Elsa and Her Cousins

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 7 Favorite Discovery


My favorite discovery is this picture of James, Elsa and Vivi, taken while they were aboard the S.S. Carmania sailing from Goteborg to Liverpool and then onto New York in the summer of 1910.  I was in possession of this photo for many years before I heard the full story and realized what the picture was and the significance of the photo.

Elsa was the eldest daughter of Anders and Hilda Winberg, and the first person in that family to emigrate to the United States.  She was on this journey to bring her cousins to their new home in New York.  They arrived in New York on June 22, 1910 and, because they were three minors traveling without an adult, were held by the authorities as “LPC” (Likely Public Charge).

The manifest lists them as Elsa Tornberg, 17f; Rosa Vive Vinberg, 9f; James Vinberg, 7m.  I love the story of Elsa.  Her courage, strength and maturity are admirable.

I have written about her before here, and have also imagined a diary entry of hers.

Here is how we are connected:
– Elsa is a sister of #5 Astrea Oskara Tornberg
-#5 Astrea Oskara Tornberg (1897 – 1975) married April 18, 1919 #4 Gustaf Harry Thorell (1889 – 1955)
– Their son #2 Arnold Lennart Thorell (1936-2016) married August 1956 #3 Rachel
– Me

An Adventure in a New Country

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 5 So Far Away

Ragnar Wilhem Burman (Dec. 21, 1903 – Feb 2, 1982) was born and died in Goteborg Sweden.  He is my 1st cousin 2x removed and I had not heard of him until I got a message this morning from a cousin in Sweden asking for research help. He said that Ragnar went to the US to work for a few years in the 1920’s.  He returned to Sweden in the late 1920’s, married and had a daughter.  According to the daughter, he had also married while in the US and had a daughter.  The only clues he had were that he worked at a golf club near the Hudson River in NY and may have lived in Yonkers.

Using his given name, date of birth and the other info I had, I was able to find some information about him.

Kungsholm ShipOn September 19, 1923 William (as he called himself in the US) signed on to work on the SS Kungholm, which was a passenger ship sailing between Gothenburg and New York.  William served as a waiter on two voyages in 1923.  The first arrived in New York on October 3, 1923 and the second arrived on November 8, 1923.  On his third voyage aboard the SS Kungholm*, he was a bed steward.  When the ship arrived in New York on February 1, 1924, William deserted the ship prior to it’s departure from New York.

Judging by the formal documents that had to be completed by the ship’s captain, it was common to have some disruption of crew members on each sailing.  In addition to Deserting Seamen, they had to report Discharged Seamen, Seamen Signed On At This Port, and Seamen Left in Hospital (or Died).  On this sailing, there were four deserters, eight who were discharged, and ten who signed on in New York.

William spent the next five+ years in New York.  There is a William Burman living in Yokers in 1928.  His occupation is listed as a waiter, which matches what we know of him.  I am still searching for information regarding a wife and child in the US.

Gripsholm Ship

On July 13, 1929 William, along with three others,  signed onto the ship MS Gripsholm** in New York and sailed back to Gothenburg.

This was such an unexpected find and fun to spend a little time today researching a ‘new’ family member.




Here is how we are connected:
-Ragnar’s mother Amelie Naemi is a sister of #11 Hilda Maria Winberg
– #11 Hilda Maria Winberg (1872 – 1926) married Nov. 7, 1891 #10 Anders Johan Tornberg (1869 – 1943)
– Their daughter #5 Astrea Oskara Tornberg (1897 – 1975) married April 18, 1919 #4 Gustaf Harry Thorell
– Their son #2 Arnold Lennart Thorell (1936-2016) married August 1956 #3 Rachel
– Me


*SS Kingsholm was operated by the Swedish American line from 1923 – 1926.  The ship began sailing between Rotterdam and New York for the Holland America Line in 1902.  In April 1912 she alerted RMS Titanic to ice early into its ill-fated maiden voyage.  More information about the ship can be found here.

**MS Gripsholm information can be found here

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Multi-Generational Home

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 4 Close to Home

My grandparents, Gustav and Astrea (Thornberg) Thorell married in 1919 when he was 29 years old and she was 21.  They lived in an apartment at 84 Leyden St. in Brockton MA with their daughter Pearl (The census lists her as Frances, which is her middle name).  Both sets of my great-grandparents also lived in Brockton.  In fact they both lived within one mile of Gustav and Astrea.  They were a close knit family and enjoyed their time together.

By 1930 Gustav and Astrea had added two more children to their family.  Pearl, who was 10 years old, was joined by a sister named Gertrude who was 6 years old and a brother named Oscar, who was almost 3.  There are no other families listed at their address, but it was a rented property so it could have been a single family home, or the other apartment(s) was unoccupied.

Thorell, Frank Albertina

Frank & Albertina Thorell

In addition to Gustav, Astrea and the 3 children, Gustav’s stepmother Albertina and Astrea’s father Anders lived with them.  In 1923 Frank (aka Frans) Thorell, husband of Albertina and father of Gustav, passed away.  In 1926 Hilda (Winberg) Thornberg, wife of Anders and mother of Astrea, passsed away.

On the ship - Thorell

Anders & Hilda Thornberg

Gustav (who is listed on the Census as Head of Household) then 40 years old, was employed as a worker in the shoe industry.  Anders, 60 years old, was a cobbler in a cobbler shop.  And Albertina, 61 years old, was a sewer in the sporting goods industry.





Thorell 1943

Astrea & Gustav Thorell (sitting)  Pearl, Gertrude, Oscar, Ruth, Arnie

By 1940 there were two more children in the Thorell Family and both Anders and Albertina had moved out of Gustav and Astrea’s house.  They both lived close by until they died; Anders in 1943 and Albertina in 1944.

My grandparents and great-grandparents were all raised in Sweden and, according to the census, could all read and write english.  However, to what degree they could read and write, I am not sure.  Their lack of formal education coupled with their immigrant status likely meant that they would work at menial, low-paying jobs for their entire lives.  Having multiple family members with income, and a stay-at-home mom who could shop, cook and clean for everyone may have been advantageous to them all.  Additionally, Gustav and Astrea were raised in a time when it was expected that you would take care of elder family members.


Here is how we are connected:
– Their son #2 Arnold Lennart Thorell (1936-2016) married August 1956 #3 Rachel
– Me




The Turner Family of Milton VT

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 2 – Favorite Photo

Gosh this one was hard!  I have so many favorite photos!!

Although I could go back and find one of my favorites, I will say that my favorite photo is usually the last one I have received. Getting photos unexpectedly from a family member is so awesome.  And it’s so much fun for me to connect faces to names, and learn more about the members of my family.

My cousin recently gifted me with some photos and I looked back at them and this was the last one I scanned.

Turner, Ira F.This is my 2nd Great Grandfather, Ira Franklin Turner.  He was born May 16, 1867 to Charles A and Mary Mae (Gokey) Turner in Milton VT.*

Milton VT was a small town (about 61 square miles in area) located in the Northwestern part of the state on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain.  By the end of the 1700’s, there were ~300 settlers.  During the early years, most of the income in the town came from lumber and potash.  After 1840 butter, cheese and milk became popular exports.

The Lamoille River flows from northeast to southwest across the town, entering Lake Champlain at the town’s southwest corner.  There were originally seven waterfalls on the Lamoille River within the Town of Milton. The falls supplied the needed power for the saw, grist and other mills that grew up along the river.  A 325 foot long covered bridge built in 1835 was the third bridge built to cross the Lamoille River in West Milton. It must have been quite a sight to see when circuses came to town and the elephants had to swim the Lamoille River because the authorities were afraid they would wreck the old covered bridge.  This covered bridge was eventually destroyed in 1902.  However, it was high water and ice that caused the destruction, not elephants.

By 1880 Milton had three meeting houses, nine stores, a paper mill, two gristmills, three fulling mills, three tanneries, a weekly newspaper, and numerous shops and hotels.  By the turn of the century, with a population of about 1,800, many more changes would occur.

On October 22, 1887, Ira married Ellen Loveley, also a native of Milton.  Ellen was 18 years old, Ira was 20.  The following year, on November 29, 1888 they welcomed their only child, George Charles Turner.

Ira had lived in Milton all of his life, and by the age of 33 was a blacksmith.  According 1900 to the census he was a blacksmith for horses, so perhaps a farrier.

By 1920, Ira was employed as a repair man at the International Paper Company’s pulp mill at the Great Falls on the Lamoille River.  When the mill was under construction, about 250 men were employed.  Once the mill was operating, it employed about 100 men during its winter rush season.

During the period of November 2-4, 1927 Milton received between 4-9″ of rain.  During the month of October they had experienced 150% more rain than normal.  The water ran into the already high rivers, causing the Lemoille River to flood.  Homes and businesses were lost, the water washed out bridges and changed the landscape of the town forever.

Ira and Ellen stayed in Milton and by 1930 they had purchased their own home and Ira was a repairman at a saw mill.   Ellen’s parents had both passed away by then and her brother Fred, who was about 50 years old, also lived with them.

In 1940, Ira was 73 and Ellen was 71.  Ira had retired and Fred also lived with them.  The continued to live in Milton until they passed away, Ellen on February 14, 1948 and Ira, just seven months later, on October 18, 1948.

Here is how we are connected:
– Their son #14 George Charles Turner (1888-1959) married October 6, 1912 #15 Ruth Elmira Berry (1891-1963)
– Their daughter #7 Hope Ellen (1913-1985) married May 30, 1935 #6 Alfred Leslie Harris (1910-1963)
– Their daughter #3 Rachel married August 1956 #2 Arnold Lennart Thorell (1936-2016)
– Me

*I do have not confidence in my records of his siblings, so I won’t include them here.

Featured Image courtesy of http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/menu.php



Cogswells Grant

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 1 Fresh Start.

My 12th Great Grandfather, John Cogswell, sold his share of woolen and kerseymeres (a fine twilled woolen cloth) mills in Wiltshire England, and brought his wife and eight of their children to the United States in 1635.  In addition to the family, he bought with him several farm and household servants, an amount of valuable furniture, farming implements, housekeeping utensils and a considerable amount of money.

They left Bristol England on May 23, 1635 aboard a passenger ship named the Angel Gabriel.  They traveled in a fleet of five ships, the Angel Gabriel, the James, the Elizabeth (Bess), the Mary and the Diligence.  The voyage took a little more than 12 weeks.  According to Geni.com  “As they approached New England, an unusually powerful early season hurricane struck, known as the “Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635”, and the James and the Angel Gabriel were forced to ride it out just off the coast of modern-day Hampton, New Hampshire”.  On Kristin Hall’s website  you can read excerpts from the Journal of The Reverend Richard Mather, who was traveling on the James.

Ship_Angel Gabriel 1635

The ship broke into pieces and all of the passengers, their possessions and money were plunged into the sea.  The Cogswells were able to salvage some items as the waves washed things ashore but lost more than $5,000 pounds worth of property, including cattle, furniture, and money. I’m sure this was not how they expected their journey on American soil to begin, but they did not suffer any loss of life, and picked themselves up and began their life in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

The original grant of land to John Cogswell in 1636 was for 300 acres, along the Chebacco (or “Chebokoe”) River.

cogswellshouseinEssex 1732-1882

Over the years, that property was partly divided and sold or given to various heirs.  However, there remains a parcel of 165 acres that has been intact since it was passed to Jonathan Cogswell Jr. in 1717.  This land is known as Cogswells GrantCogswell’s Grant was the summer home of renowned folk art collectors Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little.  They restored a farmhouse that was originally built on the property in 1728 and is now a museum of American folk art.

Historic New England – Coggswells Grant

Internet Archive – The Cogswells in America by E.O. Jameson





Braided Rugs

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 49 – Craft

My great grandmother, Ruth Turner, made this braided rug.  Actually she made all three rugs that can be seen in this picture. 

As was common in a lot of families, the women did the gathering and rolling of the fabrics, but the men did the sewing.  I remember watching an elderly couple in our neighborhood make a braided rug, and the husband also did the sewing.

Braided rugs were generally made using strips of cotton or wool. It was an economical was to reuse fabric from clothing, table clothes or draperies and turn it into something useful for the home.

You know how you when you drop off clothing at a dry cleaner there’s always a sign telling you if you don’t pick up your clothes in a certain number of days, it will be sold or donated to charity? (The current law in MA is 90 days – in case you’re wondering.) My great grandparents lived across the street from a dry cleaner. When the dry cleaner was ready to sell unclaimed clothing, she could buy it for the cost of cleaning. That was how she got a lot of the fabric to make the rugs.

Braiding rugs is really a lost art, and one that I cannot imagine learning. But theses are beautiful and I’m glad to have them in the family!


Personalized Flatware

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 48 – Thief

I was recently looking through a shoe box full of old engraved flatware.  Some pieces are monogrammed, some are engraved with a last name, and some are collectibles with various locations or attractions.  There are lots of treasures in there; knives, forks, spoons, pickle forks, cake knives, iced tea spoons, child size utensils, etc. 

And I also found this fork.


Now I’m not saying there was a thief in the family.  I’m just saying I haven’t found an ancestor named Holiday Inn!!IMG_8666


Civil War Memorial Bridge and Arch

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 47 – Soldier

I recently saw this photo in a bunch of pictures that belonged to my Grandmother.  When I first looked at it I assumed it was an arch that was in Miami or New York.  I didn’t look closely at it, but like I do with all old photos, I turned it over to see if anything was written on the back.


And on the back, in addition to the date the photo was taken, my grandmother had written:  Memorial Arch – back of eagle done by Arthur Harris 1916.


Arthur Harris (1887-1929) was my 2nd Great Uncle on my Mothers’ side.  He was a stone cutter, employed at the granite company founded by his father, Acton Monument Company, which I wrote about here.  Arthur was the 8th of 12 children.  His middle name, Fitch, was his mothers’ maiden name.

According to the 1910 Census, Arthur lived in Acton MA, was 22 years old, single, and was a Foreman at Granite Works.  On October 31, 1910 he married Dora Blanche LeBlanc (1893-1945).  They had two children –   Beulah May (1912-2005)  and Roland Arthur (1913-1959).

According to the 1920 Census, the family lived in Maynard MA.  Arthur was 32 years old and lived in a rented house with Dora and their 2 children (Beulah age 7, and Roland, age 6).  His occupation is listed as partnership in Stone Cutting.

This arch is the Civil War Memorial Arch in Abington MA.  All of the documented information I have found regarding the arch states that eagle was sculpted by Bela Lyon Pratt.  Bela Lyon Pratt was the head of the sculpture department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1898-1917, as well as a sculptor of many famous monuments, coins and busts.  Curiously, most of the articles referencing his works don’t mention this memorial.  That makes me wonder if he designed the eagle, but had others sculpt it.

I am planning to visit the memorial arch next weekend.  I’m excited about that and will let you know if I find out anything new.  Thanks for stopping by and, as always, if you have any additional info, please let me know.

This article is from the Historical Digression website:

Located at the eAbington Civil War Memorialntrance to Island Grove Park, the dramatic Memorial Bridge and Arch was dedicated on June 10, 1912 as part of the town’s bicentennial observances. The Grove, before the war, had been a popular meeting place for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society. William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Abby Kelley Foster, and Lucy Stone were among the many prominent reformers who spoke here. Capt. Moses Arnold, a veteran of the 12th Massachusetts Infantry, donated a large marker in 1909 to commemorate the abolitionist meetings at Island Grove. Shortly after, as commander of the GAR Post, he led the effort to create the Memorial Bridge and Arch. The cost was $23,000. Arnold, who was seriously wounded in the Cornfield at Antietam, led a postwar career consistent with the classic American Gilded Age tales. Just 21 years old in 1865, he began with a small shoe shop. By 1875, he had built a large factory in Abington and ran one of the largest shoe manufacturing operations in New England. The stunning eagle atop the arch was sculpted by Bela Lyon Pratt whose notable works include the statues of Art and Science outside Boston Public Library. Attendance during the dedication was estimated at a remarkable 10,000. This was likely due to the fact that, up until a few days before the event, President William Howard Taft was scheduled to attend as the keynote speaker. He cancelled and Congressman Robert O. Harris gave the keynote address in his stead. As part of the town’s tricentennial observances, residents voted to appropriate funds to restore the monument in 2012. Work was completed and the arch rededicated in 2015.



Wealthea Elizabeth Berry

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 45 – Rich Man

This weeks’ prompt is Rich Man. The dictionary defines rich as: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy

I think it means different things to different people. It can be an abundance of money, possessions, family, opportunities, or a general sense of happiness with what you have and the people who surround you.

I decided to take a less-literal approach with this prompt and searched my name directory for People named Rich. I found one Richard, but no one with the last name of Rich so I kept looking. I searched Banks, Moneypenny, Scrooge, Drysedale, and Hathaway (The Beverly Hillbillies?)  I didn’t find any of those names, so I started scrolling through my name directory and I came across a woman named Wealthea. And in researching her, I found out it is also her Mother’s middle name.

My 4th great aunt, Wealthea Elizabeth Berry (a/k/a Wealthy Eliza Berry) was born on April 30, 1831 to Peter and Jane (Wright) Berry in Clements, Annapolis Co., Nova Scotia.  Her brother William was my 3rd Great Grandfather.  Siblings William, Emma and James appear to be the only three members of that family who moved to Massachusetts, the rest of them remained in Nova Scotia.

According to Google, the name Wealthy (a/k/a Wealthea) means “a richness of spiritual blessings”. 

Wealthea was 19 when her mother, Jane Welthea (Wright) Berry died.  As the firstborn and old daughter, I’m sure much of the running of the household and watch after six younger siblings, ranging in age from 15 years old down to one year old, fell to her.  In 1853, she married Charles Dondale and had five children of her own, one of whom died in infancy.  Wealthea died at age 39 leaving befind four children ranging in age from 14 years old down to one year old.



Travel Camping 1926

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 39 – Map it Out

My 2nd great uncle, Ralph Chesley Berry (1887-1966), wrote a travel journal in Family Camping Magazine about a cross country camping trip that he, his wife Millicent, daughter Dorothy, Dorothy’s boyfriend and a family named The Smiths made.  They drove from Craigs Landing OH to San Bernardino, CA with a caravan of three cars, and only one book of strip maps between them.  It’s an entertaining story – enjoy!!