While I was researching and writing “The Early Years” segment of the book I have been writing about my great-great-great-grandfather Nils Trulsen Bru, I needed to look at his family of origin. What could be learned about his parents and siblings which might shed light on the course his life followed?
I had previously recorded data about his parents and the names and dates for his sister Malena and for two brothers, both named Lars. I knew that the first “Lars” died as a baby and that it was fairly common practice in those days to name a later child after one which had been lost. In fairness, I had never paid much attention to the death of the older Lars, who was baptized 24 March 1771 and buried later that year (on 10 November). Continue reading Plagues are personal→
My great-grandfather was born in Wisconsin in 1901, just about a year after his parents and older sisters immigrated from Norway. His father, a sailor who was once “honored by the King of Norway,” settled the family on the shores of Lake Michigan and began a long career with the U.S. Life Saving Service, which became the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915. Though this man, my great-great-grandfather Søren “Sam” Carlsen, died in 1955, long before I was born, he has always been a central figure in the family lore. His portrait is displayed proudly and prominently at my grandpa’s house, and many of my grandpa’s childhood stories feature “Grampa Carlsen” swooping in to save the day. Continue reading A walk in their footsteps→
It is interesting to see the spread of a new technology reflected in my great-grandfather’s journal: in this case, the electrification of the Bells’ farm in Kempsville, near Norfolk, Virginia. A little less than a century ago, this was a project one could undertake oneself.
9 October: Bought truck today for $793 and turned in the old one for $200.
Estelle and I bought light fixtures today for the new Delco system which we installed this week.
“How is your celebration of the holiday influenced by previous generations?” asked a recent survey in The Weekly Genealogist. The first item in the list of answer choices was “I serve food or drinks that are traditional in my family.“ I quickly checked it off, as I was in the midst of baking, making sure that my kids would come home to the seasonal treats they – and now their spouses – expect.
One thing I have baked at Christmas in recent years is nisu, a sweet Finnish bread I remember eating at the home of my Finnish-born grandmother, known to all her grandkids as Mumma. When I visited Finland in 2012, a second cousin (granddaughter of Mumma’s sister) served it to me, and the scent of the cardamom took me back to my childhood. Continue reading Modern-day melting pots→
Before I began working at NEHGS in November 2015, I had a job where I interacted with between thirty and fifty different people every day. One of those people was a linguist, who, upon hearing me speak, said, “You aren’t from here.” She was right. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I grew up in northern New Hampshire and moved to Massachusetts in 2011.
I said to her, “No, I’m not from Massachusetts. I’m a transplant.”
The British constitutional historian Walter Bagehot (1826–1877) wrote that “When there is a select committee on the Queen, the charm of royalty will be gone. Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.” There is something uncanny about royalty, a mystique that can be hard to value according to its merits. This phrase of Bagehot’s – with its reference to “mystery” and “magic” – came to mind as I was thinking about the question of morganatic marriages in Germany. Continue reading “Daylight upon magic”→
Every so often it seems worthwhile to look back over the wide range of Vita Brevis posts and bring some related ones together in one spot. Now that we are half way through the calendar year, some posts on international genealogical research merit a second look. In January, Eileen Pironti wrote about “Reconnecting with family”: in her case, her Irish family in County Roscommon: Continue reading International research posts at Vita Brevis→
In the years after the American Civil War, an influx of immigrants from Scandinavia settled in the United States. Pushed from their homelands by famine, overpopulation, and lack of economic opportunities, these Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, and Danes poured into the country. In particular, they were drawn to the American Midwest, where large tracts of fertile farmland were abundant. Here they established their own communities, where they spoke their mother language, established their own churches, and even published their own newspapers. Today many Americans can claim Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Danish ancestry. And if you are one of these Americans, you may be apprehensive about researching these ancestors because of the language barrier. Don’t be; with the right base of knowledge and a little practice, you’ll be well on your way to uncovering your Scandinavian roots. Continue reading My family is Scandinavian . . . now what?!→