171 Years Ago Today

On April 14, 1842, one hundred and seventy-one years ago today, Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?), my 4th great grandfather, was born the son of Nils Larsson Stålberg (1810-1889) and Maria Andersdotter (1821-?) in Annetorp, Sunne Parish, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Kingdom of Sweden.

Birth Record of Lars Stålberg
Birth Record of Lars Stålberg

In 1863, Lars married Kerstin Nilsdotter (1841-1870), with whom he had five children, one of which was Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918). Anna was the mother of Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977), who married Lois Beatrice Agee (1897-1983), with whom he had four children, one of which was Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), my paternal great grandmother. Alice was first married to Theodore “Ted” Alexander Lapham (1910-1955), with whom she had three children, one of which was Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004), my paternal grandmother.

Fearless Females Challenge: March 23 – Create a Timeline

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month. (Note: Because I started this challenge late, I will be continuing it beyond March 31.)

Prompt for March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines.com. Post an image of it or a link.

For this challenge, I chose to create a timeline for Anna Elizabeth (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918), my 3rd great grandmother.

Anna’s life has always been interesting to me. At a young age her mother died and her father remarried. As a teenager, she ran away from home, ending up in Göteborg, where she had two children outside of marriage. Oral family tradition states that Anna was a maid in Göteborg, where she met and conceived at least one child, my 2nd great grandfather Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977), with “the King of Sweden” (possibly Gustav V). My research into Swedish records show that she was indeed a maid in Göteborg, which was a city that the Swedish Royal Family at the time frequently vacationed in. Of course, there is no evidence of a relationship between her and any member of the Swedish Royal Family. I discussed this family history mystery in a prior post, “Genealogy Challenge: Who Is Your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor?

Timeline for Anna (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918)
Timeline for Anna (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918)

The above timeline for Anna was captured from Family Tree Maker 2009, which I currently use. I own Family Tree Maker 2012, but have not yet made the switch. I have read online articles that state that FTM12 has the ability to create timeline reports, which FTM09 does not. The timeline, moreover, shows the major events in Anna’s life (in green), as well as major family events, including the births of spouses and children (in pink).

Fearless Females Challenge: March 16 – Let’s Do Lunch!

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

For me, this challenge is a difficult one because I think that I would not mind having lunch with each of my female ancestors, if I could. I can only imagine the information and stories that they could share. However, I suppose I could answer this prompt in one of two ways.

First of all, I think I would like to have lunch with my female ancestors that passed away in my lifetime. This would particularly include my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-), and my great grandmothers, Maxine Elizabeth (Davis-Kernan) Smith (1912-1992), Pauline Katherine (Rains-Rowlands) Kernan (1913-1997), Alice Lucretia (Wellin-Lapham) Graber (1916-1985), Goldia “Goldie” Mae (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006), Irene Vera (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006). This luncheon would also include my only 2nd great grandmother that passed away in my lifetime, Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983).

An alternative luncheon would involve my immigrant female ancestors from my Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok lines, or the earliest known female I have in those lines if the immigrant ancestor is unknown. This would include Martha Rose (Sheridan) Kiernan (1797-?), Mary (Mann) Lapham (1640-1712), Jennie M. (Lightcap) Heldman (1872-1905), and Roza Mari (Peto) Sebok (1871-1937). It might also include other female immigrant/earliest ancestors, such as Anna Eliza (Backer-Stearns) Tice (1854-1919), Rebecca (Gibson) Stearns (1635-1698), Sarah (Spinney) Davis (1746-?), Mary Ann (Wys) Beeney (ca. 1784-1857), Ann (Forsyth) Leishman (1828-1896), Anna Elizabeth (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918), Anna Elizabeth (UNKNOWN) Lightcap (?-?), Alice (Taylor) Worthington (1662-1729), Elizabeth (Grant) Gifford (1615-1683), Eszter (Szabó) Balla (1857-1925), and Julia (Molnar) Balla (1885-1962).

In either set up, I don’t think we would go anywhere in particular. I think it would be at my parent’s home. I would want each of them to prepare their signature dish (the women in my family all love to cook); and we would have a party-type luncheon similar to the Christmas parties my grandmother had when I was a kid. Lots of food and lots of talking. I think that would be the ideal luncheon for me with any of my female ancestors.

Fearless Females Challenge: March 11 – Tragic or Unexpected Death

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

In my ancestry, I have a few female ancestors that died young, though I have far more that lived beyond the age of 65. For example, Anna Elizabeth (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918), my 3rd great grandmother, died at age 49; Emoline Pauline (Reynolds) Lapham (1844-1886), my 3rd great grandmother, died at age 42; Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg (1841-1870), my 4th great grandmother, died at age 29; Eva Flora (McLaughlin-Beeney) Elben (1863-1899), my 3rd great grandmother, died at age 36; and Jennie M. (Lightcap) Heldman (1872-1905), my 2nd great grandmother, died at age 32. However, each of these died from disease, rather than tragic or unexpected circumstances.

In addition to those that died young from disease, I have three cases where a female ancestor died from tragic or unexpected circumstances. The first of these is the death of Elizabeth “Betsy” Ann (Adams) Thornton (1818-1852), my 5th great grandmother. Betsy, her husband, Simeon Toney Thornton (1818-1917), their children, and other members of their family left Missouri for the Oregon Territory along the Oregon Trail. While still traveling on the trail, but after they had arrived in the Oregon Territory (near present day Heppner, Morrow Co., Oregon), Betsy went into labor and died during a difficult delivery on September 9, 1852 at the age of 34.

Betsy (Adams) Thornton
Betsy (Adams) Thornton

Another case is that of the death of Mary Comfort (Knowles) Dunton (ca. 1801-1845), my 4th great grandmother. Mary’s death, which took place on July 20, 1845 in Hancock Co., Illinois, is something of a mystery for me. She died at the age of 44 on the same day as her husband, James Cyrus Dunton (ca. 1800-1845). Presently, I have not been able to uncover the cause of their deaths. However, I have found that this county of Illinois was home at this time to many Mormon settlers (particularly around Nauvoo), who faced continuous persecution. I have read that around the time of Mary’s death, Hancock County was experiencing significant numbers of deaths resulting from disease and/or starvation that resulted from the persecution of Mormons in that county connected to the Mormon Wars. Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of the Later Day Saints, had been killed in Carthage, Hancock Co., Illinois by a mob a few months short of a year before Mary and James’s death. plunging the Mormon community into a difficult time. Although I have not been able to find any information that indicates that Mary’s death (or that of her husbands) was in anyway connected to these events, or that they were even Mormons, I do know that their son James Harvey Dunton, was a Mormon, and left the area with the Mormons.

Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois in the 1840s

The third case is that of the death of Mattie (Blankenship-Worthington) Ward (1903-1944). Mattie was the second wife of my 2nd great grandfather, Ernest Jacob Worthington (1885-1939), and the step-mother of my great grandmother Goldia “Goldie” Mae Worthington (1912-2006). Mattie died on April 10, 1944 in Harrison, Boone Co., Arkansas after a tornado hit their home. Mattie was thrown from her bed and crushed to death in the wreckage of the home.

Headstone of Mattie (Blankenship-Worthington) Ward
Headstone of Mattie (Blankenship-Worthington) Ward

Fearless Females Challenge: March 9 – Family Documents

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

The following is the record for my 4th great grandmother Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg (1841-1870) birth in 1841:

Birth Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg
Birth Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg

The following is the marriage record for Kerstin’s marriage to Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?) in 1863:

Marriage Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg
Marriage Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg

The following is the record for Kerstin’s death in 1870:

Death Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg
Death Record of Kerstin (Nilsdotter) Stålberg

Kerstin Nilsdotter (1841-1870) was born on September 26, 1841 in Svineberg Otternäset, Sunne Parish, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Sweden the daugher of Nils Nilsson (1815-?) and Ingeborg Persdotter (1814-?). On April 24, 1863 Kerstin married Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?) on Sunne Parish, with whom she had five children, twins Inga and Kristina, Emma, Hilma, and Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918), my 3rd great grandmother. At some point between the birth of her fourth and fifth child, the family moved to Söderhamn Parish, Gävleborg Co., Hälsingland Province, Sweden. On November 29, 1870, nearly one year and ten months after the birth of her fifth child, Kerstin died in Söderhamn Parish from peritonitis puerperalis (or inflamation of the peritoneum).

172 Years Ago Today

On December 27, 1840, one hundred and seventy-two years ago today, Nils Larsson Stålberg (1810-1889), the son of Lars Larsson (1767-1842) and Maria Olofsdotter (1774-1845), married Maria Lisa Andersdotter (1821-?), the daughter of Anders Mattson Trast (?-?) and Elisabet Hjerpe (1793-?), in Sunne, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Sweden.

Marriage Record for Nils Larsson Stålberg and Maria Lisa Andersdotter, 1840
Marriage Record for Nils Larsson Stålberg and Maria Lisa Andersdotter, 1840

Nils and Maria are my 5th great grandparents, being the parents of Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?), who was the father of Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918), who was the mother of Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977), who was the father of Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955) and was the mother of Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004), who married William Kernan (LIVING) and was my paternal grandmother.

94 Years Ago Today

On November 13, 1918, ninety-four years ago today, Anna Elizabeth (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918), my 2nd great grandmother, died in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon. According to her death certificate, Anna died from bronchial pneumonia, which developed from influenza.

Anna Lowenburg’s Death Certificate

Anna was buried on November 16, 1918 in Milwaukie Pioneer Cemetery in Milwaukie, Clackamas Co., Oregon.

Anna Lowenburg’s Headstone

At the time of her death, Anna was married to her second (possibly third) husband, Emil Conrad Lowenburg (1875-1930), whom she married in about 1901 in Sweden. With Emil, she had five children. Prior to her marriage to Emil, she was married to Nils Johan Larsson Spolander (1872-1900), with whom she had a daughter before his death. Prior to her marriage to Nils, Anna had two sons out of wedlock, one son who died young and my 2nd great grandfather, Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977). Anna, Emil, and their children (including Wilhelm) immigrated to the United States in 1906.

197 Years Ago Today

On October 2, 1815, one hundred and ninety-seven years ago today, Nils Nilsson (1815-?), my 5th great grandfather, was born in Norra Arneby, Sunne Parish, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Sweden. Nils was the son of Nils Jonsson Svärd (?-?) and Kjersti Olofsdotter (?-?).

Nils married Ingeborg Persdotter (1814-?) in 1840, with whom he had at least six children, the second of which was Kerstin Nilsdotter (1841-1870). Kerstin, who married Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?), was the mother of Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918), who was the mother of Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977). Wilhelm was the father of my paternal great grandmother, Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955).

171 Years Ago Today

On September 26, 1841, one hundred and seventy-one years ago today, Kerstin Nilsdotter (1841-1870), my 4th great grandmother, was born in Svineberg Otternäset, Sunne Parish, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Sweden. Kerstin was the second of six children born to Nils Nilsson (1815-?) and Ingeborg Persdotter (1814-?). Her father was a farmer in Svineberg Otternäset, where she grew up.

Birth Record for Kerstin Nilsdotter

Kerstin married Lars Magnus Nilsson Stålberg (1842-?) in 1863, with whom she had five children, one of which was Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918). Anna was the mother of Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977), the father of my paternal great grandmother, Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955).

Family History Through the Alphabet – S is for Surnames and Surnames that Start with S

S is for Surnames:

William Shakespeare famously asked in his play Romeo & Juliet, “What is in a name?” The poetic and romantic nature and meaning of this question aside, those who undertake researching their family history know that there is a great deal in a name, particularly surnames. Thus, I will focus on surnames in general in this week’s “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge” and close with some of my own surnames that start with the letter “s.”

A surname is a part of a personal name, which is usually shared in common with members of a family. Thus, the word surname is usually synonymous with “family name.” In most Western countries, the surname is typically placed at the end of a personal name, which is why it is commonly called a “last name.” In Hungary and many Asian countries, the surname is placed at the start of a personal name, before the given (or first) name. In my Hungarian ancestry, I encountered the practice of placing the surname first in personal names in my 2nd great grandparents’ family Bible.

In many Western countries, there are generally five categories for surname types: patronymic names, location (or habitation) names, occupation names, nicknames, and ornamental names. Understanding which of these your surname falls in can provide important information about your family and provide clues to tracing your ancestry.

  1. Patronymic surnames are those that derive from the first name of the father. These often involve either the addition of a suffix (e.g., s, sson, son, ez, dotter, etc.) or a prefix (e.g., O, Mc, Mac, Fitz, etc.), which translate as “son of” or “daughter of.”
  2. Location (or habitation) names are typically either generic, referencing a general geographic feature, or specific, referring to a specific location.
  3. Occupation surnames have as their meaning a reference to a particular occupation, as in the surname Schindler which refers to the occupation of shingle maker. Additionally, occupational surnames can also have as their meaning the particular occupation of a person’s employer or master, particularly if an “s” has been added, as in the surname “Vickers,” which refers to a servant of a vicar.
  4. Surnames deriving from nicknames, can either be “pet names” for given names, or derive from words referencing appearance, temperament, and personality.
  5. Ornamental surnames are surnames that were adopted for no real specific reason, have no specific reflection on the person who first bore it, were often made up by or appealed to the person selecting it, and in some cases have symbolic meaning. Ornamental surnames were mostly adopted in the 18th and 19th centuries when laws required the adoption of a fixed surname (as opposed to a traditional patronymic surname), and are common among Jews and Scandinavians.

Ancestry.com has a helpful searchable database, which may help you uncover the meaning and origins of your surname.

Additionally, there are many genealogical resources available that involve surnames as an important aspect of the research.

  • One type of these resources are “one-name studies.” As opposed to a particular family history or pedigree, a “one-name study” is a project researching a specific surname that can range from a study of that surname in a particular geographic location to all occurrences of the surname world-wide. These projects are important genealogical resources as they are often a collection of data for persons that bare the particular surname in question. The Guild of One-Name Studies is an organization that was established to help preserve and centralize these studies. Their website has a free surname search, which includes contact information for those researching a given surname.
  • Another important genealogical resource involving surnames is surname distribution maps. Usually, these maps graphically display the frequency of a particular surname in a given location. This is useful in tracking possible locations your ancestors may have been from, if they are unknown to you. There are some free searchable surname distribution maps available online for several countries. Ancestry.com’s surname search displays the frequency in the United States, England & Wales, and Scotland. Irishtimes.com has one for Ireland. Dynastree has several that appear to still be working, including for Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. Genevolu has another one for Germany. RadixIndex has one for Hungary based on an 1891 directory. A fun one is WorldNames, which shows the frequency of your name around the world. If you click on a specific country, it will show you how your surname is further breaks down in that country and so forth.
  • Related to one-name studies and surname distribution maps are surname DNA projects, which use genealogical DNA tests to trace lineages of particular surnames. These projects can reveal more about the roots and family groups that bare a particular surname, in addition to identifying the genetic place of origins for a particular surname and line.

S is for Surnames that Start with S:

S is also for surnames that start with the letter S, of which I have six: Sebok, Sheridan, Stearns, Stålberg, Seely, and Stephens.

Sebok (or Sebök) is the maiden name of my maternal grandmother, Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton (LIVING) and thus one of the “cardinal branches” discussed on this blog. The surname is Hungarian in origins, though it is also found today in regions of Romania with large numbers of Hungarians. My Sebok branch traces back to the village of Székelyzsombor (now Jimbor, Romania), a rural village located in the historic region of Transylvania. According to available research, moreover, the Sebok surname derives, possibly as a nickname, from the personal name “Sebestyén,” which is the Hungarian form of the name “Sebastian.” Because of the prevalence of the name Sebastian in Christian tradition, the name probably emerged in Hungary following the adoption of Christianity. However, the name Sebastian historically originated to identify someone from Sebastia, an ancient city in the Black Sea region of Pontus. It is interesting to note that many accounts claim that Hungarians originated from the Black Sea area.

Sheridan is the maiden name of my 4th great grandmother, Martha Rose (Sheridan) Kiernan (ca. 1797-?), who married Felix Kiernan (ca. 1796-1882). The surname is Irish in origins. My Sheridan branch traces back to one of the northern counties of Ireland, possibly Longford or Cavan.  According to available research, moreover, the Sheridan surname is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic surname Ó’Sirideáin, which means “descendant of Sirideáin.” Sirideáin (and Siridean) is a personal name of unclear origins. There are two accounts given, however, for its possible meaning. The first states that the personal name Sirideáin derives from the word “siride” meaning “elf,” making the surname a nickname for the original bearer’s personality, that of mischievous (which was the nature of elves in Irish myths). The second states that word derives from to important elements within the personal name, “sir,” meaning “search,” and “dean,” meaning “act,” “do,” or “perform,” giving the surname the meaning of “one who searches” or “a searcher,” which may be a reference to either an occupation or a personality trait.

Stearns is the maiden name of my 2nd great grandmother, Maudena Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Stearns) Kernan (1885-1936), who married George Edward Kernan (1884-1960). The surname is English in origins. My Stearns branch traces back to Yarmouth, England before their arrival in Massachusetts in 1630. According to available research, moreover, the Stearns surname is a patronymic surname that derives from personal name Stern, which is itself a nickname based on personality for a strict or austere person, coming from the Middle English word “stern(e),” meaning “strict” or “austere.” (The surname has a different meaning for those of German and Jewish ancestry.)

Stålberg is the maiden name of my 3rd great grandmother, Anna Elizabeth Stålberg (1869-1918), who was the grandmother of my great grandmother, Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore “Ted” Alexander Lapham (1910-1955). The surname is Swedish in origins. My Stålberg branch traces back to Soderhamn Parish, Gävleborg Co., Hälsingland Province, Sweden before coming America, and Nyed Parish, Värmland Co., Värmland Province, Sweden before that. According to available research, the surname is an ornamental name composed of the words “stål,” meaning “steel,” and “berg,” meaning “mountain” or “hill.” The surname was first adopted in my line by my 5th great grandfather, Nils Larsson Stålberg (1810-1899), in about 1834. Nils was born in Värmland Province, which is known for its picturesque scenery, particularly the mountains which are rich in iron ore. This likely explains the choice of Stålberg as a surname, though Nils was also a blacksmith one point in his life, which may also explain the choice.

Seely (or Seeley) is the maiden name of my 3rd great grandmother, Betsy “Bettie” (Seely) Williams (1858-1947), who was the grandmother of my great grandmother, Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), who married Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979). The surname is English in origins. The exact origins of my Seely branch is not presently known, as the furthest backI have been able to trace is to my 5th great grandfather, Obadiah Seely (ca. 1794-ca. 1852), who was born in Ontario (now Genesee) Co., New York and died in Pennsylvania. My people with this surname in America appear to trace back to Warwickshire, England. According to available research, moreover, the Seely (or Seeley) surname is a nickname based on personality for a person with a cheerful disposition, deriving from the Middle English word “seely” meaning “happy” or “fortunate,” and the Old English words “gesælig,” meaning “happy,” and “sæl,” meaning “happiness.”

Stephens is the maiden name of my 3rd great grandmother, Trizah Olive (Stephens) Agee (1873-1967), who was the grandmother of my great grandmother, Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore “Ted” Alexander Lapham (1910-1955). The surname is English in origins, though variations can be found in Scotland, Holland, and German. The exact origins of my Stephens branch is not presently known, as the furthest back I have been able to trace is to my 6th great grandfather, Phillip Stephens (ca. 1755-1830), who was born in Virginia and died in Tennessee. According to available research, the Stephens surname is a patronymic surname that derives from the personal name Stephen, which is a variation of Steven, a name popular in Christendom due to the martyred Saint of that name, which means “crown.”

Click here to learn more about Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge (Clicking this link will take you to another site.)