Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Talent Tuesday - Part Two of Dad's Artwork - Leathercraft

I mentioned in a previous post that my dad was very artistic. His ability to draw was not the only talent he had. While he was in 1-W service in the early 50's he worked on a couple of different hobbies. He lived in Pueblo, Colorado, near the hospital where he worked.

I am not sure how he learned to do leatherwork or who taught him but he perfected his skills during the years in Colorado. He made purses, belts and billfolds. This photo was in the Pueblo paper.

We still have a few of the things he made  --  mostly things he made for mom [Phyl] or himself. But I don't think this beautiful purse has ever been used.

It is lined with turquoise suede.
He gave things to his family and his cousins and he sold things to people sometimes too. Often people would request something to be made and personalized. He also made a purse and put it in the hospital gift pool at Christmas one time. He talked about it in his letters to mom. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Talent Tuesday -- The Artwork of Ken Schmidt, part 1 -- Childhood Drawings

My dad, Ken Schmidt, was gifted in many ways. He began drawing when he was very young. These were drawn in December of 1942 when he would have been 10 years old. You can see he was influenced by the news.

He also drew on a grain bin that he walked by on his way to school. Those drawings are a little difficult to see and harder still to photograph but they are still there all these years later.

And in high school he was well known for his art. He often drew sketches for posters and programs.

His yearbook lists a Class Prophecy as follows: "Ken Schmidt, who spent all his high school days down by the creek fishing, now finds himself a broken down artist drawing pictures for little children."

In later years, he would often sketch. He liked to sketch while on vacation. One year dad and mom went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with my family and I. This is a sketch he made there.
Occasionally as I go through things, I come across a small sketch. It always brings a smile to my face as I remember Dad.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sibling Saturday -- Edna Schmidt Cooper 1887-1964

The Benjamin Schmidt and Catharina Siebert Schmidt family have had an annual reunion since the 1930s. Children and grandchildren and great grandchildren keep up the family news. But sometimes there is a sibling who for one reason or another gets left behind, usually because they didn't have a family. I feel that way about Edna.

Edna Schmidt Cooper

Edna was the eleventh child and youngest daughter of Benjamin and Catherina Schmidt. She was born on 4 October 1887 in Barton County, Kansas. She is the only one of their children who lived to adulthood and did not have children of her own.

Edna lived at home with her parents most of her life. She cared for them until they died.

She is found in their home in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.  Her mother died in 1919 and her father died in 1927. In the 1930 census, she is found in the home of her brother Abraham and his wife, Lena, in Kiowa County, Kansas.

The 1940 census shows her living with her new husband, widower Charles Cooper, and three of his six children. Edna and Charles were married in January of 1940. Edna was 52, Charles 51. They lived on Maple Street in Greensburg.

Edna died in June of 1964 at age 76 and Charley in January of 1973. They are both buried in Fairview Cemetery in Greensburg.


Charles Cooper was born to Oliver Cooper and Ella Baker on the 16th of June 1888. He married a woman named Martha and they had the following six children: 
(listed with an approximate birth date; they were all born in Oklahoma)
Ruth            1913
Beulah         1915
JW               1917
Charles W    1920
Dirl             1922
Dale            1924   - who is buried in Fairview Cemetery by his dad

Martha died sometime prior to 1930.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Wednesday -- Ken and Phyllis (Egli) Schmidt -- August 17, 1955

My parents, Ken and Phyllis Schmidt dated for four years before they got married. My mom had to finish nurses training [student nurses in her school were not allowed to get married] and my dad was doing alternative service for conscientious objectors. They were both Mennonites.

Ken and Phyl's engagement photo
This picture was taken in Dad's room at a boarding house in Pueblo, Colorado.
They are reading their engagement scripture, which for the life of me I can't find! I think it is written on the original slide. I'll have to dig it out.

Ken and Phyllis and their parents, Emery and Edna Egli and Harvey and Beatrice Schmidt.
They were married in Mom's home church, Manson (Iowa) Mennonite. Their reception was at her parents home.

The entire wedding party

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Schmidt

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tech Tuesday -- Memory Medallions -- Connecting the Future to the Past

Memory Medallions have been mentioned before on blogs but the only one I saw that was labeled Tech Tuesday, had a broken link. Anyway it has been awhile since it has been mentioned.

I just revisited mine this week so I thought I would mention it..

Memory Medallions are small coin-like medallions that have a variety of uses but the most common is placing one on a headstone, which is what I did. Mine was given to me as a gift after my parents died  -- my mom in 2010 and my dad in 2011.

Here you can see the medallion in the lower right hand corner.

The medallion has a QR code on it:

The code can be scanned with any smart phone.

When you scan it, it takes you to a web page. The web page is yours to complete however you wish with stories, photos, videos and links. (I need to link to this blog!)

This is mine:

You can also take a picture of the bar code to use later  --  or you can go to the Memory Medallion website and search for the page by the name.

They are kind of pricey and of course there is always a million comments and questions about being able to use them with future technology and people using them for identity theft etc. but the concept remains pretty awesome. I don't have much on my parents site. No video and only the one picture. I can't help but wonder if putting one on my great-great grandparents headstone, might connect me to distant cousins! I know technology has already connected me with many cousins I would never have otherwise met.

Another thought - you could purchase one for your own headstone and leave whatever messages you want!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Wednesday -- Cornelius Smith and Katie Unruh -- married in 1904

Cornelius Smith (Schmidt), son of Tobias and Luvantina (Decker) Schmidt
Katherine Unruh, daughter of Peter B.  and Anna (Frey) Unruh
August 18, 1904
the Office of the Probate Judge in Marion County, Kansas

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Those Places Thursday -- Bergthal Mennonite Church, a final visit

A few weeks ago I posted about this church as a “SentimentalSunday” post and mentioned that I would be attending the memorial service for the church on May 26. I did attend that service and want to share some of that with you.

Sunday morning I arrived early and was able to walk around the church admiring the beautiful woodwork and windows but also noting that the building was suffering from mold damage.  There were two rooms full of things being auctioned off in a silent auction. Shelves, pictures, offering plates, windows, dishes.  Great photos can be found on a blog called Life in Claremont.

There were also quite a few books that were free for the taking. I was excited to find a German hymnal and also a shape-note hymnal.  I bid on several things but at the end of the day, I ended up with a small box and one of 7 large stained glass windows! I must say I am very excited to get it later in the summer.

Published by:
Mennoniten von Nord-Amerika 1893
The church filled up quickly and even to overflowing.  The Bergthal Facebook page says about 350 people were there. The service began with singing.  Beautiful harmonies of familiar hymns.  But it was hard not to feel the pain in knowing that it had been sometime since this many voices rang in these walls. And it will not ever be so again.

Charlotte (Life in Claremont blog) also made a great video that includes singing and put it on YouTube

But one of the most beautiful moments of the day was the message that Pastor Lynn Schlosser gave. I have spent many hours trying to write about her sermon and find myself quoting nearly the entire sermon.  Her words seem to echo all our feelings and answer all our questions.  Lynn seemed to know the questions everyone was asking themselves.

If it feels like you’ve come to a funeral today, well you have, kind of. People often talk about how given the choice they hope their loved ones might come to see them one more time while they’re still living rather than wait and come for the funeral. That’s what we’re doing here today. I am thankful so many of you have come home, one more time, to tell this people, this place, this church how much you have loved her and what she has meant to you. . . .

And as is often the case at funerals, I want to talk about resurrection this morning. . . .  Resurrection is woven into the very structure of who we are and how we are. Resurrection is the very essence of life. . . .

Look around you and see evidence of resurrection. . . . And know this. We represent but a drop in the ocean of lives Bergthal Mennonite Church has reached out and touched in her 138 years. Our brothers and sisters circle this globe. Bergthal’s influence ripples out, with a never-ending gentle touch that shapes and nurtures.”

She goes on to give a touching recount of the final events of the movie “Les Miserables” and how the story impacted her as she thought about her beloved church, Bergthal Mennonite. She reads the lyrics of the triumphant song “When Tomorrow Comes” and then comments:

“In a similar way, I can hear those original founding ancestors from 1875, their children and grandchildren, your parents and grandparents, I can hear them singing.

We’ve dealt with such a mix of emotions these last few years - grief, anger, shame, disappointment, relief, confusion. In the book of Philippians Paul says, “ I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” This sounds like truth. We take it on faith. But sometimes it’s hard to really believe it. How can a church’s death be a victory? How do we celebrate the loss of someone so dear. Surely we’ve let all those good people who labored hard to build this church, surely we’ve let them down. We see through a mirror but dimly.

But if we listen closely, we might just hear their voices raised in a song of triumph. I believe they stand together this day singing a song of hope and faith. They see what we can only intuit. They are enfolded by a resurrection we long for, their vision unhindered. I believe they see Bergthal’s good, long life, the many ways in which God’s Kingdom has been revealed in our midst. They see also the many ways in which Bergthal will continue to move and live, there in the realm of resurrection.”

Yes, I realize I quoted almost her entire message. But not quite. I am putting it all on a page "Pastor Schlosser's Message." It is worth reading in it's entirety. She gave me permission to use it "however you see fit."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday -- Cemetery Marker for Bergthal Mennonite Church 1875-2013

This isn't really a tombstone but at first glance in the cemetery, it looks like one. It is a memorial marker to commemorate the Bergthal Mennonite Church that will soon be torn down as I wrote in a previous post. After it is torn down, they will use the cornerstone and some of the bricks to build a base for this marker.

This is what it says:


In 1874, Mennonite immigrants from Karlswalde, Russia, seeking religious freedom and military exemption from service, settled on land in the Dundee area which was obtained through the Homestead Act and from the Sante Fe Railroad. The only shelters available to the immigrants that first winter were railroad box cars. The first buildings, including a church, were erected in 1875. This first church, a limestone building, was used as a school. Education was afforded a high value throughout the lifetime of the congregation. A larger wooden church was built in 1897. The final building, a brick church dedicated in 1915, was situated one mile north of this cemetery. Like thousands of rural churches across the country, the membership declined rapidly in its later years. Bergthal Mennonite was known for its emphasis on peace and service and was an active member of the Western District Conference until it officially disbanded in 2013.

*Hill and Valley

Bergthal Mennonite Church, Pawnee Rock, Barton County, Kansas

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Church Record Sunday - Swedish Records and Patrinymics

I put off researching my Scandinavian ancestors for some time because I was worried about dealing with name changes. I thought it might prove to be very tedious. But once I took the plunge (I subscribed to Genline), I found the experience to be fun and fairly easy! The records are actually quite good and for the most part very legible. The farther back you go the more difficult the handwriting becomes but I was able to find several generations!
Anna's birth record
My great grandmother, Annie Peterson, was born in Sweden and immigrated with her parents. I knew where they were from so that started my search. I searched "Jonkoping Lan, Odestugu" and found Annie's birth record, her parents marriage record, their household registers and a moving out record that said they moved to "Nordamerica."

American records listed Annie's mother as Malena Swenson - the Swedish records list her as Maja Lena Svensdotter. The household register lists birthdates as well as names, and the women in Sweden always went by their maiden name so it was easier to be sure you had the right couple. Some of the records list page numbers of family registers and that helps as well. Sometimes it requires a page by page search of a hundred or so households.

Malena's birth record tells me her parents are Sven Mansson and Brita Stina Isacsdotter. By looking for their household register I was able to locate all of Malena's siblings and their birthdates as well as the birth dates for Sven and Brita. And when I looked up those records it named their parents and I was on a roll! It was a little more effort to put into my RootsMagic database - keeping all the names straight - and occasionally I found myself lost - the reuse of names can become a jumble as you look at records for Sven Mansson and Mans Svenson over and over.

Here is my Swedish pedigree 'at-a-glance' (meaning without all the specifics and citations):
And YES! Brita Stina Isacsdotter and Peter Isacsson turned out to be siblings!

Andrew and Malena's household examination record

By using resources I found on Genline and on the internet, as well as the book "Your Swedish Roots," I was able to read and learn quite a bit of Swedish in the process. I really enjoyed it. Now on to the Danes!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Benjamin Schmidt and Catharina Siebert Schmidt - Dundee Valley Cemetery

Benjamin P. Schmidt - son of Peter Schmidt and Katherine Voth - and his wife,  Catharina Siebert - daughter of Abraham Siebert and Anna Jantz - are buried in the Dundee Valley Cemetery in Barton County Kansas. They were married in Karlswalde, Russia 27 November 1864 and immigrated to the United States in 1875. They had twelve children.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Goodbye to an Old Church - Bergthal Mennonite

Church dedication 1915
This almost feels like it should read "Sunday's Obituary." It makes me sad. Some of my cousins called me today because they saw an article in USA Today and the Wichita Eagle about a small church closing in Kansas.

It was the church that our Mennonite ancestors helped start in Pawnee Rock, Kansas.

I looked the article up online and then followed the link to the original article that was in the Great Bend Tribune.

"Landmark Bergthal Mennonite Church closing its doors"
[this link now requires a subscription to see all of it but you can still see a photo as of May 22]

You can read some of the story there - it has some great photos -  but let me just add to it.

I did not grow up in Pawnee Rock. My grandfather, Harvey Schmidt, was born there. His parents grew up there. His father immigrated when he was a year old and they settled in this area with a group of immigrant Mennonites from Russia.

I never attended the church in this story - Bergthal Mennonite. But it has always been a part of the family story. When we lived in Kansas, it was a frequent road trip to go to Pawnee Rock for an afternoon of family history.

The first church was the stone church:
The old stone church that my ancestor Benjamin Schmidt helped build.
In later years, a monument to this church was built and placed at the side of the highway. It was a small model of the building made from the stones of the original building.
Plaque on the monument naming the immigrant settlers

Aunt Judi at the monument around 1960

Arlin and Nancy by the monument - around 1960
Later the roadside monument was damaged by vandals and moved to the basement of the church building.

The congregation built a frame church in 1899 and then a brick building in 1915.

Frame church 1899
 The brick structure won't make it to it's centennial year. Like many rural congregations it has been dwindling in size and currently only 14 people regularly attend. They have decided to close and to tear down the building.

A few years ago - 2004 I believe - I went to Pawnee Rock and met with the church historian and distant cousin of mine by marriage, Ruth Deckert. Ruth had many stories to tell and gave me a tour of the church and the town of Pawnee Rock. The church is a ways outside of town - to say it is a rural church is more than accurate. It has a cemetery with it and I think I am related to almost everyone in it! I took lots of pictures and lots of notes. Ruth was a great guide. She has since passed away and I know the community of Pawnee Rock misses her.

I do know that small rural churches have a difficult time. It makes me sad that it will be torn down but I understand their decision. Watching it fall down would be even harder.

Perhaps I will be able to make it to their memorial service on May 26 - or sometime in June before it is torn down. I have a feeling that the history shared in these last days will be worth the trip.

June update: [See the new memorial marker here and my follow-up blog here, regarding the memorial service in May.]

Friday, May 3, 2013

Faces From the Past - Family Reunion?

My parents found this photo in some old junk from an auction. These people are not related to me in any way, but the picture is so fun to look at. This was probably taken in Kansas somewhere.

Here is a couple of zoomed in shots . . .

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mystery Monday -- Three Unusual Photos of Grandpa Peterson

These were in the photos that belonged to my grandmother, Edna Peterson Egli. Peter Peterson was my mother's maternal grandfather.

Peter is seen in the second column from the right  Mom did not know why these unusual photos were taken or who any of the other people are. She thought it might be related to his job - perhaps they were his coworkers. He worked at the local grocery store.

One great thing to note about these pictures is that while most of the photos are rather serious, in the very bottom photo of each person, they are (for the most part) smiling.

The following photo is another mystery to me. While this picture is labeled signifying that Peter is in the photo -- standing second from the left --  they give me no clue as to why he is in the photo or what is going on. Theses men appear to be policemen but as far as I know, Peter was never a policeman. 

And I feel certain someone will recognize what organization he belonged to in this third photo. Peter is in the middle row, far right. Peter was born in Denmark but he married a Swede and they attended a Swedish Lutheran church.

Anyone have any ideas about these photos? I'd love to learn more.