Seizing the Moment: Obtaining Grandma Grace’s Divorce Record

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A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Juhannus Celebration Potluck dinner at the Finnish-American Heritage Association (FAHA) Museum in Ashtabula, Ohio (FYI, Juhannus is the Finnish name for St. John, the disciple, and Juhannus Holiday is a national holiday in Finland celebrating the Summer Solstice, the start of summer. I am a member of FAHA because my paternal grandparents immigrated from Finland).

I sat at a table across from Carol, who I recognized from an earlier FAHA gathering as the retired Clerk of Courts in Ashtabula County, the county where I grew up. I ventured to ask her about divorce records in the Clerk’s office. She volunteered to forward my interest in obtaining the divorce record of Grace Tripp, my maternal grandmother, from John Tripp to her former colleagues. I provided what I knew: that both were living in Andover, in Ashtabula County, and that they were divorced sometime in the early 1940s. In the 1940 Census of Andover, both Grace and John were listed as married, but living separately. Further, I knew that Grace remarried in 1943, to Don A. Stafford of Cleveland.

Carol did forward the information to the Clerk’s office in Jefferson, the Ashtabula County seat. On July 1, I received an email from a staff member there with the divorce record as a PDF attachment. It turned out that the divorce was granted during the “January 1942 Term,” which was a bit earlier than I guessed.

Receiving the email when I did was quite a coincidence because my sister Viena and her husband Jim were planning to visit me the next day, on July 2. They had traveled from Florida to Ohio for an Andover high school reunion and to visit their daughter Lara and her family in Bowling Green, Ohio. I was able to hand off a copy of the divorce to my sister, adding one more bit of information about our Grandma Grace. I then sent off copies to my brother Walfrid in Oklahoma, and first cousins in New York and Florida.

Sometimes it pays to “seize the moment.”

My Parents Were Wed in a “Gretna Green Marriage”

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During his presentation on “Until Death Do Us Part: An Examination of Marriage and Divorce Records” at the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society meeting on May 6, Tom Neel, Ohio Genealogical Society library director, mentioned “Gretna Green marriages.” He cited marriages that occurred in locations other than where you might expect, often involving young couples. Specifically, he mentioned people living in northwestern Ohio being married across the border in Michigan.

My own parents were married in similar circumstances, but they traveled from Andover, Ashtabula County, Ohio to Chautauqua County, New York, to be married by a justice of the peace in Westfield. Years ago, when I learned about this travel to get married, I contacted the Chautauqua County Clerk’s office to learn if my parents, in fact, did get married there and if so to purchase a copy of their marriage certificate.

Later, I learned that my in-laws also were married in Chautauqua County, but in Ripley, which is just inside the county’s western boundary. I was able to confirm the existence of a marriage certificate for them and obtain a copy through the same county clerk’s office.

So where does the term Gretna Green come from for such marriages? I turned to Google to search for an explanation and up came an entry in Wikipedia entitled simply Gretna Green. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gretna_Green. Here is how that article starts out:

“Gretna Green is a parish in the southern county of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, and is situated close on the borders of Scotland and England, defined by the small river Sark, which flows into the estuary of the western contiguous Solway Firth. It was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh. “

The Wikipedia article goes on to explain that Gretna Green “is one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations, due to wedding traditions dating back over centuries which originated from cross-border elopements stemming from differences between Scottish and English marriage laws. The destination became popular in the 1770s when a toll road was constructed through the region.”

Now back to the Chautauqua marriages: Today, you can check for the possibility of such a marriage on Ancestry.com, which now offers the collection “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967.” If you want a certificate, you will still have to contact the appropriate county clerk’s office.

The takeaway from all this is that if you are looking for a marriage record in the early 1900s that you think would have taken place in Ohio, but you can’t find it, check for the marriage in New York, Michigan, or even Kentucky.

Grandpa Scheppelmann’s Naturalization Papers Now Online

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A few years ago, I discovered that August Scheppelmann, my late wife’s grandfather, made a journey back to his hometown of Nienburg, Germany in 1922. This occurred when I was looking for his original immigrant arrival in 1897. I posted about this second voyage and you can read it at http://www.collectingancestors.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1026&action=edit

One interesting fact included in the passenger list for his “second” arrival was the fact that he was naturalized in 1902. I spent some time — and some money — obtaining paper copies of his declaration and naturalization papers through the mail.

This morning, I looked through the recent collections added online by Ancestry.com and there was the heading: All Pennsylvania, Federal Naturalization Records, 1795-1931.  Needless to say, I quickly checked it out by searching in this collection for August Scheppelmann. Bingo. Up popped his Declaration of Intent record and his Petition for Naturalization record.

Search results for August Scheppelmann’s naturalization papers.
Screen shot of August Scheppelmann’s Declaration of Intent
Certificate of naturalization for August Heinrich Scheppelman

This demonstrates how much easier and quicker it is in 2019 to do genealogical research with the tremendous expansion of online databases on Ancestry.com and other database providers. And it reminds me to keep checking the database collection announcements from Ancestry–and its competitors too.

My Family’s Connection to Cheese-making

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I like cheese of all types. The other day I started researching cheesemaking and any connection there might be with that industry and my ancestors and relatives. Here are some facts I learned:

My grandkids live on Cheese Factory Rd in Honeoye Falls, New York. (More about this in another post later.)

My Great-Unclde Nelson Andrew Dingman worked in a cheese factory in 1910. (I’ll profile him in a later post.)

My paternal grandfather Evert Huskonen was a dairy farmer in Williamsfield, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Right across the road from his farm was the dairy farm of Andrew Dingman, my great-great-grandfather. Also in Williamsfield, my Uncle Hugh Huskonen owned and operated a dairy farm. Finally, my late brother-in-law Sydney VanCourt operated a dairy farm in Richmond Center, Ashtabula County, beginning as a teenager and continuing until illness forced him to sell off his cows and property.

So as a child I was familiar with dairy farms, milking parlors, and regular milk pick-ups by milk trucks delivering milk to dairies. I also was somewhat familiar with the progress in dairy farming as it changes from hand-milking to machine-milking, and from milk cans to large cooling vats for handling and storing milk. And finally, I was familiar with the seven-day-a-week requirement that dairy farmers be available to milk their cows.

On this past Saturday, I drove out to Middlefield, Geauga County, Ohio to visit the Rothenbuler Cheese Chalet.

Rothenbuhler Cheese Chalet

I visited the store and bought some different kinds of cheese. I then watched a 15-min video showing the history of Hans Rothenburger and his cheese-making company. It turns out that he immigrated from Switzerland, where his father was a master cheesemaker.

Shop at Rothenbuhler Cheese Chalet

As I was leaving the Chalet, I saw a truck pulling onto a weigh station. It obviously was a “milk truck” with its stainless steel tank. I took a closer look and on the truck door was painted a logo “Mitchell’s, Saegertown, PA.”

Milk delivery truck from Saegertown, Pennselvania, at Rothenbuhler weigh station in Middlefield, Ohio.

Here is another connection. My Four-Great-Grandfather Matthias Flaugh lived in that area of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and he is buried in a small Saegertown cemetery. He was a farmer and no doubt he had cows. But I doubt that he sent any milk to a dairy or other processing operation.

With the power of Google, I learned quite a bit about Mitchell’s and why this truck was being weighed in at Rothenbuhler’s. An article published by the Meadville Tribune told about the Mitchell brothers who own and operate the trucking company that was delivering milk while I was visiting Rothenbuhler Cheese Chalet. I am reproducing the article here:

Milk more than just business for Ag-Industry Award winner
By Keith Gushard, Meadville Tribune, Jul 3, 2017
Mitchells Brothers Mike and Greg Mitchell pose near one of their milk hauling truck at Mitchell’s Milk Hauling in Saegertown. The business is a recipient of the 2017 Crawford County Ag-Industry Award.
After six decades in operation, hauling milk is more than just a business — it’s a way of life for the Mitchell family of Saegertown.
Mitchell Trucking, recipient of the 2017 Crawford County Ag-Industry Award, was started in 1958 by Loren (Pete) Mitchell and his son, Lonnie Mitchell. Today, Mitchell Trucking is in its third generation with brothers Greg Mitchell, 54, and Mike Mitchell, 50, as the owners. The two are grandsons of Pete Mitchell and sons of Lonnie Mitchell.
Mitchell Trucking remains a family-oriented operation with Mike’s wife, Michele, managing the company’s books. Monica Mitchell, the brothers’ mother, who was instrumental in the growth and success of the business throughout the years, is still involved, too.
“She’s about 75 and still active,” Greg said. “She goes after a part we need (to repair a truck) or do anything we need.”
The brothers said they are humbled at having the company receiving recognition from Crawford County’s farming community. They’ll receive an award that’s administered by the Crawford County Pomona Grange during an open program at 2 p.m. Aug. 20 at the county fair’s Youth Show Arena. Recipients are selected by agricultural organizations and previous Hall of Fame inductees.
“We just do what we do,” Greg Mitchell said. “I never thought we’d receive an award.”
Both men said they enjoy interacting with the region’s farming community.
“I like the fact we’re helping farmers,” Mike said. “I like talking to them and driving the truck around the countryside.”
“They’re all good people,” Greg said. “I like it because we’re helping farmers get their milk to market, but it is a big responsibility.”
Mitchell Trucking got its start when Pete and Lonnie began hauling large cans of milk from their Spring Terrace Farm near Saegertown as well as other area farms to the Erie-Crawford Cooperative in Saegertown. The Erie-Crawford Cooperative marketed milk for processing to dairies in western Pennsylvania, but in 1969 the cooperative stopped marketing milk as the number of dairies began to shrink.
The Mitchells then switched the firm’s focus to hauling bulk milk to dairy processors mainly in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. By 1990, Mitchell Trucking was hauling for more than 200 farms. At one time, the company even hauled area goat milk for processing to Vermont Butter & Cheese Co., now known as Vermont Creamery, in Barre, Vt.
Today, Mitchell trucks transport raw milk for about 80 dairy farms in the region. While it’s a much smaller number than about 25 years ago, there’s not been a significant loss in total volume as milk production has increased while the total number of farms has decreased.
Each of the farms stores milk at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, or colder, for no more than 48 hours before it’s picked up to be trucked to a processor.
With eight trucks in its fleet, Mitchell’s has six of them on the road each day, 365 days a year, with two in reserve in case of a breakdown. Depending on the size of the dairy farm, a Mitchell truck arrives every day or every other day for a pickup. The milk then usually ends up at one of three processors — Dean Dairy Foods in Sharpsville, Dairy Farmers of America in New Wilmington or Middlefield Original Cheese Co. in Middlefield, Ohio [also known as Rothenbuhler Cheese].
Having grown up in the business, both Greg and Mike, said working every day is just part of their daily routine.
“I’ve never really thought of it as a job,” Greg said. “The milk’s got to go every day.”

This article explains how milk is kept safe on its journey from farm to processing, and it emphasizes the fact that milk-handling is a seven-day-a-week job.

I plan to have future posts about my dairymen relatives and about cheese-making in general.

Rothenbuhler Cheese Chalet

Are You Watching “Finding Your Roots” Season 5

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I have just completed binge watching six episodes of Finding Your Roots broadcast by PBS affiliate WVIZ. These new episodes have been broadcast in recent weeks on PBS but for one reason or another, I didn’t watch them as they were broadcast. Instead, I had my digital video recorder set to capture the series, and I am looking forward to watching episodes 7 through 10 as they become available (this was written on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Season 5 of Finding Your Roots is as well-done as ever, with Henry Louis Gates Jr. narrating. At the half-way mark of the 2019 season, the programming has proved to be dramatic, uplifting, and sometimes shocking. In several episodes, DNA research under the guidance of CeCe Moore has been key to finding ancestors and extending family trees.

I must say that you watch Finding Your Roots to be entertained. The two or three subjects in each episode are people of some note, often movie or TV stars. Some people complain about the focus on well-known personalities, but in my book, it is a good thing. Here’s why: While each subject often says Wow! – and says it a lot—she or he usually recovers from her or his amazement to make heart-felt comments.

For example, Felicity Hoffman offered the observation: “I feel whole with this information that has filled a void.” She had just learned about the deep ancestral roots of her biological father, who was not in her life growing up.
Michael K. Williams offered up “I have a lot of family members who are going want to hear this story” after learning that one of his African-American ancestors registered to vote in 1868, as soon as it became legal for former slaves to vote.

These two subjects appeared in Episode 2: Mystery Men. Each episode has a theme like this.

The first six episodes are available for viewing on the PBS website at
http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/about/season-5-episode-guide/

Here is the directory of all 10 episodes:
Episode 1 – Grandparents and Other Strangers, featuring actor Andy Samberg and author George R. R. Martin
Episode 2 – Mystery Men, featuring actors Felicity Huffman and Michael K. Williams
Episode 3 – Reporting on the Reporters, featuring journalists Christiane Amanpour, Ann Curry, and Lisa Ling
Episode 4 – Dreaming of a New Land — featuring entertainers Marisa Tomei, Sheryl Sandberg, and Kal Penn
Episode 5 – Freedom Tales – featuring actor S. Epatha Merkerson and athlete and television personality Michael Strahan
Episode 6 – Roots in Politics – featuring politicians Paul Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marco Rubio
Episode 7 – No Laughing Matter – featuring comedians Seth Meyers, Tig Notaro, and Sarah Silverman
Episode 8 – Hard Times – featuring filmmaker Michael Moore and actors Laura Linney and Chloë Sevigny
Episode 9 – The Eye of the Beholder – featuring director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, performance artist Marina Abramović, and painter Kehinde Wiley
Episode 10 – All in the Family – featuring actor Ty Burrell, and radio host Joe Madison.

More About My Revolutionary War Ancestor: Matthias Flaugh

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Earilier, I posted about my ancestor Matthias Flaugh, who served in the German Regiment under General George Washington in the American Revolutionary War. In that posting, I included some information gleaned from a German newspaper article. Here is the link to that earlier post: http://www.collectingancestors.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=296&action=edit

Today, I will post a transcription of the entire article and a photo of Matthias’ grave in Peiffer Cemetery, a modest burial ground near Saegertown, a borough in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

The reason for revisiting my ancestor is that my grandson Matthew (note the name similarity) will soon be studying the Revolutionary War at school. His mother asked if I had info, and I quickly responded with a positive answer.

Road sign for Peiffer Cemetery
Memorial stone and plaque for
Matthias Flaugh, Revolutionary War soldier

Here is the complete transcription of the German newspaper report on Johan Matthias Flaugh:

German Newspaper Article about Johan Mathias Flaugh
Odewald Weekly Paper, Thurs Jan 16 1987 pg 8
Headline:
Rimhorner Fought for America’s Freedom
Subject:
Johann Matthias Flach left his native country in 1773;
Peiffertown Cemetery last resting place

By Ella Gieg, Rimhorn
Johann Matthias Flach came into this world on Apr 8, 1752 in Rimhorn. His parents were the baker Johann Philipp Flach and teacher’s daughter Hanna Elisabeth Merckel. To be sure, Matthias Flach never met his father, as the baker owner died ten weeks before the birth of his son. As for the parents’ house, it became what is today the estate of the Hans Fleck family on Goldback Street in Rimhorn. This comes from the “Rinhorner Broullion,” a draft copy of a map from the year 1753 (Wertheim state archives) in which Philipp Flach’s widow is shown as owner of the plot of land. The married couple Flach had acquired the house with a farm that belonged to it on May 14 1745 at a public auction for 436 builders [guilders?].
The widow with her three small children came through the early death of the husband Philipp Flach with difficulty and presumably she couldn’t keep her property. A daughter, Eva Maria, in 1760 married Johann Leonhard Gebbard who lived in the neighborhood, while of the second son Johann Georg there is no trace.
Also not much was known of the emigrant Matthias until later times; it seemed certain that he was lost without a trace. Not until two Americans appeared in Rimhorn in 1986, with instructions from Miss Sara E. Flaugh, Meadville, Pa, and searched for the origins of their ancestors, could the related details of the whereabouts of Matthias Flach become known. Thus was his further journey through life carried out.
On the ship “Union” under Captain Andrew Bryson, the 19-yr old sailed over the great water and arrived in Philadelphia, where under the name of Johan Madas Fla on Sep 27, 1773, he gave his oath of loyalty to the English king in the business-place of Mr. Robert Ritchie.
On July 13, 1776, he signed himself up as a common soldier on the Roll of Muster for the War of Independence and fought for America’s freedom from the English crown in Captain George Hubley’s Company, which belonged to the German battalion of Colonel Nikolaus Haussegger that was composed mainly of settlers from Lancaster, Berks Co.
According to documents he participated in the battles at Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He also fought in the campaign against the Iroquois, who fought on the side of the Loyalists and came to a decisive battle at Newton in Aug 1779.
Later he wed a Marie Arnold, who perhaps likewise came of Odenwald. They had four children prior to coming to Crawford County where he acquired 200 acres and here they had four more children. His final rest is in Peiffertown Cemetery two miles south of Saegertown. His gravestone still exists and it contains in translation the following inscription: In memory of Johann Matthias Flach, a soldier of the American Revolution, born in Rimhorn, Germnay, on April 8, 1752 and died on Jan 20, 1834 at the age of 81 years, 9 months, and 12 days. Merciless death, unerring arrow, you have penetrated the old veteran’s heart. His whole life long he steadfastly defended freedom, which he fought to secure under the “great” Washington.
Miss Sara E. Flaugh, a descendant, is to be very sincerely and warmly thanked for sending informational materials. (End of article)
Note: I also want to thank Miss Sara Flaugh for graciously loaning this article to me. She also had a more legible slab laid in front of the original stone with a bronze medal of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Miss Flaugh also gave me the following: Wilhelm Flach–citizen and member of the court at Nacket. On Nov 27, 1732 his son, Johann Philip Flach, baker married Johanna Eliszabeth Merckel, daughter of Hans Adam Merckel, a teacher. Johann Philipp Flach born at Rimhorn, Jan 4, 1710, died at Rimhorn, Jan 23, 1752. Johanna Elisabeth Merckel born at Rimhorn Feb 12 1713, died at Rimhorn Sept 25, 1776.
The newspaper article was transcribed and comments added by Mary Jane Thomas.

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (Blog) Is 23!

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Sometimes the flow of news about genealogy into my computer is overwhelming. That is my excuse for not earlier reading Dick Eastman’s Dec 15 blog posting about his online newsletter/blog being 23 years old. But I have caught up with that lengthy posting today, and all I have to say is “Congratulations,” Dick, on your continuing efforts to spread information about our passion: genealogy in all its aspects.

I want to fit my genealogy history into the timeline that he recounts: I am not sure exactly when I first subscribed to his free offering, because he notes that he first distributed it via Compuserve. I don’t think I received it via that distribution channel, but I am sure that I first subscribed shortly after it was changed over to Internet distribution. It was in 1995, that I first was exposed to genealogy during a visit to Salt Lake City. During that trip, on a whim I visited the Family History Library. Serendipitously, that I learned that I could attend a workshop on doing Finnish genealogical research. I did and I have been hooked ever since.

Dick Eastman, publisher of EOGN

Dick Eastman provides an interesting account of why he produced the EOGN in an online format from the very first issue, and then why it evolved into a daily blog.

Some years ago, Dick introduced a Plus version for interested subscribers, to provide in-depth reporting on more advanced topics. I have been a Plus subscriber since that first issue, and have found that Dick provides good value.

To subscribe to the FREE Standard Edition Newsletter: Click here .You can unsubscribe at any time within seconds. You can subscribe to the Plus Edition at:  https://blog.eogn.com/subscribe-to-the-plus-edition

Huskonen Family Oral History by Mary Jane Dingman Huskonen 1970

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This oral family history was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1969 or 1970 at the home of Wallace and Mary Jane Huskonen, 6644 Hawthorne Dr, Brecksville, Ohio. Speaking was Mary Jane Huskonen (born Dingman, known simply as Mary) with comments by her son, Walfrid. Mary made the recording for her granddaughter Karen who was born on 19 Sep 1968 to Wallace and Mary Jane. The recording was transferred to a CD almost 50 years later on May 27, 2017, by A. Miklos Video, Brecksville, Ohio, and both the original recording and the digital copy are currently in the possession of Wallace Huskonen, 9240 Meadow Lane, Brecksville, Ohio, who transcribed the audio. Note: Most of the following is a literal transcription from the CD with minor edits for smoother reading and understanding and some parenthetical comments in square brackets to clarify facts or correct errors based on recent research.

Mary: I am Karen Huskonen’s grandmother. Her father, Wallace, and I thought it would be nice if we had a history of our family.

I’ll start with Karen’s paternal great-grandfather and great-grandmother. They were born and raised in Finland. Her great-grandfather [Evert Huuskonen] was born in Vesanto and her great-grandmother [Ida Maria Hytönen] in Saarijarvi. I had to have a little help from my son Walfrid on the pronunciation of that name.

Karen’s great-grandfather’s parents owned a large farm and had many tenant farmers living near them. They owned a store and were considered a rather wealthy family at the time they lived there.

Her great-grandfather followed horse racing and was sort of a gambler. And he was also due to be called up to serve in the Russian army. The Russians occupied Finland at this time [Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire]. So, his parents decided that they would send him to America, and he came first. Her great-grandmother, her great aunts Mary, Edith, and Wilma and her great uncle Emil were living in Finland at that time and her great aunt Edith went to school there.

After her great-grandfather had been in America about 2 years [his stay here alone was from October 1902 to August 1903], he sent for his wife and four children. They came to this country in 1904 [1903] on a Cunard Line boat [SS Aurania]. They came to Ashtabula, Ohio [Conneaut, Ohio] by train traveling by way of Albany, New York, and Buffalo, New York, to Ashtabula.

Great-grandfather Huskonen traveled originally to Houghton, Michigan, to work in the copper mines, but he didn’t stay there long because he didn’t like working underground. He came back to Ashtabula [Conneaut] and worked [as a laborer] in the train yard and roundhouse where they repaired trains and engines. Karen’s Great Uncle Hugh was born in Conneaut in 1904.

By 1910, the Huskonens [Americanized spelling] were living in Ashtabula, where Karen’s Grandfather Walfrid was born one year later in 1911.

Her great-grandfather was not happy with this kind of work [working as a laborer] and he wanted to go back to farming. The family eventually moved to Kinsman, Ohio, and lived on a very large farm with a very large brick house. During that time, her Great-aunt Edith and her Great-aunt Mary were married from this house.

Edith moved to New York and Mary back to Ashtabula. Eventually, Karen’s great-grandparents moved from Kinsman to Williamsfield across Center Road East from my Grandmother Dingman’s farm. Karen’s great-uncle, Walter, also lived on the Dingman farm. Wilma and Hugh and Walfrid were still at home and attended school in Williamsfield. With the Huskonens living across the road from Grandmother Dingman’s farm, I met Karen’s grandfather Walfrid at a very early age while visiting my grandmother. Whenever I and my brother Ding visited, we would play with Walfrid.

Edith married a gentleman by the name of Frank Nikkari, and they moved to New York. He was a shipbuilder and carpenter and they lived in New York for some number of years.

Walfrid: It’s interesting to note that the name Nikkari translates into carpenter in English.

Mary: After many years, I would say 25, Edith and Frank moved back to Ashtabula to the neighborhood where they lived when they first came to this country.

Mary married Harvey Siekkinen and they went to Ashtabula. He was an engineer on the Pennsylvania Rail Road all his life until he retired a few years ago.

Wilma married a gentleman by the name of Seppelin [first name Waino] and they lived in Warren. I’m not sure what her husband did, but her husband’s nephew was a band instructor for all my children. His name was Urho Seppelin and he was well-known in music circles. [Research shows that Waino worked as a steelworker at Republic Steel Co. in Warren.]

There was also another son, an older son, Emil, and he moved to Chicago and worked in communications. I’m not sure what that work entailed. Emil was married in Chicago, and they had one daughter. Eventually, they moved to Florida, and he has since passed away in Florida. [Actually, Emil worked as a railroad engineer, and he and his wife, Mabel Bleatman, were married in Omaha, Nebraska.]

Karen’s grandfather Walfrid and I were married in 1934. We first lived in Andover and then we went to Cleveland where he did pattern work.

And because his parents needed someone near them, we moved back to Andover, and he worked for a company called Glauber Brass in Kinsman, Ohio as the head patternmaker.

When he was 40 years old, Walfrid quit his work because it had been a pledge to himself that at 40, he would have his own shop. For a few years, we did work in the basement of the house and the garage, and then we had sufficient funds to build a shop.

Karen’s dad, Wallace, was born in 1938, her Aunt Viena was born in 1940, and her Uncle Walfrid was born in 1941.
The shop was started in 1952 with a small section that our two boys helped their father build. And from then on, additions were made. I believe there were four additions made before Walfrid’s death in 1965. We always felt that we did rather well with the shop. We were able to put the children through schools of their choice, Wallace going to Case Institute of Technology [Cleveland, Ohio], Walfrid to Hiram College [Hiram, Ohio], and Viena to Katherine Gibbs School in Boston.

Walfrid: There weren’t any other relatives from Finland, except a brother and a sister of Grandma Huskonen’s, and the only one who anyone really knew was Grandma’s sister, Aunt Matilda Viik. She lived in Ashtabula. Her husband [Bill Viik] worked on the railroad, the New York Central. She wouldn’t go back to Finland it was said because she had had such a rough passage by boat, and she wouldn’t fly. But Bill went back every once in a while.
I remember going over there one time with Dad after Bill had returned from Finland to see things that he had brought back. The thing that I remember the most was a cane that came apart and had a sword in it.

Grandma’s brother also was here, but no one really seems to know anything about him. I remember Dad telling about him stopping by when they were on the farm and he was riding a motorcycle. That’s the only thing I remember. His last name would have been Hytönen.

When I was [going to school] in Finland and Mom and Dad traveled there we visited people who lived where Grandpa had lived and the only relatives that we knew about were very distant cousins. There was one fairly young man named Paavo Huuskonen who was a race car driver, driving his Saab on frozen lakes.

There is a marker in Vesanto that is a memorial to the Huuskonens. And there is a story about the origin of the name that it doesn’t really mean anything, or if there was a meaning it has been lost. The story behind the origin of the same is that in Finnish the word Huusi is the past tense of shout and if you add a “ko” suffix to any verb form or word it’s a question, so if you say “Huusiko” it means “did they shout?” or “did someone should?” And then if you use the term “ne” it’s in the derogatory sense. So, there is this kind of funny story that the name Huuskonen came from “Huusi ko” and it was shortened to Huuskonen. But that is a story that someone probably made up.

Mary: Paavo’s mother and his sister were living in this very huge log house. It had many rooms beautifully kept. Because their winters are so long, they kept large plants in their houses. Their name, by the way, was Huuskonen. And they were so proud of their son, who lived next door. We were there in 1961 and the son’s house was very new. It had steam heat which was a great improvement over the fireplaces.

Walfrid: They are not really fireplaces such as we know them, but they are an older form of central heating in that there is a corner stove that is made by bricking the corner. A fire is made in the stove to heat the bricks and the bricks will hold the heat for a long period of time. The bricks have a tile facing so that they are ornamental as well as useful. This feeds into a central chimney so that more than one room can be heated. There are these stoves in adjoining rooms with the chimney going up in the middle.

Mary: If I may digress a little bit, we were particularly pleased with our welcome at the Huuskonen home. Both front doors were wide open, even though it was cool and there was misty rain. And the mother and her son, and a gentleman by the name of ??? were there. And when Viena and I came up to meet them, it was quite a shock to hear the gentleman say “hello.” It was about the first American or English word since we’d been in Finland, especially when we were visiting relatives. He had been to Ashtabula, expecting to stay there and work, but he had gotten homesick and so had come back to Finland.

Walfrid: He knew Grandpa in this country too). They say he stayed with Grandpa and Grandma awhile.

Mary: Their home inside was lovely. There were many old family heirlooms. We were speaking of the fireplace – the one they had heated four rooms. It was in a central location. And there were two living rooms and two bedrooms that this fireplace heated.

We were served coffee in every home we visited, plus some sweets or some kind, cake, cookies, sometimes fruit, but invariably it was coffee with something else.

I would like Walfrid to tell about the large family room. We would call it a family room in our country.

Walfrid: In the older Finnish homes there is a room called a tupa. And this is generally quite a large room, and in some of the older houses, the logs form the walls. There’s no facing put on them. Generally, there are benches all the way around the outer walls and in one corner there will be a cooking area and there will be a cooking range [or cooking stove], plus an oven that’s used for making baked goods. Now this is generally five feet high, or six feet if it’s a large one, and again it’s built on the same principle as the heating unit, in that there’s a great amount of mass made up of clay and bricks with an opening within this, and the fire is built within this cavity, and the heat penetrates into the bricks and the bricks hold the heat. After the fire has died down, the ashes are then scraped out and cleaned out and then whatever is being made whether it is bread or pastries are put into the oven on wooden paddles. They can make really good food that way.

Mary: These rooms are also used for large gatherings, such as dances or just a community or family get-togethers.

Karen’s Great Grandpa Huskonen, died in 1947 and her Great-grandmother Huskonen died in 1958 in a rest home.

Walfrid: We might also say what their first names were: Grandpa Huskonen’s first name was Evert and Grandma Huskonen’s first name was Ida.

It’s rather noticeable that those aren’t Finnish names. I don’t know what the origin of either of them is, but it wasn’t uncommon for Finns to take German names, both given names and sometimes surnames. The taking of a German given name is noticeable in Dad’s given name, Walfrid, which is said to have German origins.

Mary: Karen’s maternal Great-great-grandparents, Jared Green and Mary Sumner, were born in Conneaut.
They were married in Conneaut, and from that union came Karen’s Great-grandmother Grace, and her Great-uncle Ed Green. While my mother was young, while she was possibly three years old, her father died of an illness, possibly pneumonia, and her mother moved with Grace to live with an uncle. She got married soon after and had a stillborn baby girl. After the baby was born, she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and she died shortly after.

Grace’s brother, Karen’s Great-great-uncle Ed, went to Michigan at the time of their mother’s death and there were no women there to take care of his sister. He was, I believe, 11 and she was 4 at the time. He had been living in Andover with a family by the name of Morley, working and going to school. When his mother died, and his sister was left with the uncle, he wrote a letter to the Morley’s asking if they would take care of Grace. [Actually, an aunt wrote the letter. Wallace has a copy.]

The Morley’s were older people. James Morley had been a landowner and quite a politician in the Andover area. He was an instigator, along with two brothers, in getting the railroad through the town of Andover, probably because they owned property there.

Walfrid: There’s a joke that goes with that. It was that Mrs. Morley was a diplomat too in that she invited the railroad men to her house to eat so she helped get the railroad there through their stomachs.

Mary: She was an excellent cook. No question about it. She was English [her father was born in England, she was born in Pennsylvania]. She was no relative whatsoever to Ed Green or Karen’s great-grandmother Grace. [NOTE: The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern’s branch was opened through Andover in 1872. James Morley’s ex-wife, Maria Dewey Morley, was enumerated in the 1870 Census as living in Sandusky County as head of household with her daughter Maggie. Jennie was married to James Perkins who passed away in 1880. There are two conclusions here: 1. Jennie Morley probably was not the hostess for the railroad men in about 1870. 2. And Maria Morley was living in the western part of the state. Does this story suggest that the wife of another Morley brother was the hostess instead of a wife of James? — WDH]

In time, Jennie Morley decided that Grace could come to Andover and stay for a short while. And so, the Morley’s sent the money for her to come [to Andover, probably by railroad] and she lived with them until she was married to Karen’s Great-grandfather Wallace.

The Morley’s were very good to Grace. They gave her every opportunity. She had everything that anyone might want.

Mrs. Morley didn’t like to have anyone bother doing housework, so Grace was able to work in the Post Office if she wanted to. She was very active in plays. She had medals for speaking. She was a very popular person in the community.

She married Wallace Dingman, Karen’s great-grandfather in 1904. He was born in Williamsfield on the Dingman homestead.

Walfrid: He had met her in Andover in school, hadn’t he?

Mary: Yes, because Williamsfield had a grade school but no high school at the time. They had only a one-room school, and Andover had a larger school. So, Wallace came to Andover and met Grace and they were married in 1904.

Karen’s Great-great-grandfather Andrew Dingman was born and lived near Jamestown, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, on a farm. Her Great-great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Betts also was born in Mercer County. After they were married [in 1877], they moved to [what would become known as] the Dingman farm, considered at that time to be a large farm. They had three sons. Nelson was the oldest, and he died about 10 years after he was married to Florence Pratt and they had two daughters, Faye and Ruth.

Walter, Karen’s great-great uncle, married late in life to Mina Mae Waid [1948]. Wallace, as I have said, married her Great-grandmother Grace.

Walfrid: Walter and Wallace were twin brothers.

Mary: Yes. One reason Walter was so close to his mother was that he was a very sickly baby. And when they lived on the farm, Wallace did much of the outdoor work, where Walter wasn’t able to do heavier work because he was so sickly.

In 1908, shortly before I was born, Karen’s Great-great-grandfather Andrew Dingman died and Great-great-uncle Walter stayed with his mother for the remainder of her years, living on the Dingman Farm. He was, by that time, in good health and able to do farming. They lived very well on the farm.

They had one of the first automobiles in the community [Williamsfield]. I can recall that it was a Studebaker. We felt quite elegant riding in it. I can remember riding to Meadville to visit Grandma’s [Betts] relatives, going up the steep hill and we had to get out and put rocks behind the wheels because the motor had gotten so hot that we had to stop. For all the faults, it was still considered an excellent automobile. It was jacked up in the winter to save the tires. The tires were removed and taken to the basement so that nothing would happen to them. It was an open car [touring car] and had what we called side curtains. We felt quite proud when riding in it.

Walfrid: We should tell about Aunt Ann [Betts, married name Smith], just because of the expression we’ve used in the family. Aunt Ann was Grandma Dingman’s sister, and she and her husband and family had homesteaded in Canada.

She must have been a real “corker” for all the stories about her: she liked to play cards and dance and probably raise a little hell once in a while.

Mary: She had many illnesses. Her legs swelled so very much. But I can recall that after my grandmother died, she stayed with my uncle for some time. Her legs would be swollen, and she could hardly maneuver around. She would sit on the porch and see many cars go past and she’d say “Walter, where are they all going? Let’s go. Let’s find out where they are going.” She was always a person interested in everything.

Karen’s Great-grandmother Grace and Great-grandfather Wallace moved to Conneaut and he was an engineer on the New York Central Railroad [In another recollection, Mary stated that Wallace gave up the engineer’s position and became a switchman, probably on the Bessemer and Erie RR, so he wouldn’t be away from home so much.]
Grace and Wallace were married in 1904 and I was born in 1908 in Conneaut. Three years later, my brother Wallace was born in Conneaut, too. We lived there all our lives until my mother remarried.

My father Wallace died in 1920. It was necessary for my mother to earn a living for our family. We did have a bit of savings, but my father had been ill for so long that most of it was gone. My mother had very good friends on the school board [Andover] and they decided, after a conference, that if she would go school at Kent—at that time it was called Kent Normal School—if she would go there for 12 weeks during each summer that they would give her a position. It also helped that she had traveled quite a bit. We’d been to California and other places and they thought that would help her in her teaching. She taught for some time until she remarried.

I graduated from East Conneaut High School in 1927. It’s interesting to note that I attended the same school after high school that my mother Grace did. At that time, I was there, it was called Kent College. It’s now called Kent State University.

My brother, during this time after my father died, was eight years old, and he spent the summers with my Uncle Walter, while my mother was continuing her education because it was necessary for her to go each summer to do this. Sometimes I went with her, and sometimes I stayed with my Grandmother Morley [adoptive] for the summer. It was a difficult situation, but I don’t think it ruined either of our personalities. I think we were quite well adjusted.

My mother went to school for, I believe it was seven years, before she got her certificate to teach.

The year before I was to graduate from high school when I was 16, my mother married John Tripp in Andover, and she and my brother moved there. I was very fortunate because my fondest wish was to graduate with my class in Conneaut. One dark, dreary day, when the sun just peeked through the clouds, my mother said she had news for me. It was the fact that they were going to be able to send me to Conneaut to board and finish my last year of school. And I said there is a ray of hope with the sunshine.

I graduated the next year and then my home was in Andover. I was away at college for two years, and after that, I taught school for seven years in Bedford.

In 1934, Walfrid Huskonen and I were married. We lived in Bedford for a short while, and I said it was necessary for us to go back to Andover to help his parents. They weren’t so feeble but it is the custom the Finnish family to have the youngest one somewhere near so they can be of assistance to the mother and father. And that was the role he played for his mother and father.

My brother Wallace finished school in Andover, and he was married to Betty Lyman of Andover and they have seven children: Sidney, Ned, Jerad, Jill, Betsy, Betty Ann, and Andrew. They now live in Buffalo. Ding at one time was associated with the aircraft industry, with Curtis Wright Aviation Co. in Buffalo. He was a troubleshooter for all their planes. He traveled a great deal when the children were small. He was responsible for the inspection of all new planes when they left the plant. It was during the time of the war [WWII].

When Curtis Wright moved to Columbus [OH], he found it would be difficult to move because of his family—it was difficult to find housing. He stayed in Buffalo and began working for Westinghouse as a foreman. [Westinghouse took over the aircraft plant as a manufacturing facility.]

This is about all the information about Karen Huskonen’s heritage that I can recall right now.

Taking Yet Another DNA Test

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Yesterday I gave myself a belated Christmas present: yet another DNA test. To date, I had tested my DNA with AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage DNA. I tried testing with Living DNA, but in three separate swab sampling attempts, that DNA testing service was unable to get meaningful results from my samples so they refunded my fee.

So that left 23andme as the one major DNA testing service that I had yet to test with. In reviewing a pre-Christmas sales flyer from Best Buy, I noted an offer for a 23andMe test kit for $69, which was ‎$30 off the standard price. The ad blurb promised a “detailed breakdown of your ancestry.” To sweeten the offer, Best Buy would throw in a $10 gift card with each DNA kit purchased. So yesterday I drove to the nearest Best Buy and bought a 23andMe kit. As with the offerings from the other DNA testing services, this is an autosomal DNA test.

The kit is for collecting spit and includes a postage-paid kit box/mailer for return to the lab. The collection tube was the fanciest yet, with a funnel atop the collection tube and an attached “funnel lid” that included a small amount of liquid to preserve the spit sample.

The instructions said to refrain from drinking or eating for at least 30 minutes, so I waited for 1.5 hours just to be sure. I had no trouble providing enough spit to fill the collection tube to the fill mark. Then I closed the “funnel lid” attached to the spit tube to automatically release the preservative. After shaking the mixture for a few seconds, I twisted off the funnel from the sample tube and replaced it with the tube cap. I then placed the tube into the specimen bag and sealed it. The bag went into the mailer box which I then sealed. Today, I delivered the box to my local post office to make sure that it went into the mail system as safely as possible.

After collecting my spit sample, I registered the kit by creating an account on the 23andMe website, making sure that I correctly entered the 14-digit kit number from the specimen tube (the tube also had a barcode with that number for use in the lab).

At the end of the registration process, up popped an offer that I couldn’t refuse: Upgrade the test to provide my health report based on my DNA test for only $100 more (a $30 discount). 23andMe has built its reputation on this more extensive DNA testing and reporting, and it has been appealing to people who want to know if they are genetically predisposed to any health conditions. So after a few moments of consideration, I took the plunge into the world of health reporting based on DNA.

Once I opted for the upgrade, 23andMe drew me into answering questions about my ethnicity and ancestry — and then more questions about me. One observation: the company has no doubt paid big bucks to its legal team to create all the Terms of Service (TOS) documents and the related agreement forms that must be signed by participants.

The series of surveys covered a wide array of topics including my diet, personal interests, and preferences, physical condition, mental condition, past medical diagnoses, etc. Having read through all the TOS documents, I had little fear that my privacy would be jeopardized by these surveys, and I, in fact, found answering the surveys to be interesting exercises. It did take a good bit of time, however.

So the sample is in the mail to 23andMe. Now we wait to see the results and reports from this DNA testing service and compare them to my other test results.

Mom Was Born 110 Years Ago Today

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Mary Jane Dingman was born on December 14, 1908 (110 years ago today), to Wallace Betts Dingman and Grace Green Morley Dingman. She was born at the family’s home in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio.

She grew up to be a teacher, wife, and mother, then a teacher again, business manager, and finally a caregiver. Her husband was Walfrid Herbert Huskonen, who grew up on a farm across the road from her Dingman grandparents’ farm in Williamsfield, Ohio. Mary went to school in Conneaut and Walfrid in Williamsfield, but they saw each other over the growing-up years. They decided to get married as young adults living in the Cleveland area. At the time, Mary was an elementary teacher in Bedford, Ohio, and Walfrid was employed as a patternmaker by Lake City Malleable Foundry Company in Cleveland.

Mary and Wally went on to be parents, raising three children in Andover, Ohio. For many years, she was a stay-at-home mom while he became an entrepreneur, owning and operating Andover Pattern Co. in Andover.

Remembering her today has prompted me to start to gather together what I have on file for Mom. I plan to assemble it into a multiple-part life story about a strong and loving woman—my mother.

Watch this space for installments in the coming days.