Friday, March 8, 2013

Funeral Card Friday: Anna Gee Aldritt

Today's funeral card is that of my third great grandmother, Anna Aldritt (1805-1890).  She was born Anna Gee in Longdon, Staffordshire, England.  She and her husband and children immigrated to America in 1852, and they moved to Minnesota in 1856.  (Two years before Minnesota became a state).  She lived on the shores of beautiful Lake Minnewashta in Chanhassen, Carver, Minnesota until her death in 1890.  Aldritt descendants still live on that land today. 

Anna is buried in Leach Cemetery, just off Lake Minnewashta. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fearless Females 2013: Day 6: Heirloom

Today's Task:  Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor.

I am fortunate to have several wonderful heirlooms from female ancestors.  One of my favorites is this beautiful fan that belonged to my great grandma Meema (Julia Estell "Estelle" Shaw Lenont, 1877-1958).  My dad had it framed in this pretty shadow box in the 1980s. 

Meema's Fan
Here is Meema in her wedding portrait from 1901.  Can't you just picture her fanning herself with her lovely fan? I feel very lucky to have this piece - a common item for back then, that Meema probably used every day - but so special to us now.  

Estelle Shaw Lenont, 1901

Do you have a favorite heirloom from a female ancestor?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday, Thomas Paine's Birthday and National Freethinkers' Day

The perfect tombstone for today, Tombstone Tuesday, is that of my great, great grandfather, Isaac Lenont.  Isaac was born Izak Leenhouts in the Netherlands in 1834, and died as Isaac Lenout in Northfield, Rice, Minnesota, USA in 1884. 

Family lore and some bits of tantalizing information we've dug up indicate that the personal philosophies of Isaac and my great, great grandmother Sarah Jones Lenont were directly at odds.  Isaac was said to be a staunch and strict Calvinist, while Sarah was a noted Freethinker!  Sarah was even a delegate to the National Liberal League Conference in 1881 - leaving her husband and children in the care of a housekeeper she had hired so that she could attend the convention in Chicago.  Upon her return, Isaac let it be publicly known that he would not be responsible for any of Sara's debts for attending said conference. He had obviously disapproved of her going.  But she went anyway.

Where am I going with this?  On Isaac's death, his widow Sarah and their five grown children changed their surname from Lenout (or various other Dutch spellings) to Lenont.  Sarah even put "Lenont" on Isaac's tombstone, even though had never gone by that variation.  She also put on his tombstone the following quote from Thomas Paine:
For Justice all place a temple, and all season, summer. The world is my country, to do good, my religion.
Clearly, as a Calvinist, Isaac would have considered Paine's words to be codswallop. My theory is that Sarah and her modern, forward-thinking children were happy to be free of the stern and domineering Isaac, and they showed this by by immediately changing their name to distance themselves from him.  And Sarah put her own kind of quote on his tombstone... because she could!

Interestingly, as I was thinking about which tombstone to feature today, I discovered that today is the anniversary of Thomas Paine's birthday, and is also National Freethinkers' Day!  How perfectly these three things fit together!   One of my genealogical goals is to discover more about the personal beliefs of the members of the Leenhouts/Lenhout/Lenout/Lenont family, to determine if my theories about the name-change and the quotation chosen for Isaac's tombstone are correct.  Happy Freethinker's Day!

The Freethinkers' Movement is often represented by a white rose with thorns (symbolizing truth, and the pain that must sometimes go along with the truth).  

Do you have ancestors who were at odds with one another because of their beliefs?  Do you know of a tombstone of which the deceased would not have approved?  Do you have any Freethinkers among your ancestors?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge, February 2013

Family History Writing Challenge

I am excited to be taking part in The Armchair Genealogist's Family History Writing Challenge in February! Twenty-eight days of writing family history... that oughta get this old blog rolling again!

The idea is to pledge to write a certain number of words per day.  I've pledged 75 per day - which sounds incredibly wimpy, but at the end of the month I hope to have produced four more "mini-bio" blog posts like the one I did on Carrie York, here

Wish me luck and follow along to see how I do! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gosh? Golly? Gee? OMG! Plug your ears, kids!

From the Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch, Jan 1950
My grandfather, Cedric Adams, was an all-around media guy in the early twentieth century.  He had local and national radio shows, wrote a daily column in one newspaper and a weekly column in another (columns which were syndicated to newspapers and magazines around the country), authored a successful book, hosted talent shows and special events on TV and the radio, and anchored the news on the local Twin Cities CBS affiliate.  He was known for being friendly, corny, and folksy.  And apparently, rumply:

From the Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch, 18 Mar 1950
I've been reading a lot about Cedric over the last few days on Genealogy Bank (a historical newspaper site).  One article, from the Cleveland (OH) Plains Dealer (19 May 1950),  struck me particularly funny and really shows how times have changed.  A listener of Cedric's wrote in to say that he was offended by Cedric's on-air use of profanity. And by profanity he meant Cedric saying the words "gosh," "golly" and "gee"!!  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  This was 1950. 

Well, Cedric decided to let his listeners give their opinions, by golly.  Almost 6500 people responded, with the vast majority - over 5700 - declaring he was not being profane at all.  Rather, Cedric explained, that "it's sort of a happy person who can say gee, gosh or golly.  They are smiling-type words, for the most part, the listeners think."  Still, though - being that it was 1950 - there were 712 respondents who did find those words profane.  Lucky those people are probably not alive to hear what's on radio and TV today! 

Another cute thing I found was this ad for Cedric's book, "Poor Cedric's Almanac" that came out in 1952:

From the Boston Herald, 23 Nov 1952.
If you haven't tried Genealogy Bank for looking up historical newspaper articles on your ancestors, give it a whirl!  It even works for people who weren't famous (although you might not find 972 items like I did on Cedric!) 

Another good site to try is Chronicaling America by the Library of Congress.  You might be amazed at what historical newspapers can tell you about your ancestors.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mini Bio: Carrie York, Minneapolis Artist

Carrie York (1865-1955) was my husband's great grand aunt.  Aunt Carrie's name is recognized by everyone in our family (even though most living today never knew her) because she was a prolific artist, and we all have at least one of her paintings or other works of art in our homes.

She is remarkable because she actually made her living as an artist.  (Not a common thing for a woman in the late 19th/early 20th century in Minneapolis).  She not only sold her oil paintings, painted china, and pyrographic art, but she also hosted studio showings and gave art lessons.

From The Minneapolis Journal, Friday evening, 12 Dec 1902  
The Jennie Maloney mentioned in the above article is Carrie's aunt, although she is only a year older than Carrie.  Jennie herself was a milliner and respected business woman in Minneapolis, and later Lincoln, Nebraska (but that's for another blog post!)

painted platter given to her brother Joe York, Christmas 1908
In October, I met up with some descendants of the Maloney family (County Galway, Ireland to Kenosha, Wisconsin to Hopkins and Minneapolis, Minnesota), and it turns out all of them (descended from three different Maloney siblings) knew of Carrie York and had had or still had some of Carrie's paintings in their family.  Bob Miller, whose grandmother was another of Carrie's aunts, Nellie Maloney Miller, actually ran home to get his painting, and brought it back to the Hopkins historical Society to show us!

Mary Anderson Raabe (whose great grandfather was Carrie York's uncle Michael Maloney) found Carrie's name on her grandmother's list of wedding gifts - Carrie York had given her cousin Marie Maloney an oil painting to celebrate her nuptials!

Carrie never married, and from a sweet letter we found from her father (Robert W. York), it seems there might possibly have been some romantic disappointment with a fella at some point.  Still, through other newspaper snippets in the society columns of the day, we see Carrie was active in social clubs and busy with her art.  She also helped to raise her twice-widowed brother Joseph's two sons, and cared for her aged mother, Cecelia Maloney York, who lived to be 96.

Carrie's artistic style was after the fashion of the day: copying prints or photographs for her oil paintings.  Like or dislike her style, you have to respect her for making a living with her art!

And our family can thank her for decorating all our homes as well!

Carrie York  (1865-1955)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Technology Tuesday: Then and Now, What Was There?

I recently stumbled across a new website that is really fun for history buffs, and works fabulously for genealogists!  It's called What Was There? and it allows you to take an old photograph - say, of your great, great, great grandparents' house, like this:

Then find the place where it belongs on a Google Streetview map, like this:

...and position the old photo directly over the current image, then use a nifty "fade bar" to fade the image from then to now!  When you've got the fade bar about in the middle, the results can even be ghostly!  (Can you see the ghosts of the Mann family hanging around their house about 130 years later?)  How cool is that? 

To see this image on What Was There?, go here: and try the fade bar for yourself.  Then try uploading a family photo of your own to see how cool it is!  It's free, it's easy, and it's a fun little bit of history to share with your family and the world.

Be sure to come back and let me know if you try it - I'd love to see what you come up with!

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