In memoriam

Sever Severson's headstone, 1864Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and to honor the American men and women who have died while in military service. Unlike Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. veterans, Memorial Day is specifically set aside to commemorate those who died while serving.

In this post, I’d like to commemorate the sacrifices of family members who have died while in the service of our country. If you know of people I have missed, or if you know of details beyond what I’ve presented here, please let me know in the comments section.

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Frank Scott’s second wife & TB

Maritime-Tuberculosis-Association-Billboard-1930s1-300x197Growing up, I learned only bits and pieces about my great-great-grandfather, Frank Scott. His first wife (Maggie McAllister, my great-great-grandmother) unexpectedly died at the age of 38 on June 11, 1910, leaving Frank with four young daughters. After his wife’s death, he placed his daughters with family members, so perhaps my great-grandmother’s bond with—and memory of—her father wasn’t as great as it would have been had the family not been broken up. My grandmother Harriet has fond memories of driving with her “grandpa Scott” in his delivery truck, and of visiting him at his pickle factory. Frank died when Harriet was only 13, so her memories were perhaps not as full as they might have been had he lived longer.

I was told that he remarried after his first wife died, but all I was able to learn about this second wife was that her name was “Loie.” I was also told that Frank died of tuberculosis in a “sanitarium” in November, 1937.

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A tintype photo of Frank Scott

This post is about a photo I didn’t even know existed until last August, when I found it among some old photographs in my grandmother’s house.  I never saw it displayed when I was growing up (and my grandmother displayed a lot of photos throughout her house), which makes me think she received it rather recently from a relative (presumably Eva Scott) in Minnesota.

An identification as well as the source of the identification are written on the back of the photo: “Frank Scott said Myrtle Soule, April 5, 1953. Died Nov. 1937.”

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Luke McMurry’s journey to the Washington Territory

Luke cased image, small detailI’ve written about my more recent immigrant ancestors’ migrations from Norway in 1850 (and I’ve got an upcoming post on the Askew migration from England in 1875), but most of my ancestors have been on this continent for 300+ years, and as of yet I know little, if anything, about most of their journeys to the New World.

During the same time period (mid-to-late-1800s) that my more recent immigrant ancestors were sailing to the U.S., many of my longer-established ancestors were forging their way across the continent in search of new homes in the West. Today’s post gives some details of my research into the story of one such journey across the continent—that of my 3rd-great-grandfather Luke R. McMurry and his family.

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Martha Syndé, part 1

Martha Syndé (born Martha Nilsdatter Hilme) is my 5th great grandmother (on my McMurry/Bailey side). She was born in September, 1784, in Aurdal, Valdres district, Oppland county, Norway. She was one of at least two children born to Nils Jørgensen Ringsåker (1753–1830) and his wife Ingebord Olsdatter Ulnes (1751–?), the other known child being her older brother Jørgen (“Jørn”) Nilson, born in August, 1778.

Martha eventually lived to be 85 years old, she had 40 grandchildren, she sailed to the United States when she was 65, and she was the matriarch of large Norwegian-American family whose descendants did, and still do, appreciate this remarkable woman, born almost 230 years ago.

Given her stature in her family, and the fact that she lived well into the age of photography, dying on September 13, 1869, I would expect that there were several photos taken of her. Despite that, I know of no surviving photographs of Martha Syndé. To those cousins who may be reading this, please let me know if you know of, or have, a photograph of Martha.

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Color photo from ca. 1942

1942 Minicolor print front v2I’ve recently seen a few color photos from World War II, but I thought that must have been a rare, expensive, and exceptional technology. Today I found a small (2¼ by 3¼ inch) color photo of my grandmother, Harriet (Askew) Prettyman, from around 1942.

The photo is of Harriet (on the right) and an unidentified woman (perhaps Valborg Marie “Vollie” Berdahl) with an unidentified man (perhaps Harriet’s half-uncle and Vollie’s future husband, William Leighton “Bill” Askew) between them, sitting on a sandy beach. The women are are barefoot and are wearing two-piece swimsuits, and the man is wearing trunks, a white t-shirt, sandals, and has a towel over his neck. The two women are each holding a slice of watermelon. There’s a bottle of what is presumably tanning oil next to Harriet’s feet, and a pair of sunglasses to the left of the other woman. Continue reading