Observing whatever tickles my fancy

Posts tagged ‘family’

Alsatian Whine?

The Trolls have held the hill in the battle to find my Elusive Norwegian.  I’ve fallen back as far as the hills and valleys of Alsace.Alsace coat of arms_2

It is in these hills and valleys that my great-great grandfather grew up.    It is in Alsace that he married his first wife and had a child.  He served in the French Army from 1837 to 1842.  Within 5 years of after getting out of the army he emigrated from Alsace to America. Within a few short years after that he gave up all loyalty to France and its King and became a US Citizen.  We have a photo of him as an old man with medals pinned on the left breast of his coat.  Proud of his service?  Perhaps.  But in census records this man never said he was from France.  The records almost always say “Alsace”.  If not Alsace it was Germany.  I blame the census takers for that.  Alsace Lorraine was always changing hands between Germany and France so it’s understandable that they would be confused.

If you’re interested, the Bas-Rhin has incredible genealogical records online for free.  You can browse birth records, marriage records, death records, etc.  It’s fantastic….as long as you know where your family came from.   While browsing through the archives I found when my great-great grandfather married his first wife.  I learned that they had a daughter.   I discovered that he had at least four siblings (two brothers and two sisters).  I found his father married to his second wife.  And, nearly 171 years to the day, I found his father’s death certificate.  Thank you Archives of the Bas-Rhin!  If Moselle would follow your lead and put their information online I would be even more happy.

Alsace, some day I will visit you.  I will walk your hills and valleys.  I will gaze upon your rivers and forests.  I will drink your wine.  Some day, Alsace, you and I shall meet.

Alsace coat of arms


Lost in Osten

It has been a delirious few days of genealogical discovery.  Pure giddiness.

It goes like this:  on Sunday I was distractedly surfing the net for …. well, I don’t remember what my initial surf was about but I ended up surfing to Norway and wandering through the Oppland Fylke (county) where some of my kin lived.  (As a side note: if you’re ever in the area drive through Gudbrandsdalen.  It’s gorgeous!)

Back to the surfing.  Something must have hit my one working nodule of brain matter and I typed my great-great grandfather’s name, his whole name, in the “Google” search box and pressed enter.  Now, in the past this method has never worked when I’ve sought him out.  He has hidden behind the multitude of Norwegian names that he could use.  (Have I ever mentioned the insanity of Norwegian naming practices.  The last name could be “son” attached to the end of their father’s name.  Example: dad is Ole.  He has a son.  The son’s last name is then Oleson, or Olson, or Olsen….and so it begins.  There is also the possibility of the last name being the place they were born, or last lived, changing as they move.   So Ole Olson from Bergen becomes Ole Olson Bergen.  But let’s say he moves to Oppland Fylke.  Guess what, he might be called Ole Olson Oppland.  Oy ve.)

It surprised me when Google came up with 2 hits on his name.  I stared at it for a very long time before clicking on the link.  But I did…I clicked….and I was stunned.   You see, I didn’t know if this guy had died or had ditched his wife and 3 children in Norway.  I decided years ago that he abandoned his family and I’ve held him low regard ever since.  However, that never stopped my curiosity of finding him; discovering the reason of why he would leave his wife and young children behind.  All I knew is that I couldn’t find him in Norway and was mostly unsuccessful in finding him in the U.S.  Until this week.

osten olsen strand gravestoneMy great-great grandfather did leave his wife and kids in Norway.  I don’t know if he ever contacted them after that.  I doubt it.  He came to America in the early 1860s.  In 1864 he enlisted in the 43rd Infantry Regiment from Wisconsin.  He served during the Civil War.  He didn’t fight in any major battles but provided guard detail for the railroad in Tennessee.  He mustered out in 1865.  After that I have no information other than his gravesite in Oklahoma.  He died in 1893.

In 1893 there was a “land rush” in Oklahoma.  Remember your history class?  The “sooners” of Oklahoma? That’s when the federal government opened up the land for “first come first serve” land grabbers.  Apparently there were 4 or 5 of these land grabs.  1893 was one of the last.  A dusty race to find a hunk of land.  Some people died of heat stroke, stampedes, greed.  I don’t know if he died during the 1893 land grab.  It’s possible.

I’ll never know why he left his family.  Did he come to the U.S. to find a new home for his family? Was he going to send for them once he found a place in the land of opportunity?  Was he going to work, save money, and then send for them?  Did he simply abandon them?  Only the past knows the answers.  I will try to find some answers: where did he live between 1865 and 1893? What kind of work did he do?  Did he marry someone else?  These answers will take time.

Finding him gives me comfort.  I now know where he went after leaving his family.  He served his new country in the war between the states.  He settled the frontier.  I know where he is buried.  That satisfies my curiosity but I’m still disappointed that he left his wife and children behind in Norway.

Fishing – I Don’t Get It

This weekend my city has been hosting a bass fishing tournament.   Apparently this is such a big deal that some sporting network has sent cameras to film it.  How interesting can it be to watch a fishing contest?  The question struck me early this morning while I working in my yard.  It was 6 a.m. when I heard a magnified voice blaring from somewhere within a 2 mile radius of my home.  It took a while to figure out that it had to belong to someone at this “amazing” fishing contest.  But really, what does an announcer “announce” for fishing?

“It looks like Boat 3, owned by Bobby Bass, has started his engine.  Yes, indeedy, that’s a fine sounding motor. “

“And look at that.  Boat 5, owned by Freddy Frog, has found a spot on the river and has turned off its motor.  He must have found a good spot to drop his line.”

“And there’s Boat 1, owned by Charlie Sheepshead.  He appears to be baiting his hook.”

I get fishing as far as fishing for a meal.  What’s the adage:  “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  That makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense is hopping on a boat and hanging out on the river all day fishing.  Catch and release, catch and release……boring.   It’s obvious that I did not inherit the gene from my Grandpa.

Uncle Don & Grandpa with their catch. Some time in the 1930s or 1940s