Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Dancing in Graveyards


I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.

When we got older,  Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)

As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.

This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 017 Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 023

This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town.  And though they are not human, the loss of  Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn  has been hard, too.

If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:

Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards  is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please,  please, please watch the video!!  “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”

Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.

It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop.  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.

This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving. 

So back to my Fairy Cemetery…  A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,

fairy cemetery, fairy garden, grieving, loss, venus fly trap, terrarium, halloween

fairy cemetery, terrarium, venus fly trap, pajari girls, halloween, graveyard

As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.

Loveyabye.

Another Treasure


I first found this old jar full of rose petals several years ago, while cleaning out my grandparents’ basement. I vaguely remember placing it on the shelf between the two giant sets of doors that Grampa Ralph drove his school bus through.

A few months ago, I stumbled across it again. Mr. Wonderful and I tackled the basement last fall, and somehow, this didn’t get thrown away, even though the glass jar had at some point fallen from the shelf and broken. The light from the naked bulb in the 10-foot ceiling was just enough to make out  a handwritten note in pencil taped to the jar.

rose, petals, mother's day, family history

I brought the jar up the steep steps (hand-hewn by Grampa Ralph I assume), to the sunny living room corner windows.

family history

The note reads: “Petals from the boquet of Red Roses Ralph gave me one Mother’s Day. M.P.”

Ever thrifty, the note was written on a piece of scratch paper.

Bus, school bus, jack couper

bus

lilacs, family history

Grampa Ralph and Gramma Marge Peterson, and some gorgeous lilacs.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Grampa Ralph (More Treasures)

Two Adventures in One Day!


Yesterday, I had two adventures at The Farm. On the first adventure, I took along a basket to collect pine cones for a craft idea and ended up walking down memory lane.

If you are new to the blog, you may not know that my sister and I live next door to each other; she and her husband and creatures live on the land (and in the house!) our great-grandparents homesteaded in 1900; and I in the house our Grampa Ralph built next door. When we were little, our grandpa’s brother, Uncle Uno lived in the Farm house, and we spent hours between both places while our parents worked. Every day, grandpa would go next door to visit his brother, who was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Several days a week for the last 11 years, I have gone next door to let assorted dogs out (or in, or whatever their little hearts desire). Our family has watched this land and the humans (& creatures) that live here grow, reproduce, mature, die, and begin again for nearly 113 years, and the land has watched us right back.

Come for a walk with me. I’m sorry the captions are in white….I can’t change that 😦

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grampa Ralph (More Treasures)


A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend Paul and I traveled to North Dakota for the funeral of his grandpa. I never got to meet him, but I enjoyed hearing all the family memories and seeing pictures of his life (and his beautiful guitar). It got me thinking about my own grandparents, who are all gone now.

I suppose every family has secrets, and drama, and feuds. But today, I want to share some good memories of my maternal grandfather, Ralph Peterson.

Good things I remember:

  1. He was 6’4″. To this day, when I have to calculate the size of something I picture how many Grampas end-to-end. (60 feet=10 Grampas.)
  2. He drove a school bus. Nearly everyone in Cook rode this bus. He  parked it in the basement of the house he built–the house I’ve raised my kids in, too. Everybody who goes to the Cook end of Lake Vermilion has seen this house. It’s kind of a landmark. We used to sit on the stone steps and wave to the tourists.
  3. He had one lung (tuberculosis took one), and one kidney (cancer, I think).
  4. He built wagons for Lois and I. (He and Gramma Marge cared for us while our parents worked.) These wagons had brakes and steering, and went like hell down the gravel pit banks.
  5. At his house, there was a  plastic school bus toy, a life-sized doll with red hair, and four million National Geographic magazines.
  6. He let me have Hamburger Soup (Campbell’s Sirloin Burger) anytime I wanted, and gave me all his little hamburgers.
  7. He drove his green Ford pickup SLOWLY because it took less gas, (he remembered rationing well) and had a whisk broom in it to sweep out the sand.
  8. He smiled a LOT.
  9. He liked to grow things. My garden is now in the same spot, and the apple and plum trees, asparagus, and chives feed our family to this day. Many of his perennial flowers are still here, too: tiger lilies, campanula glomerata, rugosa roses, and lilacs.
  10. His brother Uno lived next door in their parents’ original homestead (The Funny Farm), where my sister lives now). Uno was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Grampa maintained that place, too. We’d visit Uncle Uno several times a day, driving through the gravel pit that’s between the homes. We got to ride in the back of the truck sometimes, since we weren’t going on the highway. Sometimes we walked the deer trails through the woods to get there also. My kids have run those trails too, and I love the continuity that comes with living here.

This is a WordPress Gallery of my favorite pictures of Grampa Ralph. Clicking on any picture will start a slide show, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Here’s another gallery of green things I found while we were hunting on Sunday.

I’d love to hear your stories about my Grampa or yours… Like, share, or comment if you enjoyed this. Pleeeease?

Creatures of The Funny Farm, Photo Essay


Stinky looking for salad

Maybe eating Lois’ lilies.

I want to know where the hell this kid’s parents were…lol

Jai, Stinky and Little Bit

llamas

Belle and Jill.

Lessons Learned at The Funny Farm #1:

When all else fails, hummmmmmm.

Treasures, Part One


In 2007, in preparation for The Funny Farm’s 100th birthday, several family documents surfaced. Here are some of my favorites:

It looks like Great Grandma Augusta Peterson came to Tower, MN from Sweden in 1888 as a servant girl.

On Halloween of 1900, Great Grandpa paid $9.19 for The Farm. (Yes, it always has been and always will be capitalized in my head.)

Homestead Act Receipt

He began to work this land under the Homestead Act, clearing fields and using the logs to build first a shanty and barns and then the house that still stands today (barely).

On March 20th, 1902, Augusta Peterson and Albert Peterson were married in Eveleth, MN by a Swedish Baptist minister. No, they were not related. In Sweden, Peterson means Peter’s Son. Lots of Peters and Johns, etc. Makes genealogy interesting.

Marriage Certificate

I don’t know if this was really signed by Teddy Roosevelt or by one of his minions, but I like to think he held this piece of paper and signed his name to it. After 7 years of hard labor, (and $9.19) it was theirs. By then he and Great Grandma Augusta had been married 5 years.

Homestead Act 1

1907, the birth of The Farm

For years, people of the Cook area would visit The Farm for church picnics and the like. Before Cook had an airport, the hayfield even served as a landing strip. While getting ready for the reunion, we were touched by how many people fondly remembered the farm from their childhoods. It wasn’t just OUR happy place, it was theirs, too.

Now, my sister and her husband live in the house our Great Grandparents built. Many of the building are still standing: the barn, woodshed/ice house, machine shed, outhouse (now in a new location in the yard, serving as an adorable potting shed) and garage. The Farm has become The Funny Farm, home to a motley herd including three mini ponies, two donkeys, two llamas, a sheep, a goat, two alpacas, three bunnies, four dogs, a cat and a cockatiel. And two Guinea Monsters From Hell. Sort of. They have been on the lam, harassing me and other neighbors since Lois brought them home.

Someday, we would like to open The Funny Farm to the public on weekends, as a petting zoo. Unfortunately, my sister doesn’t manage her time very well, so her hands are busy with the store I talked her into opening (Cook Dollar Barn), and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I’m not much help. And there’s the whole liability thing…

When our Grandpa Ralph married our Grandma Marge, his parents gave him a chunk of the farm, and he built the house I live in today. But that’s another story. 🙂

If you have any pictures or stories about The Farm, please let us know!

And as always, if you liked this post, please like, share or comment. I hate feeling like I’m talkin’ to myself here…

Loveyabye,

Laura

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