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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge #7 Angelina Margarita Tinetti

     Angelina Tinetti was my mother's mother's mother. When I found her birth record in the Civil Records of Torre Canavese, Torino, Italy I was surprised to find her name at birth was Angela Margarita Tinetti. Angelina is a familiar form of Angela.  To my knowledge she was always called Angelina by her family. Her father had an Aunt Angela for whom she was likely named. She was born in the family home in Valia, a small community part of Torre Canavese, Torino, Italy. This is in Northwestern Italy, not far from the Alps to the north and France to the West. She was the daughter of Giovanni Tinetti and his second wife, Catterina Zanotti-Cussio. At the time of her birth Giovanni had five children by his first wife and four children before her by his second wife. There was only one more after Angelina. Her parents are listed as "contadini" or peasant farmers. Family data says that they grew and sold herbs.

     In 1885 Angelina's older sister, Rosa, married Louis Bonino and they went to America, operating a Saloon in Norway, Michigan. Rosa's twin sister, Domenica "Minnie" joined them there.  Minnie married Pietro "Peter" Peretti. Angelina joined them in 1890. Her brother-in-law paid for her passage and she paid him back by working in the saloon. While doing that she met Frank Stefani,  a coal miner who had immigrated from Sporminore in North Eastern Italy (Austria then). They were married in 1891.  That is the version of the story that was told by Angelina's children. When I started to research the family I found some descendants of her sister, Rosa.  One of them told me a slightly different version. She was told this by her mother who had gotten it from Rosa. It goes: Frank Stefani came often to the saloon and struck up a friendship with Rosa and Louis.  He had seen her bring her sister, Minnie, over. He was looking for a wife and he asked Rosa if she had any more sisters. She said she did but Minnie had been unhappy in her marriage so she didn't want the same for Angelina. So Frank said he'd make a deal with her. He would pay for her sister to come over but they wouldn't tell her. Frank would meet her and if they hit it off they'd marry but if not he would pay for her to return to Italy. Rosa agreed, Angelina came over and on 2 Jun 1891 she and Frank Stefani were married.  Louis Bonino signed the marriage certificate as a witness, he signed "Luigi Bonino".  According to Ruth's mother, Angelina's family never knew this second story.  I don't know if Angelina ever knew it!

     Not long after their marriage, Frank and Angelina moved to Comox, British Columbia, where Frank worked in the mines and their first son, Fred, was born. From there they moved to Issaquah, Washington. Their children, John Frank, Edith Rosetta, Adelina Justina, Mary Victoria, Francis Eugene George and Clement Eugene, were born.  John Frank died at the age of 5 in 1898 and Francis Eugene George died at the age of 4 in 1908. One of these boys had bright red hair. When Edith's son,Milton,had a son with bright red hair she mentioned this. My guess is that this is an inheritance from the Wegher family of Frank's mother. Edith named her oldest son Lyman Francis for her father and for the second brother who died.

     Angelina was a good mother and the family was close.  They would all come to the farm in Issaquah every Sunday with spouses and kids in tow. They would have a big family meal. I have a couple letters from Angelina to her granddaughter, my mother.  My mother said that they enjoyed her grandmother's letters for their quaint spelling and ways of expressing herself.  Here is part of one:
                                                                                                            "Issaquah March 4-47

     "Dearest grandauther & grandson

            "I received your surprising letter from Chicago I could not thinking wo was writing to us from there as I dind recogize your end writeing until I read it and was very glad to hear from both of you.  and what please us more is to hear that you and Jack are very happy and try to fello Granpa's foot steps of his young days wen we was like two birds just flying out of mother's nest but Grandpa allway work faytfully at anything onest and alway try to save a little but wat he got he neva made it by the bushuls, at that time the wages was small 2.00 a day of 10 hours was good pay and with good manegment we allway save a little evrething was chiper then and we never take in sports or anything that take our money that he sweet so ard to get and we were glad by our lonesom together like your mother & fathr ave been  in ther life together  and rasing their famili at the best of their ability.  God bless them with grand hope that all of you will succide like we did or better, there is better chances now....

           "Now I send you both our best regards & hope that this will find you all well like it leave us.

           "For ever you grandma and grandpa Stefani
             let us hear about you alway".

     Angelina and Frank celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on 2 June 1941. Angelina outlived her sisters, dying on 14 Jun 1947.  She is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Issaquah, Washington next to Frank. Angelina had beautiful big brown eyes. Her daughter Edith, had the same. I inherited these as have my daughter, Devin and my granddaughter, Elinor. Part of our inheritance from a lovely woman.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

52 Ancestor Challenge #6 Adolph Peterson From Sweden to America

     Adolph Peterson was my father's father's father. He was born on 28 Jun 1857 in Notebaak, Kronoberg, Sweden. I found his birth record at the Family History Center in Los Angeles in 1979, framed a copy and gave it to my grandfather for Christmas! He was the son on Johannes Peterson and Anna Magnusdotter. He was born in Angarna and belonged to the general plantation called Elmeshult. His father owned his farm which was unusual but they had some rough times due to the bad harvests in Sweden. He lived with his mother's parents for a bit. He remembered his grandmother giving him potatoes to take to his mother and Adolph thought it was too much to give. He also told a story of being out with his grandfather when he was felling wood and he almost chopped down a tree on top of Adolph!He went to Kindergarten in Bygett and grade school in Glosang.

     In 1869 his parents decided to come to America. Adolph told his children of the crossing.  They were in a big storm that broke the mail mast.  Fortunately the sailors were able to repair it and they made it to shore! It appears to me that his father had come over first and then his mother, his little brother and Adolph joined him.  They settled in Dassel in Meeker County, Minnesota.  In 1871 Census his father is living next to Nils Almquist in Swan Lake (Dassel). By the 1875 Census the whole family is there. Adolph married the daughter of Nils Almquist.

     Adolph married Hulda Josepfina Almquist on 22 Jan 1885 in Cokato, Wright, Minnesota. She had come over to join her father in 1881. They had five children, two girls and three boys. They lived in Dassel until sometime after 1900 when they moved to Tiffany in Dunn County, Wisconsin.  They are in the 1905 Wisconsin State Census there. By 1910 they were living in Boyceville, Dunn, Wisconsin.  Adolph became the Postmaster for the town, appointed 31 Jul 1907.  Hulda died there in 1928. By 1930 Adolph was living in Minneapolis with a boarder and two grandsons.  He died there on 31 Dec 1939.

     I think he was a happy man.  He had a good marriage, was proud of his children and they loved him.

52 Ancestors Challenge #5 Stephen Avery Kells

     My mother's father's father, Stephen Avery Kells, was born 15 Jan 1844, the sixth child out of twelve. I'm not sure where he was born but probably in Cairo, Greene, New York where his parents lived. His parents were Henry Kells and Caroline Avery. At some point between 1848 and 1850 the family moved to Mukwonago, Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Stephen would've been six or so at that time.

     When the Civil War broke out Stephen enlisted in the Union Army on 19 Nov 1862. He enlisted as a Corporal and he mustered out as a Corporal on 8 Jul 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky.  He fought in Co I, 31st Infantry Regiment Wisconsin. Although another reference says he enlisted as a private and was mustered out as a Corporal. His brother, Lucas,had enlisted earlier on 20 Aug 1862 in Co F, 28th Infantry Regiment Wisconsin.  Stephen's Co was under General Sherman and he took part in the burning of Atlanta and Sherman's march to the sea. In his pension application, David Wilson, who fought with him at the time says, "Stephen A, Kells was a big healthy young fellow to all appearances and perfectly sound. He enlisted as a private and was made a corporal afterwards in the said company. (He) was disabled in the line of duty by exposure by lying on the ground nights taking a cold and rheumatism following...we crossed streams and through swamps on our march from Atlanta to Savanah, sleeping on the ground nights without sufficient protection from the inclemency of the weather and storms. I know this because we marched and crossed together. He was quite unwell this time most of the time.  He kept up with us although he had a cold and complained much.  Then again on the march from Savannah to Goldsboro NC and in South Carolina we crossed a stream wading up to our armpits in March 1865. When he took more cold which made him still worse. He had a bad and severe cough all the time.  When I first knew him at our enlistment he was perfectly well. Sound and healthy." So his days in the army had lasting repercussions on his health.

     After the War, Stephen went to Minnesota.  He took advantage of the Homestead Act and in 1868 and 1870 obtained land in Melrose, Stearns County.  In the 1870 Census his sister, Parmelia, and her son and his brother, Lyman, are living with him and his first wife.  In the 1875 Minnesota State Census his sister, Phoebe, is living with him and his two children, apparently helping out after the death of his wife, Martha. The family was close, his brothers Lyman, Lucas and Robert all moved to Sauk Centre. His sister Phoebe married and stayed in the county. His oldest son, Henry Avery Kells, worked for his brother William in Delafield, Wisconsin. His brothers-in-law, Henry and Leonard Daniel both were witnesses for him in his pension application. His oldest brother, Jacob Henry Kells, moved to Goodhue County not far from Stearns.

     Stephen married Martha Ruggles on 16 May 1870 at the age of 26.  They had two children, Henry Avery and Bertha. She died on 24 Dec 1874 leaving him with the two children.  He married Isabella Duncan, the local school teacher, on 27 Mar 1877.  They had eight children.  It must have been a struggle for him to run the farm with his ill health and support his family of 12! His wife died of cancer in Feb 1897 and he did not live much longer, succumbing on 4 Dec 1898.

     It seems to me that he must've had a strong personality to have brought much of his family to be near him in Minnesota. He married two women and raised ten children. My grandfather didn't talk about him much but my mother said that he always emphasized the importance of being healthy and taking care of ones self that way. She feels he got this from his Dad. I don't know if my grandfather, Luke, even knew that he was on Sherman's march to the sea.  When I discovered that and told my family my Uncles were very proud to be descended from him.  And so should we be!

52 Ancestors #4 Isabella Duncan Kells, Beauty in Name, Body and Spirit

     Isabella Duncan Kells was my mother's father's mother. She was born in Forrestburgh, Sullivan, New York on 6 Jun 1849, the fifth daughter of James and Margaret Hamilton Duncan. I am not entirely sure if her name was Isabelle or Isabella, it appears both ways in various records. Isabella is the most frequent and it is what her brother in law, Lyman Kells, calls her in her husband's pension records so I am going with that. Her father calls her Belle in his will.

  The family moved to Grove, Stearns, Minnesota in 1864 when she was about 16. The first school in Melrose Township was No. 41 or "the Stewart School". Isabella taught there and was probably one of the first teachers. I suspect that she met Stephen Avery Kells through teaching.  His son, Henry Avery, would've been 5 in 1876. Stephen and Isabella were married 27 Mar 1877. They were married at home with her brother, George and her father, James, as witnesses. She was 27 years old, he was 32. They proceeded to have 8 children: Margaret Hamilton (named after her mother), Stephen Archibald (the Archibald is her mother's father's name), Lucas Carlisle (named for Stephen's brother Lucas and either the philosopher Thomas Carlisle or the place Carlyle), James Duncan (named for her father), Oakford Allen (named for a prominent pioneer in Stearns Co.), Lyman Morris (Lyman for Stephen's brother), Mary Caroline (named for Stephen's mother, Caroline Avery) and Robert Homer (named for Stephens brother, Robert, and the Greek poet, Homer). The names show both the strong family ties and her love of literature.

     Isabella was or became Catholic.  I don't know if her parents were Catholic.  The Kells children were baptized in the local Catholic Church, St. Boniface. Some remained Catholic and their descendants are today, while others became Protestant.

     According to her granddaughter, Roberta Kells Dorr, "They seem to have lived in a log house until 1887 when the new house was built with the now famous parlor and conservatory.  For that time the house was quite splendid.  We know that she had some prize yellow roses." The house is still owned by her descendants. Here is a recent photo of it. She died of cancer and spent her last days lying in the conservatory.  She died in February 1897.

     My mother wrote me of her that, "Besides being able to teach all 8 grades in school, his (Lucas's) mother was a lover of music and passed that on to

her children." She also loved literature and passed this on as well and the great value of education.

     Roberta goes on to say, "Before she died Isabelle (sic) wrote some lovely bits of poetry that have been saved. December 29, 1896, she wrote in (her daughter)Madge's autograph book

          'The summer day of life is ended
            The sunbeams vanish from the sky
            Above the darkness, breaks the starlight
            Heavens beacons to our home on high.'

Then she also wrote

          'Like some long, childish dream thy life has run
           But now the dream has reached the dark, deep sea
           And sorrow, dim and crowned, is waiting thee.

           Only the waving wing changes and brightens
           Only the idle the dark future frightens.' "

     Isabella is buried next to her husband in Oakland Cemetery, Sauk Centre, Stearns, Minnesota. She was remembered with great love by her children and her love of literature, music and education was passed on by them to the next generations.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

52 Ancestors #3: Anneke Jans, the ancestor who wasn't an ancestor!

     In 1962 I was thirteen years old and in the 8th Grade. I have often called this the worst year of my life but, to be fair, it was the year I discovered my Family Tree.  In Social Studies we were given an assignment to find out about our family history, do some research on it and write about it. I think we also had to give an oral presentation on it.  My grandmother Kells lived with us at the time and my Father's parents lived nearby so I was able to talk to them about their families. All of the families and their stories interested me but the one that  intrigued me the most was about Anneke Jans.

     Here is the story I was told: Anneke Jans was the daughter of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange and Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles I of England. She was born and raised in the Hague, The Netherlands. But she fell in love with a commoner so was banished to the New World, going to live in New Amsterdam (now New York City). The land she lived on then is now occupied by Trinity Church and most of Wall Street. My Great Grandfather, Benjamin Melvin Hudson, received a "Syllabus" showing how he was descended from her. It said that the court was looking into finding the heirs and splitting the property and money. Nothing came of this, it was basically a con. I don't know if Ben invested in it at all. But I was enamoured of the idea of the romance. I even started to write a novel based on the story (I soon stopped, though, because it was way beyond my abilities at that time to do so.)

     Fast forward to 1978. I felt I had grown quite apart from my family and wanted something we could talk about and share. I remembered the Family History from 8th Grade and decided to take it up newly.  Despite what all the books say to do (start with yourself and work back generation by generation) I started in the 1600's with Anneke Jans. I found that the story above was not at all historic truth. The real Anneke Jans was born in Norway and there is no indication at all that she was the daughter of William of Orange.  She married Roeloff Jans and came to America with him in 1630.  They had 6 children.  He died not long after coming to America and she married Domine Everardus Bogardus and had children with him. Her land was in the area that is Greenwich Village, SOHO and Tribeca today, his land is where Trinity Church now stands. After he died Anneke moved to Albany (then Beverwyck). She has numerous descendants today. There is a webpage on her and the family hosted by Rootsweb. Here is the link: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ghosthunter/Anneke/page0.htm.

     I found a book called    ; "Three Hundred Years in America 1642-1942--The Story of Eleven Generations of the Brewer Family" by Bertha C. Spencer in which she goes into this story at length. She says "A half a million credulous people throughout the country contributed over a million dollars to confidence men, crooked lawyers and others, as "expense money" to prosecute their claims and recover the fortune. As a result, many of these sharpers were convicted and served prison terms for getting money under false pretenses." That in itself makes an interesting story!

     After learning all this I continued my research and soon found out it was even worse! We weren't descended from her at all!. The Syllabus showed Anneke Jans' granddaughter, Catherine Kierstand marrying Johannes Kip and having a son Jacob. Jacob married Catherine de Hart and their son, Johannes, married Margaret Van Cotton whose daughter, Eve was our ancestress. But I could find no Margaret Van Cotton. I ofund a Margaret Van Etten who married Johannes Kip and had a daughter, Eva. That Johannes was the son of Jacob Kip and Rachel Swartwout. I did quite a bit of research on this and finally found a record that the Johannes Kip who was the son of Jacob Kip and Catharine De Hart died unmarried in 1776. Thus, our Johannes was the son of Jacob and Rachel and NOT a descendant of Anneke Jans. So, disappointing, but I learned a good lesson about family legends and the importance of honest research.

     In fairness to Anneke I should note that Bertha Spencer says, "She is reputed to have been a small, well-formed woman with delicate features, transparent complexion, and bright, beautiful eyes.  She had a well balanced mind, a sunny disposition and a kind heart. Added to this pleasing personality she was wealthy, according to the standards of the day."


Monday, February 17, 2014

52 Ancestor Challenge #2: John Marshall Cookson

     The next ancestor I want to write about is my father's mother's father, my Great Great Grandfather, John Marshall Cookson. My grandmother and her sisters lived near him when they grew up and often talked about him.  My father lived with him for a summer as a young boy, also. He and his opinions are mentioned in letters written by his wife's uncle. So my impression  is of a man who made an impact on people. He was one of the first ancestors I wanted to research.

     John Marshall Cookson was born in Linneus, Aroostook, Maine on 2 Feb 1847 or 1848. Most of the records say 1847 but he is listed as 2 in the 1850 Census, it was taken in August so if he was 2 he would've been born in 1848. You'll see one reason for the uncertainty of the year as we go. When his granddaughter, Mabel, told about his life she said, "His father went hunting one day and didn't return." In the 1850 Census we find John, his brother, Wilbert, and his mother, Mary, living with Gardner Cookson and family.  I later found out that Gardner was John's uncle.  His sister, Georgianna, is living a few doors down, listed as a pauper. His mother died not long after this leaving the children as orphans.  They were put in an orphanage. The custom at the time was to loan the children out to work. He told his granddaughters that he got in trouble with a farmer by leaving a gate open and let the farmer's favorite horse get loose. He was sent to New York and worked on the Erie Canal as a canal boy leading horses. In 1863, he lied about his age and joined the Union Army in New York. He would've been 15 or 16 so pretty impressive that he pulled this off. When I got his military records from the National Archives I found it noted that he went from 5'2" to 5'6" in about a 6 month period (growing boy!). He was a private in Co I of the 13th NY Calvary.  They did patrol duty in the rear of the Army of the Potomoc during Gettysburg and fought Moseby in Virginia. At the end of the war his regiment was stationed outside of Washington D.C. He recalled Lincoln visiting the camp with his son, Todd. Todd seemed interested but Lincoln looked weary and sad, he told his granddaughters. John and his regiment were on guard duty when Lincoln was assassinated. He said the whole town seemed to be in mourning.

     After the war he located his brother (who had also been a soldier in the war in a different regiment) and sister (who had married). He found his father who had remarried and was living with his wife and four children in Vienna, East Elgin, Ontario, Canada. He didn't waste much time at it either, he was married there in 1867 and his brother in 1868. I think it is remarkable that he could put his family back together with no internet or even telephones. By 1870 he had moved to Augres, in Saginaw Bay, Michigan.  His father and stepmother and their children and his sister and her husband and family moved there, too. Only his brother stayed in Canada. His wife's family also moved to the Saginaw Bay area. Lumber was booming in the region, his father was a lumber dealer in Canada.  John worked as a lumberjack, he also owned one of the rare sewing machines. Family legend has it that he sewed  sheets and his wife sold them door to door. They had four children two of whom died young.

     About 1885 he moved his family to northwestern Arkansas, near Fayetteville. His daughter, Agnes married Ben Hudson and they lived nearby. John had a farm and worked as a carpenter.  The house he built was still standing in the 1970's when my father photographed it. His wife died in 1916.  He remarried in 1917.  She died in 1930. In 1932 there was some sort of trouble with a married woman and he moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where he died in 1936. He was a spirited old man! My father was named after him, my son was named after my father so he is also named after him.  He left my father a very large old Flag from the Spanish American War period and his Civil War Cavalry sabre.  I used to take the Flag to school for show and tell.  Unfortunately, my father gave it and the sword to a museum. Only years later I realized that we never even took photos of them! I do have his pocket watch, you can see where he scratched his initials on the inside of the case. I would have loved to have met him. If you read between the lines of his life

story you can feel his spirit and determination.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge #1 Frank John Stefani

     When I read about the 52 Ancestors Challenge on Ancestry I thought it would be fun to do that. So, here I am starting a blog! I am 7 ancestors behind now. Time to get started!

     The first ancestor I want to talk about is my Great Grandfather, Frank John Stefani. That's the American version of his name and the one he preferred.  His birth record shows him as Giovanni Francesco Stefani. His father was Giovanni Luigi Stefani. He hated his father so he reversed the order of his name and was known as Francesco Giovanni. On the report card we have for him dated 25 Apr 1877 he is Stefani, Francesco Giovanni and on his Feb 1883 passport he is Stefani Francesco. In Austrian records he would be Franz Johan Stefani. Frank was born on 20 Aug 1863 in Sporminore in the Trento area of the South Tyrol. It was part of Austria at that time, becoming part of Italy after WW I. The people there have long spoken Italian.

     Frank's father was a peddler and a drunkard.  Frank would accompany him on his peddling rounds and hide as much money from him as he could to give to his mother.  Otherwise his father would spend it on alcohol. This is the story Frank told his children.  When I researched the family I discovered that Frank's grandfather, Giovanni's father, Ferdinando, died when Giovanni was only 7 months old.  Frank had 6 older brothers and sisters all but two of whom had died by the time Frank was born.  And one of these died when Frank was 3. So I think his father was very disappointed in life.

     After finishing school (his report card is dated 1877, so he was not quite 15, probably he had finished 8th Grade). He left home to make money to help his mother and sister.  He walked earning money as he could, working in the steel mills and railroads of Germany and eventually making it to Paris, France where he worked in a chemical plant.  We have a photo of him at age 18 taken in Paris. He sent most of his wages home to his mother, eating only salami and corn meal.  Eventually he became quite ill and was sent back home to recuperate.  He later worked in the coal mines of Alsace, France saving up money for passage to America. After his parents died and his sister was married he felt free to leave for America and a better life.

     He left a sweetheart behind in Sporminore, Monica Remondini.  He planned to establish himself in America and come back for her.  However, after he got to America he wrote to her and told her he released her from the engagement.  He had been so seasick on the trip to America that he couldn't face repeating it. We don't know her response but in my research I found that she married his cousin, Giulio Wegher, and raised a family in Sporminore. Frank kept the handkerchief she had given him and her picture his whole life.

     In America he went to work in the mines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  He met Rosa Tinetti and her husband, Louis Bonino, who ran a saloon in Hurley, Wisconsin just across the border.  He asked Rosa if she had any sisters.  She said she did but didn't want to bring her over because she had brought her twin sister over and she had married a man who beat her.Frank said he would pay her sister's passage, if they hit it off he'd marry her.  If she didn't like him and wanted to go back he would pay her way back. So they did this but Rosa and Frank never told the sister, Angelina, about this deal. Frank and Angelina were married 2 Jun 1891.  They soon moved to British Columbia, Canada, (more mining) where their first son was born.  Then they moved to Gillman, Washington (now Issaquah). Frank saved enough money to buy a saloon and get out of mining.  He bought and sold 4 or 5 houses and bought a laundry.  This was a family operation, his oldest son ran it, his three daughters did the washing and ironing and he did the deliveries.  Eventually he had saved enough money to buy a chicken farm.  The land and farm house are still in the family.

     Frank and Angelina had 7 children, 5 of whom lived to adulthood. Their children, spouses and grandchildren would come to the farm every Sunday for dinner and visiting.  Frank loved America.  He wouldn't talk Italian but insisted he and his wife speak only English, because "we are Americans now!" He refused to cash his Social Security checks saying, " This county doesn't owe me a thing.  I owe it a lot!".

     He believed in hard work, one of his favorite sayings was, "Hard work never killed anybody." The story is told of him that at the age of 85 he cut and placed 400 fence posts in one day. He believed that the area of Washington he lived in was God's country and told my mother it was the Garden of Eden.

     Now that I have been researching the family I have found 8 generations of Stefani men before him all from Sporminore. So far I am back to 1597. I may not be able to go much farther but there is no indication that the family doesn't go back still farther is that same spot. It is incredible to me that he was able to leave his family home for generations and come to America and find a better life for himself and his descendants. And so I honor him and salute him.