Ruth Hooge’s Confirmation, 1923

March was always a big month for Ruth, with her birthday and all. But in 1923, it was especially momentous. That year Ruth turned 14, and on Sunday, March 25, she was confirmed.

Confirmation is a Christian’s public profession of faith. Churches traditionally hold Confirmation on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, and that year Ruth’s church, the English Ev. Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, did the same.

Confirmation is another tradition Ruth’s descendants have upheld. I’m trying to round up pictures of four generations of us women on our Confirmation Sundays: my grandmother Ruth, my mother Carol, me, and my daughter Jenny. Stay tuned for those. And send me yours!

Nowadays, we use Confirmation to get the families all together for a celebration. I wonder if Ruth’s family did this as well? Do you think all the relatives came? By then those 12 aunts and uncles from her mother’s side were married and had children. This is where Lola, Minnie, Nuttie, Hattie, Daveeda and Russell come inthey were just a few of my grandmother’s many cousins.

Those must have been some family gatherings!

Ruth E. Hooge, 1923

My grandmother, Ruth (Hooge) Larson

Carol R. Larson, 1947

My mother Carol (Ruth’s daughter)

Diahann, 1973

Yep, that’s me.
Two things stand out in my memory about Confirmation. One is my sling-back shoes, which I thought were very stylish. The other is the ring my paternal grandmother, Gladys (Gulick) Amos Klotz gave me. Initially, I didn’t understand the significance of the gift—her diamond engagement ring, which also happens to be my April birthstone. I remember feeling a moment of secret disappointment because I had been drooling over a black onyx ring in the Sears catalog for $29.99.

Thankfully, I grew wiser with time.

Jennifer, 1993

My daughter Jenny.

Jenny is wearing the ruby ring her grandmother (Ruth’s daughter Carol) gave to her as a Confirmation gift. George and Ruth had originally given it to Carol for her Confirmation.

Four generations: 1993

Ruth, 84, with (counterclockwise) her daughter Carol, great-granddaughter Jenny and granddaughter Diahann. Jenny was confirmed 70 years after Ruth and now has Ruth’s certificate hanging on her bedroom wall.


Ruth’s daughter Judith shared this same conviction of faith and passed it along to each of her four children. Shown here are four generations of confirmands from their family.

Ruth E. Hooge, 1923

Judith A. Larson, Confirmation 1950

Judith A. Larson, Confirmation 1950

Rachel, Confirmation 1976

Rachel, Confirmation 1976

Emmalee, Confirmation 1998

Emmalee, Confirmation 1998

One hundred and one years ago today, baby Ruth Esther Eliza Bertha Hooge had a very special day.

On this day, she was baptized and became a child of God.

Of all the things Ruth’s parents did for her, her baptism was certainly the greatest. This small splash of water on her head and the few spoken words were testament of God’s promise: he washed away her sin and chose her as his own. Because of this, throughout her 97 years of life, Ruth had the confidence of knowing she was beloved and special.

Isn’t that awesome?!

What’s also awesome is that generations later baptism is still a tradition in our family. We still gather together and baptize our newborn babies. We still teach them they are saved children of God. It’s tradition. It’s our heavenly heritage.

Recently, my niece, Ruth Baur, talked about this with the first and second grade children she teaches at Beautiful Savior Lutheran School in Grove City, OH. Not only does Ruth share my grandmother’s name, but she also has her baptismal certificate, which now is a very old and cherished document.

“I brought it to school to show my kids a couple weeks ago for show-and-tell day during our Christian Education week,” Ruth emailed. “I told them how her (Ruth Hooge’s) parents had her baptised and taught her God’s Word. When she grew up she did the same for my grandma, who did the same for my mom, who did the same for me. We’d been talking about the concept of passing our faith down to the next generation in connection with our Old Testament Bible stories. My students thought it was cool.”

Yep, that is cool. That makes us special too, just like Ruth.

My grandmother, Ruth, knit and crocheted blankets for each of my four children’s baptisms.

She knit the tiniest, little sweaters for my twin sons when they were born two months premature.

When my mother (Ruth’s daughter, Carol) gave me her cedar hope chest, these two baptismal gowns were inside. One was mine, and I think my mother may have sewn it—she was an excellent seamstress. I’m unsure of the history of the tea-colored gown.

Aren’t these just the cutest things! The photo doesn’t convey how tiny they are.

So, tell me. What special things have you done for baptisms in your family? Got pictures? I’d love to post them!

The Great Census Debate

March 18, 2010

So, our census arrived this week. As we answered the ten simple questions, I couldn’t help noting how, compared to past censuses, the Census of 2010 is going to reveal very little of who we are today.

For example, look at the censuses from the 1880-1900. According to the IPUMS USA, the Census of 1880 had 26 questions, including matters regarding occupation, health, education, and place of birth (even parents’ place of birth). The Census of 1900 eliminated the glaring health questions—like are you insane, idiotic or deaf and dumb?— but added four more in areas of citizenship and home ownership. The Census of 1890 is unavailable because most of it was destroyed in 1921 during a fire in the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.

Because of these informative censuses, I know my grandmother’s mother Emma was one of twelve children born to Charles and Wilhelmine Sophia Carolina (Behrendt) Hornburg, both originally from Germany. Emma was born in Chicago in 1884, smack in the middle of Charles, Albert, Wilhem, Ella, Edward, Wilhelmine, Frank, George, Porter, Frieda and Bertha. These names vary in spelling from census to census because historically censuses were handwritten by enumerators who came door to door. In fact, the Census of 1900 lists the family name as Hornbusy.

I also know Emma’s father worked as a laborer, and at the age of 49 had lived in the U.S. for 41 years and rented, rather than owned, his home. Before marrying and while still living at home, Emma and her sisters worked as laundresses and housekeepers.

Interesting, yes? I think so.

So bear with me as I direct this from historical to slightly political. Because I thrill with the hunt of genealogy, I can’t help wondering what can possibly be the cause of the great debate of Census 2010?

My knowledge of government, politics and anything too brain-consuming is limited. But I love research (obviously), so I started digging.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. has been taking censuses since 1790 and uses the dicennial count to “allocate Congressional seats (congressional apportionment), electoral votes and government program funding.”

The Census of 2010 has become a bipartisan hotbed that started already a year ago when Obama took office. According to Amy Sullivan in her Time magazine article, February 2009, the argument lies in how people are counted, which results in who gets counted.

“The battle over how to count people only makes sense when you look at what is at stake,” writes Sullivan. “The redistricting of local districts and reapportionment of congressional seats is based on census counts — a state could gain or lose seats based on its population, and shifts within a state determine plans for redrawing political boundaries.”

She also writes:

“Democrats have long charged that the undercounting of minorities and poor Americans prevents federal funding from reaching strapped communities. Meanwhile, Republicans argue that Democrats seek to boost numbers in order to create extra congressional districts in urban areas and to bring in more federal money for their constituencies.”

And then there are those who worry about privacy. Privacy from what, I wonder?

I personally don’t know anyone who’s been harmed by the government knowing how many people live at their house and how much they earn (as if the government doesn’t know this already…uh, federal income taxes?). With GPS, web tracking, business, bank, credit and medical records; not to mention those geeky teenage techies; do we really think we can hide anything from anyone wanting to “spy” on us?

Ah, the fun of politics. What’s your thought on this? Have you filled out your census? All of it?

How much will your descendants learn about you from the Census of 2010?

Partial SS Switzerland passenger list, 1883 (

I think airports are fascinating. As an avid people-watcher, I love the hustle and bustle of crowds. I wonder what their story is, why they’re traveling and who’s waiting for them at the other end.

There’s one thing at airports that unnerves me, however, and that’s watching families with young children. Extra luggage, short attention spans, naturally inquisitive adventurers—oh, the stress of traveling with young children! As the mother of four, my empathy abounds for the young, wayfaring family.

Ruth’s grandparents, Rudolph and Elise (Elisa) Hooge, were such a family.

Back in the 1880s, they traveled by steamship from Germany to the United States. Once here, they likely traveled by train to Chicago, Ill. They did this with their four children, ages 2-10.

Can you imagine the stress of it all?

Oh, but there’s more. As I research historical documents provided by, I’ve come across some interesting possibilities.

According to multiple censuses, Rudolph arrived in the United States in 1883 (at that time, censuses listed an immigrant’s year of arrival and origin). My search for him on ship passenger lists is inconclusive until I vary the spelling of his name, a common thing in those days of handwritten documentation. On a ship named the Switzerland, I find a listing of Rudolph Hoage and his dates coincide with our Rudolph.

If this is our guy, Rudolph arrived in New York on June 11, 1883, and then headed for Chicago. is pretty cool. Not only can you view Rudolph’s info, but also the full passenger list and an image of the ship itself. Unfortunately, it looks like you have to become a member to access my links. But, hey, you can do so for free for 14 days! If you sign up, let me know so we can connect and share information.

Anyway, on with the story.

According to a passenger list for the ship Hermann, Elise Hooge, age 30, arrived three years later in July 1886, with the couple’s four children: Otto, 10; Emma, 8; Carl, 5 (Ruth’s father); and Hermann, 2. Not only was this a young, wayfaring family, they also were traveling with only one parent. It’s exhausting to even think about.


Are you also thinking something doesn’t quite calculate? Little Hermann was 2-years-old in 1886. Rudolph left for America three years earlier, in 1883.

Well, such is the intrigue of genealogy. So many questions and so many possibilities.

“The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives – The Future of Our Past,” is an interesting article about 19th century transatlantic travel. According to its author S.G.W. Benjamin, by the 1880s, steamships were making the passage from Europe to the U.S. in as little as seven days. If this is true, Little Hermann could have been conceived before Rudolph left Germany and be 2-years-old when Elise arrived in the U.S. with the children.

Or, what about this…

According to the passenger list for the ship Habsburg, an Elise Hooge, age 27, arrived in New York on November 22, 1883. Perhaps Elise was missing Rudolph and came over for a visit. Perhaps, at that time, she traveled without her three children and, aha, went back with a fourth.

Oh, the questions arise. What’s the likelihood of Elise coming without her children? Was her family of means to afford such an extravagance? Is this even our Elise? Without further data, one can only speculate.

There are some things, however, of which we’re certain. Once they all were here, the Hooges settled in Chicago. Rudolph, according to censuses, worked as a carriage fitter. Carl eventually grew up to become a policeman and marry Miss Emma E. Hornburg.

And together, they had their children Carl and Ruth.

Partial SS Hermann passenger list, 1886 (

Happy Birthday Grandma!

March 5, 2010

Today, March 5, is my grandmother’s birthday. This day, 101 years ago, Ruth Esther Eliza Bertha Hooge was born, beloved daughter of Carl and Emma Hooge and sister to 2-year-old brother Carl.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

I suppose green beads and shamrocks are somewhat misleading since Ruth wasn’t the least bit Irish. She was German through and through. But March just seems to be a month when we all look forward to seeing the color green.

Funny thing about my grandmother’s birthday—it was usually white. Very white, as in lots and lots of snow. As adults, many of us moved away from Michigan and, inevitably, whenever we came back to celebrate her birthday, we ran into snow, ice, and everything else Midwestern winters offer. I have pictures of some of those birthdays. Ah, but they’re in that chaotic box of family photos and finding them could take some time.

In the meantime, on with the green!

March is going to be Ruth’s family history month. We’ll look into the Hooge and Hornburg families and figure out how names like Lola, Frieda, Minnie, Nuttie and Hattie fit in—names I grew up hearing all the time but never knew whose they were.

Stay tuned.

Ruth Esther Eliza Bertha Hooge, 1909
Picture provided by Terri Baur

Ruth and her brother Carl. Look at the bow on his shirt—no wonder he’s not smiling.