Author Archives: Lauren Mahieu

Mystery photo – are these Day family women?

Five unknown ladies, about 1905

Five unknown ladies, about 1905

I love old pictures, and love to solve the mysteries associated with them. Who are the subjects? When was the photo taken? It doesn’t even have to be my own relatives in the picture – the challenge is just is fun. However, the reward of solving the mystery is greater when it is my own family, and it makes the individuals I’m researching come alive.

The photo above is quite a mystery. The picture recently came to me by way of my aunt, who had priceless treasures that she entrusted to my care. Here is what is known:

  • Cormany photo studio, where the photo was taken, operated in Duluth, Minnesota from 1887 to 1888.
  • The studio apparently moved locations in 1889, and continued 307 West Superior in Duluth through 1890.
  • In 1894, the studio was situated in Minneapolis
  • In the 1880s and 1890s, Cormany Studio had photographers in Princeton, Minnesota.
  • The studio continued as late as 1914, when Gilbert Maggert published in the Princeton Union his rental of the studio’s premises and equipment “in all its locations”

Continue reading


Back when

Before this:

PC

I drove two hours one way to get here to view census records:

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

Yep, genealogy was way different back then. It kinda reminds of me Tim McGraw’s song “Back When,” in which he reminisces about life in the good ‘ol days. In an era of immediate gratification, where we can download our favorite songs from iTunes and play them nearly anywhere, any time of the day, Tim laments:

 

I love my records
Black, shiny vinyl
Clicks and pops
And white noise
Man they sounded fine
I had my favorite stations
The ones that played them all
Country, soul and rock-and-roll
What happened to those times?
Continue reading


New England, slavery, and Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark

Anti-McClellan broadside gives impression the Union was always the friend of the slaves.

Anti-McClellan broadside gives impression the Union was always the friend of the slaves.

Growing up my mother spoke passionately against racism. She abhorred prejudice of all kinds. It surprised me as a child, as I never observed anything close to racism in the quiet little southern California town in which I grew up. However, my mom’s passion likely grew from the time she spent in the south, serving in the Army in the early 1960s. It was an era of horrendous discrimination and segregation, and it clearly affected her.

In my naiveté, I was so proud of my mother’s New England heritage. Clearly my mother’s ancestors had no role in slavery. We were Yankees. My ancestors served on the Union side in the Civil War. However, as I studied more, I came to understand that New England has fought hard to rewrite history, trivializing their role during those critical years. Many of New England’s many ship captains earned their wealth transporting slaves to the U.S. New England’s farms supplied produce to those involved in the slave trade. During the colonial era, one in four New Englanders owned at least one slave. Okay, so my Yankee roots aren’t as great as I once thought.

However, my father’s southern roots pain me no end. My ancestry there is firmly planted in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. In addition to the Yankees, I have Confederate soldiers in my family tree. I am afraid to know what role my southern forefathers played in the issues surrounding slavery, and how their descendants treated their dark-skinned neighbors after the end of the Civil War.

Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark, abolitionist and first president of the Freedman's Aid Society

Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark, abolitionist and first president of the Freedman’s Aid Society

So it was with great joy that I recently learned that my second cousin five times removed, Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark, a Methodist minister and renowned author, was a devoted abolitionist.  Born in 1812 on Mount Desert Island, Maine, Davis was the first president of the Freedman’s Aid Society, which provided education for freed slaves and their children. They were instrumental in raising the literacy rates of blacks immediately after the conclusion of the Civil War, a priority for slaves to be able to find profitable occupations. Clark College was named in his honor, and later merged with Atlanta University to become the Clark Atlanta University. More details can be found on the NAACP website at http://www.naacpconnect.org/blog/entry/hbcu-profile-clark-atlanta-university.

Davis Wasgatt Clark was not the only outspoken person in his family. His grandfather and namesake, Davis Wasgatt, had alienated himself from friends and neighbors in Eden (now known as Bar Harbor), Maine, when he became a staunch Anabaptist. Davis was also a Revolutionary War soldier, a solid patriot, and one who felt that actions spoke louder than words.

While New England was far from innocent in the evolution of slavery in the U.S., and my ancestors likely did have some sort of role that I will eventually discover, right now I’m pretty proud of my Maine ancestors. Of course, my Wasgatt family stands out prominently among them.


The life expectancies of our ancestors

My grandmother never told her age. Ever. When I was a kid, she made it into a game but would never give me enough hints to guess. She said she’d be dead by the time I was 21, but that she would leave a note for me which I could open on my 21st birthday letting me know how old she was.  (She didn’t need to – I was nearly 40 by the time she died!)  Obviously, my grandmother clearly thought she would die young, and as her own mother was only 61 when she passed away from a heart attack.  I can understand – my own mother was only 63 when she died, and now that I’ve reached the half-century mark myself, my own mortality is even more real.   So….I decided to do a simple pedigree chart showing  my ancestors’ ages at death:

death genogram

Of course, while I’m pleased to see those who enjoyed extended golden years, like most families, I also have my fair share of ancestors who went to the pearly gates in their 50s and 60s.  Analyzing this a bit further, the life expectancy of my grand parents, great grandparents and great-great grandparents looks like this: Continue reading


MacBridge for RootsMagic – two thumbs up

rm

I’ve been a longstanding RootsMagic user.  Even after making the move to a Mac a year ago, I continued to use RootsMagic, a Windows-based program, by running it with Codeweaver’s CrossOver application.  It worked pretty well for the most part – except for one extremely annoying issue.  Despite setting up my default folders for my media files, RM didn’t remember the locations.  Consequently, each time I went to link to a picture or a document, I had to navigate to the correct folder on my hard drive.  It was a MAJOR inconvenience.  Aside from that, I really didn’t have any complaints.  So, when RootsMagic released the MacBridge program earlier this week, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth trying it out.  But I’m sure glad I did!  My folders are now retained in RootsMagic’s memory, and the program is operating as it should.

You can learn more about RootsMagic’s new release, MacBridge, here.

 


My grandmother’s parents, Ernest Simpson and Susan Stanwood

Ernest L. "Bob" Simpson

Ernest L. “Bob” Simpson

Susan (Stanwood) Clark and daughter Beatrice, about 1906

Susan (Stanwood) Clark and daughter Beatrice Clark, about 1906

In 1917, on a rainy night in Lakefield, Minnesota, my great grandfather, Ernest “Bob” Simpson, penned the poem below:

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Charles M. and Julia C. (Veland) Uphouse

My great grandparents, Charles Madison Uphouse and Julia Christine Veland, have always been somewhat of a mystery. So few stories have been passed down about them, and so little is known of their lives. Here are some photos and documents recently sent to me by my wonderful aunt.

Charles M. Uphouse, in uniform

Charlie was born 4 March 1889 in Davenport, Thayer County, Nebraska.  The couple had one child, Charles W. Uphouse, who was killed in an automobile accident on his way to California in 1949.   Sometime after his marriage to Mary Belle, Charlie enlisted in  Company H, 5th Nebraska Infantry: Continue reading


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