Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - The Swans

Can we go feed the swans? Pleeease?

That was a familiar refrain of my childhood. The swans in question (and their descendants) have lived in the grotto of Woodlawn Cemetery in Joliet, Illinois for decades. The office currently provides food, but we just brought slices of bread. Most of the fun was seeing whose chunk of bread the swimming swans nabbed first.

I don't how this old family tradition started. We have no close family buried in the cemetery. But I am grateful, because every time I drive past, I still look for the swans.
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mystery Monday - A Whole Bunch of Dorks

In my search for the origins of my great-great-grandfather Otto Carl Dork, I found several potential family members in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan. Slowly, I accumulated as many pertinent records as I could find. There were censuses, marriages, births, deaths, and obituaries. As Michigan researchers can attest, there is a wealth of genealogical information readily available.

The potential Dork relations I discovered were:

Herman Carl Dork, born 1859, married Louisa Massuch in Lansing in 1885
Augusta Dork, born 1861, married Robert Sanders in Lansing in 1883
Wilhelmina Dork, born 1863 married Christian Guenther in Lansing in 1889
Johanna Dork, born 1865, married Johann (John) Beck in Lansing in 1886
Maria Dork, born 1867, married Ferdinand (Frank) Morofsky in Lansing in 1892
Otto Carl Dork, born 1869, married Wilhelmina Kopkau in Lansing in 1893
Rudolph Dork, born 1875, no marriage record found

Then after searching the Lansing State Journal newspaper obituaries at the Library of Michigan, I finally found it - the bow to wrap it all up!

Wilhelmina Dork Guenther died on May 9, 1928 in Lansing. She was the first of her siblings to die, and all of their names were listed in her obituary.

So we have a sibling unit. Now, who were their parents?

To be continued...
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Otto Dork

Otto Carl Dork (left)
Herman Wilhelm Erbe, his brother-in-law (center)
Otto Christian Herman Evert, his brother-in-law (right)

Lansing, Ingham, Michigan circa 1905

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - More Dork Siblings

Here are some of the relations of my great-great-grandfather, Otto Carl Dork:

Herman C. Dork
(Mount Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Michigan)

Louise (Massuch) Dork
(Mount Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Michigan)

Wilhelmina Dork Guenther 1863-1928
Christian Guenther 1865-1956
(Crypt at Deepdale Memorial Gardens, Lansing, Michigan)
© 2012 Sally Knudsen
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mystery Monday - Otto Is Not The Only Dork

When I last left off on my tracking of Otto Dork and his origins, he was living in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan. I knew his wife and children. But where did Otto emigrate from? Who was HIS family? The census records to this point named West Prussia most often as his place of birth. But not only did West Prussia encompass a very large area, its borders also moved though time and wars and rulers. It was a clue, but not a big one.

I knew Otto was born about 1870, but that gave a me huge 30-year gap between birth and a full-fledged family in 1900. None of the census records had anyone except immediate family members living with him. I did know that he had to have married in approximately 1892 using the years of his children's births as a starting point.

I decided to start a possible sibling search. The problem was, I had little clue as to who his siblings might be. Using the FamilySearch International Genealogical Index, I got a few hits on the surname "Dork" and the county of "Ingham" and marriages between 1880-1900. [These same records later were digitized, below.] That was as good a start as any!

  • Johanna Doerk to Johann Beck in 1886
    • Johanna born in Charlotten Werdez

  • Auguste Doerke to Albert Emil Sanders in 1884
    • Auguste born in Charlotteworth

  • Carl Herman Doerk to Louisa Massuch in 1885
    • Carl born in Charlottenwerth

  • Otto Doerk to Minnie Kopkau in 1893
    • Otto born in ... Germany (oh come on!!)
    • Parents are Carl Doerk and Carrie Popka
Snips from www.familysearch.org: Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925

So the good news is that I know had three additional marriages for similarly named and aged Dork's who lived in Lansing. This new three were also born in most likely the same village in West Prussia. Thank you to the State of Michigan and whomever completed these records for providing the details!

The bad news is, while I have built a circumstantial case for Otto's siblings, there is no actual record tying them together.

To be continued...
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - In The Shade

One of the neatly kept cemeteries in western Will County, Illinois is Willard Grove in Channahon Township. The oldest graves are in the back under huge oak trees. In the fall, graves are wholly covered by leaves. But in the midst of this record-setting heat wave gripping us in the Midwest, being under a shady oak tree is one of the best places to be.

Here lie two of Channahon's earliest settlers, Albertine Schermerhorn Jessup and Isaac Jessup. Their simple tablets have held up amazingly well after 150 years.

Albertine Jessup
wife of Isaac Jessup
Died Oct. 19, 1855.
aged 62 years.

Isaac Jessup
Apr 26, 1853.
Aged 66 Years
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Of Miners and Blueberries

The small town of Braidwood, Illinois was a boomtown in the 1870's and 1880's when coal was discovered. Mining began in earnest and soon Braidwood was home to thousands of immigrants. Thomas Allen and his wife, Elizabeth Goodwin Allen, my step-great-great-grandparents, settled in Braidwood and raised many of their 13 children here. Their gravestone sits on a small hill in the front row of Oakwood Cemetery along a two-lane county road outside Braidwood. It is easy to spot, mostly because it is tipping over. In the morning, it is draped in shade. In the afternoon, its grey marble reflects so much sunlight that it has been nearly impossible to take a "good" photo of it.

too early and shady

too late and sunny

Also note the sunny reflection of my son in the second photo. I was reminded of this photography experience because my son usually accompanies me to pick blueberries at a farm just down the road from the cemetery. And yesterday, I picked blueberries and waved to the Allen's on my way home. 

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Born on the 4th of July

Happy Birthday to America ...  and to my great-great-grandmother Mary Virginia Richard Blanchette.

Mary Virginia was born on July 4, 1849 in Belgium. Her trek to America is still a mystery, but by 1866, she was living in Wisconsin, soon to be married to my great-great-grandfather, Louis Blanchette, himself a runaway French-Canadian.

In 1876, on America's 100th birthday, Louis and Mary Virginia were living in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, with seven of their eventual 14 children. Mary died in 1888, a young but vital part of my international melting pot of a family tree.

Happy Birthday, Mary Virginia!
© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Dork Siblings

Two of my great-grandma Lucy Dork's brothers were Carl and Edward. 

Carl has a World War I gravestone in the same lot as his parents. Edward is buried next to his wife Nellie in a lot with her parents and sister. They are all located in Mount Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Ingham, Michigan.

© 2012 Sally Knudsen

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mystery Monday - Finding the Dork's

Eva (l) and Lucy (r)
A couple of my recent posts have alluded to my Dork ancestry. My great-grandmother, Louise "Lucy" Wilhelmina Dork, was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1895. I made many summer birthday trips to Michigan to visit Grandma Lucy and Grandpa Bill for awesome birthday cakes! Back then, I was much too young to even ponder my heritage. I am fortunate that their daughter, my grandmother Dolores, was able to help me with information when I really began my genealogy quest. The problem was, Grandma remembered the names but even she was unaware of the actual relationships. She had lots of "aunts" and "uncles"!

Lucy had four siblings: Frank, Eddie, Carl, and Eva. Frank may be a bit of a black sheep; I know next to nothing about him and Grandma didn't offer much. Eddie and his wife Nellie had no children, but were close to the rest of the family. Carl married, had two daughters (one for whom my mother was the wedding flower girl!), and they ended up "out east". Eva married twice and her only son Carl was close to my grandparents.

That was a good start. So how about Lucy's parents, Otto and his wife Minnie? Wilhelmina "Minnie" Kopkau Dork died of heart disease at age 41 (death record at SeekingMichigan.org). Grandma Lucy was only 19 when her mother died and as the eldest daughter, much of the housekeeping and childcare fell to her. She married Grandpa Bill just a year later, and they were always living with or very close by Otto and her other siblings. For better or worse, geography played a big role in this family.

Frank (l) and Eddie (r)
Much of my earliest searching was done prior to the release of the 1930 census and the multitude of online research websites. I was able to search earlier censuses at the local Family History Library, as I was living in Michigan at the time. Generally, both Otto and Minnie were listed as being born in West Prussia or Germany.  I also tried searching the IGI database from FamilySearch.org. I figured there couldn't be *that* many Dorks, right? Not only were there not very many in the United States, but the records I found were concentrated in just a few locations: Michigan, Texas, Ohio and Illinois. Finding more about Otto Dork's family and origins might be easier than I thought! Well, except for that whole West Prussia or Germany or Poland part.

Above is a snippet of the 1910 Lansing, Ingham, Michigan census, showing the family in its entirety. This is the only time the whole nuclear family was enumerated together on a census record.

To be continued...

© 2012 Sally Knudsen