Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Camp Family Letters : Christmas, 1862

"A Husband and Wife Separated By the War, 1862", Thomas Nast
source: Wikipedia commons

For a Confederate soldier, Christmas was about like any other day.  Thoughts always turned to family back home.

Camp near Dalton, Georgia

Dec 25, 1862

My Dear Mary,

[Your letter] came to hand on 21st … much satisfaction [to have] a letter from you … I am destitute of words that can express them, and if I could see you, I could not tell them to you.  I wish it was in my power to be with you in Christmas times, but I cannot.  I feel like I was ready to protect you at all times and under any circumstances.  That is one of my first duties … to protect the ones that are near and dear to me.  And when the time comes that my dear ones cannot be protected at home, I feel that it will be my duty to go and attend to them myself.  And how long before that time will come, I cannot tell.  As to the end of this war I cannot see.  You and our children are all that I need to protect.  ...

I am very sorry to hear of so much sickness in your settlement [among] the settlers [and] friends].  ….. very anxious to hear from you …. I’m sorry but don’t be uneasy.  ...  Keep on the watch all the time.  Keep everything close.

... Write how much more money you will have to have.  I have drawn three month wages, $40, and will draw again the first of January.  ...  I will close for the present.  May God bless us is my prayer.  Write soon.

This is on Yankee paper.

T L Camp

* This letter is part of the "Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877" which are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University in Decatur, Georgia.  The letter was transcribed using Transcript freeware.  Some of the spelling, punctuation, and syntax were corrected in this post for ease in reading.  ... is used to indicate portions of the letter which were omitted in the post.  [ ] indicates a word or information I have inserted for clarity.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories : Christmas Tree Decorations - There's Minnie *

With our tree up and decorated, I enjoy looking at all the ornaments hanging there.  So many have a special story or memory as part of its history.  Two of my favorite ornaments are decorated with Disney characters.  These admittedly vintage ornaments were bought by my parents when I was just a baby.  Even when these ornaments don't fit with my tree's theme, the Minnie Mouse and Thumper the Rabbit ornaments will always be hanging somewhere on our tree.  It just wouldn't be our Christmas tree without them.

When each of our children married and started their own holiday traditions, I let them select a number of our family ornaments for their trees, but not either of the two Disney ones. I was surprised by some of their choices but loved hearing them relate the  memories each associated with the ornaments they picked.  Minnie and Thumper will eventually have new homes, but for a while longer, they are staying put on my tree.  

Genealogy Gems, a newsletter published by the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Library, has some great tips on how to "Use the Upcoming Holidays to Preserve Your Family Stories".  One suggestion was to take a photograph of a special ornament or decoration and keep the photo together with the ornament's story.  It could be in a scrapbook, a holiday planner, or even on 4x6 index cards stored with your holiday items.  This way others will know the story of that special item.

Perhaps recording the history of your ornaments could be a good project as you take down your tree this year.  Get out the camera, relax with some seasonal music, and take a picture as you remove each special ornament from the tree.  Before long, you will have recorded some great family stories.

The article also had additional suggestions. They are found in the no.104, October 31, 2012, issue in the Genealogy Gems e-zine archives.  You might also want to subscribe to this free newsletter.

Are there holiday items in your family with a special memory  for you or other family members?  They can provide another way to share and celebrate some of your family stories.

Note: This is based on a previous post from Dec 3, 2012.

*The Advent Calendar of Christmas memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December!  Learn more at

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories*: December 14 - Christmas Cookies

When our children were younger, I would go on a baking frenzy Thanksgiving weekend.  No fighting the malls for me.  While everyone else in the family was watching all the football games, I was happily baking Christmas cookies to store in the freezer until Christmas break.  

I usually made seven or eight different kinds of cookies, including favorites for each family member. My personal favorite was one I called "Sugar and Spice Cookies".  It was based on a recipe found in a cookbook I purchased years ago during a visit to Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.(1)

Sugar and Spice Cookies

3 sticks butter
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Combine flour, cream of tartar, salt, soda, and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl; stir in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla, lemon, and almond extracts and beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture and blend thoroughly.  Place in greased bowl and chill overnight.  Roll out on floured pastry cloth and cut with cookie cutters.  Place on greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 325 until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

NOTE:  The cookie dough can also be rolled into logs, wrapped tightly in waxed paper, and refrigerated overnight.  The cookies can then be sliced from the logs and baked.

This is a reposting from December 14, 2013.  Enjoy!

*The Advent Calendar of Christmas memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December!  Learn more at

(1) Cooking in Old Salem.  Williamsburg, VA : Williamsburg Publishing Co, c1981.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Maybe I'll Keep Looking a Little More

"Metal Detecting" photo by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias from Coruña, España
via Wikimedia Commons

Just when I'm ready to give up, I continue to come across one more tidbit of information about my Myren ancestors in Norway.  It is just enough to keep me looking in hopes of finding still more about the family before I leave those digitized records accessed through the Digital Archives of Norway.

In the past week, I located the following records in the Digital Archives.  I used baptism record indexes from to locate the correct year in the scanned clergical records on the Digital Archives, then followed the chronological entries until I found the full record.  All three were found in the same record, Ministerialbok (Ministers' Book) #5 for Lesja Parish, Oppland, Norway.  It was worth finding the full record in order to gain as much information as possible on these three events.
  • Marriage record of my 3GreatUncle Jorgen Andersen to Guri Knudsdatter on 30 Oct 1834
  • Marriage record of my 3GreatUncle Amund Andersen to Ragnild Lansdatter on 1 Nov 1834
  • Confirmation record of my 3GreatAunt Marit Andersdatter on 10 Oct 1830
The record I was most excited to find was the death and burial record for my 3GreatGrandfather Anders Pettersen.(1)  Prior to finding this record, I had found him listed in the birth, confirmation, and marriage records of his children.  I also knew that he not listed in the 1865 census of Norway, one of the primary censuses available through the Digital Archives.This suggested that Anders (senior) had probably died before the 1865 census was enumerated.

Locating this death record as, once again, like looking for a needle in a haystack.  This time I selected a clergical record that covered the likely period in which his death would have occurred.   In this case, I started with the Lesja Klokkerbok (clerk's book) for 1842-1871, hoping Anders would have been alive in 1842.  I started looking at all the death records, beginning with 1832.  There in the 1844 records, I found the information I was seeking about my 3GreatGrandfather Anders Pettersen.

Death / Burial record for Anders Pettersen
Lesja Klokkerbok, 1832-1871

That one line for entry 2 provided me with the following information:
  • Anders Pettersen died on 22 Feb 1844.
  • He was buried on 11 Mar 1844 [in Lesja].
  • He was living in the Myren farm area at the time of his death.
  • He was 74 when he died (and therefore was born about 1770).
  • He died of old age (according to the ditto marks for entry 1).

A few days later, I was able to solve another Myren family mystery. has a lot of searchable international detabases including five databases from Norway.  I have used these a number of times in order to have a starting point for locating the digitized records available through the Digital Archives of Norway.  

The mystery concerned birth and christening dates for my 3GreatGrandfather Peter Andersen Myren.  There were two entries for a birth/christening record for Peter Andersen, son of Anders Petersen and Marit Jorgensdatter.  One listed a birth date of 4 Feb 1798, the other a birth date of 12 Dec 1799.  I wanted to know which was the correct entry and also why there were two similar entries.

By going page by page through the Lesja Minister Book 3, I located three entries that seemed to tell the story of Peter Andersen.(2)  The first entry, outlined below in blue, was the Christening record for Peter Anderson, son of Anders Petersen of the Myren farm area and Marit Jorgensdatter, born 4 Feb 1798 and christened on 14 March 1798.  Witnesses to the christening included my 4 GGrandfather Peter Petersen of Myren and my 5 GreatAunt Sigri Petersdatter of Myren.

Christening Record for Peter Andersen, born 4 Feb 1798

The second entry below, also outlined in blue, was the burial record for a Peter Andersen of Myren farm.  The numbers 1 and 2 in the short entry are in the place where the age of the deceased was generally written in the burial record.  According to this Peter would have been a year and two months at the time of his death or burial.  Looking back at his christening record, young Peter would have been a year and three months old at the time.  For personal clarity, I'm now referring to the birth recorded above and this death record as being for "Peter 1" Andersen.

Burial Record for Peter Andersen of Myren, 19 May 1799

Apparently at the time of Peter 1's death, his mother Marit Jorgensdatter was pregnant with another child.  This child was born 12 Dec 1799, almost seven months following the dead of Peter 1.  This new baby was also named Peter.  Through my family research, I've found it was not that unusual in the 1800s to name a baby after an older sibling who had previous died; these seems to be the circumstance here.

This Peter, whom I'm calling "Peter 2", is the Peter Andersen who was my 2GreatGrandfather, the Peter who had three sons leave Norway and emigrate to America.  The birth and christening record for "Peter 2" is outlined below in green.  I wish I had a Norwegian magic wand I could wave to translate the words circled in orange.  The first word is "first born" but I have no idea what the second word it but wonder if it meant deceased, died, or something like that.  Among the witnesses at this christening were some familiar names, those of my 4GGrandfather Peter Petersen Myren and of his sister Sigri, also of Myren.  I finally had an answer for finding two different birth dates in the same FamilySearch database.

Christening Record for Peter Andersen, b 12 Dec 1799

It is the little things like finding these records that keep me studying those digitized Norwegian records with Google Translate open and my vocabulary chest sheets close at hand..  No telling what else I might find if I just keep looking long enough.

(1)  Oppland (Lesjaskog, Lesja, Norway), Klokkerbok no. 4 (1842-1871) , Dead and Buried 1842-1845, p. 80, entry 1844-2, Anders Pettersen Myren; digital images, Digital Archives of Norway: accessed 2 Dec 2014
(2) Oppland Parish (Lesja, Norway), Lesja Minister Book 3 (1777-1819), Chronological Lists, 1798-1800, Peter Anderson; digital images, Digital Archives of Norway: accessed 7 Dec 2014.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nana, why do you write stories about dead people?

Oakman-Ranger Methodist Church Cemetery
Oakman, Georgia (personal photo)

I was taking a break from the marathon of football games over Thanksgiving weekend.  Taking my laptop with me, I settled in the breakfast area, thinking I would do a little internet browsing or at least look over my various trees in Family Tree Maker.

After a few minutes one of my grandchildren popped in to see what I was up to.  She asked a simple question, one that continues to cause me to ponder, "Nana, why do you write stories about dead people?"  My answer to her was simple, so that she and others in the family would know about some of the people in our family.

As she sat in my lap, I opened my Nelson tree in Family Tree Maker and quickly guided her through looking at the tree, starting with her GreatGrandfather Nelson.  He died several years ago, but she still remembers him.  I explained that he grew up, met her GreatGrandmother, they married, and then they had a baby, her Grandfather, the one watching football in the next room.  Her Grandfather grew up, met me, we married, and then we had a baby, her father.  Her father grew up, met her mother, they married, and then they had her.  With each generation her smile grew bigger and bigger.  After a quick "Thanks, Nana", she ran off to check on the family and the football game.

But why do I write about dead people?  For a variety of reasons ...
  • I've heard stories all my life and what to know more about these stories and the people they involve.  It is one thing to know that your ancestors farmed a homestead in North Dakota.  It is another to look at maps to determine its exact location and to see Bureau of Land Management information about when and how the family obtained the homestead.
  • The research is making history much more personal as I see how ancestors are part of it.  Adolph Myren, my great uncle, because more to me than merely a World War I soldier pictured in his uniform.  Learning about his unit, where and when he served, and the time he was declared missing in action brought new insight into events of the first World War.
  • My writing is connecting me with other family members.  I've discovered some new cousins.  And with these connections, we've also established more communication, sharing photos, information, and even speculation about certain family members or events.
  • I want to help preserve the legacies left by our ancestors.  When a family clock gets passed on to the next generation, I want that person and other family members to know its history.  I also hope the new recipient will glimpse a little of the life of the individual who puchased it.
  • I enjoy the whole research process and want to share what I've learned.  After years of teaching the basics of research and the evaluation of resources, it just seems natural for me to sometimes write about where I locate family information.  Other times I find that just writing about the steps I've followed to answer a personal question helps me see more clearly where else I need to look for new information.

So, as I told my granddaughter last week, there are a lot of reasons I write stories about dead people.  The primary reason. for me personally, is summed up in this quote by the late Maya Angelou.(1)
"We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors' wisdom."
 (1)  "Inspirational Heritage and Legacy" Family Tree Quotes,