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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

My headstone of the week is going to honor my great-grandfather, Ola Lindgren. Since he brought his family across the ocean and then across this great nation of ours to end up in California and I just recently returned from a trip across this country of ours, I decided to see if I could do the trip faster! Ha! One hundred and 10 years gives me an advantage, and of course I did! I probably could have done it a dozen times and still beat him!Ola is buried with his family in Sacramento’s Masonic Cemetery. His headstone also marks the passing of his son’s life, my grandfather, Henry. Take another look at that headstone. Notice Ola’s surname is spelled differently than Henry’s? Bet you think a headstone carver made a mistake but the family accepted it anyway, don’t you?  If so, you’d be wrong.

As family  historians, we always hear stories of how a name was changed at Ellis Island and 95% of the time it is just a family legend. Well, this one could be a family legend also, but I rather doubt it. I can see where a European’s pronunciation of Lindgren could sound like Lindgreen to an “American” ear filing out immigration papers at Ellis Island. Whether the name was changed upon arrival to these shores or not, the name was spelled Lindgreen until my grandfather went to court in Sacramento, California and had his name changed back to the correct Swedish spelling. A copy of the decree is in my files.

Ola was born in Wanga, Sweden on 7 October 1852 to Ingar Persdotter and Lars Jonnson Lindgren. At some time in his life he crossed the border and went into Germany where he began working for a farmer and fell in love with his daughter and married her. I imagine the next picture was taken about that time. The couple look very young. According to Family Legend, their first home was the Pig House, which was cleaned out and remodeled just for them! Whoopie!

Whether the fact that Ola’s sister Augusta was already in America was part of the decision to migrate is not known. She lived in Galesburg, Illinois with her new husband and son about the time the family arrived in their new country. It would be the third country Ola had lived in. Two children were born to them before they finally immigrated to America. The family arrived in New York on 18 April 1887 aboard the ship Rhaetia and settled in Big Rapids, Michigan. They didn’t stay in Michigan long and by 1896 they were in the Golden State where Ola renounced “his allegiance and fidelity to  . . . The King of Norway and Sweden” and became a citizen of the United States.

Ola worked as a boilermaker, as did his son Henry in his footsteps. On story related to me was during one strike, Ola felt a loyalty to the company that employed him and crossed the picket line. He got beat severely by those on the picket line for doing what he considered the right thing to do.

Ola came through Ellis Island twice, and I will assume it was easier the second time. On 20 August 1913, when they arrived at that New York portal aboard the ship Imperator from Germany Ola and Catharine entered as citizens. They had gone home to visit family and friends, but returned to their new chosen home to live the rest of their days.

I am assuming that this picture was taken about the 1920’s. Catharine died in 1925 and Ola followed her a short 3 years later on 26 December 1928. His passing was noted in the Sacramento Bee with the following obituary:

Ola Lindgreen, a resident of Sacramento for forty years, died today following a long illness. Lindgreen was the father of Mrs. Albert Greilich, wife of a Sacramento funeral director.
For several years, Lindgreen had been on a pension from the Southern Pacific Company. He formerly was employed in the local railroad shops. He was born in Sweden seventy-six years ago, and came to California forty years ago, taking up his residence in Sacramento.
He was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 4. I.O.O.F. The Odd Fellows will participate in the funeral services, to be held from the parlors of  Andrews & Greilich Friday at 2 P.M. The interment will be in the Masonic Lawn Cemetery.
In addition to Mrs. Greilich, Lindgreen is survived by a son, Henry Lindgreen of Hilo, Hawaii.

Four short paragraphs to cover a man who’s life covered 3 countries! My Great-Grandfather, and the man I honor as

This Week’s Headstone of the Week, for Week #15!

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I was named Dorothea Linda at birth. Dorothea, my first, and I always thought my very formal name, was after my great-grandmother, Catharina Dorothea Elisabeth Schultz Lindgren. You’ll find out where the Linda came from on another post.The names tell the story ~ her maiden name is Schultz and she was born in Germany and her married name Lindgren, a Swedish name. He had come from Sweden and was a field hand on her father’s farm. She was the farmer’s daughter and who Ola Lindgren picked for his bride. According to family legend, land in Germany was only passed to the sons at that time, and with no land of their own, Ola and Catherine decided to immigrate to America, a decision the couple never regretted according to copies of letters in my possession.

On 18 April 1887 they arrived in New York with their 7 year old daughter, Anna Dorothea Louisa, and their 2 year old son, Heinrich August William and life in America began for the family. The first stop on their journey was Big Rapids, Michigan where they added to their family with a daughter, Elsie Laura Vera, and lost Anna, who is memorialized with her mother.  They didn’t stay there long because they were in Sacramento by the early 1890’s, and blended into the immigrant population.

Ola and his son (my grandfather, Henry) worked together as Boilermakers for the Railroad, and Catharina charged her son “rent” each payday. Unknown to Henry his mother was setting his “rent” aside and saving it for his son’s future. When the time was right, according to my mother, the money was given to him, and with it he built a home. According to a letter she wrote to her niece in Germany:

“Henry, as a carpenter, so they call them here, build a house and now he has already started the third house. He has already sold two. He got 2650 dollars for the first one and 3000 for the second one. He has 16 more lots here in Oak Park, everything here has built up and gotten more expensive. Where one paid $100 gets $1000 for it. . . I can hardly believe what I am writing . You will think we are bragging. It is very good here. We have everything we want when dear God only gives us our good health. When I and my husband don’t have to work any longer, we can live from our earnings.”

Catharina loved her new country, and yes, she bragged about it in letters home. She continued being frugal, teaching her son the habits that would follow him throughout life. She left this earthly life on December 28, 1925 and is buried in Sacramento’s Masonic Cemetery with two of her children, her husband and her daughter-in-law.

My great-grandmother appreciated the life she had in America, but took nothing for granted. She kept the values she had in the old country and instilled them in her son. Because of those things (and because I am her namesake!) Catharina is my pick for

Linda’s Headstone of the Week, Week #12.

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For the next few weeks, I’ll be covering my California ancestors ~ my maternal ancestors! Since the only one I have done so far was my great-grandfather, William Adolphus George von Breyman, I’ll honor his wife this week, Wilhemine Sophia or Minnie, as she was known.  

First I must go back  to her beginnings ~ Minnie was born in New York in 1854 to immigrant parents, Frederick and Amelia Gode/Goda. The only thing I know of the parents is from two different census records, 1850 and 1870.

  • In 1850, Minnie was not born, but her sister Louisa was. Louisa was a year old and her father was a milkman. I’d been looking for a Lutheran Minister, since that was what my grandmother’s memoirs said! Just another family legend, I guess!
  • By 1870, Amelia is alone with the two girls – Minnie, age 15, is a domestic and Louisa, age 20, is a tasselmaker and Minnie was born in New York. I’d been looking her birth in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania where her father was a Lutheran Minister. That’s where my grandmother said she was born and that’s where subsequent census data states, also. Second family legend.

Sometime in the 1870’s Amelia took Minnie left New York and headed to San Francisco where Amelia had relatives. California families with names of Blum, Swank, Murdock and Wagner are supposed to be relatives of Minnie ~ this from letters written by her son to various members of the family. In 1877, Minnie marries and before Christmas that year she is a mother. Her husband is almost 20 years her senior and would die before their 25th anniversary. Minnie still had three young girls under ten (my grandmother was one of them) and several other children at home to care for. The family lived in Arbuckle for a while before moving to Sacramento close to a married daughter.

I have several pictures of my great-grandmother and I decided to share two of them on this blog; one taken either before she was married or shortly thereafter, when she was in the prime of her life and the other taken shortly before the end of her life.

Buried in Ventura, California

That move to Sacramento mentioned above is important for several reasons, the most important is the fact that my grandmother, Bertha, met the man she was married to for over 50 years in that city and because she did, I am.

And because Bertha met and married Henry Lindgren, Minnie was able to spend the last few years of her life in Hawaii. Henry Lindgren’s job took him to Hawaii, and when Henry went, he took Bertha, Minnie’s daughter. And because Bertha was in Hawaii, Minnie was able to spend the last few years of her life in sunshine and tropical weather, enjoying her daughter’s growing family.

The picture above was taken just months before her death, sitting in the yard at my grandparent’s home in Hilo, Hawaii. She is holding a large hibiscus in her lap. Shortly after this was taken, she boarded the Lurline and sailed back to California. She died 3 months later at her son’s home in Ventura on 13 March 1934 and is interred in Ventura in Ivy Lawn Cemetery. At the time of her death she had two sons, six daughters and twenty-nine grandchildren!

Minnie had traveled from New York, around the Cape to California, to Hawaii and back to California. She was loved and cared for by her family and left a legacy that will continue with each generation from now until eternity, and this is why I have honored her as

Linda’s Headstone of the week for week #11.

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My headstone of the week this week belongs to “The Perfect Son-in Law,” Philip Kleiss Auxer. Philip is one of my 3rd great grandfathers, and one that I have a lot of respect for. Philip Kleiss Auxer was born in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County to Michael Auxer, Jr. and his wife, Catharine Kleiss Auxer on 6 April 1810. He was named after Catharine’s father who had died 10 years previously.  Philip died in Harrisburg, Dauphin County 75 years later on 27 January 1886 and is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

It’s the life between the dates that’s important, and Philip was important to a lot of people, mainly his wife, daughters, and mother in law. Mother in law?? Yup! and of course you’re going to find out why!

Before Philip had reached his 7th birthday, his mother was a widow with 5 children under 10 years of age. His father’s friend (and I use the term loosely) Philip Albert, was appointed guardian for the children and before the year had passed he had married his “friend’s” widow.

Michael had few specific wishes in his will. One of them in particular was mentioned in his obituary that appeared in The Church Advocate, a publication of the Church of God.

From Michael Auxer’s Will: Item, it is my will that my beloved wife, Catharine, shall keep my four children in her care, viz: Amelia Auxer, Philip Kleis Auxer, William Auxer and Adam Auxer, and provide for them, until each of them may have received education sufficient for them, and then direct my three sons to such trades as they may choose to learn . . . “

From “The Church Advocate”: . . . Losing his father at an early day, he was placed among strangers where he was trained to a life of honesty and industry. . .”

Philip Albert went on to to sell the various properties left by Michael to his widow to care for her children and it is unknown where the money went. What is known is the fact that the two youngest sons, William and Adam, were schooled as “Poor Children” and the County took the responsibility of paying for their education since their mother was no longer able to.

Philip was established as a wagonmaker by 1840, married with a young family in the Stackstown area of Lancaster County. By 1850 the family had sold their property and moved to Harrisburg with his wife, 2 daughters, a son and a granddaughter. Within 10 years his mother-in-law, Susannah Bischof Leader Kaylor, joined the family.

Susannah had married after the death of her first husband Samuel Leader. The marriage to George Kaylor did not work out and Susannah (the Woman’s Libber of her time!) had a prenup in place and sued George for divorce. Philip was her representative as her “Next Best Friend,” in the divorce, a common practice in 1854. With her monthly alimony and her sole and separate property firmly in place, she joined the Auxer family in Harrisburg. The house on Boas Street was full.

In 1873 the couples only son, Abraham, died and Mary followed him to the grave 4 years later. The two girls had left and taken the grand daughter with them. This left just two people living in that big house on Boas Street, Philip and his mother-in law, Susannah . . .Susannah who would live to the ripe old age of 94 years old.   And, just exactly who do you think took care of her in the waning years of her life?

Bingo! her son in law, Philip! This man had to be a candidate for Sainthood! Since I can’t even imagine my husband  in a million years taking care of my mother for 7 years after I leave this earth, I must pick Philip’s headstone in Harrisburg Cemetery as

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #10!

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Rev. Jeremiah Mark Carvell, Ph.D., the name alone impresses. At least it does me, but then it should. You see, he was my great-great grandfather.

He was born on the 3rd of March in 1843 near McKees Half Falls, Pennsylvania, not even “full” falls,  but “half” falls, whatever they may be, to Joseph Britton Carvell and his wife, Rebecca Mark Carvell. His mother died when he was only 4 years old, leaving his father with 3 small children. Within two years he had a new mother, and would eventually have at least 10 more brothers and sisters.Headstone in Springhill Cemetery, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

According to his 2 column obituary found in Shippensburg Pennsylvania’s The News on 7 September 1894:

In addition to his common school education,

  • he attended, in 1861-62, the Millerstown Academy, and after his second term of enlistment had expired completed his studies in the academy at Markleysville
  • In 1866, without any further collegiate or theological training, he entered the ministry of the Church of God, beginning his labors in Perry County.  Upon entering the ministry Mr. Carvell discovered that his most serious deficiency was his partial training for the work.  He at once became a student. 
  • Under private tutors he made commendable progress in scientific, philosophical and classical studies, taking up to some extent Latin, Greek and Hebrew. 
  • Later he began a post-graduate course at Wooster University, Ohio, a having previously been honored with the degree of A.M. from Bates College, Lewiston, Ma. 
  • Of scholarly tastes and habits, he gradually accumulated a library of valuable literary, theological, scientific, philosophical and classical works of a standard character second to few, if any, in the Church.  He was a man of high ideas in education, morals, aesthetics and religion, which he was often but too conscious of failing to realize.  His abilities and singleness of purpose, his purity of character and power of intellect were fully recognized by his associates in the ministry, so that the Church repeatedly honored itself by promoting him to places of greater usefulness. 
  • He was for years a member of the various boards and standing committees of the East Pennsylvania Eldership.  He had also been a delegate to the General Eldership of the Church a number of times and served on its Board of Publication and Board of Education.  
  • he became one of the incorporators of Findlay College, Findlay, Ohio, on whose board of trustees he also later served for nearly two terms. 
  • He took an active part in the organization of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, at Mt. Gretna, and was a member of the Executive Committee. 
  • He was also a member of the Dauphin County Bible Society
  • He held prominent positions in different orders, being Chaplain of the Grand Lodge Royal Arch Masons of Pennsylvania, a member of I.O.O.F. and the Valley Encampment and Grand Army Post of Shippensburg; past master of Big Spring Lodge of Masons at Newville, P.H.P. of No. 71 Royal Arch Chapter at Carlisle, P.E.C. of St. John’s Commandery at Carlisle”
Very impressive accomplishments for a long life, aren’t they? Well, they would be, but he died when he was just 51 years of age! and that obituary didn’t mention that he enlisted not once, but twice in the Civil War ~ the first enlistment he was a foot soldier, the 2nd time he had a horse!

When Jeremiah got out of the service he met a young widow with a daughter, and married Mary Jane Ziegler Gantt on 2 August 1866 in Dauphin, Pennsylvania. The couple would have 4 children, with only one, my great-grandmother, living to adulthood. Mary Jane died when Jeremiah was a pastor in Philadelphia, leaving him with two daughters to care for him. In the Family Bible, started by him is a pressed flower, and I am assuming it was from flowers from her funeral. There is a piece of fabric with it and it was with their Wedding Certificate.  (Yes, I have the Bible, all filled out in his hand, with births and deaths of each child and his beloved wife)

According to his Civil War Pension file, he died from injuries associated to a gunshot wound. The last months of his life he was confined to his bed in the household of his step-daughter and her husband. He died in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania on 1 September 1894 and is buried in Springhill Cemetery which was once at the edge of town. This headstone cost $90 according to his inventory  filed with Cumberland County. (The original Inventory w/the county stamp was in that wonderful Bible!)

The man with humble beginnings in Perry County Pennsylvania was a true man of God and took advantage of everything he could to better himself in order to serve the Lord and his fellow man. This is why I’ve decided to honor him as

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #9.

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In keeping with the theme (and it wasn’t really a theme, it just kinda happened) my headstone of the week belongs to one of my great-great-grandfathers. Picking just one was the hard thing this week! I had a couple of great candidates to pick from! Which one should I pick? My great grandmother’s father? He has a great story and and had an obituary a column and a half long and accomplished a lot in his short 51 year life, or would I pick her father-in-law who was a common working man, just getting by in life? Well, after a lot of thought, I picked her father-in-law, Ephraim H. Niess, and for a very good reason, as you will soon see.

Ephraim, the oldest son of John and Elizabeth Hauenstein Niess, was born October 21, 1841 in Lititz, Pennsylvania. He  died on November 25, 1915 and is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery along with his wife and 5 of his children. His very devout wife’s diary had four short words to mark his passing: “He took my husband.”

During the Civil War, Ephraim enlisted in Pennsylvania Volunteers, 122nd Regiment, Company E in August of 1862. He was 21 years old. When he mustered out in May of 1863, as a Private, he had just seen the action in Chancellorsville and experienced the horrors of war. A year later he married Catharine L. Auxer, a marriage that lasted over 50 years and produced 10 children, 4 of which lived to adulthood.

Ephraim H. and Catharine L. Auxer Niess

Harrisburg City Directory lists his occupation as Laborer, Bricklayer, Furnace Maker, Furnace Builder, Fireman and finally, Foreman. Want to know what he really did for a living?

Each day he walked to his job at Bailey Iron Works, just across the tracks from his home. Since the huge brick furnaces were essential to their operation, letting a furnace cool down to change bricks that needed replacement was not an option.  Somebody had to put on 6 layers of clothing and go into that furnace to change the bricks, and that somebody was my great-great grandfather. Yet he kept going to work, day in and day out. He had a job, a commitment and an obligation.

Life was not easy for the family. Catharine’s diary tells of past due bills, family deaths, illnesses, and depression.

He had no fancy education, just the bare minimum to get by, but his children were all educated. His daughter got piano lessons along with her schooling and his son got a University education before furthering himself with a law degree.

A man’s position in life, be it owner of a business or the lowest paid worker is not the total of his worth. His experiences, his values, principles and stick-to-itness speak more of who he is than piles of money and/or degrees attached to his name.

My great-great grandfather went thru Hell and back, from Chancellorsville to the furnaces at Bailey Iron Works, but he didn’t give up. He raised a successful family, celebrated his 50th anniversary with the bride of his youth, and kept going into that furnace, changing those bricks, day after day after day.

. . . and that is why I selected his headstone for

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #3

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Finding a candidate for my “Headstone of the Week” isn’t hard for me. I have literally thousands of headstone pictures in my database. Narrowing it down to just one is what is hard! This week, I decided on another Grandfather ~ a Great-Grandfather, this time!William Adolphus George von Breyman was born in Harburg, Hanover, Germany in 1835 and died in Cortina, Colusa County, California in 1901. He is buried in a cemetery in the small town of Arbuckle, California.

Headstones tell a part of the story, a very small part! By the time my great-grandfather was 15 years old, he was in California. Family legend has it that his older sisters got him employed on a ship that was sailing to California where he jumped ship in San Francisco. For a short while he panned for gold, as many did, and then decided the real way to make money was to pack in supplies and sell them to the gold seekers. He became a naturalized citizen in 1859. References have been found to him being a packer, farmer, vet surgeon, postmaster and at one time even co-owned a Fence Company in Sacramento. He spoke his native German in addition to English and Spanish and could write in each language, as well.

In 1854 when he was in this country for about 4 years, Wilhemine Sophia “Minnie” Goda was born in New York. Their paths crossed in California and in 1877 they would marry and become the parents of 10 children, with the 9th one being my grandmother, Bertha Emma. She was six years old when her father died at the young age of 66.

With many thanks to his children and their children, his story has been preserved. His eldest son was a prolific letter writer. Copies of his letters with tales of W.A.G. von Breyman’s values, work ethic and exploits have been shared with me. My great-grandfather’s diary, written in English and at times, Spanish, has also been shared. Life offered him many opportunites and he grabbed them as he passed thru.

That is why his headstone is my choice for Headstone of the Week #2.

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