For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Day My World Changed

The morning of November 29, 2009 began as most of my mornings do; sharing a hot cup of coffee, with my husband, and arguing as to whose turn it was to go out in the cold and get the Sunday paper. We chatted about how great our Thanksgiving had been and how good the turkey came out this year.  We laughed about how silly everyone looked playing the Wii games that day, and how much fun they all had. Then the rest of the day we just did our own thing.  I worked on some things on the computer and Darrell, of course, watched every football game that was on.

When I woke that morning I had a clear picture of who I was as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a step-mom and a grandma. By that evening, my clarity would change dramatically and my world would change forever. For you see my role as wife changed to widow.  Who is this “widow” person? I didn't know her and I definitely didn't want to be “her”.  I couldn't breath. – I can't accept this! – It can't be happening! – Why now?– Why! Why! Why? I just wanted to run away.

The unrelenting sorrow and pain that followed the death of my husband, my best friend, seemed more than I could ever bear at times. The perpetual gray skies of that winter dragged on
and I felt a sense of hopelessness that I have never felt before. Tears flowed in an endless stream of grief and despair. Every night I begged God to please wake me from this dreadful dream.
With each step I took in the mornings there would be hope that he would be there; playing
solitaire as he always did and asking me for a cup of coffee. But, he wasn't there.  Despair
would settle over my body like blowing snow – cold and blinding. I was lost and alone, shrouded in a heavy black veil where there was only darkness.

In the darkness I prayed for help. The prayer barely passing my lips when I could feel the strong comforting arms of God wrapped around me. He rocked me in His arms and let me cry myself to sleep. Night after night I called to Him for strength and always He would come. I could hear Him:  Shh, shh, shh, I'm here, it's going to be alright.

In a few days a year will have passed since that night. The gray dark days of that winter gave way to spring and the blossoming of summer. Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and soon Christmas will be here. I'm still working through my sorrow, but, I have lifted the veil so that I can see the beauty of the life before me. I'm finding my way through the thorns and rediscovering my dreams and hopes for the future. Every day I reach up for God's hand and he guides me. – Some days He has to do a lot of pushing and pulling, but He is always there. At night God still wraps his arms around me and rocks me to sleep and I hear him: Shh, shh, shh, I'm here, it's going to be alright.......

(this post original from: The Next Chapter - Page 2010 )

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Mystical Power of a Treasure - Can you let it go?

This is been a tough year for me and many of my Geneablogger friends. I don't recall who it was of my Facebook Friends that declared it the “Summer of Sorrow”, but, they sure had an appropriate name for the Summer of 2010. For a while it seemed as though everyone was suffering through the passing of a loved one, whether it was a spouse, parent or close relative, it just seemed to be continual. Personally I don't like the word “loss” because you really haven't “lost” them, to me that means they can be found. Condolences and how to offer them is a subject for another time, so I will drop that for now.

I enjoy reading all the blogs about inherited or found family treasures, don't you? Sometimes I feel just a “tad” jealous, OK maybe a little more than a “tad bit”, that some seem to continually to be gifted with family heirlooms and others have nothing from their ancestors. This summer we have been moving my parents into an assisted living patio home. In doing so my folks have had to part with many of their personal treasures. Treasures collected over the 68 years of marriage. I think it was bitter sweet, especially for my Mom. I know it had to be hard to give up things that held special memories. I had asked if I could have the set of Tiffany wine glasses that graced her china hutch as long as I can remember. They are very delicate with tiny roses etched on them and they hold a memory of a special day. The wine glasses had been purchased with money given to them on their wedding day by my Dad's parents. Believe it or not, I even have the canceled check that Grandpa wrote for $17 , and marked “Wedding Gift for George and Lucille”. (How's that for citing a source? Ha ha – a little genealogy humor.) I loved my Mom's attitude about parting with her treasures. She said: “I can still enjoy seeing them in your china hutch.” Today the wine glasses gracefully sit on the top shelf of my china hutch and every time I look at them I'm reminded of my parents as a young couple picking out something really special with their wedding money.
There seems to be something mystical in holding an heirloom. Just knowing that 50 or more years ago an ancestor held and used that item seems to give us a physical connection to that person. I have a few handmade quilts made by my grandmother, when I wrap them around me somehow I can feel her. After all she spent hour after hour with the quilt in her lap as she sewed each square, so surely some part of her remains. The real treasure was Grandma herself, but I think we all cling to the things we can still see and touch every day,

It's wonderful when you are on the receiving end, but, can you let go of your treasure? Take a long hard look at the treasures you have surrounded yourself with in your own home. Can you picture them gone? If your spouse were to die would you be able to part with his or her family heirlooms?

Join me tomorrow as I share the pain and joy of parting with my husbands family treasures.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Hildreth, NE

Just playing around with photoshop - trying out something different.  This is a photo of the main street in Hildreth, Nebraska as it looks today blended with
an old photo of the same street.....  Fun....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Let me be five again!

This Sunday I'm feeling a gentle sadness in my heart for the days that were and will never be again. Those hot summer days in Bedford, Massachusetts were full of adventure, especially when you're 5 years old. When I close my eyes I can picture the woods behind the house. There was cool, soft moss growing around the big trees, Lilly of the Valley scattered in bunches and blueberry bushes by the cabillions! My friend Cece and I would venture behind our duplex to the creek in search of tadpoles, there were so many you could just scoop them up in a jar. With a child's imagination the woods are a wonderful place to pretend in. I think they were much like where Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men may have lived. Or possibly where Sleeping Beauty may have slept waiting for Prince Charming to kiss her and save her from the Evil Step-Mother's spell.

When we moved to our new home on Hanscom Air Force Base, there was a playground with swings! Oh those glorious swings how I loved them. We would sing and swing, higher, higher and higher, until we were high enough to go over the top, sometimes more than once. (Don't tell Mom!) One time, some of us kids got the idea it would be fun to put on a show, just like they did in Spanky and Our Gang. We each came up with our own little parts, thinking back I'm sure it was just silliness, but, oh we had so much fun. We would dress up in clothes and high heels, borrowed from our Mom's closet. I don't remember if we asked first, maybe better keep that quiet. We would pool our nickels and pennies and go to the PX and buy “Fizzies” and candy for our audience. I don't recall if we charged for them, but really what's a play without snacks?
Do you remember “Fizzies”?

If I could pick just one year from my youth it would be the year I was 5. By the time you're five you're really too big for naps any more. You also know that a tuna fish sandwich tastes much better when the crust is cut off and the bread is cut in triangles. You know that milk is more fun to drink through a straw, especially if you know how to blow bubbles with it, and Mom doesn't catch you. You're not to big to be carried to bed on Dad's shoulders. And best of all – next year you get to go to school, just like your big brothers! Yep, I'd sure love to spend the day in 1957.

Thanks for indulging my little trip back to the olden days........

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Will We Have to go Dumpster Diving for Our Records?

Facebook was buzzing this morning about a recent article in the Mormon Times written by Michael De Groote. Mr. De Grotte was reporting on a recent speech made by Curt B. Witcher at the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Mr. Witcher states that many court houses are reducing the volumes of old records by taking a sample of each collection and destroying the rest. He also states that “We have left the care of our written records largely in the hands of disinterested strangers.” I don’t know about you, but I found this very disturbing news. This is also happening in our libraries where many of us have done research. Do you think this is as serious as the burning of books? Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but who decides what is worth keeping? Is it the records of the well known people who are being kept and the ordinary person’s records being hauled to the dumpster? I know how disappointed I would have been, after traveling to Nebraska this summer to research some of my ancestors, only to find out that those records had been destroyed because they “didn’t make the cut”. I don’t know the answer to the ever growing storage problem of these records and the massive, almost incomprehensible, job it would be to digitize them all, but I do know that to destroy them would mean that we could be destroying the very history of our families.

Mr. Witcher asks the question: “Who is writing letters anymore? When was the last time you received a written letter?” I must admit I haven’t written any letters since I got on the internet, nor have I received any in the mail. Oh, yes occasionally someone will send a card with a small note in it and I do the same. Even when I have mailed a letter I find it faster to type it rather than hand writing it. Even most emails I receive are jokes or emails that have been forwarded over and over, so how are we communicating these days? How are we sharing our lives in this world of the quick and easy?

Mr. Witcher also seems to be stressing the importance that we all need to take the responsibility to record our living history and suggests we all, “Write as you’ve never written before.” And to share the information with our families so that it is not lost to the future. I think that’s why I feel such an urgency to learn my own family history and to share it with the next generation. I want to make sure that the children born in my family in the next 10 generations know about their ancestors.

“We have an awesome responsibility ahead of us," Witcher said. "In so many ways, we have history in our hands. What are we going to do with it? If we wait, if we relegate for someone else to take care of, we are endangering that history — that history may be lost." (copied from Mr. De Grotte’s article.)


You can read Michael De Grotte’s full article here:
"The Coming Genealogical Dark Ages", by Michael De Grotte

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Scrapbooking Your Family History" - 96th Edition of the COG

“Scrapbooking Your Family History” is the theme for the 96th Edition of the COG. See Jasia's blog at "Creative Gene" for all the details. Submissions are due by August 1st and only 30 submissions will be accepted.

I had a chance to find and visit the locations where some of my Habben family had homesteads in the late 1800's, near Gurley, Nebraska, in June. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of their presence as I walked the gravel road by what once had been their home. I had similar feelings while I worked on a family history book in 2008/2009.

In my submission for the 96th Edition of the COG, I have tried to capture my feelings that day. My scrapbook page was made using a picture I took of their homestead as it appears today for my background. I could imagine them working the land with a wooded plow and a horse. To represent that I added an illustration of a man and child working the farm. I faded from black and white into color to show the past coming to the future. In the upper left corner are the photographs of my ancestors who lived on this land. I faded them into the clouds to show their presence with me that day and yet unreachable.

I hope you enjoy my submission and have a sense of the joy I felt that day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - William & Kathryn Nelck

While on my Nebraska Adventure I stopped at the Sidney Library to check out their genealogy resources. I had read on their website that they had a good collection of historical information so I was anxious to see it. Although the room was rather small and no air conditioning, I'm glad I stuck it out because I did find some interesting and unexpected information on the Nelck brothers. After going through the cemetery books, that someone painstakingly had put together, I happened along the names of Fred Nelks brothers, Charles and William. To my surprise they had all had homesteads in Cheyenne County. Charles and William both remained in the Sidney area and Fred left in 1899 for Welcome, Minnesota. Fred Nelk was married to my great grandfather's cousin Tena (Habben) so they were my primary research subject. Next time I will be more prepared to look into the lives of in-law relations. Something interesting and unexplained is why the brothers used different spellings for their last name. Charles and William both spelled their last name - “Nelck”, while Fred used the spelling “Nelk”. After some digging it appears that the German spelling may have been “Nilk”, according to Charles birth certificate. Sure makes researching a fun game! 

For this weeks “Tombstone Tuesday” I present William and Kathryn (Shelley) Nelck. William and Kathryn were married in 1897. They never had any biological children, but did adopt two daughters according to some of their nieces. One daughter, Vera Grace died young at the age of 18 and is buried next to her father. In 1900 (according to the census) William, Kathryn, Charles and Emma were living together on the homestead they owned jointly. From a plat map, that I found from 1913, it appears that the two brothers owned one (160 acres) section together and each owned another section individually. So they were farming 480 acres together at that time. I also learned from the plat map that their homestead was west of the homestead that Fred and Tena had owned until 1900.

Kathryn (Shelley) Nelck raised canaries and lived to the age of 92.
William died in 1936 at the age of 68.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sentimental Sunday -Happy 4th of July

My Great Grandpa, Rolf Habben's car decorated to the max for the 4th of July celebration in Hildreth, Nebraska.  Early 1900's

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"You Want to Move Where?" - Traveling Back In time -

 As I drive East on Road 46 from Gurley to the Nelk and Habben Homesteads I somehow felt transported back to the days when this young family may have traveled to town for supplies in their wagon. I purposely drive slowly during the 7 mile trip from the junction of Hwy 385 and Road 46, so that I can take in what they would have seen. With the exception of the few homes I see along the way, I’m sure that not much has changed in this area since it was first settled. As I pass Road 125 a hawk swoops down in front of my Durango and catches a small rabbit alongside the road, poor rabbit. The main crops I see are corn and grain. Today these fields are irrigated with large sprinkling systems but when the Nelk’s and Habben’s lived here they would have had to depend on the rain to water their crops.

 Approaching the crossroads of Road 46 and Road 127, I feel excited to see this land where my ancestors had lived. I look across the fields and in my mind I can make out the faint outline of a man working behind a team of horses pulling a plow. The day is hot but there is a slight breeze blowing. The Nelk farm is planted with grain and the gentle blowing of the wind makes it appear as ripples in the water.

The Habben farm is at rest but there are remnants of corn stalks possibly from last year’s crop. The old soddies are gone and there is no evidence left of the family’s existence here. Due to the drought Fred was often gone for periods of time delivery mail and supplies by wagon between Sidney and the various towns in the area. According to the stories Fred told his grandchildren, he worked for Buffalo Bill Cody, delivery the payroll for the men who were building “Rest Ranch” in North Platte, Nebraska.

As I walk down the road I get a sense of the loneliness that Tena may have felt here in isolation for days on end. Tena told her children that she would climb up to the perch on the windmill and play her accordion or harmonica to pass the hours.

Although I was alone, I could feel the presence of these ancestors by my side as I viewed this small part of their lives. It was the same feeling I had as I wrote my book “Searching”. They seemed to enter my office one by one and became a part of my life. In the end it was difficult to finally say the book was done because it seemed to mean a farewell that I was not prepared to make. As each person’s story was completed they left until I was once again alone.

It may be a romantic view of things or wishful thinking but, I was glad to once again feel their presence with me as I stood on the land they once called home.

"You Want to Move Where?" - The Document - Continued

I do understand that not every person is as enthralled by family research as I, but, it is hard to imagine that even the most disinterested person wouldn’t be impressed by these Land Patent documents. The Land Patent was signed by the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, by F.M. McKean, Secretary, C.H. Brush – Recorder for the General Land Office. Bonnie had another document that she had found and brought out another book for me to ogle at. That document was a two page hand written document called a “Warranty Deed”. The deed had been prepared in Cheyenne County, Nebraska for the sale of the Nelk homestead in 1900 to a John Hinrichs for the price of $225.00 ($1.41 per acre). I visited with a local Sidney farmer, Bob Poppen, who indicated to me that that same land is worth well over $100,000 in today’s market. (Just a side note to my fellow Geneabloggers: I was not required to wear any special gloves to handle the documents, but I was very cautious to do no damage and limited by handling of the document.) Looking over the land records for the Nelk homestead it appears that this land was owned by various Hinrichs family members through the years until about 8 years ago.

As I wrapped up my visit to the court house Bonnie asked if there were any marriages that may have taken place in the county. I knew that Fred and Tena Nelk had been married in Franklin County so I did not expect that any other family would appear in the marriage records. To my surprise the Marriage License of Fred’s brother Charles Nelk and Emma Shelley had taken place in Cheyenne County.

The biggest surprise came when I pulled out the papers I had brought on the Rolf Habben homestead and asked if she could help me locate where his land had been. I was shocked to discover that the Nelk and Habben homesteads were adjacent to each other at the crossroads of Rd 127 and Rd 46, which is
7 miles east of Gurley, Nebraska.
Rolf Habben’s old homestead is now owned by the Poppen family according to the plat map. Now this really sparked my interest because according to the delayed birth certificate for Tena’s daughter, Tessie, it states that a Mrs. Poppen witnessed her birth. I headed over to the Sidney Library and there I found a local history book that included biographies. I found the Harm and Hannah Poppen family, who had moved to Cheyenne County in 1889. The Poppen’s had emigrated from Sandhorst, Germany which is about 5 miles from where the Habben's lived in Wiesens, Germany. The Poppens had also been living in Wilcox, Nebraska and so were the Habben's and Nelk's. I think it is very likely that Hannah Poppen could be the person called out on the delayed birth certificate. After visiting with Hannah’s grandson I learned that the Poppen homestead was close to the Habben homestead so that also reinforced my theory. We probably will never know for sure but I’m pretty confident in my reasoning.
With the droughts and various plagues in the 1890’s many families gave up their homesteads. Fred and Tena Nelk left Nebraska about 1899 and settled in Wheaton, Traverse County, Minnesota.
Next my trip to the homestead……..

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wordless Wendsday - Lodgepole, Nebraska

During my little Nebraska adventure I visited the town of Lodgepole which is 16 miles east of Sidney.  There I met a woman working hard to restore the old railroad building.  Wish there were more of these old buildings being preserved for future generations.

"You Want to Move Where?" - The Document

Today Sidney is a town of about 6,000 friendly people. I counted 25 churches of various denominations so the atmosphere has change considerable in last 100 and some years. So what brought the Habben and Nelk families to Cheyenne County? It was the land of course! One hundred and sixty acres of good rich farm land.

For me the mystery to be solved was whether Fred and Tena took over her father’s (Rolf Habben) homestead or if they established their own. So began the search. When nothing showed up through the BLM General Land Office Records ( I knew if I was going to find anything I would need to travel to Sidney, Nebraska where the Cheyenne County records are filed. Not wanting to go to the wrong place for the records I had emailed ahead to the County Clerk. I received the following email:

“Terri: The County Clerk/Register of Deeds is the correct office to check for homesteads and land patent records. If you enter our courthouse on the north side (Jackson Street) we are the first office on your left. Sounds like you need to look in our Grantor/Grantee index which is alphabetical. This process usually doesn't take much time. We'll be happy to get you started with your search. You can also obtain copies of any of the records that you find. Our land records are not on computer so you're searching will be done from books.
Have a safe trip and see you soon. Bonnie-Cheyenne County Clerk's Office”

Monday morning I headed to the Cheyenne County Court house. I was filled with excitement as I headed down 10th Street but, I also was preparing myself for disappointment if no records were to be found. I kept telling myself if I didn’t find anything here I would try North Platte sometime in the future. My reasoning here was because North Platte was where Tena’s father had filed his homestead papers and I knew his homestead was in this area also. Each step I took into the Court house was filled with trepidation. As I stepped up to the counter I was greeted by none other but Bonnie, who asked if she could help me. When I told her my name and began stating what I was wanted she beamed with a big smile and invited me back into the records room. She had already done all the look-ups for me and had the book pulled and the Land Patent marked for Frederick Nelk. Oh my gosh – now you know why I say Nebraskan’s are the kindest people in the country! What a thrill it was to see the huge document dated November 16, 1897!

“To all to Whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:

Wheras, There has been deposited in the General Land Office of the United States a Certificate of the Register of the Land Office at Sidney, Nebraska whereby it appears that pursuant to the Act of Congress approved 20th of May, 1862, “To secure Homsteads to actual settlers on the putlic domain,” and the acts supplemental thereto, the clain of Frederich Nelk has been established and duly consummated in conformity to law for the Northwest quarter of Section twenty-eight in Township Sixteen, North of Range Forty-eight west of the South Principal Meridain in Nebraska; containing one hundred and sixty acres. According to the official plat of the survey of said land returned to the General Land office of the Surveyor General.

I have done the “happy dance of joy” before when I’ve found records online, but I can say that the thrill of seeing, touching and reading the actual document is beyond words!

Join me as the adventure continues with more good news....

Tombstone Tuesday - Rolf Habben and the Weyerts Road

Traveling down Weyerts Road, which is about 16 miles east of Sidney, was an experience. Most people think of Nebraska as flat, but here in the northwest area of Nebraska it’s fairly hilly. Weyerts Road was like playing one of those video games where you’re dodging all kinds of obstacles. The road is gravel in parts, which I love because it reminds me of going to Grandma’s when I was a kid, and parts of it are paved. Well I’m not sure if you could actually call it a paved road, it’s more like a little black top and a lot of monster pot holes and it was up and down, up and down hills.

I’m sure it’s been years since any family has visited the grave of my g-g-g Uncle Rolf Habben, so it was a good feeling to be able to show my respect. Rolf and his family emigrated to the US in 1868 from Wiesens, Ostriesland, Germany. They settled in Hancock County, Illinois and lived there until 1886. Rolf’s wife Christena (Ufkes) and his son Habbe both died in Illinois in March of 1880. The family decided to head to Nebraska to homestead in Cheyenne County. As I wandered through the Weyerts Immanual Cemetery there were many familiar names like Jurgens, Fecht, Frecks, Harms and Garralts. All names I see in the cemetery where my Grandparents are buried as well as in the cemeteries in Wiesens. I wonder if they knew each other in the “old country”.
Rolf’s tombstone marker sits to the left, by the gate as you enter the cemetery. The grave remained unmarked until about 1974 when his family placed it.

Rest in Peace Uncle Rolf - You are not forgotten!

Monday, June 28, 2010

You Want to Move Where?!

As Sophia from the old TV hit “Golden Girls” would say: Picture it, Sidney, Nebraska, early 1890’s. The town is filled with saloons, brothels and mayhem of every type. Notorious bank robbers like Jesse James and the Sundance Kid are regulars to the town. Just imagine this: From 1875 to 1881 there are more than 56 murders and over 1,000 criminal cases filed in the Cheyenne County Court House. It takes 3 separate newspapers to cover all the news. The largest gold robbery in history occurred here and is still unsolved today. The value of the gold stolen in today’s market is over five million dollars. (Hmmm wonder where that was buried?) Legends like Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock were often seen in Sidney. Newspapers across the country referred to it as “Sinful Sidney”.

So what was the draw for Frederick Nelk to bring his young wife to this den of lawlessness?

Guess you’ll have to come back for more.......

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Colorado Family History Expo - Wrap-Up

It seemed the day would never come as I waited for the Colorado Family History Expo conference, and now it’s come and gone. I arrived in Loveland Thursday afternoon and had a chance to spend the evening with my cousins, Mel and Mary Jo Haack. I have been IM’ing with Mary Jo for about 2 years now and this is the first chance we have had to meet in person. I was treated to a wonderful home cooked meal and a chance to share some family history. Of course I got lost on the way to their house, but believe me that is pretty normal for me. As I returned to the hotel the sun was setting over the mountains to the west and a full moon was rising over the Plaines.
 Friday morning I ran into Becky and Jamie Jamison at the elevator. I recognized her immediately from her pictures on her blog Grace and Glory. I had a chance to visit with Jamie a little in between times and really enjoyed our visits.

The conference was kicked off with a Key Note speech presented by Beau Sharbourgh titled “Let Your Light Shine.” He had us all laughing in acknowledgement that sometimes we are the only one who cares about our families genealogy..

It was a difficult decision deciding which classes I wanted to attend there were so many to choose from. I attended Thomas MacEntee’s class “Facebook for Genealogists”. Thomas went over the basics of setting up an account and using the search feature to locate possible family connections. I’m anxious to try that when I get home. Thomas emphasized that it is our responsibility to take ownership of making sure our privacy settings are in place to protect our identities. I also attended Thomas’ class titled “Social Networking: New Horizons for Genealogy”. Amazing how many different sites are available to promote your business.

Since my ancestors all emigrated from Germany I was especially interested in Baerbel K. Johnson presentation on “What’s new in German Research”. I was amazed at the wealth of websites that are continually being added to the internet and I’m very excited to have new sources for my own research. I also took Ms. Johnson’s class titled “Find Your German Ancestor Now!”

I attended Arlene H. Eakle’s class on “American Church Records”. One of the points I thought was interesting that you can tell a person’s religious background by the spelling of their name.

The last class I attended was Tom Underhill’s presentation titled “Making a Personal History Video is Easy”. Beside all the great chocolate Tom passed out he explained the ins and outs of setting the scene before shooting any film. He also gave great examples of how to interview the subject in order to avoid
those indefinite answers like – “yes”, “no”, and “fine”. Tom brought up the small things that many of us would never think of.

I want to thank Holly Hansen and her Expo crew members as well as all the volunteers who made everything run smoothly and on time! Holly has a very special gift in presenting a well organized and well thought out conference – one that I personally am happy she is willing to share.

I look forward to next year’s conference and hope if you are able to attend a Family History Expo somewhere near you that you do!

When I was a kid my Dad always asked if I had learned anything new in school that day – Well Dad I learned many things over the last two days!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

WOHOO! Colorado Family History Expo - One More Day

Well my departure day has finally arrived! I woke up at 4:00 this morning raring to go, I tried to go back to sleep but my mind was flashing through all the things I need to do before I take off.  (Might have to take a nap before I go. ha ha)
Loveland, Colorado is about 45 miles north of Denver. Ah, the sweetheart town – thousands of people every year send their Valentines to Loveland to be re-mailed by the Loveland Post Office just so they can have the special Valentine sweetheart postmark. Also known as the “Gateway to the Rockies”, just 30 miles west on highway 34 is Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. If you have an extra day it's well worth the drive into our incredible mountains. You will be overwhelmed by our “mountains majesty”in this park. What a great choice the Colorado Family History Expo!
“Let your light shine”, is the theme of the Expo this year and the title of Beau Sharbrough's key note address. (Friday, 8:00 am). I hope I see you there!!
Colorado Family History Expo
June 25th - 26th
Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center
Loveland, Colorado
Class Registration begins at 7:00 am
Beau Sharbrough's Key Note address – 8:00 am
Grand Opening of the Exhibit hall at 9:00 am.......

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Fred & Tena (Habben) Nelk

Fred & Tena Nelk
(Trientje Rose Habben)
In the late 1800's Fred and Tena homesteaded near Gurley, Nebraska.  I am about to embark on a journey to locate this homestead.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday -Kallio Memorial Service - Slide Show Snippet

I recently completed a slide show of Darrell's Memorial Service and wanted to share a small snippet of it here with my Geneablogger friends. (This is a portion of a 25 minute slide show.) I was so fortunate to have my friend and neighbor take so many photographs that day. Thank you Jan!
Of all the treasures I have - this man was truly my greatest gift.......
Before you view the slide show snippet please click on the double bars on the "Playlist" to turn off the programed music. (Unless you like going crazy - LOL!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family History Expo - Countdown

13. 12. 11. 10 More days left in my countdown to the Colorado Family History Expo! It seemed like it would never get here and now the time is zooming by me. I took Becky Jamison's (from Grace and Glory) advice and purchased a laptop case/mobile office with wheels and I've been loading it up. I can even fit my camera in it which eliminates one thing to have to carry. I'm still having a difficult time deciding on which classes I'm taking. Out of the 78 classes being offered I know three I'm taking that I'm sure will impact my research. Of course you will have to check my blog to find out which classes those were and how they have added to my “larn'n”.

I probably won't sleep a wink Thursday night because I don't want to miss Beau Sharbrough's, Keynote Address at 8:00a.m., titled “Let Your Light Shine!” I love that title and can't wait to hear what Beau has to say. There's also going to be a “Meet-Up” in the bloggers lounge of fellow Geneabloggers on June 25th at 9:00am. Can't wait to finally meet some of the people who write such wonderful stories about their families. You'll be able to spot me pretty easily, I'll be the one grinning from ear to ear and looking like a kid in a candy store. Of course the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening is at the same time so I may have to pop in there to quickly peruse the goodies.

After the conference is over, I'm heading east to Sidney, Nebraska to do some research at the court house. My great-great-great uncle, Rolf Habben homesteaded in the area in the late 1800's. His daughter and her husband, Fred and Tena (Habben) Nelk also had a homestead somewhere near Sidney. We have the homestead papers for Rolf but not for Fred and Tena. My hope is that if I can locate where their farm was that I can determine which Church they may have belonged to. Since Nebraska didn't keep records on births and deaths until 1904, I must find the Church in order to get the birth records of three of their children. Uh-oh, I may have given a clue as to two of the classes I'll be attending.

If you haven't signed up for the Colorado Family History Expo yet there's still plenty of time and of course you can always sign up at the door. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Colorado Family History Expo - 19 Days and Counting

I'm so excited about this years Family History Expo. I'm counting down the days now and making my usual lists of things I need to do before I take off for Loveland. I need to get the oil changed in my car and I wonder if maybe I should signed up for AAA Insurance. Ok, it's not like Loveland is really that far from home, 50 miles at the most but, there is always those “what if's” that run through my head. Let's see now don't want to forget the charger for my cell phone. Oh, and I don't want to forget to download a few programs onto my laptop so I can share some photo's. Oh and that reminds me need to make sure I have plenty of AA batteries. And then I need to...........
I'm finding it difficult to choose which classes I will attend, especially since I'd like to take them all. It would be awesome if they were all video taped for study later. Hmm maybe that would be a good thing for a “suggestion box.” I may just have to get out my quarters and do some coin tossing on this decision. Ha ha! Take a look at the classes available just in the first hour of June 25th and you will see why I'm having a difficult time.

Class – June 25th – 10:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M.

Help! Where Do I Start? -
Christine Sharbrough, CG

Naming Patterns of
American Families – Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D

Genealogical Resource
of the National Archives at Denver –
Rick Martinez

Facebook for Genealogists –
Thomas MacEntee

Everything You Wanted to Know
about –
Gordon Atkinson

Family Tree Maker 2010 Basics –
Robert A. Larson
Powerful Tips and Tricks for
Family Search Record Search –
Blair Keddington

Ask-the-Pros Series –
Looking after the poor:
Finding your Ancestors in
New England Poverty Records –
Marian Pierre-Louis

Can you see my dilemma? Every single class sounds fabulous! This is worse than choosing between apple pie or a chocolate eclair. Oh my! Nineteen days and counting. Learn which classes I chose as I report on the days events starting June 25th.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - A Sunday Coffee I Won't Forget

The Evers home sits empty now, its siding is weathered and only bits of paint remain. The windows are boarded and old farm equipment sits unused and rusted. Prairie grass and vines have taken over and one day I'm sure the old place will either be torn down or nature will bring it down. In spite of what you see, if you listen closely you will hear the distant cries of babies being born and the giggles of children laughing while at play. Enticing you to come home is the smell of chicken frying and bread baking. If you look towards the fields you can see the shadows of men working as the sun begins to set.

About six miles up the road is the “Old Boldt” place. All that remains are a few black and white snapshots of the place the Bebensee family called home. Before the dust storms of the 1930's it was a beautiful farm. There were lots of fruit trees, lilacs and evergreens and a big apple tree that had a swing tied to a branch for the kids to play. They had lots of chickens, geese, ducks, pigs and cows. A collie dog named Jack was the protector of the place. These were the homes of my parents, places that remain in the heart.

It is a kind of ritual every Sunday after church that my folks stop by for coffee and an up-date on the weeks events. I will never forget one particular Sunday a number of years ago when they stopped by. I had old photographs strewn all over the kitchen table in preparation for writing some family history. Mom and I looked through them and of course I had my usual array of questions: “Who's this and how are they connected to us?” In the mix of the photo's were a few wedding photo's taken of my folks. Mom picked up the picture of my Dad, young and hansom in his uniform. She had a funny little smile, one that I hadn't seen before. There was twinkle in her eye, you know that kind of twinkle that has a little emotional tear with it. She gazed at the picture for quiet a while before she spoke and then she said something that touched my heart. She said, “You know I could fall in love with this guy all over again.” My Dad didn't say a word, just a giggle and I saw the same twinkle in his eye that I saw in Mom's. I do believe that in that moment those feelings of first falling in loved swept over him too.

I've always known that my folks loved each other, but, at that moment I felt the passion and excitement of young love and how they must have felt all those years ago. It was a wonderful thing for me to share and to know that young love can remain after 68 years and a lifetime of memories.

That's one Sunday coffee I don't think I'll ever forget.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Men Behind the Names

I hope you will enjoy this poem by Linda Ellis - written for Memorial Day.
Click on the link below.

The Men Behind the Names

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Willis F. Evers

Flight Officer Willis F. Evers
May 7, 1920 – November 2, 1943

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved
in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others”.
By Pericles.

I have often wished I had known my Uncle Willis. Stories told to me by my father tell of a young man who was full of life and adventure. A daredevil who loved trick riding on his motorcycle and flying airplanes.

Joining the Army Calvary in 1940 this small town farm boy would be taken worlds away from the life he knew. Willis was sent to Ft. Meade, South Dakota for basic training. His skills riding motorcycles would send him on to Arkansas for combat training. There he learned to maneuver his motorcycle through the rough and rugged terrain. Although Willis loved riding motorcycles his true desire was to become a pilot, so when opportunity presented itself he transferred to the Army Air Corp.

His numerous letters home tell of his love of flying and his excitement at learning to fly the P38-F Lightning. The P38-F was built by Lockheed, it was designed for speed and fire power, dubbed by the Luftwaffe as “The Forked Tail Devil”.

After completing his Pilot training Willis was promoted to Flight Officer and in September, 1943 was sent to join the 8th Fighter Group, 80th Squadron at Port Moresby, on the island of New Guinea. He joined well known Aces such as Norb Ruff, Edward “Porkey” Cragg, Louis Schriber and Alan Hill along with many others. He writes home that his plan is “old, but it flies good”.

Willis was in New Guinea just two months before he was killed on November 2, 1943 while fighting over Rabaul. Although we will never know what his life would have been like had he survived the war; we do know that he lived life with passion, that he was committed to excellence, that he was willing to take risks to obtain his goals, and that he lived with integrity. He willing fought for freedom and ultimately sacrificed his life for you and me.

Rest in peace, dear Willis.
And may you forever soar with eagles.

(If you would like to read more about Willis see my post in March 2009 entitled, “Going Home – The Unexpected” )

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ticktock, ticktock....

Of all the words I'd like to write today the ones I'd most like to be writing are:

“Happy Birthday Darrell
I Love You!”

I'd love to be teasing him about turning 69 years old and how he is now pushing 70. But, he will be forever 68.
In the 5 months since his passing, time continues to march ever onward. There are days that if feels as if time stands still and the clock seems to slowly beat off the seconds, ticktock, ticktock. And yet, the days have some how quickly moved into months. Life is like the stream that starts as a trickle and then builds into a mighty river full of living things and ever moving to its destination. Like the small stream I am still trying to find my way around the rocks and obstacles in my path.

Today I will reflect on our life together and quietly celebrate his birth and remind myself of the wonderful 24 birthdays I shared with him.

Darrell was born at home in a little white house near Chisholm, Minnesota. It's hard to imagine that he was 12#'s at birth because he was always so slender. His parents, Tony and Ellen, had been expecting a girl (why I don't know) and had picked out the name Darlene. So when a bouncy baby boy was born no name had been chosen. Looking through the comics, Ellen found a name that she liked; Darrell would be the name she gave him and Victor as his middle name after her father. He once told me that he was so fat that his mother would not let anyone see him. If a visitor came wanting to see the new baby she would tell them that she just got him to sleep and would prefer not to wake him. I always thought that this was one of his stories until his Mom verified it to me. She said he was so fat that all he had were little slits for eyes.

One of my favorites was his 50th, which he insisted that he was going to help plan. Little did he know that behind the scenes a surprise would be in the works. After weeks of secret phone calls to his daughters and to his family in Minnesota, a plan was devised to have some special guests at his party. I was so excited, I really don't know how I kept the secret from him. No, it was not a celebrity, but, rather people who much more important to him. His Mother, Sister and Brother and their spouses would fly in from Minnesota for this monumental birthday the day before the party. But, how would I feed all of them without him wondering what I was up to. Darrell made great spaghetti, so his oldest daughter and I came up with a plan. She would ask him if he would teach her how to make his special sauce and of course he wouldn't turn her down. So that afternoon the two of them made a huge batch of spaghetti, some of which he thought we would freeze. Now the next hurdle was how to get him out of the house so we could sneak his family in. So a neighbor and I came up with a plan for her to call and ask him to come over because she thought she smelled gas. As soon as I heard that they were within a few blocks I called her with a prearranged signal. Off he went and in they came – I had them sit around our dining room table, which is not visible from the front door, and we waited for his return. The excitement of this surprise was building as we watched him come from down the street. But, as usual he stopped to shoot the breeze with another neighbor. When he finally came through the door I yelled for him to come help me in the dining room. I'll never forget the look on his face. I think he thought he was having a hallucination. He fell back against the counter in shock and we all thought he was going to pass out. I don't think if he had won the lottery it would have been any better of a surprise. For his party his youngest daughter rented him a snazzy tuxedo – gosh he was so handsome and so very happy. I don't remember much about the actual party, but, I will never forget how thrilled he was to celebrate this very special birthday with his Mom.

When we visited Minnesota last summer Darrell said that he wanted to see the house he was born in again and the farm where his grandparents had lived. Sometimes I wonder in all the years we went there on vacation why this was the first time he ever mentioned going there. I'm so glad that I was able to share that with him and the memories he shared with me as we drove through the country. He talked about his grandparents, who only spoke Finnish, and how he wished he could have been able to talk to them. He spoke of summers spent at their farm and how he and his siblings would wake up and start hollering: “Grandma, pancakes.” A special day and a sweet memory now.

It's funny how easily at times it is to forget that he is not here and how I still expect to find him “putzy'ng” in his shop. Yesterday, as I folded towels, it came to me that I still needed to get him something for his birthday, but as quickly as that flash came into my mind I realized that this year it would not be needed.
In my opinion 68 birthdays were not enough and certainly the 24 I shared with him all went so fast. Darrell lived life with a gusto that few do and although we all have sad times I think his life was full and filled with love. I know that he always made sure that I knew he loved me and I'm sure that he knew that I loved him. So as I quietly reflect on his life and birthday today I leave you with this beautiful song/poem that describes my heart today. Happy birthday sweetheart........

“You Were Loved”
Sung by Wynonna Judd

We all want to make our place in this world;
We all want our voices to be heard.
Everyone wants a chance to be someone;
We all have dreams we need to dream,
But sweeter than any star you can reach
Is when you reach and find you've found someone.
You'll hold this world's most priceless thing,
The greatest gift this life can bring,
If you can look back and know
You were loved.

You were loved by someone,
Touched by someone,
Held by someone,
Meant something to someone,
Loved somebody,
Touched somebody's heart along the way.
You can look back and say,
You were loved.

You can have diamonds in your hand,
Have all the riches in the land,
Without love do you really have a thing.
When someone cares that you're alive,
When someone finds their world in your eyes,
Then you'll know you've found all you need.
You'll hold this world's most priceless prize,
The sweetest treasure in this life,
If you can look back and know
You were loved.

So many roads that you can take,
Whatever way you go,
Don't take that road alone.
Better you know....
You were loved by someone,
Touched by someone,
Held by someone,
Meant something to someone,
Loved somebody,
Touched somebody's heart along the way.
You can look back and say,
You did OK
You were loved.
So remember to tell that one,
You are loved.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

I received a surprise in my Easter basket from two of my favorite bloggers: Carol at Reflections Over the Fence and Linda at Flipside. Thank you ladies your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated as is your constant encouragement!

As a recipient of this award, I am to list 10 things I have learned about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled or enlightened me and then pass the award on to 10 other genealogy bloggers who I feel are doing their ancestors proud.

Where do I begin? My genealogy adventure has been so full of surprises that have both enlightened and humbled me.

Finding the ship manifest from the Barque Siberia that brought my Watermann family to the United States was a big surprise. For so many years the only clue to where this family actually lived was on census reports. The census reports were very vague and did not list the actual town in Germany. Not only were the census reports vague but seemed to be inaccurate. My difficulty with the manifest was that I could not make out the actual town because of the penmanship. I forwarded the manifest to a cousin in Germany and he was able to decipher the record. I learned from him that the town was Langenholtzhausen. You can read this post at

My Second surprise was when I Google Langenholtzhausen and I located a website ( that is maintained by a group of dedicated genealogists in Germany. There on their site was my entire Watermann family. You can imagine the happy dance of joy I was doing. Not only was my Watermann family names but who each members Godparents were and the address of the home they lived in.

I was humbled to learn how they were all starving to death and that tearing the bark from trees was being used to make a sort of soup to sustain life.
I was surprised when while reading the OGSA message boards I noticed a note from a gal who was looking for her father-in-law's birth family and that the mother was from my grandmother's home town of Blue Hill, Nebraska. Blue Hill was and still is a small farming community. I was sure with the assistance of a cousin who still lives in the area that we could help her.

I continued to be surprised at the amount of information I was able to find. We ultimately found his birth family members. And the ultimate surprise when her father-in-law was able to meet his half brother who had been longing to meet him also. What a joyous time it was for the two brothers, who are both in their 70's to finally meet for the first time. You can read my story of discovery in my posts entitled “Pay it forward”

It was a humbling experience for me to realize how lucky I am to know my own family history and who my ancestors were. I will never again take for granted the joy of knowing who my family is.

I was surprised when a simple photograph book project to share ancestor photo's with my family turned into a year long project. My original intention was to put photographs that my mother had into a book so that they could be easily shared with other family members. As I began working on the project it took on a life of its own. As I researched I was somehow lead to other members of the same family group. The project grew and grew and finally ended with 320 pages filled with family stories and photographs of our ancestors. You can read about my journey to learn the stories of my family here

Writing this book took me on an unexpected journey. A journey that would enlighten me in the world of my family who first emigrated to the United States.

Their struggles to survive in an untamed wilderness with nothing but their own determination was very humbling in a day when the computer puts everything at my fingertips.

Discovering what happened to my great grandfather, Gustave Bebensee, who the family had been searching for over 100 years was not only enlightening but was a mixture of emotions. Emotions that ranged from joy to sadness flooded in when I finally found him after my own 10 year search.

I was thrilled to be the one who finally tracked down this man, but sad to know that he deserted his family to start a new life of his own. The reason I will never know but continue to search for. You can read of my quest on my posts titled: “The Quest of a Geneaholic” -

I think the most enlightening, surprising and humbling experience I have had has been writing this blog and discovering a community of “Geneabloggers” who have enriched my research more than I can express. Genuine people who have extended their hearts at time of joy and sadness. I'm glad to have joined this wonderful community and proud to know so many fellow family historians.

I want to bestow this award to the following Geneabloggers who I enjoy reading and hope you too will take a look at their great blogs.

Brenda at Journey to the Past
Nancy at My Ancestors and Me -
Forgotten Old Photo's at
Diane at Our Attic Treasures
Jennifer at Jennifers Genealogy Blog
Trish at St. Vincent Memories
Bob & Marilyn at Lord & Lady
Aline at Acadianroots
Leah at Random Notes
Deborah at Irish Family Research

Saturday, April 3, 2010

If Easter Sunday Falls on Monday Will We Get the Day Off?

And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [i.e. new covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.—Luke 22:14-23.

Tomorrow we celebrate Easter – the day Christ was resurrected from the dead. For Christians it's the most important moment in history that we celebrate.

"I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me,
though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me
shall never die."-- John 11:25-2.

As a child who grew up in the '50s it was very important to have a new dress, white shoes and gloves for Easter Sunday church services. My dresses were usually handmade by my Mom and almost always included a big tied bow around the waist at the back. They were always quite prissy and flowered for spring. It was an absolute must to wear a hat and carry a little purse. We usually got up early that morning so that there was time to hunt for the eggs that the Easter bunny left. Mom would normally set a chocolate bunny or egg by our plates. I think it felt more tragic to learn that there was no Easter bunny than to learn of Santa. For several years I insisted that Mom still hide the eggs because it was so much fun finding them.

"In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,

You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade."

-- Irving Berlin

Easter church service was always such a wonderful celebration. Beautiful white Easter lilies on the alter and the Pastor with his white robes, it was all very impressive to a little girl. After church Mom always prepared a feast and we would be allowed to eat a few pieces of our candy. It would be nice to be able to have just one more of those innocent days to relive.

The first Easter that Darrell and I shared began his ritual question to me: “If Easter Sunday falls on Monday will we get the day off?” I remember when he posed the question to me I actually thought about it for a second. Then I rolled my eyes at him and gave him a little sarcastic smile and responded: “Gosh I don't know, maybe.” We shared many wonderful Easter's and were able to share the Lords communion together.

This year Darrell will celebrate his first Easter with his Savior. I imagine it will be a magnificent celebration in heaven!

So to all my family and friends I wish you a blessed Easter and that you celebrate the gift of eternal life that has been granted to you by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - March Snow Storm

It seems mother nature decided Colorado needed another dose of snow last night.

Take a look at the picture below. The top left picture is the snow at my next door neighbor's house. The lower right is the snow from my driveway. What's up with that? I always seem to get more snow than any of my neighbors! Thank goodness for a great neighbor with a snow blower who looks out for me! Thank you Dick!


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