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!

Friday, June 14, 2013


So one of my many hang-ups with genealogy is that I have a lot of time being a stay at home mom but, I just don't seem to find the motivation to do it.  I enjoy it, I like researching and I like putting the puzzle pieces together.  So why do I find it so hard to get anything accomplished?  Part of it is organization.  That is a large downfall for me, I have things scattered all over the place.  I don't have a home office.  I am currently writing from my laptop sitting on my bed!  I have shared this before but it seems that I need to repeat myself just so that I can re-read it and maybe jump start myself into action.
With that said I have to say that one of the many things that I like about is that I have people contact me from time to time that I am related to in various ways.
Tonight I received an email from a cousin asking if I had any photos or stories about her grandmother's family.  I love this.  Her grandmother is my great grandmother's youngest sister.  The best part, she is local and lives in the town next to my parents!  There are so few people in my family that have an interest in the family history that when I do find someone that does enjoy it I get way over the top excited!  I have been combing through photographs, my ancestry pages and my grandfather's family history book to find any information that I can for her!  She is probably going to run screaming.  It will be worth it because I have a glimmer of motivation and I can actually feel like I accomplished something.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day puzzles

I realize that I am a day late on this post but I was trying desperately to do research yesterday with an internet that is slower than syrup!  I just couldn't get anything done.
My ultimate goal would have been to drive to the National Memorial Cemetery in Minnesota.  It isn't close by and I have not convinced my kids that visiting grave sites is a fun and exciting adventure!  My oldest is convinced that it is scary and creepy.  So I have to keep those adventures to myself for now.
I am on most every week.  Yesterday I wanted to see what kind of military service I had in my past.  I was fortunate that my brother, father and grandfather's never served in the military.  I will not post the names of the living military members for privacy reasons but I will try to piece together those that have gone.
I do not have anyone that has died in the line of service which I am grateful for.  I cannot imagine the pain of waiting for your soldier to come home only to get word that they will not be.
Here is my puzzle for the day.  I have found an Alfred Sorteberg buried in the National Cemetery in Minnesota.  So many things add up but I cannot find the correct one and I cannot find the link that I have to this man who fought and served our country.  I have a never ending trail that I just can't piece together.  Once again I will have to look and look until I can find the right answers!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Matrilineal Monday-SVARTEBERG

One of the things that fascinates me about history is that way back when they didn't follow the rules that we have now about family names.  Although that seems to be changing these days too.
I am not even sure how to pronounce the last name that my mom should have had:  TVEITO
On 29 December 1853 Arne Jakobson Tveito and Aagot Larsdtr Svarteberg were married.  The family name of Svarteberg was used because they lived on the Middle Farm (Myljogarden) that was owned by the Svarteberg's.
I am still looking into whether this property below is the homestead.  There is a resort that is called the Svarteberg Fjellgard that is in Al, Norway where the farm is located.  I know that the farm was sold many years ago but I do not have accurate information yet about what happened in the sale.  I have a contact into the owners of this resort to see if they know of the history behind the property.  If this is the property, I would love to go there and stay!

In Norway the name Svarteberg and Sorteberg are interchangeable.  However, the surname Svarteberg is used almost all of the time in Norway.  The Norweian translation of the name (Svarteberg) (Sorteberg) is "Black Mountain".  The Hallingdal Valley is a short distance north of Oslo, Norway.  the home where Aagot Svarteberg was born still stands on the side of the mountain.
Seven of the eight children of Arne Jakobson and Aagot Svarteberg arrived in the USA before their parents imigrated in 1893.  Only the second oldest, Birgit, stayed in Norway.  It is believed that the port of entry into the USA was New York, however some may have entered from Canada.
Aagot Sorteberg Hantho and Jorand Sorteberg Jallo, imigrated in 1880, and settled near Minot, North Dakota.  Later Aagot moved to Louisburg, Minnesota and Jorand moved to Jadis Township, Rouseau, Minnesota.  Jacob Sorteberg, first lived in Nelson County, Lakota, North Dakota, later moving his family to Anoka Township, Anoka, Minnesota.  From Sketchy information it appears that Lars Sorteberg, Birgit Sorteberg Kleppe, and Tosten Sorteberg all settled in Lac Qui Parle County, near Louisburg, Minnesota.

On June 8, 1983, six of the descendants of Arne Sorteberg, arrived in Aal, Hallingdal, Norway.  The visitors found the descendants to Brigit Svarteberg to be very hospitable and friendly people.  It did not take very long for them to feel a definite kinship to the families in Norway.  During the visit they were thrilled to see the farm on which their grandfather, Arne Sorteberg was born in 1868, as well as being the birthplace of their great grandmother, Aagot Svarteberg in 1829.
Svarteberg was made up of three farms.  On farm now belongs to Torlien Svarteberg.  The middle Farm, on which the grand parents were born belongs to Sevat Svarteberg; both of these people are grandsons of Birgit Svarteberg.  All of the buildings stand as they did in the 1800's, with the exception of a house added some years later.  The present ownership of the third farm was unknown to the visitors.
Svarteberg Fjellgard
Information prepared in December 1983 by Leland Sorteberg, Muriel Hagen, Earl Hansen, Asbjorn Baklien

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Generational Mother's day

me and mom
Of course everyone is going to talk about their mom's on Mother's day.  I am on a similar wagon train.
 I was a rotten teenager and I am sure that I caused my mom many sleepless nights.  She was always there for me when I made the effort to reach out to her for help.   Now as an adult she is my go to when my days are great and the ones that are filled with mothering anxiety!
The gift of being a mother is such a wonderful thing.  I had no idea what to think when I became a mom myself.  We don't have a big family so little kids were not the norm in my life.  I held my little one and tried to do all the "mom" things and I felt like I was failing before I even stated!
Is there a natural instinct to be a mom?  Do we learn from our past generations on what to do and what not to do?  My ancestors came from across the ocean on a boat.  Some of them came alone, some of them came with husbands, some of them came with children.  How do you parent little ones on a boat across the ocean to a land that you know nothing about?  How do you calm your baby when you can't even see land or know when you will see it again.  There was disease, there were food shortages, so many things that I thankfully know nothing about as a mom.
When they arrived they had to find land.  In those times the women had to raise the children, tend to the husbands, keep the house and help out in the fields.  It was truly a group effort to being a family and making it work.
Wars happened and Mother's had to fend for themselves wondering if their husbands and sons would be coming home all while taking care of the farm, the businesses and the other children in the home. 
Progress started to happen and a whole new world of mothering came about.  Our mom's went outside the home to help support the family.  Good or bad, right or wrong that is the reality of the world at that time.
My generation seems to be split on the mom role.  Do you have a career?  Do you stay at home?  Do you do both?  I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom and work part time.  I never thought that would be the case for me.  Staying home was a daunting idea for me.  I don't like cooking, I really don't like cleaning but I do love my kids and I have found that we love to find adventures with each other. It is a rewarding career path for me.  As I sat up worrying about the fever that my little one had last night I have to reflect and remind myself that this is were I need and want to be. 
Through all the things I have learned from generation to generation I hope to pass along some great skills to my girls so that someday if they are lucky enough to have kids of their own they may not feel so overwhelmed!
On this mother's day I am so thankful for the knowledge and the loving care that I have gotten from all of the many women in my life.  Whether they are friends, or relatives I am fortunate enough to gain little tidbits from them on how to be a better mom.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue, she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all"
Psalm 31:26-29

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

publications bring questions-Kleppe vs. Kleppo

Today I have been searching for information in google books.  Just typing in last names and seeing what comes up.  I didn't find a great deal in my initial search but did come up with a question.
The husband of one of my ancestors was listed in a book called Norwegians, Swedes and More book 3 by Loren H. Amundson 2005
It had his family lineage.  My problem is that I have the Ancestors with the last name of Kleppe and in this publication they have it as Kleppo with a family farm in Norway which is the information that I have as well.
How do I figure out when and where the family name was changed. 
I am going to try to find out information from the author but wanted to find a quicker way to determine this information.  I know a lot of names were changed to be more Americanized.  I am not sure if it is just a Norwegian translation issue or if they just changed it when they came over. 
I have the year that they came over from Norway but not the port of origin:  1881 and eventually got themselves to Appleton, Minnesota.
Is there an easy way to find ship transfer information?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Surname Sunday: Svarteberg

So, I looked for the last half hour on surname information about Svarteberg or as it became in America Sorteberg.  I found nothing.  So, I went back to grandpa's research and found all the information that I needed about our family name.  Not sure why I bother doing my own research some days!  And his was all done before the age of computers and Google!
To condense what he knew:  the Svarteberg farm had been in the family since 1640.  The Svarteberg name was used as the family name when Arne Jakobson Tveito married Aagot Larsdtr Svarteberg in 1853. 

Arne Jakobson Tveito (1827-1905)
Born on the Arne Farm --- (nordre Votndalen i Al Av. Foreldre)
Parents:  Jakob Arneson Arnegard (1795- )
 Birgit Embriksdtr Arnegard

Aagot Larsdtr Svarteberg (1829-1907)
Parents:  Lars Torsteinson Svarteberg (1795-1858)
Jorand Tolleivsdtr Varaberg (1795-)
Lars Svarteberg was killed in the Springhouse in 1858.  The farm where Aagot was born had been in the relationship since 1640.  The farm was known as the Middle Farm (myljogarden).
In 1855 the farm was sold to Thorstein Larsson, brother of Aagot.
Arne Jakobson Tveito and Aagot Larsdtr Svarteberg were married on December 29, 1853, in Aal, Hallingdah, Norway.  The family name of Svarteberg was used because they lived on the Middle Farm owned by the Svarteberg's.
In Norway the name Svarteberg and Sorteberg are interchangeable.  However, the surname Svarteberg is used almost all of the time in Norway.  The Norwegian translation of the name (Svarteberg) (Sorteberg) is "Black Mountain".  The Hallingdal Valley is a short distance north of Olslo, Norway.  The home where Aagot Svarteberg was born still stands on the side of the mountain.
Seven of the eight children of Arne Jakobson and Aagot Svarteberg arrived in the USA before their parents immigrated in 1893.  Only the second oldest, Birgit, stayed in Norway.  It is believed that the port of entry into the USA was New York, however some may have entered from Canada.

Svarteberg was made up of three farms.  One farm now belongs to Torlien Svarteberg.  The Middle Farm, on which the grand parents were born belongs to Sevat Svarteberg; both of these people are grandsons of Birgit Svarteberg.  All of the buildings stand as they did in the 1800's, with the exception of a house added some years later.  The present ownership of the third farm was unknown to the visitors.
The Norwegian dialect was very much like the Norwegian spoken by those in the USA, and they were pleased that they understood the relatives as most of them spoke only Norwegian.  They also noted that there were many similarities in looks and mannerisms between those relatives living in Norway and those living in the USA.

This first edition of the Sorteberg history was prepared in December 1983.  We are truly indebted to many, many people who have provided information about thier relatives to make this book possible.  We are aware that the information, in some cases, is incomplete; either because of errors in facts received from family members, or because of typographical errors.
Leland Sortberg, Muriel Hagen, Olga Hansen, Asbjorn Baklien

Monday, April 22, 2013

Madness Monday-John Peter Swanson, Sweden 1857

John Peter Swanson's parents are the people that frustrate me from my family history.  It drives me crazy that I cannot find anything significant.  I have a lot of information on John Swanson but cannot go any farther.  My hope is that some day someone will find this and be able to shed some light on who they were.
Here is what I do know about John and Carrie Clausen Swanson.  It was compiled by my Grandfather Leland Sorteberg from Princeton, Minnesota in the 1980s.

History of John Peter Swanson
Our paternal ancestor was born on May 20, 1857 in the area of Dalsland, Varmland, Sweden.  He came to America in the early 1880s.  Very little is known about his first years in Minnesota, except that he worked in the woods in Northern Minnesota.

John's father died when he was sixteen, and a brother and sister died when they were young.  John is the only member of his family to have emigrated to America.  It is believed that his mother came to Minnesota for a period of time but did not like it in Minnesota and returned to Sweden.  Up to this time record searches can not provide more details.

John Swanson met Carrie Clausen in a restaurant in Elk river, Minnesota, where she was employed.  They were married on June 18, 1884.  They first lived in Anoka, Minnesota where he was employed by the Pillsbury Flour Mill.

In 1895 the family homesteaded 40 acres of land in Anoka Township in an area just west of the Great Northern railroad tracks and about one mile south of Main Street.  (this is now the city of Coon Rapids and the homestead would be the land south of 121 Ave. and on the west side of Xeon Street)
John Swanson, was in stature a man of 5' 10" tall and weighed about 185 pounds.  He was a strong, determined, hard working, kind man.  For several years he continued working at the Pillsbury Mill in Anoka even though it was 5 miles to Anoka.  His first horse was a bronco named Betsy and it used to take about 30 minutes to make the trip from home to Anoka.  John was reputed to be the strongest man ever to work at the Mill, being able to carry a barrel of flour from the first floor to the top of the Mill.  This along with building a home and breaking the land was a very difficult time for the Swanson family, but because of the character of this family they were able to complete the tasks before them.

In March 1910, a fire started by a Great Northern and Northern Pacific train just below the Coon Creek Junction caused extreme havoc to the farms along the right-of-way.  The fire destroyed all of the barns and outbuildings on the farm, however, the family and neighbors were able to save the home.

John Swanson was a civic minded person and served for many years on the township board.  He was one of the original church founders of the Joyce Chapel Methodist Church, serving on the first administrative board.  John Swanson served on the District #50 School Board until the schools were consolidated in 1920.  The consolidated district was known as Coon Rapids Independent Consolidated District #2.  Also, he was one of the founders of the Coon Creek Rural Telephone Company.

From the Anoka, Herald, Tuesday, June 13, 1922, Obituary---
"It is with deep regret that we are obliged to chronicle, this week, the death of John P. Swanson, which occurred June 8th at two o'clock a.m. at the old farm home, Willow Lane, Anoka Township.  He had not been well for some time suffering from leakage of the heart, but more than this in his unselfishness he was more desirous of leaving this world than being a burden to anyone.  No fear was in his thoughts of passing over for he knew whom he had believed and was persuaded that He was abundantly able to keep that which committed unto Him against that day.  In a few words it is impossible to tell what place he held in the community and in the hearts of his neighbors.  He had lived in the neighborhood for 27 years and on the old home place for 26 years and during all that time had lived a life of thrift, honesty, unselfishness and kindness that might well be exemplified.  During these he had held many prominent positions in the community and was a trustee of Joyce Chapel from the time of its dedication 20 years ago.  John P. Swanson was born in Dalsland, Sweden in 1857 coming to this country in 1882.  At Anoka on June 28, 1884, he was married to Carrie Clausen and to this happy union were born 12 children.  Three of these died in infancy.  Mrs. Swanson, who had been his faithful nurse through the long, weary weeks of his illness, and their two sons Emil and Leslie, and daughter Geneva are left in the old home.  The remaining six children are married and reside in the community Anna, (Mrs. Wm. Tigue) Clara, (Mrs. Ed Greenlun) Ida, (Mrs. Peter Sorteberg) Oscar, Henry and Edwin.  The funeral was held at Joyce Chapel on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock, Rev. E. E. Shawl officiating.  Mrs. Roy Hodson sand "The City Foursquare," "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" and "The Sweet bye and Buy".  Interment was made in the Chapel Cemetery.  The community extends its sympathy to the loved ones, but all those who knew him morn his death."

John Peter Swanson died on June 8, 1922.  Both he and his wife Carrie are buried in the Joyce Chapel Cemetery in Lots 19/1-2.  This cemetery has now been designated as a Minnesota Historical Site.

Oh!, there are so many stories about the early life of this family and the things they had to endure might be almost unbelievable in this day and age but how would you like to do things like this?

For about 15 years they hauled potatoes, butter and eggs to Minneapolis every two weeks and peddled to regular customers on the route.  John always put the money collected in a gunny sack and put it in the back of the wagon.  One time he was stopped by two men who attempted to rob him but he was able to get away from them by putting the whip to the horse Maude and outrun them.

Doctors and the hospital were in Anoka.  About 1900, while raking hay John ran into a nest of bumble bees.  The team of broncs, Betsy and Maude started to run and the rake tongue broke and the rake tipped over and John received a severe gash on his head.  This meant a trip to the Kline Hospital in Anoka by horse and buggy and he almost bled to death!

Regardless of all the trials of life of the Swanson family that was raised by John and Carrie Swanson it was a very loving close knit group. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Minnesota weather

 April 18 in Minnesota!
Normally, I would be talking about some family photo or some research item I am having trouble with.  Today, I am going to share my love for Minnesota weather!  I lived in Texas for 7 years.  You could pretty much count on the weather being pretty much the same every day.  It was very boring.  Everyone that I know is complaining about this winter lasting about forever.  I do get it, but I love a variety and have never been one to need to see the sun everyday.
I don't know of any weather related issues that my family has faced.  My great grandparents were all farmers so I know they had to deal with a lot of adversities with Mother Nature.  Many years with drought, many years with too much rain, I am sure they had to deal with the snow but I don't have any journal entries so far that talk about the harsh Minnesota winter.
Happy research everyone.  This weather just encourages me to dig deeper and find weather related stories!

Today in Weather History

1896: The temperature soared to 90 degrees F in New York City

Last 7 Days

    1979: The Red River in Minnesota and North Dakota reached 20 feet above flood stage
    1849: A severe freeze from Georgia to Texas killed cotton crops
    1884: Tornado in Alabama
    1877: Severe coastal storm, Virginia and North Carolina
    2010: A tornado struck the states of Bihar and West Bengal in eastern India
    2009: Ice out, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
    1841: New Jersey received two feet of snow
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mapping Monday

Ed and Belle Swanson Farm site

Peter and Ida Sorteberg homestead

Allen Sorteberg took over the homestead
Source unknown at this time.  Believed to be written by Leland Sorteberg in the 1980s.
In 1916 Peter Sorteberg married Ida C. Swanson, daughter of John P. Swanson, who had homesteaded a farm about 2 miles away just west of the Great Northern Railroad tracks.  For a short period of time they operated the Sorteberg homestead.  For the next 10 years the Peter Sorteberg family farmed on the 80 acre farm known as the Warren Barney place. This farm was the first place north of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific railroad tracks and on the East side of Hanson Road.
In the late 1920's the Peter Sorteberg family returned to the original homestead.  The house was moved from the original site by Sand Creek to a new location, which is now the site of the Presbyterian Church on Northdale Blvd.  One of the main reasons for this move was to be nearer to the school bus route because Northdale Blvd., (county road A) was the only road suitable for school bus transportation at the time.  New barns were built at the new home site.  Also, another 40 acres was purchased from Andrew Cilley (?) to add to the 320 acre homestead, which gave much needed additional peat land to accommadate the growing holstein dairying operation carried on by the Peter Sorteberg family.
Peter and Ida Sorteberg raised 7 children during this period of time. 
In the early 1950's Peter Sorteberg sold the farm to Orin Thompson & Associates.  Much of the present Thompson Park Development is on the land ownded and farmed by the Sorteberg family.  After the farm was sold a new farm was purchased in Ramsey township.  In 1953 Peter Sorteberg retired and son Allen and his family took over the farming and dairying operation.  Ida Sorteberg expired in 1965.  Peter Sorteberg expired in 1973.
The elementary school located in Thompson Park was originally named the Northdale Elementary school.  In 1970 it was named the Sorteberg Elementary School in recognition of the services rendered by Leland Sorteberg to public education.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shopping Saturday

Here is where my frustrations blow up!  My goal today was to post some great picture of a historical general store from Rowland, Nevada, Mountain City, Nevada and Johnsville, Minnesota.  Alas, my efforts have been road blocked!
I know that my Great Aunt Geneva Swanson Olson (1895-1981) moved to Rowland, Nevada to be a teacher and later married and was a postmaster and worked as a store keeper.  I was able to find a record for her husband Chauncey Axel Olson (1892-1964) as the postmaster in Nevada appointed in 1930.

So, I switched gears and looked around for another general store that is closer to home in the hopes that I could find something on this store.  As luck would have it, I did find tiny bits of information!  I was disappointed that the pictures that I did find from the Blaine historical society did not have information about who is in the pictures or what the dates are.  Here is what I do know about this store in my family which isn't very much:  William Tigue (1881-1956) and Anna Swanson Tigue (1885-1963) Ran the Johnsville General Store in 1926.  It was bought from John Augustson whom I also cannot find information about.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday

 Today I am thankful for my grandfather Leland Sorteberg (1918-1996).  I have wonderful memories of him growing up.  They lived in a cabin on the lake and my brother and I would spend the night there often.  We would get up early and Grandma would make us eat oatmeal and then we would go fishing.  My grandpa was a traveler.  It seems to be in our blood.  My family loves to travel and see new places.  They had an airstream trailer that they pulled everywhere.  They have a map on the wall that had all of the places they had been in their airstream, they made it to all of the US states and many countries.  They were Texas Snow Birds every winter.  I like to think that my love for travel came from him.

 One of the many things that he was able to do was to travel to Norway to continue research on our family history.  I was far too young at that time to be able to appreciate what it was that he was doing.  He was able to travel to the family farm in Aal, Hollingdal, Norway.  At that time he was able to see where his grandparents lived and confirm many of the relatives information.
I am so fortunate to have all of this information.  I am about the only one in the immediate family that has any interest in the family history.  I don't mind but it does make asking the right questions to get further information that much harder!  I have always had an interest in the family history but it hasn't taken root until I became an adult and had my own family.  I so wish that I could sit down with my grandfather today and share all of his memories.  He was very good at writing down the history of others.  He never was able to write his own.  He passed away suddenly from a heart attack never dreaming that his research would come to such an abrupt end.  All of the above information, pages and pages of data were done on his 1980s computer, writing letters, making phone calls and traveling all over to find more and more information about our family.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wedding Wednesday

Carl and Mollie
The marriage of Carl Brenna and Mollie Pederson

Today I am sharing a photo grouping that I recieved a few years ago from a complete stranger!  I had been researching my family history on and had a message in my in box from someone asking if I was a direct relation to Carl Brenna.
My great grand Aunt Catherine Sorteberg married Clifford Brenna.  Carl and Mollie (Annie) Brenna were Clifford's parents.
Even though I am not directly related to these two I was very excited to see what this person had.  She is a genealogist and found this picture in an antique shop in another state.  She thought it was a waste for it to be sitting in an shop and not in the hands of the family.  I was so grateful for the opportunity of this gift, especially with all of the information that it contained.
I thought this was such a neat idea for someone to have put together.  I am fortunate to have such a treasure.
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Farm homesteading

Montana Homestead

My mom's family was very close growing up.  The siblings all got together for dinner almost every weekend. I have talked about how close the cousins became at this time growing up.  This transferred into adulthood as well.  Every summer around the 4th of July the cousins still make the trip to Montana to sit and talk of old times and current events in their lives.  I remember as a kid going there for the 4th of July parade and playing in the big red barn.  Some of my best memories growing up are from being with this extended family.  The kids would play on the huge round bales and just plain enjoy life on the farm. 

My Grand Uncle has recently started to write his family history growing up on this farm, taking over the farm and eventually passing it on the his son.
"In 1908 Harris Clark made a quick trip to Montana to stake his claim:  the west 1/2 of Section 34, Township 31, Range 57 which was adjoining the Cookson's new location in Montana established in 1908.  the homesteading had to take place first so early in March 1909 he started assembling his minimal needs for the future farm in Montana.
We found his list of belongings that he bought to load into the immigrant car that he rented to make the trip to his claim in Montana.  I will list some of them so the readers in the 21st century can compare prices:  Four oxen at $50.00 each; but he must have hired someone to break them to work for $5.00, Hotel bill $4.00, three meals for $1.00, two rings to be installed in the oxen noses 90 cents, lumber for claim shack $28.40, 20 disc (10 foot) drill $15.00, (compare this to a modern 60 foot air drill); 50 bushels of flax seed $65.00, 5 gallons of gasoline $1.50 (no doubt for laundry stove), and Great Northern box car freight $35.00.  With these and other various items, he headed west to become hopefully a future successful farmer and stockman".  (Donald Clark history)

His family did have to work in town that first year so that they could feed the oxen and have some ready cash in order to survive.  Life was hard on the farm.
"The homesteaders had incredible courage to face the possible hazards in their future; on January 10, 1912, two days before our mother's birthday, she got an early present, a first born son.  Our dad had barely enough time to make the four mile round trip by bobsled to bring a midwife to assist in the delivery.  The temperature was 55 degrees below zero that morning.  The closest doctor was in Culbertson, 28 miles away.  With no telephone to summon him, and only transportation was by team and sled.  For the comparison between the "then and now", I will add that the total expense was probably $5.00".  (Donald Clark history)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Organizational Road Blocks

I have been very lazy about doing my research.
I did a lot of work the other day.  I found some newspaper articles about my grandfather that I hadn't read before hiding in a box that I had saved out just for that purpose.  If I were an organized person I would have all of my ancestry info in one place that could be easily accessed and work on it at a certain time during the week.  Wouldn't that make so much more sense than the randomness of how I have been doing it?
Logically, I know that this would make research so much easier.  However, I have these organizational road blocks that don't allow me to keep everything in one location.  I have things in a storage box in the garage, I have one in the storage unit, I have a box with my scrapbook things, I have information at my grandmother's, and another box of information at my mom's!  Far too many places to have information.
I have read all over the internet how to organize my files, what to do and how to do it.  The problem, they don't work for me.  When you don't like to organize and you don't want to take the time to go through everything these plans just plain don't work.
My challenge for the week is to come up with some way for me to be more organized with all of my photos, newspaper articles and family sheets that isn't going to take up so much space and isn't going to feel so overwhelming.

Monday, February 11, 2013

school search

City of Coon Rapids Logo Old Schools

Old School House
The picture of the school on the mural is the old school house in District No. 2 was organized in 1856. The Board and residents built the school which was the second one built in Anoka County. The original school was located across from where the WCCO Radio transmitter station now stands. In 1876 a new brick school, the one you see on the mural, was built at the present intersection of Crooked Lake Boulevard and Coon Rapids Boulevard. Two other schools were built in Anoka Township (now Coon Rapids) in the late 1800's. District No. 15 located at the intersections of Foley Boulevard and East River Boulevard and District No. 50 located on Northdale Boulevard across from where the present Sand Creek Park is now located. There were no paved roads in the early years, and transportation to and from school was by foot. Several miles were covered each way as pupils walked the dirt trails. The three districts in Anoka Township plus one from the Blaine area consolidated in 1920 to form consolidated School District No. 2, located where the former L.O. Jacob School now stands.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

keeping track of the homestead

PCOM History

Presbyterian Church of the Master began when a few Presbyterian families without a church home in Coon Rapids area began collecting names of others until they had enough to send to Presbytery requesting a survey.  In July l960, a community survey was conducted under the direction of Rev. Willard Reeves, Director of New Church Development.  As a result, a comity allocation was granted by the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and the Presbytery purchased a 6 acre site from Peter Sorteberg, November 1, 1960.  Rev. Jerome V. Lofgren was assigned as organizing minister.  Get-acquainted meetings were held, a steering committee formed, and the first worship service was held at Coon Rapids Junior High (now Middle School) attended by 29 adults, 55 children, and 30 infants.  Worship services continued there through March 1961.  (from the main web site)
Presbyterian Church of the Master
789 Northdale Blvd
Coon Rapids, MN

Bits and pieces that I have pieced together about the homestead from notes that my grandfather wrote.
The original homestead was on Sand Creek in Coon Rapids near Kumquat.  Leland Sorteberg was bon at this location.
Pete and Ida Sorteberg then purchased Warren Barney's house east of Hanson Blvd north of the Great Northern Railroad tracks.  3 of the chidren were born at this house.
In 1926 the Pete purchased the original homestead.  Oscar Swanson moved the house a half mile across the field so the family would be closer to the bus route.  3 children were born at this house.
1953 the farm was sold.  A new farm was purchased in Ramsey which one of the sons eventually took over.

I find it hard to navigate the logistics of where my family stayed.  My goal is to get the original maps for these homesteads.  It is very difficult to just plug it into the computer and get the information needed.  I can get a current picture but that doesn't help because it is now built up with houses.
(original homestead)