Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #81: Family

October being Family History Month, here are thirteen things I know about my grandparents and great-grandparents.

1. One of my maternal great-grandfathers came to the US from Tromsø, Norway with his family when he was two years old, in the late 1800's. He worked in the mines at Darlington and Livingston, and worked for A.Y. McDonalds in Dubuque for 30 years and supposedly invented a pump for them.

2. My other maternal great-grandfather worked at a candy factory and is the sole reason my mom cannot stand black licorice, which she once loved as a little girl. Something about an accident after devouring a pound of it.

3. My maternal grandfather died before I was born. All I really know about him is that he served in the Coast Guard during WWII and was later a plumber. I have never seen a picture of him. My mother only remembers two photos of him, and both disappeared after my grandmother died--family vultures.

4. My maternal grandmother was born in Iowa. She was a housewife and waitress, and never learned to drive until the death of her husband, in her late 30's.

5. She loved to do needlepoint and taught me when I was about 8 years old. I never completed the project as I ran out of the color yarn needed to finish it. She died not long before my tenth birthday, in late December. The new year began with snow and a funeral that year. Though I never developed her love of needlepoint, she is no doubt where I get my skills with counted cross-stitch.

6. I have few pictures or anything else of my grandparents--only a locket and two needlepoints stitched by my maternal grandmother, and two old songbooks and a heavy cast-iron skillet from my paternal grandmother. I love that skillet.

7. My paternal grandfather came over from Walsall, England in 1914, aboard the Carmentia. He travelled with a friend, and later helped his father and sisters come over.

8. My paternal GF was a "jack of all trades." Among other occupations he was a bus driver, sold fish during the Great Depression, was a Fuller Brush Man, raised beagles, cleaned the inside of the Capitol Rotunda, and owned a resort with several cottages he and my father built together.

9. Paternal grandfather died the day before my 3rd birthday. His wife of more than 50 years died nine months later. My only memory of her is of one of my older half-sisters lifting me up to see her as she lie in her casket. Popcorn also somehow played into that day.

10. Not much is known about my paternal grandmother's family, other than that they came from Wales via Canada.

11. According to my dad, his mother was an accomplished organist and pianist, and loved to sing. She was also an expert canner.

12. My paternal grandmother is also said to have had "the gift." Although my sister P is believed to be the most receptive (as a teen she apparently had a vision of an accident our dad was in, hundreds of miles away, as it happened), but we all seem to possess her gift to some degree.

13. Both paternal grandparents are buried in Grant County, WI; my maternal grandparents in Dubuque, IA. My paternal great-grandfather is buried here, though I've not yet found his grave.

Paternal Grandparents (1971) and Maternal Great-grandparents (1957)


Alice Laudan * Mel * Alice Audrey * Shelley Munro
Ms. Menozzi * Nina * Debbie Mumford * Jana
Stephanie Adkins * Paige Tyler * Jennifer McKenzie
Janice Seagraves * Tempest Knight * Dayle
Eaton Bennett

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Adelle said...

Fascinating. I often wonder what I'd find in my family tree. Maybe one day I'll go searching. Great list. Happy Halloween!

Heather said...

Thanks, Adelle! It's been a struggle filling in the gaps of our family tree, but there's such a huge feeling of accomplishment every time I unearth and verify the smallest of facts. Part of the difficulty lies in my family having names that are too darn popular, going back generations. Type in my dad and grandfather's names and you get a million hits. Sadly, that is no exageration. Happy Halloween!

Alice Audrey said...

Cast iron skillets are the best. I adore mine, even the one I bought new and had to cure myself. Hand me downs are always better when it comes to cast iron.

Heather said...

Alice~ I heartily concur about cast iron skillets. Plus, as my mother said, they make excellent weapons. *grin*

Shelley Munro said...

I think it's good to know about your family. It's always fascinating learning the little things.

Ms Menozzi said...

I find myself quite moved, after reading this T13. You've got me thinking about my family and all that's going on back home, now...

One of the most touching T13s I've seen.

Happy TT!


Nina said...

Talking about skillets as weapons... If you hit someone in the head with your skillet and have doubts if the head or the skillet will dent, throw the skillet away. A tip from chef Anthony Bourdain. :)


Jennifer McKenzie said...

Wow! YOu know a lot more about your family than I do mine.
Very cool.

Debbie Mumford said...

Great topic. Family history is always fascinating.

Stephanie Adkins said...

Great list Adelle! I love sitting down with my grandparents and great-grandparents and listening to their stories. You can find out some amazing things. Happy Halloween! *hugs*

Stephanie Adkins said...

Oops ... LOL ^^ I meant to say 'Heather'! (I got stuck reading Adelle's reply).

Paige Tyler said...

Great TT!


My TT is at

Jana said...

Great topic. I consider myself very blessed to have grown up with all of my grandparents and at least two great-grandparents. I just wish I'd spent more time with my great-grandmothers before they passed away. They had some stories to tell, for sure. :)

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Interesting! I've been working on my genealogy, including scanning and indexing over 700 photos so far... I may have to do a TT about it soon!

My latest TT is here.

Heather said...

Shelley~ Definitely important to know where we come from, and the little anecdotes can make a huge difference.

Ms Menozzi~ Thank you. I hope all is well with your family! (((hugs)))

Nina~ ROFL...only from you. And I'm sure my skillet would dent a head without sustaining any damage itself. *grin*

Heather said...

Jennifer~ Wow, really? I guess I do know quite a bit, considering I have no memories of 3 of my grandparents, and none of any greats.

Debbie~ Thank you. I try to find out something more about our family every year, which isn't easy considering how many "primary resources" have passed on.

Stephanie~ LOL...uh-huh, likely story. I used to love listening to a friend's Sicilian grandmother talk about "the old days" and miss never having that connection with my own grandparents. How lucky you are to have that bond!

Heather said...

Paige~ Thank you!

Jana~ Blessed indeed! You should write out some of the stories you remember, for your nieces if no one else. ;-)

Dayle~ Small world! I've started a scanning project as well. It's a lot of work, but if you do ten or twenty a week it adds up fast! I plan to copy to disks for each of my sisters when done.

Mel said...

It's always so interesting to see where people have come from. My family is working on tracking ours back, but it can be so difficult at times. Great tt! You've definitely have me thinking about my family.

Eaton Bennett said...

I think knowing about family is very special. Sometimes it is hard to track down things that are lost and it's sad to think that makes the people lost to us too. :)

Janice said...


I've done some tracing on my family tree and thought we came from a preacher, but one of my cousins told me we didn't.

Then I said "well the only one we could have came from then was the beer brewer."

Yup, I'm descended from a beer brewer. At least that explains all the alcoholics in my family.

We also have some "gifted" family members, it seems to come from my mom's side. Ever my daughter has it.


Heather said...

Mel~ Yes, it can definitely be difficult at times. Each new discovery makes all the time and effort worthwhile.

Eaton~ Very sad indeed when things--and especially people--are lost to us.

Janice~ LOL on the beer brewer and ancestry and family alcoholics. I haven't been able to trace back very far on either side, but according to a college history professor, my last name links us to a British earl. Now THAT would be a cool connection to make!