Paloma Vanessa

Paloma Vanessa, born September 19, 2010

Well, for the past week I’ve been basking in the glorious rays of grandmotherhood!

Welcome to Paloma Vanessa, born Sunday, September 19, at 10:22 p.m, weighing 6 lbs. 7 oz. She arrived strong, healthy and easily. According to her parents, she eats like a machine!

Isn’t she adorable?

Of course she is. And, of course, I will agree because I am her grandmother!

As I’ve shared her pictures with everyone I can find (because that’s what grandmothers do, right?), it’s interesting to hear who people think she looks like. Genetics are a fascinating science and it’s amazing how characteristics pass from generation to generation.

Paloma, which is Spanish for dove, is the beautiful union of European and Latin descents. Her father, my son Josh, carries the German and Swedish heritages we’ve previously discussed, along with a smorgasbord of other European roots.

Her mother, Kathy, is Chilean (this is evidenced by the fact that she was cooking sapopillas and empanadas just hours before Paloma was born:-) Chileans are also somewhat multi-cultural and Kathy is of Mapuche, Chile’s indigenous people, and Spanish descent. She even suspects a spattering of German since blue eyes have shown up in her family.

Naturally, my family thinks Paloma sees our side of the family. Her maternal family likely sees their side.

I see Paloma. I see a beautiful, little girl who is loved so dearly.

Welcome Princess Paloma!


When my husband was thirteen, his mother telephoned the township chairman about the poor state of affairs in the Union Cemetery. Her concern was for a small, country plot of land up the road from their farm that had long served as a historical record of the surrounding neighborhood.

As a result, that summer my father-in-law became sexton for the Union Cemetery of Jefferson Co., Wis. (a poetically old-fashioned name befitting the caretaker of gravestones dating back to the 1850s).

For his work he received an ever-so-slight compensation, which he passed on to his 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter for diligently pushing their lawnmowers up to the cemetery, mowing and trimming, and then pushing them back home again.

Little did my mother-in-law know this would become a perpetual position. In fact, here it is forty years later—my father-in-law still serves as sexton and three generations of our family have taken turns at mowing, general maintenance, a periodic grave fill by hand and the annual Memorial Day cemetery board meeting.

I know, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Ruth? Or beaded bells?

Well, in a paradoxical way, maybe it does.

This weekend, as we celebrate Memorial Day, we’ll head up to the cemetery for that annual board meeting. With the exception of my husband and me (because we, of course, never age:-), its a gathering of ever-aging members whose loved ones are buried there under the trees. They come with the pretense of discussing cemetery business, however, in truth I know they come to reflect. They walk through the rows examining gravestones. They tell stories and connect the family names. They bring reverence to this hilly sanctuary of lives worth remembering.

As I watch and listen to the board members, I’m reminded of Ruth. I think of all the family names connected to her, none of who rest in the Union Cemetery. Instead they’re in Chicago’s Bethania and Oak Woods Cemeteries. Or Oak Hill Cemetery in Owosso, Mich. Or a country cemetery outside Imlay City, Mich.

I hope someone is taking care of those grounds as well as my husband’s family has taken care of these.

George and Ruth Larson’s stone in Oak Hill Cemetery, Owosso, Mich.

The state of Wisconsin has an ongoing genealogy project called the U.S. GenWeb Archives Project. Volunteers have photographed thousands of tombstones and submitted them for an online database. Does your state have anything like this?

And lastly, the end of May brings an end to the heavy duty family tree stuff. By now, I’m sure you’re thoroughly confused. If so, but you still want a basic record, I’m including two charts here, taken from They’re somewhat abbreviated so I eventually hope to add pages with full names and such.

Click below and enjoy now. Check back again later for updates.

The Hooge Family Tree

The Larson Family Tree

Back in the 1980s, while raising my children, I fancied myself a writer. Well, let’s just say I was a wannabe writer. I wrote as a creative outlet. I wrote for self-expression. Once in a great while, I’d even get published in random, obscure magazines.

So, naturally, when Eivor sent me her story, I wrote one in response. And, naturally, I tried to get it published. Unlike Eivor, who is a professional writer, I didn’t have much success. You wouldn’t believe how many magazine publications I queried—and back then it was snail mail correspondence, a very slow process.

Well, thank goodness for today’s blogging. I’ve finally found a way to get my story published!

Here it is.

Her Picture and My Picture

She has an old family photograph of four sisters. The young women are dressed in formal black dresses of long ago and have been captured in a serious pose by a photographer in Des Moines, Iowa. She wonders of those sisters. She wonders what became of them and what the future brought for them in the land of America.

I have a photograph of an old house. It’s a small, frame house, located in Västra Harg, Sweden. I wonder of that old house and the history it holds. I wonder of the many generations born there, who then grew up to bring their own children into that same house.

Of different tenses of time. Of different subjects and places. Such are the wonderings the two of us have.

She is Eivor and she lives in Sweden. I am Diahann and I live in the United States. She is a descendent of those who stayed in Sweden. I am a descendant of those who immigrated to America.

In reality, the women in Eivor’s photograph were four of seven Lindahl sisters who grew up in the tiny Swedish house and later came to the United States. They were born into a large family during the latter half of the 19th century, a time when life in Sweden was hard and frugal. Their father, Anders Lindahl, is said to have been a very stern man. As was common during that time, the sisters were encouraged to go to America to seek a better life. The eldest came first, sending news back to their family in the homeland.

Eivor’s photograph, bearing the label of Kramers Photography, from Walnut Street in Des Moines, was one such greeting. Encouraged by these letters, their younger sisters followed in the years to come. As the family story goes, their youngest sister, Emelie, loved her life in Sweden and didn’t want to leave. In spite of this, her family bought a passage to America for her and she left with tears, promising that no one would ever hear from her again.

Eivor writes of the sympathies she feels for the family of the sisters. She imagines the tears their poor mother must have shed as she lost her daughters one by one. Yet, she feels a “wing-stroke of history” at the thought of the sisters long ago running and playing on the same hills she herself has run. And she appreciates the personal touch when she reads the name of Sofi, which was signed on the back of her photograph a hundred years ago.

I write of my feelings for the sisters. I think of the sadness they surely felt as they waved goodbye to their loved ones and watched the only home they had ever known grow more distant. Imagine how frightening, yet exciting, it was for them when they finally arrived in America. This was the country that would be their new home, nevertheless it offered many strange faces, languages and customs. What a happy occasion it must have been to meet an acquaintance or family member from the homeland.

As a great-granddaughter of Sophia (Sofi), I know a bit of what became of the sisters. Eivor’s photograph is proof they lived in Des Moines for a time. While there, Sophia worked as a housemaid for several years, as was common for single, female immigrants. She also met Carl Larson, an acquaintance she had known from Västra Harg. Eventually, they married and settled in Grovertown, Ind.

Sophia’s sisters eventually settled in Chicago or the surrounding areas. With the exception of one, they all married and had families of their own.

And what of their poor sister Emelie? No one knows. Apparently, she remained true to her word and broke ties with her family in Sweden and sisters in America.

Our pictures are different. Our thoughts and wonderings are different. Eivor is part of the homeland and family the four sisters left behind. I am part of their new home and the families they brought into being.

So very different the two of us are. Yet, because we are family, we’re very much the same.

The house in the photo above, and the barn in this photo, are part of the farm where the four sisters grew up.

In 1987, Eivor wrote that she had bought the farm from her uncle, thus keeping it in the family for another generation (Eivor’s grandfather was a brother to the four sisters).

According to Eivor, there were 13 children total. Imagine that many children in this little house! No wonder their father shipped them to America! And imagine what their parents thought when Sophia sent the picture of her family and large farmhouse in America!

The family attended this church in Västra Harg. Click here for an article on the church today.

The four sisters and their siblings attended school in this building. The church now uses it as a parish hall.

Unfortunately, over the years Eivor and I have changed addresses and are no longer in correspondence. However, if you search her name under this newspaper link, you’ll find she’s still writing professionally.

Today’s technology has enabled me to finally publish my story. Certainly it can help us reconnect with Eivor. Let’s do it together!

So, I’m wondering if my three sisters and I could sail an ocean together by steamship? Could we traverse half a continent by train? How long before they were so sick of me, they’d throw me overboard?

In 1892, my great-grandmother, Sophia Lindahl, and her three sisters did just that (minus throwing anyone overboard). They left their homeland in Sweden and traveled to America. They left behind their parents, their brothers and sisters, and the familiar life they’d known all of their 20-some years.

They left, just the four of them, together.

Eivor Lindahl Schutz is a descendent of those they left behind in Sweden. In my last correspondence with her, she still lived in Sweden. In fact, she owned the very farm where the Lindahl sisters grew up.

Eivor has a picture of the four sisters and, being a journalist, wrote a story about them. Here it is, as she translates from her original Swedish to English.

The Girls from Västra Harg Who Sought Prosperity in West

In the photo album my grandmother left I found a photo of four sisters Lindahl who left their native place during the later part of the 19th century to seek prosperity in USA. In reality they were seven sisters, but all did not travel at the same time. It was usual that the elder ones traveled first and then through letters and encouragement enticed sisters and friends to follow.

The photo is taken during the first time out there, that indicates expecially the youngest sister’s appearance. Dressed up and serious, dressed in exactly the same frocks, a photographer in Walnut Street in Des Moines, Iowa, immortalized the four sisters. This photo was sent as a greeting to father and mother in the old country. With this photo they wanted tell that they were doing well and took care of each other. Certainly letters came perhaps with a dollar or two but the sisters never came back.

It must have been an enormous blood-letting in the life of family Lindahl, despite a big family of children. I only can have a feeling of all the tears that the miserable mother shed over her seven lost girls. About their destinies and lives we hardly know anything today, but htanks to Rune Wikell list in his book (“I Minnen Bevarat”) over the emigrants from Västra Harg their names are known.

The last sister passed away unmarried in about 1950, that is on the whole all we know. Their life and deed among many other emigrants founded the powerful USA.

But I feel the wing-stroke of history when I think about that they have romped and played on the same hills and stones as I have. Judge of my joy when I find that somebody with a neat writing has written the name “Sofi” on the photo, perhaps herself. Soon the photo gets a more personal impression. None now living in Sweden has seen the sisters Lindahl in real life. One more generation and nobody should have known who the photo represented. But now I know that the name of the girl at the front, to the left, was Sofi and with a little detective work I will starting with this be able to follow up the names of the other girls. Hundred years has passed since the photo was taken and perhaps I may, in spite of that, name the girls who were my grandfather’s sisters, thanks to a name on the back of a photo.

—Eivor Lindahl Schutz
translated from “Östgöta Correspondenten” February 24, 1984

The sisters, pictured above, are Alida Lindahl Johnson (upper left), Amalia Lindahl Anderson (upper right), Sophia Lindahl Larson (lower left) and Ella Lindahl Fristrom.

Three years after she came to America, Sophia married Carl Larson. George (Ruth’s husband) is one of her children.

Back in the 1980s, when my genealogy junkiness offered a periodic pause from raising four young children, I wrote letters to two of my grandfather’s cousins.

The cousins, Harry Newberg and Edna (Newburg) Peterson, were from the Larson side—their mother was my grandfather George’s father’s sister.

Oh, I know. As soon as we start adding apostrophes and generations it gets a little confusing. For the sake of simplicity, just remember—Harry and Edna were cousins George grew up with in northern Indiana.

By the early 1980s, George was in his 80s and had developed dementia. Harry and Edna, however, were a few years older and sharp as tacks. They responded to me with a lot of information on the Larson side.

Now today, via, I’ve met up with Harry’s grandson, Larry Newburg. According to this family relationship chart, Larry is my third cousin. He also is a genealogy junkie.

So, between Arthur’s letters, Harry and Edna’s letters, and Larry’s super-sleuth genealogical research, we’re able to establish a fairly interesting family story.

Here goes…

Harry and Edna’s mother was Ellen (Elin) Charlotta Larsdotter. George’s father was Carl Gustav Larson. Ellen and Carl were siblings, and were born to family of eight children in Västra Harg, Sweden.

According to U.S. Censuses, Ellen came to Des Moine, Iowa, in 1887, when she was 25-years-old. Here, she joined Victor Newburg (Nyburg), a man she had known from Sweden.

“Dad worked in a tile factory for a year, then sent for mother,” writes Edna of her parents, Victor and Ellen. “They were married in Des Moines in 1889. She worked as a chamber maid in a hotel those days for a year.”

In 1895, together with their two young children, Victor and Ellen moved to Marshall County, Ind., where they farmed near the city of Donaldson.

Meanwhile, Carl and his twin brother Per, came to the United States in 1888. Their first stopping place was Des Moines, IA, before moving on to work elsewhere.

“My father worked on large wheat farms in northern Minnesota and North Dakota,” writes Arthur. “I believe they (Carl and his wife Sophia, who also had immigrated and was working in Des Moines) knew each other from Sweden. How they met and married, I never overheard them to say.”

In 1895 Carl and Sophia married and moved to Grovertown, Ind., just a few miles west of Donaldson.

“The house was there,” writes Arthur. “They had to build a barn.”

And finally, just to keep you on your toes, there’s one more sibling who moved to the area. I don’t have much information on her, but her name was Clara Matilda Larsdotter, and she seems to have gone by Matilda. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1887, married Per Carlson in 1888, and they too settled in the Donaldson area of Indiana.

So here you have it—three siblings who traveled an ocean and half a continent away from the rest of their family. They founded new homes, they farmed the land, and they raised their children. And they did it together, maintaining the stronghold of a close family bond.

“This is shortly after these sisters emigrated from Sweden. They married Adolph Carlson and Anders Victor Newberg,” writes Larry Newburg, who provided this picture in his files.

Larry provided this photo as well, and suggests it may have been taken in Des Moines. Don’t you love his top hat sitting on the vase?

Victor and Ellen Newburg Family, circa 1900

“The photo was taken about 1900, two miles northeast of Donaldson,” writes Larry Newburg on his site. “They started in 1895 with a log cabin on this sight. Nice picture to send back to Sweden—showing fine home, good clothes, and a fine set of horses.”

From l-r: Edna, Ellen, Elmer, Oscar, Victor, and Harry. Yet to be born was Mabel Helen.

Carl & Sophia Larson Family, circa 1900

I wonder if the same photographer did both families?

From l-r: Carl, Clarence, Olga and Sophia, holding George. Yet to be born are Arthur and Esther.

daffodil from J&K's yard

Today’s my birthday. My 39th.

Oh. Yeah. Since I’ve previously mentioned I’m 50 years younger than my grandmother (who would have been 101), I guess that line isn’t going to fly.

So, today I was thinking of kindergarten with my teacher Miss Lehmann. I remember she called me to the front, turned me over her knee and gave me six birthday spankings. Can you imagine that happening today?

Then I wondered if I’m remembering that right. Perhaps I was actually being disciplined. Terri? Dave? Do you remember getting birthday spankings?

Anyway, today is my birthday and this morning when I awoke (besides reminiscing spankings), I thought how blessed I am. I love the life God’s given me. I love my family and friends.

And since today’s my birthday, I get to call the shots. That’s the deal in our house (to which my husband says is no different than any other day). So what I’m asking is that you each respond with a comment telling who you are and how you’re connected to Ruth. Remember, this blog is for historical purposes and will be interesting someday to future genealogists (if you’re a bit shy and only want to give your first name, that’s fine—it’ll give them a research challenge).

Have I mentioned today’s my birthday?

Do it. Click on “Leave a Comment,” just below this posting. Do it now.

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 (

Genealogy Junkie

February 4, 2010

“Genealogy junkie” may be a bit of an overstatement. But, even though life-in-the-now commands most of my time, I’ve always had an interest in history. Whether it’s of people in general, or the specific people of my family, I enjoy learning their stories. Because, after all, that’s what history is—a story.

I’m formulating a plan of action for the story on my grandmother, Ruth. I’m being very scheduled and very orderly, because that’s how I strive to operate in my work life. The effort ends there, however. My personal life is hardly orderly, and as I dig out the random family history notes, photos, newspaper clippings and obituaries I’ve collected in the past 35 years, I find them all chaotically stuffed into a box. The photos I’ve taken of my husband and kids are the same way. And weren’t we advised to always label and date everything? How did time slip by so fast without me keeping up? Ah, but I digress…

Anyway, due to my recent beading of bells and blogging about Ruth, I’ve reverted back to a state of “genealogy junkie.” I must say, gathering information now is so easy compared to the 1970-80’s. Back then, I would write to people and then wait, and wait, and wait for their response. Talking on the phone was limited because there was this fee called “long distance” (unbeknownst to us nowadays). Now I can just go online and instantly find whatever fact I need.

One of the things I’ve done is set up an database with a family tree for Ruth. It automatically waves a green leaf next to any name that has available ancestry hints. The leaves have pointed me to census reports, ship steerage lists and other fascinating data.

Are you on If so, let’s share information.

Looking up news articles is now a breeze, as well. Simply bring up Google News and search a person’s name and a resource, such as a newspaper. I find going into the advanced search is quicker and more direct. Some of the newspapers offer the files for free, like the Owosso Argus Press, where on page 5 of the March 5, 1947, Area News Briefs, we can read that “Mrs. George Larson spent Monday in Fowlerville visiting with Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis.”

Isn’t that cool? (Mrs. George Larson, by the way, is Ruth.)

On the other hand, the Chicago Tribune is much less giving and charges a fee.

But as quick and easy as the internet makes genealogy, it’s no substitute for the actual human exchange of stories. And because I’m Ruth’s granddaughter and am limited to my own subjective view, it’s important to see her through others’ eyes as well.

So please share! Make comments. Correct my facts, when I’m wrong. Add to them, when I’m lacking.

P.S. Also, please share suggestions for archiving those photos, news clippings and such. What’s the best way to mount them, and in what kind of book?