Our House: the “Spare” Room

I’ve been struggling for inspiration these last couple of weeks. I took a little break from genealogy, and garden planning. The weather went from -30 to 40 degrees in a couple of days. During the warmer weather it rained, but the ground is so frozen it’s just turned into a sloppy mess, which has now froze again. We’ve also had several inches of snow in there. I hate weather like this. Stay cold and snowy then ease into an early Spring. That’s what I wish for.

I missed my Sunday post, but while lacking inspiration for genealogy and gardening, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at our unfinished house. It’s getting there. Soon, I hope, I’ll post some pictures of how far we’ve come. For now, my February project is to tackle the “spare” room. It has a lot of duties, since this house isn’t huge, around 1100 sq ft.

When we moved it was a kids room with yellow ceilings, bright turquoise walls, and lilac closets. The walls and closets are now Mountain Gray, but the ceiling is still yellow. Here are photos of the room when we bought the house. It’s hard to see how yellow the ceiling is because the walls are so bright!

The room is some times clean and pleasant, but lack of organized storage in the house turns it into a mess quickly. Right now, I have Good Will bags, art, spring decor, horse stuff, shoes, hats….etc all over the place. This is the mess that happens whenever I need something out of the closets or change seasonal decor. The current state of things (a bit embarrassing):

But I’ve been dreaming and planning. I need a guest room, office, and storage space all in a 12×12 room. Here are some of my Pinterest inspirations:

I’m hoping to have a gallery wall of family history, with some other art as well. I think that will take some time laying out and planning. I may write a separate post on it to share about displaying family images and documents. We will also be putting a real bed in the room, after we get a new one for the master. The closets…well, I didn’t take a photo of them for a reason. Over all, I just want it to be a happier space for guests when they’re here, and for me when I want to paint or do genealogy. I’ll post as the room progresses!

Finding my Swedish Ancestors

A few weeks ago, I wrote about trying to read and translate a birth record for one of my Swedish ancestors, Carl Victor Johnson. I was so stuck that I turned to a Facebook genealogy group for help. They did help, so much so I posted about that too! From the help I was given and that other tidbits I picked up from other posts, I dove in to my Swedish roots. The Swedish National Archives take a little getting used to, but they are really quite amazing. I have been able to find several generations of Swedish ancestors on both my father’s and mother’s sides of the family.

johan and carl victor he 1861-1870

1861-1870 House Hold Examination for Carl Victor and his family in Högsby Parish, Kalmar County, Sweden.

In the records you can find a lot of details beyond birth, death, and marriage. The household examination records detail the movements of the family from what town the moved to next and departure dates to America. The records are also very specific down to farm names (I need to do a little more research into that)!

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded my computer for the first time in a decade. Now that I have a faster, and not on its last-leg computer, I can research records faster, and put together compilations for my family. I’ve linked a document about my father’s Swedish ancestry, which included Carl Victor. It isn’t a professional genealogy examination, but it’s easy to share and understand for my family. I’ve included images and links throughout, as well as, my own commentary on what they’re looking at.

Our Swedish Ancestors

For me, the genealogical research is just a stepping stone to finding out more about the people and places my family comes from. I don’t just want names and dates (even though I love that, and all the old documents that go with it), I want to connect to the places, landscapes, and stories that come with finding those names and dates.  So, really, I’ve just started finding my Swedish ancestors. I can’t wait to find out more.

Family History and Social Media

In my last post, I shared a screen shot of a record I’ve been looking for, for a long time. It was so exciting to find it, but unfortunately, I could not figure out what it said! I was staring at the names of another generation of ancestors without being able to read it.

That’s when I turned to social media, Facebook to be exact. I have over the last year or so joined a wide variety of genealogy groups, local historical society pages, and specific family groups, as well. I have rarely, if ever, posted in these groups. I finally decided now was the time to ask for assistance with translating this record. I joined the Swedish American Genealogy Group and posted my query.

Not only did several people respond within an hour, they helped me translate the text and also linked another record to the family. The generosity and shared interest in the group is phenomenal. To be honest, most of the genealogy and history groups I follow are the same way.

Carl Victor Johnson Birth

While, I couldn’t tell anything about what was going on in the 4th column a few days ago. I can now tell you that my 2nd great-grandfather, Carl Victor Johansson was born in Högsby, Sweden on January 26, 1845. He was baptized February 2nd. AND his parents were Jonas (Johan) Peter Samuelsson and Eva Lisa Danielsdotter of Kisebast. I was able to find out more about each parent through the help of the link shared by a kind person in the Facebook group. I’ve added Eva Lisa’s parents too! I am still searching for Jonas (Johan) Peter Samuelsson’s family.

If you haven’t tried using the help of social media on your brick-wall ancestors, I highly recommend it! If nothing else, you’re bound to get in touch with other people who share your genealogy obsession.

Back to It: Winter Genealogy

It’s December! I haven’t posted in quite a long time. I’ve been doing stuff. At the end of October, I bought my six month subscription to Ancestry.com and casually launched into my winter “hobby” (obsession). During the summer months, I spend my time in the garden, visiting the sites, and collecting. Winter time is much better spent with a cup of coffee, snow falling outside, and my laptop. I wait until there is a good sale on the all-inclusive Ancestry membership, then pick up where I left off in early spring.

I’ve been diving into my genealogy goals for about a month now. It’s been exciting, so far! When I left off, I had just received the results of my mother’s cousin’s DNA test, but didn’t get too far into the results or matches. I am using both of their tests to track down the biological family of my Great-Grandfather, James Oscar Petersen. He was born in 1899/1900 and adopted in 1902. His given name before adoption was Oscar Adsit. I will share some of my crazy adventures in tracking him down soon. I’m being helped by another genealogy enthusiast in Nebraska!

Above are photos of Great-Grandpa as an adult and young boy. The document is a certified copy from his adoption.

Another genealogy goal I’ve been working on, is tracking down more of my Swedish ancestors, on both sides of my tree. Last year, I spent a lot of time looking into my Danish ancestry and learning the ropes of the Danish archives. It came surprisingly easy to me. The Swedes have been much more of a challenge. Last night, I had my first real break through. I was able to track down the birth record of my 2nd Great-Grandfather, Carl Victor (Johansson) Johnson. He’s on my father’s side. I had started to think he was going to remain a mystery. After finding his place of birth, I was able to page though the Swedish parish records… and there he was. I’m sure only those really into genealogy will understand my excitement. I definitely yelled (really) something like, “AHA! I FOUND HIM! TAKE THAT CARL!”

Now, here I am staring at the birth record with his, previously unknown, parents named…but I cannot for the life of me figure out what those names are. Can you?

Carl Victor Johnson Birth

This parish record is from 1845! I found it searching the Swedish, “Search the Archives” website found here. In the first column, you can see he was born January 26th. The second column is his baptismal date, February, 2nd. Next, his name, Carl Victor. This last column is the real problem. It should include his father, mother, as well as some other varying info. I usually do OK reading gothic handwriting, but I am stumped on this one. Any help is appreciated! I am so close to adding another generation to the family tree.

So, this is what I’ve been up to. I’ll share more stories and more genealogy. Hopefully, I won’t wait three months to post again!

Grandma’s Scraps: The Task of Digitizing Hundreds of Family Photos

It has been a while since I’ve posted. Frankly, I just haven’t felt like sharing. During my trip to Omaha my sister reminded me the family has been waiting to see more of my grandmother’s scrapbooks. I’ve had them for a number of years and they’ve become a long-term project.

When I returned home, I brought out the big tote and began to carefully unpack it. The albums and photos are fragile, uncooperative, and there are tons of them. They aren’t the kind of thing you leave sitting out either. After sessions of sorting they always need careful repacking.

The collection came to me while both my grandparents (Ed and Virginia Petersen) were still alive. There had been a massive leak in a basement storage room and in the haste to get things out the scrapbooks, and bundles of photos wound up in a trash bag, in a separate, basement room. While home for a visit (I think it was Christmas), I found them and loved every moment of discovering my family history. I had never seen photos of my great-grandparents, my young grandparents, or even photos of my mom and her siblings as wee ones. They were glorious. When I asked Grandma about them, she said she planned to throw them all out! Some had water damage, but most were OK. I did not hesitate to ask if I could keep them. She said yes.

Little did I know… It has taken me many, many hours to sort the pages, trying to put them back in order, returning escaped photos to their homes, and separating the three albums.

It was during this last session of sorting, that I finally felt I was ready to start digitizing.

Friday, August 3rd, I received news that my Uncle Steve had unexpectedly passed away. It was a shock. He was the middle child of Grandma and Grandpa Petersen. My mother is the oldest and my Aunt Kate the youngest. It was shocking to say the least. Though I had not been close to my uncle since I was much younger, my sisters were both close to him.  I assumed I would soon be sharing all the old photos with him and the rest of the Petersens.

Digitizing the photos took on a new importance. The time frame covered in those photos includes my uncle’s childhood. I did not expect to be sharing those in a time of mourning. I am glad I could.

The digitization of the photos has begun. It is a daunting task trying to figure out how to get a good image. I no longer have a scanner, which wouldn’t have helped anyway as it was so slow and too small for the pages.

My current method involves using my Nikon Coolmax camera, a bench, and the bright, soft light of an east-facing window. Because I’m using natural light, there is only few hours a day the light is bright enough without being glaring.

DSCN2834

I take a photo of each page. I want to share the sense of flipping through the scrapbook without having to have the pages flipped through all the time. It would also take me way too long to each picture individually.

DSCN2871Next, I upload the pages to Amazon Prime Photo. I looked through numerous options for photo-sharing. I didn’t want to pay monthly fees and needed a lot of space. I am already an Amazon Prime member, so Prime Photo seemed like a good place to start. You can add contributors to the “family vault” making it a place to share a lot of family photos, The amount of photos you can add is unlimited. There are also editing, sharing, and print ordering options. It is not without its short-comings. Prime photos is a bit awkward when it comes to uploading in order and there are only two options for reordering your photos. My camera’s settings are messed up for date/time, which I didn’t think would be an issue. It has been. All of the pain-staking time I have spent to put the pages in order is lost in translation between uploading and creating Prime albums.

36467_desktop_hero_en-us-2_1500x375

 

There are definitely faults to this method, but it is a start. Most of the images have turned out clear without glare. Someday, they may need to be redone and put online again (hopefully in proper order). For now, they are sharable and family members will be able to ask point out specific photos they want higher resolutions of. I can then get a close up of that photo and send it to them for printing.

Photos are such a great way to learn about family history, and stay connected to loved ones no longer here. Make sure to take good care of those old photos. They are finicky and fragile. In a post somewhere down the line…I will share some articles that have helped my strategy for preservation and some of my own tips.