Wednesday, February 5, 2014

to blog or not to blog....

I started a blog so that I could keep better track of my family history information.  I wanted to make sure that I had everything preserved and saved in the digital world for my kids and future generations to love and enjoy!
I have been slacking in the posting department.  I have done some research in the last few months but not enough to make a difference and haven't bothered to post any of it.  I know that I am the only one that reads this and probably will for generations to come.  Does this matter?  I don't think so.  I get excited when I find new information.  I enjoy looking at what other's have found.  I hold little snippets of information from family very close to my heart.
I continue even if it is just for little old me.  Someone down the line will appreciate the work that I have put into saving this information for our family! :)

I am trying to locate information about Leland Sorteberg being in the play Only an Orphan Girl in 1944.  So far all I have is the picture.  The internet is not being helpful tracking down when or where this production happened.  It is the only picture that I have been able to find in our collection of pictures so far.

THE STORY:Nellie is a long-suffering young lady who seems destined not only to lose her lover but her life as well. The familiar characters of old-time melodrama here play their roles up to the hilt. The most thrilling scene is that in which dynamite (planted by the villain) is about to blow all the good characters to eternity. Just in time, however, Lucy picks up the dynamite and throws it out the door. On reflection, though, it seems that the thrill just described is actually topped by the even more exciting scene in the sawmill, where Nellie, tied to a log, is approaching the circular saw which in a moment will tear her to pieces. The hero, who has been tied by the villain, is freed just in time to thrust aside the latter who draws a pistol on him and threatens to kill him if he dares touch the lever that will save Nellie. The villain fires. The hero is wounded. And, at this very instant, a friend opportunely appears to snare the villain, and Nellie is safe in the arms of her hero.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How they worked

DSC_2197 DSC_2198

Mill City Museum

Built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, Mill City Museum is located on the historic Mississippi Riverfront. Here, visitors of all ages learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry, the river, and the city of Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Historical Society obtained the ruins of the Washburn A Mill in 2003 and created what is now the Mill City Museum. Two fires, one in 1991 and the other in 1878, play a major role in the history of this building. The 1878 fire was caused by a flour dust explosion that killed 18 people and destroyed much of the riverfront business district area. The explosion could be heard as far away as Summit Avenue in St. Paul and caused cracks in some windows there. The building was a total loss and was rebuilt in 1880, this time with better equipment to capture and collect the highly explosive flour dust.

My ancestor John Peter Swanson didn't work in the Minneapolis Mill but at the Pillsbury Mill in Anoka.  The Anoka Mill was also destroyed by fire in it's early years.  He was said to be the strongest man to work there being one who could carry a barrel of flour from the first floor to the top of the mill.  Not much more is said about his time at the mill other than he rode his bronco "Betsy" 5 miles from his home to Anoka taking a half hour each way.  I can't find anywhere what his wages were at the flour mill.  Still trying to track down that source.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

old photos


1092355_10200426729732705_1164435537_o 1370734_10200426725212592_800624482_oIda Sorteberg, Geneva Sorteberg, Some of their brothers
Yesterday I spent some time with my grandfather’s sister.  She has always held a special place in my heart.  This woman is amazing.  She has kept a journal and photos all of her life.  Right now they are packing up to move back to Montana.  40 years of history packed up.  She is 90 years old and remembers everything.  I am 40 and I can’t remember last week!  She has 69 photo albums and scrapbooks that she has labeled and maintained.
When I looked at her scrapbooks I noticed that she has a napkin from every event she ever went to.  I love that.  Who thinks to save something and write a little note to go with it.  There were so many articles I wasn’t able to even put a dent into what she has.
I was also struck by how much she is still in love with her husband.  They were married in 1943 when she was 20 years old.  He is a wonderful man, can’t hear but she talked about him and smiled about him with an amazing love that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Do you ever feel like you are stuck with your research?
I have been feeling like there isn't anything new to discover.  Maybe it is just that so much of the information that I have has already been found for me and it isn't my discovery.
I crave something new.  Something exciting.
Seems funny to say that I want to find something exciting when it comes to family history.  that is what I am after.  I want to find an old treasure or find that will only be exciting to me and my family.
I even went to an antique store a few weeks ago in the town that my family is from.  I was searching for some tidbit of information that might have my family name on it.  A treasure, a picture, a trinket.  I would have settled for just about anything.  It didn't happen but it was an enjoyable hour or two.  It had been a long time since I had been to an antique shop.
How do we stay motivated?  How do we stay excited about the next find?  Have you ever found a great treasure in an antique shop?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Family Recipe Friday

Sorteberg family recipe
1 jar dill pickles
1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp pickling spice
Soak dill pickles in cold water (cut into pieces).  Cook vinegar, sugar and spices.  Let cool and put into pickle jar with cut pickles.  Refrigerate

This recipe has become a favorite in our house.  My Grandmother will always have a jar prepared in her fridge.  I don't know the origin of this recipe but I do know that my Great Grandma made it as well.  Even if you don't enjoy sweet pickles you will really like these!  Have to go make them for our 4th of July celebration.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mystery at the graveyard

I enjoy going to graves.  I don't even need to know the people buried there.  My favorite one was in Italy when I was 16.  I explored that cemetery every morning after my run/hike.  That was the first place that I ever saw photos on the headstone.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that.  Part of me thought-wow that is a great idea.  The other part of me thought-I am not sure I want to know who is buried here.  Either way I was quite fascinated by the whole concept.  I even believed that it was a Italian thing because I had never heard of such a thing here in the US.  I have since found them in the US so it isn't such a novelty any more.
Do you want to be in a cemetery?  Do you want to be cremated and still have a burial plot?  For most of my life I have been terrified of being cremated.  Burning to death is my greatest fear so clearly being cremated wasn't going to work for me.  It really doesn't matter that I would not be living at the time!
Do you visit the graves of your beloved family that have passed on?
Is it important to you to have a place to go to remember your loved ones?
Since I love them, I really want to be buried in a lovely quiet spot.  Realistically, I don't have anyone that is going to be gung ho about coming to visit my grave.  One of my children won't even go with me now.  Too creepy she says and the other just doesn't share my fascination.  So, really who is going to come and see me.
I know that my 96 year old grandmother would go and visit her husband's grave often but now she is unable to drive and hasn't been for years.
Today I wanted to go and get pictures of grandpa's headstone but I couldn't find it.  I knew where it should have been.  Even thought I knew what it would look like.  Sorteberg is a pretty long and uncommon name.  Can't exactly miss it when you are looking for it.  Alas, I was not able to find it.  So I started looking for the other family names that I knew were supposed to be there.  Couldn't find them either.
Switched gears and thought maybe there would be some plot map somewhere.  No luck.  The Anoka County Historical Society is just down the road so I went there to see if there was any such thing.  No luck.
Internet search turned up no one responsible for the cemetery.  How do I go about finding a plot map?  Do I have to go from grave to grave and make one myself.  Forest Hill Cemetery isn't small.  It seems to me that there should be someone who has this knowledge!  I left pretty frustrated.  I know I have burial plots of some of my ancestors but now I have to figure all that out by going into and looking at each individual person that has died and making a list of who is buried where.  I guess I will be busy for a while.
Photo by Richard Rhode

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful in many ways for the internet.  Yesterday I fought with my computer tooth and nail.  I had a non virus on my computer that didn't want to go away.  Then I had to fight with getting onto my other blog.  I got crabbier as the day progressed and I didn't get anything accomplished.
So, today is a better day.  Not brighter here in Minnesota but it is better.
I love that my grandfather did all of his leg work researching the family history by picking up the phone and calling to get information.  If that didn't work he sat down at his desk and wrote letters to the family that he needed information from.  Me, I sit at my computer and Google the people that I want to know about.  Then I do a Facebook search to see if I can find a picture of a long lost cousin.
Although I love Grandpa's method, I don't have the phone skills that his generation had.  This day and age with cell phones you aren't going to be able to find half the people that you are looking for.  What is a researcher to do to connect with family that we don't know?  His generation had such a better connection to family than mine does.  I crave that connection.  I have always been convinced that I was born in the wrong generation.
I mentioned last time that I was contacted by a cousin that I have never met.  I am so excited to tell my mom about her tonight when I see her.  I never thought to look into this side of the family.  My great grandmother had many siblings and I just never went there with her family.  Now I actually have a human connection that has information and is willing to share it!  Isn't the internet great?
He never had the internet but he was set for data entry for pages and pages of family history!