Archive for April 2012

Silly Stories from the Hearth – What’s in a Name?   1 comment

“The Old Boldt Place” 1942

My Mom grew up on a farm in South Central Nebraska with five brothers and sisters. In all the stories told of those days the farm was referred to as “The Old Boldt Place.” Originally the farm was the homestead property of the Boldt family. In the early 1920’s my great grandfather purchased it and my Mom’s parents rented it from him. “The Old Boldt Place” would be the setting for some of the best family stories.

I think I was in my late 30’s maybe even early 40’s when after listening to one of these stories that I finally thought to ask my Mom where this river was that they lived on. I’d been to Hildreth and Wilcox many times and I can’t recall ever seeing a river or even a lake of any kind. She looked at me somewhat bewildered by my question and asked what I was talking about. I explained that in all the years we visited my grandparents I could not recall any water around there. She looked at me like I was off my rocker and at this point I was getting a tad bit irritated at the looks she was giving me. I started wondering if she had suddenly gone senile on me. I said “YOU KNOW – when you lived on “The Old BOAT Place!” She said what? I repeated it again, now I’m thinking she has gone deaf too – “The OLD BOAT PLACE” – Mom where you grew up – remember! Then she says – spell it. Good grief now I’m wishing I had never brought it up. “B-O-A-T” – I tell her. Her wrinkled brow relaxes and she starts to laugh a little and then she breaks into total hysterics – I mean almost rolling on the floor laughter. To which I’m not finding that funny. “Sweetheart,” she says to me, still laughing, “it isn’t Boat it’s Boldt – “the Old Boldt Place.” Now I’m the one with the bewildered look so now she spells it for me “B O L D T.” I put my most serious face on and tell her that now she has ruined everything for me, but, I can’t keep it up and I start to laugh too. All those years I had conjured up a romantic notion that she was like Debbie Reynolds in those old Tammy movies. You know the ones about the girl who grew up on the river with her grandpa.

Mom and had a good laugh that day even if my romantic ideas of growing up on a farm in South Central Nebraska went poof.

Posted April 27, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

A surprise encounter of the best kind!   8 comments

Sunday, April 22nd started out like most Sundays for me. I make a pot of coffee, snuggle back on the couch with my blanket and watch the news for about a half hour and then check my emails. The 22nd was the day my husband was born and since he died it has become a day of reflection for me. I know some people are going to think I’m an absolutely  nut case and others who will get it – but since he died there are times I feel Darrell is hanging around. No, he doesn’t appear like a ghost or move things about in the room, but there is a sense of him about, almost as if he knows I need him to be with me for a while, and then it’s gone. You can judge it as you see it, maybe wishful thinking or….. ? This year on his birthday I received a surprise email that would make me wonder if somehow Darrell manipulated it or was it mere coincidence?

Over the last year Find A Grave has become like a second source of information for me. It is amazing the work that has been done over the last year by volunteers. I have spent a great deal of my own hours adding photo’s and biographies or obituaries. I also leave virtual flowers on family memorials with a note stating my relation to that person. I highly recommend checking Find A Grave for your own ancestors, leave some virtual flowers and make a note of your relationship.

Sunday morning as I reviewed my emails I found one that has been routed through the Find A Grave website. The sender is, Kurt Bevensee and he is from a town near Hamburg, Germany where my grandfather was born. He is requesting that I contact him regarding my Bebensee family. Although I was intrigued I was a little hesitant at first, but, with a little prodding and my own curiosity I did contact him and shortly after I received an email back. After a few emails back and forth we decided to get on the Skype line and save some email time. What a joy it was to chat with Kurt and discuss the possibility of our relationship. Kurt Bevensee has done a great deal of research into the Bevensee/Bebensee family lines. At this point he is trying to connect my Bebensee family to his Bevensee family. He believes that as he researches possibly back into the 1600’s that he will find our common ancestor. Of course I’m hoping so as well.

Kurt has done some research into my ancestors to make that connection and has sent me information from the 1835, 1840, 1845 and 1867 census from Lensahn, Germany which is the area my great great grandfather Jochim Bebensee was born. My heart took a leap to learn the names of my 3rd great grandfather and his children of which it appears Jochim was the youngest child born in 1828. We spent several hours Sunday, exchanging pictures and information. One of the things I told him about was the document that I had where my great grandfather had registered the birth of my Grandfather, Gustav Bebensee, which also showed the address of where they lived. Number 10 Georgstrasses is the home address of his birth.  

The very next day I receive another email from Kurt. As the email opens there are photographs taken that day, by Kurt, of Georgstrasse #10. My hands start to shake and I can barely open each picture so that I can see it better. If you are one that is passionate about the history of your family I know you can certainly imagine the excitement I felt. It still needs to be verified if these are the original buildings or if they are homes that were re-built after the war. But for me just knowing that this is the street they walked every day and played in is more than I ever dreamed of seeing. These photo’s were a special gift from one passionate genealogist, Kurt Bevensee, to another and I will be forever grateful to him for showing me where my Grandpa was born.


Photographs of #10 Georgstrasse courtesy of Kurt Bevensee

So what do you think – did Darrell whisper in Kurt’s ear to check Find A Grave for some Bebensee connection or was it just coincidence that it happened to be his birthday when I received that first email?

Posted April 25, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Genealogy

The 1940 Census – Beyond the Census   1 comment

The first house you pass as you head west out of town sits empty now. The rich Nebraska farm land that once held the promise of tomorrow is now farmed by a new generation.  There is no trace of the family that once lived here or what they may have endured.  With the exception of my Father the lives of the seven who lived, loved and laughed here have ended.

As I poured over the 1940 census looking for facts about my grandparents and their children I found myself wishing I could read the lines that are not written on the census.  Learning that my grandfather only had a 4th grade eduction wasn’t really a surprise, he was probably lucky to have that much education in the late 1800’s.  I understand now why his words were spelled phonetically and the only punctuation was  a plus sign at the end of a thought.

By 1940 of the 5 siblings only the two youngest, my Dad and his brother Willis, were still living at home.  My Dad was in his last year of High School and would be graduating soon.  It would be just a matter of months that Dad’s life and that of his brother would change forever.  Like many other young men, by August both boys would enlist in the Army.   In an effort to keep his son’s home it is my understanding that Grandpa purchased more land, hoping that would entice them to stay.  Neither my Dad nor Willis had any desire to farm.  They both had plans that went beyond the fields of Nebraska and the life of a farmer. 

No one can predict the future or how the choices we make will change lives.  Three years after the census Willis would become a fighter pilot for the Army Air Corps.  He would become part of the 8th Fighter Group, 80th Squadron stationed at Port Moresby, New Guinea. A letter sent to my Dad  talks about what he plans to do when the war is over.  On November 2, 1943 his life would end during a fierce air battle with the Japanese over the harbor of Rabaul.  For nearly 50 years his body lay in foreign soil along with the wreckage of his P-38 Lightning.  By chance in 1986 it is discovered by a surveyor and by 1989 he is finally returned to his home town where he rests next to his parents.

Dad served his country for 21 years.  First in the Army Air Corps and then the U.S. Air Force.

In 1942 he would marry a girl, who a few years earlier would not walk on the same side of the road because “boys are icky,” they would celebrate 69 years of marriage together. 

They would raise three children (I’m the favorite – don’t tell.) and give them a good life filled with love and happiness.  Seventy-Two years have passed since that April 1940 Census and a great deal of life has taken place since that day.  Dad will celebrate his 90th birthday this year with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.   He never returned to live in Nebraska, but it was always home in his heart.

Standing in front of the old home place, all boarded and withering in the hot Nebraska sun, I can see the shadows of yesterday and hear the laughter of brothers as they play cowboys around the water tank.  To my right a ghost like tractor plows the field and I see the outline of my grandfather as he prays for rain.  The smell of fried chicken wafts through the air making me wish I could go inside to where I know my grandmother once stood.  On the other side of yesterday lies the story of two generations of the people I knew and loved and who I would love to spend just one more day with…..

Posted April 11, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

The 1940 Census and Momma   4 comments

The much anticipated 1940 Census, released for the first time on April 2, 2012, became more than just information for me.  There is far more to the 1940 Census than just mere facts.

For me it became a  time of reflection and affirmation.  As I scrolled through the pages of enumeration district 31-12, where my grandparents lived, there were so many names that I had heard all my life.  The memories of stories and events in those lives came rushing back to me as I’m sure it did for many who love family history.

Both my parents appeared on the 1930 Census, but there was something different about finding them as young adults.  By 1940 they had both graduated from high school and life was about to change not only for them but, for the entire country.

When the census was taken I find my Momma working and living at Bethpage Mission in Axtell, Nebraska.  A few lines above her name was Sister Julianne Holt who had emigrated from Norway in 1916.  She was consecrated on September 27, 1922.    Sister Julianne came to Axtell in 1920 to work, but only intended to stay for a short time. Bethpage Mission and nursing the patients, who were always referred to as “guests”,  would become her life long work.  She remained their until her retirement in 1976.  My Momma was extremely fond of Sister Julianne and looked to her as a mentor.  Twelve years after the 1940 census she would name her only daughter after her – yep me.   Silly little things invade my thoughts, like folding towels. The Sisters had strict rules on how towels were to be folded.  It is a 4 way fold and when finished only the folded end is displayed when you open the linen closet.  This would become a rule in our house as well and something I continue in my own home to this day.  I’m not sure where that memory came from except that I can just picture my Mom folding and unfolding towels so they were perfect for the Sisters who expected nothing less.  After all “a job worth doing – is a job worth doing well.”

There’s something special about thinking of your Momma as a young 17 year old teenager filled with a zest for life.  Although the 1940 census doesn’t indicate her pay, possibly because she was a new employee, I know from Momma’s stories that she made big money working there – a whopping $17 a month.  Out of that $17 she sent $2.00 of it home every week to help pay for my Uncle Ralph to ride the bus to school. Her days were filled with long hours and hard work, but I never once heard her complain or really talk about that part.  Her stories were always filled with how special the “guests” were to her and her admiration  for the Sisters;  or how special the Sisters would make things for the “guests” as well as the workers during the holidays, cooking up all sorts of wonderful meals and deserts.

My Momma learned many things while working at the Mission that she carried throughout her life.  In a recent conversation with my Dad I learned something she never shared with me about those times and that was that Momma had thought about becoming a Lutheran Sister and how disappointed they were when she didn’t. 

Momma passed away last July so I will miss not being able to share this census with her.  However, I’m glad that I know so many of the stories of that time in her life and the people she came to know and love.  I’m also glad that on our trips back to Nebraska that I was able to go and meet these woman and “guests” that meant so much to her.

Eighteen miles south and east of Axtell was Hildreth,  where both my parents were born and where my Dad was living in 1940 on his parents farm. It would be just a matter of months and Dad’s life would change forever………..  

to be continued

 

 

Posted April 6, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized