Monday, November 29, 2010

Their eyes were my eyes - No Tombstone Tuesday - Part 1

"I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes were my eyes.”
 - Richard Llewellyn from How Green Was My Valley

I've had questions about this picture and now I can't resist telling about it. The woman on the left is my 2nd Great Grandmother, Anna Ruth Jarman Dibbens. She was born very close to the place this picture was taken in June of 1843 in Newchurch, Ryde, Isle of Wight, England, and died shortly after this picture was taken in Southsea, England, on December 20, 1919. Its the journey in between those two dates that is the real story. (See next post)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday, Thanksgiving with the Rutkowski Family

November, 1971
My Great Grandpa Frank Rutkowski is either the father, grandfather or great grandfather of everyone else in this picture except for his wife, Flossie, sitting next to him. Just a small part of the Rutkowski family. My grandmother was Frances Rutkowski Dibbens standing on the right next to my cousin, Mike. I was a junior in high school.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday, (Almost)

This black and white photo of my Great Aunt Pearl doesn't keep the color that graced her personality from shining through. This picture was taken soon after she married my Great Uncle Jarman (Jerry) Dibbens on March 21,1922. I didn't know her at this age, of course, but I'm not surprised at the animation she shows in this picture. They were both full of life and fun and they matched each other perfectly. He teased her just like he teased everyone else and Aunt Pearl would just laugh. They had a farm on the edge of Garden City, Kansas. Their farm had sheep and plenty of chickens that slowly dwindled in number when we came to visit. 
 Uncle Jerry was an individual and very creative. Here is an early picture of him selling corn. I loved going to visit them when I was a little girl. Although it embarassed me, Uncle Jerry and I had a ritual at the dinner table. He would announce his observation that my mouth flew open every time I bent my elbow. He couldn't just say this one time, either. It would be announced several times during dinner causing me to put down my fork until I thought he was distracted by another conversation. I remember him laughing loudly each time. Sometimes I could get a few bites in between announcements but most of the time, not. I think I would have been disappointed if he had forgotten.
At Thanksgiving, we would travel to Garden City and walk into their large shed/garage next to their house. Walking Inside the door, we would find many tables lined with food and relatives to welcome us. Even on a cold day, the atmosphere inside that building was so warm and welcoming that I can still travel there in my memories and visualize in detail.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Simeon's Cave; Stepping Out in Faith

Several years ago, I sat in the living room of my in-laws, Harry and Helen Edwards and read from an old book of family history that my sister-in-law had handed me. A portion of the book told the story of Helen’s great grandfather, Rev. Simeon Swartz. Because of my interest in genealogy, I was immediately engrossed in his story. Helen’s ancestors had their strength, courage and faith tested and proven many times.

The story that Simeon told was about a time soon after he and his wife, Sarah brought their family to Kansas, in 1874. Simeon was a minister and trusted God to guide and protect them in their homesteading venture as they were headed into an area that had a reputation for being dangerous. Many times they prayed and then relied on God; asking Him to guide their journey and give them direction in their lives. A few months after settling in Rice County, they had already experienced the ups and downs of life on the prairie. A good corn crop had disappeared in three days, eaten by a huge cloud of grasshoppers. In the weeks that followed this life-threatening and hunger-producing disaster, Simeon placed his focus on God, scripture and prayer. After an entire week of seeking God, a mysterious thought came and settled in his mind. He felt that God was telling him to dig a cave on their land. The idea wouldn’t go away but instead grew stronger. He and his family dug the ten by twenty foot cave, amid questions from neighbors and friends. “What do you expect to do with a cave?” they asked. The only reply Simeon had for them was, “I might need it sometime.” The act of obeying what they believed God had asked of them relieved the feeling of despair and renewed their faith and courage to face what they thought might be a bleak future.

The cave was finished in September, 1874 and, between rainstorms, Simeon and his neighbors built the Swartz family a sod house. The settlers prepared the soil, once more, for a crop of wheat. In October, the men set off to hunt buffalo down in Oklahoma, hoping to replace the food the grasshoppers had devoured. They returned home four weeks later, in time to celebrate the holidays with their families, bringing buffalo meat, one man with his arm in a sling from an accidental shooting but minus two horses, poisoned by bad water.

Eight days into 1875, the weather turned cold. At twenty degrees below zero, it was colder than any other time Simeon ever experienced in the many years since. Along with the frigid air came snow in blizzard amounts. Sometime, during that cold night, the raging wind carried the roof of the sod house up and away, leaving the family exposed to the blinding snow. It was their fourteen year-old son, Charles, who snapped them out of the shock and dismay of their situation by yelling for everyone to run for the cave.

For the next three weeks of that cold January in 1875, the cave was their home. They waited for the snow to clear and thanked God for His providential care. Simeon didn’t give much of a clue in his story about what those three weeks were like. We don’t get to know what they ate, how they stayed warm or how they spent their days but I can imagine that God took care of that, too.

It was nearly February, that winter of 1875, before the weather cleared enough for neighbors to help Simeon repair the roof on their soddy. They thanked God that they had the cave when it was needed and that they had listened to and obeyed God despite their doubts and the questions of their neighbors.

Amanuensis Monday: John Nelson

John Nelson - cont. from last Tuesday

Journal Free Press - Wednesday, February 7, 1945
Funeral services for John Nelson, who passed away in Trinidad, Colorado on Sunday, Feb. 4, will be held in Osage City on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 8 at 3:00 at the McElfresh Mortuary, the Rev. Reuben P. Kron, Pastor of the Grace Lutheran Church, conducting the services. Burial will be in the Swedish Cemetery. Mr. Nelson was a brother of James Nelson of Kansas City, MO and a Mrs. Ellen Christianson of Osage City and an uncle of Emile Nelson. He lived here a number of years ago and has visited many times since leaving and will be remembered by a number of people.
(copied by Erin Tabor in Cripple Creek, Colorado)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - John Nelson aka Johan Nilsson

What will we argue about now? What mysteries are left to explore? We have discovered where John is buried. Now what will we do?
For the past few years my dad, my Uncle Don and I have been "arguing" about what happened to their Grandpa (James) Nelson's, brother, John. We had all seen the simple black stone in the cemetery outside of Osage City, Kansas. Uncle Don insisted that he had been buried there but we had doubts about that because he died a long way from his family home.
Johan Nilsson was born in Snårestad, Malmöhus län, Sweden on May 6, 1866. He followed his brother, James, who had left Sweden a few months after their father died in 1883, to America when he was about 21.
Gr gr Uncle John became a miner. He mined  coal around Osage City on his brother's land just at the edge of Dog Town, which is what their part of Osage city had been dubbed. He was injured in the mine early on and walked with a little bit of a limp from then on. Later in his life he found himself mining gold in the Rocky Mountains near a little town called Cripple Creek, Colorado. His nephews remember that he would visit his family in Kansas about once a year and always dug a new hole for their outhouse during his visit.
I wish I had a picture of him. Since I don't, I'll have to use my imagination for this one. I've seen pictures of gold miners in Colorado and that is what I imagine when I think of him. Maybe he still had a slight limp from the earlier mine accident. He never married, so I imagine he arrived in the same type of clothes he worked in every day.
The story we had up until a month ago was that he died in Cripple Creek Feb. 4, 1945 at the age of 78. His sister, Ellen, traveled to Colorado and had his body brought back to Osage City, Kansas before telling the rest of the family that he was gone. We had no proof one way or another but it seemed a little hard to believe that they would bring his body back from Colorado.
That was before my niece, Erin, and her family moved to Colorado Springs. My dad put her husband, Tom, on the project and together, they started investigating. The letter that arrived in the mail a few weeks ago contained some pictures of a mountain town, Cripple Creek, and a one page letter from Erin. They had visited the town the day before and had found something interesting.
An obituary article in the Journal Free Press, dated February 7, 1945 told about the funeral service that would be held in Osage City, Kansas, for him on February 8th. It also stated that he had lived in Trinidad, Colorado for many years after leaving Cripple Creek and that is where he died.
For now we will have to accept that he is truly buried in the cemetery in Kansas...

or WAS he.....?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Cute picture

Here is one of my favorite wedding pictures. This is Fred and Blanche (Rutkowski) DeVorss on their wedding day. As you can tell, they had a lot of fun together! I've found several silly pictures of them from when they were young and, most of the time, they looked like they were having a great time! Blanche was one of my grandma's (Frances Rutkowski Dibbens) five sisters.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Ok, I have to tell on myself tonight. I scanned a picture of my gr gr grandfather, August Rutkowski, and cropped it so i could use it in my family tree file. This is what it looked like when I started. I decided to put it in Photoshop, just to clean it up. While I was trying to clean the dark area in the upper right corner, I must have hit the wrong button. This is what appeared as I ran the mouse over the area. I actually jumped! Who says genealogy isn't exciting? :)