©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Gap in Time

My husband's grandmother, Alice Augusta Christiansen Larson Davey, is giving me writer's block! I'm trying to write her story but am at a loss for filling in a few short but very important years. In the 1900 census, she is living in her "home" town of Ishpeming, Michigan, age 20, working as a live-in servant. In 1906 she married Fred Davey in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; however, Fred was living in Chicago at the time and the couple resided there after the marriage.

So, did Alice move from Ishpeming to Chicago? If so, why? How and where did a nice Swedish girl from Michigan meet a rakish Cornish boy from Dodgeville, Wisconsin? Fred was working as a barber so perhaps he had gone to Chicago to learn the trade.

Why did they marry in Milwaukee? Was it a Gretna Green thing? They were both of age to marry so that wasn't a problem?

I really hate lightly tripping over those years in the story but all I have at the moment is facts, no details. There is no one left in the family who would know the answer to the questions. What a shame! I'm sure there is a good story in those five years which may be lost forever.

~ Becky

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Amelia Ellstrom and Some Reporting Problems

Even though it’s been awhile since my last post, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy working on my project. Since my last post I’ve created the outline for the book and a draft copy. A draft copy meaning I’ve set up the various levels of headers and inserted the stories I’ve already completed. My biggest problem in that part of the project is figuring out how to put reports created in Family Tree Maker (saved as .rft) into my reports section. I did manage to insert an ahnentafel with only minor items to be fixed (mostly under Sources) but have yet to master the Family Group Sheet which will be greatly needed.

However, that is not the purpose of this post. I’ve just finished a first draft of the story of Amelia Ellstrom, my husband’s great-grandmother. I wanted to create something that showed her strong character and family values. In some cases, I think I did; in others, I seemed to fall into the old stating of vital records syndrome.  
Actually her “story” is split, the early years are included in “Ellstrom family” portion and her adult years are in the “Amelia Ellstrom Chrisiansen Larson” part. The Ellstrom family story begins like this:

It must have seemed as though Amelia’s father had been gone a very long time. The rest of the family -Amelia, her mother, Christina, her older sister Augusta, and her younger brothers, Alexander and Albert – had been waiting for word from her father, Frederick Ellstrom. He had gone to America from their home in B├Ąckefors, Sweden in search of work and a new beginning. Ten year old Amelia didn’t quite understand why they had to leave their home but she did know the past year or so money had been tight and food sparse. It was 1869 and crops didn’t look any better this year than last. Mother and father said there was no choice but to start over where work and food were plentiful and from what they had heard America was the place to go.
At last, Frederick called for them to join him in Marquette, Michigan. He sent the money for their trip and plans were made for the long journey.  Amelia probably shed a few tears as she said her goodbyes to her friends and neighbors. She knew in her heart she would most likely never see any of them again and had no way of knowing what lay ahead for her.

It continues on in a similar fashion until the family reaches Marquette and the viewpoint moves from Amelia to the family in general.

Amelia’s adult years begin like this:

Amelia, the second child of Frederick and Christina Ellstrom, arrived in America at the age of 10 in 1869. She had traveled with her mother and three siblings from B├Ąckefors, Sweden. It had been an amazing adventure for a young girl. She and her family settled into the ways of their new Country and enjoyed a comfortable home life. In the meantime, her future husband was doing much the same.

This part of the story is where I really wanted to get into Amelia’s head and see things from her perspective. She and her 1st husband, Hans Christiansen, had 2 children before he died in 1883 just four years after their marriage. I think it took great strength for her to continue on in the house they shared in Ishpeming and not return to live with her parents in Marquette. Exactly how she provided for the girls I don’t know. There seems to have been a benevolent fund among the miners but that help probably wasn’t enough to sustain for any length of time. My guess is she probably took in laundry, turned to dress making, whatever it took to provide. She was also very involved with the Swedish Baptist Church and would have received moral support, if nothing else, from the congregation.

She remarried, to Carl Larson another miner, four years after the death of Hans. Four years was a long time for a “single” mother to be on her own during the 1880s. Carl had arrived in Ishpeming in 1885 and so didn’t know Hans. He was, however, drawn to Amelia even though she had two young girls in tow. Carl and Amelia had five children of their own.

Besides the loss of her husband, Hans, I imagine the other two greatest tragedies in her life were the death of her youngest son, Clifford in 1923 and the discord between her husband Carl and her oldest child, Alice. I don’t know what caused this break, but before she was twenty years old Alice was already out of the household and working as a live-in servant. She was the only child in the family to leave like that. Also, after the death of Carl it is made clear that she was to be omitted from inheriting. I’m sure Amelia suffered over such a disruption in the family.

However, Amelia’s relationship with Carl appears to have been a good one; so much so that after her death in 1930, he took his own life just six months later. They had been together for over forty years.
Anyway, I’m going to revisit what I’ve written to see if I can show her feelings, rather than tell about them.

I’m also going to continue to try to figure out my reports problem.

~ Becky