Monday, September 28, 2015

Ruth Lindberg (1885-1918)

Daughter of August and Alma Lindberg, my great-great aunt.

I sometimes find myself feeling a bit melancholy when I come across someone in my tree who died early in life. In a few generations, I wonder, will anyone be interested in the great aunts and uncles who died without leaving spouses or children? Will they be remembered?

Ruth, Esther, Agnes, Carl, Beda, Lillie, Jessie
Jeanette, August, Alma, Eldon
One such person is Ruth Lindberg. She was the daughter of August and Alma Lindberg, and sister to my great grandma, Agnes (Lindberg) Lundeen. Ruth died at the age of 23 as a result of the Spanish Influenza, a pandemic which (according to Wikipedia) killed 3-5 percent of the world population.

I recently visited the Wright County Historical Society to research some family. One of the things I was hoping to find was an obituary or some mention of Ruth in the local papers.  I wasn’t sure what I would find, mainly because much of the Lindberg family had only been living in Cokato, MN for about a year.

I was glad to find the following article in the Cokato Enterprise.
Friday morning, when the sudden and startling news was broken, that Miss Ruth Lindberg was dead, her friends could hardly believe it.
Ruth was a healthy and robust young woman and was admired by all her many friends, for her sweet and smiling face that beamed with joy and gladness. She had the charm of life which made for her friends who learned to love and admire her.
Miss Lindberg was ever thoughtful of others and found that delight in whole-hearted Christian character helping others. Her unselfish and [sic] won her many friends. Miss Lindberg had been in poor health while helping her sister’s family, that was ill, and it was thought best that she be taken to the hospital, and though she seemed to gain, pneumonia developed and her death followed at 5 o’clock, Friday, Oct 25, 1918.
She was born at Alta, Iowa, Feb. 2, 1895, and gave her heart to Jesus Christ at an early age. She was a member of the Mission church and the Young People’s society and an earnest Sunday school worker. She leaves to mourn her, a father and mother, six sisters, two brothers and a host of friends. Peace to her memory. Ruth is gone, but to us her life speaks sweetly. Soon the promised great reunion will be here when Jesus Christ will bring them with Him, who have died in faith, when their bodies rise in resurrection glory and we shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet Him in the air. What a gathering that will be. It is a blessed privilege to live in constant expectation of this morning. Then shall we know the mystery of our sorrows, and the tears wept down here will then sparkle like jewels, for we shall then find out that all these things worked out for good for them who loved the Lord. 

Ruth is buried alongside her parents in the Cokato Cemetery.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Amsterdam family, part 3

Magdalena Dircks > Christina Rosenkrans > Johannes Cortright > Elisha Cortright > Isaac Cortright > Mabel Cortright > Jameson Ransom > Charles Ransom > Lillian Ransom > Charles Walters

Continuing with my New Amsterdam ancestors. Part 3 of 3
(See Part 1 and Part 2)

Magdalena Dircks was the daughter of Dirck Volckertson and Christina Vigne. She was born sometime around 1635 and would have grown up witnessing the various incidents that her father was involved in (not to mention a wide variety of troubles her extended family caused, but that’s a whole other story). It is little wonder then, that Magdalena herself would cause some trouble.

In October 1652, Magdalena was married to Cornelius Van Dort. The couple had a daughter in 1654 and in 1655 Cornelius died. His death was probably a result of conflict with local Native Americans. Magdalena then married Harmen Hendricksen (also known as Harmen Rosenkrans) in March 1657, a time that also marks the beginning of Magdalena’s first bit of trouble. Court records for March 1657 charge Magdalena and her bridegroom with insulting the Fire Warden of the City and causing a "street riot.” Magdalena appeared in court without her new husband, where she admitted that she and her sister had made a joke about Fire Warden Litschoe as they passed his home. Magdalena seemed to think nothing of their comment, saying they always joked, but the warden took great offense to it. It was ruled that such behavior was not "and ought not to be tolerated on account of its bad consequences" and Magdalena was fined 2 pounds, one to be paid to the church, the other to the poor. She was warned if similar behavior continued other fines would follow.

Unfortunately for Magdalena, her wild behavior didn’t come to an end and unfortunately for our story, the exact nature of her actions weren’t including in surviving records. Whatever she did, it was bad enough for her to be sent back to Netherlands, on account of her “dissolute life.” In June 1658, Harmen and Magdalena petition to be allowed to return to New Netherlands. They asked that their prior offenses be overlooked and if they were allowed to return, they promised not to be involved in beer, wine or brandy. They said they would live honestly, knowing additional charges against them would result in further punishment.

A week later, the directors of the West India Company agreed to allow “Magdalena Dircx, alias the Flying Angel” and her husband to return to New Amsterdam, provided they lead a "quiet and honest life." The fact Magdalena’s name was mentioned in the document, and not her husband’s, suggests she was indeed the real reason for their banishment. (“Flying Angel,” it is thought, may have been the name of a tavern ran by Magdalena.)

Sometime around 1662, Magdalena and her family moved to Esopus in Ulster County. What may have started as a clean slate for Magdalena, did not remain that way for long. In October 1663, Magdalena was the defendant in a case against Roelof Swartwout, a local official who oversaw that the laws were kept. He charged Magdalena with hindering him when he was arresting Aeltje Claes. Magdalena said she didn't interfere, but only questioned Swartwout why he was arresting her. "Why do you want to disgrace her? She is neither a whore nor a thief.” Magdalena was told to submit evidence in the next session to clear her name.

The conflicts and allegations surrounded Magdalena carry on for many more years, however I have only been able to find partial books and records available online. There is mention of debts, theft, violence, vulgar insults and even Magdalena’s marital unfaithfulness. Someday I hope to find these records and sources for myself.

The last record of Magdalena is in the will of her daughter, Sara Rosenkrans, written in 1726, making Magdalena over 90 years old. Sara’s estate was left to her mother and following Magdalena’s death it was to be distributed to her siblings and nieces and nephews.

Sources: Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York,; Baptisms of New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church 1639-1730; Dutch Records in the City Clerk’s Office New York, part 1; New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch/New Netherland Documents,; Invading Paradise: Esopus Setters at War with Natives, 1659-1663 by Andrew Brink,; The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674, volumes 3, 5, 7,; The Dutch Records of Kingston, Ulster County, New York,; “The Flying Angel,”

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Amsterdam family, part 2

Dirck Volckertsen and Christina Vigne > Magdalena Dircks > Christina Rosenkrans > Johannes Cortright > Elisha Cortright > Isaac Cortright > Mabel Cortright > Jameson Ransom > Charles Ransom > Lillian Ransom > Charles Walters

Continuing with my New Amsterdam ancestors. Part 2 of 3
(See part 1 here)

Dirck Volckertsen was from Norway and often called “Noorman.” He married Christina Vigne, probably around 1630. The couple had at least 8 children, with the youngest being baptized in 1653 in New Amsterdam. Sometime after his father-in-law’s death, Dirck is alongside his mother-in-law in dealing with the deceased’s estate.

The surviving New Amsterdam documents include a wide variety of records including financial agreements, land transaction and court cases. Dirck can be found in several of these documents. One of the earliest was in May 1638, when Dirck received a loan of fl.720 from Director Kieft and the West India Company. He was given 3 years to repay.

Two months later, Christina and Dirck are at odds with her new step-father, Jan Jansen Damen. Apparently their family, as well as the family of Christina’s sister Maria, was living in the same home as their mother Adriane Cuvelier and her new husband, Damen. Perhaps tired of sharing his home with so many, Damen ordered his new extended family out of him home. Things became violent as Damen shoved Christina out of the house. Knives were drawn between Damen and Dirck and blood was shed. See more here.

In the following years, Dirck can often be found involved in additional court cases. In 1639, Dirck and 4 other men were fined for being aboard a ship without consent. As it was the first offence, the men were changed a relatively small fine. A couple years later, Dirck claims he innocently purchased a rope that may have been stolen and he was told not to leave town until the matter was settled.

It is possible that Dirck was finding himself in some financial problems in the 1650s and 1660s. Court records show a number of times when the plaintiff was suing Dirck for money owned. There were times when Dirck didn’t even appear in court and other times, he admitted to his debt and was ordered to pay. On occasion, Dirck was the one seeking what was owed him, including one case where Pieter Cornelis, a fellow resident of Breuckelen (Brooklyn), was ordered to return Dirck’s boar.

Beginning In October 1656, Dirck was involved in a court case that stretched into the next year. Witness statements say that Dirck was playing dice with Jan Perie when an argument occurred between the two men. The argument led to a fight and Jan was stabbed. Jan then sued Dirck for surgeon fees and time lost. Dirck argued that it was Jan who started the fight and he was only defending himself and therefore should not have to pay for Jan’s injuries. In the end, Dirck ended up paying Jan.

But not every time Dirck’s name appeared in the records was for a court case. Church documents record the baptisms of his children and show Dirck and Christina as witnesses for the baptisms of other children in New Amsterdam. A 1639 land transaction shows Dirck entered into a 6 year lease with the director and West India Company. In this deal, Dirck was given some livestock and each year received 50 Carolus Guilders to pay his servants. In return, Dirck was to pay 30 pounds of butter for each of the cows he was leased as well as half of the grain he produced. At the end of the 6 years, Dirck was to return the livestock plus half of the livestock that was born to him during the lease.

In the 1640s, Dirck sold his home in Manhattan. A provision of the sale was that Dirck was allowed to take 6 apple trees from the land as well as any of the produce from the garden until the sale was finalized that fall. In 1646, he had a home built for him on Long Island, perhaps the farm he later leased to his friend Jochem Calder. Later, he bought and then sold land in Smith’s Valley on the East River of Manhattan. 

Sources: New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch/New Netherland Documents,; The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674, volume 1-5,; “Dirck Volckertszen De Noorman,”

I’ve come across a number of websites, books and blogs that include more information about my New Amsterdam relatives. While I have looked at some for reference, the information I’ve included here is primarily from the New Amsterdam records I was able to locate online and hope to add more later on. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Amsterdam family, part 1

Guillian Vigne and Adriane Cuvelier > Christina Vigne > Magdalena Dircks > Christina Rosenkrans > Johannes Cortright > Elisha Cortright > Isaac Cortright > Mabel Cortright > Jameson Ransom > Charles Ransom > Lillian Ransom > Charles Walters

Lately I’ve been looking into my ancestors who lived in New Amsterdam, an early Dutch settlement on the island of Manhattan. When the English took control in 1664, its name was changed to New York. I found my New Amsterdam line contained some interesting people. Their names appeared in all types of documents including land transactions, law suits and even cases of violence.

This is generation 1 of 3 that I will be posting here. Look for the others soon.

In 1618, Guillian Vigne and wife Adriane Cuvelier can be found in Leiden, Holland (at that time known as Leyden). In September of that year, they brought their daughter Rachel to the Walloon Church for her baptism and the following month they were officially accepted into the church. Walloons were French-speaking Protestants and the family may have come to Leiden to escape persecution from the Catholic Church.

Before coming to Leiden, Guillian and Adriane had two older daughters. Four additional children would be baptized in Leiden in the next 5 years, although only one of the children born in Leiden would reach adulthood. In 1623/4, Guillian, with his wife and three surviving daughters, left Holland and became some of the first settlers in New Amsterdam. Here, Adriane gave birth to a son, Jan, believed to be the first European male to be born in New Amsterdam.

Guillian died sometime before 1632, leaving Adriane with four children. Daughters Maria and Christina were married or soon to be married at the time of their father’s death, but children Rachel and Jan were still minors. When Adriane was planning to married Jan Jansen Damen, the estate of her first husband needed to be settled on their children. It was settled that Maria and Christina would receive 200 guilders from their father’s estate, and Rachel and Jan would receive 300 guilders at either the time of their marriage or when they became of age. It was also put upon Jan Damen as his responsibility to provide for the minor children, seeing that they were provided for and educated “as parents ought to do.”

Jan Damen appears to have been an interesting man. The inventory of his estate was extremely large, by far greater than other inventories included in the records. He owned various land in present day New York City and was the first European who owned the land where the World Trade Center is located. He was selected to serve as church warden. A fellow warden was Peter Stuyvesant, the director of the New Netherland colony. A few years later, it was Damen who acted on behalf of Stuyvesant when the director wanted to purchase a large farm.

Some of Jan Damen’s other actions and connections, however, show a different side of Jan. In July 1638, shortly after his marriage to Adriane, Jan decided that he no longer wanted his new extended family living with him. He ordered his step-daughters Maria Vigne, wife of Abraham Van Planck, and Christina Vigne, wife of Dirck Volckertsen, and their families out of his home. When Christina refused to leave, things turned violent. According to witnesses, Jan forced Christina outside and struck her. He also thrust a knife at Christina and cut her skirt. Dirck, coming to her defense, threw a pewter can at Jan, but missed. Jan then turned on Dirck with the knife, "cutting and thrusting at him."  Dirck used a post to defend himself. Jan then turned again on Christina, hitting her with his fists and tearing her cap from her head. He told Dirck "If you have courage, draw your knife." The witnesses testified that Dirck, "being sober" did not attack, only defended himself, implying that Jan was drunk. The matter was brought before the courts, however the records don’t include a ruling.

Jan Damen was involved in another altercation involving a blade a few years later. Philip Gerrady was seeing Jan to his home sometime after midnight. When they arrived, they were met by one of Jan's servants who threatened to shoot Philip. Jan told him to go to bed, but the servant responded, "I will not." A fight ensued between the knife-wielding servant and Jan who had a scabbard. During the fight, Jan was pushed down and Philip stepped in to protect him. In the darkness, Jan cut Philip on the back, possibly mistaking him for his servant. Philip survived his injury and said he didn’t believe Jan meant him any ill will.

A year and a half before his death, Jan seemed to think the end was drawing near and gave his last testament. In this statement, his personal effects and large sum of money was to go to his nephew with additional money to be sent for the poor in Utrecht, Holland. The remainder of his estate was to be divided between his brothers and sisters. His widow, Adriane, was to have his farm (with the caveat that if she were to sell or lease the property, Cicile, the West Indian maid servant was to be given her freedom). There was no mention of any of the Vigne children receiving anything from his estate.

Three days after his death, however, men came to Adriane for the settling of Jan’s estate and it was decided that Adriane could “dispose of the entire estate to the best advantage of her and her children and heirs.” There is no mention of any of Damen’s blood relatives being upset with the distribution of the estate, but considering the size of the estate, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his relations were unhappy at the thought of his step-children benefiting from his death.

Sources: New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch/New Netherland Documents,; The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674, volume 1-5,; “The Vignes,”; New Netherlands Connection, Vol 3, No.1,

I’ve come across a number of websites, books and blogs that include more information about my New Amsterdam relatives. While I have looked at some for reference, the information I’ve included here is primarily from the New Amsterdam records I was able to locate online and hope to add more later on.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Erickson family characteristic

Erickson brothers
Obviously I've been around Ericksons all my life, but it wasn't until a few years ago, when at an Erickson reunion, that I first noticed a family characteristic. As I looked around the room at the various uncles, first cousins, second cousins once removed, and so on, I realized all of the men had similar foreheads - high, broad and slightly square, sometimes with a slight vertical crease above the nose. Now there is probably some of it in the females of the family, but thankfully I don’t think it is as noticeable. It works for the men, but I’m not sure it would look as great on the fairer sex.

I soon realized it wasn't just an “Erickson forehead.” In looking at a picture of my great-great grandpa, Erik Person, and his brother Nels Utterberg, I saw they too had similar foreheads. (Erik, or Erick, is where "Erickson" comes from.) To test my theory, I looked through some pictures that an Utterberg cousin, Terri, had shared with me. (Visit her blog here!)  As I didn't know the people in her pictures, I tried to identify my distant relatives by looking at their foreheads. I was able to pick out most of the blood relatives.
Brothers Nels Utterberg and Erik Person

Have you noticed any characteristics passed through the generations in your family?

Daniel Erickson family

Friday, March 6, 2015

Merle Ransom and her Cinderella moment

Most, if not all, of my posts have been about my direct ancestors, but today I came across some newspaper articles that were too good not to share.

The star of the story is Merle Ransom, daughter of James Harley “Tod” Ransom and Daisy Van Note. Merle and I share a common ancestor in Samuel Ransom (1795-1863). Samuel is my 4x great grandfather and Merle’s great-grandfather, making Merle and I 2nd cousins, 3 times removed. A bit distant, but still family.

In August 1916, 18-year-old Merle and a “merry party” were going for a boat ride. As Merle was stepping from the pier (possibly in Clear Lake, near Mason City, Iowa where she lived) she fell in the water. She quickly resurfaced, uninjured. The local paper reports:
When she was again on Terra Firma she discovered that one shoe was missing, but whether she, like Cinderella, will find fortune through her shoe, is unknown. Certainly it is gone for they have hunted the spot over but have found no trace of the missing foot covering. If any see a lovely mermaid disporting herself on the sands with one dainty pump about her person please report the same to Miss Ransom as she would be very grateful.
Shortly after, the paper was happy to report:
Miss Merle Ransom has recovered the shoe which she lost last week when she overbalanced and fell into the lake. The fair “Cinderella” did not, however, find the shoe herself. The dainty foot covering was discovered half buried in the sand several feet from where it was lost by the kindly “Prince” from next door.
Sadly the water-logged shoe was a bit bent out of shape and unwearable.

Sources: Mason City Globe Gazette, Daily August 10, 1916; Mason City Globe Gazette, Weekly August 10, 1916, from

Monday, February 16, 2015

William Lyons and the streets of London

William Lyons > John Lyons > Elmira Lyons > Lillian Ransom > Charles Walters

William Lyons
(not sure if this is the father or son)
Last weekend, made available their United Kingdom records and I was excited to see if I could find anything new, specifically in the Lyons branch of my tree.

William Lyons, my 4th great grandfather is my “most recent” ancestor who came from England. Family tradition says they were from London, but I was hoping for some proof.

From letters written by son John Lyons as well as US census records, I had the names of several of William’s children, which made it fairly easy to find William and his family in the 1841 census. William, along with wife Elizabeth and children Sophia, Charles, Will, John, and Albert were living on Stafford Street in the area of Marylebone, London. William was a painter, the same occupation he held when the family moved to New Jersey sometime around 1850.

After finding the census record, I was able to locate a number of baptism records for some of William and Elizabeth’s children, as well as a death record. Earlier occupations for William list him as a coachman and a “painter and glazier” which suggests he was a commercial/residential painter rather than an artist. The family moved a number of times, but stayed within the same general area of Marylebone between Regent’s Park and Hyde Park.

The children of William and Elizabeth include: Sophia, Charles Henry, Edwin John (who died at the age of 2 in 1836), William Valentine (born on Valentine’s Day, 1836), John, Albert, and Emily.

Here is a quick recount of where the family was living:
1829 – Adams Street West (now Seymour Place)
1831 – Devonshire Street (now Ashmill Street)
1834 and 1836 – John Street North (now Knox Street). This street was very near to the St. Mary’s Church. A history of the area, written in 1833, described the church’s location as “being surrounded by streets of worse than a second rate description.”
1836 – The family returned to Devonshire Street
1839 and 1841 – Stafford Street (now Conway Street)

I've marked the location of the streets where the Lyons family lived in red on the map on the left. The box on London map shows the area of London where the streets are located.

Sources: Census and church records from; Google maps; A Topographical and Historical Account of the Parish of St. Mary-Le-Bone by Thomas Smith from Google books; family letters and pictures.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Charles Walters, 1932 letter

C. Lloyd Walters family, c. 1932
My grandpa, Charles Walters, moved around often as a kid. His dad, Cecil Lloyd Walters, was a minister and didn't often stay in the same place more than a few years. From October 1929 to March 1933 the family was in Lincoln, Minnesota.
Lincoln, Minnesota
In remembering their home in Lincoln, my great-grandma Lillian (Ransom) Walters wrote that it was a good home with “stucco outside, plastered, varnish woodwork, glassed in front porch, 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, pantry, and stairs to the attic from it. Woods all around, up on a hill above the house was a garden spot.”

In 1932, When the family received their Christmas package from Lillian’s parents, there was no waiting to open it until Christmas.  Chuck was “just so glad” that he had to write to his grandparents immediately!

Lincoln, Minn.
Dec 23, 1932
Dear Grandpa and Grandma
We just received your package. I was just so glad I had to write right away.
Lloyanne likes her little doll very well.
She has made it a dress already.
Mama is getting supper. Daddy made baby a little wagon. It has bolsters and a reach on it.
Are those apples you sent us off from your orchard?
We had our program last night. Daddy said it was the best program we had had.
We gave Mama panel and an oil cloth pillow.
We are having warm weather now. There isn't enough snow for going skiing and sleding.
I wish it would snow so we could go skiing.
Daddy got some alfalfa and I went along.
Connie is milking good on it. She gives over two quarts of milk a day.
Mon PM
I got another pencil for Christmas from Mrs. Johnson.
We had a good Christmas. Mrs Johnson gave Richard a teddy bear.
I can’t think of more to write so will close.
Your Grandson,
The family added Connie, their milk goat in the fall of October 1931. She was
purchased for $40 with assistance from their family in Iowa.
The Walters also raised chinchilla rabbits for their meat.

Charles' letter he wrote to his grandparents, Christmas 1932 (transcribed above)