{Treasure Box} Burial Site of Agnes Mattson

Agnes Mattson (1909-1982) is my husband’s great grandmother.  She has an interesting burial story.  You can read about Agnes’ many husbands here.  You can also read a previous blog post about her grave site here.

Agnes was married to her 7th husband, Pat O’Malley, at the time of her death.  Pat was a widow at the time of his marriage to Agnes.  The couple had agreed during their marriage on a burial plan.  Pat would be buried with is deceased wife.  Agnes would be buried with her favorite husband, Donald Frazier.

This past summer the kids and I were driving past Colma, California and decided to make a spur of the moment decision to visit Agnes.  Olivet Memorial Park is another very large cemetery.  Although we have stopped by before, I could not remember where Agnes was buried.  We stopped by the office and received the following maps.  The pink area I have highlighted is where Agnes and Don are together.

Map of Olivet Memorial Park
Map of Section I, Olivet, Memorial Park

Agnes Mattson burial site, Section I, Number 178-3, Olivet Memorial Park, Colma, California.

My First Photo Restoration

Last weekend, while enjoying time in Hopland, California with friends and family, I had an incredible find!  Currently, our family is in the fifth generation of staying and playing on this land.  My husband’s grandmother was the original family historian on that side of the family.  Grandma Shirley left the most incredible treasure trove of documents and photos as part of her legacy.  Most of these documents are now in my possession.  I have been slowly digitizing them to share with family.

To my surprise, on a trip into the barn, my husband found another (previously unknown) 100+ year old photo.  It is a photo of the members of the Star of Finland celebrating 15 years (1896-1911).  There are approximately 140 individual photos included.  Someone (maybe Agnes Mattson) left markings on the photo to identify her parents (Charles Mattson and Wendla Botmaster, and Uncle and his wife, Matts Mattson).  The Star of Finland was a sick benefit society.  The information I have found online includes many names from Malax and Solf where my husband’s ancestors immigrated from.

So why does the photo need some love?  Unfortunately, being left out in the open in the barn means it was covered in dust and mouse poop.  We carefully wrapped the the photo before coming home.

Luckily, my local genealogy society, Marin County Genealogical Society, had Gawain Weaver speak at one of our meetings years ago.  Gawain is a photo conservation expert who owns his own conservation studio here in Marin, California.

Since I know very little about photo conservation and this photo is so old, I made the call to Gawain Weaver Art Conservation .  After a consultation with Gawain, I contracted with him to clean the photo, make a small fix to a corner, and take high resolution scans.

I am so excited to add this photo to my family archive! After the photo gets some love, I will be sharing it!

Gawain Weaver with Star of Finland photo

Agnes Marie Gingg Newspaper Diary #2

Agnes Marie Mattson is my husband’s great-grandmother.  She kept a newspaper clipping diary from 1928-1931. You can read more information about the diary at this link: Diary Prologue.

This clipping, hand dated Feb 1928, refers to Nancy Malone.  Nancy was married to Charles Britton Wells (Frank Gingg’s grandparents).  Agnes’ first husband was Frank Gingg.  I had to check twice to make sure I had the correct person because Charles and Nancy had a daughter named Carrie Bell Wells.

This clipping is full of information to research.  I need to follow-up to identify the grand children.  I also need to check the Santa Rosa Newspapers for 1881-1885 for any references to the Malone and Wells family.

There is also at least one error in this clipping.  The baby was actually a girl.  My husband’s grandmother (Shirley Gingg, 1927-2003) was born six months before the visit.

Mrs. C.B. Wells Here On Visit With Relatives

Mrs. C.B. Wells is here for a visit with relatives and is delighted to make the acquaintance of her youngest great grandchild, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gingg of Benton street.  Mrs. Wells first came to California shortly after the Civil War and was a resident of Santa Rosa from 1881-1885.  The oldest of her grandchildren is thirty-eight years, and the age of her eldest great grandchild is seventeen years.

Mrs Ellen Wells of this city is a relative also.  The visitor will spend several weeks here and will renew many old acquaintances.

Agnes Marie Gingg Newspaper Diary #1

Agnes Marie Mattson is my husband’s great-grandmother.  She kept a newspaper clipping diary from 1928-1931.

This clipping is about Agnes’ younger brother, Carl (1913-1996). The clipping is hand dated as 1928.

BOY. 15. SAVED FROM DEATH IN RUSSIAN RIVER

Seized with cramps in deep water, Carl Mattson, 15-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. J Long of 2 Wright street, San Francisco, had a narrow escape from drowning yesterday afternoon in the Russian River at Vacation Beach, near Guerneville, when his brother, Albert, 18, and Albert Saaransen, 19, plunged to his rescue.

The boys, who are vacationing on the Russian River, were swimming at the beach.  Mattson swam out into deep water and was seized with cramps before he could return to the beach.

He shouted for help and was able to keep afloat after going down once until the other two boys reached him.

He is a brother of Mrs. Frank Gingg, of this city.

This is a google map of of Vacation Beach, California. Carl and Albert most likely visited their sister in Santa Rosa on the way out to their vacation.

Agnes Marie Gingg Newspaper Diary (Prologue)

My husband’s great-grandmother, Agnes Mattson, married Charles Frank Gingg as a young woman.  After moving to Santa Rosa, California, Agnes kept a newspaper clipping diary.  The diary is a book with lined blank pages.  The newspaper clippings were glued onto each page.  Many clippings have the month and year written next to the item of interest.  The Diary begins in 1928 and ends somewhere about 1931.

From what I can tell, most if not all of the clippings are related to family, friends, or acquaintances of Agnes.  I recognize names in 80 percent of the clippings.

I am going to post photos of the newspaper clippings.  They offer an interesting insight to the world Agnes lived in.

Newpaper Diary Cover

 

First page of diary written by Agnes Mattson Gingg

 

This is a google maps street view of the home the Gingg’s lived in while the diary was created.  The home is just north of Downtown Santa Rosa.  It sits on an east-west street between downtown and the Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

485 Benton Street

There was an envelope of photo negatives in the genealogy papers my husband’s Grandma Shirley collected.  The outside of the envelope was dated 1933.  There were several different types of negatives and based on the age of Grandma Shirley in the photos they were taken anywhere from 1925-1933.  I believe this photo of Shirley and Frank Gingg (ca.1932) was taken in front of the home at 485 Benton Street.  The shape of the front door stairs and wood porch supports match closely.

Frank and Shirley Gingg (about 1932 or 1933)

 

New Social Research Methodology

I have returned from an incredible trip abroad.  Part of our trip was to Finland for my husband to attend a conference and the family to visit the homeland. The hubby, kids, and I met up with my in-laws for this portion of our trip.

After a few days relaxing in the Åland Islands between Sweden and Finland, we took the ferry into Turku, Finland. We drove north towards the area around Vasa, Finland.  To break up the drive, we spent the night in Kristinestad, Finland.    This is where I learned something new about research methodology.

Let me back up and give you some information important to this story.  My husband has 2nd great grandparents who immigrated from the area outside Vaasa, Finland.  Grandma Shirley (hubby’s grandmother) was the granddaughter of Wendla Båtmäster and Charles O. Mattson. Forty years ago Grandma Shirley and Grandpa John visited the family that still remained in Finland.

Grandma Shirley passed away in 2003.  She was the main contact from our branch of the family to the family from Finland.  Before our trip, Grandpa John was able to put together a list of names and addresses he still had.  We were unsuccessful with the phone numbers before our trip began.

While on the trip, we decided to focus on finding one person from the list who we knew was young enough to still be alive.  I will call her Anna Lena for privacy.  Anna Lena came and stayed with my in-laws during the 80’s when she was about 16 years old.  My husband was about 9 or 10 years old during this visit.

We had tried phone numbers and Facebook but our biggest problem seemed to be marriage.  We did not know what Anna Lena’s married name was.

Plan B, if we could not find Anna Lena, was to drive to the addresses we had and cross our fingers that the current occupants would have information about my husband’s ancestors.

Back to Kristinestad. Kristinestad is a town in the southern area of Ostrobothinia.  Ostrobothinia is the equivalent of a state in the United States. Vasa is a little more than an hours drive north of Kristinestad.

The owner of our hotel in Kristinestad checked us in. He was incredibly welcoming and nice (a theme we found with every person we met in Finland). We spoke for a few minutes about the area and how we, as Americans, came to visit.  My father-in-law (will be referred to as J) used the opportunity to say we were trying to visit family from Sundom and Malax (just south of Vasa).  He explained we had a list of names and addresses that was old and were having a hard time contacting family.

The hotel owner offered the phone book because it included towns south of Vasa.  J was unable to find Anna Lena in the book.  The hotel owner told us to wait a minute because he was going to try to look up something online.  He returned from his office with a slip of paper which had a phone number for a woman named Anna Lena.  Her last name was very close to the information we had.

J made the phone call.  The woman who answered the phone was not our Anna Lena.  But she knew of our Anna Lena! She promised to call Anna Lena’s mom for us.  A half hour later we had a text from the woman we called.  She informed us she had spoken with Anna Lena’s mom and had learned Anna Lena was married and living in Norway.

We were so excited to have found the information we were looking for but bummed we would not be able to visit Anna Lena. During dinner, my husband received a text from Anna Lena herself!  Quickly the conversation moved to a telephone call. Anna Lena was happy to speak with us.  Apparently she had tried to reconnect with our family too but did not remember enough information to find us in California.  She said most of the people on our list of family had passed in the last several years but she would make some phone calls to see if anyone else could see us.

With Anna Lena’s help, we spent the next day in Sundom and Solf visiting with J’s 3rd cousin and his family.  We also got to meet a couple of people in the prior generation who showed us where some of the “old” family lived.  It was an incredible moment when Henrik brought out a framed picture of his and J’s common ancestors, Jonas Båtmäster and Britia Maria Marander.  We have seen copies of the photo from Grandma Shirley’s trip but the original was amazing. The other highlight was watching my kids play with their 4th cousins even with a language barrier.  They had so much fun together.

So lesson learned.  Don’t be scared to be the person who asks questions! Although the hotel owner lived more than an hour south of Sundom, he got us started in the right direction.  If J had not spoken up, we would not have gotten to enjoy the best day of our vacation.

If you want to have solid research skills, they need to include talking to anyone who will listen.  You never know who has the missing piece.

Serendipity While Traveling

Last month my family had the opportunity to travel to Finland.  It was part work for my husband and part vacation travel.  Our adventure started when we met up with my husband’s parents, J and S, who had been on their own vacation. Our travel plans included arriving in a few days in the Åland Islands on our way to Finland.

J was very excited to be going to Finland.  His great-grandparents, Wendla Båtmäster and Charles Oscar Mattson, had immigrated to the United States from Finland.

Although Wendla and Charles came from towns only 13 kilometers apart from each other, all family oral histories say they met in San Francisco through the Star of Finland Relief Society.

Grandma Shirley, J’s mom, did an excellent job of documenting her family in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I am so thankful to have digital copies of her research!  While she had information regarding family in Finland for Wendla, there is really no further information for Charles.  Part of this is due to the fact he died the young age of 33.  His obituary states he left behind (besides his immediate family) a brother, Matt Mattson, and a sister, Mrs. Lena Carlson.  Grandma Shirley had also found out Charles was from the town of Malax, Finland.

Basic searches for Charles did not have any positive results before our trip.  I have to admit, I was not very thorough with my research due to the crazy that was the end of the school year.

Back to our trip.  The Åland Islands were included in our trip because Grandpa John (J’s dad) had such fond memories from the trip he and Grandma Shirley had taken 40 years ago.  We arrived early in the morning after an overnight ferry from Stockholm.  The morning was spent enjoying Mariehamn, the capital of the Åland Islands. We then made our way to the summer cottage my husband had found for us to stay at.  It was gorgeous!

View from our porch

Every afternoon was spent enjoying the front porch.  The wifi made it one of the best offices my husband has ever used.  I spent some of the porch time on my tablet trying to find more information about Charles Mattson and his family.

Then it happens.  I get a hit for Lena Carlson at Ancestry.com.  And not just a little hit.  A big, bright shiny moment of search success.

It turns out Lena Carlson was just one of variations of names for Charles’ sister.  And I was lucky enough to have most of them listed on the Petition for Naturalization I found.

No wonder why I was having difficulty finding her!  I have found Lena under every possible variation of the above name  plus the additional variations using her husband’s last name, Victor. More proof the family was from Malax, Finland but again no names for Charles’ parents.

So what is the serendipitous moment? About half way down the Petition for Naturalization are questions about Lena’s husband Victor.  Guess where he was born?  Mariehamn, Åland Islands, Finland.  You will notice  Åland is spelled with an “O.”  This is not surprising at all since  Å with a ring above it is pronounced  as “oh”.

Seriously, how crazy that I had traveled a little more than 5,300 miles to find a document online that says Lena’s husband was born only 10 miles from where I sat on the porch with the most incredible view?!

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Frank and Agnes Gingg

Frank Gingg and Anges Mattson are my husband’s paternal great-grandparents.  This photo hangs on the wall in Grandpa John’s house  The notation on the back reads “Frank and Agnes Sept 1925.”

Frank and Agnes were married on September 5, 1925 so this may be their wedding photo.  If you think Agnes looks young, it is because she is.  She lied on her marriage certificate stating that she was 18 when her real age was 16.  Frank was just one month shy of his 20th birthday at the time of their wedding.

 

Gingg Frank and Agnes 1925

The Ebb and Flow of Family Groups

The Mattson line of my husband’s family is a close group.  My husband’s great-grandmother Agnes Mattson was one of five children.  Agnes was joined by her brothers Edwin, Albert, and Carl.  The oldest brother, Leonard, died as a child.  Agnes’ mother, Wendla Botmaster Mattson Long, was the family matriarch.  When things did not work out, she stepped up to the plate and raised some of her grandchildren.  Agnes’ child, Shirley, grew up with some of her cousins as siblings.  I have seen many photos of the grandkids (Grandma Shirley and her cousins) all together in San Francisco.  This tight bond remained throughout their lives.

Earlier this month, we attended the memorial for Dorothy Mattson.  Dorothy was the wife of Albert Mattson.  Al is more commonly known in our family as Buz or Buzzie.  He is one of Grandma Shirley’s first cousins.  The service for Dorothy was beautiful and was followed by a reception.  The reception was really nice and it was great to see family that we have not seen in a while.

On our drive home, my husband and I had an interesting conversation about the distance generations create.  The younger generations of the family are not as close as the older ones had been.  The younger generations did not grow up in the same household as the older generations had done.  Grandma Long passed away in 1974.  Her grandchildren, who grew up together, really were the ones who got the entire family together on a regular basis after Grandma Long’s death.  Sadly, that generation is now slowly becoming smaller and smaller in numbers.  While the family still talks, it is just not the same as it used to be.

Families shift for many reasons.  I believe that from the research I have done, the biggest reasons for families changing is death and migration.  I have several families in my line that either kept moving west or had children leave the area to move west.  I also have a couple of families where there was obviously a patriarch or matriarch who led at least a couple of generations.

The most fascinating part of this process it that it happens over and over again.  Different generations start their own tight family groups.  It has left me wondering what the next tight-knit family group is going to be.  As I thought about it, I realized that we are already part of it.  My husband and I are a portion of a strong set of siblings and we have just started populating the next generation.

I am also a part of the close family group on my Mom’s side.  My Grandma is the head of the family.  She has five children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  We all love getting together to hang out.  Most of the family get-togethers are missing my immediate family because we do not live in Southern California.  It is not uncommon for my mom’s brothers and sister hangout together at Grandma’s house.  This past Christmas was especially awesome because every single member of the family and their spouses/significant others were all present.

What is the most recent strong family group in your family?  Are you the newest matriarch/patriarch?