Thursday, December 23, 2010

Exciting Day for this Genealogist!

Tonight I got to open my Family Tree Maker and add a new member to my family. This is my first grandson! I love adding new people to my file but up until this day, it was usually one of my sister's grandchildren! Everyone is doing great and I'm looking forward to spending more time with my grandson!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas 1958 - Another wordless Wednesday!

Shari (me) and Kristi (one of my sisters) at Christmas, 1958 in Wichita, Kansas.

Wordless Wednesday, Christmas Day about 1950

This picture is another treasure that I found while scanning some of my dad's old color slides. It is of my grandparents, Ida and Arthur Johnson, and their 5 children during a Christmas celebration. At the time this picture was taken, their ages ranged from about 14 to 29. They now range from age 74 to 89. The only way I know that the picture was taken at Christmas is that I can see tree lights in the upper left-hand corner of the picture. On the couch, next to their parents, are LaDonna and Helen. Don, LeRay and Earl (my dad) are sitting behind them. I am trying to get all of the slides scanned as quickly as possible because they are beginning to deteriorate and take some work in Photoshop to get them ready to publish.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Julotta Christmas Service

Julotta is a Christmas service that was brought to the United States by Swedish immigrants. Since the Covenant Church was founded by Swedish immigrants, Julotta was naturally included on the calendar of events for most Swedish Covenant congregations.
Every Christmas morning, before most people were even awake, my family and I were up, dressed, and on our way down the empty streets and across the city to the First Evangelical Covenant Church in Wichita, Kansas. It felt odd to be out so early in the morning, with the lighted streets lined by houses with windows still dark. Walking into the church, we were welcomed by dozens of candles that provided the only light in the sanctuary and the smell of coffee and breakfast wafting up the stairs from the kitchen in the basement. Before we could concentrate on food though, we gathered in the sanctuary to participate in a very special early morning service. There were Christmas carols, special music played on many different instruments over the years, (including guitar when I began playing as a teenager) and a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
After Julotta, we made our way downstairs to enjoy a breakfast that had contributions from every family present. Swedish pastries, fruit, fruit soup, little smoked sausages, bacon, egg dishes, juice and coffee filled the long table close to the kitchen. Food was eaten, dishes were washed and everything was dried and put away by 8:00, just in time for us to head for home and then on to Christmas Day celebrations with extended family.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Travel - Not Always Smooth Sailing

Here are my great grandparents on my mother's side getting
ready for a winter car trip.
Christmas travel has the potential for more mishaps simply because of the weather. When I asked my dad about his experiences with holiday travel, he told about traveling 110 miles, with his family in their model-A, from their house near McPherson, Kansas, to Osage City to visit his grandparents. A couple of hour trip, at the most, for us was an all day journey, wrapped in blankets, for them. He remembered a few trips when the roads were so muddy that Grandpa had to stop the car a few times to take the wheels off of the car and clean the mud out of the spokes. At least during the winter, the ground was frozen and the cold trip was a little shorter.
The memory that sticks in my mind about traveling at Christmas came from a Christmas Eve when my parents, two sisters and I were on our way from Wichita to Boulder, Colorado to visit my grandmother, uncle and cousins for the holiday. My sisters and I were so excited to be going because we always had so much fun with our cousins. Just across the Kansas/Colorado border, on I-70, the fan belt broke while we were passing through a very small town. Dad pulled into a service station, that was getting ready to close early for the holiday, manned by one attendant. I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach as Dad came back to the car to tell Mom that there wasn't a mechanic to help us. Sitting in the back seat of the dark, cold car, my sisters and I looked at each other and felt sorry for ourselves. I watched people walk by and hoped someone would come to our rescue. It was such a helpless feeling. Mom tried to remain cheerful amid our questions that seemed all too important to us. "Would we miss Christmas? Will we have to spend Christmas in this little town? In this car? Would Santa know?" Mom answered our questions calmly. Finally, Dad returned to the car with an announcement. He would have to do the repair himself but the attendant had offered the light and warmth of the garage to do the work. I'm not sure how long it took him but I do remember the sense of hope that settled inside me. We got to Boulder that night, albeit later than planned. My only other memory is feeling relief and happiness at arriving at Uncle Duane's house, lit welcomingly with Christmas lights, before Christmas day. It made it that much more special.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas Grab Bag

Do you see cute little Santa sitting between my younger sister, Kristi, and I? I continue to hear the story of his arrival year after year. For some reason my dad has never forgotten how this jolly elf with a tiny coke bottle in his hand came to live at our house, but neither have I.
According to my dad's memory of the event, he was innocently driving down the road with his happy little family when he noticed that the car needed more gasoline. It seemed simple enough to pull into a nearby filling station for more, right? The way Dad tells it, it almost seems like a horror story but I remember it differently...
Dad pulled up to the pump and rolled down his window. Out of the station popped a friendly gas station attendant ready to put gas in the car, wash the windows, check the oil and, generally, be as helpful as possible.
He must have seen me sitting in the back seat and realized I was totally without a toy. What three year-old would want that? That nice young man left the gas running and ran as fast as he could back into the station. He was back in a flash. Now he was my hero, for in his hand was the cutest little Santa anyone had ever seen.
He proceeded to tell my dad how wonderful it would be if he would purchase the Santa for me. (After all, I deserved it!) What a great idea! Of course, I was all for it! For some strange reason, Dad wasn't impressed at all. I began to try to convince him which cause the attendant to have to speak louder and my dad to shake his head a little quicker.
Now, this is where our stories really begin to differ. Dad says I began to cry loudly when I realized that my hero might loose the debate and have to return to the station with my Santa! Surely not! I thought we were just having a conversation about the benefits of having our own personal Santa come to live with us.
Eventually, I made my point and Dad agreed to buying Santa AND the tank of gasoline. For some reason, I don't think Dad liked my hero as much as I did. He talked to Mom about that attendant for quite awhile on the way home. Oh well, what did it really matter? I no longer felt alone with my new friend, red velvet suit, shiny black boots and belt and silky white beard and all, sitting on my lap.
Just look how happy I am!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Their eyes were my eyes - No Tombstone Tuesday - Part 2

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. It's the journey in between those two dates that is the real story.
Anna married Arthur R Dibbens in November, 1865 in the island and they started their family with the first five children; three of whom survived and moved with them to America in 1873 where they added three more children to their family. By 1876 they were living in Wichita, and finally settled near Kingman, Kansas by 1900. They found the land they had been looking for along the banks of the Ninnescah River. The family moved into a sodhouse on that land with six children and survived at least one river rising while in the sod house, but it was worth it as they watched their kit home coming toward them on wagons. It had traveled to them by train from halfway across the country; a mail-order house that is still standing over 100 years later. (I hear there is a picture of the kit being delivered somewhere at a local museum but I have yet to find it.) I began this blog back in 2009 with some pictures and stories about that house, which is still a home. (pictures of the home are in my blogs from 2009.)

Anna and Arthur raised their children in the kit home, making several trips back to England. The last trip to England to visit family was in 1919. The picture above was taken during that trip. Anna died, just across the bit of ocean that separates the island with the mainland, in Southsea and was buried in Highland Road Cemetery in Southsea: Plot M, Row 2, Grave 23. Her stone is no longer there. The acid from the bombings that happened over the area during WWII destroyed many of the stones in that cemetery according to the historian who works there. Her stone may be gone but her legacy lives on and... her eyes are my eyes.

Here is the passport application for their last trip to Isle of Wight and Southsea, England.