Mystery photo #4: Fort Collins child

Mystery ChildI found this photo in a collection of photos that I believe once belonged to my great-aunt and great-uncle, Dorothy (“Dot”) Mary Bailey (1896–1987) and Clarence Humphrey Bailey (1895–1982). These photos would have passed to my grandmother, Dorothy Ruth McMurry (1917–1997) upon the death of Dorothy Bailey (Dorothy McMurry’s maternal aunt). Upon my grandmother’s death, they passed to my father, and he generously let me have them a few years ago.

The photo in question is a cabinet card image of what appears to be a young girl, aged one to two years old I would guess, dressed in a white gown and black boots and standing on a wicker chair. The photo was taken in Fort Collins, Colorado, by a photographer named Seckner. My initial ballpark estimate is that it dates to 1880–1900.

Continue reading

Veterans Day

US_Flag_BacklitNinety-five years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and to the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.

Continue reading

The William Noble Bailey family

The photo that is the focus of this post is a charming family portrait, and one of the favorites in my collection. You might recognize it as the uncropped, unrotated image from which this site’s header image is derived.

The house is in the Olympia, Washington area. Since I’ll be heading up that area to do some family history research in late August–early September, I figured this would be a good time to post something about William N. Bailey and his family, some of my Olympia-area ancestors.

This post won’t go into much depth about the Bailey family, but I’d like to give you enough to that you know at least a little about everyone pictured in the photo. I’ll write more about the house itself in a later post.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The diary of Knudt Thompson

Knudt ThompsonI find myself of late in the enviable position of finding and receiving information about our family history faster than I can analyze it and write it up. Rather than sit on this information until I have a chance to write about it, I’ll share it with you now and then I’ll circle back at a later date to look into it in more detail.

For today’s post I’d like to share a document that my cousin Anne sent along last week. It’s a transcription of the diary of Sever Severson’s brother-in-law, Knudt Thompson (Knudt’s wife Anna and Sever’s [future] wife Martha were sisters). Among other things, the diary recounts the voyage of Sever, Knudt, Anna, Martha, and more than a dozen other members of their extended family from Sør-Aurdal, Norway, to America. I’ll be looking into their trip from Norway to Wisconsin in another post in the not-too-distant future.

I haven’t yet seen the original diary or images of the original diary, and have only the four-page typewritten transcription that Anne recently sent along to family members working together on the Syndé/Severson family history. What follows is a verbatim transcription of that document.

Continue reading

Selena Severson on the hazards of secondhand smoke

uncle-sam-put-out-cigaretteA full 90 years before U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop published his 1986 report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking, and 110 years before U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona released his 2006 follow-up report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, Selena Severson published an article alerting doctors to the dangers of exposing children and teens to secondhand smoke.

In her 1896 paper, Effects of Cigarette Smoke Upon Children and Youth, Selena Severson details the physiological effects of tobacco smoke on numerous systems. She not only urges doctors not to subject their young patients to tobacco smoke, but implies that all people, young and old—doctors included—should give up smoking.

In the discussion of her article (pages 348 to 350), it is amusing to see two of the four doctors (Dr. Tanner and Dr. Caldwell) defend their habit of smoking in general (Dr. Tanner) and while seeing patients (Dr. Caldwell).

It is interesting as well to note that Selena’s argument was made decades before the link between tobacco and cancer was established. Her argument is based on tobacco smoke’s effect of producing functional disturbances in major organs and systems, and the deleterious effect that responding to these disturbances has on still-growing individuals.

Continue reading