Friday, May 27, 2011


After a little checking I think that Zutpen, Holland mentioned by Henry Wickers on the 1895 Census is actually Zutphen, Gelderland, Netherlands.  It is in the province directly south-bordering Overijssel, where the Van de Riets are from.  The wikipedia links are nice because they also pronounce the words for you!  Overijssel sounds like Over-ay'-sel with the r rolled a bit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Observations:  1900 Census of Lincoln, Smith, Kansas.  Now we know which township he was in.  Ancestry has this all transcribed as well, along with the source citation, but I didn't get that part saved, I guess.  I need to go back and compare because the contrast on this is difficult to read.  Before I write the info this gives me, let me point out that the next door neighbor is a "Wickers".  Think Gezina Wiggers, Herman's mother.   It is Henry Wickers, born 1836, immigrated from Holland in 1871, two years after the Van De Riets.  He is certainly old enough to be Gezina's brother.  There are several relatives on this Census, so I will go out of order and start with Herman's household.  In fact, maybe I'll transcribe this all onto a chart, but for these notes I will mention that seven children are listed- I think Grace is missing, probably already married.  One daughter is listed as Gezina, b. 1886, which must be Aunt Hazel since I know they Americanized some of these names.  It may be interesting to find some more records on her with the name change, and it also backs up that Herman's mother's name was Gezina.   Sarah claims to have 8 children, all living.  Herman says he immigrated in 1869, has been in the country 32 years, and that he is UN naturalized.  Hmm.  He is a farmer who can read, write, and speak English.  He owns his farm by mortgage (would there be bank records somewhere?)  Farm schedule number 236.  Is that for a nonpop census?

This is just the page preceding Herman's page of the 1900 Census because it starts to list Henry Van De Riet's household.  Henry is Herman's older half brother.  I also notice the Koops family on this page, Uncle Will later marries Rosa Koops and she convinces the family to come to Montana.

This is a Census I was not really expecting but interested to see.  It is the 1920 Great Falls, Cascade, Montana Census.  The enumerator is even female.  Marie is the only child still at home, at age 21.  They are living on 1st Ave North, which would be fun to place their address and visit or find on a map.  It looks like there are a couple of boarding houses on their street.  They are renting their house.  It says Herman is naturalized and that he was naturalized in what looks like 1887 or 1889.  (Which contradicts the 1900 Census that says he is unnaturalized.)  Herman is working as ranch overseer, Sarah is not working, Marie is a milliner at a dept. store.  It is kind of humorous in that the enumerator scratched out Holland to write Dutch.  I wonder if she thought there was a difference or if Herman corrected her.--Oh, actually the Dutch is referring to the "Mother tongue".  Sarah reasserts that her parents are born in Ohio and Illinois.  There are no relatives that I notice nearby.

This is the Kansas State Census in 1885.  It is slightly easier to read some of these names than the 1900, so I may need to compare for some of the cousins.  Herman is spelled Hermann and the Van de Riet looks like Van Donut, but you can make it out from the rest of the family.  Herman is farming.  Sarah is listed as S. E., interesting I think because she likes to use both names, and sometimes just Elmira.  Another farmer is listed as living with them, teenager Curtis? Rime, who is most likely Sarah's nephew since her sister Caroline? married a Rime.  I can't get my file open to check.  H. Wickers is two properties away, he is the possible Uncle or cousin on the Wiggers side.  All of these censuses support what Aunt Bonnie said about how they lived in a big Dutch community and that it would have been part of the draw for coming to Montana as well.  This also mentions that although Lincoln is their township, Downs is their post office.

This is the 1880 Census of Lincoln, Smith, Kansas.  Henry Heitbrink shows up here, a relative, I'm guessing, to Jacob Heitbrink who married Henry VDR's sister.  Henry VDR's family is listed, also Herman and Sarah as parents of one.  Herman's little brother Harry is living with them.  Sarah has her mother's birthplace here as Ohio so I'm wondering if Herman answered the questions.  There are other Dutch families listed on this page but none that I recognize.

This is an interesting Census from not too long after the VDR's immigration.  They first settled in Amelia County, VA, and I have some other papers about that whole mess that someone sent to me...seems like it was a bit of propaganda that brought them here about how great everything was, and then it really wasn't.  They didn't stay there long.  Some interesting points are that this is the only Census I have with Gerritjan present, he died in 1875.  Also, the children from both of his wives are present but I need to check my notes to see if this shows all of them.  The kids still carry their Dutch names; later Hendrick becomes Henry, Jann becomes John, and Gerhard is Harry.  I also notice that Herman and Gerhard/Harry are listed as neither reading nor writing, although I'm sure they meant reading and writing in English here.  It also says that Gerritjan and Henry are male citizens, but unless they were naturalized right off the boat this seems unlikely.  Maybe the enumerator was going for males over 21 who could serve in the military, for example.
This is the first page of the 1895 Kansas Census that I copied.  It's configured in a confusing way because the left and right pages seem like they should be switched.  The next set of pages that continue with "Willie Vanderiet" are ordered the right way, and I don't know what happened to the answers 8-14 to these people.  Not much is learned here other than Sarah is again listed as SE, we get a confirmation that Herman came from Overysel Holland, and the post office is different now, at Lebanon, Smith, Kansas.

This is the second page of the 1895 State Census.  We are lucky to have an 1895 State Census because the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed.  So this looks like a big concentration of family members here.  it starts with Herman and Sarah's children, I'm noticing that Hazel is still going by the shortened form of Gezina--Sieny.  It makes me curious how they would have pronounced it.  Why did she choose Hazel later on?  Does the G make the H sound here?  I've also seen the name Sinnie in the other Van De Riet families, but assumed that it rhymed with Minnie.  Now I don't think so.  I don't know who the John Blankenship family is but I recognize that last name Blankenship, although I think it is from the Hale branch of the family.  Would Sarah know these people?  Were they distant cousins?  Hmm.  Then it shows Herman's older half-brother Herman and his family.   It's funny how they also have a Sieny and a Gerritjon and a Harry.  Not much variation!  Good thing these names support the pedigree I already know.  After Henry is Henry Wickers, the one I think is related to Gezina Wiggers.  This might be a huge breakthrough clue because it mentions that he is from Zutpen, Holland, not Overysel like the brothers.  I need to find some naturalization records or a death record on him.  Then, Garrit Heitbrink is certainly related to Henry's VDR's sister who I think married a Jacob Heitbrink.  Curious about his wife Hannah who is from Overysel as well.  Is she the sister?  I don't think so because she is too young. 
This is the continuation of the page of the 1895 Kansas state census that lists Herman and SE at the bottom.  It mentions that Herman spent some time in New Jersey (and a short time in Iowa that is NOT mentioned) before coming to Kansas.  I wonder if SE went back to New Jersey with him first?

Okay, here is Herman's bro John in the 1895 Kansas state Census, just a couple pages after so they lived close.  I need to check my notes to see how they compare with all these children.  Also wondering if the woman living with them is Elizabeth's sister.  I can't remember her maiden name.  Maybe just a servant or something.

State Census of Iowa, 1852, Green, Wapello, Iowa.  Hiram Hale is listed here with one male, three females, one voter, one militia.  Also listed are Thos. Hale right next door and G. Hale--Greenville Hale.  Both brothers of Hiram.

The 1885 Iowa State Census, although I neglected to capture the town.  I'll need to go back I guess.  Hiram Hale is listed here with Mary A, Caroline, Clarie A., and William F.  Mary A is noted as Can read but not write over 10 years of age.  Greenville Hale's family also listed--Hannah, Harriet, Minnie and John B. Cusley?  Not sure on first letter of that one.  The coolest thing about this census is the specific address, particularly if any of this was homestead land, then I could order the records from the NARA.  Hiram is in township 70, Range 13, Section 8, the SW 1/4.

This is an 1870 agricultural census that Hiram Hale appears on in Soap Creek, Davis, Iowa, ennumerating his crops, etc.  The value of his farm is about $800 with about $60 of farm implements, he has about 40 acres (that's not much...), he produced "Indian Corn".  He has $540 of livestock, mostly sheep and swine, and we continue on to page 2.

This Census continue's Hiram's agricultural census in 1870.  His answers are continued across the second to last row.  So it looks like he is producing wool, peas and beans, potatoes, and 100 lbs of butter (along with almost every neighbor).  Not a big farm.  I need to check his probate records to see what kind of assets he had when he died.
Here is the 1900.

Collector of the Written Word?

I'm realizing that I'm actually a pretty pathetic genealogist when it comes to collecting actual documents.  I've been so spoiled with the work of others!  Time to start adding to the arsenal.  Let's take a break from Sarah today since Kansas was not very helpful and work on some of her sibs.  The mysterious Fremont DeMonte?  My PAF is not working on this computer, and maybe it is just as well so I can start going through these siblings of Sarah's a little better.  Focusing on the brothers for now since I think the sisters were pretty long lived.

John, William, and Fremont and/or DeMonte.
What docs do I have on any of these?  (Time to learn to digitize with my camera.)

John's Docs (shot but not yet added to computer, still need actual copy of 1870 Census, only have transcript.)

--1856 Iowa State Census, Keokuk, Wapello, p. 455, Household 23, Hiram Hale, photocopy contributed by Mike Thorstad, WA  He writes on back, LDS #1021314, probably film number for the FHL.
John C. is age one, born in Iowa, putting his estimated birthdate as 1855.
--1860 Federal Census, Iowa, Wapello County, Keokuk Twp. p. 767-768.  Household 1258, Photocopy contributed by Mike Thorstad, WA.
John C. is age 5, born in Iowa.
--1870 Federal Census, Iowa, Vol. 9., E.D. 41, Sheet 5, Line 3, Davis County, Soap Creek Twp., Hiram Hale household. Image online at familysearch.
John is age 15, works on farm, born in Iowa.  Had not attended school that year.
--John is no longer listed in his father's household in 1880, which makes sense because he would have been 25, if alive.
--Clarinda J. Hale Lester's obituary, unknown newspaper clipping circa 1921, from scrapbook of Sarah Elmyra Hale Van De Riet, in possession of Brian Haynes, Idaho.
John is not listed as a survivor to his sister Clarinda in June, 1921.
So, we actually know very little about John.  (Where did the Calvin come from, exactly?)  b. around 1855, probably died before 1921.
Searched for John through the Iowa records collection and didn't find anything other than the censuses already mentioned.  There are, however, many John Hales.  Even a few others from Iowa born around 1855, but usually could root them out by parent origin or some other such thing.  May need to go back to this?  But nothing promising.
NEWSFLASH!!  Just looked at the mysterious Aunt or Uncle letter and it claims that Herman met and married sarah in IOWA.  I think I"ve looked there before, but this is much more definite.  So, searching the Iowa Marriage collection on familysearch......Whammo!  I found an entry but not an image, so I need to track down where this came from, especially since no county is given.  Herman is indexed as Herman Vanderiel and Sarah L. Hale.  The date is 16 Sep 1877, as suspected, and the film number is 968463.  Is this a FHL number?  Yes, here is the film.  So, it looks like Davis County, but I still need to see the record, or maybe it is just indexed?  Anyway, exciting.  I need to make a printable list of films to look up at the library, on a word doc.

Marriages, 1844-1953; index, 1844-1911

authors: Davis County (Iowa). Clerk of the District Court, (Main Author)
format: Manuscript/On Film
language: English
publications: Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974, 1993
physical: on 11 microfilm reels, 35 mm.


Microfilm of original records at the Davis County Courthouse, Bloomsfield, Iowa.


Film Notes

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starting Sarah's timeline.

I need to get serious about what kind of actual records I have of Sarah placing her at different times. For instance, I don't think I have their family in the 1880 Census...yet. So I searched for Van de Riet in Kansas, 1880 on familysearch and came up with lots of relatives in Smith County, but so far no Herman. Where were they in 1880? It looks like #2, Aunt Grace was born Dec. 1880, so I checked her as Grace Bos, Minnesota. On the 1930 Census Index, familysearch she says she was born in Kansas. (I also see that she left a possible will in the Minnesota Will Index, check into this later.)
Okay, so how about Uncle Will?  Yes, in 1910 he also claims a Kansas birthplace, circa 1877.
Next I guess I want to scroll through the Van de Riet neighborhood myself in 1880 and see if I can come up with Herman and Sarah.
Interesting, the old familysearch site does not have the same ones as the new on the Kansas Census, and I can't seem to find the right ones.  A slipper bunch!  Maybe some land records would be better.  Time for US Genweb?
Also, looking at the dates, it seems that Sarah would have been a teenager when married.  About 17, almost 18 if I have the right dates.  Did they elope?
US Genweb is pretty sketchy for Osborne County and Smith County.  Also searched on the Kansas archive link on US Genweb and only got one hit for Van de Riet.  Here is the land patent for John Van De Riet 1872, in Smith County.  No other Van de Riets came up on the BLM website for Kansas.
Google search for Herman Van de Riet--Mostly Dutch, not helpful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

more online classes

I've watched a couple of online classes.
"Homestead Records" by Roberta "Bobbi" King (presented 27 Apr 2010)
Very good and made me excited to find some homestead records, except for the fact that I have to get them from the National Archives (NARA) by filling in the Range number and some other numbers (I'll have to go back and check). So hopefully I'll be able to track those down by looking at some land records or plat maps.
Today I watched, a huge repository for newspapers and some govt. publications. I think it's subscription, but it's free to search and the library probably has usage available.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Interview with Bonnie and Quote collection

Just finished reading a very funny book, Shaking the family Tree by Buzzy Jackson. Here is my favorite quote, about family history. "I love nerds. My definition of a nerd is someone who is extremely interested in.....something. Anything." I would add to that, that is why nerds are always so happy. My other favorite quote was actually from Daniel Webster, given at the bicentennial anniversary of the Mayflower, to the Pilgrim Society. This is what he said about genealogy. "It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to connect our thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness with what is distant in place or time; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our ancestors and our posterity....there is also a moral and philosophical respect for our ancestors, which elevates the character and improves the heart."
I reached Aunt Bonnie today and the interview was just right. She seemed happy to elaborate on some of the ideas and questions I presented to her. I wish my phone recorded conversations.
To the question, how they got to Montana, she said probably by train. I asked why, she said that she knows they were influenced by Will's wife Rosie. They came first and Rosie wrote a letter saying that it was beautiful and that there were lots of Dutch people already in the neighborhood. Apparently that was a big plus, also they were probably looking for better and different farmland opportunities. She thought they farmed in Downs.
About Sarah's personality. She said yes she was tall. She was also straight Yankee, very stern and narrow minded. Very demanding. Staunch Republican. Bess was never very fond of her--they had to stay with her in her house in Helena one time for a few weeks (was Harry in the hospital?) it was LaVonne and Ray for sure, and
"If one touched the paper before she got to read it, oh, it was not allowed... not allowed!" And that the boys had a little fun with that.
Bonnie did not think Sarah had ever been a teacher because they would have heard about it since their other Grandpa, Warren, WAS a teacher, as was Bess. Bonnie didn't know how Sarah met with Herman and how they ended up so far away from Sarah's family.
I mentioned I noticed that Sarah's kids were married by Methodist Episcopalian ministers.  Bonnie said yes, Sarah was methodist and Herman was Dutch Reform.  She said Aunt Hazel used to tell stories about having to sit in the Dutch reform church in hot, muddy Kansas, all day long on Sunday in their hot Sunday clothes, and that the odor was horrible.  As an adult, Harry never thought much of church--that you had to attend somewhere.  (I wonder why?!)  She said they probably didn't use the Dutch Reform in Montana because it wasn't quite established there yet, but it was later on.
Bonnie doesn't remember hearing any mention of Indians or anything like that from when they were in Kansas, but she did mention that I have surely heard the story of how LaVonne got her name.  Uh, I always thought it was from her Grandma Lavina.  Bonnie seemed to think I already knew the story, but basically I guess Harry and Bess were friends with a man named Jack Galbraith who married a converted Mormon Indian named LaVonne Hudson, and she was wonderful and the story is all written up in one of those Montana history books.  It sounded like maybe they lived close to Canada?  And that they kept coyotes and hounds in 1928.  Huh.  And she said Uncle Bailey was right close to the border and was a moonshiner/bootlegger because he could get it so easy out of Canada.  And "Bet you didn't know that one!"
We talked about Mary Ann Poole's illiteracy and she was surprised, but said she thought Grandpa VanDeRiet only had about a 4th grade level education, although he was smart and worked as bookkeeper for a Ranch in Great Falls.  (I see that this was the Stain Bros. Ranch, from her written history.)
I asked about their economic situation, because they seemed nicely dressed in their photos and I had noticed that Marie and Harry had been to college, etc.  Where did they get the money for that?  Bonnie said she wasn't sure where the money came from, they weren't poor, maybe from an inheritance or something, but her Dad had been fond of making this cryptic statement, "I could have gone to Yale", meaning, they could have sent him to Yale had he been so inclined.  I'm also curious.  Not typical for farmers--they probably weren't living in a dugout.
Grandma Sarah lived in Belgrade for a while with Grace and also had a home in Helena, but Bonnie was curious why she would have.
I asked about Herman's personality and Bonnie said as far as she knew (she never met either Sarah or Herman), he was kind of his own person.  He was very handsome and always wore a mustache.  Then she asked me if I had met her cousin Herman Van De Riet, who apparently looks just like Grandpa Herman.  I haven't.  I asked if Herman had a milder personality compared to Sarah, she said probably, and that Sarah had taken care of the household and was in charge of the girls.  (so...Herman had the boys?) And that she didn't hesitate to spank the girls with the switch.
I asked about voting and the suffragists.  She said that they would have been very interested in that in their household and that it made her (Bonnie) mad to think about all that could have been done if women had the vote sooner.  She said Grandma voted Democrat and grandpa voted Independent although he was really Republican and had been raised Republican, but that they all voted for Roosevelt.  I think when she said this part about Grandma being Democrat she was actually referring to her own parents, Bess and Harry.  We kept tripping up on which generation we were talking about.  She called LaVonne my mom a couple of times.
I asked if Sarah had been a member of any organizations that she knew of.  She said she didn't know for sure but if she had to guess, probably the DAR.  This is revealing because it shows she knew about her Revolutionary heritage and would have been proud to show it!  And maybe she was a member.  That means it would be easy for me to be!  If I felt like paying dues.
She mentioned something about "Grandpa's brother" (not sure if she meant Harry's brother or Herman's brother) who went to Canada and got married on horseback, something about getting out of a mortgage or something money related, but he never came back.  I didn't quite understand what was going on.  Look into this.  Anyway, "they never forgave him for that."  From the write up it looks like Harry's brother John moved to Cranbrook, Alberta, maybe this is the one?
I asked if Harry had been institutionalized for his TB.  Yes.  Something General in San Francisco, (or near frisco, she kept saying a place name I didn't quite catch).  It was a Veteran's hospital.  He was there in the winter and they put him out in the sun.  Harry Jr. also went to the same hospital years later, when he had it.  So, Sheila might know the name of the hospital.  She said the kids all got the TB test every year and none of them got it.
I feel like I have some good insights to Sarah's personality.  I think we would have had some things in common, and I'm chalking the sternness/strictness up to her generation.  Hey, she kept a scrapbook and would have liked to be in the DAR, I think she was probably a fellow nerd.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the crash and the cloud

So, yesterday I attempted to track down Auntie Norm's phone number but came across some kind of hostile virus.  Now my computer won't even come on.  Luckily Mark reminded me that we have an extra computer tower from his old office.  And Luckily I have most of my old files on email.  And luckily I had printed off my behomoth Barton file not too long ago.  But it still has all my lovely bookmarks.  And our photos, and my docs.  So I want it fixed.
But today, I did find Auntie Norm's phone number.
Also wanted to add on to my question list.
1.  What kind of economic status did Herman and Sarah have?  They did have a daughter and son who furthered education.  Middle class?  Did Harry remember hard times, moneywise, growing up?
I guess that's pretty much it.
So, Uncle Doug answered, figured out who I was, and before handing off the phone to Auntie Norm, warned me that she had been having some memory problems and whatnot.  "Oh, okay.  Well, we'll just visit."
Luckily, she did know who I was, but she had a bad cold (not ideal for extended phone conversations.)  I asked her the most fun question, about where Grandma might have gotten her individuality--as in, don't refer to me as "my wife", call me "my wife, LaVonne".  At least she laughed and said she didn't know where that came from, but as a big sister, she was certainly in charge.    She cut me off pretty quickly saying that she wasn't really interested in history and referred me to Aunt Bonnie.  I assured her that I would also talk to Bonnie.  I tried one more time, asking if her Dad talked much about the war, or being a soldier.  She said no, but that didn't mean that he didn't have experiences.  I agreed.  I was happy to hear that she now has 4 great grandchildren and sent my best wishes.  Then Boston came in crying, so I made my excuses.

I guess I need to talk to Aunt Bonnie again, but I hope she doesn't think I'm a big pest.  I talked to her not too long ago.  (I hope I don't ask the same questions and make her mad at me.)
No answer there.  Maybe I need to focus on Sarah, Hiram, and then one of his parents so as not to involve too much recent history and living people details.  I could still squeeze in the WW1 records for Harry because they pertain to her life as a mother...
This may also help Bonnie feel like she is not so much under the gun, because it will be more speculative, like, I know your Dad was very politically inclined.  Where do you think he got that?

Doing some browsing through familysearch's collections, since it will search the whole state (I think???) for marriage records by county--Kansas County Marriages, 1840-1935.  NO Van De Riets, some Sarah Hales but not the right one.  No Van De Riets on the Kansas Deaths and Burials 1885-1930 collection.  None either on the Kansas Births and Christenings 1818-1936.  In other words, I think these collections are obviously not complete.
I tried the Montana County marriages.  Also not complete since they leave out Harry and Bess, but I did find some of Harry's siblings.  Here is Garret J's marriage license and certificate.  Here is Aunt Marie's.  Just from looking at these, I notice that Sarah is referred to by her own children as both Sarah and Elmyra.  Both of these weddings were by a Methodist minister (Methodist Episcopalian), and that S. E. Vande Riet was a witness for Marie's.  Herman would have been just dead by 1921.  Garret J's residence is Clear Lake, MT, although the wedding is in Fort Benton.  Where is Clear Lake, MT?  Never heard of it.
Aha, I went through a few more records and found Harry incorrectly indexed as "van dr riet".  Here is his lovely certificate --I even recognized his signature.  His Dad is the witness here, as is Lovina, since Warren was dead by now.  Once again they are married by a Methodist Episcopalian.
What turns up for Herman Van de Riet in the Entire collection?  Lucky me, it's not a common name.  Here is a 1910 Census, not the real image.  They are living in Teton County.  Harry is 15.  Sarah has her father's birthplace as Illinois (what?) and her mother's Ohio.  Did she flip them somehow?  Wha??  Maybe they didn't talk about that much?  Maybe Herman was answering the questions?  Or maybe it is mistranscribed.  I need to see the orig. anyway.
I've never found a marriage record for Sarah and Herman.  Did his immigration have anything to do with it?  (I'm thinking of that movie Sweetland.)  Find out more about immigration/naturalization and affecting marriages.  This will also add scope to my project.
Fun trivia to throw in, along with possibly useful data. I searched for Smith County histories on Googlebooks and the two obvious ones were unavailable to read.  But in some more general Kansas books, I found Home on the Range was written in Smith County Kansas.  From a footnote in Ian Frazier's novel?nonfiction? Great Plains.  Might be good to read--a good gift for dad?  Anyway, it was printed in a Smith County newspaper--Smith County Pioneer, 1873.  Here is the page, I hope.
Also interesting and may cause problems.  There is another Herman Van de Riet in Downs, Osborne?, Kansas in 1922, buying a pheasant or something from the Agricultural Bureaucrats.  See from Google Books here.
The joke is on me.  I see on my map that Downs IS actually in Osborne county, directly south of Smith County.  Did the county line change?  Or did I just have it wrong?  If it changed, what year?  Was there ANOTHER Downs?  Find an older map, perhaps?  wiki-familysearch says both counties were organized from unorganized territory.  I looked at an 1887 map of Smith County and found nothing about Downs, so we must have just had it wrong.  (It was probably me in my teenage zeal who added counties to everything.)
Kansas did a state census in 1885 and 1895. It's on
Checking out some Kansas links on linkpendium, I saw one for land patents and found John Van de Riet getting land in Smith County in 1872 in Concordia.  It said something about in favor of the state of Georgia.  Huh?  They were definitely talking about Kansas.  Pretty sure this has to do with the homestead act.
To do next?  Find a research guide for Kansas.  That might give me some ideas about naturalization, etc.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Deciding on the project...

I think for the BCG Descendancy Project (that includes biography), I'm going to do Harry Van De Riet, Sr., his mother Sarah Elmyra Hale Van de Riet, and his Grandfather, Hiram Hale.  I like the hook to this selection of ancestors because of the Hale connection and the proximity to Nauvoo, etc.  Also because I probably need to spend some time getting to know my Grandpa Harry while some of his children are still living.  I also think this will have a good opportunity to show usage of several different record types, especially because of the military involvement. 

So.  First step, track down Auntie Norm's phone number so I can ask her about her Dad.
Wait!  Before I call her I need to find out what I already (should) know about Harry, Herman and Sarah, and then that will lead to better questions.  So today I pulled out my Van De Riet binder and was actually surprised to see some mini-bios already written up.  There are still a few questions that I want to jot down to see if anyone knows the answers to, before I forget.
1.  Why was Sarah in Kansas to marry Herman, anyway?  Her Mom stayed in Iowa.  How old was she when her Dad died?  Are we sure that is where Sarah and Herman got married?  Is theirs the marriage I have not actually located?  What kind of records does Kansas have online now?
2.  Random but interesting.  Did Sarah and Herman have any involvement with Indians around there?  I know that the Utahns were still kind of nervous about them.  What kind of Indian history is in Downs, Kansas, or was it slightly more urban? 
3.  What was Downs like, anyway?  Do we know what they did there?
4.  What made them come to Montana?  How does the homestead act, etc., fit into any of this (and how do I get THOSE records?)
5.  Did Sarah work at all?  Many young women were teachers, and they seemed like an intelligent family.  This would be especially poignant since her mother was illiterate. 
6.  Where did Grandma's closet feminist attitudes come from?  How did Sarah feel about the vote?  (What year was that, again?)
7.  Who were some of Harry's friends?  Did he enlist with any of his family members or friends?  Did he have contact with any of his cousins?  Did he ever meet his grandparents?  (Hiram might have already died, but I'm pretty sure Mary Ann was living.)
8.  Did anybody belong to any organizations?  Early farm coops for example?  Any clubs?  What did Harry's siblings do for a living?  Did any of them go to college?  I see Aunt Marie went to college in Helena.
9.  Harry's obituary says he worked hard as a conservationist.  What did he do, exactly?
10.  What kind of person was Sarah?  What kind of impression did the Aunties get of what people thought of her?
11.  I know Harry had TB.  Was he ever institutionalized?  Where?
12.  Did Harry tell any war stories?  Or was he pretty quiet about it?