Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Genealogy Highlights of 2013

This year, I made some good headway, genealogically speaking. On my wife's side I found a couple caches of pictures and documents that revealed new information. Unfortunately some of these discoveries were made as a result her grandparents passing away. I wish we had asked them just a few more questions about their history, before we were no longer able.

Also this year I got to connect with a long sort-of-lost relative on my wife's side. She is my wife's grandma's cousin, and we didn't know who she was, or that she lived 25 minutes from our house! Not only that but she has been doing genealogy for many years and has lots of great info.

Ella (Eddlemon) Short & Melinda (Short) Widner

Also this year we got to celebrate my wife's great aunt's 90th birthday. She is still going strong. We have been able to visit with her a few times this year and also as a result have came across a treasure trove of old pictures that we had never seen before, and that revealed new information.

Aunt Millie's 90th Birthday

One big highlight for my side of the family was being able to visit the Netherlands with my dad. We drove through just about every town we could that we had ancestors from.

Paesens Church

In one of those towns, in the church tower, was a dedication to a Broersma that laid the first brick. We haven't been able to connect this Broersma to our direct line yet, but it certainly was exciting to see the possibility since our family live in the area.

Jelle Tjercks Broersma 1634 Inscription in Allingawier Church

Also while visiting the Netherlands, I got to visit with relatives and get more family stories and pictures to bring back with us. One of the visits was with our cousin that is one of the only living people in the world that has met my great great grandpa Broersma, and had some stories of him and what he was like.

Theo & Hinke Wip 1

With some new information that he gave us, we were able to drive to another town and find the exact spot where a picture of my great great grandpa Broersma was taken.

Jetze Broersma in Makkum

Overall it's been a great year that's has expanded our knowledge of our family. I hope to have more great finds in 2014.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Luitske van Gunst Heirlooms

When visiting relatives in the Netherlands, me and my dad discovered that my Great Great Grandma Luitske van Gunst (Broersma) had made a cross stitch sampler when she was 12. I don't know if she made a lot of them, but 1 still existed and it was given to one of my aunts. When we got home my dad called her and asked if she still had it, and she did. She said we could have it, and also something else.

Luitske van Gunst Cross Stitch 1882

It says: Luitsche van Gunst, 12 years old, 1882. We hope to have it framed. I've seen some of these come up on Antiques Roadshow and can be worth a lot, but those are really old and have a lot of detail. I like this one though because it's from my family.

Included with the sampler was a church book that also belonged to Luitske.

Luitske van Gunst Church Songbook 1

This church song book almost everyone would have from that congregation, and would bring it each Sunday to church. Most of it is songs, but it also has the New Testament and catechisms. This one was printed in 1881. Another cool thing with this book is that is says it belonged to Luitske.

Luitske van Gunst Church Songbook 2

It says: Churchbook of Luitske Thijses van Gunst, born in Piaam the 11th day of October 1869. Luitske would go on to marry Jetze Broersma in 1890.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where is Forest, Washington?

I found some postcards from my wife's side of the family that were from 1909. They were to Martha (Morey) Wisner, wife of Lawrence S Wisner. They were living in Waukegan, Illinois from 1900 till about 1910 when they were in Stockton, California. But then I saw this postcard and it was sent to the town of Forest, Washington.

Aug 1909 Irene (Wisner) Anderson to Martha (Morey) Wisner

So this was postmarked August of 1909, and it looks like they were living in the town of Forest in Washington, but where is that? There is not much of an address, just the town. Then I saw it again in another postcard from December of 1909.

Dec 1909 Alice to Martha (Morey) Wisner

So since there were there for at least a few months, they had to be living there. I tried to look up Forest, Washington on Google Maps and came up with like a thousand hits. They have a few trees in that state. So I found the fact that they were living in Washington for at least a few months, maybe up to a year, significant because I thought they went straight from Illinois to California.

So I searched some more and couldn't find anything. I figured it was a small town that probably changed it's name. I went on Ancestry.com and went to the 1900 census and started looking at the available districts for Washington. I went county by county until I found one that said Forest, and I found it in Lewis County!

Lewis county rang a bell in my mind. Someone else from the family had been there I thought. So I looked up the other towns in the county and the ones that caught my eye were Napavine and Chehalis. Napavine is where Lawrence S Wisner's father George Wisner had died. George had left Illinois sometime after 1901 and in 1905 he died in Napavine. Lawrence was still in Illinois in 1906, so I wonder if he moved to Forest because it was near where his father was working.

I wanted to find out where Forest was on a map. After searching for a while I found out about 2 sentences on the history of that town, from "The Origin of Washington Place Names" written in 1923 by Edmund Meany:

FOREST, a postoffice in Lewis County, was established and named by W. R. Monroe in March, 1897. On October 1, 1897, it was moved a mile and a half southeast to its present location by the postmaster, Joseph Grenner. The place is usually called Newaukum Prairie.

So I kept searching and finally found an old map of Lewis County. And I got lucky because it happened to be from 1909, when the postcards were written.

Lewis County Washington ca 1909 Crop

It may be hard to see, but Forest is under the L in Chehalis. And just to the southwest of Forest is Napavine! So Lawrence did move to the area where his father was. My guess would be because he knew work would be there. Mystery solved, at least the mystery of where Forest is.

Update: As I was going through some more photos I came across this one that says it was the school that Ray C Wisner went to in Washington. I'm assuming that this is near Forest.

1909 Ray C Wisner at School near Forest, WA

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Name Van 't Zet

I wish I had found out about this 2 years ago. That would have been cool timing.

Over the summer I got to go visit the Netherlands. As we were researching the family we learned of a new resource that allowed you to see who owned what property in 1832. There is a website that took that information and put it on an interactive map. You can check it out on WatWasWaar.nl.

We were searching on all the last names we had and got a hit on Van 't Zet. I always thought it was a weird last name and didn't know what it meant. Oh, and by the way the full name should be "van het Zet" but they usually abbreviate the het so you are left with 't. Tjerk Tjerk van 't Zet owned some property just south of the village of Allingawier. So we thought it'd be cool to go check it out.

Allingawier Sign

There was a house there, but it has most likely been rebuilt. I don't think it was more than 100 years old. We did knock on the door, but no one was home. It made it less awkward to take pictures of a stranger's house.

House at Jakle Set

Then we noticed on one of the pillars in front driveway that is said Set! That is pretty much the same as Zet.

House at Jakle Set 3

The other pillar said Jakle. So put them together and you get Jakle Set.

House at Jakle Set 4

We noticed on the front of the house that there was a wooden sign that said Jakle Set with a couple guys in a boat.

Jakle Set Sign

After looking around we moved on and visited some other villages, then went back to where we were staying. When we got back we did a little more investigation. Here is a Google maps view of where Jakle Zet is.

View Larger Map

Now here is what comes up in the 1832 reference map. Do you notice a pretty major difference?

Tjerk Tjerks van 't Zet 1832 Jakle Zet

There used to be lakes there! And Jakle Zet was at a point between the 2 lakes where the land almost came together. I looked up the area on some older maps. Here is what it looked like in 1664:

Jakle Zet 1664

Here is what it was like in 1718.

Jakle Zet 1718 zwart:wit

Now here is a map from 1854 and on this one it has Jakle Zet, but it also says overzet underneath.

Jakle Zet 1854

So what does all this mean besides the fact that I like to look at maps? What is a Zet? Our cousin Jaap Heeringa, who we were staying with, let us know that it meant a bridge. A narrow bridge that would turn. So when people wanted to cross, it bridged the land, but when boats needed to get through it would turn on a pedestal and let them pass on either side. Here is a modern version of what it would kinda look like. I found this animated gif to the right on Wikipedia. So then what is an overzet? Well it turns out that at some point in history, that narrow waterway got wider, and the swing bridge either fell down or wouldn't work anymore or something. So they had to ferry people across in a boat. So probably that's why on the house there was an image of a boat.

So what is a Jakle Zet? Well it turns our that Jakle is the name of a man. Again with the aid of cousin Jaap, we discovered some history of the area in a book, and it talked about Jakle Zet. I also found the same text from the book online here, in the chapter about Allingawier.

I only speak English, and the book is in Dutch. I took the text and ran it through Google translate and here is the approximation of what the book says:

One would therefore, in view of all that water, assume that the residents have always led. A quiet and peaceable life here Villages in the same position as Eernewoude and Suawoude, have not known the storms of the Middle Ages. But that is at least not always been the case with Allingawier. Between the two large lakes was a fairly narrow connection. Originally it is probably a normal speed, which a "turn" was. When this trade was later widened by erosion, there was a spring. The name Jacle Set is given to a house on the road to Allingawier near Workum and is maintained, inhabited by Mr. Elzinga.

Then in 1878 the two lakes were drained - of which more later - also disappeared spring. At the Jacle Set reminds adopted the surname Van 't Zet, by the occupant of the house Jacle Set, Tjerk Tjerks in 1811. The name is probably derived from Jacla Feddes, who around 1450 had a stins here. He was vetkoper and controlled by his fortified house the transition across the water between the lakes. A strategic position, so we would say. This also includes the Schieringers and therefore tried Douwe Sjaardema and Epe Aylva there also to build a strength in order "to cut off Jacla Feddes and Vetkopers pass and passing." Their attempt, which they undertook in 1449, however, was by Janco Douwema en. Jacla with other Vetkopers prevented under construction and the strength was "razed to the ground." This does not let the Schieringers outdone. Five years later appeared Goslijck Jongema and a troop Schieringers, supported by citizens of Bolsward, in Allingawier. They destroyed the stins of Jacla Feddes and beat him with 15 helpers death. The stins of Jacla with was razed and Jongema took possession of the goods of cases Jacla. There is probably nothing when rebuilt, because in ancient chronicles and old maps is not stins more.

So, to sum up, there is some interesting stuff there. At that point between the 2 lakes there used to be a "stins." A stins is a fortified tower. Only super rich people could have had one, big land owners. This tower was owned by Jacle Feddes around 1450, but was destroyed 5 years later and Jacle was killed. There are only a couple of stins left in Friesland, and we got to visit one. This is similar to what Jacle would have had.


So that place, with the turning bridge, was named after Jakle, and they called it "Jakle Zet." My 5 great grandfather, Tjerk Tjerks, lived there. In 1811 all inhabitants of the Netherlands had to register a family name - a last name. Since Tjerk was living at the set/bridge, he took the family name "van het Zet" - "from the set."

So that's what his name means. Tjerk Tjerks van 't Zet registered his family name on 17 December 1811, 202 years ago today. Here is that document that shows his official name.

1811 Van 't Zet - Tjerk Tjerks

Monday, December 16, 2013

Military Monday - Lawrence S Wisner Army

I recently came across this photo of my wife's great great grandfather, Lawrence S Wisner. This photo is significant because until it was found we had no knowledge that he was in the military. On the back of the photo it says it was before the Spanish American War. That war was in 1898. Lawrence was born in 1870 so I estimate the photo to be around 1890 to 1895. Lawrence is the tallest dude on the far left.

1890s Lawrence S Wisner Army

Monday, December 9, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Martha Morey's Last Wishes

I came across a note that was written by Martha (Morey) Wisner to her husband Lawrence S Wisner and her son Raymond C Wisner. It appears to be her last wishes, but based on some info she gives in the letter, I think it was written at least 20 to 25 years before she died. She says she wants her son Ray to get married in a few years. He was married in 1921, so it had to be written before that. She died in 1939.

Also in the note, it says that "...if I had been well all these years," which begs the question was she sick? Sick for a long time? Or maybe not quite right in the head? It's hard to tell. I was not aware of any circumstances like that. My first thought was that she might have caught the Spanish Influenza during the outbreak in 1918 or something and thought she might die. But based on the sick for a long time comment, I'm not sure.

Another possibility about her nature could stem from the fact that her 2nd son Frank M Wisner died when he was 3. That was in 1906. Maybe due to that loss her temperament or nature changed. It the note it mentions that she used to rock Frank in a rocking chair, and she wanted Ray to have it. It also made me curious as to where that ended up.

Martha Morey Wishes 1      Martha Morey Wishes 2

To Papa & Raygie, to read later

My Darlings,

If it is God’s will that I shouldn’t come back to you, I want you to get the place – you be a comfort to each other & be good to each other & always stay together & never be separated. I want Ray to marry some nice girl in a few years & have a home & be happy, & papa live with him.

Don’t be an old back, please, read your Bibles & go to church. It makes no difference to me where I’m buried, I like Lodi tho. Cremation would be cheaper. What ever you think best. Don’t mourn. If I go it is for the best. God knows best. I love you both dearly & want you to be good & all in all to each other.

I know I fell short many times but I believe if I had been well all these years, I would have been happier & better natured. You both have been good to me. A woman never had a kinder or more thoughtful husband than you have been to me hubby.

Hope Ray is as good to his wife & I think he will be. Always have good habits Raygie & go with good men & go to church & work in it.

God bless & keep you both
-wife and mother

Any of my things Ray wants he can have. Let Mrs. Lattin have anything of mine I have here she wants. The table cloth with fringe & any waists or dresses. She’s been good to me. Or shoes or slippers. Keep the quilts. The curtains in front room she gave me, she can have them back if she wants them.

I want Ray to always keep my little rocker. I rocked he and Frankie in it when babies. Keep the carpets, Ray will need them some day. I sewed the rags for them all. Raygie is to have the tablecloths & things like that, that are home & anything else he wants. Papa is to always live with Ray.

God bless you both. Both go east some time to see my relatives. Read your Bible, go to church & be Christians – that’s the only way & best way to live.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Workday Wednesday - National Ice Company

My wife's great great grandfather Benjamin Hawver worked at the National Ice Company in Floriston California, near the Nevada border. I recently came across this picture from 1900 and was very excited to see it.

1900 National Ice Company Floriston CA