WANDERINGS FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
BY GAYLE STUART
I’m not stuck; I’m ancestrally challenged.
Do you ever wonder if you will find the answer to a question on one of your ancestors who is in hiding? I have had some questions and, if you keep looking, you do find an answer, sometimes.
For years, all we knew about my mother’s mother was that she was born in WI. We checked early births in WI, but found no record of her birth. There are a few settlements in WI where Norwegians settled and we had checked church records in those areas. This family moved to a homestead in SD before settling in MN. I found them on a census in Dakota Territory with more children, plus one I did not know about, who died young. About the same time, a cousin gave me a photo that was of my great-grandmother, her sisters and a brother. I did not know about him. Since we think the photo was taken in SD, I wrote to the Genealogy Society in Aberdeen and asked for help. They put me in contact with a person who they were sure could be a relative. After a couple of letters, Leo and I had a chance to go to SD and meet him. We knew we were in the right place when we walked into their home and on the dining room table were pictures of my family. Wayne was able to tell me the area in WI where the family first settled. I wrote to the Coon Valley Lutheran Church in Westby, WI and they found my grandmother’s baptismal record. That was a project that took several years.
I have another one on my great-great-grandfather that is not solved yet, but I did find one more thing. I have written before that he did not want to be found. I had finally decided that he must have died at sea, because we could find nothing on him, but only on his wife and 3 sons in WI. Two years ago, we were at the Norwegian Research Center in Madison; someone at the church in WI, called Spring Prairie Lutheran, had just found another old book, written in Norwegian, in a cupboard,. I was looking at it and found where Ole and Berthe and 3 sons, Andrew, Niels and Ole, were registered to join that church. For years I did not know that Spring Prairie was the name of the church and not of a town. So, he did make it to America, but what happened to him after that?
We all have problems with people who we can’t find, but if we keep looking, maybe, just maybe, we will find another piece of the puzzle.