Saturday, September 29, 2018

Postcards from the past: the Gustafson-Van Wert Family pt. 1

 There is something truly special about reading the handwriting of your ancestors. 100 years ago they carefully inked a name or a word, and now you are once again reading that same word in the same writing. Even more spectacular is reading postcards from your ancestors. Each one is a memento of a story, a voice from the past. I was lucky enough to receive a box of postcards from my Great Uncle Everette Van Wert a year or so ago. Below is the first installment of some of the specimens from the box collection.

Postcard to Frances from her Father (Date Unknown)

Relations to me:
Frances Gustafson: Great Grandma
Papa/ F. O. W. Gustafson: 2nd great grandpa

The text of the postcard is in half English half Swedish and reads the following:
Dear Frances, How are you? 
We will stay in Pueblo till Thursday morning. Brandelle(?) kommer icke hit. Hälsa allesammans. Har din mormor kommit till dig? (illegible sentence) 
Pueblo Colo. 
August 21st 9:15 am 
din papa
The fully translated  version looks something like this:
Dear Frances, How are you? 
We will stay in Pueblo till Thursday morning. Brandelle(?) will not come here. Greet everyone for me. Has your grandmother come to you? (illegible sentence) 
Pueblo Colo. 
August 21st 9:15 am 
your papa
The colorized photograph is of the Pueblo County Courthouse in Pueblo Colorado. As noted by the postcard, it was "constructed entirely in turkey creek stone". 

Postcard from "B. R." to Mrs. Rev. Gustafson (1907)

Relations to me:
B. R.: none or unknown
Mrs. Rev. Gustafson/ Blanche Aurora Ekeberg: 2nd Great Grandma

It's rather funny to think that over a hundred years ago people were still sending each other cat pictures. Hardly anyone can argue against the fact that the mysteriously cuddly allure of a cat in a sweater is one phenomenon that transcends time.

This particular cat card is sent by someone whose initials are only identified in the lower left-hand corner of the card, a person known as "B. R.". It is addressed to Mrs. Rev. Gustafson of Greeley Colorado and postmarked in Elgin Illinois on May 22, 1907.

Letter from Charles Pehrson to Rev. O. W. Gustafson (1907)

Relations to me:
Charles Pehrson: none/ unknown
Rev. O. W. Gustafson/ Frans Oscar Wilhelm Gustafson: 2nd great grandpa

The letter is dated Sep. 26, 1907 and is postmarked in Portland Maine. The letter is from Charles Pehrson. He mentions that he was a preacher in the letter so that may have been how my 2nd great grandpa knew him.

The postcard reads:
14 Sherman St. 9-26-07Well Brother, how are you getting along in your glorious city? Please leave time to drop me a line. This great musical concert will soon be here. Am a member of the phones (?). Everything about the usual here. Preaching to a handful of people. I should have remained in Utah. This is a beautiful city but rather cold. Kindest regards to you and yours.Charles Pehrson

Postcard from Louise and D. N. Anderson to Rev. and Mrs. F. O. W. Gustafson (1909)

Relations to me:
Louise/ Mary: none or unknown
D. N. Anderson: none or unknown
Rev. F. O. W. Gustafson/ Frans Oscar Wilhelm Gustafson: 2nd Great Grandpa
Mrs. F. O. W. Gustafson/ Blanche Aurora Ekeberg: 2nd Great Grandma

This letter from Louise and D. M. Anderson in York, Nebraska, was postmarked in Dec. of 1909. It was sent to the following address:
Rev. + Mrs. F. O. W. Gustafson 
1423 10th ave. 
Greely, Colo.
The actual text, which is in Swedish reads:
En god jul tillönskas eder 
Louise + D. N. Anderson, 
York, Nebr. 1909
Which translates to:
A merry christmas to you.
From the 1910 census, I found out that D. N. Anderson was a clergyman in York, Nebr. who was born in abt 1876 in Illinois. That piece of information leads me to believe that he perhaps met F. O. W. Gustafson in Illinois (As there is a popular college there for studying pastors called Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois) and kept in touch with him via postcards.

Postcard from Uncle Waldo and Aunt Edith to Frances Gustafson (1912)

Relations to me:
Uncle Waldo/ Waldo Clemens Ekeberg: 3rd Great Uncle
Aunt Edith/ Edith Rosalia Brandelle: wife of 3rd Great Uncle
Frances Gustafson: great grandma

This letter was from Waldo and Edith to their niece Frances. It was postmarked on Sep. 24, 1912 in Hamilton Montana.

It was addressed to:
Frances Gustafson 
1808 11 ave., 
Greeley Colo.
 Here is the text of the postcard:
Dear little Francis: 
You better come out and stay with Uncle and Auntie. We are lonesome without our little girl. Uncle is to preach at this place tonight. 
Love and greetings to all, 
Uncle Waldo and Aunt Edith

 Letter from Malinda Ekeberg to her granddaughter Frances Gustafson (1915)

Relations to me:
Malinda Ekeberg/ Malena Larsdotter: 3rd great grandma
Frances Gustafson: great grandma
Ruth Gustafson: 2nd great aunt

The text of the letter reads:
199 W. Park Ave. Aurora, IllinoisAugust 9th 1915Dear little Frances,I am writing you a card, and I want you to write to me and I am also writing one to Ruth. Now I want to see which of you girls can write me first either a card or a letter. You better hurry and write while you have vacation. with love, your grandma,Mrs. Malinda Ekeberg

Postcard from C. A. Carlsen to F. O. W. Gustafson (1915)

Relations to me:
C. A. Carlsen: none or unknown
F. O. W. Gustafson / Frans Oscar Wilhelm Gustafson: 2nd Great Grandpa
This postcard, postmarked on Dec 23, 1915 in Longmont Colorado, was sent from C. A. Carlsen to Rev. F. O. W. Gustafson, whose address was:
1808 11 ave., 

Greeley Colo.
The text is in Swedish, as F. O. W. was a Swedish Lutheran Pastor. It reads:
En jägdefell jul tillönskas eder alla.
Which translates roughly to: 
Merry Christmas wishes to all of you.
A verse from the bible is inscribed on the front of the postcard, according to the Swedish-English bible it is Luke 2:14, and translates to:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth.

 A letter to Frances Gustafson from her Father (1917)

Relations to me:
Frances Gustafson: great grandma
Frances' papa/ Frans Oscar Wilhelm Gustafson: 2nd great grandpa

This postcard was postmarked on Apr. 20, 1917 in Denver, Colorado and is a letter to Frances from her dad.

The postcard's text:
Dear Frances- 
How are you? a pretty good girl! Do you study your lessons? 
Greetings to you all 
your papa
The colorized picture is "On the seat of Pluto, Park of the red rocks, Mt. Morrison Colo."
A stamp on the card informs the recipient of the future opening of the Rocky Mountain National Park on May 1st of 1917.

Letter from Reginald and his wife Effie to their niece, Frances Gustafson (1918)

Relations to me:
Reginald / Reginald Freedlund: Husband of 3rd Great Aunt
Effie/ Effie Ekeberg: 3rd Great Aunt
Frances Gustafson: Great Grandma

This letter from Frances Gustafson's Aunt Effie and Uncle Reginald is postmarked January 10, 1918 in Chicago Illinois. 
Dear Frances, 
Thank you so much for your dear little letter. Do you remember the day we went thru the zoo at Lincoln Park? Write me again sometime. With much love, 
Uncle Reginald and Aunt Effie
It is addressed like so:
Miss Frances Gustafson 
212 N. Walnut St. 
Colorado Springs 

 This postcard contains some interesting remnants of both local and world history. The picture on the front is a colorized photo of some deer at the Lincoln Park Zoo, a zoo that is still standing today. the caption in the postcard describes the zoo as it was 100 years ago:
Lincoln Park is located on the north side, being the largest in Chicago. The total area is 600 acres, the water surface alone comprising 140 acres. It extends along the lake from North Avenue to Cornelia Avenue. Near the center of the park is the Zoo containing 2300 specimen of animals, reptiles, and birds.
Nowadays the zoo is not nearly as large. It is now 35 acres and houses only 1,200 animals.

Also visible on the postcard are two stamps reading "Food will win the war don't waste it". During world war one this was a slogan used by Herbert Hoover to encourage the rationing of certain foods such as wheat, sugar, and meat. The rationing of such foods allowed for more exports of food to the allied powers, allowing the allied soldiers to be fed. Below is a wartime poster with the same slogan.

Letter to Frances Gustafson from her Morfar (1918)

Relations to me:
Frances Gustafson: great grandma
Frances' Morfar (Maternal grandfather)/ Gustaf Alfred Jonsson Ekeberg: 3rd Great Grandfather

This postcard is dated the 28th of January, 1918. It was postmarked in Aurora, Illinois and was written to Frances from her grandpa.

This postcard was addressed to:
Frances Gustafson 
212 N. Walnut St. 
Colorado Springs 
It is written in English and reads:
Aurora, Jan, 28, 1918, 
My dear Frances: 
How do you like Sunday-school in your new church? How many girls are there in your class? 
On the postcard is a hand colorized picture of the Augustana College and theological seminary in Rock Island Illinois, a popular location for future pastors to go and learn the skills necessary for the profession.

Postcard from Ben to Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Van Wert (1950)

Relations to me:
Ben: Unkown/ possibly 2nd great uncle
Mr. R. E. Van Wert/ Reuben Everette Van Wert: great grandpa
Mrs. R. E. Van Wert/ Frances Gustafson: great grandma

This postcard was from some family member going by "Ben".

It is dated the 29th of March, 1950 and was sent from Buellton California.

It is addressed to the following:

Mr. + Mrs. R. E. Van Wert 
4552 Utica St. 
Denver, Colo.

My thought is that the Ben in this postcard might be Harold Benson Van Wert, a brother of Reuben Van Wert who the letter is addressed to. Harold is often referred to as "Ben" in documents and would have still been living at the time the letter was written.

It reads:
Hello folks-How are you all? Hope you are fine! I'm pretty fair- Been to the no. portal of the tecolote tunnel: trying to get on the so. portal will start in a mile or so. Maybe then- would like to see all you folks again and be in good ole Colo. Will ? get on ? again. 
Love to all, 
 Pictured on the postcard's front is the Interior of the Danish Lutheran Church in Solvang California.

Ben mentions something called the "Tecolote Tunnel" in the card. I was curious what it was and found some interesting information about it from this site.

It was apparently a six-mile-long pipeline through the mountains built in the 1950s. Going by that date it is possible the Ben from the letter was actually working on the pipeline. Workers on the pipeline had to endure rather strange working conditions. Since it was so hot, workers had to be transported in mine cars filled with cold water.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A look in Grandma Joan's Baby Book

Over the past few years, it has become my job and passion to preserve and find all the fascinating history, stories, and photographs from my family's past. A few months ago I was ecstatic to receive a box of memories from my grandma Joan Van Wert, within which I was happy to find a collection of photographs bound lovingly in a book by my grandma's mother, Frances Gustafson-Van Wert. This post contains all of these photos as well as descriptions and some labels of who appears inside them.

People featured and their relationship to me, as well as a numerical identifier which is used to identify them alongside their name in the photograph descriptions:

  • Allen, Carolyn, (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P1)
  • Allen, Marion Blanch (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P2)
  • Anderson, Evert (Unknown Relation) (P3)
  • Anderson, Maria (Unknown Relation) (P4)
  • Arnette, Judy (No Relation) (P5)
  • Arnette, Mrs. (No Relation) (P6)
  • Bengtson, Don (Nephew of Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P7)
  • Bengtson, Gilbert Eddie (Husband of Sister-in-law of 2nd Great Aunt) (P8)
  • Bengtson, John (Nephew of Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P9)
  • Boddie, Laura Linda John (Wife of Great Uncle) (P10)
  • Burbank, Judy (No Relation) (P11)
  • Case, Lainey Virginia (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P12)
  • Collins, Barry (No Relation) (P13)
  • Ekeberg, Blanche Aurora (2nd Great Grandma) (P14)
  • Falagrady, Nancy (Wife of Great Uncle) (P15)
  • Folansbee, Sharon (No Relation) (P16)
  • Folansbee, Mrs. (No Relation) (P17)
  • Gardner, Janet (No Relation) (P18)
  • Gardner, Mrs. (No Relation) (P19)
  • Goedert, Marcia (No Relation) (P20)
  • Goldberg, Carole (No Relation) (P21)
  • Gustafson, Alva Ruth Elizabeth (2nd Great Aunt) (P22)
  • Gustafson, Ann Ester Dorothea (2nd Great Aunt) (P23)
  • Gustafson, Faith Elaine (2nd Great Aunt) (P24)
  • Gustafson, Florence Evangeline (2nd Great Aunt) (P25)
  • Gustafson, Frances Elsie Caroline (Great Grandma) (P26)
  • Gustafson, Frans Oscar Wilhelm (2nd Great Grandpa) (P27)
  • Gustafson, Frans Von (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P28)
  • Gustafson, Gretchen (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P29)
  • Gustafson, Ingrid L. (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P30)
  • Gustafson, Paul Oscar Emanuel (2nd Great Uncle) (P31)
  • Gustafson, Thure (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P32)
  • Johnson, Peggy (No Relation) (P33)
  • K., Clair (No Relation) (P34)
  • Larsdotter, Malena Wilhelmina (3rd Great Grandma) (P35)
  • Leaf, Kitty Belle (No Relation) (P36)
  • Lipnick, Michael (No Relation) (P37)
  • Magners, Melvin (Husband of 1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P38)
  • Male, Marie (P39)
  • Male, Susan Huskin (3rd Great Grandma) (P40)
  • Neff, ? (No Relation) (P41)
  • Neff, Mrs. (No Relation) (P42)
  • O., Donna (No Relation) (P43)
  • Osborne, Jessica (Wife of 2nd Great Uncle) (P44)
  • Rudd, John (Husband of 1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P45)
  • Segerhammar, Carl William (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P46)
  • Segerhammar, Karen Elizabeth Segerhammer (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P47)
  • Segerhammar, Kathleen (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P48)
  • Segerhammar, Kathryn (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P49)
  • Segerhammar, Margaret Irene (Sister-In-Law of 2nd Great Aunt) (P50)
  • Segerhammar, Paul Kempton (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P51)
  • Shue, Glen M. (2nd Cousin 3x Removed) (P52)
  • Smith, Carrie Blanch (2nd Great Grandma) (P53)
  • Stafford, Susan (No Relation) (P54)
  • Tilton, Roberta (No Relation) (P55)
  • Van Wert, Barry (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P56)
  • Van Wert, Beverly Ann (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P57)
  • Van Wert, Everette Clayton (Great Uncle) (P58)
  • Van Wert, Forrest Richard (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P59)
  • Van Wert, Harold Benson (3rd Great Uncle) (P60)
  • Van Wert, James Cordell (Great Uncle) (P61)
  • Van Wert, Joan Elaine (Grandma) (P62)
  • Van Wert, Reuben Everette (Great Grandpa) (P63)
  • Van Wert, Ruth (2nd Great Aunt) (P64)
  • W., Jimmie (No Relation) (P65)
  • Waldmann, Eric Eugene (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P66)
  • Waldmann, Eugene John (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P67)
  • Waldmann, Sonja C. (1st Cousin 2x Removed) (P68)
  • Wikgren, John Arthur (Husband of 2nd Great Aunt) (P69)
  • ?, Jackie (P70)
  • ?, Kay (P71)
  • ?, Penny (P72)

 Pictured above are the identical Segerhammar twins in 2nd grade at the age of 7 yrs in Longmont, Colorado with their mother Ruth. From left to right those shown in the image are Kathleen Segerhammar (P48), Alva Ruth Elizabeth Gustafson-Segerhammar (P22), and Kathryn Segerhammar (P49).

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Tool to Change the Way You Conduct Collateral Research (Census2Ged v2.1)

Table of Contents

1. Links 
2. Introduction
3. Wait, What is Collateral Research?
4. So, How Does Census2Ged Help With Collateral Research?
5. Installing Census2Ged
6. Prerequisites
7. Using Census2Ged
     a. Gedcom Name
     b. Country
     c. Census Year
     d. Sourcing
     e. Source List Name
     f. Everything Else in Sourcing
     g. United States Tags
     h. Swedish Household Examinations
     I. Swedish Household Examination Tags
8. Cleaning Up the Final Gedcoms


1. Like Census2Ged? Consider sending a couple dollars to my PayPal to support its continued development:
2. Census2Ged on Github:
4. Join the Census2Ged user group on facebook:


Eleven months ago I published version 1.0 of my software, Census2Ged. It was buggy, had no customizability, and had an appearance reminiscent of the dark days where graphic design and software had an oppositional relationship.
Census2Ged 1.0
I am happy to announce that those days of visual and operational vulgarity are now over, thanks to the advent of the latest version, Census2Ged v2.1.

Census2Ged 2.1
The functional differences between v2.1 and all previous ones are massive, and the program will change the ease of conducting collateral research for all who use it.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Laughs From the Past: 100 Year Old Humorous Quips

Often when I am perusing old newspapers I come across some rather interesting sections devoted to satisfying the distinctive brand of humor characterizing the tastes of the century to which they belong. In my time traveling adventures, I have discovered specimens representing everything from the dry and crass to the strange and sickly sweet. I have included a sampling of some of these below ordered chronologically.

June 23rd 1853 Wayne County Herald
Awkward Dance—Forward two—and hit
your partner in the bread basket; dos-a-dos—
turn to the right and kick your partner on the shins;
 shassey all—promenade to the left, and
accidentally knock down two attendants carrying

June 23rd 1853 Wayne County Herald
A western editor says he heard a young
lady at the table ask for “hen fruit”—meaning

Friday, June 15, 2018

Using FTDNA's API: Commands and Explanations

After hearing from all of you, I am now fairly certain that anyone is, in fact, allowed to access FTDNA's family finder API. And, as a bonus, I learned some new things about how APIs function in websites as well (special thanks for that goes to the anonymous commenter on the previous post). The question that remains is whether or not programmatically accessing it is against FTDNA's terms of use, and if anyone knows anything about that I'd be very happy to hear it, as I can think of a few things I want to try doing with the API and my best friend, python.

Anyways, this new post will go over the ways you can use the API and the different requests you can send to it. It's not all-inclusive and only includes the things I thought were important/most useful.

Please note, this post will include a lot of technical words without a lot of detailed explanation. If you just want to try it out for yourself simply click one of the links in the post to see the match data after signing into ftdna in your web browser.

How to Send GET Requests (In General)

There are two ways you can send Requests. The first is to just put the URL in your browser and the 2nd is to use Postman. For the most part, I use because making requests in it is faster and its easier to change parameters, however, I will use my browser in this tutorial because that will make it easier to collapse things/ limit the amount of censoring I have to do.

Match Lists

Basic Match List

The JSON Data for the Basic Match List

To return the information for your first 9 matches in JSON format (the same number as you would normally see on the screen) Use the following url:

Full Match List

You'll notice that the first line of JSON data returned by the last command has the total count of matches you have. You can use this number or any number larger than it in the url to print out that number of matches. In the url set page=1 (to start on your first page of matches) and set pageSize=numberofmatches. Here is an example url:

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Edit 1 5/11/2018: Note that this does not mean anything bad for you at all and you can continue using ftdna as normal, it's a fantastic site. Also, there is a possibility that the information I was sent regarding who was supposed to be able to use the API could have been incorrect, see the comments section for an interesting discussion on that. I think that the big takeaway from this post should be if you want to use the API for your company it is worth checking in with ftdna to ensure you have permission to do so.

Edit 2 5/11/2018: I have been looking into it more, and I believe that this is not in fact an issue at all which I am very happy about. I am still confused about why ftdna told me otherwise, and it may be that you are technically still not supposed to use it, but I'm really not sure at this time. Special thanks to the anonymous commenter for clearing things up!

Note: I actually wrote this all the way back on March 12th. I had notified FTDNA of the fact that their API was accessible by the public even before that. I am publishing this now because I feel it is my right/duty. They made the decision not to fix it or notify the public that they can use the API, so I think that somebody should. I'm hoping that this post will perhaps raise awareness about this and make FTDNA make a definitive choice about whether they want their API to be publicly available (which I personally think would be fantastic).


This document will serve to explain the process through which I found a security vulnerability in the FTDNA web API, as well as the process I went through in reporting said vulnerability and what I would have done differently if given the chance.


Some company names and terms used in this document will undoubtedly be unfamiliar to those reading it. This section will serve to clarify said terms.

How OneNote Can Help You Transcribe Documents

One Note Interface

OneNote is my program of choice for transcribing newspapers. It's OCR tools, instant copy paste photo insertion, and flexible formatting functionalities make it a breeze to transcribe documents in no time at all. This post will take you through my transcription workflow, allowing you to just as easily transcribe your source material in a matter of minutes.

What is OCR and Why Should You Use It?

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. A character is a single letter within a word. OCR programs will 'look' at an image and identify the characters inside, allowing you to copy and paste text from an image. Using OCR programs will make transcribing go much quicker since the computer does most of the work, allowing you to spend more of your time researching and making discoveries.

1. Insert Your Source Image into One Note

There are lots of ways you can do this, but I will just show an example of one. Much of the time I am not transcribing a full image, but just a portion of one. Thus I usually only want to import a portion of an image into One Note. Windows operating system has a nice little tool called 'snipping tool' which will capture just a section of your screen for you, which is exactly what we need.

For my main image, I will use page 40 from the 1931 Bethany Daisy, my largest currently ongoing transcription project. Here is the image if you wish to follow along:
Bethany Daisy
Page 40 of the Bethany Daisy