family history

Friday Before the Holiday

My relatives.. This is actually a postcard dated 1912. Apparently it was all the rage at the time to make your photographs into postcards. It is addressed to my grandfather and just says “My Latest”.

We are back in the deep freeze. Seven new inches of snow and temperatures well below zero F. with strong winds. Blizzard conditions. But, hey, this is Minnesota. We trudge on.

It is the first of two holiday weekends. Family, Festivities, Fun, Food. I’m making a Hazelnut Torte to take to the Xmas eve get-together. Then I will take my father to a nice restaurant for Xmas day. And it will be cold. I lived in Mexico City growing up. Our tradition was to get up the day after Xmas and load up the car and drive to Acapulco for a week. Now, that was way more fun than any other Xmas stuff. My holidays were always related to travel. Either traveling home from boarding school or traveling to the beach or, one year, we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to see the game parks. I might need to revive that traveling tradition.

I became interested in the show Yellowstone because a new prequel just came out with Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford called 1923. So, thinking the whole show was on Paramount Plus, I signed on. I then saw there was another prequel called 1883. I have been binge watching 1883. I figured I would start at the beginning. Then I discovered the actual show isn’t on Paramount Plus, they sold it to Peacock. So if I want to watch the actual show I have to sign up with them. This is getting to be very confusing. And expensive. Maybe I can find it at the library…

Anyway, 1883 is about the Dutton family’s trek from Fort Worth Texas to Montana by covered wagon. They are traveling with a group of Eastern European immigrants. Within the first few weeks, half the people died in one way or another. Disaster after disaster. The narrator is a teenage girl who goes from despair to elation about love and nature and god’s hand in nature and the beauty of the land and the cruelty of it as well.

It made me think about my family and their trek across the sea and then half way across America. They must have traveled the same way. Covered wagons, horses. On my father’s side my ancestor came from Ireland in 1811, and bought land in Pennsylvania. They didn’t stay long. His son was born in Ohio in 1818 and they later moved to Missouri. When he found he was on the wrong side slavery, he moved his farm and family north to Illinois. After he died in 1858, the family moved to western Iowa where they had kin. My grandfather was born in Iowa in 1880. He dug in a farm and stayed there.

On my grandmother’s side, her family sailed from England to Connecticut in 1641. The family stayed there until the mid 1700’s when their house was destroyed by fire.

The father and two elder sons went into the wilderness to clear some land and left the wife and baby in a white settlement. The father and eldest son were killed by Indians. The second son, Isaac, was fourteen when he was captured by the Genesee Indians. Several years later he managed to escape but it wasn’t until he was 70 years old when he found his baby brother who had been left behind with his mother. By that time he was living in Ulster County, New York. The family stayed in New York until about 1880, when they up and moved to western Iowa. My grandmother was born there in 1881.

You can see why 1883 draws me in.

I hope you have a super duper holiday weekend!

Hazelnut Torte

½ lb shelled hazelnuts
8 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup breadcrumbs
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whipped cream
1 cup tart jelly (I like raspberry)

Grind the unblanched hazelnuts very fine. Put 2 tablespoons of the ground nuts aside for the outside of the cake.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till very light. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and ground nuts. Fold in the egg whites whipped very stiff but not dry.

Bake in 2 layers, 30 minutes at 325 degree F. Cool in the pans.

Take out and put together with whipped cream and a little jelly spread between the layers. Whip the rest o f the jelly with a fork and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Powder with unused 2 tablespoons of ground nuts. Decorate the top of the cake with a swirl of whipped cream. Chill before serving.

Maybe I’ll have a picture next week.

Looking Back

Photo by Callam Barnes on Pexels.com

As you may or may not know I am interested in my genealogy. I spend hours down the rabbit hole at Ancestry.com finding tidbits. My current obsession involves my mother’s great grandmother who came from Perthshire, Scotland. I am planning a trip to visit the place next year so it is kind of cool to read about the farms they owned and rented over the years. A bunch of them were ministers so they worked in different parishes around the area. Mostly I just want to go to soak up the atmosphere and imagine what it was like back in those days.

A very old small photo of my great great grandmother (on the left)

On another note… I found this recently and am pretty amazed by the detail. My great grandfather (this one came from Ireland) was born in Ohio on March 2, 1841. In 1861 he was teaching district school in Monmouth, Illinois. At the breakout of the Civil War he enlisted in Company C, Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and was sent to Missouri. The first battle in which he participated was at Pea Ridge. He helped to save Missouri to the Union. He was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee, and was at the siege of Corinth. In September, 1862, he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, and took part in the battle of Perryville and in the campaign of Stone River. The following spring he was in the Tullahoma campaign, then went to Bridgeport and through Georgia, and took part in the battle of Chickamauga, where he was wounded, being shot through the cheek, the ball coming out the back of the neck. He was then sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, remaining there till the expiration of his term of service, when he was mustered out in September 1864.

My Great-grandfather

After that he taught for six more years, got married, had four children, farmed for a couple of years, and ended up in Iowa in the grocery business. He died at 66.

I actually have his discharge papers from the Army. When he died in 1907, his wife started to collect a pension of twelve dollars a month. In 1916 an Act of Congress approved by the President granted “increase of pension of a widow who was the wife of a soldier, sailor or marine during the period of his service in the Civil War, or who is the widow of a soldier, sailor or marine who served in the Civil War, the War with Mexico, or the War of 1812, and who has reached the age of 70 years”. The pension was increased to $20 per month. And then in 1917, it was again increased to $25 per month. I don’t know what happened after that. She died in 1923.

My Great-grandmother

Anyway I have tons of info. I hope to put it all together at some point. Like I said, I have no shortage of projects.