Thoughts and pictures from our 2005 trip to Wisconsin and North Dakota to retrace my family’s Northern Roots.
My mother’s side of the family had a one day family reunion in Southern Wisconsin in July, 2005. It was a great opportunity to meet with members of that branch of the family again, and a wonderful opportunity to meet and spend some time with Bill Zarnstorff, a 1st cousin who has done has a fantastic job researching and genealogy of the Amborn clan. He gave me a copy of Amborn Family – Descendants of Casper Amborn, an impressive 70 page document outlining the results of his research of Casper Amborn and his descendants. Kathleen and I had also decided that reunion was the perfect beginning for a week of camping and genealogy, so the following day we drove North on what would turn out to be a week of incredible discoveries.
Monday, July 25 2005: Somo, Wisconsin
According to the 1920 census, my grandparents and their three children (including the 6 year old who would eventually become my father) were living in Somo, Lincoln County, Wisconsin.
We stopped by the Merrill Recorder of Deeds offices (Merrill is the county seat for Lincoln County) to see if they could help decipher the information on the 1920 census form. One of the clerks with great eyesight figured out that it said “Section 2, Township 35 North, Range 4 East” and helped us find where it was located on the map… it is South of Highway 8, East of County Road T (there is a strip of land between CR T and Range 4), North of Carpenter road (a gravel dead end road off of Country Road T). I’m not sure that there was much to Somo in 1920, but there definitely wasn’t much of it left to see in 2006.
The census form indicates that they were renting (not land owners), so it is going to take a lot more research to figure out which piece of property they lived on. We did see a lot with “Hanson” on the mailbox (W10288), 10 acres currently owned by “JH” according to the copy of the map we got from the clerk.
Section 2, Township 35 North, Range 4 East: The Old Homestead
Stopped at the public library in Rice Lake and received a considerable amount of help from Nancy Zabel (Soper) who grew up in Birchwood and knew Marie Hanson (my grandmother), Laura (her daughter) and Gomer Evans (Laura’s husband). Nancy knew Marie in her later years and remembered her singing songs to her in Norwegian.
I searched the microfilm records and found information about the death of Anton Hanson (my Grandfather) in the Thursday, February 24, 1921 edition of the Rice Lake Chronicle (page 12 under the headline of “BIRCHWOOD”)
As much as it shames me to write these words, this day would mark my first visit to the Woodlawn cemetery in Birchwood where my grandparents are buried. One of the things that has been so gratifying about the study of my families history is that it has brought me, however late in life, into contact with my families history.
Hans Isakson Family History Form & Anton Edwin Hanson Obituary Transcription
I had found information about the Red River Valley Genealogical Society in Fargo on the web before leaving for the trip, so that seemed like a logical starting point for our visit to Fargo. What a gold mine this turned out to be! They have a friendly and skilled staff and tons of information and documentation available in their center. A few hours perusing through the information led to several discoveries:
Information about Inger Heline’s funeral Obtained a “Record of Funeral” dated 02/25/1929:
Place of death: State Hospital, Jamestown ND Date of Death: 02/23/1929 Funeral Services to be held in Fargo. Certifying Physician: A.W. Guest, MD of Jamestown. Cause of Death: Pneumonia Listed as a single person, born 01/16/1857 Died at 72 years, 1 month, 7 days. Body is to be shipped to Fargo, ND at a cost of $45.
Her Hanson Funeral Home record listing the details of the funeral in Fargo:
Residence: West Fargo, ND Phone: 5500-2 Place of death: State Hospital, Jamestown ND Date of Death: 02/23/1929 at 10:45 am Cause of Death: Lobar Pneumonia How long living in city or township: 13 years In US for 25 years Married - Husband: Hans Isackson Date of Birth: 04/24/1857 71 years 9 months 29 days Occupation: Housewife Burial: 02/27/1929 Informant: Hans Isakson, West Fargo How long at place of death: 13 years Church: Norwegian Lutheran Church Answer to "Have you suitable clothing?" - Answer: "No" Answer to "How dress hair?" - Answer: "Part Middle= No curl" Jewelry - "No (Leave ring if on)" Where will final burial be made? - Riverside Cemetery. Funeral - held from Hansons funeral home, Wednesday 2/27/29 Church: 3:00. Clergyman: Rev. Westtry (Westbry?) 3721 Who will secure his services - already done Singers - No Pall bears - None Have you a Cemetery Lot? No Flowers - #18 MOTHER ($12). Ordered by FGO on 2/25/29 Disposition of Flowers - Leave all
Her burial information in the “Riverside Cemetery Association – Record of Internments” book at the RRGS (I photographed it – the book was too big to fit on the photo-copier):
Internment #4093 Lot 75, Grave 3, Row 91. Manager: Tom Shafer, 2102 5th Street South 701-235-2671 Maintenance & Grounds phone number: 701-232-1477
And her obituary (from the Fargo Forum, Morning Edition, Tuesday, February 26, 1929, Page 2:
Seeing the reference to the State Hospital raised the unpleasant but distinct possibility that Inger Heline had been committed there. The hospital is still a going concern in Jamestown, and a phone call confirmed that Inger Heline had indeed been a patient in the state mental hospital. Amazingly, they still have mico-films of her records, so we made the drive and discovered the rest of her sad story. She was committed on 08/13/1915 for “religion impressions and temper, made two attacks on the members of the house with knife” and remained in the hospital until her death in 1929. When she was committed in 1915 she was 58 years old and had been in the United States for only 11 years.
The Lena Phipps who signed the warrant of admission at the state hospital is Olena Isacksen, daughter of Inger Heline. It is notable that she was married on April 6, 1914: according to the admission records, Inger Heline started having problems a few months after the wedding.
Books and Microfilm at the State Hospital in Jamestown, ND
Tony Hanson in Berlin, ND
Genealogy is a funny kind of hobby: you never know where the next discovery will come from or where it will lead you. Shortly after we returned home Kathleen was looking through Genforum and came across a 2003 posting from someone looking for information about Petra Isakson (her grandmother). Her name was Sharon Burke: we exchanged email and soon discovered that we are second cousins. She lives in California but owns property in Egeland, ND. Since then I have also “met”Kari Eide, another second cousin who lives in the Fargo area. I am grateful that my research has provided me with the oppurtunity to get to know them both and to include them in my family tree.