Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Lucy Maude Montgomery

This Tombstone Tuesday post was inspired by Wendy Mathias who writes the excellent Jollett, Etc. blog. Her comment on a previous Tombstone Tuesday post, about having a visit to Prince Edward Island on her bucket list and her love of "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery reminded me that we had visited the author's grave on Prince Edward Island more than once.

Cavendish Community Cemetery is located near the Green Gables house attraction and a wax museum. We must have visited the museum right after the cemetery on this visit, because these slides of the grave site were immediately followed by slides from the wax museum.

A scene from Anne of Green Gables at the Wax Museum

Transcription of Headstone:



Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21, 1901

Howard Bierly Matthews, son of Arthur William Matthews and Ada Merritt Hobbs, was born on July 21, 1901 at the family home, 13 Nafus Street, Pittston, PA. He was my paternal grandfather.

Here he is lighting the candles on his own cake at his 75th birthday party.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Howard B Matthews

I have two New Testaments to share with you this week. Both belonged to my paternal grandfather, Howard B. Matthews. And this post just happens to fall on his birthday, he was born on July 21, 1901 in Pittson, PA.

I have previously posted my grandfather's story in his own words, but to summarize, he was the youngest of eight children and only fourteen when his father died in 1915. Almost two years later he left school after his sophomore year to help support the family. After two near-death experiences as a miner, he found a mining job above ground but ultimately he wanted more for himself and knew that a good education was the key. In 1922, three years after the death of his mother, he talked himself into a scholarship at Wyoming Seminary, a Pennsylvania prep school.

And as he prepared for this new challenge he received these two Bibles, presumably as tokens of well wishes. This one, from a friend named Billy, is a Scofield Reference New Testament, unfortunately in very bad condition.

Wikipedia has a full article on Scofield Reference Bibles which you can read here. Apparently they were very influential and are still printed today although altered, since the Scofield Bible is now in the public domain. The verses referenced in the center column seen below were related to the verses on each page, allowing the reader to follow threads through books and chapters.

The second New Testament, "New Testament in Modern Speech" was more of a surprise.

A very unassuming looking plain brown book with the cover missing at the spine, little did I know the surprise it held for me clipped in the back. First were some short, personal prayers.

Behind these were notes that puzzled me because of their more political content until I remembered something else from my grandfather's story. "All students were required to take a once-a-week course in public speaking. Preparation consisted of reading a short article in a magazine and then using it as a topic for a speech. No notes were permitted. One you were called upon, you were on your feet and on your own. Some of the speeches on the outlawry of war (remember, WWI had just ended) interested me so that I joined a group of students who spoke on that subject in churches up and down the Valley."

I believe these notes were either his reference materials for these speaking engagements or they were the way that he worked through his thoughts before going out with his fellow students. A real gem of a family find for sure, but another reason they were so fascinating to me is that we are still (hotly) debating these topics today; nationalism, immigration, international aid, our role in the world and more. It has been very interesting for me to see him sort of working out his feelings and beliefs.

To be honest, I have held back a couple of pages. Some of the views that my grandfather expressed were a bit too negative for me to share here. I am not trying to hide who he was or censor his beliefs because I disagree with them, but this is the internet and it can be an ugly place when people disagree, especially in the current climate. I would never expect that from any of my fellow genealogists of course, but once something is online it is out there forever and I would have no control over the audience.

Many of the Bibles and prayer books that I found last year represent a milestone of some sort, a birthday, a first communion, a confirmation. Next week I'll share some of my dad's journey through Bibles and prayer books that he received and that he gave.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Bible of Anna Lydia

Over two weekends last September, Donald and I went through my step-mother's basement, finding many precious treasures from my dad's family; Bibles, books, furniture, china, silver, photos, negatives and slides. After months of airing out, I am now in the process of photographing and scanning these items and sharing them here on Treasure Chest Thursday.

"Anna Lydia Johansdotter in Fjärhestra, Ullesjö parish. In memory of her first communion 1 September 1895. Psalms119:165; Jeremiah 15:15; Johannes 6:67."
There is no good picture of this and it isn't just lighting,
the print closest to the edge of the page is very faded.

According to her own notes inside the back cover, Anna Lydia Johansdotter was born in Sweden on September 8, 1881. We have an extensive family history, in Swedish, completed in 1968 by a couple named Annie and Bertil Freidlitz. According to their research, Anna Lydia married Oscar Nimrod Johnson, my great-grandmother's brother, after immigrating to the United States. They settled in Manchester, Connecticut and had one son, Bertil Einar Oscar, in 1905. Sadly, Anna died in 1907 when Bertil was less than two years old.

According the Freidlitz history, which I have yet to verify, Oscar sent Bertil to Sweden to be raised by his maternal grandmother the year after Anna Lydia died. Bertil returned to the U.S. when he was sixteen, worked as a toolmaker like his father and eventually married Carrie Webster. Bertil and Carrie had one son, Irving. Oscar, Anna, Bertil and Carrie are all buried in East Cemetery in Manchester under one headstone. I have yet to find and photograph the headstone for myself, but have seen it on Find-A-Grave.

This photo was also part of the basement stash and fortunately for me, has names on the back. The couple on the left are my great-grandparents and their baby is my grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola. The couple on the right are Oscar and Anna Lydia with baby Bertil.

Anna's Bible is in better condition than that of my great-grandfather that I shared last week. It must have been very handsome when it was new.

Below I have photographed the pages referenced inside the front cover of Anna's bible and written the translations of each passage.
Psalm 119:165 (KJV) "Great peace have they which love
thy law: and nothing shall offend them."
Jeremiah 15:15 "Oh Lord, thou knowest: remember me,
and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors;
take me not away in thy longsuffering:
know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke."
John 6:65 "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"

According to a document found on Ancestry, Irving Johnson, only grandchild of Anna Lydia, died in 2010. I don't know if he had any children. I contacted a cousin a few days ago, a grandchild of my grandmothers eldest brother, to see if she has any record. If Irving Oscar Johnson had children, I would love to pass their great-grandmother's Bible on to one of them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - West Covehead Cemetery

Before my parents separated in 1980 we spent our summer vacations on Prince Edward Island in Canada, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. My mother's father had given her a 1 1/3 acre property in Stanhope, about a five minute walk from the beach, as a wedding gift and once she took my father there, he fell in love, too.

For Dad, that meant he wanted to become more than a tourist, especially once he and my mother made the decision to build a cottage on her property. One way he accomplished this was to volunteer at the Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society transcribing headstones.

These photos were taken at West Covehead Cemetery, also known as the St. James United Cemetery.

I looked on Find A Grave and Billion Graves for any photos that would help me identify this stone, but didn't have any luck.

I remember being somewhat interested in my parents' project but also hot and a bit bored. Little did I know that thirty-ahem years later I wouldn't have enough time to get to all the cemeteries on my list!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Carl Johan Anderson's Bible

Over two weekends last September, Donald and I went through my step-mother's basement finding many hidden treasures from my dad's family in the way of Bibles, books, furniture, photos, negatives, slides, china and silver. After months of airing out I am devoting some time every week to scanning and photographing these finds and sharing them here on Treasure Chest Thursday.

Carl Johan Anderson, Back row Center
ca 1887
I should really count them again, but I know that there were about a dozen Bibles and Prayer Books in that basement stash, all belonging to family. I've already shared photos of Bibles belonging to my paternal grandfather's parents, Arthur William and Ada Merritt Hobbs Matthews.

This week's Bible belonged to my paternal grandmother's father, Carl Johan Anderson. I do not know who gave him this Bible, but the inscription (which was translated for me by a member of the Swedish American Genealogy Group on Facebook) tells us that it was gifted to him "as a memory" of his First Communion on October 23, 1881; he was 15.

Two things struck me right away after seeing this translation. The first was that 15 seemed old for a first communion and the second was that the cost of a Bible seemed out of reach for a family having trouble putting food on the table, so I've kept digging.

Searching online I found this page in the Family Search wiki which explains that in the Swedish church a person takes their first communion after confirmation and that confirmation takes place between 14 and 17 years of age. This explains Carl being 15 at the time of his first communion.

According to his own account, which I am so fortunate was saved in an audio recording by his eldest son, Axel Heinrich Wilhelm Anderson, Carl grew up on a farm until the death of his father, Anders Svensson, when he was seven. Apparently unable to keep the farm after the death of her husband my 2nd great-grandmother, Anna Katerina Månsdotter, was forced to work as a farm laborer, send her youngest daughter to work as a domestic (her three other children were grown) and to send Carl to live and work at a local glass factory where he suffered twelve hour days, miserable working and living conditions and physical abuse at the hands of his adult "supervisors". In the comments of my request for the translation I heard from someone who had recently toured this glass factory which now produces bottles for Absolut. Her group was told that the child workers were called "hyttsnock" or glass foundry snakes because they had to hide from inspectors since child labor was illegal.

By the time he was fifteen, Carl was apprenticed to one of his sister's husbands, Per Johan Bengtson, a shoemaker, but the life he describes is still one of grinding poverty.

This document that I found from a Google search, explains that confirmation was a rite of passage in Sweden. The achievement marked a person's transition into adulthood. Such a momentous occasion may easily have been commemorated with an expensive gift, even in financially difficult times. Perhaps the Bible came not from his mother but from a Godparent or an in-law or from the whole family. We will never know for sure, but certainly the history I have uncovered so far helps to explain how things may have happened.

There was one more thing that I found through the Swedish American Genealogy Group...a cousin! From the details of Carl's life and family another member of the group recognized Carl as a descendant of our mutual ancestor, my 3rd great-grandfather and Carl's paternal grandfather, Sven Gunnarsson, whose name I had never heard before! I've sent her some digital photos and she has shared her family trees and family group sheets with me. We will soon exchange Ancestry tree access as well. I have posted to that group about Carl before, but it was this last request that caught her eye. Research is certainly its own reward!

Next week, one more first communion Bible from Sweden.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Grandma Matthews' Childhood Tea Set

Yes, I was planning to share another treasure from the basement stash this week, specifically a Swedish Bible, but I found myself a bit caught up in researching them and didn't have time to put a post together. I hope that I will be ready to post one of the next week.

In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of this child's tea set that my paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson, passed on to me when I was little.

As a child I was only allowed to use this set under strict adult supervision. It is delicate, although from what I've been able to find, not particularly valuable, outside of its sentimental value of course.

Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson b. 1905 - Manchester, CT

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