THE ORCUTT FAMILY HOME – OMAHA, NEBRASKA

Orcutt home at 550 S 26th Avenue, Omaha, NE. Photograph by Louis Bostwick taken November 1903 on the occasion of Jane Orcutt’s Debut into Society. Handwriting from Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, granddaughter of Clinton Orcutt.

Family historians research every aspect of their ancestor’s lives, including where they lived. We search for addresses by following a paper trail: census records, directories, land deeds, tax records, and newspaper articles. Once we have an address, we google it to determine if the house still exists. If it doesn’t, we might be fortunate enough to discover old photographs. Two of my favorite ancestoral families, the Orcutts and Beatons, left behind a generous paper trail. Compelled by a treasure trove of pictures, records, and newspaper articles, I decided to explore the Clinton and Anna (Dutton) Orcutt house in Omaha, Nebraska – in detail.

My maternal great-grandmother, Edith (Orcutt) Beaton, spent her first seven years in the sleepy rural village of Durant, Iowa – population 500. Then, in the fall of 1887 the Orcutt family packed their belongings and moved 300 miles west to Omaha, Nebraska – population 125,000. By 1890 the population had grown to 140,000.

CLINTON ORCUTT AND HIS FAMILY

Listed below are the Orcutt family members who moved to Omaha. Scroll through the picture gallery to view their photos. Sadly, there are no photographs that survived of Louis DeForest Orcutt, the eldest son who died four years after the family moved to Omaha.

  • Clinton Delos Orcutt (1840-1905)
  • Anna Dorcas (Dutton) Orcutt (1842-1899)
  • Louis Deforest Orcutt (1871-1891
  • Marion Edith Orcutt (1879-1964)
  • Anna Ri Orcutt (1881-1942)
  • Jane Clare “Jennie” Orcutt (1884-1918)

OMAHA

Panoramic View of Omaha -Austen, Edward J, and Jefferson Bee Publishing Company. Panoramic view of Omaha. [Jefferson Iowa Bee Publishing Co, 1905] Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/75694679/.

Between 1870 and 1900, Omaha developed from a frontier railroad center to a regional metropolis.[1] From a business standpoint, the city oozed potential. It had a new Union Pacific railroad hub, manufacturing plants, mills, stockyards, and packing houses. From a cultural perspective, Omaha offered arts and sciences, schools, higher education institutions, and churches. Noted as the “Gate City of the West,” Omaha is located nearly midway between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and about 500 miles from Denver, St. Louis, and Chicago.

The 1890 Omaha city directory described the city in glowing terms.

“Upon entering Omaha, we find ourselves treading finely paved streets and surrounded by a busy throng of active, energetic people, substantial and elegant buildings on every side, stores filled with goods from every climate, and all the appliances of modern civilization. The streets are broad, clean, well lighted and many of them excellently paved with granite, Colorado sandstone, asphaltum, or cedar or cypress blocks, making them fine driveways and roadways.

Shade trees abound on the residence streets, protecting the pedestrian from the summer sun -seventy-three miles of sewer and good drainage. City well lighted with gas and electric lights. Public squares and parks abound.”[2]

Glimpses of Omaha- "Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today", 1888. https://archive.org.
Glimpses of Omaha- “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today”, 1888. https://archive.org.

I found another description that portrayed a less appealing side of Omaha. In 1888, Frisby Rasp, a Nebraska farm boy, moved to Omaha to attend business college. His letters to his family may reflect how Edith Orcutt and her family felt when they first moved to the big city. Frisby was overwhelmed by the crowds and anonymity. “If 2/3 of the country people could see Omaha they would open there [sic] eyes as if they had been thunderstruck. It has the most noise and rattle to it I ever saw…” He also found the city to be filthy by a country boy’s standards. “I guess there ain’t any end to Omaha, at least I can’t find any. You can walk till you are tired out any direction you choose, and the houses are as thick as ever…Everything is coal smoke and dirt and people. It is dusty just as soon as it quits raining, and the dust is the worst dust I ever saw. It is all stone and manure. Streets that ain’t paved, two feet deep of mud.”[3] Another disturbing aspect for Frisby was the vice in Omaha. “Every other store is a saloon. This is an awful wicked town. The saloons run on Sunday and most all work goes right on.” In 1888, Omaha boasted 300 saloons. According to Frisby, “…even the local newspapers claimed that if you shut down all the saloons, brothels, and tobacco shops, half of Omaha’s business would be gone…I never want to live in the city. It is the worst place in the world to live.”[4] Frisby rented a room near the Union Pacific Depot, an area not as genteel as the neighborhood the Orcutts chose.

ORCUTT NEIGHBORHOOD AND HOUSE

Based on newspaper articles, I knew in 1886 Clinton Orcutt began building a spacious house in Omaha, Nebraska. Researching the deed records required that either I travel to Omaha or find a professional geneaolgist to do the research. So I decided to splurge. I referred to the website for the Association of Professional Genealogists and quickly found a very thorough and professional researcher and genealogist. A sound decision.

Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC. Sanborn Map Company, (1890). Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omaha, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. Vol 2 [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05229_003/.

When Clinton Orcutt decided to build a new home in Omaha, he chose two lots in an area known as Clarks Addition or Clarks St. Mary’s Addition, a largely undeveloped area in the city.[5] Clinton purchased lot 9 from Isaac Congdon (a lawyer) for $4,000 on September 8, 1886. Three days later, on September 11, 1886 he purchased lot 10 from Charles C. Housel (real estate agent) and his wife for $5,000. [6] Unfortunately, the genealogist could not locate information regarding the building costs on the property. The city of Omaha destroyed older building permits in the 1990’s.[7]

Initally, I thought the Orcutt home at 550 S 26th Avenue was located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Omaha. According to Adam Fletcher, who writes a blog about North Omaha History,the new Gold Coast was the nouveau riche flexing their muscles.”[7] It contained two distinct neighborhoods within its boundaries: the Blackstone neighborhood and the Cathedral neighborhood.

“Houses had all kinds of spectacular features, including three -and four- story towers and spectacular flower gardens on the outsides. Yards were often ringed with iron fencing and served by regal driveways where coaches and drivers could gracefully haul their charges to the next location. The insides of these homes with even more elaborate furnishings, all reflecting the opulence and splendor of the Gilded Age. Woods from exotic places, fine handmade woodworking; elaborate stained glass leaded windows; beautiful silk wall tapestries; Tiffany Lamp Fixtures; and exquisite rugs filled these homes. On an average, when a fine home had six or ten rooms in two stories, these mansions had 20 and 30 rooms in three and four stories. These all had large coach houses, often two stories tall with enough room to accommodate their horses, carriages, and buggies.”[8]

Orcutt home at 550 S 26th and the Gold Coast Historic District, Google Maps.

The Gold Coast lies to the north of the Orcutt home. Clinton may have thought that Clarks Addition would develop into similar high-end real estate. After all, he’d made his fortune buying and selling real estate in Iowa and Nebraska. The area had potential at the time.

Using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provided details I previously overlooked regarding Clinton Orcutt’s property. When he purchased two lots, he built two houses plus a carriage house.[9] The larger home served as the Orcutt family residence. The smaller six-room cottage at 554 S 26th Avenue may have been intended as a “mother-in-law” house. Although Clinton’s mother had passed away, Anna’s widowed mother was still alive in 1886. Thanks to a suggestion from the professional genealogist, I examined Omaha city directories for the address “550 S. 26th” to determine who lived in the smaller home from 1886-1910. The occupants were not family members nor domestic servants who worked for the Orcutts. City directories revealed that Clinton rented the home to various tenants, none remaining longer than two years – single men, single women, and occasionally a married couple.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omah, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. Image 20, 1901. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4194om.g05229190102/?sp=20&r=-0.481,0.595,1.662,0.822,0

Many of the wealthy hired Omaha’s finest architects to custom design their homes. I don’t know if that is the case for Clinton Orcutt’s residence. However, the Orcutt home did receive notice in a book published in 1888 that featured prominent Omaha residences, “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today.”[10] Included in the book is the image depicted below. I am thrilled to have discovered the only known photograph that clearly shows the Orcutt’s home. The home is also listed amongst the notable residences in “Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha”, published in 1978.[11]

“Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today,” (Omaha, Nebraska, D.C. Dunbar & Co. Publishers, 1888; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org : accessed 20 April 2021), p.110.

The Orcutt’s three-story house embodied the popular Victorian Queen Anne architecture; it included a steep roofline, an ornamental chimney, irregular angles, a tower, shapely windows – including a bay window – and an expansive wrap-around porch with decorative trim, railings, and posts. Unfortunately, black and white photographs don’t reveal the color of the Orcutt home, but Queen Anne architecture typically featured rich tertiary colors.

  • “Body: one or two strong colors (usually different for clapboards and shingles)
  • Trim: a color unifying the body colors. Often a different accent color was used for decorative features.
  • Sash: the darkest color on the house: dark green, deep brown, black, deep red, maroon, chocolate, deep umber.”[12]

INTERIOR OF THE ORCUTT HOME

The home’s interior reflected Victorian style, orderly with detailed ornamentation, yet unique and rambling with multiple bedrooms, second-floor balconies, double doors, and ornate stairways.

A visitor to the Orcutt home first encountered the expansive entrance hall. Traditionally, the front hall included a hall stand, chairs, and a card receiver for calling cards. The stand provided space for hats, coats, parasols, and umbrellas. Hall chairs offered a seat for messengers or unexpected guests who awaited instructions.

“[Illustrations]: Decorative Chart for a Hall; Decorative Chart for a Parlor.” The Decorator and Furnisher, vol. 17, no. 6, 1891, pp. 206–207. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25586303. Accessed 11 Feb. 2021.

The Orcutt reception/entrance hall must have been impressive. For formal events, the ample space served as an ideal location to place an orchestra. “An orchestra was stationed in the large reception hall, screened by large palms.”[13] In the two photographs below you can see a portion of the entrance hall. The grand staircase is on the left with Anna Ri on her wedding day. On the right, Edith Orcutt Beaton is standing in the palm filled hallway on the occasion of her sister Jane’s wedding. Directly behind Edith is a portrait of her sister Anna Ri Orcutt. I wrote about the painting in another blog about Orcutt family portraits.

Newspaper articles from the Omaha Daily Bee and the Omaha World-Herald described the Orcutt home with the following adjectives: comfortable, commodious, spacious, beautiful, and handsome. I gleaned snippets of information from the newspapers about the types of rooms, their function, and decorative features. For example, the ground floor had a drawing-room, a music room with a piano, a west parlor, an expansive rear parlor with a “bow window,” a dining room, and the grand staircase. Wide doorways separated the parlors, the latter accented with fancy mantles. The “capacious” drawing-room provided sufficient space to host large numbers of guests. On several occasions, the Orcutt’s invited 300 guests to special events, such as the Christmas party they hosted in December 1900.

“In honor of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Beaton [Edith Orcutt Beaton and her husband Alfred Beaton], Mr. Orcutt gave a reception on Tuesday evening to about 300 guests. Though she does not make her debut until next season, Miss Anna Ri assisted her father, presiding with a dignity that would reflect credit upon a much older and experienced hostess.

The house was elaborately decorated with holiday greens, palms, and smilax. In the doorways were suspended Christmas bells with clappers of holly berries and mistletoe. The stairway in the hall was festooned with evergreen and bows of red ribbon, while tall palms formed a screen behind which the orchestra played during the evening.”[14]

When the three sisters, Edith, Anna Ri, and Jane Clare, reached the appropriate age, they acted as hostesses for social events to practice their future roles as mistresses of their own homes. Fifteen- year-old Edith appeared in the Omaha Daily Bee in 1895, when she served as hostess at a luncheon for her young friends.

“A Dainty Pink Luncheon – One of the prettiest luncheons was given by Miss Edith Orcutt last Tuesday in honor of her guest, Mrs. T.G. Wear of Topeka. Cover [places] were laid for sixteen. The table decorations were beautiful. The centerpiece was prettily embroidered in wild roses and the cut glass vases at each end of the table and in the center were filled with fragrant blush roses. The menu consisted of eight delicious courses. The house throughout was decorated with palms and pink roses. The young ladies made a charming picture in their dainty, fairylike summer gowns.”[15]

Researching the Orcutt family produced a wealth of information, as they frequently appeared in the society columns. These included the weddings of the Orcutt sisters. All three events took place in the Orcutt home, beautifully decorated for the special ceremonies.

  • Marion Edith Orcutt to Alfred James Beaton – 19 October 1899
  • Anna Ri Orcutt to Louis Tallmadge Jaques – 19 March 1905
  • Jane Clare Orcutt to Arthur Robinson Keeline – 21 January 1906

Of the three sisters, I could only find evidence that Jane Clare actually made a formal debut into society. Described as “an exquisitely pretty girl,” her debut in 1903 made the Society News. Photographed by Louis Ray Bostwick, Jane’s Debut Album showcased the young woman in the Orcutt family home. What a bonanza for my research!

A professional photographer captured the Orcutt daughter’s weddings, including images of the gifts elegantly displayed in the upstairs room. Preserved for over 100 years, these albums provide a glimpse into the Orcutt home and family history.

Based on the pictures, I know the formal dining room included the following:

  • Ornate dark wood furniture
  • Paneled walls
  • Wallpaper with wide decorative borders near the ceiling
  • Stained glass windows
  • Tasseled draperies
  • A gas chandelier
  • A corner cabinet filled with china and crystal

“A formal dining room ensured enjoyable meals. A library stocked well with books and with a sprawling fireplace provided comfort and warmth. Spacious parlors located throughout a home provided occupants with formal living areas for welcoming guests. Parlors usually featured ostentatious decors such as tasseled draperies, dark wood, fireplaces with fancy mantles, and gilded wainscoting.”[16]

The most important rooms in the house were the parlors, as they served as showcases for the homeowners to entertain their guests. The Orcutt parlors, decorated in dark woods, such as mahogany and walnut, featured oversized cozy chairs, oriental rugs, window coverings made of thick heavy fabrics, valances, swags and tassels, candelabras, and multi-light chandeliers ornamented with porcelain and glass shades. “A bare room was considered to be in poor taste, so every surface was filled with objects that reflected the owner’s interests and aspirations.”[17] The Orcutt’s decorated their home with marble figures, artwork, potted plants, and flower-filled vases.

The second floor of the Orcutt home included individual bedrooms for each of the six family members. Anna and Clinton Orcutt had separate bedrooms. Additional rooms included a library, a sitting room and a “modern” bathroom and lavatory for the family members.

“In wealthier homes, the toilet was often in a room by itself, in a corner, or an anteroom with a door. The room itself was always relegated to the bedroom floor, above the parlor floor, away from the public rooms of the house. Many houses had a servant’s toilet off the kitchen, often outside in a shed, or in an attic.[18]

Photographs from the family albums show that the second-story had spacious rooms but with lower ceilings than the ground floor. Oriental rugs draped the floors, lace curtains covered the windows, and lightly patterned wallpaper decorated the walls. Furniture included a carved four-poster bed and walnut or mahogany dressers. Although the images focus on the wedding gifts, they still provide the viewer with a glimpse into the upper rooms of the Orcutt house.

BEHIND THE SCENES – SERVANTS AND NEIGHBORS

Newspapers never mentioned the behind-the-scenes aspects of how the Orcutt’s managed their household, but I know that servants performed the daily tasks. Society ladies did not engage in household chores. Based on the 1900 census, the Orcutts employed two female servants, one nanny, and a coachman. Female servants probably slept on the third floor, but the coachman likely had a room in the carriage house or the basement.

Unfortunately, I could only refer to the 1900 census for information regarding the Orcutts and their servants. Census records, a valuable resource for family historians, are only available every ten years. The 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire, and by 1910, the Orcutt family no longer lived at 550 South 26th Avenue. I used the tip from the professional genealogist to search Omaha city directories for just the address to learn more about the Orcutt’s domestic help. Searching a directory for an address instead of a name did not yield results for every year. However, I did confirm that the Orcutt family employed two female domestic staff and one coachman. Not surprisingly, the staff changed about every two years.

1900 United States Federal Census for Clinton Orcutt and his household. [19]

  • Clinton Orcutt – head of household – age 59 (widower) – birthplace, Illinois – Capitalist
  • Edith Orcutt Beaton – daughter – age 24 – birthplace, Iowa – no profession listed
  • Anna Ri Orcutt – daughter – age 19 – birthplace, Iowa – no profession listed
  • Jennie C Orcutt – daughter – age 16 – birthplace, Iowa – At School
  • Alfred Beaton – son-in-law – age 26 – birthplace, Canada – Merchant, carpets
  • Baby Beaton (Phillip Orcutt Beaton) – grandson – age one month – birthplace, Nebraska
  • Anna Winter – servant – age 21 – birthplace, Pennsylvania – domestic servant
  • Maggie Oflatherty – servant – age 24 – birthplace, Illinois – domestic servant
  • Emil Anderson – servant – age 26 – birthplace Sweden – coachman
  • Dora Dart – servant – age 27 – birthplace, Missouri – Nurse (nanny)
Phillip Orcutt Beaton with his Nurse (Nanny), Dora Dart, 1901.

The 1900 census didn’t list a cook living at the residence, but I know the Orcutt family employed one. Finding the right cook could be challenging. The Orcutts advertised for “a good cook” in 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899.[20]

“Wanted a good cook. Mrs. Orcutt, 550. S 26th St.” Omaha World-Herald, July 1898. GenealogyBank.com.

The kitchens of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the domain of the staff. As the mistress of the home, Anna Orcutt dictated menus and managed the budget. She did not cook the meals nor clean the house. Accordingly, the kitchen would have been functional but not as ornate as the rest of the house.

“The late Victorian kitchen had the latest in modern appliances. A cast iron stove, able to cook and bake, often connected to a hot water heater that would feed into the sink and piped to bring hot water to the bathrooms. The sink was a large porcelain surface on sturdy legs with hot and cold running water from taps, not pumps. A large work table was usually in the middle of the room, which served as both work space and eating table for the staff.

Wealthier homes had iceboxes, lead-lined cupboards with a block of ice below keeping food cool in a compartment above. There was usually a pantry, a closet with shelves and built-in cupboards for storing foodstuffs, dishes and pots. Often there was also a built-in cupboard in the actual kitchen, or a butler’s pantry, either in the hallway leading to the dining room, or a separate room next to the kitchen where servers could do final prep work on the dish before serving.

Very wealthy families might have a locked silver room, and a larger butler’s pantries. Lighting to the kitchen was supplied by generous windows, as well as overhead gas lighting or electric lighting.[21]

Supplied with heat, gas, and running water, the Orcutt home provided optimal comforts for the time. Based on an 1890 newspaper that recounted a robbery in the home, I know that electric buttons powered the gas lights.

“When Mr. Orcutt drove up to to his house shortly before 7 o’clock, he noticed that the gas in his wife’s room was suddenly turned down but thought nothing further about it. His little daughter, Annie [Anna Ri], and a girl who was her guest finished supper early and ran up the front stairway. The gas in the hall had been extinguished, but the children attached no importance to it and did not relight the jets until they reached the second story, when they touched the electric buttons.”[22]

The burglars escaped via the rear hallway and back staircase, the staircase used by the servants. The thieves made off with two watches and chains, several pairs of bracelets, a diamond pin, and assorted jewelry. The value of the jewelry in 1890 was $600.

Who were the Orcutt’s neighbors? They were a mix of homeowners and renters. Some of the houses were large and elegant, while others were modest properties. On the north side of the Orcutts at 546 S 26th lived Jacob Soloman, a cattle dealer, his wife, two daughters, their spouses, a grandchild, and three servants. Immediately on the south side of the Orcutt home, in their rental property at 554 S 26th, resided a young couple, Charles and Catherine Moyer. The house immediately next to the rental property was occupied by Warren Switzler, a lawyer, his wife, two sons, a daughter, and one servant. Across the street at 557 S. 26th lived James Van Nostrand, a leather clerk, with his wife Virginia, and two female boarders, both listed as nursing school graduates. The neighbor’s occupations included: bookkeeper, printer, salesman, grocery store clerk, car builder, jewelry engraver, bookkeeper, real estate agent, and laundry proprietor. It was also a culturally diverse neighborhood. The majority were American-born with a mix of Canadians, Welsh, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Germans.

ORCUTT FAMILY HOME SOLD

For twenty years, the Orcutt family occupied their home at 550 South 26th Avenue in Omaha. They would be the only family to occupy the house as a single residence. After Clinton Orcutt’s death in 1905, his three daughters inherited the property in equal shares. On December 26, 1905, sole ownership was transferred to Edith Orcutt Beaton for the sum of “$1.00 and other good valuable considerations.”[23] Anna Ri married in March 1905 and moved to Chicago, Illinois. Jane continued to live at home until her marriage in February 1906. Edith and her husband, Alfred Beaton, remained in the Orcutt home until January 1907. Then they downsized and moved to “a neat double cottage of gray buff brick at 212 South Thirty-Seventh street“.[24] A more modest home, it consisted of two stories, nine rooms, including the reception hall.

Instead of immediately selling the family home, Edith and Alfred Beaton rented it furnished to a “party of bachelors” – ten single men.[25] By 1910 the Beatons converted the Orcutt home to a boarding house.The 1910 census listed twelve occupants: one female property manager, nine male boarders, and two female housemaids.[26] Finally on March 31, 1915, the Beatons sold the Orcutt home to Frank McGinty for $10,000.[27]

Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report Beaton & Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1915). Deed Bok 391: 556; Edith Beaton sells to Frank McGinty.

Why did Edith and Alfred sell the property for only $10,000 – a mere $1,000 more than what Clinton Orcutt paid for the land in 1886? As I mentioned previously, Clinton Orcutt likely speculated that the property values would rise. Instead, they declined. According to the professional genealogist, the area today has lower-end apartments and homes subject to vandalism and a high crime rate.[28]

After Frank McGinty bought the property he probably converted the house into at least two flats. I found an advertisement in the Omaha Daily Bee for January 1915 with the following listing. For $30/month the tenant could occupy a nine room, modern flat. The term “light housekeeping” indicated that there were limited facilities for cooking.

“13 Sep 1925, 21 – The Omaha Daily News at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, http://www.newspapers.com/image/738240507/?terms=%22554+s+26th%22.

After only 33 years, the Orcutt home was demolished in 1920 to make room for a four-story apartment building.[29] In September 1925 an advertisement in the Omaha Daily Bee featured “Omaha’s Finest Walking Distance Apartments” at La Morada Apartments – noted as 554 S 26th St.

“13 Sep 1925, 21 – The Omaha Daily News at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, http://www.newspapers.com/image/738240507/?terms=%22554+s+26th%22.

554 S 26th Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska – former location of Clinton Orcutt home. Google Maps.

Time marches on but as a family historian I try to capture glimpses of my ancestral past and preserve them for future generations.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved

 

Genealogy Sketch

Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER
Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newell UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  1. Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER
  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  3. Jean HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  4. Kendra

 

  1. Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell; The Gate City A History of Omaha (Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1977) p 61.
  2. Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell; The Gate City A History of Omaha (Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1977) p 61.
  3. David L. Bristow, “A Farm Boy Comes to Omaha, 1888,” History Nebraska (https://history.nebraska.gov : Blog; accessed 20 March 2021.
  4. Ditto
  5. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1886). Deed Book 79: 69-70; Isaac Congdon et al. sell to Clinton Orcutt. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  6. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1886). Deed Book 74: 406-0; Charles C Housel and Wife sell to Clinton Orcutt. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  7. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  8. Adam Fletcher, “A History of the Gold Coast Historic District of Omaha,” North Omaha History (https://northomahahistory.com : accessed 12 April 2021).
  9. Sanborn Map Company, (1887).Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omaha, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05229_001/.
  10. “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today,” (Omaha, Nebraska, D.C. Dunbar & Co. Publishers, 1888; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org : accessed 20 April 2021), p.110.
  11. Margaret patricia Killian; Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha (Omaha, Nebraska, Assistance League of Omaha, 1978) p.46.
  12. John Fiske, “Painting your historic house, a guide to colors and color schemes,” Historic Ipswich on the Massachusetts North Shore, (https://historicipswich.org : accessed 5 May 2021.)
  13. “Mrs. Orcutt’s Dancing Party,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha) 20 December 1896, p.4. col.1 : digital images, Chronicling America online Newspaper Archive (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov : accessed 9 May 2021).
  14. “Mr. Orcutt’s Reception,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 23 December 1900, p.6 : digital images, Chronicling America Online Newspaper Archive (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov : accessed 12 February 2021).
  15. “A Dainty Pink Luncheon,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 18 August 1895, p.4; digital images, Chronicling America Online Newspaper Archive (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov : accessed 11 January 2021.
  16. “A Complete guide to Victorian Houses,” Home Advisor, (https//www.homeadvisor.com : accessed 5 April 2021.
  17. “Victorian Decorative Arts,” digital images, Wikipedia (https://wikipedia.org : accessed 5 April 2021.
  18. Suzanne Spellen, “From Pakistan to Brooklyn: A Quick History of the Bathroom,” digital images, Brownstoner, (https://www.brownstoner.com/architecture/victorian-bathroom-history-plumbing-brookly-architecture-interiors/.
  19. 1900 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Omaha, population schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 0045, sheet 7, dwelling 102, family 119, Clinton Orcutt : digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 4 June 2021 citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1854.
  20. “Help Wanted – Female,” Omaha World-Herald, (Omaha), July 12, 1898, p.7; digital images GenealogyBank.com, (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 16 May 2021).
  21. Suzanne Spellen, “Walkabout: Someone’s in the Kitchen Part I,” digital images, Brownstoner, (https://www.brownstoner.com/interiors-renovation : accessed 15 May 2021.
  22. “A Neat bit of Work – How Two Burglars Robbed mr. Orcutt’s Residence,” Omaha World-Herald, (Omaha), 13 February 1890, p.3 ; digital images, GenelaogyBank.com, (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 16 February 2020).
  23. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds
  24. “Dempsters New Cottage,” Omaha Daily Bee, (Omaha), 6 January 1907, p.13; digital images Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 June 2021.
  25. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 30 December 1906, p.7; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 20 May 2021.
  26. 1910 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Omaha, population schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 0083, sheet 6, dwelling 108, family 110, Jeannie Nealley : digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 4 June 2021 citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 844.
  27. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1915). Deed Book 391: 556; Edith Beaton sells to Frank McGinty.
  28. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC.
  29. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Assessor/Register of Deeds, Douglas County, Nebraska Property Record -R0813850000. douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds GIS Mapping (Internet Site), at http://www.dcassessor.org/gis-mapping (Accessed 15 July 2021).

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry, Photographs | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

EDITH ORCUTT BEATON – DAUGHTER OF A 19TH CENTURY ENTREPRENEUR – PART I

Edith Orcutt Beaton circa 1918, Omaha, Nebraska, photo in possession of author.

My mother and grandmother captivated me with tales about my great-grandmother, Edith (Orcutt) Beaton. Her friends called her Edith, but her family used the nickname “Dee Dee.” My grandmother, Anna Jane (Beaton) Hyde, described Edith as “the sweetest mother in the world.” Jean, my mother, remembers her grandmother as calm and easygoing. She has fond memories of visiting Dee Dee at least once a week after school, usually with a friend or two in tow.

After the girls arrived at Edith’s house at 502 N. 40th Street, they scampered up to the second and third floors of the large house to play dress-up. The second floor had a bedroom closet filled with elaborate ball gowns of taffeta, chiffon, and silk. Old trunks contained feather boas, long gloves, imposing hats, and dainty shoes, clothing worn by Edith and her two younger sisters, Anna Ri and Jane when they attended social events. After they selected their attire, the girls climbed the stairs to the third-floor ballroom, where they pranced about in their finery.

A warm, affectionate, and permissive grandmother, Dee Dee allowed Jean, the only grandchild, the run of the house. Just about anything was permissible. When eight-year old Jean and a friend concocted a plan to raise puppies in the basement, Dee Dee provided them with turquoise-blue paint to decorate the rooms. After about a month of painting, the girls abandonded the project, which Dee Dee knew would happen.

Fascinated by Edith’s privileged life, I spent hours perusing every newspaper article and record I could find about the Orcutt and Beaton families. Another age, another world so different from mine. Fortunately, numerous photographs, newspaper articles, and my grandmother’s and mother’s memories provided me with ample information to write this story about my maternal great-grandmother – a tale of love, loss, and resignation.

ORCUTT and BEATON Photograph Albums

Born on August 26, 1879, Marion Edith Orcutt was the third child of Clinton Delos Orcutt and Anna Dorcas (Dutton) Orcutt. A middle child, Edith, had two older brothers, and two younger sisters. She outlived them all.

  1. Louis Deforest Orcutt (1871-1891) – 20 years old
  2. George Dutton Orcutt (1873-1886) – 13 years old
  3. Marion Edith (Orcutt) Beaton Utendorfer (1879-1964) – 84 years old
  4. Anna Ri (Orcutt) Jaques (1881-1942) – 61 years old
  5. Jane Clare “Jennie” (Orcutt) Keeline (1884-1918) – 33 years old

VILLAGE LIFE IN DURANT, IOWA

The Orcutt family lived in Durant, Iowa, twenty miles west of Davenport in the southeast corner of Cedar County. A small but wealthy village, Durant was located in the heart of the corn belt with an economy that revolved around agriculture and livestock. Described as a “handsome village,” the 1884 Iowa State Gazetteer listed the population as 500. Included in the small community: three churches – Congregational, Christian, and Episcopal, public schools (200 school children), two general stores, two harness makers, a physcician, a justice of the peace, a constable, six saloons, a wagonmaker, a telegraph agent, two shoemakers, two blacksmiths, a hotel, a railway and express agent, a coal salesman, and one real estate agent and broker – Clinton Delos Orcutt. [1]

A successful businessman, Clinton Orcutt began his career peddling fruit trees on shares. He borrowed five dollars, a horse, and “…set off bare-back and went into the business with a keen will.” After he worked a few months and covered several counties, he saved enough money to purchase a country store in Durant with a partner. Through hard work, brains, good health, and good habits, his business prospered. Ten years later, he sold his business and turned his hundreds of dollars into thousands. According to the Davenport “Quad-City Times” newspaper in 1879.

“Since then, he has pursued the same saving and thrifty course-watching the signs of the times, buying and selling produce, goods, farms, or what not, and to-day you would certainly not be able to find a single man in Cedar county who could buy him out dollar for dollar and have a cent left…He has a maxim that he glued into his hat at the start -‘Keep out of debt’.”[2]

Map of Durant, Iowa 1885 -Clinton Orcutt Home Jefferson Street # 14 – Courtesy of David Rumsey Map Collection

According to the 1880 census, the Orcutt’s lived on Block 14 Jefferson Street in Durant. [3] One of the Orcutt family albums contains a large photograph of an unidentified house that I believe to be the Orcutt home in Durant. The modest wooden clapboard two-story house has gingerbread trim with functional shutters outside the windows and door. Inside, lace curtains and window shades are visible. I examined the photograph closely, hoping to see a figure peeking out from one of the windows. No luck. A broken picket fence surrounds the house and yard; its barren trees indicate someone took a photograph late fall or winter. A whimsical element is a child’s Victorian tricycle on the front porch. Perhaps it belonged to one of the Orcutt children.

IS THIS THE CLINTON ORCUTT HOME IN DURANT, IOWA CIRCA 1885?

Two doors down the street from the Orcutt family lived Edith’s maternal grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Maria (Whiting) Dutton. Originally from Guilford, Connecticut, they settled in Durant in 1867 with their three children -Anna (Edith’s mother), Samuel and Thomas Junior. Thomas Sr., a Congregationalist minister, was advised by his doctor to move west for health reasons and take up farming to strengthen his constitution. Like their father, Thomas and Sarah’s two sons became farmers. Thomas Jr. moved 250 miles away to Arcadia, Iowa, with his wife and six children. Samuel chose to stay in the area and owned a small farm north of Durant. He and his wife had six children, all close in age to their Orcutt cousins.

Although later in life, Edith reminisced about Iowa, she lost contact with her Dutton relatives. It came as a complete surprise to my grandmother, Anna Jane, when in 1972, she received an inheritance from an unknown Dutton cousin, Samuel’s last surviving son.

Based on numerous newspaper articles, I know Edith’s father, Clinton Orcutt, enjoyed travel. He had the money to indulge in long vacations with his family. In 1876 the Orcutt family spent part of the summer in Minnesota. They returned to Minnesota in 1880 and visited Minneapolis. While there, they stopped in at a prominent photographer’s studio, William Jacoby, on Nicollet Avenue. Edith’s only surviving baby/child photograph depicts a nine-month old baby girl with big blue eyes, her fair hair parted down the middle and combed to the sides.

EDITH ORCUTT 1880, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, photograph in posessession of author.

SEEKING A CALIFORNIA CURE

Union Pacific Railway overland route and connections, 1892. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

In 1885 the Orcutt family traveled to Los Angeles, California. The ‘Muscatine Journal” and Davenport “Quad-city Times” reported the family intended to spend the winter there and return in April/May 1886.

November 24, 1885 – “Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Orcutt, of Durant, left Monday for Los Angeles Cal. Mr. Orcutt will return in February , and his wife remains in California until May.”[4]

January 29, 1886 – “Mr. Orcutt left Los Angeles for home on Friday, 22d inst. For a thousand miles, he was the only passenger in the Pulman coach. The conductor told him that was frequently the case coming east…. Mr. Orcutt goes back to California in March, to return with his family in the following monthMr. Clinton Orcutt, who went to California in November last, with his wife, for the improvement of her health by change of climate, arrived today on the train from the southwest en route for his home in Durant. The wife remains in the golden State until April next. Los Angeles and vicinity has been their place of sojourn since their arrival in California, though Mr. Orcutt traveled considerably. [5]

The California trip, made for health reasons, concerned Edith’s mother, Anna, and possibly her older brother, George Dutton Orcutt. I suspect that Anna and George suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis. A popular nineteenth-century notion that southern California’s sunny climate and fresh air could cure tuberculosis and other lung ailments triggered a rush of health seekers to the region. Los Angeles, considered an earthly paradise, appealed to those with delicate health. Newspaper advsertisements promised cures for those with lung ailments.

“The Los Angeles Times,” September 29, 1886, Newspapers.com

The Orcutt’s departed for California on November 22, 1885. Clinton, Anna, and their four children, Louis (14), George (12), Edith (6), AnnaRi (4), and Jane (1), traveled in the comfort and luxury of a Pullman Sleeper or Hotel car. Pullman cars offered great comfort and safety, but what set them apart was the decor. “Victorian taste ran toward the baroque, and Pullman offered the utmost in ornamentation: carved walnut paneling, polishe brass fittings, beveled French mirrors, Brussels carpets, brocade, tassels, and fringe.”[6]

As advertised by Pullman, “These cars are so constructed as to combine the convenience and elegance of a private parlor by day and the comforts of a well-furnished bed chamber by night -clean bedding, thick hair mattresses, thorough ventilation.” [7] During the daytime, the younger Orcutt children could play on the floor, or watch through the window for new curiosities. Clinton and Anna could sit and converse as if they were at home in their parlor. In the evening, a porter prepared the beds.

“About eight o’clock, the porter, in a clean gray uniform, comes in to make up the beds. The two easy chairs are turned into a double berth. The sofa undergoes a similar transformation…The freshest and whitest of linens and brightly colored blankets complete the outfit; and you undress and go to bed as you would at home.” [8]

Divided into two compartments, the Hotel and Sleeping cars provided a separate kitchen area where a porter prepared the meals, the most important event of the day. Although meals cost extra, the guests had numerous choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “…first-class meals, including all manner of game and seasonable delicacies, were served on moveable tables placed in sections.”[9]

LOS ANGELES

The 2,500-mile journey from Durant to Los Angeles required seven days, taking the family through Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Ogden, Utah; San Francisco, California, and Los Angeles. Shortly before his marriage to Anna Dutton in 1870, Clinton visited California for business purposes. He knew the wonders that awaited his family as they crossed the vast plains, the mountains’ rugged beauty, the changing scenery, and abundant wildlife. For his family, the trip would have been a grand adventure.

Train travel in the 19th century could be expensive, particularly long distances. A first-class ticket from Omaha to Los Angeles in 1881 cost $120 per person, $75 for second-class.[10] If a passenger chose to travel in a Pullman car, there was an additional fare. The approximate cost for a one-way ticket would have been about $170 per adult in 1885 or about $4,600 in 2021. The Orcutts did save on fares for the younger children. Children under five could travel for free and from age 5-12 half-fare.

A novelty for the Orcutts, they celebrated their first Christmas in the sunshine and warmth of California. While touring the area, they encountered several people from eastern Iowa who had moved to the Los Angeles area. According to Clinton, “the people ‘from the states’ watch the hotel registers , and when they see an arrival from their old locality they straightaway introduce themselves-and the way they make inquiries would be amusing, if it were not almost overpowering.”[11]

Perhaps one of their acquaintances recommended the James D. Westerwelt Photography Studio on 18 South Main Street in Los Angeles where Clinton, Anna, and George sat for a photograph. Anna wore an elegant satin dress with a form-fitting bodice, a high neck, and a lace collar. Clinton wore a sharply starched white shirt, jacket and vest. You can see a watch fob threaded through his vest button, on the end of it hung his gold watch. Although he was only 44 years old, his hair and beard are turning gray. Both Clinton and Anna look directly at the camera. Twelve-year-old George, hair neatly parted and combed, gazed to the left with a solemn expression. Were there photographs taken of the other family members? If so, where did they go?

Pictured below are Anna Dorcas (DUTTON) ORCUTT, Clinton Delos ORCUTT (Clinton’s gold watch), George Dutton ORCUTT – photographs taken December 1885/January 1886, Los Angeles, California.

Anna and the children intended to remain in Los Angeles until April/May 1886. Clinton, who had business to address, returned to Durant at the end of January. At the beginning of March, Anna summoned Clinton to quickly return to Los Angeles. George was gravely ill.

March 12,1886 – “Clint Orcutt of Durant has been suddenly called to Los Angeles, Cal, by the sickness of his son George.”[12]

March 26, 1886 – “The son of Clint Orcutt, Esq., of Durant, aged about 13 years, whose illness called the father to Los Angeles, Cal. a fortnight ago, has since died.[13]

The “Muscatine Journal” did not provide further information about the cause of George’s death. The Orcutt family returned as soon as possible to Durant in a state of grief. They buried George in the Durant Cemetery, a cemetery that Clinton’s father, Daniel Heath Orcutt, helped purchase and layout shortly before his death in 1864.

One year later, April 1887, a notice in the local Durant paper stated that Clinton Orcutt was building a “comfortable and commodious residence” in Omaha, Nebraska, and intended to move there in the fall. [14] By the second week of August, 1887, the Orcutt family departed Durant for their new home in Omaha. [15]

Omaha offered a new beginning and economic, educational, and social benefits for the entire family. The next chapter in Edith’s story introduces Omaha during the 1890’s and explores Clinton Orcutt’s Victorian residence.

[Sidenotes]

  1. There is a contradictory element regarding George’s date of death. His tombstone notes the date as February 27, 1886. However, two newspaper articles stated that Clinton Orcutt traveled to Los Angeles in March 1886 and that George passed away two weeks after his father arrived in California. I believe that the gravestone should bear the date March 27, 1886, instead of February 27. What is on a gravestone is not always accurate.

2. Six months after George’s death, his 14-year old cousin, Charles Arthur Dutton, passed away. Sadly, George and Charles each had a brother who died a few years later, 1890 (William Boardman Dutton) and 1891 (Louis DeForest Orcutt). I have not been able to find a cause of death for any of the boys. They all rest together in Durant cemetery.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved

 

Genealogy Sketch

Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER
Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newll UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  1. Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER
  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  3. Jean HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  4. Kendra

 

  1. “Iowa Gazeteer and Business Directory, 1884-1885, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021) entry for Durant. page number 441.
  2. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa 4 January 1879, online archives (https.//www.newspapers.com accessed 29 December 2020), p. 1.
  3. 1880 U.S. Census, Cedar County, Iowa, populations schedule, Durant, Enumeration District (ED) 357, Roll 331, Page 200A, dwelling 10, Clinton Orcutt; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com :accessed 15 December 2020/
  4. Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Iowa, 24 November 1885, online archives (https://newspapers.com: accessed 10 January 2021), p. 2.
  5. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa,29 January 1886, online archives (https://newspapers.com: accessed 29 December 2020), p.1.
  6. Jack Kelly, “The Golden Age of the Pullman Car,” The History Reader Dispatches in History From the St. Martin’s Publishing Group. http://www.thehistoryreader.com : accessed 10 March 2021.
  7. Union & Central Pacific Railroad Line” Timetable, Schedule of Fares, Connections, Information for Travelers (with 11 Engraved Illustrations), and the Rand, McNally & Co. “New Map of the American Overland Route” February, 1881,” Central Pacific Railroad Photographic Museum. http://www.cprr.org : accessed 9 March 2021.
  8. Charles Nordhoff, California How to Go There, and What to See By the Way, “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. V. 44, 1871-1872. Database: Hathitrust.org, Original from Cornell University, Digitized by Cornell University,. http://www.babel.hathitrust.org : (Accessed 12 February 2021). p. 885.
  9. Joseph Husband. The Story of the Pullman Car. (McClurg & Co, Chicago, 1917), Digital Images. Archive. org (Accessed 7 March 2021).
  10. Union & Central Pacific Railroad Line” Timetable, Schedule of Fares, Connections, Information for Travelers (with 11 Engraved Illustrations), and the Rand, McNally & Co. “New Map of the American Overland Route” February, 1881,” Central Pacific Railroad Photographic Museum. http://www.cprr.org : accessed 9 March 2021.
  11. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa,29 January 1886, online archives (https://newspapers.com: accessed 29 December 2020), p.1.
Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/MARIA NILSDOTTER: A CHANGED IMMIGRANT (PART V)

Maria Nilsdotter conquered the most challenging part of her emigration journey when she completed her trans-Atlantic voyage in 1875. This final chapter of Maria’s story chronicles her 1000 mile trek from Castle Garden, New York, to Clinton, Iowa.

While researching immigrant train travel, I came across a riveting memoir written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains. It recounts Stevenson’s 1879 journey from New York to San Francisco. As I read his travel memoir, I concluded that Maria likely encountered similar experiences during her cross-country expedition.

Night Scene at an American railway junction: Published by Currier and Ives c 1876, courtesy of Library of Congress.

Maria’s rail travel commenced mid-June, soon after she completed in-processing at Castle Garden. Along with other westbound travelers, she took a ferry across the Hudson River to a nearby railroad station where she waited to board an immigrant train.

ERIE RAILWAY Schedule, The New York Times, 8 May 1875, online archives (https://www.newspapers.com/image/20381207/): accessed 21 Jan 2021.

There was a babel of bewildered men, women, and children. The wretched little booking office, and the baggage-room, which as not much larger, were crowded thick with emigrants…It was plain that the whole system, if system there was, had utterly broken down under the strain of so many passengers…porters infuriated by hurry and overwork, clove their way with shouts. I may say that we stood like sheep and that the porters charged among us like so many maddened sheepdogs…emigrants had to be sorted and boxed for the journey. A white-haired official, with a stick under one arm, and a list in the other hand, stood apart in front of us and called name after name in the tone of a command. At each name, you would see a family gather up its brats and bundles and run for the hindmost of the three cars that stood awaiting us, and I soon concluded this was to be set apart for the women and children. The second or central, car it turned out, was devoted to men travelling alone.”1

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. (1880). New Iron R.R. Bridge, Portage, N.Y. — (first passenger train.) Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-55c7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The lack of a centralized railway system complicated train travel during the nineteenth century. Nonstop trains from the East Coast to the West Coast did not exist. Like all passengers, Maria had to look out for herself, choose the right route, buy the right ticket, get into the right car, without waiting for someone to direct her. Westward bound passengers from New York traveled via three railway lines – the Erie, the New York Central, or the Pennsylvania Central.

Rand Mcnally And Company & Pittsburgh, F. W. (1874) Map of the Pittsburg sic, Fort Wayne & Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburg sic, Grand Rapids and Indiana, and Pennsylvania railroads
. Chicago. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/98688779/.

Chicago, a central hub, served as a gateway city for transportation lines headed west. Although travel companies filled entire trains with immigrants who traveled from New York to Chicago, passengers had to exercise caution along the journey.

Each railroad company sold tickets for travel only on its own route. When one company’s tracks ended, passengers had to gather up their baggage, walk to the next company’s office, and buy a ticket for the next leg of their trip. Since many small companies owned only thirty or forty miles of track, a long trip could require eight or ten transfers.(2)

Based on the 1871 Handbook for Immigrants to the United States, I calculated that Maria’s railway fare cost approximately $20.00 (3)

Immigrant trains consisted of old and uncomfortable carriages where passengers “were crammed in like so many head of cattle.”(4) Stevenson’s account provided a detailed description of a typical immigrant railroad car.

(1886) The Modern Ship of the Plains Interior of R. R. Car
. , 1886. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/99614187/.

I suppose the reader has some notion of an American railroad-car, that long narrow wooden box, like a flat-roofed Noah’s ark, with a stove and a convenience, one at either end, a passage down the middle, and transverse benches upon either hand. those destined for emigrants on the Union Pacific are only remarkable for constitution, and for the usual inefficacy of the lamps, which often went out and shed but a dying glimmer even while they burned. The benches are too short for anything but a young child. Where there is scarce elbow-room for two to sit, there will not be space enough for one to lie. Hence, the company, or rather, as it appears a plan from certain bills about the Transfer Station, the company’s servants have conceived a plan for the better accommodation of travellers. They prevail on every two to chum together. To each of the chums they sell a board and three square cushions stuffed with straw and covered with thin cotton. the benches can be made to face each other in pairs, for the backs are reversible. On the approach of night, the boards are laid from bench to bench, making a couch wide enough for two, and long enough for a man of the middle height; and the chums lie down side by side upon the cushions with the head to the conductor’s van and the feet to the engine. When the train is full, of course, this plan is impossible, for there must not be more than one to every bench, neither can it be carried out unless the chums agree…Price for one board, the three straw cushions two and half dollars.”(5)

Immigrant Sleeping Car – Horace Porter, “Railway Passenger Travel: 1825-1880,” (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Scotia, N.Y, 1962.) Database: archive.org (https://archive.org/details/railwaypassenger00port/page/15/mode/1up :accessed 21 Jan 2021.)

Immigrant trains operated for profit, not for comfort or speed. (6) They chugged along slowly at fifteen miles per hour on average in populated areas, and they made frequent stops. The trains halted at small towns to let off or take on commuting passengers, mail, or packages. When time allowed, the passengers could purchase rolls, sandwiches, or a cup of coffee, if they could elbow their way to the counter.(7)

Currier & Ives & Worth, T. (ca. 1884) A limited express: five seconds for refreshments! / Thos. Worth
. , ca. 1884. New York: published by Currier & Ives. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/97507578/.

Delays were commonplace. Immigrant trains had to pull onto sidetracks and wait as fast-moving luxury trains sped past. Longer delays occurred when a train wreck threw the entire railroad line into chaos. (8)

The Chatsworth, Ill Wreck of Aug 10, 1877. “Train Wrecks; a pictorial history of accidents on the main line by Robert Reed. Database archive.org (https://archive.org/details/trainwrecks0000unse/page/32/mode/1up?q=emigrant+train) accessed 20 Nov 2020.

Aside from a lack of comfort and convenience, rail travel had many inherent dangers. The railroad Gazette for 1875 noted 1,201 accidents. (9)

“Train wrecks were all too common in the nineteenth century –boilers blew up, decaying bridges collapsed under the weight of trains, brittle tracks cracked, wooden passenger cars were set on fire by kerosene lamps or wood heating stoves, brakes overheated and failed. Because of the primitive signal systems, two trains were often mistakenly switched onto the same track and sent speeding into each other. In 1987 alone, there were 104 head-on-collisions in the United States.” (10)

The train trip from New York to Chicago took four to five days with no less than three stops every day for meals. (11) Passengers were permitted about twenty minutes per mealtime; breakfast in the morning, a dinner between eleven and two, and supper from five to eight or nine in the evening. They had to consume their food while keeping an eye on the train to board before it departed without them. Stevenson wrote, “Emigrants are not treated with the same civility as other passengers. In all other trains, a warning cry of ‘All Aboard’ recalls the passengers to take their seats; but with the emigrants the train stole from the station without a note of warning, and you had better keep an eye upon it even while you ate.” (12)

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1877). A character scene in the emigrant waiting room of the Union Pacific Railroad depot at Omaha. Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-37f0-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

A great personage on the railway is the newsboy.” He sold books, newspapers, fruit, lollipops, and cigars. The newsboy provided, for a fee, soap, towels, tin washing basins, tin coffee pitchers, coffee, tea, sugar, and tinned food, mostly hash or beans and bacon. (13) To save money, Maria may have partnered with other female passengers and shared the cost of the soap, towels, and tin basin. Early morning grooming aboard a moving train required a measure of skill and balance. If she wanted to wash, Maria had to fill a tin basin at the water filter opposite the stove in the railroad car. Then, armed with the towel, brick of soap, and the basin, she had to make her way to the platform of the train car. There she knelt, supported herself by bracing a shoulder against the woodwork, or hooked her elbow around the railing. A quick splash of cold water to the face and neck had to suffice.

Once the train was well away from urban areas, it picked up speed and could reach up to sixty miles per hour. As the train rattled along the winding route, Maria witnessed the changing landscape. Like many immigrants, she must have marveled at the sheer size and immensity of America.

Mauch Chunk, On the Lehigh Valley Railroad, PA, USA. Mary L. Martin, LTD; Havre de Grace, MD, USA. Ancestry.com. U.S., Historical Postcards, 1893-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com

Stevenson described his travels across the midwest as follows:

“All through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, or for as much as I saw of them from the train and in my waking moments, it was rich and various, and breathed an elegance peculiar to itself. The tall corn pleased the eye; the trees were graceful in themselves, and framed the plain into long aerial vistas; and the clean, bright, gardened townships spoke of country fare and pleasant evenings on the stoop. (14)

CLINTON, IOWA (click on Clinton and view a google map of Maria’s journey.)

By the time Maria reached Chicago, “a great and gloomy city,”(15) she had traveled about 900 miles. When she arrived, she had to collect her baggage, board an omnibus, and make her way to a different railroad station. (16) There she boarded a train bound for Clinton, Iowa, located 138 miles west of Chicago.

Corlies, S. F., photographer. (1863) Depot of the Ill. Central RR Chicago, Illinois
. , 1863. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2005683836/.

Located in the eastern bend of the Mississippi River, Clinton was home to 9000 residents, according to the 1876 Iowa Gazetteer. (17) Most of them hailed from New England or New York, but the town had a growing immigrant population. It included Maria’s elder sister, Christina, and her husband, Olaf Nilsson. Christina, who immigrated to Clinton in 1872, could assist Maria in acclimating to her new life. It is more than likely she helped Maria find employment as a domestic servant.

The city’s principal industries included lumber mills, which employed more than 1000 persons, a chair factory, two paper mills, machine shops, boiler works, a carriage factory, and foundries. Churches abounded, Swedish and German Lutheran, Congregational, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and colored Methodist. There were also five banks, four schools, and two daily newspapers. (18)

A CHANGED IMMIGRANT

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_emigration_to_the_United_StatesA childhood acquaintance, much changed.” the simple young Swedish peasant women’s rapid growth in sophistication in America. Courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

Years ago, when I examined a framed photograph of Maria, I discovered a surprise. Hidden behind the photograph was a thin, tintype image of Maria. It measured 2 5/8″ x 3 1/4″. Typical for the 1870’s the tintype shows Maria’s full appearance.

Maria Nilsdotter, tintype image taken circa 1875, in Clinton, Iowa. Original tintype is black and white, colorized version is courtesy of MyHeritage. Original in possession of author.

Maria wore a fringed cuirass – a form-fitting bodice that extended past her hips. The dress’s ruffles, bows, and fringe, the narrow sleeves with trimmed cuffs, and the scarf around her neck reflect a style popular from 1875-1877. (19) Perched jauntily atop her head is a hat embellished with feathers.

Advertisement from Gazetteer and directory of Clinton County, Iowa, 1876, courtesy of Internet Archive, archive.org

Did Maria select Clarke’s Photograph Gallery, the cheapest and best in town? The photographer succesfully blended the background and foreground, something that not every photographer did well. The chair served two purposes. It functioned as a prop for Maria to steady herself, and it provided a visual effect. Maria balanced one arm on the back of the chair and casually positioned one hand over the other to draw attention to the metal filigree bracelet. The dress, jewelry, and especially the hat, told a story. It conveyed to her family and friends in Sweden, that she had succeeded in transforming herself from a farm girl into a lady.

Popular during the 19th century, tintypes were inexpensive, costing just a few cents. They could also withstand the rigors of mailing. Maria probably ordered at least two tintypes. One she kept for herself, and the other she mailed to her family in Sweden.

“The photographs that Swedish immigrant women sent home with their letters provided additional evidence that powerfully communicated the benefits of emigration. Often, after only a few months in the United States, immigrant women went to studios and had their portraits taken to send home to friends and relatives. To viewers back home, these young women must have appeared utterly transformed. They had seen sisters, friends, and neighbors leave the village simply dressed, hatless, and in homespun. The images sent home showed the same women in store-bought dresses and wearing fancy hats. It was not just the clothing that appealed to young women but also the personal freedom and economic means that the clothing and studio portraits represented. Hats, in particular, were a symbol of social class. In Sweden, only upper-class women were permitted to wear hats. Swedish American women intentionally wore hats for their portraits in order to convey a message of social advancement. Acquisition of fashionable wardrobe may also have been seen necessary to attract male suitors.”(20)

Maria did not find a suitor in Clinton, as did her two sisters, Christina, and Anna, the latter who immigrated in 1880. They each married a Swedish immigrant. Drawn to a larger city and greater opportunities, Maria moved 330 miles to Omaha, Nebraska. As I discussed in a previous blog, she met and married an American, John Mathews Nichols. Maria gained her American citizenship upon her marriage.

FAMILY CONTACT

After their immigration, did Maria and her sisters experience the hundår (dog years)? “Defined in Swedish-English dictionaries as years of struggle.”(21) Did they yearn to visit their family in Sweden? Maria, and her sisters, Christina and Anna, maintained contact with their family in Sweden. The 1909 probate record for their father, Nils Persson, listed each of the daughters’ names and locations.

Probate record for Nils Persson, 1909, Arkivdigital: Jösse-häradsrätt-FII-79-1909-1909-Image-5080-page-116 pg 1

“Enkan Kristina Nilsdotter boende i iova, Norra Amerika, enkan Anna Nilsdotter boende i iova, Norra Amerika dottern Maria Nilsdotter, gift med Nichols Omaha, Norra Amerika samt barnbarnen.” (22)

Translation: The widow Kristina Nilsdotter, living in Iowa, North America, the widow Anna Nilsdotter living in Iowa, North America, daughter Maria Nilsdotter, married to Nichols, Omaha, North America; and the grandchildren.

Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson Nichols never returned to Sweden. She passed away in 1931 at age 76, shortly after the unexpected death of her son Charles. Two years later, in the summer of 1933, the youngest of the three sisters, 75-year-old Anna Nilsdotter Nyberg, traveled to Sweden. Her son, Carl Nyberg, age 39, accompanied her. Where they went and whom they visited is unknown.

Värmland calls to me. One day, I will return and visit Maria’s ancestral village of Skällarbyn. Until then, if any distant cousins read this blog, please contact me.

Värmland poster was given to me by my mother and sister.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved

 

Genealogy Sketch


Name: MARIA NILSDOTTER/MARY NELSON 1854-1931
Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
KARIN OLSDOTTER 1822-1896
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra

 

SOURCES

  • (1) Robert Louis Stevenson. The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. (W. Heinemann in association with Chatto and Windus, 1922.), Digital Images. Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/worksofrobertlou0002stev/page/332/mode/2up : accessed 15 Nov 2020) 333.
  • (2) Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 20.
  • (3) Handbook for Immigrants to the United States (New York, Hurd, and Houghton, 1871), Digital Images, Archive.org (http://archive.org: accessed 23 November 2020.)
  • (4)Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 20.
  • (5) Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains with other Memories and Essays, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897).googlebooks.com; 28-29
  • (6) Joy K Lintelman, I go to America Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (St. Paul Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009),62
  • (7)Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains with other Memories and Essays, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897).googlebooks.com; 28-29
  • (8)Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 32
  • (9)Robert C. Reed. Train Wrecks; a pictorial history of accidents on the main line. (Seattle, Superior Pub. Co.). Digital Images. Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/trainwrecks0000unse/page/26/mode/1up?q=emigrant+train. accessed: 15 Nov 2020).
  • (10)Jim Murhpy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993) 29.
  • (11)Ljungmark, Lars. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg, Swedish Exodus. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979, 82.
  • (12)Robert Louis Stevenson. The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. (W. Heinemann in association with Chatto and Windus, 1922.), Digital Images. Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/worksofrobertlou0002stev/page/332/mode/2up : accessed 15 Nov 2020) 360.
  • (13)Ibid, 358.
  • (14)Ibid, 344.
  • (15)Ibid, 346.
  • (16)Ibid, 346.
  • (17)F.E. Owen. Gazetteer and directory of Clinton county, Iowa, containing a history of the county, and the cities of Clinton and Lyons. (Lyons, Iowa, 1876), Database Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/gazetteerdirecto00owen/page/n79/mode/2up : accessed 21 Jan 2021.
  • (18)Ibid.
  • (19)Maureen A. Taylor, Family Photo Detective, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tre Books, 2013), 109.
  • (20)Joy K Lintelman, I go to America Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (St. Paul Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009,62.
  • (21)Ibid, 94.
  • (22)Jösse-häradsrätt-FII-79-1909-1909-Image-5080-page-116 pg 1.

Posted in My Family Ancestry | Tagged , | 9 Comments

THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/ MARIA NILSDOTTER: A SWEDISH TREK TO AMERICA (Part IV)

Liverpool, England, postcard author’s personal collection.

TRANSATLANTIC JOURNEY

This blog is the fourth in a series about the life of Maria Nilsdotter (Mary Nelson) and her immigration to America in 1875. In the previous blog, Maria traveled from Skällarbyn, Sweden, to Liverpool, England, where she waited to board a transatlantic steamship bound for America.

My initial search for “Maria Nilsdotter” on a passenger list proved unsuccessful. After I expanded the search to include variations of the spelling of her name, I found a likely candidate.

Listed on the manifest for the S.S. Erin for June 1875, is “Marie Nelson”, age 21, occupation servant. [1] Am I 100% certain that this is “my” Maria Nilsdotter? No, but it is likely based on her departure from her village on May 24th, 1875, and research outlined in previous blog posts. If not, then Maria’s travel experiences would have been very similar to those I detail in this article.

Ship’s Manifest – S.S. Erin – Ancestry.com

Passenger list for S.S. Erin, June 14, 1875. Marie Nelson, age 21, female, servant, Sweden, Steerage – Ancestry. com

S.S. ERIN

Anxiety and anticipation filled the pit of Maria’s stomach as she waited on the landing dock to board the S.S. Erin. Alongside her, crowds of immigrants clutched their numerous bundles and stared at one another. They gazed in wonder at the massive steel vessel, longer than a city block, rows of portholes, a deckhouse, three masts, and a monster funnel. “They caught a glimpse of the white lifeboats hanging in davits, red- mouthed ventilators, and the brightest of brasswork.”[2] Soon the stewards directed them up the gangway and onboard the S.S. Erin. The journey commenced.

The S.S. Erin departed Liverpool Wednesday, June 2, 1875, early in the afternoon at high tide to clear the sandbars. The passengers had a final view of England before they headed out into the bay and then into the Irish Channel. The next morning, June 3rd, they stopped in Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, to pick up Irish passengers. After the final warning bell sounded, the ship edged away from the pier and set course along the Irish coast. Hopefully, they had smooth waters as they headed out into the Atlantic.

S.S. Erin, National Line – image courtesy of NorwayHeritage.com

The British passenger liner with a clipper stem, one funnel, and three masts, was built by Palmer Brothers & Company, in Jarrow-on-Tyne, for the National Line in 1864. Rebuilt twice, in 1872 and 1876, she would eventually accommodate 72 first-class passengers and 1,200 third-class (steerage) passengers. [3] Charles H. Andrews served as Master and Captain of the 3,956-ton ship.[4]

An advertisement for the National Line passenger steamships promoted the ships’ comfortable accommodations.[5]

FIRST CLASS: Unsurpassed accommodations for passengers. The Saloons and Staterooms are very spacious and cheerful, finely lighted and ventilated, and elegantly furnished. The Table will compare favorably with that of the best Hotels in England.

Ladies Boudoir – also Piano, Library, Smoking, and Bath Rooms, etc. A Surgeon, Stewards, and Stewardesses on every steamer. Medicine and attendance free.

STEERAGE: The Steerage is large, light and airy, and warmed by steam in winter. Married couples with their children are berthed by themselves, Single persons are placed in separate rooms.

Meals are served three times a day by the Ship’s stewards and consist of unlimited quantity of good and wholesome provisions put on board under inspection of the Company’s Purveyor. Plenty of fresh drinking water. The care of Surgeon and Stewards free.”

Museum of the City of New York. Database. MCNY Blog: New York Stories. https://blog.mcny.org/2016/06/28/transport-by-sea/: accessed June 2020.

“Steerage,” located near the ship’s steering equipment, consisted of one or more below-deck compartments both fore and aft. Contrary to the favorable description above, a typical steerage compartment was dark, hot, airless, and crowded.

“A typical steerage consisted of a compartment indistinguishable from any upper cargo hold, without portholes or any other effective ventilating mechanism, unpartitioned and six to eight feet high, crammed with two or more tiers of narrow metal bunks containing minimal mattresses. Men and women were separated, sometimes on separate decks, sometimes by nothing but a few blankets tossed over a line in the middle of the compartment. Toilet facilities were always inadequate; cleanup was almost non-existent; and the combined smells from the ship’s galleys and human exrement nauseating. The food was both monotonous and poorly prepared – if prepared at all – and freshwater was usually only available up on the deck. The chief kind of food provided, described by many immigrants, was barrel after barrel of herring, the cheapest food available…[6]

David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p.121

Fortunately for Maria and her shipmates, the S.S. Erin had a reduced number of passengers on the voyage. The Saloon (First) Class numbered just fourteen. Their nationalities included: Candadians -2, English-2, Dutch -2, French -2, and Americans -4. Their occupations: ladies, gentlemen, clerk, draper, and a broker.[7]

Robert Louis Stevenson illustrated the distinction between passenger classes in a witty account, The Amateur Emigrant, Travel Memoir. Although Stevenson traveled second-class from Scotland to America in 1879, he frequently went below decks to steerage and interacted with the third-class passengers.

“In the steerage there are males and females; in the second cabin ladies and gentlemen. For some time after I came aboard I thought I was only a male; but in the course of the voyage of discovery between decks, I came on a brass plate, and learned that I was still a gentleman…

For all these advantages I paid but two guineas. Six guineas is the steerage fare; eight that by the second cabin; and when you remember that the steerage passenger must supply bedding and dishes, and in five cases out of ten, either bring some dainties with him, or privately pays the steward for extra rations, the difference in price becomes almost nominal. Air comparatively fit to breathe, food comparatively varied, and the satisfaction of being still privately a gentleman, may thus be had almost for the asking. Two of my fellow passengers in the second cabin had already made the passage by the cheaper fare, and declared it was an experiment not to be repeated.”[8]

Robert Louis Stevenson. The Amatuer Emigrant, Travel Memoir. Originally published 1895 (Middletown, DE 2020).

Steerage passengers on the S.S. Erin numbered 431, representing thirteen nationalities. They ranged in age from an infant to 59-years old, and nearly two-thirds were male.[9]

Irish – 177, German -94, English -73, Swedish -55, French – 14, Prussian -5, Austrian -3, Hungarian -3, Scottish -2, Greek-2, Dutch-1, Polish -1, and American -1

They came from various backgrounds, perhaps they hoped to ply their trades in America or seek new job opportunities. Many immigrants longed to purchase cheap land. Maria, probably hoped to find employment as a servant after she learned basic English.

Occupations of the steerage passengers: architect, boilermaker, butcher, blacksmith, brewer, confectioner, farm laborer, file cutter, gardener, grocer, lawyer, machine maker, miner, peddler, servant, shipbuilder, shoemaker, tailor, and waiter.

Amongst the 55 Swedes on board, there were several young women close in age to 21-year old Maria, with whom she could share her dreams and excitement and concerns. Travel brochures noted that passengers should be very cautious regarding their choice of acquaintances on board, especially on the part of women. Sailors had a reputation for taking advantage of female passengers.

The stormy North Atlantic took a toll on the well-being of most of the passengers. “They were land creatures, temporarily uprooted from the earth and passing through a wholly alien environment.”[10] Seasickness affected most of them. Even though they were miserable, they knew it would pass. A more significant concern was the possibility of contracting cholera or typhus. These were the killers.

A fear that loomed largest in the imagination of the passengers was a shipwreck. Captive in a moving vessel, they were at the mercy of the weather and the elements.

Foundering Ship– Harper’s Weekly, 1857. Courtesy of archive.org

Emigrant Swedish-English guidebooks addressed the fears that many passengers felt about the voyage. Published in 1881, the Utvandrarens Tolk, (The Emigrant’s Interpreter) provided phrases emigrants could practice during their trip.[11]

Swedish-English dictionaryLanguage Contact Across the North Atlantic, P Sture Ureland, Googlebooks.com
  • “All passengers must go down in the hold and the hatches be shut, there is an appearance of a storm.
  • I cannot go down; I feel very sick; I cannot stand on my legs.
  • Ah, what I suffer, I think I am dying.
  • Pshaw, it will pass.
  • This is a violent storm.
  • Look, the porpoises jump round the prow of the vessel.
  • Here we are lost. It is so sultry. Can we not get out?
  • Not before the sotrm has ceased. But in the meantime we are suffocated.
  • Pooh, there is no danger.
  • Now the storm is over. Now we shall let you out.”[12]

[The S.S. Erin disappeared in a shipwreck 14 years after Maria’s voyage. In December 1889, the S.S. Erin departed from New York to London with her 52 crew members, 525 cattle, and about 20 cattlemen. After passing Sable Island, off the coast of Novia Scotia, she went missing with the loss of all on board. The Board of Trade inquiry determined the ship foundered in a violent gale.][13]

Despite their concerns, most emigrants focused on what lay ahead. They could endure the trip with the knowledge it would lead to a new wide-open life in America. First-hand accounts by Swedish immigrants provided the best source to understand what Maria may have experienced during her journey. One book in particular, cited numerous and diverse stories, From the Promised Land, Swedes in America 1840-1914.

In 1890, Gustav Eriksson, a shoemaker from Dalarna, Sweden, traveled to America. He compiled a letter in diary form. We join him and his friend Gustaf L. in Liverpool as they board their ship the Majestic.[14]

“WEDNESDAY. When we came to the dock we had to stand in a shed from which the cargo was being winched up into the ship; they were busy loading when we came. After we had waited a while we were able to go onboard. We were shown to the foredeck, the womenfolk to the stern, we had our quarters two flights down. There all the Swedes were packed in, farther forward on the same level came the Finns. One flight down the English and Germans had their quarters…

When we went and walked around the deck to find our way around as best we could, a man came and said go forward. They herded us from forward aft, there we went from the one side to the other like a flock of sheep. We were really packed in there, I think we could well have been around 6,700…

THURSDAY. Last night we left Liverpool harbor and are now steaming at full speed for Ireland, where people will also be picked up. It is storming, but not so bad. There aren’t such big waves as on the North Sea, we have a headwind. You could feel this morning when I woke up that the ship was rolling and the waves striking hard against the sides.

On the North Sea we were only Scandanavians, here it is really cosmic, several nations are represented. The Englishmen are generally skinny and puny, and look as if they would fall to pieces if a real Swede gave them a box on the ear.

We lay here in Kingston until around one, then the anchor was raised and the journey over the Atlantic began. A stiff headwind was blowing so that when we came out a bit there were high seas. The ship rolled and shook, it began to feel uncomfortable. I got tired of this eternal rolling…Storms and waves don’t interest me any longer. I hate them. If only we were there. But it will go on for a long while, six whole days, so one just has to go and feel uncomfortable.” [For Maria, the trip lasted eleven long days.]

H. Arnold Barton, Editor. From the Promised Land, Swedes in America, 1840-1914 (University of Minnesota 1975), p 212-214.

It is relevant to note that Gustaf Eriksson traveled fifteen years after Maria’s journey when conditions for steerage passengers had slightly improved after the Passenger Act of 1882.[15]

Immigrants on an Atlantic Liner, c 1906. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

The British Pall Mall Gazette published an article written four years after Maria’s voyage. The journalist described conditions in steerage on a reverse journey from New York to Liverpool in 1879. He traveled aboard the Cunard Line, which advertised that they accommodated their third-class travelers better than any other transatlantic line.[16]

“Now I was in the steerage. Words are incapable of conveying anything like correct notion of the kind of den in which I stood among sixty fellow passengers. A glance around filled me with dismay and disgust…In the center of the floor was an open wooden grating, the entry, as I afterward discovered to the steward’s storeroom. This “ventilated” direct into the steerage. That salt and cured fish were among the items carried below was immediately apparent to at least one of our senses.

Opening the door of the compartment which I shared with eleven bed-fellow, I passed into the narrow and foul-smelling passage in front of the shelves. My companions were in their respective trays. They were quiet but not asleep. How they managed to compress themselves and their belongings into the space allotted to them I could not understand. Each shelf -six feet long by about eighteen inches width – was not alone bed and bed-chamber but wardrobe, cupboard, and luggage depository of its occupant. Each slept with his clothes on; indeed undressing was out of the question – there was not room enough for the operation…

In vain I tried to sleep. My elbows and knees went to sleep, but I remained awake. The wind was rising and the ship was rolling. Within an hour it was blowing harder; and then it abundantly appeared that my companions were not good sailors. Dreadful were the next two hours; but at length all was silent and I dozed off…”

Mealtimes offered a distraction from the monotony of the journey.

On board an emigrant ship – the breakfast bell immigrants on ship deck. c. 1884. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

“Breakfast was quickly served. The tin pans filled with half-burned bread were plumped down upon the tables. The rank compound supposed to be butter again made its appearance. There stood the steward with what appeared to be a large fish-kettle in one hand a greasy kitchen ladle in the other, bawling out, “Who’s for stew?” We were all for stew…

Breakfast finished, the washing of pots and pans and platters commenced. A tub of lukewarm water was placed for the sailors’ convenience on the main deck. Here the steerage passengers were permitted to wash their eating utensils; and after every meal a string of these travellers ascended the gangway and rinsed and scoured the tin pans and pannikins until the shone again. Our pots and pannikens clean and bright, all sought refuge on deck. Four hours and a half of fresh sea-air blew off the nauseous atmosphere that clung to one like a mist in the steerage…

My experience aboard was not that of an isolated individual: all third-class travellers were treated precisely alike. And it should be remembered, too, that we made the voyage under the most favourable conditions: there were few steerage passengers, and the time of year was good…”

H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-Day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, No 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Hathitrust.org. Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google.

[An informative visual presentation of travel in steerage circa 1880 is available on youtube. Steerage and Third Class on Ocean Liners.]

Maria and her companions may have shared condolences over the food and dreadful conditions aboard ship.They likely discussed how long the voyage might last. Perhaps they shared bits of information about their occupations, what they hoped to find in the new world, and what they left behind in the old. Maybe they practiced English and used a guide book that provided translations and pronunciation.

Immigrant Handbook Vägledning Svenska utvandrare till Amerika. National Library of Sweden

Despite the horrible accommodations and unappetizing food, the sociability of Maria’s companions could have positively influenced her experiences. On the other hand, they may have negatively impacted her, as recounted by H. Phelps Whitmarsh who traveled in steerage from Liverpool to New York in 1898.[17]

“I suppose there are conditions more favorable to the rapid growth of acquaintance and friendship than those on shipboard. On the other hand, however, there is no place like it for wearing a friendship threadbare – for finding people out. Sea friendships, sea promises, and sea plans, I have noticed are uncertain things at best and never to be depended upon.”

H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-Day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, No 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Hathitrust.org. Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google.

ARRIVAL CASTLE GARDEN

Immigrants at the rail of a steamship, the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

A buzz of excitement ran through steerage as the ship drew closer to America. The sailors would have informed the passengers that they weren’t far from shore. “The burning question of the steerage is, ‘Shall we get ashore to-night?”[18] In most cases, the steerage passengers had to wait an additional night on board the ship.

After eleven long days crossing the Atlantic, the S.S. Erin reached the shores of America. It docked at the Hudson or East River piers on Sunday, June 13, 1875. Using a tip from another genealogist, I searched New York newspapers for the ship’s arrival notice. Located in the Marine Intelligence section, was a list of all the steamships and schooners that docked each day. The newspaper notice included information if a ship had encountered storms, strong winds, or delays. Fortunately for the crew and passengers of the S. S.Erin, the voyage proceeded without mishaps.[19]

“Marine Intelligence.” The New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives, Newspapers.com

“MARINE INTELLIGENCE – New York…Sunday, June 13th

Arrived: Steam-ship Erin, (Br.) Andrews, Liverpool June 2nd and Queenstown 3d, with mdse and passengers to F.W. J. Hurst.

Although the ship docked on June 13th, the Captain did not sign the manifest until June 14th, which likely indicates that Maria and the other immigrants did not go ashore the first day. They had to wait until the following morning.

Port of New York, S.S. Erin, 14 June 1875. Ancestry.com

The emigrants caught their first glimpse of America at the eastern edge of Manhattan Island. They clustered on the deck, anxious to get ashore and enjoy the liberty they had traveled so far to obtain. Their first impressions formed as they approached an imposing architectural structure called Castle Garden, which once served as a military fort, built on an artificial island. Castle Garden signified that they had arrived in America.[20]

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. (1880). Castle Garden Emigrant Station photographed from above Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bc49ce70-7fea-0132-6f19-58d385a7bbd0

The New York Times reported in February 1874:

“Castle Garden is so well known in Europe that few emigrants can be induced to sail for any other destination. Their friends in this country write to those who are intending to emigrate to come to Castle Garden where they will be safe, and if out of money, they can remain until it is sent to them.”[21]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Deport 1850-1890” (U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com

From August 3, 1855, to April 18, 1890, Castle Garden served as the official immigration center for the United States. More than eight million immigrants – almost all from Europe – passed through Castle Garden.[22]

IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES

Upon arrival, an immigration officer boarded the vessel. He ascertained the number of passengers, noted any deaths during the voyage, and if any passengers suffered from illnesses. Next, the Landing Agent and Inspector of Customs boarded the vessel.

The first and second class passengers remained in their cabins while agents checked their paperwork and did not undergo a physical examination. Soon after, they disembarked at the pier and continued on their journey.

Steerage passengers underwent a more thorough inspection. After the agents checked the luggage, it was transferred to the barges or tugs and transported to Castle Garden pier. Likewise, steerage passengers were transported by ferry or barge to Castle Garden.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1884-06). Landing immigrants at Castle Garden. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-0f53-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Maria arrived during the peak immigration season (May-June). The center was a beehive of activity with as many as 3000 immigrants gathered in the processing center.[23] The weather that day was mild, 72° on June 13, and 66° on June 14, which would have made the long wait somewhat tolerable.[24] As she left the barge, Maria would have seen Castle Garden as it loomed in front of her surrounded by a large wooden wall. Over the large door to the entrance hung a sign, Castle Garden. Once she passed through the door, she would have seen the outbuildings, hospitals, and offices in the compound. [25]

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. (1861 – 1880). State Emigrant Landing Depot, Castle Garden, N.Y. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-2802-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

“The Castle Garden area covered about 125, 000 square feet. The main structure was built of brown-stone blocks, closely cemented and forming a wall six feet thick. The gun embrasures retained the original shape, and the old nail-studded gates which guarded its portals in olden times were at this time still preserved.”[26]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as An Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890”. (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com

Inside Castle Garden, Maria, like all immigrants, had to undergo a medical and legal inspection. The interrogation included answering several questions that determined an immigrant’s “fitness” to remain in America. “The primary job of officials was to prevent individuals who were likely to become a public charge due to physical or mental disabilities from entering the United States and to admit those likely to be productive members of the industrial labor force.”[27] One of the questions that determined “fitness” was how much money an immigrant brought with them or would receive from a sponsor. The U.S. government did not desire immigrants who immediately became public charges. Swedish male immigrants, on average, brought more cash than females. “Average in-hand cash amounts for the women were 62 kronor and 25 dollars, while averages for the men were 266 kronor and 318 dollars.”[28]

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1868-08-15). The Labor Exchange — interior views of the office at Castle Garden, New York. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-0f55-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

With the large volume of immigrants, medical checks were cursory, but any sign of contagion could lead to quarantining of the steerage passengers or the entire ship. Minor health issues were dealt with immediately at an onsite aid station. More severe conditions required the passengers to be sent to immigrant hospitals on Wards Island in the East River for free treatment.[29] If the passengers’ papers were in order, and they were in good health, the inspection process would last approximately three to five hours.

The Handbook for Immigrants to the United States described the procedures at Castle Garden.

“On landing, the passengers are examined by a medical officer to discover if any are sick. After examination, the immigrants are directed into the Rotunda, a circular space with separate compartments for English speaking and other nationalities.

Each immigrant receives a brass ticket with a letter and number on landing, a duplicate is placed on his piece of luggage after passing the health inspection. After the luggage is weighed and paid for, it is sent free of charge to the depot or railroad or dock by which they leave.

Immigrants then proceed to the registering department where the names, nationality, former place of residence, and the intended destination of the immigrants are taken down.

[Inside the main building, the immigrants could use bathing facilities, one for men and on the opposite side for women. Soap, water, and clean towels on rollers were provided free of charge.]

Passengers then directed to the agents for the Railroad companies where they can procure tickets to all parts of the United States and Canada without the risk of fraud or extortion to which they are subjected to outside the Depot.

Exchange brokers admitted into the Depot change foreign money for a small advance on the market rate.

When the proceeding operations are completed, the immigrants are assembled in the tile Rotunda and an officer of the Commission calls the names of those whose friends attend them in the waiting room at the entrance of the Depot, and to whom they are directed.

Names are also called out for those for whom letters or funds are waiting. Immigrants who desire to communicate with friends at a distance are referred to the Letter Writing Department.

If an immigrant desires to remain in the city for any period of time they are referred to boarding-house keepers to guard the immigrant against the abuses.

The cost of a meal in the building half-a-dollar. Ther is no place to sleep unless on the floor or a chair.”[31]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as An Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890”. (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com

Most immigrants spent only a few hours inside Castle Garden. Some were met by family members who anxiously awaited their arrival. Others, like Maria, had to determine if they would spend the night in New York or continue on their journey by rail or ferry. If an immigrant chose to stay overnight, there were licensed boarding houses approved by Castle Garden Depot.[31]

For those immigrants who continued on their journey, steamboats would whisk them up the Hudson River to the railroad, steamship, or canal boats. Many immigrants had prepaid orders, which entitled them to a railroad ticket to their place of destination. Once they left the walls of Castle Garden, immigrants had to be cautious of thieves and swindlers who tried to fleece them. Due to language barriers, poverty, and fear, many immigrants were easy prey.[32]

Castle Garden Emigrant-Catchers June 14, 1882. Historical Society of Pennsylvania -Digital Library.

Maria survived the long voyage and arrived in America, but her trip wasn’t over yet. Another week of travel had to be endured. Her journey by immigrant train carried her more than 1000 miles across the United States to Clinton, Iowa.

(To be continued – Final chapter)

You, whoever you are!...
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, 
Indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagos of the sea!
All you of centuries hence when you listen to me!
All you each and everywhere whom I specify not, but include just the same!
Health to you! Good will to you all, from me and America sent!
Each of us is inevitable,
Each of us is limitless - each of us with his or her right upon
the earth,
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.
Walt Whitman[33]

© 2020 copyright -Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

 

Genealogy Sketch


Name: MARIA NILSDOTTER/MARY NELSON 1854-1931
Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
KARIN OLSDOTTER 1822-1896
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra

 



SOURCES

  1. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  2. H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, Number 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Hathitrust.org, Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.32106019606240?urlappend=%3Bseq=7 : (Accessed August 25, 2020).
  3. Norwayheritage.com Database. http://www.norwayheritage.com: (Accessed 14 July 2020).
  4. Ibid
  5. Museum of the City of New York. Database. MCNY Blog: New York Stories. http:blog.mcny.org : (Accessed June 2020).
  6. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 126.
  7. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  8. Robert Louis Stevenson. The Amateur Emigrant, Travel Memoir 1895.
  9. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  10. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 121.
  11. P. Sture Ureland, Ian Clarkson, ed., Lanugage Across the North Atlantic (Max Niemeyer verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Tübingen, 1996) 165; Digital Images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books: accessed 14 August 2020.).
  12. Ibid
  13. WRECK.site. Database. http://wrecksite.eu :2020
  14. H. Arnold Barton, Editor. From the Promised Land, Swedes in America 1840-1914 (University of Minnesota, 1975), p212-214.
  15. “Historic Documents-United States-Passenger Act of 1882.” Database: NorwayHeritage.com :(Accessed 24 August 2020).
  16. “In the Steerage of a Cunard Steamer,” Pall Mall Gazette, 14 August 1879. Database: British NewspapersArchive.co.uk: (Accessed 10 August 2020.
  17. H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, Number 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Hathitrust.org, Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.32106019606240?urlappend=%3Bseq=7 : (Accessed August 25, 2020).
  18. Ibid
  19. “Marine Intelligence.” the New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives (http://www.newspapers.com/image/20388581/: accessed 15 May 2020), p 8, col 6.
  20. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 121.
  21. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  22. Brendan P. O’Malley, “Welcome to New York, Remembering Castle Garden, a Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Welfare State,” Laphams Quarterly. Database: laphamsquarterly.org : (Accessed 23 August 2020).
  23. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  24. “The Weather in this City,” The New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives (https://www.newspapers.com/imgae/20388581/:accessed 15 May 2020.
  25. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  26. Ibid
  27. Joy K. Lintelman. “I go to America, Swedish Women and the Life of Mina Anderson.” (Minnesota Historical Society, 2009), p. 86.
  28. Ibid
  29. Brendan P. O’Malley, “Welcome to New York, Remembering Castle Garden, a Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Welfare State,” Lapham’s Quarterly. Database: laphamsquarterly.org : (Accessed 23 August 2020).
  30. Handbook for Immigrants to the United States (New York, Hurd, and Houghton, 1871), Digital Images. Archive.org (http://archive.org: accessed 24 August 2020.)
  31. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: nphistory.com (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  32. Jenny Ashcroft. “Before Ellis Island: Entering America Through Castle Garden 1850-1890. June 12, 2020. Database:Fishwrap The Official Blog of Newspaper.blog.newspapers.com (Accessed: 24 August 2020).
  33. Walt Whitman. “You Whoever You Are!” Database: Library of Congress (http://loc.gov/wiseguide/mar04/us.html) Accessed 12 June 2020.

 

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/ MARIA NILSDOTTER: A SWEDISH TREK TO AMERICA (Part III)

Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson circa 1875, photo in possession of author.

EMIGRATION PROCESS

How much cash do I need to take with me when I emigrate? What possessions should I take and what should I leave behind? How will I cope with the language? These are questions emigrants have always had to consider.

When Maria Nilsdotter, my 2x great-grandmother, emigrated in 1875 from Skällarbyn, Sweden, she probably had the same concerns. In my previous blog, I discussed the reasons why Maria chose to emigrate. Here I explore how she might have traveled to America.

The anticipation began the day Maria decided to follow her sister Christina to Clinton, Iowa. She knew she could rely on Christina’s experienced advice, as well as emigrant handbooks to guide her. It must have been a comfort to know her sister could help her get settled, find a job, and teach her English. Maria focused on what she needed to do to emigrate.

The first step required that she visit her pastor’s office and request a moving certificate (Flyttningsbetyg). The document included name, birth date, parish, county, vaccination date (smallpox), baptism, confirmation, marriage, profession, destination, general social behavior, and the pastor’s signature.

The Moving Out records (Utflyttades) for Skällarbyn noted for the month of May 1875 that Maria departed her village and parish. Her destination – North America.

Maria Nilsdotter- Moving Out Records -Arkivdigital v11981.b426.s416

Upon arrival at a Swedish or Norwegian port, Maria had to submit the (Flyttningsbetyg) to the Police Department for inspection. Without this document, she could not leave the country.

PLANNING THE TRIP

Maria had several problems to solve before her departure to America. How to pay for her ticket and purchase it? What route to travel and what time of year? What supplies to take?

COST

Initially, I thought Maria received financial assistance from her elder sister Christina, who emigrated in 1872. Quite often, a sibling who had already immigrated would send money to family members to help pay for their trip.

Christina Nilsdotter emigration – ArkivDigital: Köla A1:31 (1871-1875) Image 426 Page 416

After I reviewed the 1896 probate records for Maria’s and Christina’s mother, Karin Olsdotter, I realized where the girls obtained at least half the money required for their expenses. Each girl received an advance of their inheritance in the form of a dowry payment for their travel to America. Although it wasn’t typical for Swedish parents to provide a dowry for their daughters, Karin and Nils provided some assistance. Maria received 100 Kronor (approximately $30 in 1875), which was half of her total inheritance of 200 Kronor. Today the 100 Kronor would be worth about 5606 Kronor ($631.00). Christina received more than twice as much as Maria, possibly because she had a son to care for on her own. Her dowry advance was 250 Kronor, half of the total 500 her parents provided for her.

Probate for Karin Olsdotter noting dowries for Maria and Christina – Arkivdigital: Jösse häradsträtt FII:68 (1896-1897) Image: 201 Page 393.

For most emigrants, the cost of passage from Sweden to America was a considerable financial burden. The money Maria received from her parents would not suffice for all of her expenses. She probably saved her earnings from work as a servant (piga) on a neighboring farm over the course of a couple of years. A farmhand could earn an annual income of about 100 Kronor ($27) in 1869, and 138 Kronor in 1880. Her inheritance combined with savings would cover the cost of an emigrant-class steamship ticket.

During the Swedish mass emigration era (1870-1900), fees fluctuated due to competition For example, in 1869, a one-way steerage ticket from Göteborg to New York, or Chicago, cost about $41. During the 1880’s a steerage ticket cost around about $28. The1870 Handbook for Immigrants to the United States noted the costs from Christiania (Oslo) to New York as $45. Maria probably needed at least $60 to cover her costs from Skällarbyn, Sweden to Clinton, Iowa.

TICKET AND ROUTE

Because of the favorable exchange rates and higher wages in America, it was easier for a relative in America to buy a ticket for their family member in Sweden. Christina may have purchased a ticket for Maria, who later reimbursed her sister.

If Maria bought her ticket in Sweden, then it was best to use an emigrant agent. Shipping lines advertised throughout Sweden and had agents in ports of departure. These agents had sub-agents and representatives throughout the country, including remote rural villages. Often, schoolmasters served as representatives who supplemented their meager income by selling tickets for shipping lines. They distributed leaflets with travel information and posted up placards.

Emigrant agents served as a type of travel agent, advising prospective emigrants about costs and travel routes. The emigrant agents provided a Utvandrare-kontrakt” (emigrant contract), the ticket for the journey. Often, it was a “multi-ticket” that included all the trips along the route – (ship to rail in England and ship to rail in the USA) – and lodging at all the stops.

When Maria and her siblings emigrated, a direct ship route from Sweden to America didn’t exist. Instead, emigrants took a small steamer, known as a ‘feeder ship’ to a British port, such as Hull or Grimsby, on the east coast of England. Then they traveled via train to a larger emigration port, such as Liverpool, where they boarded a transatlantic steamship bound for America or Canada.

Although almost 80% of Swedish emigrants departed from Göteborg, Sweden to Hull, England, I believe that Maria and her siblings left from Christiania, the nearest port city. The distance from Skällarbyn to Christiania was 56 miles versus 165 miles to Göteborg. Emigrants from Värmland who lived close to the Norwegian border often departed from Christiania.

Another reason I concluded Maria and her siblings did not go through Göteborg is they do not appear on the Göteborg emigrant passenger lists. Nor did they appear on the Göteborg police lists, which noted all the passengers who departed from that city. Each emigrant had to provide to the Police Department their “Utvandrare-Kontrakt“(emigrant contract), their ticket for the journey. The Police chamber verified that the ticket was genuine, not fraudulent, and recorded the emigrant on a chronological list.

I also checked the Christiania/Oslo police emigrant lists and found a Marie Nilson who departed in May 1875. It is an assumption, but I believe this might be “my” Maria Nilsdotter, who had already simplified her name before traveling to the United States. Christina may have advised that an American name would make travel easier.

Maria may have traveled via an alternate route from Sweden to England, but I am going on the premise that she chose the most convenient one. Below is a chart outling how Maria might have traveled from Skällarbyn to Clinton, Iowa.

SUPPLIES

Maria probably relied on Christina’s advice regarding recommended travel items. She may have also read information from travel brochures for emigrants – Vägledning för Svenska utvandrare till Amerika, (Guidance for Swedish Emigrants to America.)

For the two day journey across the North Sea from Christiania to Hull, passengers had to supply their food. Typical items Maria may have brought with her: flatbread (Knäckebröd), butter, hardtack, cheese, herring, and sour milk. The voyage across the Atlantic included meals, although the passengers seldom found them appetizing.

A typical weekly menu for steamship passengers in 1859 contanined the following items:

Sunday: a half pound of beef, porridge, or pudding, dried fruit

Monday: pork, pea soup or boiled cabbage

Tuesday: beef, gruel or peas

Wednesday: beef, rice and molasses

Thursday: beef, porridge or pudding, dried fruit

Friday: beef, pork, pea soup or dried fruit

Saturday: herring or fish, peas or brown beans

Lars Ljungmark, Swedish Exodus, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979),77.

According to the Swedish and American guide books for the transatlantic trip, third-class passengers needed: mattress, bedding, tinware, plate, mug, knife, fork, spoon, and water pail. If a passenger could not buy the items before they arrived in the port city then a ship’s official could advise where to purchase them inexpensively.

Necessary items during the trip for third class passengers: are the following food containers: plate, drinking cup, water pitcher, knife, fork, spoon. Mattress to lie on, and a blanket. The food containers may be made of tin…The agent can instruct passengers where things can be bought at the cheapest price. Otherwise traders seek to entice passengers to buy too much unnecessarily for a high price.”

Perhaps Maria received advice from Christina similar to what Maria Helene Jonsdotter wrote to her her sister in 1869.

“I advise you not take a lot of linen cloth. Instead bring plenty of tinware. Pack down some food so that you have something to eat, in case you cannot stomach what they give you at sea. Hardtack is good; also some cheese and dried meat. Take along a food basket. When you arrive in America there will be many who approach you and offer you help. But you must watch your step, for there are plenty of scoundrels around you read to cheat the emigrants.”

Lars Ljungmark, Swedish Exodus, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979),76.

Additional advice about provisions came from handbooks such as the Handbook for Immigrants to the United States.

“An emigrant ought to have one or more stout boxes, well roped, and plainly marked. He should fill it or them with substantial clothing, including boots and shoes, part for winter, part for summer wear, all costing much more in the United States as in America.”

Handbook for Emigrants to the United States, (Hurd and Houghton, New York, 1871), Internet Archive.

BEST SEASON TO TRAVEL

The easiest decision for Maria was what time of year to travel. She chose to travel in the spring. According to the Handbook for Emigrants to the United States:

“Spring is by all means the best season, summer the next, autum the next, and winter the worst. In the summer the ocean is even quieter than in the spring, but by going early, one has a better chance of immediate employment on landing. In the winter, rough weather generally prevails on the ocean, but the ships are usually much less crowded than during the rest of the year.”

Emigration Dates for Maria and her siblings:

  1. April 1872 – Christina Nilsdotter -age 32 & son Carl Bryntesson- age 5 (later changed his name to Charles Nelson)
  2. May 1875 – Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson-age 21
  3. April 1880 – Anna Nilsdotter – age 22- traveled as Anna Nyberg with her fiance Carl Nyberg
  4. April 1888 – Per Axel Nilsson – age 26

TRAVEL TO CHRISTIANIA (OSLO), NORWAY

Before her departure, I imagine Maria’s farewell was much like that of Mina Anderson who emigrated in 1890. Like Maria, she left Sweden in the spring during the month of May.

I left Sweden in the month of May and everthing was in full bloom. It was so beautiful…Nothing could be more beautiful that a Nordic spring. It was not fun to leave all that I loved: father, mother, siblings, friends, and land of my forefathers. I walked around the forest to all the places I had visited as a child. I walked to my childhood home and saw the playhouse my father had helped me to build. An apple tree and a couple of gooseberry bushes that I had planted that had grown and bore fruit – all I had to see and bid farewll to. I became so sad that if I had stayed longer, I think I would never have been able to leave. The day arrived when I tearfully said farewell to all that had been the joy of my childhood and youth.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I Go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Hisorical Press, 2009), 67.

Train station 1887- Image courtesy of Järnvägsmuseet, public domain.

Tickets, documents, and baggage in hand, Maria commenced her journey in late May 1875. Likely accompanied by both of her parents, Maria probably traveled by carriage 13 miles to the nearest railroad station in Arvika, constructed in 1871.

Google maps – first leg of Maria’s journey – Skällarbyn-Arvika-Charlottenberg-Christiania/Oslo

The trip to Christiania took ten hours on the slow train, seven on the fast one. There were two trains a day with a stop in Ottebo, Amot, and Charlottenberg. Located 24 miles from Arvika, Charlottenberg served as the frontier point between the Sweden and Norway railway system. After an all-day train ride, Maria arrived in Christiania, where she spent at least one night before then next leg of her trip – her first experience aboard a steamship.

Postcard of Christiania – circa 1919, image courtesy of Ancestry.com

The Wilson shipping line had a weekly service from Christiania to Hull with departure scheduled every Friday. Based on the Oslo police records for emigrants, and the ship records, Maria probably departed Christiania on Friday, May 28, 1875 on the S.S. Hero. Originally, I thought she left Christiania on May 21, 1875 on the S.S. Angelo.

Advertisement: Wilson’s Steamships for Emigrants. The well-known and comfortable steamships HERO and ALBION – CHRISTIANIA TO HULL – Every Friday afternoon. NorwayHeritage.com

Thanks to a thoughtful Swedish genealogist who recognized an error I made regarding Maria’s departure date from Skällarbyn, I revised her travel schedule. When I viewed the “Moving Out” records (Utflyttades), I saw the date as “May 14”, instead it was “May 24”. Rather than a newer ship, the S.S. Angelo, launched in 1874, Maria would have boarded a smaller and older vessel, the S.S. Hero. Built in 1866 at Hull England, the 1034 ton ship had two decks, 2 bulkheads and three partial bulkheads.

S.S. HERO, Wilson Line Steamship built in 1866 at Hull England, by C.W. Earle. Norway Heritage.com

Generally, the passengers began to arrive for boarding between 2:00-3:00 p.m., and the vessel sailed at 5:00 p.m. It usually docked in Hull Sunday evening or Monday morning, which would have given Maria time to connect with her transatlantic steamer, scheduled to depart on Wednesday, June 2, 1875.

Emigrants experienced mixed emotions on the day they departed from Christiania to Hull, excitement, confusion, anticipation, as well as sadness. As she boarded the small steamship, referred to as a ‘feeder ship’, Maria may have known from her sister’s letters that crossing the North Sea would be grueling. Wilson’s “old tubs” had a reputation for rolling in the heavy gales. For many emigrants, the 40 hours aboard the ‘feeder ship’ were much more punishing than the Liverpool to New York trip, which took five times longer.

S.S. Angelo (Wilson Line steamship) leaving Christiania with emigrants for America. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

An article in the Swedish American Genealogist described a newspaper reporter’s eye-witness account carried in The Göteborgs Handels -och Sjöfartstidning on August 26, 1865. Although this describes a voyage from Göteborg to Hull, the trip from Christiania to Hull would have been very similar.

“Every week we witness larger and smaller groups of peasants from almost every province in Sweden, who have arrived here, ostensibly to travel with the large British steamships to the New World. The entire deck is covered with chests and bed clothes. The motivating drive for making this journey is the fact that relatives in America have written letters telling of how good life is over there…Down in the harbor, where the Hull steamer Argo is docked, there is life and activity. The deck has to be cleared before departure, and now everybody is working desperately to stow the baggage. The emigrants are to be quartered on the middle deck..Boys and girls, mothers with babies, still nursing, young and old, every class of humanity is represented here. The family fathers are attempting to cheer up their families, telling them to keep up their courage. The women seem passive. The Word of God is on their lips and with tearful eyes and anxiety in their hearts they attempt to sing a religous hymn in their solemn meditation..Now the signal is given and the departure is at hand. Now the situation changes. Friends and relatives leave the ship. The passengers gather along the railing for the last look at the city. Now the engines start up and there is unrest on board, weeping, moaning, crying and shrieking is heard. Many of the passengers change their moods as they soberly reminisce about their homes and life in their native land. ‘Farewell dear Sweden’ is the cry one hears from many lip.”

“Emigrant Traffic on the North Sea,” Swedish American Genealogist, Vol 34/Number 1 Article 11.(http://digitalcomons.augustana.edu).

Unfavorable conditions aboard the ‘feeder ships’ from Christiania to Hull resulted in a series of five reports by the Assistant Secretary of the Marine Department Board of Trade in 1881. Charles P. Wilson, Principal Officer, described the scene aboard the S.S. Angelo. Conditions aboard the S. S. Hero were probably more extreme because it was almost ten years older than the Angelo, and had transported thousands of emigrants.

On board the above-named vessel, the emigrants were berthed in two different compartments, one forward, the other aft…The sleeping accomodations consists of two shelves on each side of the vessel running the entire length of the compartment; these shelves have no sub-divisions of any kind denoting the berthing space of each emigrant…At midnight I went round the decks with the captain; they were well it, and everything was quite quiet…The emigrants appeared to huddle together very much, and there was no attempt at undressing; in fact, no effort was made to remove such articles as boots, and I noticed several sleeping in their hats, caps and other head coverings…I also noticed that several of them laid at a slight angle, and not exactly on the shelf, but his was doubtless due to the width of the shelf being insufficient for them to stretch their legs out to their full length…From the foregoing it will be gathered that there was no attempt at the subdivision of the sexes, or even of the individual berths, nor any curtain to screen the sleeping arrangements from the central portion of the deck.

The privy arrangements of this vessel I consider to be the weakest point about her. They were small, cramped, dark spaces, without water, those for men and women being close together, the entrance in no way protected from the weather, and altogether more evil-smelling unsatisfactory places it is difficult to imagine…When the ship is carring her full number of emigrants I doubt if there are privies enough supplied, but on this point if there were four for the first hundered and one for every fifty in addition, it would be sufficient to meet the requirements of any number.”

The Voyage, Conditions for emigrants on the voyage from Christiania to Hull“, NorwayHeritage.com.

To further illustrate the unpleasant North Sea transit Maria probably experienced, here is Mina Anderson’s account.

“I traveled alone without any companions that I knew…We had a severe storm in the North Sea. When we had come out into the Skagerrak [the strait in the North Sea between Norway and Denmark], the waves started to break over the small ship, and some of us who had stayed on deck were told to go down belowdecks so that tarps could be spread over the hatch. It turned out to be a stormy night. We were all seasick and cried “Ullrik” [euphemism for vomiting] all night. Some idiot had opened one of the portholes so that the water was streaming in. Somebody had sense enough to close it, but we ended up with a couple inches of water on the floor. All the single women were sharing one large room.

We could not eat anything – they gave us coarse bread with butter, but we were not given any coffee. It was storming too hard so they could not prepare it. When after much rolling and seasickness, we finally arrived in Hull and the ship stopped we got well in a hurry.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009), 68.

ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND

After about three days of travel, the S.S. Angelo arrived at Kingston upon Hull on the Humber River. According to the Swedish Emigrant Handbook, an experienced company official would meet the emigrants in Hull as they disembarked. If the agent fulfilled all of his duties, he would also take care of the transportation of the luggage. The Swedish speaking official would then guide the emigrants to Paragon Railway station, built in 1871. There the emigrants could rest in the waiting room, wash, use the toilet, and take shelter from the weather. Most emigrants arrived and departed from Hull within 24 hours.

Victoria Pier, Hull, postcard from an emigrant in 1905 who crossed North Sea on Wilson Line steamship. Courtesy of NorwayHeritage.com

The Emigrant Waiting Room of the North Eastern Railway Comapny at Hull Paragon Railway Company at Hull Paragon Railway Station. The waiting room was built for the Scandanavian transmigrants in 1871. [Photograph copyright of the Nichols Evans Collection] NorwayHeritge.com

The trains usually left Hull on a Monday morning around 11:00 a.m. At times there were so many emigrants that there would be 17 carriages pulled by one steam engine. During the five hour trip, third-class passengers had no access to water nor restrooms.

The train arrived in Liverpool between 2:00-3:00 p.m. The huge factory town did not make a favorable impression. Dense smoke rose in columns from tall chimneys. Large grey houses and dirty alleys filled with ragged half naked streetboys might have surprised the emigrants, including Maria.

Mina Anderson described her train travel from Hull to Liverpool.

“We traveled by train from Hull to Liverpool. I still remember how England was both beautiful and ugly. The countryside was beautiful with its green fields, with hawthorn hedges instead of fences. We also traveled through the mining district with its soot and its many tunnels. We stayed in Liverpool for three days and waited for the transatlantic steamer.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009), 69.

Liverpool, England, postcard author’s personal collection.

Upon their arrival in Liverpool, representatives from the steamship companies often met the emigrants. They accompanied them to lodging houses, usually owned by the shipping company. Frequently there were delays and passengers had to spend several days waiting for their ship. They weren’t allowed to board until the day before departure.

After approximately six days of travel, Maria waited in Liverpool about to undertake the longest part of her journey – the transatlantic voyage.

(To be continued)

© 2020 copyright -Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

 

Genealogy Sketch


Name: MARIA NILSDOTTER/MARY NELSON 1854-1931
Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
KARIN OLSDOTTER 1822-1896
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra

 



SOURCES

  • Ancestry.com
  • ArkivDigital.net
  • Arkivverrket Digitalarkivet – media.digitalarkievet.no
  • Bonnier, Adolf. The Traveler’s Guide in Sweden and the Most Interesting Places in Norway. Stockholm. 1871. books.google.com
  • FamilySearch.org – (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Sweden_Emigration_and_Immigration)
  • From the Promised Land:Swedes in America, 1840-1914. H. Arnold Barton, editor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press for Swedish Pioneer Historical Society, 2000.
  • GG Archives – gjenvick.com
  • “Handbook for Immigrants to the United States,” Hurd and Houghton, New York, 1871. Archive.org
  • Historicalstatistics.org
  • Högman, Hans. Hans Högman’s Genealogy and History Site, http://www.hhogman.se/swegen.htm
  • Järnvägsmuseet – digitalmuseum.se
  • Ljungmark, Lars. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg, Swedsih Exodus. Carbondale and Edwardsville:Southern Illinois University Press, 1979.
  • Library Of Congress – loc.gov
  • Lintelman, Joy K. I go to America:Swedish Women and the Life of Mina Anderson. St Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Press, 2009.
  • Liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/archives
  • Martenius, Ingela. “The Swedish Emigration to America.” Studylib.net
  • National Library of Sweden
  • Newsweden.org – Emigrant Routes to the Promised Land – pdf
  • NorwayHeritage.com
  • Ole Larson’s Folks Blog – olelarsonsfolks.net
  • Olsson, Nils William. “Emigrant Traffic on the North Sea,” Swedish American Genealogist, Vol 34/Number 1 Article 11. Augustana.edu
  • “The Emigration Inquiry – Appendix II – The Emigration Service in Sweden”, Internlinearbooks.com (https://interlinearbooks.com/literature/swedish/reader/emigrationsutredningen-bilaga-ii-utvandringsvasendet-i-sverige)
  • Wrecksite.eu

 

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/ MARIA NILSDOTTER: CASE SOLVED Part II

Värmland, Sweden, image courtesy of ancestry.com.

On a spring day in May 1875, Maria Nilsdotter, age twenty-one, embarked on the biggest adventure of her life. She began a journey that would take her over 4000 miles from the small farming village of Skällarbyn, Sweden, to the rural town of Clinton, Iowa. The month-long trip included travel by train and steamship, transportation that would have been an exciting yet intimidating experience for a village farm girl.

In a previous blog, I told the story of the discovery of Maria Nilsdotter’s origins in Sweden. I know Maria as Mary Nelson Nichols, my 2x-great grandmother. I uncovered her past by following the paper trail in Swedish Archival records. Maria did not leave a diary nor letters, which I would have appreciated. However, many other Swedish emigrants wrote accounts of their travels to America that enabled me to reconstruct a likely account of Maria’s emigration story.

Piecing together the travel route is only one part of the story. Another aspect is to understand what prompted Maria to leave everything that was familiar. She knew she might never see her birthplace nor her family again. She turned her back on the life she knew. Was it the strict Swedish class system, the intolerant religious domination, or a lack of job and marriage opportunities that compelled Maria to emigrate?

Motivated by a desire for change and the promise of a brighter future in America, Maria’s decision altered her life and made mine possible.

SKÄLLARBYN, VÄRMLAND, SWEDEN – The Present

The picturesque province of Värmland, Sweden is a land of bright blue lakes and rivers surrounded by dense, dark, deep forests. Set in the middle western portion of the province on the edge of Lake Ränken, Skällarbyn today consists of about ten homes, most painted in the traditional Falun Red.

Skällarbyn, Värmland. Image courtesy of Lars Olsson.

Although I lived in Europe for 20 years and visited Sweden and Norway, Maria’s origins were a mystery to me at the time. If only I had known when I visited Oslo that Maria’s village was just 56 miles away. Skällarbyn is a short distance from the Norwegian-Swedish border – 18 miles.

Skällarbyn village sign – image courtesy of Lars Olsson.

While searching the internet for images of Skällarbyn, I came across a youtube video taken by a paraglider sailing over Lake Ränken. I have no idea what the paraglider is saying in Swedish. If any of my readers can tranlate, please let me know.

SKÄLLARBYN – The Past

For more than four generations, Maria’s ancestors lived in Skällarbyn and the surrounding area. I can trace Maria’s maternal line in Skällarbyn back to the birth of her great-great-grandfather, Anders Jonsson (1714-1799), a tenant farmer. At some point, the family became landowners, a position that offered more security and social status. The farm prospered and eventually passed down to Maria’s mother, Karin Olsdotter, and her maternal uncle, Anders Olsson.

Click  here  MAP to view the area where Maria, her family and ancestors lived for generations.

  • Karin Olsdotter (1822-1896) &  Nils Persson (1824-1909) – Maria’s parents
  • Olof Andersson (1796-1881) &  Karin Andersdotter (1793-1867) Maternal grandparents
  • Anders Andersson (1752-1835) & Karin Bengtsdotter (1762-1833) Maternal great-grandparents
  • Anders Jonsson (1714-1799) & Kerstji Örjansdotter (1720-1773) Maternal 2x great-grandparents

The earliest records for the Skällarbyn farm date to 1631. Formerly spelled Skålaby, the name means “barking dog.” The legend is that a village dog barked incessantly.

Origins of Skällarbyn name- “barking dog.” Courtesy of Institut för språk och folkminnen.

Barking dog of Skällarbyn . Photo courtesy of Nordiska museet.

An individual farm, such as Skällarbyn, consisted of several families rather than a single family. I examined the Swedish Household Examination Records (Husförhörslängd) for the period 1856-1916. The Skällarbyn households included immediate and extended family members as well as “live-in-laborers,” journeymen, tenant farmers, and boarders.

View of Skällarbyn and surrounding communities. Google maps

Piga” was the term used for a female employee. Her tasks included indoor and outdoor chores. A “Drang,” a male farmhand, performed more burdensome duties on the farm, such as tilling the fields.

Image of farmer plowing. Courtesy of Norman A. Sandin.

Six of the Skällarbyn households were farm landowners (hemmansegare), including Maria’s father, Nils Persson, and her uncle, Anders Olsson. In addition to landowners, tenant farmers, and laborers, the Skällarbyn community included one miller and one soldier, plus their respective families. The village population fluctuated over the years from a low of 98 (1866-1870) to a high of 139 (1871-1875).

The average Swedish rural dwelling ranged from a tiny one-room cottage to a tenant cottage (a kitchen and a combination living room/bedroom)to a two-story landowners home. The probate records for Nils Persson, Maria’s father, stated that the family owned a large house, garden, and approximately eighty acres. The large two-story home was probably a pine or spruce log building. If they were fortunate, they had two chimneys to warm the house during the long cold dark winter.

The household inventories for Maria’s parents and grandparents provided a glimpse into their home. Two sofas offered a place to sit and relax. The larger one had cushions covered in a higher quality fabric, the smaller a more casual gingham. Spread around the room were drop-leaf tables with brass candlesticks and candle snuffers. A dresser with locks contained half a dozen (Dräll)  tablecloths (a traditional Swedish two-block weave),  and assorted napkins.

Lined skin rugs warmed the floors. Three dozen wooden chairs spread throughout the house offered enough seating for family and guests. Some had gingham cushions, some were painted, and others were plain. A hymnal, Bible, and textbooks filled a small bookshelf. Curtains covered the windows – thirteen pairs.

The women in the family probably spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals. Was the (Ligg Soffa) laying sofa, a place to rest as well as an extra bed for guests? Kitchen supplies could be found in a large wooden food cabinet.

Swedish Ligg soffa – image courtesy of Norman A. Sandin.

Image of kitchen in Kvekgården farm near Enköping town. Photo courtesy of Hans Högman, 1992.

The table was covered with a yellow checkered cloth and set with blue striped dishes. The corner cabinet contained an assortment of kitchenwares: pressed glass bowl, finer and plainer dishes, pastry forms, soup tureen, stoneware platters, salt shakers, even schnapps glasses. The kitchen wall clock reminded the family to take time for the afternoon (fika) (coffee/tea break). The family prepared coffee in the old roaster and served it from the coffee kettle they poured into a dozen blue coffee mugs. The creamer jug, sugar bowl, and silver spoons were laid out on the tea tray. Perhaps Maria’s mother baked traditional Kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls) for (fika.)

The upstairs rooms had clothes-cabinets, two yellow-painted tables, a mirror, pull out beds, and boot beds. Some of the bedframes were painted brown others blue. All of the beds were piled high with feather mattresses and pillows and covered with quilts.

Despite the large home, conditions were probably still crowded with multiple family members who shared bedrooms. The household records indicate that Maria lived with her parents, eight siblings, a nephew, and her maternal grandparents. Nearby, a second household included Karin’s younger brother, Anders, his wife Anna, and their nine children. Six of the cousins shared the same names as Maria and her siblings. It must have been confusing when the families mingled for work or pleasure.

Skällarbyn reflected a typical rural Swedish community of the late 1800’s – steeped in tradition and peppered with superstition, myths, and lore. Rigid class society and social conservatism limited and dictated choices for everyone.

CUSTOMS AND CULTURE

BAPTISM

When Maria Nilsdotter was born on August 31, 1854, her 29-year old father, Nils Persson, and her 32-year old mother, Karin Olsdotter, already had five children. Over the next 12 years, Karin gave birth to three more children.

Maria Nilsdotter – baptism. Arkivdigital -Köla (S) C:11 (1844-1856) Image 27 / Page 46 (AID: v6149.b27.s46, NAD: SE/VA/13309)

Until 1864 the law dictated that a child be baptized within eight days after their birth. Aside from the law, superstition compelled parents to baptize their children as quickly as possible. Reverend Begnsson baptized Maria 4 days after her birth at the local parish church, Kölakyrka.

Köla Church, Värmland, Sweden. Wikimedia Commons

A child that was not christened was a danger both to itself and to others; it was e.g. believed that trolls were on the lookout for pretty little human babies – they were thought capable of changing their own ugly, stupid and wayward brat for the cute little child…For the protection of the child, different things were put in the cradle: it could be a small pouch of spices (e.g.caraway), a steel knife or a silver coin.”

[The only memento remaining in our family from Maria is a Swedish coin, dated 1846. Could this (copper) coin have been placed in her cradle and later given to her as a good luck talisman when she emigrated to America? I’d like to think so.]

Swedish coin -2 Skilling 1846. Crossed arrows . Coin in possession of author.

Swedish 2 Skilling coin – Oscar Sveriges Norr. G.O.V. Konung -Oscar King of Sweden, Norway, the Goths and the Wends.

Dressed in as beautiful a baptismal dress as possible, Maria’s godmother carried her during the ceremony. Maria’s mother, Karin, remained at home until she could be “churched” (kyrktagen). The churching ceremony usually took place on the fourth Sunday after the birth of the child.

For a description of Swedish customs, I turned to articles by the ethnologist Ingela Martenius, “Rites of Passage in Sweden.

A mother not yet churched was according to popular belief thought ‘unclean’ and on par with a heathen, and both she and the farm with all who lived there, both human and animal, were in danger. Churching originated within the Jewish faith, and there was regarded as a purification.”

“The churching ritual was very simple: before the regular church service began, the woman about to be churched kneeled before the altar and the vicar read a short prayer expressing thankfulness. The woman rose, and the vicar shook her hand, at the same time saying, ‘The Lord guide you in His truth and fear, now and unto eternity. Amen’The woman then returned to her pew.”

A married woman knelt on a plush and decorated stool. An unmarried woman first had to confess to the vicar. Then she could be “churched” while kneeling on the bare floor or an uncovered stool. The vicar did not shake her hand after the ceremony. Maria’s eldest sister, Christina, who had an illegitimate child, probably experienced the harsher method of “churching.”

CLOTHING

According to Ingela Martenius, another superstition surrounding the care of babies required that they be swaddled; it guarded them against evil spirits. A more practical reason was it protected them from cold floors and kept them away from open fires.

Children until the age of 5-7 wore a smock-frock (kolt),” a sort of dress that went down to the middle of the calf, differently cut for boys and girls and often made from yellow (simplest color to dye) wool or linsey-woolsey and worn over a linen shift/shirt. On top of the smock-frock an apron was worn, a bib apron for boys and a waist apron for girls. Both boys and girls wore a cap at all times.”

Childrens clothing -image public domain, courtesy of Nordiska museet.

After the age of 5-7 years, children dressed in simpler versions of adult clothing. After they were confirmed and considered adults, they had the right to wear adult clothing, long pants for boys, and floor-length dresses for girls.

CONFIRMATION

Confirmation marked the coming of age in old agrarian societies, a rite of passage into adulthood. Maria passed her confirmation exam in 1869 at age 15. Confirmation instruction took place at the local parish and required weeks or months of preparation. After  her confirmation, Maria probably continued to live at home for a few years. At some point she worked as a (piga) in the nearby community of Växvik, less than one mile away from Skällarbyn.

Confirmation – Maria Nilsdotter – 1869Husförhörslängd – Arkivdigital Köla (S)A1:30 (1866-1870) v11980.b398.s380.

What did confirmation lessons comprise?

Well, there was the reading of various texts in the Bible, but above all learning by heart Luther’s Small Catechism – mostly the Ten Commandments, the Confession and the Lord’s Prayer – including the difficult explanations. The confirmation lessons ended with the much-feared examination in church, before the entire congregation…Once you were confirmed you were examined together with all the (confirmed) people living at your farm once a year by the vicar, on exactly the same subjects as at confirmation.”

Economic factors were a driving force behind Swedish mass emigration, dissatisfaction with the intolerant and dominant state-run Lutheran church was a contributing factor.

The parish clergy who served the state completed the Household Examination Rolls (husförhörslängder). These records included detailed information about each person listed.

  • Name of place, such as farm, village, or address in the city
  • Names of all members of the household
  • Birthdate and birthplace for each individual
  • Occupation for the head of household
  • Marriage date
  • Vaccination information (after 1800 – smallpox)
  • Religious examination results – pastor checked parishioners ability to read,
  • Write and understand their catechism. Notations made if the parishioner
  • Received communion
  • Death date
  • Moving in and out of the area
  • Notes in the special remarks column

Maria’s family received acceptable marks  in the Household Records and passed their parish exams. However, noted twice in the special remarks column, Karin and Nils received a reprimand for “disagreements,” (Varnade för oenighet), once in 1865 and again in 1877.

Household Record for Maria’s family 1876-1880. Arkivdigital – Köla (S) A1:32 (v11982.b403.s392).

EDUCATION

According to a London Times article written in 1879, a British reporter noted, with surprise, that 90% of the population could read and write. The reporter was impressed with the value Swedes placed on education which began long before the 1842 Swedish law that mandated a public 4-year primary school education for all children.  They learned to read sometime between the age of 7-10. In some parishes, there was an actual schoolmaster; in others, the sacristan taught the students, and sometimes the children learned to read at home.

Classroom from around 1850 in Linköping City. Photo courtesy of Hans Högman, 2004.

FARM LIFE

Like my 2x great-grandmother, Maria Nilsdotter, I grew up on a farm. I know how much hard work is involved. Every day.Day after day.Year after year.

Farm life in a remote rural Scandinavian community taught self-reliance. The farmers had to depend on what they could produce locally. The short and fast-growing season made this more challenging. It was impossible to grow more than one crop a year. Although the summer months boasted long nights and the midnight sun, winter was long, harsh, and cold.

Everyone in the family had to pitch in and do their share of the work. The tasks assigned to each member depended on their age and gender. The division of chores probably began at an early age. Small children could gather firewood for fuel, fetch water, pick wild berries, and perform household chores and gardening.

Nils and Karin had six daughters and three sons. The household records show that Nils only required additional help on the farm during the period 1856-1860 when his children were too young to be of much assistance. He hired three local women. Perhaps they were hired during the summer months to assist with the animals.

Although they worked hard, Maria and her siblings probably participated in fun outdoor activities. In the summer they could swim in the lake or fish, build forts in the woods, and make toys out of pinecones and sticks. In the winter they could sled or maybe even ski.

Young women and children had the responsibility of herding livestock to the summer pastures. Most farmers didn’t have enough cleared land to support cattle over the long winter months. They relied on summer pastures located nearby or some distance away. Several families from the same village shared the summer pasture (fäbod). It consisted of several simple buildings, such as cottages, cattle houses, and cookhouses.

The women usually milked the cows; twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. After the milking, the chore of separating the milk had to be done while the milk was warm and fresh. The farmer’s family rarely consumed the milk fresh. Instead, they preserved it in the form of cheese and butter or fermented milk (filmjölk). The butter and cheese were usually sold to pay for land taxes and church tithes.

The boys/men in the family performed the barn chores, feeding the animals, and cleaning the stalls. They tilled the soil and planted crops.

Based on the probate records, I know Maria’s family planted the following crops: hay, rye, wheat, and oats, potatoes, vetch (a type of pea), and flax.

Nils had a meager probate record, probably because he shared his house and property with his son and daughter-in-law after his wife’s death in 1896. The extensive inventory for Maria’s grandparents provided a broader picture of life on the farm.

The grandparent’s livestock list included: 31 sheep,19 lambs, three horses,14 cows, two calves, and a 3-year old bull. Many of the cows had names: Rödgas, Fruka, Böja, Docka, Hjertros, Sommargas, Frögas, Bjorna, Lillja, Grefwinna, and Molik. I imagine they became fond of the cows as we did on my father’s farm.

A few of the items listed for farm equipment included:

Large equipment:

  • – Work carts, travel cart, carriage, and sleighs for transportation.
  • – Plows, threshing machine, harrows, timber sledges and a sleigh to spread manure

Smaller tools:

  • Scythes, planes, handsaw, hammer, anvil, workbench, axes, drills, timber hooks, sledgehammer, sharpening stones, shovels, sheep shears, buckets, milk pails, troughs, water, and schnapps barrels, and lynx traps.

The probate for Maria’s paternal grandmother also included a boat, nets, fishing line, and hook. The family took advantage of the bountiful fishing in nearby Lake Ränken. It was a privilege that belonged to landowners with land surrounding a lake; others had to seek their permission.

Lake Ränken provided a variety of fish: pike,perch,eel,burbot,bream,bleak,smelt,carp,and vendace.The fresh fish offered a change from what was otherwise a monotonous diet of porridge, potatoes, cabbage, turnips, dried peas, and salted or fermented herring.

Another dietary staple was bread: the inventory noted bread troughs, bread baskets, and winnowing trays for sifting grain. If the farm had a windmill to grind the grain, then bread could be made every 2-4 weeks. The household examination records for Skällarbyn listed a miller. Perhaps the farm had a windmill.

If not, then the village relied on a watermill, and bread would have been baked only a few times a year in the form of (knäckebrod). The rye bread is made quite thin, baked, and then dried. It can last for months.

[I discovered how delicious (knäckebrod) is when we lived overseas.I’m fortunate to live near a European delicatessen and can still enjoy the pleasure.]

Knäckebröd – Swedish Rye Crisp Bread

Besides kitchen tasks, Maria and her sisters would have been taught to knit, spin, and weave. The probate inventory for Maria’s mother, Karin, in 1896, listed one spinning wheel, one ball of yarn, one needle, one ring, and one frame. In contrast, Maria’s paternal grandmother, Kerstin Jonsdotter, owned  numerous handwork tools: five spinning wheels, skein-winder, winder chair, yarn winder, one weaving loom, weaving reeds, accessories, heckling combs (for flax), and one heckling machine(used to prepare flax to spin the fibers.) Never-ending tasks kept the woman busy every waking hour. Handwork could be done after dinner and especially during the winter months.

OPPORTUNITIES-Employment-Marriage-Emigration

During the 19th century, Sweden had a large population growth. However, there wasn’t sufficient farmland for the growing numbers of landless farm laborers and the poor. Mass emigration to America began when crop failures and famine struck the country between 1866-1868. Maria was 12-years old at the time, it may have left a lasting impression.  Enticed by free land and prosperity, three-hundred thousand Swedes left for America in five years.

Although Sweden is a large country, only about 10% could be considered good arable land. For farmers who owned property, there wasn’t enough land to divide amongst the children once they reached adulthood. Traditionally young adults left home to work on nearby farms as laborers. It provided job opportunities and an opportunity to meet eligible partners. Another alternative was to seek work in nearby towns or cities.

As a young woman in Sweden in 1875, Maria had few options for her future. With so many siblings, including brothers, it was unlikely that she would inherit the family farm. If she was fortunate, she might marry a local landowning farmer; if she was unlucky, then a tenant farmer, or laborer. The pool of eligible men shrunk as large numbers chose to emigrate. Her chances of maintaining her social and economic position through marriage or employment were limited. If she didn’t find a husband, she would work the remainder of her life as a servant (piga). Working as a laborer meant long hours, hard work, small wages, and lower social status.

A more enticing option was emigration, an infectious disease known as “America Fever” swept through Sweden. Spread through newspaper articles, emigration guidebooks, and letters from early emigrants, Swedish families and single adults flocked to the United States with high expectations. They anticipated a better life in “the promised land.”

The emigrants wrote letters home with great pride extolling their new life in America. The book From the Promised Land provided numerous examples.

The country is beautiful if any land on earth deserves to be called so. And if you compare conditions here with Sweden’s, there is no similarity at all….one can get such land as a gift or for an insignificant sum compared with its natural value. You soon have an idea why America is truly undeniably better than old Sweden.Lower taxes than in Sweden, no expensive royal house, no inactive armies. Hundreds of thousands of persons have found here the happiness they vainly sought in Europe’s lands…” [C.F. Larson 1880 writing about Nebraska]

Most emigrants painted the American Midwest as an earthly paradise. Once they had committed themselves to the new life, they were anxious to justify themselves.

CHAIN EMIGRATION

Why did Maria to choose Clinton, Iowa? The answer – chain migration. Early Swedish pioneer colonies settled in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Their glowing letters home focused on employment, views of American society, increased personal freedoms, religious freedom, and social status. Members of a community or family then followed their lead and went to those areas in America. Maria followed her trailblazing eldest sister, Christina, who emigrated in 1872. (Two younger siblings followed several years after Maria. Anna emigrated in 1880, Per Axel in 1888.)

Christina, a 27-year old mother with an illegitimate child, had even fewer options in Sweden than Maria. She must have heard about the opportunities in America by word of mouth or through a letter. The arrival of a letter from America in rural Sweden aroused the curiosity of the entire community. It would be read aloud for all to hear. Several neighbors had already emigrated, including the 49-year old widower Olof Nilsson from nearby Växvik. Olof departed in July 1870 and settled in Clinton, Iowa, with his children.  One of the daughters, similar in age to Christina, may have sent a letter encouraging her friend to emigrate. A couple of years after Christina settled in Clinton, she married Olof Nilsson.

Letters from Christina in Iowa made their way back to the family in Skällarbyn. How many did it take to entice Maria? Perhaps she received one similar to those I found in “I go to America: Swedish Women and the Life of Mina Anderson.”

In 1855, the Swedish immigrant Maria Janson wrote to her family:

“My employers are excellent and kind people”. Several months later, she reflected on her immigration: “I have not worked outside a single day; it is not common for women to work outside here in this country…Here [there]are absolute equal rights for all and no difference of respect for other persons. After having absorbed the free atmosphere of life in America, I believe I would not be happy in Sweden.”

“Another young woman stated: We girls travel to America because our working time is so horribly long and our wages so small in relation to what everything costs, and we get no respect – a servant is worth nothing [in Sweden].”

It was the era of the Swedish maid in America. Middle-class town families required maids, and young Swedish women were in demand. Generally, they were treated like members of the family by their employers. Not only did they not have to do outdoor work, but they had certain hours of the day and days of the week free. They had their own room and were paid weekly. If they were unsatisfied, they could quit whenever they wanted and quickly find jobs elsewhere. In Sweden, they were bound to a year’s contract. An average Swedish maid in America, even with basic knowledge, could expect better wages, hours of work, and benefits than in Sweden. A maid could also dress as fancy as her mistress, and American men treated her like a “lady.”

Opportunity and personal freedom awaited Maria in America. Convinced of a better life, she planned her trip to America.

Adjö Mor och Far – Goodbye Mother and Father

Hejdå Sverige – Goodbye Sweden

(To be continued – Maria’s travel by steamship and train to reach Clinton, Iowa.)

© 2020 copyright -Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Mary Nelson/Maria Nilsdotter 1854-1931]
Parents: [Nils Persson 1824-1909] and
[Karin Olsdotter 1822-1896]
Spouse: [John Mathew Nichols 1857-1929]
Children: [Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967]
Relationship to Kendra: [Great- Great- Grandmother]

  1. [Mary Nelson/Maria Nilsdotter 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr. 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra

SOURCE REFERENCES

  • ArkivDigital. https://www.arkivdigital.net/
  • Ancestry.com
  • Brownstone, David M, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone, Island of Hope, Island of Tears. New York: Fall River Press, 1979.
  • Clemensson, Per and Kjell Andersson. Your Swedish Roots, A Step by Step Handbook. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, MyFamily.com, Inc. 2004.
  • From the Promised Land: Swedes in America, 1840-1914. H. Arnold Barton, editor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press for Swedish Pioneer Historical Society, 2000.
  • Högman, Hans. Hans Högman’s Genealogy and History Site, http://www.hhogman.se/swegen.htm
  • Institutet för sprak och Folkminnen: Ortsnamnsregistret. http://www.isof.se/sprak/namn/ortnamn/ortnamnsregistret/sok-i-registret.html
  • Johanssson, Carl Erik. Cradled in Sweden. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1972.
  • Ljungmark, Lars. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg, Swedish Exodus. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979.
  • Lintelman, Joy K. I go to America: Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson. St. Paul Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Press, 2009.
  • Martenius, Ingela. “The Swedish Emigration to America.” https://studylib.net/doc/8827242/rites-of-passage-in-sweden
  • National Library of Sweden. https://www.kb.se/in-english.html
  • Newspapers.com. Quad City Times. Davenport, Iowa. 1879.
  • Nordiska Museet. https://www.nordiskamuseet.se/en
  • Norman A. Sandin. Sandin and tillner Families. https://sandinfamily.com/index.htm
  • Värmland, Värmlands Officiella Besöokssida. https://www.visitvarmland.se/en
  • Weatherford, Doris. Foreign and Female- Immigrant Women in America, 1840-1930. 
  • Wikipedia
Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Celebrating the 4th of July, 1914 -Omaha, Nebraska

Anna Jane Beaton, July 4, 1914, Omaha, Nebraska.

What did the 4th of July mean to your ancestors, and how did they celebrate it?

My grandmother, Anna Jane Beaton,  was as American as apple pie. Her father, Alfred Beaton, was an immigrant of Scottish heritage from Prince Edward Isles. Her mother, Edith Orcutt, descended from early Puritan settlers, including Governor William Bradford. Alfred and Edith captured their memories on one memorable 4th of July in 1914.

Two pages of delightful images display Anna Jane Beaton, age 7, her older brother, Orcutt Phillip Beaton, age 14, and three neighborhood friends celebrating the 4th of July on a warm summer afternoon. The children gathered together in the Beaton’s front yard at North 40th street. Orcutt posed with his friend George Graham, draped by two American flags. In the next image, Anna Jane’s hand is warmly clasped by her best friend Pete Frenzer. Anna Jane wears a big smile and an even bigger hair bow. The third photograph Anna Jane and Pete still hold hands and are joined by Kathy Lake, who wears an equally immense bow in her hair. I like Kathy’s saucy look, one hand on her hip and the other on the shoulder of her friend Pete.  The fourth image, Anna Jane, seated in a rocking chair, holds a large doll with a face that would give me nightmares. Kathy kneeling beside Anna Jane, holds the American flag over her shoulder. In the background, three more flags lean against the porch stairs.

 

Anna Jane Beaton, Orcutt Phillip Beaton, Peter Frenzer July 4, 1914, Omaha Nebraska.

Was it Alfred who took the photographs? His son Orcutt, a gentle smile on his face, proudly posed with his baseball mitt ready to pitch a ball. Alfred Beaton owned a furniture and toy store, so perhaps Anna Jane’s doll and the baseball glove were new gifts?

Orcutt Phillip Beaton, July 4, 1914, Omaha, Nebraska.

I imagine the Beaton’s had a picnic, played games, and later attended some of the numerous activities mentioned in the Omaha Daily Bee for July 4, 1914. Various immigrant groups are mentioned in the article celebrating their participation and contributions to their community.

Omaha, Daily Bee, July 4, 1914, page 1. Courtesy of https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

“All-day celebration and formal opening at Fontenelle Park, under auspices of Park Commissioner J.B. Hummel, Central and Monmouth Park Social Centers, Clairmont, Kenwood, Fairfax and Fontenelle Park Improvement clubs; prize games and contests morning and afternoon; flag raising and speech making at noon; fireworks in evening; band concert all day.
Reception at Fontenelle park by members of Olivet Baptist church to Rev. Willaim A. Mulford, new pastor.
Joint celebration all day Riverview park by Riverview, Deere Park and Southeast Improvement clubs.
Picnic and fireworks display at Kountze park by residents of the neighborhood.
Swedish-American patriotic festival all day at Spring Park, Florence, under auspices of Norden Singing society; program of contests, music and speaking at 4:30 p.m; fireworks in evening; dancing afternoon and evening.
AT THE OUTDOOR CLUBS
Special golf matches, tennis and baseball games, dinners and dancing at all the clubs.
Cabaret entertainment at the Field Club.
Special fireworks display at Seymour Lake Club.
Women’s tennis tournament start at Country club.
Cricket match at Miller park at 11 a.m.
Finals in tennis singles and doubles at Happy Hollow; band concert at 11 a.m. followed by oration by Judge W.W. Slabaugh; reading of Declaration of Independence; program by male quartet and singing of patriotic songs.
AT CARTER LAKE
All-day program at Carter Lake club; trap shoot at 10 a.m.; land and water sports in afternoon; special dinner, dance and fireworks in evening.
All-day program at Young Men’s Christian association summer park; tennis, base ball and big camp swim in morning; music by camp quartet and speaking by Rev. G.A. Hulbert and Judge Bryce Crawford in afternoon; picnic supper at 6 o’clock; big Venetian water carnival and fireworks in evening.
Special program of races, contests and sports at Dietz park, with dinner, dancing and fireworks in the evening.
AT THE SUMMER RESORTS
Free balloon ascension, moving pictures and concert by Finn’s band, dancing and other attractions at Lake Manawa.
Mullen’s animal show, free band concert, motion pictures, dancing and other attractions at Krug park.
Fireworks, music and feature films at Rome summer Garden.
Boating, fishing, music and dancing at Nathan’s lake summer resort, five miles north of Florence on upper road.
OTHER ACTIVITIES
City tennis turnament starts at the field club.
Double-header base ball game at Rourke park between Leland’s Chicago Giants and Bradford’s Brewers; first game called at 2 p.m.
Irish celebration of the passage of the home rule bill, under auspices of Emmett Monument association at Thirtieth and Fort streets; program of Gaelic sports, music, speech-making, dancing and refreshments.
Display of fireworks by Hanscom Park Improvement club on hill near Thirty-fourth and Wright streets in evening.
Old fashioned celebration of the day by comrades of George Crook post, Grand Army of the Republic, and Women’s Relief corps, at Florence park all day, commencing at 10:30 a.m.
Parade, band concerts, ball game, dance, fireworks, salutes and races along Vinton street from Sixteenth to Twenty-fourth streets, from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., by Vinton Booster club.
Plattdeutscher Verein celebratioin by the German home.
Water polo, other sports and contests, dinner, dance and fireworks at Council Bluffs Rowing association on Lake Manawa.”

What images and memories do you have from your ancestors of this special day we commemorate each year on July 4th?

© 2019 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch

Anna Jane BEATON
Name: Anna Jane BEATON 1907-1998
Parents: Alfred James BEATON and
Edith Marion ORCUTT
Spouse: John Frederick HYDE Jr.
Children: Jean Ann Marie HYDE
Relationship to Kendra: Grandmother

  1. Anna Jane Beaton Hyde
  2. Jean Ann Marie Hyde Hopp Eichorn
  3. Kendra Hopp Schmidt

 

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , | 11 Comments

THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/ MARIA NILSDOTTER: CASE SOLVED Part I

Scotland.Colombia.Austria.Sweden and Norway: Arbuckle Bros. 1890. digital image. David Rumsey Map Collection.

A long forgotten sixty-year-old envelope lay safely tucked away in a large metal steamer trunk in my mother’s garage. As a child, I always thought the chest held treasures, now I know it does. The letter lay among stacks of old family correspondence and childhood memorabilia. I whooped with joy when I read the contents. It held the key to solving the mystery of my 2x great-grandmothers Swedish origins, the topic of my first family history blog.

Letter from John Nichols to Jean Hopp, dated June 1958.

Mary Nelson Nichols’ past was shrouded by the veils of time. Spurred on by my mother’s fascination with her Swedish ancestry I tried to solve the mystery four years ago. My mother attempted to solve it almost sixty years ago.  A  lack of information and misinformation hindered my search. None of Mary’s American records indicated specifically where she came from in Sweden, a vital element when doing Swedish research. To trace Mary Nelson’s past, I needed to know the parish where she was born.

Mary Nelson/Maria Nilsdotter – photograph taken between 1875-1880. In possession of author.

A summary of the information I had about Mary Nelson Nichols before the discovery of the letter:

  • Name: Mary Nelson Nichols
  • Birth: August 31, 1856, Sweden
  • Immigrated: 1875
  • Married: April 13, 1881, Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, Omaha, NE; Witness: Anna Nielson
  • Parents listed on wedding certificate as Nels Nelson and Carrie Oelson

Conflicting information: Marriage certificate stated Mary’s birthplace as Clinton, Iowa; all other records noted her birthplace as Sweden

  • Children:
  • Carrie Bertha Nichols
  • Charles Clinton Nichols
  • Frederick Mathew Nichols
  • Mabel Elvina Nichols (my great-grandmother)
  • John Lee (Johnnie) Nichols

Death: January 15, 1931, birthplace on death certificate noted as Warwick Sweden, information provided by Johnnie Nichols.

THE LETTER

I was one step closer to finding Mary’s parish when I discovered the letter. After the birth of my brother in 1957, my mother, Jean HYDE Hopp, wrote to her great-uncle Johnnie to ask about their shared family history. She hoped that Johnnie, the last surviving child of Mary Nelson Nichols, could answer questions about both the Nelson and Nichols families. Jean’s half-Swedish grandmother, Mabel Nichols Hyde, died before Jean became interested in recording family stories.

In June 1958, Johnnie wrote a response. He supplied what little information he knew. Some of it was correct, some of it was wrong, and some of it was a mixture. Johnnie provided enough details for me to research and find  Mary’s two sisters, Anna and Christine.

Letter from Johnnie Nichols to Jean Hopp, June 1958.

“Mother had 2 sisters and Bro.[sic] named Anna, Christine, and Alex, all born in Ingeborg Sweden, dates unknown. Anna was married in Clinton Iowa in 1881 and raised 5 children, Carolyn, Albin, Roy, Carl, and Natalie. Anna died in Ft Worth Texas 1946 and was buried in Clinton Iowa. Albin died in 1912, buried Clinton, Iowa, and Roy died 1924, buried in Clinton. Natalie Webb lives in Fort Worth Texas, and Carl lives in Los Angeles. Anna’s married name was Nyberg. That’s all I can give you on the children. I don’t know if Christine or Alex ever married.”[i]

FILTERING OUT FACT FROM FICTION

The family story that Mary was born in southern Sweden and came from the town of Ingeborg must have originated with Johnnie. Nobody checked an atlas and google maps didn’t exist. “Ingeborg, Sweden” is not a place. Johnnie confused a place with a person’s name. Research later revealed that Ingeborg was one of Mary’s older sisters. On his mother’s 1931 death certificate, Johnnie provided a second incorrect place name, “Warwick, Sweden.”[ii] He spelled what he had heard pronounced by his mother, but it wasn’t close enough for me to discern the real place-name.

Death cert Mary Nichols

Douglas County, death certificate no. B486 (1931), Mary Nichols; State of Nebraska Bureau of Health, Omaha.

Fortunately, Johnnie remembered the correct married name for his Aunt Anna. If I could find a document for Anna that stated her birth place, I could find the parish for Mary and her siblings.

I quickly found Anna Nyberg and her family in census records.  Anna immigrated in April 1880 to Clinton, Iowa. Two months later in June, she married Swedish immigrant Karl Nyberg. Karl, who changed his name to Charles, worked as a carpenter until his early death in 1906. Anna and Charles had five children, just as Johnnie stated in his letter. He was wrong about some of the birth and death dates, a minor detail.

NILSDOTTER_Anna_1900_census 2

1900 U.S. census, Clinton County, Iowa, population schedule, Clinton Iowa, (ED) 12, sheet 13, dwelling 505, family 298, Charles Nyberg; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 November, 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication 1240426.

I hoped that Anna’s death certificate would note her birthplace in Sweden.  Anna’s youngest daughter, Natalie, who provided the information for the death certificate, included a crucial location. I eagerly scanned the Texas document and found on line # 11, BIRTHPLACE “Varmaland Sweeden.”[iii] The information narrowed the search, but it still wasn’t precise enough.

Ancestry.com Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982 [databae on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate 25177 (1950), Anna Nyberg.

Sweden is divided into three larger regions, Götland (southern Sweden), Svealand (central Sweden), and Norrland (northern Sweden). Värmland is a province/county in western Svealand.

File:Sverigekarta-Landskap Text.svg. (2017, February 18). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 17:06, November 24, 2018.

According to Family Search website in 1890, Värmland consisted of 92 parishes.[iv]

Map of Värmland’s parishes, courtesy of Varmland Roots.

A parish, (socken) kept the records for all the members, (birth, marriages, and deaths). Every source I consulted stated that knowing my ancestor’s parish was vital to Swedish family research. I scoured every collateral record I could find for Anna’s children. Once again, one of Anna’s family members came to the rescue.  Her youngest son, Carl Walter, had a delayed birth certificate with a precise location: “Skallarbyn, Varmland, Sweden.”[v]

Ancestry.com Iowa, Delayed Birth Records, 1856-1940 [database online]. Clinton County, Iowa, Delayed birth Records, 1856-1940, certificate no. 507-16 (1933), Carl Walter Nyberg; State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa

This was the information I needed to search for Mary, Anna, Christine, and Alex in Swedish parish records. Swedish archives are exceptional. However, they are written in Swedish, and the handwriting can be difficult to read.

LOCATING MARY IN THE SWEDISH ARCHIVES

The next step was to contact various Swedish Genealogy Facebook groups to ask for their help.  I am very grateful to the “Swedish Genealogy,” “Maryland-Virginia Swedish Genealogy,” “Swedish American Genealogy,” and “My Ancestors are from Värmland” groups.  Just one day after posting my query, group members located Mary, eight siblings, and her parents in Skällarbyn, Köla, Värmland, Sweden. Skällarbyn a farming village in the parish of Köla, is located in the province/county of Värmland, Sweden.

Skäallarbyn, Värmland, Sweden, image courtesy of google maps.

Various members provided translations as well as current photographs of the area. Through the assistance of a researcher familiar with Swedish archives, I obtained the birth, marriage, death, and probate records for Mary and FIVE more generations. Solving Mary’s Mystery required a combination of sleuthing, research, Swedish genealogy Facebook groups plus DNA.

Maria Nilsdotter family tree

 DNA MATCHES LOCATE MISSING SIBLING

Johnnie gave me the married name for Anna Nelson –Nyberg- which made it easy to find her in American census records. Tracking down sister Christine proved to be more difficult. I didn’t know if she had married, and if so, what was her name? I searched Iowa census records for every Swedish “Christine” I could find; there were too many. I expanded my search to include DNA matches. Using shared DNA matches on ancestry.com, I found a family tree with Christine Nilsdotter. According to the Swedish household records, twenty-eight-year-old Christine emigrated in April 1872 to North America.[vi]

Köla Household Records, Köla (S) AI:31 (1871-1875) Image 426 / Page 416 (AID: v11981.b426.s416, NAD: SE/VA/13309), ); digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 10 November 2018).

The single mother was accompanied by her 7-year old son, Karl Bryntesson. After their arrival on the east coast, the two headed west to Clinton, Iowa.

Clinton, Iowa, c 1860, image courtesy of FB page “Old Clinton Pictures”.

Two years after her arrival in Clinton, Christine gave birth to a second son, Elmer Oscar Nelson, born on January 2, 1874. It is through a descendant of Elmer Oscar Nelson that I made the DNA connection to Christine. On July 10, 1876, Christine married a 56-year-old Swedish widower Olaf Nilsson. On February 26, 1878, Christine gave birth to a daughter, Christine Rosalie Nelson.  Good fortune seemed to evade Christine because one year after her daughter’s birth, Olaf disappeared or died. The thirty-five-year-old widow raised her three children alone.

1885 Iowa Census, Clinton, County, Clinton, IA, Ward 4, p. 481, dwelling 13, family 13, Christina Nelson.

Christine’s eldest son Charles (Karl) lived with her throughout her lifetime and supported her. He worked as a pharmacist, at a lumberyard, and later a sash factory. After Christine’s death in 1912, Charles took in two Swedish boarders. He never married. In 1924 he moved to Moline, Illinois where he died two years later at age 60.

MARY’S MYSTERY – WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Swedish research requires a basic understanding of the patronymic naming system, which was common in Sweden up to the end of the nineteenth century. If the father’s name was Nils Persson, then his son’s name might be Per Nilsson (Per the son of Nils). Similarly, a daughter named Maria would be Maria Nilsdotter (Maria the daughter of Nils). A woman retained her own patronymic name when she married. I knew that Mary Nelson probably Americanized her name, as many immigrants did, for practical reasons. After locating Mary and her sisters in Swedish archives, I learned that Mary’s given name was Maria Nilsdotter. Although Mary’s two sisters, Anna and Christine kept the spelling of their Swedish first names in the United States, they changed their surname from Nilsdotter to Nelson/Nielson.

Initially, I relied on two documents for Mary’s parent’s names. One was her marriage certificate and the other her death certificate. In both cases, the parent’s names were altered from their original Swedish. The marriage certificate listed Mary’s parents as “Nels Nelson and Carrie Oelson.”[vii]

Douglas County, Nebraska, marriage certificate (1881), Nelson-Nichols.

I assume Mary provided the information. In the case of her death certificate, Mary’s son Johnnie provided the names. They are noted as “Nelson” and “Christine.” For years I was chasing the wrong names. I should have been searching for Maria Nilsdotter with parents named Nils Persson and Karin Olsdotter. Name changes certainly do complicate research.

Birth record for Maria Nilsdotter, born 31 August 1854, Parents Nils Persson and Karin Olsdtoter; Köla (S) C:11 (1844-1856) Image 27 / Page 46 (AID: v6149.b27.s46, NAD: SE/VA/13309)

There is one more confusing name change. It involves Mary’s brother, Alex, whom  Johnnie referenced in his letter. According to Swedish archives,  Mary didn’t have a brother named Alex. She had two elder brothers, Anders and Nils, and one younger brother, Per, who immigrated to North America in April 1888.[viii] Because Johnnie supplied the name Alex and knowing that immigrants often change their names, I plugged in name variations in my  ancestry.com search and found a likely candidate. I discovered an Axel Peter Nelson, born on the same day as Mary’s brother Per, January 23, 1862, from Sweden.

U.S. naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 November 2018), entry for Axel Peter Nelson.

Axel and Per both immigrated to North America in April 1888. Axel Peter Nelson, a farmer, settled in Osco, Illinois. At age 45 he married Teda Skoog, a Swedish immigrant. Since Axel Peter and Teda had no children, I can’t incorporate a DNA search.  I could obtain Axel’s 1922 naturalization record, perhaps it can resolve if Per Nilsson and Axel Peter Nelson are the same person.[ix]

One more element that complicated my research was Mary’s  birthdate. A family bible[x], census records, and a death certificate noted Mary’s birthdate as August 31, 1856.

Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn Family Bible Records, 1925-1931, The Red Letter Holy bible Illustrated; privately held by Jean Eichorn.

According to Swedish parish church records, Mary was born August 31, 1854.[xi] She shaved two years off of her age to appear younger. She wanted her husband, John Nichols, to believe she was only six months older than him.

FICTION                               VS.                       FACT

NAME: Mary Nelson                         Maria Nilsdotter

BIRTH: August 31, 1856                  August 31, 1854

PARENTS: Nels Nelson                    Nils Persson

Carrie Oelson/Christine                    Karin Olsdotter

BROTHER: Alex Nelson                    Per Nilsson/Axel Peter Nelson

BIRTHPLACE: Warwick, Sweden    Skällarbyn, Sweden

(Växvik is the correct spelling for a small village near Skällarbyn where Mary may have worked prior to her emigration.)

Ingeborg, Sweden                                  Ingeborg- Mary’s sister

The search for Mary’s origins began six decades ago. Time, patience, persistence, and technology solved the mystery. DNA doesn’t lie; the match for Anna’s descendant confirms my research. In addition, the Swedish probate records for Mary’s parents, Nils Persson and Karin Olsdotter, identify the three sisters, Mary, Anna, and Christine, noting where they lived and Mary’s married name – Nichols.

Thanks to my mother and her uncle Johnnie for jump starting the research that helped me solve the mystery of Mary’s origins in Sweden.

 INTRODUCING MARY NELSON/MARIA NILSDOTTER AND FAMILY[xii]

Köla-AI-30-1866-1870-Image-398-page-380;digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 10 November 2018).

NILS PERSSON – father

  • Occupation – farmer landowner (Hemmansägare)
  • Birth – October 3, 1824, Hallebol, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Death – October 24, 1909, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death- throat cancer – Age 85
  • Married – April 17 1844

KARIN OLSDOTTER – mother 

  • Birth – January 6, 1822, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Death – January 6, 1896, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death – Old age – Age 74

Children of Nils Persson and Karin Olsdotter

CHRISTINE NILSDOTTER

  • Birth – June 1, 1844, Baptised June 3, 1844 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Emigrated to Clinton Iowa, April 1872 – Age 28
  • Married – July 10, 1876, in Clinton, Iowa, USA to widower Olaf Nilsson b. 1820 in Sweden, d.1879 Clinton, Iowa.
  • Children: 
  • Charles (Karl) Bryntesson 1865-1926
  • Elmer Oscar Nelson 1874-1945
  • Christine Rosalie Nelson 1878-1951
  • Death – April 23, 1912, Clinton, Iowa, USA – Age 67
  • Cause of death- Cardiac Hypertrophy, with endocarditis, cause embolism of both femoral veins

ANDERS NILSSON

  • Birth – January 2, 1846, Baptised January 3, 1846 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Married – September 9, 1889, Kerstin Andersdotter
  • Child – Johan Emil Andersson 1889-1964
  • Death – September 1902 Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death – Cancer of the larynx – Age 56

INGEBORG NILSDOTTER

  • Birth – September 30, 1847, Baptised October 1, 1847 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Married – November 1, 1873, Anders Andersson
  • Children –
  • Hulda Amalia Andersdotter 1873
  • Anna Christina Andersdotter 1878
  • Jenny Teresia Andersdotter 1885
  • Ingeborg Viktoria Andersdotter 1888
  • Death – March 21, 1924, Hallebol, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death – Arteriosclerosis – Age 76

NILS NILSSON WESTLUND

  • Birth – October 16, 1849, Baptised October 17, 1849 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Occupation – carpenter (snedker)
  • Married Marie
  • Children –
  • Anna Westlund 1885-
  • Oskar Westlund 1891-
  • Emigrated to Oslo, Norway, October 10, 1885
  • Death – July 24, 1941 – Oslo, Norway

KARIN NILSDOTTER

  • Birth – March 4, 1852, Baptised March 6, 1852 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Married – Nils Tonberg Andersson (He immigrated to North America in 1886 after his wife’s death)
  • Children-
  • Albert Nilsson 1875-1939
  • Olivia Christina Nilson 1877-  (Emigrated to the United States in August 1887)
  • Karin Emilia Nilson 1882-
  • Anna Lavinia Tonberg Nilson February 22, 1884-1968, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Death – February 22, 1884, Köla, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death – unknown – Age 31

MARIA NILSDOTTER/MARY NELSON – my 2x great-grandmother

  • Birth – August 31, 1854, Baptised September 4, 1854 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Emigrated to Clinton, Iowa May 1875 – Age 21
  • Married April 13, 1881 John Mathew Nichols, Omaha, NE
  • Children-
  • Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915
  • Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930
  • Fredrick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957
  • Mabel Elvina Nichols 1888-1954 – my great-grandmother
  • John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
  • Death – January 15, 1931, Omaha, Nebraska, USA – Age 76
  • Cause of death –Bronchopneumonia

ANNA NILSDOTTER

  • Birth – November 23, 1857, Baptised November 27, 1857 – Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Emigrated to Clinton, Iowa, April 1880 – Age 22
  • Married – June 19, 1880, in Clinton, Iowa to Carl (Charles) Nyberg b. 1857 Krokebol, Älga, Värmland, Sweden d. 1906 Clinton, Iowa, USA. Her marriage document spelled her name as Anna Nielson.
  • Children –
  • Karin Carolyn Cecilia Nyberg 1881-1964
  • Albin Nyberg 1886-1903
  • Leroy T E Nyberg 1890-1924
  • Natalie Olga Nyberg 1893-1982
  • Carl Walter Nyberg 1894-1979
  • Death – May 13, 1950, Fort Worth, Texas – Age 90
  • Cause of death – Myocardial Failure and senility

PER NILSSON/AXEL PETER NELSON

  • Birth – January 23, 1862, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Emigrated to North America April 1888
  • Death- unknown

KERSTIN NILSDOTTER

  • Birth – January 10, 1866, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Death – November 29, 1883, Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden
  • Cause of death – Heart Failure – Age 17

SWEDISH ANCESTOR IMMERSION

Värmland, Sweden, image courtesy of ancestry.com.

Finding Mary and her birth family in Skällarbyn, Köla Parish, Värmland, Sweden led to a flurry of book orders, research, and emails. I wanted to immerse myself in my immigrant ancestor’s story. Mary and her three siblings joined 1.25 million Swedish immigrants who were part of the great migration from Europe(1880-1920.) They left all that was familiar to them, knowing that they might never see their families again. Their journey to America would change their lives forever.

Part II – THE MYSTERY OF MARY NELSON/ MARIA NILSDOTTER – SWEDISH IMMIGRANT

© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Mary Nelson/Maria Nilsdotter 1854-1931]
Parents: [Nils Persson 1824-1909] and
[Karin Olsdotter 1822-1896]
Spouse: [John Mathew Nichols 1857-1929]
Children: [Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967]
Relationship to Kendra: [Great- Great- Grandmother]

  1. [Mary Nelson/Maria Nilsdotter 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr. 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra
[i] John Nichols, to Jean Hyde Hopp, letter, June 1958, Personal Correspondance; Nichols Family, privately held.
[ii] Douglas County, death certificate no. B486 (1931), Mary Nichols; State of Nebraska Bureau of Health, Omaha.
[iii] Ancestry.com Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982 [databae on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate 25177 (1950), Anna Nyberg.
[iv] Family Search Wikipedia (http://www.familysearch.org, “Värmland County, Sweden Genealogy,” 03:56, 21 November 2018.
[v] Ancestry.com Iowa, Delayed Birth Records, 1856-1940 [database online]. Clinton County, Iowa, Delayed birth Records, 1856-1940, certificate no. 507-16 (1933), Carl Walter Nyberg; State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa
[vi] Köla Moving Records; Köla (S) B:5 (1861-1894) Image 64 (AID: v6138.b64, NAD: SE/VA/13309); digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 22 November 2018).
[vii] Douglas County, Nebraska, marriage certificate (1881), Nelson-Nichols.
[viii] Köla Moving Records; Köla (S) B:5 (1861-1894) Image 154 (AID: v6138.b154, NAD: SE/VA/13309), digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 20 November 2018).
[ix] U.S. naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Novembre 2018), entry for Axel Peter Nelson.
[x] Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn Family Bible Records, 1925-131, The Red Letter Holy Bible Illustrated(Philadelphia), “Births and Deaths”; privately held by Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn, Tucson, AZ, 2018.
[xi] Köla Birth and Baptismal Records; Köla (S) C:11 (1844-1856) Image 27 / Page 46 (AID: v6149.b27.s46, NAD: SE/VA/13309); digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 22 November 2018).
[xii] Köla Household Records, Köla (S) AI:31 (1871-1875) Image 426 / Page 416 (AID: v11981.b426.s416, NAD: SE/VA/13309), ); digital images, Arkiv Digital (https://www.arkivdigital.se : accessed 10 November 2018).
Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

EVERY PHOTOGRAPH TELLS A STORY – MEETING MABEL NICHOLS HYDE

Home of Mabel and John HYDE, 5335 Izard street, Omaha, NE. Taken 1933, photograph in possession of author.

As I stepped out of the rental car, a warm spring breeze gently blew away my trepidation. I recognized the large Tudor Revival style home from the photographs my mother and grandmother shared with me.  Located in the historic Happy Hollow District of Omaha, Nebraska, the house at 5335 Izard Street appeared as charming as I’d envisioned. Nervous but excited, I rang the doorbell and waited. A tall, slender, woman opened the door. Her blue eyes gazed warmly at me as if she thought she recognized me. We’d never met in person, but I knew her immediately. I introduced myself. Mabel NICHOLS HYDE, my great-grandmother, wrapped me in her arms and invited me inside.

Mabel NICHOLS HYDE, portrait taken by Claude Constable 1940, Omaha, Nebraska. Photograph in possession of author.

I followed Mabel into the kitchen where the aroma of a freshly baked dessert filled the air. An excellent baker, Mabel’s specialties included her husband’s favorite cakes, chocolate, and angel food.  She served us each a slice of light angel food with a dollop of whip cream and fresh berries. We had a lot a lot to talk about.

No, it wasn’t real, just a fantasy. When I research and write about my ancestors, I envision what it might be like to meet them in person. I know Mabel NICHOLS HYDE  through many anecdotes my mother and grandmother told me. They always called her “Nana” which is how I think of her. My grandmother, Anna Jane BEATON HYDE, lived with Mabel, her mother-in-law, from 1935-1940, and again from 1950-1953.  Anna Jane experienced first-hand Mabel’s loving and challenging personality.

Even when they didn’t share a home, the two HYDE families lived less than a mile apart. My mother, Jean HYDE, was an only grandchild on both sides of her family. Mabel was her “young” grandmother. Time spent together included: playing card games, stories, shopping excursions, and travel.

Mabel HYDE and Jean HYDE, Evergreen, CO, 1942. Photo in possession of author.

The two  HYDE families often shared Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations.

Christmas 1949 Mabel NICHOLS HYDE & John HYDE, Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, Jean HYDE and Sunny. Omaha, NE. photograph in possession of author.

At age ten, my mother learned that visiting a grandparent and living with a grandparent paint different pictures. Her grandfather, Dr. John HYDE, died unexpectedly March 23, 1950, from a cerebral hemorrhage.[1] Devastated by her loss, Mabel asked her son and his family to move in with her. My grandfather had just designed a new home for his parents the year before his father’s death and Mabel was too distraught to leave.

Significant events affected Mabel’s life in ways I can only imagine. Keeping a timeline in mind enables me to appreciate local and world events that shaped her life. She gave birth to her children before the discovery of childhood immunizations; lived through two World Wars worried her husband, son and brothers might be called to serve;  gained the right to vote at age 31, and opened her home to family members during the Great Depression.

MAJOR  EVENTS TIMELINE[2]

  • 1913 – [Mabel age 25] Omaha Tornado struck on Easter Sunday, about 6 p.m., F4 storm, 103 people killed, 240 injured, 3000 buildings damaged, property damage $3.5 million (equal to $89 million today).[3] It swept diagonally across the city in a path six miles long and two to three blocks wide. Today it is still considered one of the most catastrophic events in Nebraska history. The day after the tornado a snowstorm struck the town.[4]
  • Courtesy of Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The Omaha Bee, March 30, 1913.

  • [Mabel and John’s home was not in the path, but her parents and siblings were narrowly missed by the tornado.]
  • 1914-1918 – [Mabel age 26-30]   World War I – U.S. enters WWI April 6, 1917. [Mabel’s brother Johnnie served briefly in the Army Signal Corp. He was one of 20,000 Omahans who served in the armed forces. Although this created labor shortages “…the most serious hardships experienced on the home front were “wheatless” and “meatless” days.”[5]]
  • 1915 – First long distance telephone service between New York and San Francisco
  • 1917 – First regular airmail service begins with one round trip a day between Washington D.C. and New York.
  • 1918 – Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920 nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S. 500,000 perish.
  • 1919 –[Mabel age 31]  Prohibition
  • 1919 – Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote.
  • [Mabel’s mother-in-law, Florence FOLLETT HYDE, campaigned in 1914 for women’s right to vote. She became an active member of the Lincoln, Nebraska League of Women Voters.][6]
  • 1923-1927 – First vaccines developed for diphtheria, pertussis, tuberculosis, and tetanus.
  • 1928 – [Mabel age 40] Bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.[7]
  • 1929 – Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression
  • 1939 -1945 – [Mabel age 51-57]    World War II
  • [John HYDE jr. exempt from service due to flat feet; John HYDE Sr. served as an examining physician for the Selective Service System of the United States from Oct 10, 1940-May 3, 1947.[8]] My grandfather had flat feet; he passed this genetic trait on to members of my family. However, I do wonder if Mabel told her husband that she did not want her only son to serve in the military.

Bird’s eye view of Omaha, NE, 1918-1920, with permission by Omaha Public Library.

A “gate city to the west,” Omaha prospered in the early twentieth century. It was the Terminal for the Union Pacific railroad which made it easy to ship agricultural products throughout the United States. It was also home to the “Big Four” meat-packing plants, Armour, Cudahy, Swift and Morris. [9] To celebrate the city’s Golden Jubilee in 1929, The Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan “Onward Omaha.” A promotional publication stated:

“Omaha faces a future rich with promise of continued domination in field, garden, and stockyard. Omaha faces a future in which the great economic battles will be fought and won by cities with transportation facilities and quick contacts. Omaha is the country’s center. Already it is the fourth railroad center; already it commands the highways, but now commerce is to travel by water and air…Omaha leaders have been quick to grasp their opportunity, and the city is riding the rising tide of aviation. Omaha faces the future backed by all of her old allies, and fortified with the strength of two new ones – water and air.”[10] 

Omaha was also an immigrant city. “In the 1920’s when roughly fifty percent of the population were immigrants and their children, Omaha reached the zenith of its ethnic diversity.[11] It gave the city a diversified cultural heritage as well as caused tensions. Mabel grew up in one of the many immigrant neighborhoods on the north side of Omaha with her Swedish born mother. Omaha’s immigrant community was a mix of Germans, Czechs, Italians, Polish, Bohemians, Irish, English, Welsh, French, Belgians, Lithuanians, Serbs, Croatians, Romanians, Hungarians, Austrians, Scandinavians, Syrians, Greeks, and Mexicans.[12]

FAMILY

In a earlier blog, I described Mabel NICHOLS’ marriage to Dr. John Fay HYDE on May 8, 1909. [13] The newlyweds took a few days after the wedding to visit friends and the groom’s parents in Lincoln, NE.  When they returned to Omaha, Mabel continued to work as her husband’s receptionist for about a year, possibly until she became pregnant.

Mabel NICHOLS HYDE c. 1909, taken at Dr. John HYDE’S office at 460 Brandeis Building, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possessionof author.

After she married Dr. John HYDE, Mabel’s life changed drastically. Her childhood home didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity; she eventually had houses with every modern convenience. Her mother and sister had worked as servants; Mabel employed housekeepers. She could afford beautiful clothes, travel, and a life of leisure.

Family connections played an essential role in Mabel’s life. Cards and photographs recorded family events. Newspaper articles, census records, directories, and death records revealed Mabel’s devotion to family in difficult times.

Children

Two years after their marriage, Mabel and John’s first and only surviving child, John Frederick HYDE, arrived on Friday,  October 13, 1911.[14] Typical for the time period, Mabel gave birth at home, attended by a colleague of her husbands, Dr. Charles Pollard.[15]

My favorite studio photograph of Mabel and my grandfather, John Jr., taken in 1912.

Mabel NICHOLS HYDE and John HYDE Jr. 1910, Omaha, NE. Photo in possession of author.

Both mother and child have a playful smile on their faces. John Jr. wore a cotton romper. Mabel wore a delicate silk and lace gown. Pinned to the ruching on the bodice is Dr. John Hyde’s Medical Fraternity pin, Phi Rho Sigma, he gave to her upon their engagement.

John HYDE Sr., Medical Fraternity Pin, Phi Rho Sigma.

Mabel pampered John Jr. as a baby, a child, and as a young man. An adorable boy with blond curly hair and blue eyes, John’s photographs depict a cheerful child.

John HYDE Jr, 1915, Omaha, NE, photo in possession of author.

Ten years after their son’s birth, Mabel, and John had a baby girl in September 1921. Joan HYDE survived only a few days.[16] Her tombstone has one date on it, Sept. 3, 1921.

Joan HYDE, tombstone, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, NE.

Deaths

From 1915 -1931 Mabel lost five family members.

  • July 26, 1916, Carrie Bertha NICHOLS (sister age 34 – no death certificate on file.)[17]
  • Sept. 3, 1921, Joan HYDE (infant daughter)[18]
  • May 19, 1929, John Mathews NICHOLS (father age 72– cause of death myocardial degeneration, died at Covenant Hospital, death certificate signed by Dr. John F. Hyde.)[19]
  • Nov 9, 1930, Charles Clinton NICHOLS (brother age 47– suffered fatal internal injuries when he was struck by a car while crossing a street.)[20]
  • Jan 15, 1931, Mary NELSON NICHOLS (mother age 74- Mary died at Mabel and John Hyde’s house after a month-long illness of bronchopneumonia and influenza. Dr. Hyde signed her death certificate.)[21]

A SHARED HOME

Four years after Mary NICHOL’S death, the HYDES celebrated the marriage of their son John to Anna Jane BEATON, on June 25, 1935.[22]  The young couple moved in with Mabel and John Sr. at 5335 Izard Street while John Jr. built up his practice as an architect. There was little demand for architecturally designed homes during the Great Depression. My grandparents, John and Anna Jane, lived with my great-grandparents for five years. They moved into their own apartment in 1940 after the birth of their only child, my mother, Jean Ann Marie HYDE.

Mabel HYDE and granddaughter, Jean HYDE, 1940, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.

Also adversely affected by the Great Depression, Mabel’s younger brother, John Lee NICHOLS, known as Johnnie, had difficulty finding a job. In 1935, Johnnie was 45 years old, divorced, and needed a home and a job. He moved into the HYDE household at Izard street and lived there from 1935-1940. Mabel and Johnnie shared a strong sibling bond. While going through family photos and negatives, I discovered a blurred image depicting Dr. John HYDE and Johnnie NICHOLS playing poker.

Dr. John F. Hyde and John Nichols, c. 1939 playing poker, Omaha NE. Photo in possession of author.

It might have confused the family to have three “Johns” in the same house, except two of them used nicknames. Dr. John HYDE was always called ‘Doc’ by everyone in the family. John NICHOLS had the nickname ‘Johnnie’ from childhood because his father shared the same first name.  John HYDE Jr., my grandfather, went by his given name, ‘John.’

SHARED INTERESTS

Mabel Nichols Hyde and Dr. John F. Hyde, 1942, Evergreen, CO. Photo in possession of author.

Thanks to my mother I have some ideas about my great-grandparents shared interests. As loyal Nebraskans, they attended college football games to watch the Cornhuskers play. The sixty-mile drive from Omaha to Lincoln also offered the HYDES an opportunity to visit John’s relatives. His younger sister, Hazel HYDE KIESSELBACH lived in Lincoln as did his mother, Florence FOLLETT HYDE.

1923Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Kiesselbach [John’s sister Hazel and brother-in-law Theodore] will preside at a family dinner for twenty guests after the games….The guest list will include Mrs. Florence HYDE [John’s mother], Miss Lorraine Follett [John’s aunt], and Mrs. C.W. Roberts and family [John’s youngest sister Elizabeth and husband], Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Hyde and son John Jr., of Omaha.”[23]

Leisurely weekend afternoons or evenings would include a game of canasta, pitch or bridge with friends. Traditional games were an alternative to reading, which Mabel and John also enjoyed. In the 1920’s, mass marketing and mail-order book clubs promoted Tales of the Old West and mystery novels. Mabel relished western pocket novels or stories such as  Little Orphan Annie while John Sr. preferred the classics.

The 1930 census noted that John and Mabel owned a “radio set,” then considered a luxury.

Sears Roebuck Catalog Fall 1937, p. 661, Ancestry.com.

[24] Perhaps as they sat together in the evenings, Mabel sipped her preferred cocktail, a Bourbon Mist, while she relaxed to her favorite piece of music, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

  • Bourbon Mist Cocktail
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 2 oz. crushed ice
  • 1 twist lemon peel
  • Pack a Collins glass with crushed ice. Pour in bourbon. Add the twist of lemon and serve.

Mabel and John Sr. also listened to popular radio shows. I don’t know their favorites, but I can imagine them enjoying the same episodes of the Lone Ranger, detective Sam Spade or Jack Benny that my husband and I listened to on Armed Forces Radio when we lived overseas.

TRAVEL

The HYDE family traveled more than I’d anticipated. After reading newspaper articles about their trips, I learned that Mabel had extended stays with family and friends.

1924 – “Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Hyde and son, John, accompanied by Bobbie Young, son of Dr. and Mrs. G. Alexander Young have returned after spending two weeks in Estes Park.[25]

Downtown Estes Park, 1924. Photographer Frank Phelps. With permission by Estes Park Museum.

Note- the Hydes frequently traveled to Estes Park, Colorado during the summers and often stayed at Sprague’s Lodge in Rocky Mountain National Park. It became a family tradition for my great-grandparents as well as my grandparents and mother. Sprague’s Lodge is where my parents met and fell in love. Three of my siblings live in Colorado and still explore the same areas.

My grandparents, Anna Jane and John HYDE Jr. took the photograph below in 1949. Sixty-seven years later, my sister, Kimberly Stansberry took the second photograph from nearly the same vantage point on one of her visits to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Spragues Lake and lodge c. 1949, Estes Park, Colorado. Photograph in possession of author.

Spragues Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, 2016, photograph by Kimberly Stansberry.

1925-Mrs. J.F. Hyde has returned after a six-week trip through the Black Hills and Yellowstone Park. Dr. Hyde and son, John Jr. returned earlier in the month.”[26]
1930 – “Mrs. J.F. Hyde has returned after spending five weeks with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Charles K. Nichols, [Mabel’s uncle and aunt]  in Pittsburgh, and in Chicago, where she was cruising with Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Shukert of Council Bluffs, who have their yacht in Belmont Harbor. Mrs. Hyde went east with Mr. and Mrs. Nichols, when they stopped in Omaha on the way by motor to their home, after spending the winter in Los Angeles.”[27]
1936- Mrs. John Hyde sr. is visiting Mr. and Mrs. Charles Nichols in Hollywood, Cal. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols spend their winters in Tarentum, Pa., and stopped here en route to the west coast to be joined by Mrs. Hyde. Dr. Hyde expects to leave for California the first week of September, and they will return together the middle of the month.”[28]
1938 – “Dr. and Mrs. J.F.Hyde are home from Estes Park, where they spent two weeks at Fall River Lodge, and a brief stay at Denver.”[29]
1941 – “Dr. John Hyde Sr. made a solo trip home for Mrs. Hyde who accompanied him west on the special is settled for the rest of the winter in a Los Angeles apartment.”[30]

Note – Mabel enjoyed traveling by train to California. She made annual visits to see her younger brother Johnnie who moved to Oakland circa 1941 to work for Western Pacific Railroad. A 1941 article in the Omaha World-Herald featured enticing advertisements to explore the west coast.

Many Americans have unknowingly seen parts of Santa Catalina Island, Death Valley, Palos Verdes, Lake Arrowhead and other scenic contrasts of southern California in the movies. they thought they were seeing the South Sea isles, parts of Africa and Arabia, French Riviera or Swiss Alps – so nearly do the southern California counterparts of these areas duplicate landscapes famed throughout the world.”[31] Streamlined trains offered a day and a half trip on “the speedsters of the North Western Union Pacific-Southern-Pacific. Such trains as the City of Los Angeles and City of San Francisco carry both Pullmans and coaches.[32]

Pullman car built 1938 – Arizona Railway Museum.

Note – As a young girl, my mother traveled to California with her grandmother in a Pullman. Recently, I toured two train museums to view sleeper and buffet-lounge cars. My mother recalls it took 2-3 days to reach the coast. When she exited the train in California, her legs felt a bit wobbly.

Sleeper Car 1938, Arizona Railway Museum.

Pullman Dining Car 1938, Arizona Railway Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1943 – “Mrs. W.H. Taylor was joined at San Antonio by Dr. Taylor, Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Davis, Dr. and Mrs. John Hyde and Dr. and Mrs. Clarence Rubendall…The Omahans traveled to Mexico for a two-week stay, making their headquarters at Mexico City.”[33]

Acapulco, Mexico 1943, Mabel Hyde (front left), Dr. John Hyde (back right). Photo in possession of author.

Note – The trip to Mexico is the only trip the John and Mabel made outside the United States. Their visit to Mexico with friends included a fishing excursion. Finding newspaper articles has helped me date photographs.

25th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY 

To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in 1934, John Hyde Sr. surprised Mabel with a night out at the elegant Blackstone Hotel. Built in 1915, it developed a  nationwide reputation as a premier hotel.[34]

“Bostwick-Frohardt Collection, Blackstone Hotel, 1928. With permission by Durham Museum Photo Archives.

Dr. J.F. Hyde entertained last evening at the Blackstone at a surprise dinner for Mrs. Hyde on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Dinner was served in the Fern room, and silver and pink tapers, with pink and white flowers, were used on the table around a huge wedding cake. Forty-six guests were present.”[35]

In honor of their 25th anniversary, the HYDES received two silver footed bowls, one with the initial “M” and the other with “J”. Engraved on the bottom of each is the date “1909-1934.”

Silver wedding anniversary gift, footed bowl engraved with letter “M”, and 1909-1934 on the bottom.

HOMES 

Between 1909-1950 Mabel and John HYDE shared six homes together.


2410 South 10th Street – 1909 – Rented home #1 located around the corner from Grace Baptist church where the HYDES married, and a short distance from where Dr. HYDE worked as a staff physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Original home no longer exists.

2528 South 10th Street – 1911- Rented home #2 located one block away from their first home. Original home no longer exists. [Home where John HYDE jr was born.]

John F. Hyde Jr., baby book.

2541 South 10th Street – 1916 – Rented home #3 across the street from home #2. Original home no longer exists.

3227 Lafayette – 1918 –Not sure if they owned or rented home #4 located six miles from home #3. The house still exists.

3227 Lafayette Street, Omaha, NE. Google images

Description: Single-family home, 1,511 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath.

5335 Izard Street – 1926- 1949– Owned home #5, the house still exists.

5335 Izard Street, Omaha, NE. Home of Dr. John F. Hyde and Mabel Hyde, c. 1940. Photograph in possession of author.

Located in the Happy Hollow neighborhood a garden suburb with “…rolling hills, lush shrubbery, manicured lawns, numerous trees, Tudor-style homes, and winding streets.”[36]

“Bostwick Frohard Collection,” Homes in Dundee on Izard Street. With permission by the Durham Museum Photo Archives.

Description: Single-family Tudor style Brick home, shingle roof, 2 ½ stories, built 1926. Designed and built by Bert Hene Construction Company. 3,852 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, screened porch, 400 square foot basement. Value in 1930 – $23,000.[37] The HYDES sold their home on Izard street in May 1949 for $25,000.[38]

5335 Izard Street, Omaha, NE, taken about 1990, photograph by my sister Karen Kenagy.

A description in the Omaha World-Herald features a charming description of the garden. “The garden is of simple, informal design, adaptable to the city home grounds, where space is limited. Some interesting feature is to be placed in every view from the house. Many varieties of shrubs, trees, and flowers are to be used. They will be arranged and selected as to give almost a continuous succession of bloom the entire summer, and yet all are to be in harmonious relation with each other. The landscape department of the Sonderegger nurseries designed the garden, which will be planted in the early spring. The residence is being built by the Hene Construction company, which is also architect.”[39]

Note – John HYDE Sr., a passionate gardener spent his free time tending to the yard. An impressed passerby inquired if John was available for other jobs not realizing Dr. Hyde was the homeowner and not the gardener.

420 JE George Boulevard 1949- Owned home #6, still exists.

420 JE George Boulevard, Omaha, NE, taken 1949. Home of Dr. John F. HYDE and Mabel HYDE. Designed by John F. HYDE , Jr. Photograph in possession of author.

Description – Colonial style single family home, designed by John F. Hyde Jr., 1.5 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 3402 sq. Ft.

420 JE George Boulevard, Omaha, NE. Google images.

My grandmother saved several newspaper articles about the house. The home had to be rebuilt after a fire nearly destroyed it when it was near completion. The fire started about 2:30 a.m. in the morning caused by salamander stoves used to warm the concrete floors. Mabel and John’s son and family lived in an adjoining lot. Alerted by their barking Cocker Spaniel, Sun Tan, known as “Sunny,” John Jr. rang the fire department at 2:59 a.m., but it was too late.  “Mr. Hyde found the building ‘a mass of flames.’”Although the house carried 15 thousand dollars of insurance, it was valued at 35 thousand dollars.[40]

“Omaha World-Herald”, November 27, 1949, p. 69.

HOME FINISHED DESPITE BLAZE – Hyde Residence has Fine Features.

Dr. and Mrs. John F. Hyde were dismayed last January 13 when fire destroyed their nearly-completed house at 420 J.E. George Boulevard. So was their son, John Jr. He was the architect who designed it.
The house was too fine to abandon, however. Now completed, it is one of the most attractive in Omaha.
Yellowwood siding, a green door, and a white board fence give it a color that suits its colonial lines. It faces east on a large lot and looks, as Mrs. Hyde says, ‘as though it grew out of the ground.’
A fireplace surrounded by bookshelves and a welcoming bay window are features of the living-dining room.
Utilitarian Features
The dining area has built-in cupboards which are back-to-back with cupboards in the brightly decorated breakfast room on the west side of the house.
Off the living room to the south is a cheerful sun porch, glassed-in now, but equipped with removable screens for summer outdoor dining.
Off the kitchen is a utility room containing heating and laundry equipment and nearly enough cooking facilities for a second kitchen.
A “back porch” room contains air conditioning equipment and can be locked off from the rest of the house for package deliveries when the owners are away.
No Basement
There is further storage space in the garage, and a garden tool room opening off the garage. The Hydes realized they would need plenty of storage room about the house because it has no basement.
A closet near the front door contains a wood box which can be filled from the garage and racks for the storage of card tables.
There is a powder room on the first floor and a bathroom for each of the three upstairs bedrooms. The lavatory in Dr. Hyde’s bathroom has a now seldom-seen marble top, an old-fashioned idea that fits in well with modern design. Silvered wallpaper adds to the charm of Mrs. Hyde’s bathroom.
Old oak furniture, given a gray finish are in the doctor’s room. It includes a desk and shelves for his medical books.
William Votava helped plan the interior decorating”.[41]

A few months ago I rediscovered 265 color slides from my grandparents. They included an image of my mother and her constant companion, Sunny,  in the living room at 420 George Boulevard.  I examined the image and found eight items that still belong to family members.

Jean HYDE with Sunny seated in living room at 420 JE George Boulevard. Photograph taken 1949, in possession of author.

#1 Regency mahogany round table with spiral legs – Victorian reproduction

Regency table, lamp, and cigarette dish from Mabel HYDE.

#2 Dresden porcelain cigarette dish designed by Carl Thieme.  [A chain smoker, Mabel displayed her cigarettes in a classy container. It held 19 cigarettes as depicted in the photograph above with Jean and Sunny.]

Dresden porcelain cigarette dish designed by Carl Thieme.

 

#3Cobalt blue lamps [Mabel and Anna Jane both had these lamps in their homes. I’ve had to change the lampshades and have them rewired, but they are still elegant.]

#4 Framed wedding photograph of Mary NELSON NICHOLS and John Mathews NICHOLS taken in 1881. Mabel kept the treasured picture on a bookshelf in her living room.

Wedding photograph of Mary NELSON NICHOLS and John Mathews NICHOLS taken in 1881, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of Karen Hopp Kenagy.

 

#5 Wingback chairs x 2 (Mabel HYDE had the chairs upholstered in a purple floral pattern as featured above. I’ve had them reupholstered.)

#6 Set of Junior Classic Books that belonged to Dr. John HYDE

#7 Dresden Porcelain Figurine

#8 Steubenware glass bowl

HOUSEKEEPING

Mabel kept an impeccable house that looked like a show home. She didn’t accomplish this on her own; she had several maids over the years. A fastidious housekeeper with strict expectations, it wasn’t easy to live with her.  My mother and grandmother described cleaning day as “a revolution.” The oriental rugs were taken outside and beaten; the bedframes set out on the lawn and cleaned; countertops had to be smoothly polished; the carpet vacuumed so no footprints were visible. My mother distinctly remembers each fork tine had to be thoroughly dried. Mabel supervised and assisted.

Despite being very particular, Mabel did have a house cat. I wasn’t surprised when I saw that “Rattles” was a Persian cat. Or is this “Boots”, the other cat my mother remembers?

Mabel Nichols HYDE, Jean HYDE, and John HYDE Jr. & Rattles, 1940, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.

Mabel had a pleasant relationship with her housekeepers but expected near perfection.  The 1940 census lists the following members in the HYDE household:[42] Dr. John HYDE worked 60 hours a week; John L NICHOLS’ occupation is listed as a railroad yardman, but he was unemployed during the census taking; Irene Franklin, the housekeeper, worked 70 hours/week. 

1940 U.S. census, Douglas County, Omaha, NE. Ancestry.com

  • John F. HYDE            age 56            Physician       worked 60 hours/week
  • Mabel HYDE             age 52
  • John L NICHOLS       age 50            yardman/RR
  • Irene Franklin           age 34            servant          worked 70 hours/week

HOBBIES

During WWII the HYDES kept a Victory Garden. Mabel canned the surplus produce including homemade jam. The housekeeper assisted with some of the daily cooking, but Mabel preferred to do the baking herself. My mother recalls walking into the home on Izard street and the delicious aroma of fresh-baked treats. I think the special ingredient she added to her baking was love.

BAKING

Recipe cards from Mabel HYDE.

Chocolate cake– John HYDE Sr.’s favorite. While scanning negatives, I found the only known photograph of Doc celebrating his birthday and it includes a chocolate cake.

Dr. John F. HYDE, 64th birthday celebration with a chocolate cake. Taken in 1949 in his new home on George Boulevard. Photograph in possession of author.

Angel food cake – In honor of Nana, I baked an angel food cake from scratch. I’d forgotten it requires 12 egg whites. The only dilemma was what to do with 12 egg yolks. What did Mabel do with all those yolks?

Angel Food cake ingredients.

Angel Food Cake – Delicous – thanks Nana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brownies – Chocolate remains a favorite in our family, in any form.

Date Bars

Chocolate drop cookies with nuts and dates – A Christmas tradition started by Mabel HYDE that my grandmother continued. My mother, sister and I make them every year and think of Nana and Grams (Anna Jane).

Hot sauce for gingerbread – I like gingerbread but haven’t tried it with sauce.

Homemade ice cream – made with real cream, chocolate, vanilla, or fresh fruit.

Sweet milk pancakes

SEWING:

Like her mother, Mary NICHOLS, Mabel was a talented seamstress. Mary sewed clothes for her grandson, John HYDE Jr, as described in his baby book.

John F. HYDE Jr. baby book with description of “first short clothes.”

First Short Clothes – Made by Grandma Nichols & put on 1st time Jan 30, 1912. Got so large that all clothes had to made over.”[43]

Mabel liked to sew skirts and dresses for her granddaughter. My mother, Jean, is pictured here in a darling blue and white gingham dress. Her playmate Sunny delighted in all the attention.

Jean HYDE wearing dress made by Mabel HYDE; playing with Sunny, 1946, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jean was a young teen, Mabel made her a Christmas party skirt. It’s gaily decorated with felt Christmas trees, stars, and bells outlined with beads and sequins.  Although the colors have faded, my sister still wears the skirt for special Christmas gatherings.

Karen Hopp Kenagy, wearing Christmas skirt made by her great-grandmother, Mabel HYDE, Dec 2017, Tucson, AZ. Photograph in possession of author.

 

Karen Kenagy with niece and nephews wearing the Christmas skirt made by Mabel HYDE. Taken in Berthoud, CO, photograph in possession of author.

 

 

 

 

 

Mabel HYDE’S sewing kit and pin cushion.

SHOPPING

Mabel’s trim 5’7” frame made it easy for her to find beautiful clothes and she delighted in shopping. Trips downtown to her favorite department stores, such as Orchard and Wilhelm or Aquila Court,might include a visit to the hair salon and then lunch in the Ladies Tearoom. She might have needed another bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume which would be displayed in colorful perfume bottles on her dresser.

Perfume bottles from Mabel HYDE. In possession of Karen Kenagy.

Going to a department store entailed a bit of ceremony. Fashionable attire required dressing up and wearing a hat and gloves. My mother has fond memories of shopping trips with her grandmother, getting her hair done and then having a ladies luncheon with dainty sandwiches.

“Bostwick-Frohard Collection,” Aquila Court Building, 1947. With permission by the Durham Museum Photo Archives.

VOLUNTEER WORK

An active volunteer in the auxiliary to the Omaha-Douglas County Medical Society, Mabel served as president 1935-1937.[44]

Mrs. John F. HYDE, President of Medical Auxiliary. Omaha World-Herald, April 4, 1937.

Founded in 1927 by a group of physician spouses to socialize, it developed into a volunteer organization focused on community health concerns. Funds raised by the auxiliary went to various causes,  the Nebraska Tuberculosis association, infantile paralysis, medical services for families with lower incomes, improving standards for pasteurization of milk, and during WWII a civilian defense committee to coordinate hospital, personnel, and facilities for the patient care that could arise. The organization is now called the Metro Omaha Medical Society (MOMS) and is still very active in the Omaha community.[45]

THE FINAL YEARS

Even though my mother thought of Mabel as the “young” grandmother, she had an assortment of infirmities. Severe migraines forced her to retreat to a darkened room until they passed. ‘Doc’ occasionally gave her “sugar pills,” according to my grandmother, and sometimes they worked.

Sadly, Mabel’s last few years were very painful. When John HYDE Sr. died in 1950,  she asked my grandparents to move into her house on George Boulevard. After two years the stress of living together became too intense. Mabel had to sell her beautiful new home and move into the Buckingham apartments on Chicago street. The last six months of her life she developed liver cancer and moved in with my grandparents. A nurse assisted with her care. Mabel died in her son’s bed without her beloved doctor by her side.

 

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Nana” b. 1888 – d. 1954
Parents:  John Mathews NICHOLS b. 1857 -d. 1929 and
Mary NELSON b. 1856 – d. 1931
Spouse: Dr. John Fay HYDE “Doc” b. 1885 – d. 1950
Children: 1. John Frederick HYDE b. 1911 – d. 1980   m. Anna Jane BEATON b. 1907 – d. 1998

2. Joan HYDE b. and died 3 Sep 1921
Relationship to Kendra: 2x great-grandmother

  1. Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE
  2. John Frederick HYDE Jr.
  3. Jean HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

 


[1] Douglas County, Nebraska, death certificate no. 50-02615 (1950), John Hyde Sr.; State of Nebraska Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Lincoln.

[2] U.S. History: Progressive Era and World Wars – 1900–1949.” Infoplease.
© 2000-2017 Sandbox Networks, Inc., publishing as Infoplease.
28 Jun. 2018   <https://www.infoplease.com/history-and-government/us-history-timeline/1900-1949/&gt;.

[3] Measuring Worth.com. Retrieved 7 Jul 2018 from http://www.measuringworth.com

[4] https://northomahahistory.com/2016/06/01/a-history-of-the-1913-easter-sunday-tornado-in-north-omaha-nebraska/

[5] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 145.

[6] “Makes Canvass of Third Ward, Suffrage Workers Are Busy Lining Up the Vote There,” The Lincoln Star, 27 Oct 1914, online archives, (http://www.newspapers.com  accessed14 mar 2016) p.2.

[7] “Medical Advances Timeline.” Info please.
© 2000-2017 Sandbox Networks, Inc., publishing as Infoplease.
28 Jun. 2018   <https://www.infoplease.com/science-health/health/medical-advances-timeline/&gt;.

[8] Dr. John F. Hyde Selective Service System Award, Hyde Family Collection; privately held by Kendra Schmidt. Vienna, VA, 2018. Certificate of Service awarded to Dr. John F. Hyde from the President of the United States and the Governor of Nebraska May 1947. It passed from Dr. John Hyde to is son John Hyde Jr. to Kendra Schmidt, who inherited it in 1986.

[9] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 142.

[10] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 154.

[11] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 158.

[12] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 163.

[13] Nebraska. Douglas County. Marriage Records, Douglas County Clerk’s Office, Omaha.

[14] Douglas County, Nebraska, Certificate of Birth card file, John Frederick Hyde Jr.; Omaha Douglas County Health Department, Omaha.

[15] “Omaha, Nebraska, Directories, 1912, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 June 2018), entry for Charles W. Pollard; citing “Omaha City Directory, 1912 (Omaha, NE: Omaha Directory Co., 1912),” page number 707.

[16] “Bulletin of The University of Nebraska, Alumni Directory, 1923, 1869-1923,” database, Archive.org (http://www.archive.org : accessed 18 Feb 2016), entry for John F. Hyde; Series XVII, No. 7.

[17] “Deaths and Funeral Notices,” The Omaha Bee,, 28 July 1915, online arcives (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 15 Jun 2018, .9.

[18] “Bulletin of The University of Nebraska, Alumni Directory, 1923, 1869-1923,” database, Archive.org (http://www.archive.org : accessed 18 Feb 2016), entry for John F. Hyde; Series XVII, No. 7.

[19] Nebraska, certificate of death no. A 5527, John Mathews Nichols, State of Nebraska Bureau of Health, Lincoln.

[20] Nebraska, certificate of death no. A 1236, Charles C Nichols, State of Nebraska Bureau of Health, Lincoln

[21] Nebraska, certificate of death no. B486 Mary  Nichols, State of Nebraska Bureau of Health, Lincoln

[22] Saint Peter Churc (Omaha, Nebraska), Sacramental Certificates, (privately held by Kendra Schmidt, Vienna,VA, 2010),  John Frederick Hyde, Jr. and Anna Jane Beaton (1935), issued 2010.

[23] “To Entertain at a Family Dinner,” The Lincoln Star, 24 Nov 1927, online archives (http:www.newspapers.com accessed 14 March 2016) p. 14.

[24] 1930 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Nebraska, poulation schedule, OMaha, Enumeration District (ED) 28-110, sheet 37A, dwelling 544, family 560, John F. Hyde; digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Jul 2018, citing National archives microilm publication T626, roll 2667.

[25] Omaha World-Herald, 24 Aug 1924, online archives (http:www.newsbank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.31.

[26] Omaha World-Herald, 27 Sept 1925, online archives (http:www.newsbank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.35.

[27] “Mrs. J.F. Hyde is Home from the East,” Omaha World-Herald, 28 Jul 1930, online archives (http:www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p. 10.

[28] Omaha World-Herald, 17 Aug 1936, online archives (http:www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.12.

[29] Omaha World-Herald, 23 Aug 1938, online archives (http:www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.6.

[30] Omaha World-Herald, 7 Jan 1941, online archives (http:www.newsbank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.6.

[31] “California Boasts Varied Scenery,” Omaha World-Herald, 7 Dec 1941, online archives (https:www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p. 47.

[32] “South Ready for New High Tourist Trade,” Omaha World-Herald, 7 Dec 1941, online archives (https:www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p. 47.

[33] Omaha World-Herald, 8 Apr 1943, online archives (http:www.newsbank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p.14.

[34] “Blackstone Hotel (Omaha, Nebraska)” 24 Nov 2017. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 3 July2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone_Hotel_(Omaha,_Nebraska)

[35] “In Social World,” Omaha World-Herald, 9 May 1934, online archives (https://www.genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p. 10.

[36] Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell, The Gate City A History of Omaha (NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 153.

[37] 1930 U.S. census, Douglas County, Nebraska, populations schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 28-110, sheet 37A, dwelling 544, family 560. John F. Hyde; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 June 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 2,667.

[38] “Buys 4-Bedroom Home,” OmahaWorld-Herald, 29 May 1949, online archives (https://genealogybank.com  accessed 27 Ju ne 2018) p. 39.

[39] “Charming Garden for New Residence,” Omaha World Herald, 26 Dec 1926, online archives (https:www.genealogbank.com accessed 27 June 2018) p. 36.

[40] “Fire Destroys Dream House,” Omaha World-Herald, 13 Jan 1949, online archives (https://genealogybank.com  accessed 27 June 2018) p. 3.

[41] “Home Finished Despite Blaze,” Omaha World-Herald, 27 November 1949, p. 69.

[42] 1940 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Nebraska, poulation schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 94-769, sheet 6A, dwelling 146, John F. Hyde; digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Jul 2018, citing National archives microilm publication T627, roll 02274.

[43] John Frederick Hyde Jr. Baby book, Hyde Family Collection; privately held by Kendra Schmidt. Vienna, VA, 2018. Cloth bound book, pink titled “Baby Days”.

[44] “Medical Club Expecting 200,” Omaha World-Herald, 4 Apr 1937.

[45] Metro Omaha Medical Society. 150 Years: Making an Impact for he “Good of their Cause,” database https://omahamedical.com/about/history/ :2017.

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

EVERY PHOTOGRAPH TELLS A STORY – Mabel NICHOLS HYDE

MABEL’S METAMORPHOSIS – PART II – HAPPY 109TH ANNIVERSARY

Mabel E. NICHOLS & John F. HYDE, wedding photograph, May 8 1909, Omaha, Nebraska.

Spring is the perennial season for weddings and new beginnings. One-hundred-nine years ago Mabel  NICHOLS  exchanged vows with Dr. John F. HYDE. She entered into matrimony as well as a different social class.  The transition commenced with a modest ceremony attended by immediate family members.

Example of wedding invitation early 1900’s

The simple wedding required little preparation and minimal cost. Two days before the event, on Thursday, May 6, 1909, Mabel and John obtained their marriage license from the county courthouse. It was duly recorded in the Douglas County Register and posted in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper on May 7th.[1]  The two necessary witnesses chosen were Mabel’s older brother Fred, and John’s younger sister Hazel.

A good omen, the sun shone, and mild 55-degree temperatures prevailed on Saturday, May 8, 1909. Twenty-one year old Mabel must have been both nervous and excited. Known for her elegance, Mabel styled her hair in the fashionable low pompadour. Yes, there was a high pompadour style as well. Quite the rage in 1909, the pompadour required time to style, although the look was intended to seem effortless. Perhaps her elder sister Carrie assisted that morning because Mabel looked particularly lovely in her wedding photograph. Afternoon weddings were typical in the early twentieth century.  Thus Mabel had time to prepare.

Following a trend set by Queen Victoria in 1840, Mabel chose to wear white. Since she couldn’t afford expensive lace, satin or silk Mabel selected a modest, yet elegant gown in cotton lawn.  The high-necked bodice featured an embroidered yoke with narrow tucks.   Unfortunately, Mabel’s photograph is not full length so I can’t view her complete ensemble. However, a Sears and Roebuck spring catalog from 1909 provides examples of period clothing.[2]

Sears and Roebuck Spring Catalog 1909, Source Ancestry.com.

According to the Sears and Roebuck catalog, Mabel might have purchased her outfit for $5. It sounds inexpensive, but consider purchasing power in the early 1900’s. In 1909 an office worker in Omaha earned on average between $40-$55 a month.  Mabel  probably worked two days to pay for her dress.  She wore no accessories, neither a veil nor jewelry.

I would like to believe Mabel’s complete family attended her wedding but I have no evidence to support this. The NICHOLS family consisted of Mabel’s parents, John and Mary, and her four siblings. Carrie, the eldest, 28, lived at home;  Charles, 26 lived a few blocks away with his wife Annie; Fred, 24, also lived at home as did 19-year-old John. Did they go with Mabel on her five-mile trip from their home in north Omaha to the church at the corner of Arbor and South 10th street?

NICHOLS FAMILY

  • John Mathews NICHOLS                1857-1929
  • Mary NELSON NICHOLS                 1856-1931
  • Carrie Bertha NICHOLS                  1881-1915
  • Charles Clinton NICHOLS               1883-1930
  • Frederick Mathew NICHOLS          1885-1957
  • Mabel Elvina NICHOLS  “Nana”                  1888- 1954
  • John Lee NICHOLS                           1890-1967

The most accessible means of transportation across Omaha was to use the extensive streetcar system. From the NICHOLS’ home at 1402 Jaynes street, the closest stop was only a few blocks away. For a few cents per person, the NICHOLS  could hop on the tram and ride across town.

Bostwick-Frohardt Collection”, “Street View” c. 1909. With permission by Durham Museum Photo Archives.

 

Their route took them past Kountze park where the Trans-Mississippi Exposition was held when Mabel was a child, through the busy downtown area and beyond the Union Pacific Railroad yards where John Nichols and his sons worked. Their destination was the Grace Baptist Church.

Grace Baptist Church, Omaha, NE. Reprinted by permission.

This is the only Baptist marriage I’ve found in my family research. Why did Mabel and John choose a Baptist church when neither of their families practiced as Baptists? The bride came from a  Methodist/Episcopalian background and the groom from a Congregational/Unitarian. Could it be that neither family was particularly devout nor attended services regularly? As a married couple, Mabel and John were not churchgoers, although they often read the Bible.  I believe the answer is convenience. Dr.John HYDE lived and worked five minutes away from Grace Baptist Church. The Pastor of the church, Benjamin F. Fellman, also lived in the neighborhood. The two men probably met one another over the course of time. John found the minister  an amiable chap and concluded the nearby church was the ideal choice for the wedding.

Rand McNally & Co. Omaha. Courtesy of “David Rumsey Map Collection”. 1903.

The original Grace Baptist Church, founded in 1893, still exists. I Emailed the current pastor, Greg Ubben, to ask three questions.

  1. Were there pictures of the church that dated to the early 1900’s.
  2.  Did the church have a record book that listed Mabel and John’s wedding?.
  3. Did he know what a typical Baptist ceremony included in the early 1900’s?

Regrettably, the answer to all the questions was – no. Several years ago a fire in the church destroyed the oldest clerk’s record. As for the ceremony, Pastor Ubben couldn’t attest to the format in the early 1900’s, but if it followed today’s practices, Mabel and John’s wedding would have proceeded as follows.

After the guests sat down, Pastor Fellman and John HYDE took their places at the front of the church. Mabel’s father escorted her up the aisle in the traditional “giving away of the bride.” Next, Pastor Fellman led the couple as they repeated their vows and he pronounced them man and wife. After the quick ceremony, the witnesses signed the wedding certificate. Sadly, I don’t have the original, but I do have the county court records.[3]

License and marriage registration for Mabel NICHOLS and John HYDE.

A more personal record is Mabel’s wedding book with the signatures of the bride, groom, the two witnesses, and the pastor.[4]

Wedding book for Mabel NICHOLS and John F. HYDE.

The male witness was Fred NICHOLS. He was three years older than his sister Mabel and  at 24, the same age as the groom, John.  Hazel HYDE, John’s younger sister, was the second witness.  Like Mabel, she was twenty-one years old and engaged. Her June wedding to Theodore Kiesselbach took place in Lincoln where the HYDE family lived.

HYDE FAMILY

  • Frederick Albert Hyde      1851-1926
  • Florence FOLLETT HYDE  1860-1940
  • John Fay HYDE   “Doc”               1885-1950
  • Hazel Hortense HYDE      1886-1975
  • Sarah Elizabeth HYDE      1891-1955

 

Hazel Hortense HYDE KIESSELBACH, 1908. Graduation photograph, the 1907 Cornhusker, University of NE, Lincoln.[5]

 

The HYDES probably traveled the 60 miles from Omaha to Lincoln  by train.  Similar to the NICHOLS family, I wonder if all the HYDES were present. Mabel’s small marriage book includes a guest list. [6]

Wedding book for Mabel NICHOLS and John F. HYDE – guest page.

Under the title “Guests” one name appears, “Mother Hyde.” Does this imply that only Florence HYDE attended or that she was the only one designated a “guest?” John’s parents separated in 1902.  Florence settled in Lincoln, Nebraska with her three children. They all attended and graduated from the State University. John’s father, a former school superintendent, moved to Colorado and  taught at schools in Walsenburg and Silverton. Was he unable to attend because of schedule conflicts? As I wrote this article more questions arose than answers, but there’s no one left to respond. I can only surmise that after the wedding, the family members gathered together to celebrate with a  small reception.

Mabel’s eyes shine with hope and joy in her wedding photograph. Her marriage to John brought her the love and devotion she craved as well as the creature comforts associated with middle-class status. She settled into her new life, moved from smaller homes to increasingly larger ones, traveled, and established a family. Although I don’t have information about the young Mabel’s personality, I do have many stories shared by my mother and grandmother (Mabel’s daughter-in-law.) Their memories reveal her strengths and flaws.

(Yes, Mother, you will have to wait a few more weeks for the conclusion.)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY NANA AND DOC

 


As a side-note, the connection between the newly married HYDES and KIESSELBACHS deepened as they shared holidays and family reunions. They captured their memories in photographs and established strong family bonds.  It is a direct result of these family connections that led to my research and blogging about my family history.

John HYDE’S mother, Florence FOLLETT HYDE, had a keen interest in family history. Both she and her husband had Revolutionary War ancestors, including Captain William MEACHAM who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Her father, John Meacham FOLLETT, was a Civil War veteran, as were his two brothers. The  transcribed letters and diary of the FOLLETT brothers are available online at Ohio State University ehistory website.

Florence researched and recorded family history in a small notebook. Her daughter, Hazel HYDE KIESSELBACH, shared her mother’s interest and preserved the family documents. She, in turn, passed them on to her daughter, Helen KIESSELBACH GREENE (my 1st cousin 2x removed). Like her grandmother, Florence FOLLETT, Helen passionately researched family history.  I met Helen in 2010  at a family reunion in Washington D.C.. She generously offered to loan Florence’s compiled family history book to me.

As I gingerly turned each page in the book, fascinated by the names and stories, I wanted to know more about their struggles and triumphs. At the time, I lived in Washington D.C., so access to the Library of Congress and the National Archives prompted me to request the Revolutionary War records for the HYDE  and MEACHAM ancestors as well as Civil War records for the NICHOLS and FOLLETT veterans.

Knowing, sharing, and connecting with family, both close and distant is a continuum of life.  Which leads me back to the focus of this blog, Mabel’s story.

To be continued in part III.

 

 

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Nana” b. 1888 – d. 1954
Parents:  John Mathews NICHOLS b. 1857 -d. 1929 and
Mary NELSON b. 1856 – d. 1931
Spouse: Dr. John Fay HYDE “Doc” b. 1885 – d. 1950
Children: 1. John Frederick HYDE b. 1911 – d. 1980   m. Anna Jane BEATON b. 1907 – d. 1998

2. Joan HYDE b. and died 26 Sep 1921
Relationship to Kendra: 2x great-grandmother

  1. Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE
  2. John Frederick HYDE Jr.
  3. Jean HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


[1]“Marriage Licenses.” Omaha World Herald, 7 May 1909, http://www.genealogybank.com.

[2] “Sears and Roebuck and Co.” Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. Spring 1909.

[3] Nebraska. Douglas County. Marriage Records, Douglas County Clerk’s Office, Omaha.

[4] Nichols-Hyde Marriage Record. May 8, 1909. In possession of author.

[5] Myers, Herbert, ed. The Cornhusker : The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1907. Print.

[6] Nichols-Hyde Marriage Record. May 8, 1909. In possession of author.

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments