Wednesday Nostalgia

Diane Southard spoke these words at the 2019 RootsTech in a presentation: “We’re all made up of all of us.” Stop and think about that for a second. I think she means that as we genealogists research our ancestors, we want to know about them because we recognize that we come from them. They are a part of us yet.

Since about half the U.S. population in the 19th century was from the British Isles (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales) it follows that as we’re successful in our research, we will likely get back to having British Isles ancestry. They made a good half of us.

Which brings me to www.findmypast.com. “Findmypast is the ultimate destination for British and Irish family history with unrivaled records…” It was announced at RootsTech 2019 that “over the past year, we’ve added millions of new pages to the British Newspaper Archive, reaching all the way back to 1709…”

Findmypast has twice the Irish records of any other site; the largest online collection of UK parish records; British military records; Migration records you won’t find anywhere else. Their new offering is The Catholic Heritage Archive “making available records from the Roman Catholic Church across the US and Britain that have never been publicly available.”

Think you might ought to click to www.findmypast.com and take a looksee?

Wednesday Nostalgia

Are you of Finnish descent? Danish? Norwegian? Or Swedish? All of these ethnic groups have a center or museum here in the U.S.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is located at 435 Quincy Street, Hancock, MI  49930. “Established in 1932, the archive’s mission is to preserve and promote Finnish-American identity and history across North America.” Here is their website:  https://www.finlandia.edu/fahc   You might also “LIKE” their Facebook page.


The Museum of Danish America is headquartered in Elk Horn, Iowa. Established in 1983, their mission is to preserve the stories of Danish immigrants, their descendants, and the Danes in the U.S. today. Their website is: www.danishmuseum.org Bet they also have a Facebook page to LIKE.


Norwegians have two centers for information and study. The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is in Decorah, Iowa, and is a center with 12 historic buildings and a heritage center, library and archives. It was founded in 1877; the nameVesterheim comes from the Norwegian for “western home.” Their webiste ishttp://vesterheim.org


Coming in 2020 to Minneapolis is the National Norwegian Center in America. The Norway House was already there and this new research library open “to all those interested in Norwegian genealogy research.” Visit their website at www.norwayhouse.org


The Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center is located in Rock Island, Illinois. Augustana College was founded in 1860 by Swedish immigrants and therefore became a natural location for the Swenson Center. This is not a walk-in library; appointments are required. Their website is www.augustana.edu/swenson and they, too, have a Facebook page to LIKE. They will do your Swedish research for you; they offer a magazine, theSwedish American Genealogist; and they will translate old letters and documents for you. 


Did you remember that for every one of these ethnic-geographical research areas, there is free information on the FamilySearch WIKI??? Click to www.familysearch.org/wiki and then SEARCH. 

Wednesday Nostalgia

Do you have ancestry back in Illinois? Do you like to write? Here’s an opportunity for you. The Illinois Genealogical Society’s Quarterly for Spring 2019 carried a plea from Richard R. Anderson, editor of the Quarterly. “We Need Your Stories!” he begs.

My ancestor, Matthew Potter, was quite the guy, apparently. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War from his home in Illinois. His is a pretty ordinary story until, I found, until I scanned the images from his Civil War Pension File. One last document, filed in 1922 by his last wife (yes, there’s a story) says she “divorced him on account of finding him in a vile act with a chicken.” Hummmm. Think that would make a good story for the Illinois State Genealogical Society’s Quarterly??

Wednesday Nostalgia

My great-grandmother had her last daughter, Clara, when she was 46 and for 1886 that was old. So I wondered who was the oldest woman to give birth?

Maria del Carmen Bousada de LaraMaria del Carmen Bousada de Lara is the oldest verified mother; she was aged 67 years 3 days when she gave birth to twins; she was 130 days older than Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth in 2005 to a baby girl. In both cases the children were conceived through IVF with donor eggs. (Thank you Google.)

A nature bit in the Sunday paper piqued my interest. “The world’s oldest known wild bird has become a mother yet again, hatching at the approximate age of 68 what is about her 40th egg. The Laysan albatross known as Wisdom was first banded in 1956 and has regularly nested to hatch her eggs on the remote Midway Atoll in the central Pacific, having returned to the same nesting site since 2006.”

Wednesday Nostalgia

Ah, the fifth and final sweet bite of my Chocolate Saga to share with you.

After the beans are dried and roasted, they are ground to a paste and sugar is added. For milk chocolate, that is added. In that learning place, I studied this poster:

Did you learn something new about your likely-favorite sweet??

Wednesday Nostalgia

Chocolate. Milk or dark, or when all else fails, white, chocolate is almost everybody’s go-to candy. Who can resist?

Continuing with my Chocolate Education, this is Part 4 in my series.

That sweet lady is holding a bowl of dried, roasted cacao beans. After they are pulled from their pods (Part 3), they are spread out on trays to dry and they hot-dry roasted in a big swirling copper pot. The result is crunchy dry beans. She’s offering them to us to taste. Ever had a crunchy coffee bean? Tasted something like that but again with only a faint chocolate flavor.

Next week, Part 5, the end of my Chocolate Saga.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Ah, the smell of a warm chocolate cake. Grabs your nose and causes the mouth juices to start running, right?

Today is Part 3 of what I learned about chocolate.

On our trip in the West Indies, and visiting a working farm where they grow cacao and turn it into chocolate, our guide picked up one of those 8″ cacao pods, whacked it with his machete and held up what was left. (Compare the size to his hand.) Looks rather like corn kernels, right? They were whitish and a bit sticky, and he pulled them off and handed them out to us to SUCK. “Do not chew up the seed, it’s too hard and too bitter,” he counselled us. So we sucked and spat. There was a faint sweetness but no chocolate flavor.

Next week, Part 4.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Chocolate. Most everybody loves chocolate. Today is Part 2 of my education on this sweet topic…..

The cacao pods are about 8 inches long and are picked when green, yellow or orange.

At this point, they look and feel rather like those nubby little gourds we get at Halloween.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Everybody loves chocolate! Well, almost everybody. Chocolate seems to be the universally favorite candy flavor, doesn’t it?

On our recent trip in the West Indies, I learned something about where chocolate comes from. First off, it’s cacao and cacao trees only grow along the equator.

The cacao pods grow right on the branches of fairly good sized trees:

See the green vines and long brown pods? Did you know that vanilla comes from pods produced by the Vanilla Orchid flower and vines? Nice growing partnership, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week.

Wednesday Nostalgia

Who remembers the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle?

Or perhaps the World’s Fair in Spokane, aka Expo ’74?

If you did attend these events, or any other similar, have you written down your experiences there for your posterity??? All you have to do is Google the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and see the images and write-ups about all the new and fabulous technology shown there to realize that our two world’s fairs did exactly the same thing: Showcased new technology. So do, for the sake of your grandchildren, do scribble down your memories. They will be so glad you did.