goes down, but don't set anything on fire!   Then, let your imagination take flight as darkness falls and shadows grow...  Ghost stories around the campfire, anyone?

[1] Bent Vanberg.  Of Norwegian Ways (Harper & Row:  New York, 1970)

28 May 2013

Ole Goes to War: Men from Norway who fought in the America's Civil War

On this Memorial Day, I remember all of the Norwegians who fought in the American Civil War.   

YES--Norwegians, who had not yet been naturalized as American citizens.

"One of every six Civil War soldiers born in Norway were named Ole" 
In 1996 Darell Henning, curator of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, asked Jerry Rosholt to compile a database of Norwegian immigrants who fought in the American Civil War. Jerry accepted the challenge and spent nearly the rest of his life dedicated to this project.

"At least 6,500 Civil War Union soldiers were born in Norway...and an estimated 300 Norwegians served in Confederate units." 

Jerry was a tenacious and thorough researcher, and used multiple resources in documenting his findings. He brought his reporter's sense of accuracy and his talent for storytelling to bear on one of the pivotal moments in American -- and Norwegian-American -- history.  The book he penned tells the story of not only the famous, such as Colonel Hans Christian Heg, but also the many, many other Norwegians who stepped forward to serve their new country.
Colonel Hans Christian Heg
Many have heard of Colonel Hans Christian Heg, the commander of the all-Norwegian Wisconsin 15th regiment. He was respected by his men for his fairness, his courage, and his confidence during the most dangerous battles. Hans Heg was born at Lier, near Drammen, Norway on December 21, 1829, the eldest son of Even and Sigrid. When Hans was 11 years old, his family came to America, settling in Norway Township, Racine County, Wisconsin.

Although I'm not a direct relative, I'm well familiar with the Heg family because my mother's Hegg ancestors were also from Lier, emigrated at about the same time as the Hegs, and also settled in Wisconsin. They were neighbors and peers of the Heg family. 
Colonel Heg also has a connection to the Pacific Northwest. His youngest child, a son named Elmer Ellsworth Heg, was born in February 1861 and was just two years old when his father was killed in the battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863. Elmer went on to achieve a college education, and re-located to Seattle in 1888, becoming a well known physician who specialized in pulmonary diseases. In the early 1900s, he owned a home on Seattle's prestigious First Hill. That property is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The book provides in-depth coverage of the soldiers who served in the Wisconsin 15th regiment, the lives they led in the ranks of the Union Army, and their fates during the war. It also tells of the 111 Union soldiers, born in Norway, who became prisoners of war in the infamous Andersonville prison in Georgia. It provides a list of these men and where they enlisted.

To Each One His Story
Rosholt takes it a step further, and shares individual soldiers' lives with the reader.
"Perhaps more telling than vivid descriptions of battles, or long lists of those who fought and died, are the personal stories of men and women who immigrated to a New World only to be caught up in a civil war unparalleled in history."
Here are the love story of Ole Anderson and Mary Katterud; the life of Ludvig Bjorn, a pastor ordained in Norway; the tale of Knud Hanson, who was drafted in 1863 and died in Andersonville a year later; the story of Jens S. Jensen, who was from Bosque County, Texas and served in the Confederate Army; and many more. The book is also enriched with extracts from diaries, letters, and journals. 

Database Entries
Finally, there is a database of over 10,000 Norwegians who fought in the Civil War. There are fourteen pages of brief synopses that focus on individual soldiers: snapshots of who they were, where they came from, how they served, and where they ended up following the war. From ANDERSON to WROLSTAD, the book shares the story of men who fought hard and long in a war that changed history.

The book 'Ole Goes to War' can be purchased for a very reasonable SALE price of just $5 from Vesterheim. I recommend you add it to your library, if for no other reason than to acknowledge these soldiers who served this country.

What makes this even more desirable is that Vesterheim has maintained on online database where you can search for possible Norwegian and/or Norwegian-American ancestors who served in the Civil War. Norwegians in the Civil War is simple to use. You can even 'just browse,' if you aren't sure what name to look under.

Let me leave you with this. We owe a great deal to the men and women who have made the U.S.A. a place of freedom and possibilities. Our ancestors fought hard and long to make the life we are privileged to live: one that would make them smile.

@ @ @ 

About the Author: Jerry Rosholt
Jerry (Jerome Karlton) Rosholt was born to Carl and Edith (Solem) in January 1923 in Glasgow, Montana. He attended public school in Alexandria, Minnesota, and graduated college in 1948, with a degree in speech and business administration from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His college years were interrupted by World War II, in which he served with the 95th Infantry Division. After graduation, he worked as a news reporter in Philadelphia (WRCV-TV), in New York City (WNBC), and for the Huntley-Brinkley Report, retiring from this role in 1988.

In September 2006, Jerry was awarded the St Olav's medal by King Harald V of Norway "in recognition of [his] great services to Norway, in particular [his] active involvement with the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum on its Civil War project." The medal was presented October 21st, 2006 in Decorah, Iowa, by Norwegian Consul General Rolf Hansen.

My friend Jerry passed away on Friday April 4, 2008 at the age of 85. He was survived by his three sons: Rhys, Dirck and Cort. However, his military service to our country, and his tenacious work on identifying Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans who served their new country, will forever be his legacy. 

Janet Blohm Pultz, 

Vesterheim Executive Director, said this about Jerry's work  

"Historians, genealogists, Civil War buffs, and most of all, Vesterheim, are forever in his debt."

26 May 2013

Admire, Respect & Emulate: my Top Ten

It was during the summer of 1999 that I really began my 'plunge into genealogy and family history'. I had just completed a nine-month leadership development program called Leadership Tomorrow. Prior to this I had been totally immersed in 'life as a member of, and ultimately president of, the Seattle Jaycees.' And prior to that my whole life was 'the American Red Cross.' I was told, by friends and peers, that if I fell and cut myself there would be 'little red crosses' flowing out of my veins.

I'm one of those people who totally and completely immerse themselves in what they are passionate about. When I'm committed to something I give it my all, and then some more.

About five years ago, I took an 'online challenge' called "describe ME in one word...just one single word."  You send that message to your peers and wait for a response. The 'one word' descriptions I received were: caring, seeker, enthusiastic, precise, firecracker, vivacious, breathless, tenacious.

Today I call myself a tenacious freelance historian and writer. 

How I came to this chapter in my life has been a journey--a journey that has brought me in contact with many wonderful individuals I have come to know as guides, tutors, educators, and mentors. Some I have developed a personal friendship with, and others I admire and respect but only know on a professional basis. 

When I reflect on my development as a historian and writer, several of them top my list of heroes. They have helped to develop my passion, my ethics, and my view of life as a human being. I choose this venue as a means to thank them for 'being who they are to me, and to so many others.' Below is a very brief summary for each one, with live links to websites and articles that tell more about their involvement in 21st century Seattle.

MY TOP TEN 'in alphabetical order'

Education Specialist for the National Archives, Seattle
Carol is the educator at the National Archives at Seattle. She develops online and in-person programs in archival research for teachers, college students, family historians and the general public. She holds a master’s degree in American Indian studies from UCLA and a B.A. in elementary education from Western State College of Colorado. [Carol also made my wedding dress.]

Seattle Public Library's genealogy librarian (retired)
Darlene has been the 'go to' person for genealogy at the Seattle Public Library since 1971, and retired in June 2011 after 40 years of amazing and dedicated service. Darlene has assisted over 250,000 people during her tenure, and did so with kindness, congeniality, patience and efficiency. 

Pastor, teacher, and historian
Dennis is Pastor at St. James Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon. [Prior to this Dennis was Pastor of
Bethany Lutheran Church in the Green Lake neighborhood and a resident of Queen Anne Hill, having lived in Seattle since 1973.] Following graduate studies in Germanic languages and literature at the University of Washington and the University of Vienna, Austria, he worked for seven years in charge of photographs and architectural drawings in the Special Collections Division of the University of Washington Libraries.  He graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 1987 and has served as an ELCA pastor ever since. He co-authored with Jeffrey Ochsner Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H.H. Richardson (University of Washington Press, 2004). A frequent writer and lecturer on regional architectural and photographic history, he serves on the Board of Governors of the Book Club of Washington, is an adjunct faculty member of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Partners for Sacred Places, a Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of historic religious structures and their ministries. 

Seattle Public Library's genealogy librarian (current)
John has been on the staff at the Seattle Public Library since 2004, working side-by-side with Darlene Hamilton. He moved to Seattle in 1993 (just one year after I did) and 'discovered the large genealogy collection at SPL and microfilm available at the National Archives.' John has a B.S. in Computer Science and a master's degree in Library and Information Science. He's 1/2 Norwegian on his mother's side, with immigrant ancestors from Vestre Toten, Sondreland & Snertingdal (Gjovik), Oppland Fylke; Hol, Buskerud Fylie; and Sogndal, Son of Fjordane Fylke. He was a guest lecturer at my 2009 Norwegian Genealogy Workshop, and serves with me as an Advisory Board member of the University of Washington Genealogy & Family History Certificate Program.

Journalist, writer and columnist for Crosscut.com
Knute is a Seattle native who writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine, and is the author of Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle, and he is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the Needle's official 50th anniversary history. Knute's paternal grandfather and namesake, Knute, emigrated from Norway in the early 20th century. I gravitate to anything written by Knute, who is, in my opinion, an expert in Seattle social history.

Program Director, Historic Seattle and so much more
One of my all-time-favorite people is my boss - Larry Kreisman. I consider him to be 'the best boss in all the world,' a friend, a mentor, and a role model. To know him is to love him. He has been the Program Director for Historic Seattle since 1997, and has authored over 10 books. Since 1988, he has written regularly on home design for Pacific Northwest, the magazine of the Seattle Times. Larry also served as architectural historian on the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board from 1995 through 2003. In 1997, he was honored with the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer's Award for Outstanding Career Achievement in Historic Preservation. In my book, there is no better authority on the built community in the Pacific Northwest.

Public Historian, MoHAI and author of many books
Lorriane is an amazing public historian who has devoted her professional life to researching and teaching Pacific Northwest history. I've had the privilege to study under Lorraine's tutelage at the University of Washington's Genealogy & Family History Certificate program (2000) and participate twice in her MoHAI Nearby History Seminar for Writers & Researchers (2006 and 2007). In 2011 she published a wonderful book New Land, North of the Columbia. I think Knute Berger said it best in a December 21, 2011 Crosscut.com article Washington history: Boring no more:  "She digs, she thinks, she studies, she writes, she publishes. She also speaks." He then went on to say, "McConaghy shares her love of research with the book's deceptively simple formula: find important documents in the state's history, reproduce them, and then explain what they mean, and why they are important." And, "If McConaghy's book is a reminder of the gold that's in those hills of documents stored in basements and back rooms, it's also a reminder that digging it out serves both the purpose of enlivening history and enlivening an interest in history."

Margaret Anderson 
Librarian, Leif Erikson Sons of Norway Lodge
Margaret was born in 1919 in Ballard, the first child of John and Karen Høines. Her father, Johan Edvart Høines, was a 1904 immigrant fisherman from Skudeneshaven on the south end of Karmøy Island in Rogaland, Norway, north of Bergen.  Margaret’s mother, Karen Nilsen, was raised on the Skeisvold farm at the north end of the same island, and immigrated in 1905. Margaret graduated from Ballard High School and attended Wilson Business College in downtown Seattle. While working at the Ballard branch of Seattle First National Bank in 1941, she met Carl Anderson, a machinist and commercial fisherman. It was then that she joined the Leif Erikson Sons of Norway Lodge, and in 1987 she became the lodge librarian. She has expanded the library to well over 3,000 books and 60 videotapes. In January 2005, I published an article titled Margaret's Library in the Western Viking newspaper. 
--> -->
Photographer, author, and reporter of 'all things Seattle' 
Paul has made it his business to share Seattle's history by telling its stories, using photographs as entry points. Paul may have a point of view, but is most interested in observing and reporting the phenomenon. In 2012 Paul received the Historic Seattle's Award: "Living Landmark". "Paul  has published thirteen books, produced films and video, curated exhibits and lectured widely on the subject of regional history. His work with historic photographs began in 1981 with the publication of 294 Glimpses of Historic Seattle. Since 1982 his “Seattle Now and Then” columns, juxtaposing and interpreting historic and contemporary photographs of Seattle, have appeared weekly in Pacific Northwest, the magazine of the Seattle Times."   Paul's website (www.pauldorpat.com) includes about 100 of his "Seattle Now and Then" columns, plus a digitized version of the 1912 Baist Real Estate Atlas.

 Teacher and author; retired Lead Pastor at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church
I first met Paul in 1996 and have grown to love, respect and admire him. For the past seventeen years he has been the lead pastor at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church on Greenwood Avenue. In 2012 he published a book titled Faith Forming Faith. He genuinely cares about the spiritual education of the members of his congregation, about the people in our community, and about the Christian community worldwide. Phinney Ridge Lutheran has been described as “a model of Christian charity,” using Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop’s phrase. A congregation member once stated, “This is the reason I go to this church. I’m a questioner. And Pastor Paul asks great questions. He doesn’t always answer them. That’s encouraged:  asking questions in faith.” I am also a questioner, and I find comfort in knowing that my pastor is a tenacious charismatic teacher. Paul retired this May (2013), and is now pursuing opportunities to deliver the message of Faith and Font: Following the Way of Christ - Training for Parish Teams, Leaders and Students. 

09 May 2013

Tongue-in-Cheek Travel: 19th-Century Norwegians

Carolyn Merritt, one of our Nearby Norwegians, was delighted to make a recent discovery at Seattle Public Library.  Among other treasures on the shelves, she found a very old travel book:  Norsk, Lapp, and Finn, or Travel -Tracings From the Far North of Europe.  The book was originally published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1881, and it is now in the public copyright domain.  The author, Frank Vincent, Jr. (1848-1916), was an accomplished travel writer.  Some of Vincent's other noteworthy publications are:  The Land of the White Elephant (Southeast Asia; includes the first American impressions of Cambodia), as well as Through and Through the Tropics:  Thirty Thousand Miles of Travel in Oceanica, Australasia, and India.  Well-traveled, indeed.

Cover from Google Books
Carolyn was thrilled to stumble upon a wonderful original source about what life in 19th-century Norway was like.  Even better, it included personal impressions of what the Norwegians themselves were like.  The impressions still may ring true for the reader... if one can stop laughing long enough to realize the chasm between the perspectives of American traveler versus those of indigenous Nordic peoples.  For one thing, carving out a living in the arctic environment of the far north--over centuries of trial and error--formed a particular Nowegian response to daily life.  It was quite different from those of increasingly refined lifestyles in Industrial Age America.  Norwegians became, well, Norwegians, for a reason!

During his journey in the "far north of Europe," our fearless travel writer, Mr. Vincent, did not mince any words describing things just as he saw them.  The following passages from Norsk, Lapp and Finn will either tickle your ancestral fancy or ruffle your cultural feathers... depending.  One thing is for "ja sure, you betcha"--a Norwegian male reading Vincent during his own era would probably have had a good chuckle and knee slap at his own expense.  After that, he would have dismissed Vincent with a politely uttered, "Gudnes, what a stuck-up fellow!"  We leave you to judge the value and intent of Vincent's writings for yourselves.

If it isn't broken, why fix it?

Pgs. 100-101)  If in any sense it were justifiable to compare Norway with the United States, I could but style it a very 'slow' country.  The people do not lack intelligence, but they certainly are wanting in ambition, energy, enterprise and business tact. In many places where the peasants seemed to be greatly suffering from poverty and their alleged inability to get a decent living from the soil, I suggested to them the feasibility of vastly increasing the facilities for reaching the wonderful landscapes of the interior, of building comfortable hotels, of making tracks through the forests to famous waterfalls, and of furnishing better classes of vehicles for traversing the rough mountain roads; for all of which travellers would be only too glad to pay, and which would serve at the same time to greatly increase the amount of foreign travel to the country.  It seemed quite a new thought to them.  They had fish and potatoes to eat, a log hut with one room for a family of a dozen to live in, and homespun clothes which were warm enough for winter and could be exactly graded to the variations of summer temperature by the simple process of removing piece after piece.  Why trouble themselves?  No, indeed, the foreigners who were funny enough, or crazy enough, to scramble over ten miles of rough rock to see a simple stream of water running over a precipice because it had to go somewhere; the tourist who was anxious to drive through a hundred miles of dirt and dust merely to be able to stand at last in the midst of a green valley or at the foot of a mountain glacier, might continue to do so, without any of the luxuries of travel for all they cared.

A snug bed keeps you warm

Pg. 103) The Norwegian houses, mostly built of wood, save in the large towns, are often very attractive in their interiors.  They are furnished as a rule quite plainly, with but few chattels, and before the pretty lace curtains of many sitting-room windows one often sees, from the street, banks of beautiful flowers neatly arranged in porcelain pots.  The floors are either bare or covered with oil-cloth.  Looking-glasses [mirrors] are common, though small.  Beds are merely short and narrow boxes--just about large enough for the doubled-up body of a Peruvian mummy.  The ceilings, which are at the same time the floors of the room overhead, render all words spoken and all movements made above distinctly heard below.  The walls are often made of simple canvas, painted.  This people seem to have no knowledge of ventilation.  In fact, they have a morbid dread of fresh air.  Scarely any provision is made for its admittance into their churches, theatres, houses, or steamers.  And like the Germans and Russians, eight or more persons, all smoking, will sit, on a cold night, in the compartment of a railway carriage with the windows entirely closed...

I haven't a thing to wear!

Pg. 104)  Though the Norwegians surpass the Icelanders with whom there is some propriety in contrasting them, in the comfort of their dwellings, in dress they are rather behind them.  The clothes of both men and women suggest the style of a century ago.  None of them fit, and the contrast of colors is most amusing.  In many of the distantly-rural parts you sometimes, though rarely nowadays, see the picturesque costumes of the peasantry.  This class of the people, for the most part, make their own clothing and shoes.  Their wants are very few and they buy nothing that they can possibly manufacture in their houses or produce on their lands.

Spitting out evil spirits

Pg. 104) ...Like the Danes, the Norwegians are extravagantly polite to each other in the streets.  They are continually removing and replacing their hats.  In a small town where one meets one's acquaintances perhaps a dozen times a day, you may imagine what a nuisance this custom becomes.  Spitting, and without the provocation of either pipe, cigar, chewing tobacco, or even influenza, is a national bad habit.  Like that of the American repeating voters, early and often seems to be their motto...

Excuse me?  Vikings do not lift pinkies at tea time

Pg. 106)  Table manners are at a low ebb in Norway.  Consistency does not seem to be regarded as a jewel.  The same people who bow so very ceremoniously to each other and express sympathy and interest in the veriest trifles of life, and who dance and grimace fully five minutes at an open door before they can determine which shall enter first, are exceedingly ill-bred during meal time.  Their knives wander so far down their throats that one must at least admire their courage, though failing to appreciate its object.  In these feats they rival the professional knife-swallowers of Bombay.  They hold their forks like pens.  Even a four-tined fork is not considered too unwieldy to use as a tooth-pick.

 If you are interested in reading more from Norsk, Lapp, and Finn, it is available as a free e-book.

07 May 2013

Nearby Norwegians in Print - Luci Baker Johnson

The latest issue of Valdres Budstikken (v.43, no.1) contains the first of a two-part article on the life of Thomas O. Stine, written by Luci Baker Johnson.  The Valdres Samband, formed in 1899, is responsible for the publication and is the oldest bygdelag in the country.

Thomas O. Stine
Luci wrote about Thomas Stine in a previous Nearby Norwegians post:  "'Emblem of Freedom':  a Song About Patriotism."    Born as Tosten Østensen, Stine is the author of a major resource for information about Scandinavians living in the Pacific Northwest during the 19th century.  In 1900, he published Scandinavians on the Pacific (Denny-Coryell Company:  Seattle, Washington).  Stine immigrated from Oppland, Norway; not only was he an author, but a farmer, student and teacher, poet and songwriter, and he even took part in the Yukon Gold Rush, among other pursuits.

"Thomas O. Stine" begins with Luci wanting to take the reader on the life journey of Stine, a "bachelor who has gone unnoticed until recently, at least for the past 80 years."  When Scandinavians on the Pacific was first announced in the Seattle Daily Times on March 24, 1900, Stine's writing style was touted as "flexible and graceful, here and there with steeped with rich shades of poetic thought."  Intrigued, Luci quickly became driven to research Stine's history, aiming to give credit where credit was long overdue within the Pacific Northwest Norwegian community.

Luci Baker Johnson
 Luci Baker Johnson, a Nearby Norwegian, is a freelance writer and historian as well as a regional expert in Norwegian-American genealogical research.  She is a frequent contributor to this blog and has a proven passion for research, compiling information, and teaching--continuously serving as an indispensable resource for others.  Congratulations, Luci, on your recent publication!

30 April 2013

It's Time Again for Syttende Mai in Ballard

Lucky Seattleites, you can participate in the...

Syttende Mai at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard

Friday, May 17, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
"Hipp Hipp Hurra for Syttende Mai! Celebrate the 124th anniversary of the 17th of May festival in Ballard! Before watching or marching in the parade, stop by the Museum for family-friendly activities and free admission all day..."

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20 April 2013

Nearby Norwegian receives National Recognition

Chery Kinnick, blogger since August 2006

The following two paragraphs are the first lines of an article thatappeared in the May/June 2013 issue of  

Family Tree Magazine:

"Creating and maintaining an award-winning family history blog takes genealogical savvy, a modicum of technical expertise, a way with words and pictures—and, above all, stick-to-itiveness. That last lesson came home to us as we reviewed past winners and contenders in our annual “Family Tree 40” roundup for this year’s best-blogs list: 
Even a fine blog, alas, can become moribund after a few years, or at least distressingly sparse in its postings.

It’s little wonder that even the best blogs run dry sometimes. The life of a genealogy blogger, after all, can be a constant tug of war between writer’s block and the urge to blog, writing about research and doing research, online life and real life with all its daily demands and distractions."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Carnival of Genealogy
* Meme
* Christmas
* Johnson
* Winje
* family history
* Advent calendar
* genealogy
* Norway            

Family Tree Magazine, "America’s #1 family history magazine, is the leading how-to publication for those who want to discover, preserve and celebrate their roots." The first issue came out in January 2000, and it is now published six times a year with a paid circulation of about 70,000.

This year the 40 blogs were subdivided into these categories:
  • Good Advice ..... When someone has been there and lived to tell about it (in the form of a blog post), it makes your research a bit easier.
  • Tech Support ..... Thank goodness for these savvy bloggers, who guide you to the best family tree tools for your search.
  • Gravestone Matters ..... These genealogists have a special way of helping us appreciate cemeteries for the genealogical haven.
  • Heritage Help .....These genealogists excel at sharing their ethnic roots research in informative, inspiring ways. (This is the category for which Chery's blog was recognized.)
  • Shop Talk ..... Keeping up with genealogy news and resources can be a job unto itself.
  • Story Time..... The family tales of these bloggers engage us with words and images, and offer useful bits of research wisdom.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

N O R D I C   B L U E

Chery began her blog, NORDIC BLUE, in August of 2006. She was inspired by footnoteMaven* 'during hobnobbing across the table at our Nearby History writing seminar.' Her blog is an inspiration to all of us, regardless of our ethnic heritage. She's an amazing story teller who supports all of her findings, with solid genealogical and historical research using primary and secondary sources. Her tenacity is to be admired. In April of 2008 she published her 100th blog entry!  Celebrating 100 Posts & An Announcement.

However, she didn't stop there!  She has continued blogging and is nearing the milestone of her 200th blog entry, which I'm sure she will accomplish sometime this year (2013).

She is also the one who actually started THIS blog! Our first posting in late 2008 was hers, and she's been a regular ever since. Chery is passionate and tenacious in researching, documenting and writing about all things Norwegian-American. It has been my pleasure and honor to associate with this woman, historian, and fellow writer.

Congratulations Chery! 

11 March 2013

Online Norwegian Newspaper Research

Foreign Language Press Survey

Its purpose was to translate into English and classify selected news articles appearing in the Chicago area foreign language press from 1861 to 1938.   
"The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey is a collection of translations of newspaper articles originally published in Chicago's ethnic press between the 1860s and the 1930s. The Chicago Public Library administered the project that created this collection in the 1930s, with funding from the U.S. Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). 
The Press Survey was one of many initiatives during the Great Depression that employed Americans to document and enrich national culture. 
"Translators and editors organized nearly 50,000 articles from 22 ethnic groups according to a hierarchical subject scheme created for the project. In total, the Survey produced approximately 120,000 sheets of typescript. The paper sheets are now cared for in the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago, and several institutions hold copies of the microfilm. The Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign digitized its microfilm copy and contributed the files to the Internet Archive. In 2009 the Newberry Library received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a new digital transcription of the Survey.

The 1930s project intended to offer English-speaking researchers and students access to primary materials on ethnicity and urban life in one of America's great polyglot cities during a formative span of its history. 
"In subsequent decades the Survey has been invaluable to scholars and students of Chicago history, and it has been used effectively in high school and college classrooms. This digital collection is intended to provide broader and better organized access than has been possible with paper and microfilm. The Survey translations have considerable value for teaching and research in immigration studies, urban history, the history of popular culture, and many other fields."
(The above wording comes directly from the Foreign Language Press Survey web site. The live links and reformatting of the text are my reinterpretation of the content.)

 What does this have to do with Norwegian-Americans?

The serendipity of random Google searches can lead you to some interesting, previously unknown, web sites. This was the scenario for my locating this online database. It's a bit unusual in that it's a digitization of a transcription initiative that occurred over 80 years ago. It makes the result of WPA workers' tenacious hard work accessible to researchers of the 21st century.  

I've spent some time on the website, which contains collections from 21 different ethic groups, such as Chinese, Italian, Polish, Croatian, and Russian. One of the ethnic groups is Norwegian. The collection holds transcriptions from one journal, five books and eleven newspapers. Below is a list of these items. I've provided a bit of annotation beyond what is available on the website, including live links to  descriptions of the Norwegian newspapers.
  • [newspaper] Chicago Record-Herald (a daily published in Chicago, 1901-1914)
  • [newspaper] Chicago Times
  • [newspaper] Chicago Tribune
  • [newspaper] Dansk Tidende og Revyen (a Chicago weekly from 1921-31, published in Danish)
  • [newspaper] Illinois Staats-Zeitung (a German weekly published in Chicago, 1848-1922)
  • [newspaper] Revyen (a weekly published in Chicago, 189?-1921)
  • [newspaper] Scandia (a weekly published in Chicago, 1867-1???)
  • [newspaper] Skandinaven (a semiweekly published in Chicago, 1866-1941)
  • [newspaper] Svenska Kuriren (a weekly published in Chicago in Swedish, 18??-1929)
  • [newspaper] Svenska Nyheter (a weekly published in Chicago in Swedish, 1901-1906)
  • [newspaper] Svenska Tribunen-Nyheter (a weekly published in Chicago in Swedish, 1906-1936)
  • Norwegian American Technical Journal (published in Chicago in English, 1928-1967)
  • [book] A History of the Norwegians of Illinois, A. E. Strand, 1905
  • [book] History of Norwegians of Illinois
  • [book] History of the Norwegian People in America, Olaf Morgan Norlie, 1925
  • [book] Life Story of Rasmus B. Anderson, Rasmus B. Anderson, 1915
  • [book] Norwegian Sailors on the Great Lakes, by Knut Gjersit by NAHA, 1928
The Skandinaven was one of the oldest and longest-lasting of the newspapers. It was established by three Norwegian immigrants:  John Anderson, Knud Langeland and Iver Lawson. The Library of Congress has microfilm of this newspaper in its collection. You can also find it at three historical societies (Wisconsin, North Dakota, and New York), and at Luther College and Harvard University. But if you don't have access to these institutions, the Foreign Language Press is the next best thing. Not everything has been transcribed, but it's a beginning, and it will make you anxious to see more. 

If you choose to explore this resource, I would be most interested in hearing about what you find. Please post your feedback and comments below. 

08 March 2013

The Seattle Sunday Times: May 26, 1901 (#1)

Here is an example of what you would find when reading the newspaper column: Normannaheimen This is a transcription of what appeared: spelling, grammar, and verbiage exactly as it appeared. I've placed nouns in bold text to make for easier reading. 


The Seattle Sunday Times, May 26, 1901

The rush for Alaska is something abnormal, and of these myriads of gold seekers, Scandinavians constitute a large percentage. Cohorts of Swedes, Norwegians and Danes have arrived in Seattle the last three days from the gloomy prairies of the East. Some are bound for Cape Nome, others are trying to compromise with their ideas for new fields.

Miss Anna and Emma Yngve and Mrs.Lizzie Carlson returned to the city Wednesday from Cedarhome, where they attended the funeral of their father, E. O. Yngve, who died from heart disease a week ago. Mr. Yngve was born in Sweden and has been one of the foremost citizens of Cedarhome for years.

B. K. Salverson, cashier of the Citizens’ Bank in Appelton, Minn., has also tried his hand at journalism. A few months ago he started to issue the Appelton Tribune, shortly after the bank failed, and Mr. Salverson found himself in a cark cell trying to scrape together his senses.

People talk so much of Scandinavian authors, Ibsen and Bjornson seem to hang on the tongue of every Norwegians reader. True, they are eminent writers, but Wergeland was not their inferior. He was the Byron of the North, Norway’s darling, a poetic genius, an original thinker.

“In unity there is strength.” Why can’t the Scandinavians work in harmony? A number of Scandinavian literary societies have sprung into existence the last two decades, but many of them have withered like the dew before the morning sunbeams. It is now afloat that a Scandinavian literary society is to be launched in the city, and it would be well if Norwegians, Swedes and Danes could come together like brothers and sisters and build a monument of literary worth.

Eugene Chilberg left for Nome on the Ohio Thursday. For years he has been working in his father’s bank, but for a short change he chose the North, being employed as chief clerk by the Pioneer Mining Company, one of the wealthiest concerns of Nome.

Mrs. Julian Blaker embarked on the City of Seattle Wednesday evening for Dawson, where her husband is interested in mining pursuits.

T. Ramsey, a pioneer of Stanwood county, stepped aboard a car on the Great Northern Wednesday, 8 p.m., for his native soil in Norway. As the trail rolled along he shouted, “I’ll return in a year to die beneath the Stars and Stripes.”

Peter Legue, ex-county auditor of Snohomish county, stated to a friend the other day that he would not accept the nomination of state senator at the coming Republic convention.

The rumor is current that Mr. G. Anderson is about to start, Norwegian-Danish weekly in Seattle. Mr. Anderson has been secretary and general correspondent of the Tacoma Tidende for some time, with office in this city.

Ole Finnoy, formerly of Seattle, has written his friends that Alaska is all right. He is a mechanic by trade and has found lucrative employment in the frozen territory.

B. H. Miller and Martin Christenson left Friday evening for Alaska. They are going via Skagway with their thoughts focused on some field yet untrodden by prospectors.

Ernest Skarstedt, the well-known Swedish-American author, is expected in Seattle in the near future.

Miss Olga Prestlien, who has presided in Seattle for some months, was called to her former home at Silvana the other day on account of her mother’s illness.

C. V. Lindberg, once editor of Vestra Posten, has located on a pleasant piece of ground at Brownsville. He is gifted as a humorous writer, and the romantic feature of the country will undoubtedly yield to his pen.

L. O. Stubb, a prosperous farmer in the Stillaguamish Valley, was in Seattle on business Wednesday.

C. M. Thuland has abandoned the so-called law practice in Seattle and steered his lot to the gold fields in Alaska. He sailed on the Ohio for Cape Nome Thursday.

The Norwegian poet, Kristofer Janson, is sowing his thoughts broadcast in Denmark. Not long ago Rev. Uffe Birkedal saw the light through another pair of glasses. Janson was called for and a free church popped into existence. The poet scattered flowery words to the people who soon commenced to see the star in an unwont horizon.

Prof. Theodor S. Reimstad has written, a soul-stirring song, “Hjem’ til Norge,” which he has dedicated to the Viking Company, now en route for Norway.

News has reached this country that old Rev. Deinboll of Bergen is dead. He was born in 1810 and up to his death was healthy and vigorous.

According to report from Harmar, Norway, the sale of liquor has decreased the last two years twenty per cent.

The Baltic had a large gathering last Saturday evening, and the status of the lodge is prognostic of healthy work.

A. B. Klaeboe, the pioneer druggist of Juneau, Alaska, has been doing considerable business in Seattle the last few days. It is Mr. Klaboe’s intention to start a drug store at Stanwood.


Digging for 'gold nuggets' in historical newspapers, specifically The Seattle Daily Times

Generally speaking, our ancestors did not live isolated lives. When they came to America, they gravitated to communities where there were other Norwegians: Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and yes, Washington. Washington may have been the primary destination for some, but often it was the goal of a second migration from the Midwest. They came in search of more land and new opportunities, and sometimes even for the prospect of finding GOLD. 

The key to immigration or second migration, either one, was communication. Immigrants sent and received numerous letters across the ocean and over the great plains. These letters contained encouraging words and sometimes pleas of homesickness. But often the 'news-print' reached for and read around the hearth of the immigrant home was the newspaper. That could be the neighborhood news gazette, or it could be the weekly Norwegian newspaper, like the Washington Posten, with its first issue published in Seattle on May 17, 1889. Equally important, however, was the newspaper of their newly adopted country. In this region that would be the The Seattle Daily Times.
The Seattle Times originated as the Seattle Press-Times, a four-page newspaper founded in 1891 with a daily circulation of 3,500. Alden J. Blethen bought the newspaper in 1896 and renamed it Seattle Daily Times.
Within the newspaper you find numerous features: news, business, sports, society, and local. In many newspapers you also find, near the back of the paper, a section dedicated to neighborhood news. In The Seattle Daily Times you would find columns from Ballard ('Ballard Notes'), Fremont, Redmond, West Seattle, and many other neighborhoods. The newspaper hired individuals to solicit, gather and report news from the various neighborhoods. Each such person was a neighborhood correspondent:
Correspondent (noun) a person employed to report for a newspaper or broadcasting organization, typically on a particular subject or from a particular country. 
In this region, the The Seattle Daily Times had an additional correspondent whose focus wasn't on a region or neighborhood, but on an immigrant heritage. Thomas O. Stine was hired by The Seattle Daily Times to establish the Normannaheimen column, which reported news of interest to Scandinavian-Americans. It first appeared on May 26, 1901 (page 9), using the first graphic (see right) as its column banner. The exact title of the column changed over the years, as did the format and style of the banner. To the right are images of the various column banners that I've found. These are some of the column titles that were used:

  • Sons of Scandia
  • Sons of Norway and Sweden 
  • Sons of Scandia Countries

In the June 29th, 1902 edition of The Seattle Sunday Times, the following notice appeared on page 36.
"All Scandinavian news intended for publication in the Sunday Times should be mailed to Thomas O. Stine, P.O. Box 599, or 1911 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, Wash. News otherwise directed may be mislaid and get too old for publication."
Stine, and others who followed in his footsteps, wrote for a particular audience: the Scandinavians who lived in the region. The information contained in the column varied widely, but typically included items like these:

  • the comings and goings of individuals, listed by name
  • new business ventures established; businesses bought and sold
  • news about what was happening in Norway (or Sweden, etc.)
  • talk about Scandinavians who went to Alaska in search of gold
  • talk of politics, who was or was not running for a public office
  • the arrival of public figures: authors, religious figures, politicians
  • births, marriages and deaths of Scandinavians, both locally and abroad
  • announcements about various Scandinavian societies
  • church news and announcements  
The correspondent might also include his own 'editorial commentary' about a particular issue, or publish a statement from someone within the community. Sometimes the person was named, and in other cases it was left up to the reader to ascertain the author.

I would encourage you to spend a little time time exploring The Historic Seattle Daily Times, 1900-1984. You can access it online at the Seattle Public Library (SPL), by going to (1) Articles and Research, then (2) Genealogy, then (3) The Historic Seattle Daily Times, 1900-1984. You can do all of this from the comfort of your home if you have a SPL library card. This resource is made possible through a generous grant from The Seattle Public Library Foundation.


What makes these newspapers even more accessible today is computer technology and a software program often referred to as OCR.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text.
Companies and organizations have been running original or microfilm copies of historic newspapers through an OCR process, to digitize them and make them more readily accessible to the public. The OCR program does this by dividing each individual page into elements such as blocks of text, table, images, and so on. Lines are divided into words, and then into characters. Once the characters have been singled out, the program compares each of them with a set of pattern images stored in its database. It analyzes each stroke edge, the lines between the text characters, and the background. The software then makes a 'best guess decision' on what each character is. The resulting transcribed text is loaded into an 'everyword index', which contains almost every word. The index is then searchable by a 'search engine,' which makes it possible for you use a 'keyword search' to find archived pages that have particular words on them. 


I would like to pass along a couple pieces of advice for when you use a search engine to look for items in a digitally archived newspaper:
  1. Fancy Graphics and Pictures. If you type the word 'n-o-r-m-a-n-n-a-h-e-i-m-e-n' into a search engine, it won't provide results from the first image on this page. The OCR process does not detect graphics or other images - only characters (letters and numbers). So this column banner itself would not appear among your finds. A reference to 'normannaheimen' in the text of the column (or in the text of another article) would show up in the search results, however.
  2. Not all of the issues are available in this database -- some are missing. For example, in 1900 there are NO Sunday editions of the newspaper. Also, it only has one issue (December 22nd) between October 30 and December 31st. In 1901 there are only three issues of the Sunday edition: May 26, July 28, and September 8. It isn't until February 9th, 1902 that the Sunday edition begins to appear regularly in the archive.
  3. Begin with a broad search. You'll want to begin your search broadly, instead of with an individual's full name. If you get too many results, you can always narrow the search. Suggestions for searchable words include surnames, the name of a club or association, the name of a community (such as Cedarhome), or the name of a church.
  4. Be patient and give yourself permission to read the other items on the page. They often provide context for your search, and they sometimes lead to serendipitous finds. On a page that had a worn or damaged original, the OCR software might have misread "Cedarhome" as "Cederhome", for example, but your eye would find it (on a page turned up by a different search) where a literal search on "Cedarhome" by the software would not.
  5. Printing. If you decide to print out something you found, be sure to note the publication name, the date, and the page number where you found the piece, right on the print-out itself. I promise you, you won't regret this step, as you may want to refer back to the source sometime in the future.
To get you started, here are some dates and page numbers where you will find the SONS OF SCANDIA column. In future postings I hope to share some of what I've found in these columns. It can be quite exciting to think that you are now reading what your ancestors read over 100 years ago.

October 12, 1901, p. 13

January 18, 1902, p. 21

June 8, 1902, page 31

May 15, 1903, page 31

December 20, 1903, page 53

July 24, 1904, page 20

03 March 2013

Scandinavian [Lutheran] Cemetery on the Snohomish / Skagit County line

This past week I did a friend a favor that took me outside my normal routine. In fact, it took me 50 miles north of my home in Seattle, to back roads I hadn't traveled before, on the outskirts of Stanwood, Washington. I enjoy the serendipity that can occur when one is 'out and about in a new neighborhood' like this, so I decided to do a little exploring. Driving north on Cedarhome Road, I found myself at the north edge of Snohomish County, on the border it shares with Skagit County. I had come to the end of the road, and needed to turn right or left. I chose left. Within about 500 feet I saw a sign on the right hand side of the road: Scandinavian Cemetery.

I just had to stop and check it out!  

It wasn't a large cemetery; in fact, it was on the small side. The sign was the only indication that the cemetery even existed. You had to drive on the grass between two farms to get to the entrance about 200 feet back. I stopped the car, and spent about an hour walking around the cemetery, taking pictures and musing about the fact that I had found this simple treasure.

When I returned home, I went online and learned more about this 'simple treasure'.


ESTABLISHED:   Circa 1907

HISTORICAL NOTE:   Milltown Lutheran Church was located on the site of the Scandinavian Lutheran Cemetery.  The church was torn down many years ago and its congregation split between Fir-Conway, Our Savior's and Freeborn Lutheran Churches.  This cemetery is also sometimes referred to as Milltown Lutheran Cemetery.  – "Passport to the Past", by Stanwood Area Historical Society and Lincoln Hill High School.

DIRECTIONS:  From Interstate 5 (north or south), take exit #215.  Go west onto 300th St. Turn immediately right onto Old Highway 99. Turn immediately left onto 300th  St. Continue on 300th St for 2.4 miles to 4-way-stop. Turn right onto 68th Ave NW (a.k.a. Cedarhome Road). Follow for 2 miles to stop sign. Turn left onto County Line Road and proceed 0.2 miles. Cemetery is on right hand side. The drive into the cemetery goes between two fenced farms, back a short way off the main road.
CONTACT: Fir-Conway Lutheran Church 360-445-5396 
I then went on www.findagrave.com and did a little more exploring. I extracted the following surnames found in the cemetery. I also went through my photos and uploaded about a dozen more headstone photos that I had taken, and which were not already on the website. There were about 100 headstone photos on the website, and about 200 graves total. (This was the first time I had ever uploaded any photos to this site. It was easy, and the immediate gratification was a plus.)
SURNAMES:  Barden, Bransmo, Brevik, Bustad, Chappel, Coss, Dahl, Ekrem, Evensen, Falling, Flones, Fluke, Glade, Hanson, Haugen, Haugen-Kvalem, Jemmingsen, Hendershot, Imislund, Kvalem, Larson, Leed, Lund, Melley, Nordahl, Nyquist, Odegard, O’Neal, Paulson, Peep, Petersen, Reines, Robertson, Wobertson-Wimmer, Rued, Sater, Seabury, Slater, Smock, Strom, Vaara, Visten, Walter, and Zoberst.

The rest of the Story...

As I was exploring the cemetery online, I made an unexpected discovery. I found a recipe for Hardanger lefse and a Seattle Times newspaper article written in 2004 by a friend of mine, staff reporter Nancy Bartley. I guess you could say, 'It pays to get snoopy.'

I was randomly clicking on the various 'names of the deceased' on the www.findagrave.com, and clicked on one for THORA ROMOLA BUSTAD SEABURY. She was born in 1923, and passed away in February 2007, almost six years before the date of my visit. When I got to the page, there she was in a photo with a friend, each of them holding a lefse rolling pin. Below this picture was another one, this one of a recipe for Romola Seabury's Hardanger Lefse.  What a delightful surprise!  

As I sought to get a closer look at Romola's photo, I stumbled upon the text of Nancy's Seattle Times newspaper article, which was published on Wednesday, December 22, 2004. The title of the article was Passing Down Tastes of Beloved Norway, and the full article had been uploaded to the find-a-grave website! 

I did a little more digging, and found the obituary for Romola Seabury that had been published in the Stanwood / Camano News on March 7th, 2007.  So I copied it, and posted it to the find-a-grave website as well.  I also found that her husband, Harold W. Seabury, had passed away just three months later, on May 12, 2007.

Why? Just because. :)

I went meandering, and came away with a few good nuggets of discovery.  I 'gave back' by taking some photos and posting them on a website. I got a new Hardanger lefse recipe. I got a history lesson. And hopefully, I made someone smile today.