Like a quilt

Piece by piece…
Dead ends and frustration…
Conjecture and educated guesses, most eventually confirmed by fact…

It’s been a good week genealogy-wise. I sent e-mails and letters to the county recorders of counties that I either knew or guessed were locations my mother’s family lived between about 1915 and the middle 1960s. I had no idea whether the records I requested existed, whether current statutes permitted access, or how long it might take to receive the requested information.

I received the first response within just a few minutes, reporting a marriage license/certificate for my grandparents, Daniel and Elizabeth (date tbd, pending arrival of the document). Less than 24 hours later, I had a response to another e-mail with attachments of the marriage licenses/certificates for the unions of my grandfather and his first wife (Daniel and Rosa; 1918) and my parents (William and Irene; 1950). Emboldened by the recorder’s invitation to contact them for other records, I requested the divorce decree for my maternal aunt and her first husband, hoping to confirm my aunt’s middle name and my memory of the names and order of birth of her five children. That document arrived in my inbox shortly after I requested it and did, in fact, list the first names of Delores’s children.

I am thrilled to have these records because they document the names, dates, and events that comprise our family history. Beyond that, they provide new leads for additional research. For example, I knew from the 1940 national census that my maternal aunt’s middle initial was “C,” but I have not (yet) found any other record that specified her middle name. However…one of the witnesses to my parents’ wedding, a relative on my mother’s side of the family, was named Catherine…that was an important clue that I hope will be supported with additional research.

…to be continued

For the love of

…pink and green.

140408 Superstar

Shared for Kim Klassen’s “Texture Tuesday.” The image was processed with Kim’s 2013 “Violet” texture set to linear burn at 100%. Fonts are Beautiful, Beautiful ES Caps, and Century Gothic.

On the brink of change


April 8, 1940. That’s when the enumerator for the sixteenth census of the United States visited the Arnold residence in Gladstone, North Dakota.

The census reports nine family members: our grandfather (Peter), his second wife (Margaret), and seven children ranging in age from 2 to 19 years old.

By 1940, four of Grandpa’s children with his first wife (Magdalena) were living elsewhere. The three oldest children had left the farm; the youngest had been adopted by someone on Magdalena’s side of the family.

I will never know for sure, of course, but I wonder what they were up to that day. April 8th was a Monday so the younger children most likely attended school, and probably did chores both before and after school. Grandpa kept some livestock (cows, pigs, chickens, and geese), primarily as subsistence for the family, but most of the property was devoted to grain farming. If they were lucky, the weather would have been warm enough that everyone was working the fields getting them ready for spring planting.

On that ordinary day, did anyone in the family, especially the soon-to-be men, guess at the changes that awaited? I’m sure they kept up with news about Hitler’s aggressions and the resulting European unrest, but I doubt they imagined they would end up fighting in a war. At least one of the brothers was already in the military and all but one of the others would follow in due course. My dad graduated high school in May 1944, was inducted into the Army a mere six weeks later, and, after completing basic training, was deployed to the European theater before year’s end.

The war ended, and the Arnold brothers returned to the States. Some went back to their hometown, albeit briefly, but most of them eventually settled elsewhere. The family farm was small, and there weren’t many opportunities in the rural area around it. Of the eight brothers only one lived out his adult life in North Dakota. The others married and raised their families in locations as varied as Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Montana. And, of course, their descendants are dispersed even more widely than their parents.

What was your family’s experience after World War II? Did returning service members stay near their original homes or did they move away? What were their careers and lifestyles like compared to their parents?

Layout inspired by “The Allison Children” by Elizabeth Weaver at Digital Scrapbooking Place. Product info available upon request.


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