Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Family Heirloom (Actually Two)

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has a new mission this week.

Our mission this week is to:
1)  The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.
 2)  Please answer the question - "What heirloom do you have that has been handed down through the generations?"
 3)  Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post  your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.
This was an excellent challenge for me. I began thinking about heirlooms that I have and that I had not previously taken photos of them. An now looking that them, I realize I need to buy some archival boxes and tissues to preserve them properly. I get my archive advice from Melissa Barker, The Genealogist in the Archives blog writer, who wrote this post about using archival boxes.

So I have two items that meet Randy’s requirement and since I took the trouble to get them out and photograph them both, I am going to write about both items.

Mother-of-Pearl Opera Glasses
The first item is a pair of opera glasses that were given to me by my aunt, Virginia Gertridge, who told me they were owned by her great aunt, Elizabeth Gleeson. Nothing was written down and I don’t remember her exact words as I received the gift. It is possible that Virginia’s mother, Anna Sullivan Hork, had the opera glasses first and then were passed down to Virginia.

Clues about the glasses. They are stored in a leather case which is falling apart. Inside the lid is written “A. N. Wright, Importer, Portland, Or.” Checking, an A.N. Wright was listed in Portland city directories from 1891 to 1906. A.N. Wright was listed on the Watches, Clocks, and Jewelry section of the classified business directory, at 293 Morrison. In the household listings, he was listed as Amos N. Wright, jeweler at 293 Morrison and living at 403 Larrabee.[1]

Looking online for mother of pearl opera glasses brought up several sites selling old opera glasses. This one here has a pair from the 1930s valued at $600. The image looks just like my pair! They seem to have been made in France.

Provenance: Elizabeth Gleeson (1865-1942) was the daughter of John Gleeson and Margaret Tierney. She never married. She may have given the glasses to her niece, Anna M. Sullivan Hork sometime in the late 1930s. They both were living in Southern California before my grandmother moved to Napa with her children in 1940. It was also possible that Anna or her daughter, Virginia, received the glasses after Elizabeth died in 1942. Sometime in 2011 or 2012, Virginia gave the glasses to me.

The second item is a straight razor that belonged to Amos Gorrell (1837-1928). Amos Gorrell was the great-grandfather of my husband. This item came with two notes, one written by Amos’ son, Joseph Norman Gorrell and the other note was typed by Joseph’s daughter, Ada M. Gorrell Thomason. The handwritten notes says:
This razor was given to my Father by Arthur Gorrell, then was sent to me after my father’s death. It is a fine Razor. I think Arthur had it hollow-ground. Keep it in its case.
Ada typed the above note and added, Grandfather Amos Gorrell died I think in 1928. My father, J.N. Gorrell, gave razor to me before he died in 1960.

Sometime later, Ada gave the razor to her brother, George Jospeh Gorrell, who in turn, gave the razor to his son, Norman Gorrell. That is how we have possession of it. I don't have any clues as to who made the razor though. 

Provenance: Amos Gorrell was the son of Amos Gorrell and Leah Wollam. His son, Arthur Gorrell, gave the razor to his father, sometime before Arthur died in 1916. Amos gave the razor to his son, Joseph Norman Gorrell. Joseph gave the razor to his daughter, Ada M Thomason, probably because she was interested in the history of the family. Ada later gave it to her brother, George J Gorrell. George gave the razor to his son some years before he died in 2011.

[1] R.L. Polk & Co, 1906 Portland City Directory, pp. 1165 (Amos N. Wright) & 1353 (A.N. Wright), digital image, ( : accessed 19 Aug 2017). 

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Genealogy Vacation

I have recently returned from a twelve day vacation to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Mitchell, South Dakota, and Stanton-Red Oak, Iowa.

In Minneapolis, I attended the three-day International Germanic Genealogy Conference hosted by the local society, Germanic Genealogy Society. This was the first conference and in 2019, our local society, Sacramento German Genealogy Society, will be the hosts! I met lots of genealogists from around the country and the world. Especially exciting was meeting in person, Ursula Krause from Berlin. Some of the classes I attended:
“Finding Your Ancestors in German Directories” – Ursula C. Krause
“World War I Era U.S. Alien Registrations” – Paula Stuart-Warren
“Meyers Orts Gazetteer” – Fritz Juengling
“Die Pfalz: Understanding and Researching in Palatine Records” – Richard Haberstroh
“Baltimore: The Golden Door for Immigrants” – Debra A Hoffman
“Pioneers and Colonists: Background of Germans in Eastern Europe” – James Beidler
The conference was a huge success, and the excitement and buzz heard between the classes was very encouraging. 

After the conference, my friend, Yvonne, and I rented a car to travel through parts of Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. She had some research to do in Owatonna, Minnesota, and I had some to do in Mitchell, South Dakota and Stanton, Iowa. We also got a little sightseeing done, too. More on that later.

Research in South Dakota concerned my homesteading Gleeson and Sullivan families. I visited Holy Family Catholic Church looking for a marriage record. At the Carnegie Resource Center, I found maps of the farming area and addresses and photos of residences in Mitchell. The register of deeds office in the courthouse was the biggest find. I spent part of two days there pulling and copying deeds.

Research in Iowa concerned my husband’s Lundquist families who settled in Montgomery County. Stanton is a quaint little town. We visited the two cemeteries for photos of the markers. Since the Swedish Cultural Center would not open until 1 p.m., we had an early lunch in town. There I read the newspaper I’d purchased at the gas station (love reading local news) and saw that the Red Oak Library had just digitized the local newspapers. We got in the car and drove over to Red Oak to check out that collection. I found about two dozen articles of interest and received those copies. The local historical society has a museum that was open and visited there, too. They also have many archival materials and I may be writing to them soon for some help.

Sightseeing Adventures
I love just driving along the highway and stopping whenever something looks interesting. We stopped at Sioux Falls and visited the falls.

Of course, in Mitchell we had to see the Corn Palace. We also toured the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village.

A trip up to DeSmet to visit the Ingalls homestead was very worthwhile. The South Dakota prairie is so expansive!

A suggestion to visit the National Music Museum in Vermillion at the University of South Dakota was the best. There were so many interesting old musical instruments on display. With ipods, we were able to learn of its history and listen to music being played on the instruments.

In Omaha, we visited the Lorenzen Garden and Durham Museum. Between the two, I clocked in over 12,000 steps!

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - 100 Word Genealogy Challenge

Randy Seaver has another great challenge:

1)  This SNGF is based on the 100 Word Challenge ( that school children are participating in around the world.  They are given a word or phrase to write a story about in one hundred words.

2)  Write a short 100 word story using the phrase ",,,the most interesting ancestor I have..." in 100 words. 
The most interesting ancestor I have is my aunt, Lorene Ethel Hork (1923—2013). As our “fun” aunt, she loved hearing stories about our lives. But she lived a great one herself. She worked as a civilian for the Army  in Japan after World War II. Eighteen months later, she and three other young women traveled around the world visiting Asia, the Middle East, Egypt,  and Europe. She returned in 1953 aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Living in San Francisco and San Diego, she worked for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the same place as her husband, Wally Waldron.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.