Uncle Dave's book

Sunday, April 27, 2014

52 Ancestors # 17: Carl Gustaf (Carlsson) Knock, From Sweden to Iowa

     When I started to research Dennis' family in 1978 or so, his mother, Eloise Margaret Knock Negley, told me that Knock was not the family name in Sweden.  She said that when her grandfather, Carl Gustaf, and his brother, Johan August, came to America their last name was Carlsson, as their father's name was Carl.  On the ship they met a man named Knock and they liked the name so they decided to adopt it. However, Johan seems to have spelled it Knocke and Carl spelled it Knock. I've been very glad she told me this as I've never seen it anywhere else and I would've had a hard time trying to find them as Knock in Swedish records!

     Carl Gustaf was born 29 May 1846 in Varnum (now part of Kristinehamm), Varmlands, Sweden. His parents were Karl (Carl) Johan Jonson and Johanna Olsdotter. His brother, Johan August, was born 11 Mar 1849,and a sister, Johanna Maria born 24 January 1852. Unfortunately, Johanna Maria died in September 1853, followed by their mother a month later in October 1853. Carl would've been 7 1/2 when his mother died.

His father remarried, Maria Johanna Andersdotter, and they had two children, Anton Frederick born in 1855 who lived for one day and Regina Matilda, born 1 Sep 1856. I think that Carl had a fondness for his little sister, Regina, as he named his youngest daughter for her. She mentions this in the book she wrote and published about the family. Then in February 1858, the father, Carl Johan, died as well. This left the boys orphans with their stepmother. She then married again, Johan Svensson, with whom she had a son, Anders Niklas.

     It was 1860 when Maria married Johan Svensson, Carl was 14. So now we had a situation where we had two teenage boys living in a family where neither parent was related to them! The only one in the family related to them was their little sister, Regina. I think this must have been very uncomfortable for everyone. So we find Carl and Johan living outside the family as "drang"s ( farm laborers) by 1863 or so. It is no surprise that they came to America in April 1869. I haven't actually found them in the passenger lists yet but found them in the parish "utflyttning" (those leaving the parish)record in April 1869 and in the Swedish emigration records from Goteborg. I'm sure they felt they had no reason to stay in Sweden and every reason to find their fortune in America.

     The Webster and Hamilton Counties, Iowa Biographical Record, published in 1888, has a short biography of Carl on page 456. He is called "Charles G. Knock". According to them he landed at New York City with his brother and went to Kansas.  He didn't like it there, although Johan August stayed in Kansas.  Carl went to Evanston, Ill and then to Lake County, working as a carpenter.  On 23 Jan 1875, in Chicago, he married Anna Louisa Ericksdotter Lindquist.  She also had assumed the last name of Lindquist, along with her brother and sister, upon arrival in America. They had eight children.

     The Biographical Record mentioned above tells us that Carl settled on his farm in section 32 in 1876. It was a "tract of wild prairie" but he improved it to the point, "he ow has one best farms in the township". It contained 120 acres. He also served "in the principle positions of the township" (Clay township) and was the clerk in 1888 when the book was written. The biography also tells he was a Republican and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

     Following in the footsteps of his mother and father, Carl did not live to an old age, dying on 21 Jun 1893 on his farm in Clay. He was 47 years old. His wife proceeded to raise the children. She never remarried and died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1925. Several of his children became ministers, professors and educated men. His story is one that shows that no matter what your early circumstances you can still make your own life and become successful.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

52 Ancestors #16: Sarah Lane Buck Kay

     Sarah Lane was born to William Lane and Hannah Caldwell on 25 Aug 1820 in Manchester. Lancashire, England.  She was baptized at St. James Cathedral on 24 Sep 1820. Her father was an iron monger and she was raised in a relatively well to do middle class household. On 31 Dec 1839 she was married to John Buck at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Liverpool, England. They had three children, Edward born 31 Aug 1841, Hannah Elizabeth born 10 May 1844 and John born 14 April 1846. In the 1841 Census of England she is living with her husband in her father's house in Manchester. Her husband, John Buck, died  16 Dec 1846 and her son, John, died soon after.

     In 1849 the entire family, her father and mother, her older brother, William Frederick Lane, his wife, Jane, and their two sons, Samuel and William Frederick, her younger sister, Amelia, plus her two children, Edward and Elizabeth Buck, and herself all moved to America. Her brother, William Frederick, moved first. We have a letter he wrote asking her to join him soon.  He was living in or around Buffalo, New York. According to a descendant, Jim Brown, they brought a great deal of their belongings with them from England.  Most of which are still in the possession of various family members. Her younger sister, Amelia, died soon after the family arrived in America.

     In the 1850 Census the family is to be found in Buffalo, New York. Curiously the Census only lists William, Hannah, William the son and Sarah, not Jane or the four children. I don't know if they just asked William for his children and not his grandchildren as it seems odd.  William is listed as a lockmaker. While living in Buffalo Sarah married Thomas Kay.  The family Bible says they were married June 14, 1851 at "Trinity Church Buffalo U.S. of America." Before coming to America, Thomas Kay and his wife, Sarah, had a son, Robert, born 1 Nov 1846 in Holcombe, Lancashire. Sarah Kay died and was buried on 12 Jan 1850 in Astley-Bridge, Lancashire. This is likely why Thomas decided to immigrate to America. He is listed in the 1850 Census as a laborer. I don't know how they met but Thomas and Sarah must've felt a kinship at both having come from Lancashire and both having lost a spouse at a young age. Their daughter Sarah Buck Kay was born 5 Oct 1852 followed by Mary in 1854 and Anne in 1856.

     Sometime after Anne's birth the whole family decided to move once again and they re-located to Vienna in Elgin County, Ontario, Canada. Here William F. or Willie, was born in August 1859. In Vienna Sarah had a Milliner's shop and was also a seamstress. Her daughter, Elizabeth Buck, is also listed as a seamstress in the 1861 Census.  Thomas is listed as a Teamster. In approximately 1870 they moved back to the U.S., living in Saginaw, Michigan.  They seemed to miss the 1870 Census in the U.S. and the 1871 Census in Canada. In the 1880 Census, Thomas Kay is listed as a laborer and only his son,William, is still at home, all of his daughters having been married by then. Thomas died  on 6 Jul 1895 and Sarah followed him on 13 Nov 1896, both in Saginaw.

     One fact about Thomas Kay is noted enough to be quite evident,that is that he had quite a drinking problem. It is mentioned in letters from Sarah's father and brother and the Saginaw Evening News of 10 Mar 1890 reports his conviction of "being a common drunkard" but he gets off with a promise of good behavior. This must have been a trial for Sarah.

     Sarah was evidently the center of her family.  We have many letters that were sent to her from her brother, William Frederick, her son, Edward and her father. Unfortunately we don't have her replies! But it is clear that she is a key member of the family and frequently consulted by others. In the one picture we have of her she is old but she is very self-possessed.  To me she exudes stability and determination. She's not mean but I wouldn't want to cross her!

53 Ancestors # 15: John Buck, Sailor from Liverpool

     John Buck was my father's great great grandfather. He was born on 23 Nov 1810 in Manchester, England and baptized on 27 Mar 1811 in Manchester Cathedral. His father was William Buck, a fustian manufacturer, and Ann Hulme was his mother. What is a fustian manufacturer, you ask? Fustian is a type of cloth made of cotton and linen.  It was a heavy cloth, similar to denim. This was a major industry in Manc- hester in the late 1700's and 1800's. It was a cottage industry but by 1810 the Industrial was underway and it was being produced in factories. William and Ann had 7 children, John was number six.

     William died in 1815 leaving Ann with seven children from the age of 2 to the age of 14. How she coped we don't know but she did and the next thing we know is that in 1830 she apprenticed John to Thomas Elliot, a ship owner.  Here he began his career as a sailor. I have the original apprenticeship paper hanging on my wall. It was given to my father by his Aunt Mabel.  It states it is between "John Buck of Manchester and the consent of Robert Earlcott on behalf of his mother" and  "Thomas Elliot, Ship Owner" for a term of five years.

     The next we hear of John is a letter he wrote on Jan.12, 1839. This is addressed to William Lane of Manchester and the greeting is "Dear Uncle". I haven't yet found any family connection between them which would correspond to Uncle-nephew. But we know that he married William Lane's daughter, Sarah, in December 1939. So I suspect the term Uncle is used as one of respect and implying a family relationship to the father of one's bride-to-be. It's a great letter! Again I suspect he is really writing to Sarah or at least for her benefit but for the sake of propriety addressed it to her father. Here is some of the letter:
                                                                                               " Lisbon Jan ? 12th 1839
"Dear Uncle,

You will be surprised to hear from me from this part of the globe but the reason we are hear (sic) is on account of our great distress from the heavy gales we had.  We saild(sic) from Liverpool the 13th Dec and was (sic) tow'd as far as holyhead the wind being foul we had tolerable weather till we came too(sic) the mouth of the channel it then came on to blow heavy gales from SW to WSW and continued till we got well in the bay of Biscay when the wind haul'd round to the N/W and blew a complete hurricane nothing could withstand the gale  particular the Saturday night and Sunday before Christmas day. for that was worse than all, it happen'd to be my 8 hours on deck that night that his (sic) I had the first and last watch and of course had from 12 to 4 o'clock to sleep but I could not sleep for the heavy rolling of the ship for she labour'd very heavy and indeed I never saw a ship make worse weather than she did for both me and the Capt. are much deceived in the vessell(sic), she is the worst sea boat I ever was in. but I must make some allowance for the cargo that is in her that will make her worse for our cargo is partly iron which is but a bad cargo. at 2 AM all hands where(sic) calld (sic) on deck -the main topsail and mast being carried away the sea was then beginning to run swift(?) and to blow harder so we furl'd the fore topsail and foresail. then sent the watch below, it being my watch on deck at daybreak the sea was indeed awful never did I see such  a high sea before. I thought I had seen has(sic) heavy a sea off the Cape of Good Hope as could well be but I was mistook for the sea here was high and hollow soon after she ship'd a heavy sea which washed away all our Bulwarks fore and Aft Spars Cookhouse etc. I was on the point of calling the Capt. after we had secured some spars that were adrift but the shock of the sea brought him quickly on deck.  all my watch myself and Capt where (sic) on the quarter deck when another tremendous sea broke over all the decks carrying everything before it.  Dear Uncle it was a most miraculous thing that I was not washed overboard for I d

id not see the sea coming the Capt and the rest of them was (sic) holding on by the rigging when the sea struck her it carried right aft on the lea side of the ship then Capt and Crew saw it but could render me no assistance but thank god I caught hold of something but scarce know what and held onb till the sea left the deck. Dear uncle what strange things comes in a person's head when in danger I thought of the mate of the Royal William that was washed overboard in the same way. I must own that I was alarmed at so sudden a shock but I had little time to reflect when other difficulties call'd my attention the Crew were getting quite exhausted indeed I was myself but it would not do to show it we where (sic) now trying to secure our boats and water casks but was not able for sea was breaking over all the ship rolling and labouring heavy we where (sic) now compelled to lash ourselfs(sic) to the rigging for fear of being washed away and by midnight all our boats water casks and spars where (sic) washed away in short our decks where(sic) clean swept fore and aft...the Ship as(sic) put all hands quite out of conceit with her and I question weather (sic) our Crew will go the voyage or not but for my part I shall go the voyage let the consequences be what it will for it would be a folly for me to leave her Please to give my love to My Aunt and Cousins hoping you are all well Your affec J Buck"

     One can see why that letter has been saved all these years! the original letter was lost in a fire in the 1970's, I have a Xerox copy made for my father.

     John and Sarah were married at Liverpool Cathedral on 31 Dec 1839 (New Year's Eve!). Their son, Edward was born 31 Aug 1841,daughter, Hannah Elizabeth was born 10 May 1844  and lastly John born 14 Apr 1846. All were baptized at the Manchester Cathedral.  In the 1841 Census John Buck is enumerated in the household of William Lane with his wife, Sarah and is listed as an iron monger(William Lane's profession). Perhaps he was trying to stay at home and not go to sea out of concern for his family.
However, I did find evidence of other voyages during this period. So perhaps he could not stay away from the sea for long. He was ticketed as a sailor on 15 Nov 1845 and joined "The Bombay Packet Africa" on 9 Feb 1846. His ticket says he was a Mate, was 5' 1 1/2" tall, had brown hair, brown eyes, a ruddy complexion and a scar on his forehead. He could write. He was 35 years old. When he sailed with the Africa his wife was pregnant with his third child. This was probably his last voyage because the family Bible records his death on "the 16th day of December 1846 at noon aged 36 years." His youngest son, John, died soon after his demise although that death is not recorded in the Bible.

     I have often wondered whether the attempt to be a merchant and not go to sea contributed to his early death. He was well remembered by his daughter to her grandchildren and by them to their children and grandchildren.  His letter shows his courage and matter of fact determination in the face of adversity. Tat is worthy of remembering!


Friday, April 4, 2014

52 Ancestors #14: Margaret Hamilton Kells, "Aunt Madge"

     My mother's Aunt Madge was born Margaret Hamilton Kells on 30 Apr 1879 in Melrose, Stearns County, Minnesota. She was the first child of Stephen Avery Kells and Isabella Duncan, although she was his third child. Stephen was a widower with two children when he married Isabella Duncan. But she was their first child and Isabella named her after her own mother, Margaret Hamilton. She was generally known as Madge.  Margaret was soon followed by six brothers and one sister. She would have gone to the local schools and graduated from Sauk Centre High School in 1896. It is likely that she was planning to go on to College as her mother was a strong advocate of education for women as well as men. However, in February 1897 her mother, Isabella Kells, died of cancer and she was soon followed by Stephen who died in December 1898.

     The death of her parents left Madge the oldest of eight children ranging in age from 19 (herself) to 5 (her youngest brother, Robert). Her two older half siblings had already left home.  Henry Avery was living in Wisconsin and Bertha had gotten married in 1895. Three of Stephen Kells' brothers lived in Sauk Centre, Lucas, Lyman, and Robert. These three were always referred to by my mother, who got it from her father, as "the bankers". They owned the bank in Sauk Centre and were much wealthier and more socially prominent than their brother, Stephen. According to the story my mother told me (heard from her father) the bankers decided that the children should be split up and sent to live with different relatives since no one person wanted to take them all. The Kells siblings did not want to be separated and this was a very upsetting idea to them. To solve the problem, Madge married Jacob Key, the handyman on the farm and continued to live on the farm and raise her brothers and sister. My grandfather highly admired and loved her for this.  He felt that she had sacrificed herself for the family. I'm not sure what she sacrificed since she and Jake had a long happy marriage. But I believe he felt that she sacrificed her own College education. And probably that is true, I'm just not sure that a College education was that important to her. My impression is that what was important to her the most was family.  Madge and Jake had eight children of their own, four boys and four girls.

     Madge and Jake and their children lived on the farm and as her brothers and sister left for College and their own lives yet they would all come back to visit her on the farm. Her brother, Lyman, wrote her many letters from his barracks during WW I. They all brought their wives and children again and again to see her. The farm was home and she was home for them.  My grandmother left a shoe box full of photos of gatherings on  the farm from the 20's through the 40's. Madge is always in the center of everything and always seems happy to have her family there. Many of the pictures have the names written on the back by her or some by my grandmother or mother or even by her brother Bob. In later pictures her children and the children of her brothers are there with their children.  I also have pictures of her visiting my grandfather and his family in Seattle so the visits worked both ways. She was the loving heart of her family.

     Jake died in 1954 in Wadena, Minnesota and she died in 1970 in the same place.  They are buried in Sauk Centre. The farm is still owned by her descendants, although it is not a working farm now. My grandfather would be very happy to know it is still in the family.