Thursday, December 25, 2014

Creepy Santa

This is my wife's mom when she was living in San Francisco in the 50's, and this mall Santa looks a little creepy to me. I wouldn't want to run into him in my house in the middle of the night. Also, is that a gun in his boot?

Lil Earls Christmas with Santa

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy 98th Birthday Grandma!

Happy birthday to my wife's grandma, Elva (Swanson) Earls! She turns 98 today. Her siblings have all lived into their 90's, but the oldest so far has been her older brother who made it to 98 also. Let's hope she makes it to 99! Here is a picture of her in 1920, when she was 4 years old.

Elva Charlotte Swanson ca 1920

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy 90th Anniversary!

Happy 90th wedding anniversary to my Great Grandparents, John and Alice Stap, married on 12 October 1924!
Stap - John & Alice 12 Oct 1924

Monday, June 9, 2014

The S.S. Noordam

My great grandpa Lawrence (Laas) Broersma left his home in the Netherlands when he was 19, for the USA. I wonder what life would have been like to make him leave his home and move to another country? I think even today it's a big deal to move overseas, but he did it in a day when you still had to take a boat.

Here is a page from his passport. As you can see his hair was dark blond, his eyes were blue and his nose was normal, so that's good.

Laas Broersma Passport

His family was very poor, and at the time (1920) they were living in the city of Sneek where Lawrence was working as a barber, and lived not far from the famous waterport.

WaterPoort in Sneek ca 1950?

His brother Thys had already moved to America to Iowa, and so Lawrence followed a few years later. I wonder if Thys was doing really well there, or if Lawrence thought that America would be the land of opportunity as so many thought? In Iowa there are a number of Dutch communities, so the transition would have been some what easy I would imagine. I don't know if he could speak English at that time.

He left from the port of Rotterdam on 9 June 1920, and then passed through Ellis Island on 21 June. Here is the passenger list with his name. I cropped it because his name was all the way at the bottom.

Ellis Island - Broersma Laas crop

So he would have been on the ship for a good week and a half. I wonder how much passage would have cost? He crossed 8 years after the Titanic sank, but his ship I'm sure was not as luxurious. I looked up a little history on the ship he came over on, the Noordam, and it was in service from 1902 til 1927. Apparently during WWI it had hit a mine or 2 on a couple occasions and was in the shipyard for a while. Also, according to Wikipedia, the Noordam had alerted the Titanic to ice early on in Titanic's maiden voyage.

Recently I was looking on Ebay and bought a postcard of the ship. Someone else had written on the back and it was dated 1910. There are many versions of this same picture, but I liked this one because it had windmills in the background. They may have been painted in the background to make it look more Dutch.

Noordam Postcard ca 1910

I had found another nice postcard and framed it and gave it to my dad for Christmas. In this one you can see that the ship looks very similar, but it's been colorized and the flags are flying in a different direction. Also It looks like there are some more life boats, probably as a result of the Titanic. The note written on the back says this was mailed in 1916.


Anyway, I thought it was cool to imagine a little bit of what the journey would have been like, and these pieces helped put the story together a little for me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014 - 4 Generations

4 Gen Mothers Day 2014

Elva Charlotte (Swanson) Earls (b. 1916)
Lillian Bernice (Earls) Wisner (b. 1948)
Sandee Denise (Wisner) Broersma (b. 1975)
Natalie Kate Broersma (b. 2005)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

William & Susan Morey

Today is William Nelson Morey and Susan Amanda Greene's 149th wedding anniversary. I know it's not as cool as the big sesquicentennial, but I wanted an excuse to show off some photos that I found of them. I was never expecting to find any, but while visiting my wife's great aunt's house I came across some.

William and Susan were married on March 15, 1865. These photos of them were labeled on the back saying they were taken in 1865, so probably for their wedding. On a side note, my guess is that these are probably copies as I would expect photos of this age to be tin-type or something.

1865 William N Morey  1865 Susan Amanda (Greene) Morey

Also, with these 2 photos was another one. This one is of the entire Morey family from probably around 1882. They had 6 children total with one dying in 1874 and another dying in 1882. This picture shows 5 children, so it must be from around 1881 or 1882.

William N Morey Family ca 1882

The children in the photo are:
Nellie Hannah (1866-1959)
Edward Henry (1870-1935)
Martha Cornelia (1876-1939)
Mary Etta (1877-1882)
Charlotte Amanda (1879-1949)
*Not in the photo - John F (1867-1874)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wedding Wednesday - Common Ancestor

My grandparents, Lloyd and Catherine Broersma are 5th cousins. That means that they have the same 4th great grandparents. My grandparents were married in 1951. 183 years before their marriage, their common ancestors were married on 5 March 1768, in Paesens in the Netherlands. Their names were Sybe Jans de Jong and Dieuwke Dirks.

I recently got to visit the church that they were married in, in Paesens. It was built sometime in the 13th century originally as a Catholic church. Later during the Protestant reformation in the 16th century, most churches in Friesland were converted to the Dutch Reformed church.

Paesens Church

The church is still in use today and I got the chance to go inside and look around. It has been remodeled inside, but still has a traditional look similar to what would have been over the centuries.

Paesens Church Inside

I thought it was pretty cool to see where these two family lines met in history. Another interesting thing was that on the wall it had the names of the pastors of this church through the years. So in 1768 the pastor who married my 6th great grandparents would have been Jan Adam Kesler.

Paesens Pastors      Paesens Pastors 2

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hattem Gemeentehuis

Last summer when I was visiting the Netherlands with my dad, we stopped in the city of Hattem cause that's where some of the ancestors on my mom's side were from (the de Haans). While we were there we had to find the county building located there. My dad had remembered seeing it in a postcard that we had. This is probably from the 40s maybe? There was no date.

Hattem Gemeentehuis

It's where people go to register their marriage and births of children and stuff. Here is what it looked like in 2013. It kinda looks like it's made out of LEGOs, with the alternating red and white bricks.

Hattem Gemeentehuis 2013

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Koops, Peas and Pies

Today, 236 years ago, my 5 great grandfather was born. His name was Koop, son of Barelt Koops and Roelofje Jacobs. It was on the 2nd of March in 1778 when he was born, and a few days later he was baptized in the church of Peize in the Netherlands. He would live an die there.

I always thought that Peize was pronounced like peas, but it's not. It's like PIE-zuh. I got the chance to visit the church where he was baptized this last summer. It's still in use today.

Peize Church

Friday, February 28, 2014

Four Generation Friday - Grandma Wisner

4 Gen Wisner Sandee
Beatrice Marie (Hawver) Wisner (1901-1992)
Lawrence Wisner (1924-2013)
Raymond Wisner (b. 1948)
Sandee (Wisner) Broersma (b. 1975)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dead Wisner Children

This fall, I came across a cache of pictures that I didn't know existed of my wife's family. So not only was it awesome to find pictures that I didn't know existed, but also within the pictures was some more info that I didn't have. Like pictures of children that had died young, and had the unfortunate timing of being born and dying in between the 10 year censuses, making it more difficult to find info on them. I know that child deaths were more common as you go back 100 years or more, but when you come across pictures of children that died, it makes them a little more real.

George Albert Wisner (1829-1905) and Julia Ann (Barto)(1843-1924) had 4 children that we know of: May Ellen, Lawrence Smith, Mattie Irene and Guy Clifford. Based on the dates when George and Julia's children were born, they may have had some other children that died. However it's the children that lived and their families that I have pictures of, and now have knowledge of previously unknown children.

So first, I know the most about the Lawrence Smith Wisner family (my wife's great great grandparents). Here is their portrait as I had come to know their family: Lawrence, Martha (Morey) and their son Raymond.

1910 Lawrence S Wisner Family

They had another son that I had discovered had died when he was 3 years old. In the box of pictures I found one of him and it may be the only one that exists. His name was Frank Morey Wisner and he died in 1906 at the age of 3. Here are the 2 brothers together:

Raymond and Frank Wisner ca 1903

Lawrence's older sister May Ellen Wisner married Andrew T Jackson. I knew that they had 3 children: George Elvin, Herbert Andrew and May, but on the back of this family portrait it shows the names of the children in the picture, but one I hadn't seen before: James M.

May (Wisner) & Andrew Jackson Family 1908

This photo was dated 1908. May was born around 1909. So James was born around 1904 and died between when this photo was taken in 1908 and 1910 when the census was. Here is another photo of James when he was a year old.

James Jackson ca 1905

The younger sister of Lawrence and May was Mattie Irene Wisner. It looks like she was called Aunt Irene based on writing on photos. She married Charles Bonner Anderson and had 3 children: Florence, and twins Frank and Laura. Here is the portrait of the family that I have, and it's missing Florence:

Mattie Irene (Wisner) & Charles Anderson Family

Florence was born in 1898 and died in 1902. Here is a picture that I now have of her:

Florence Anderson ca1901

Now May, Lawrence and Irene had another brother named Guy, and he never married to my knowledge. Few pictures of him exist and so it was nice to find a couple with him in them. This is Lawrence and Guy together (Guy is standing):

Tin Type - Lawrence Wisner Sit Guy Wisner Stand

So I guess the greater point that I discovered is the fact that the 3 families of Lawrence, May and Irene all lost 1 child in each of their families sometime during 1905-1910. Then add to that that their dad George Wisner died in 1905. That's just a whole lot of death happening in a few short years. No one is currently living who would remember these children, but if it wasn't for these few photos in a small box that were buried in a closet and forgotten, it's almost as if these children never existed.

As for Guy, he died in 1954 at the age of 74. My father in law remembers him, and I'm sure there are more his age and older that have memories too, but since Guy never married he didn't have a family legacy to pass down. I was thinking on that and realized that he is also almost like a child that died, with no descendants to pass on his name and no blood line to show that he existed. I haven't even been able to find were he was buried.

In the end though, will it matter if any of us have lived? After death will we remember life? I kinda think that in heaven, most things of earth won't matter and there will only be happiness.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mystery Monday - Unidentified Wichers

This is a picture that my grandma has. It should be from Kansas, and most likely of some Wichers children. There were no names on the back, and everyone I've asked can't figure out who these children are. I think possibly it is from the late teens, early 20s based on the car. The older girl sitting down could be my great grandma Grace Gertrude Wichers. If it's her, the other children may be a mixture of her brothers and sisters and cousins.

I just like the look of it, with the barn and the old car and the horse drawn buggy in the background. I just wish I could figure out who these kids are. And also the people in the background.

Marinus & Annie Wichers Children?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Newspaper Record for Laas Broersma's Birth

I found a resource that I didn't know about that has scans of newspapers, and they are searchable! The website is It also allows you to download images of the newspapers. I was able to find my great grandpa Lawrence Broersma's birth, which was pretty cool. He was born on 4 February 1901 in Piaam, in the Netherlands. He changed his name to Lawrence when he came to the USA, but before that his name was Laas. This clipping is from the Nieuw Advertentieblad on 13 February 1901. Happy 113th b-day!

Nieuw Advertentieblad 13 Feb 1901 Laas Broersma Birth copy