Friday, April 15, 2016

Mapping Stenman Swedes' Immigration and Spread 1900-1940's

I made this mainly of the Stenman family of Norrbotten, and their cousins (Minus Helge Jonsson's immigration being included) because that's who most of the immigration information I have at the time is on.

   There is a FANTASTIC website that did exactly what I was looking for.... I can plug in addresses given in censuses or ship manifests and see them all on one map in relation to each other. I have other intentions for using it on the genealogy many of them, but I started off simple by mapping one section of the family. Anyway, the website is called

If we look at the big picture of where the Stenman family settled, with my current information (of course I am sure there is so much more) it looks like this:
Immigration arrival and spread 1900-1940's
Out of the arrivals to Ellis Island, almost no one stayed. The generation before my great grandmother had a couple pauses in New York, but It seems like only one person stayed. Most everyone from my great grandmother's generation, and the one before her disembarked and made their way straight to Chicago. Sometimes having one address as the landing address for multiple people, emigrating over many years.

  As you can see, the spread was a bit slow. It typically follows the pattern you can read about here 
about the history of Swedes in Chicago. You can also see it in the map below.
  If I zoom in on the Chicago addresses, you can see several residences in or around typical "Swedish areas" including the Chicago neighborhood of Andersonville where Clark and Ashland Avenues come together. Out of all the Swedish Neighborhoods in Chicago, this is the one that seemed to draw the Stenman family and they spread out from there, spreading out around Chicago. But pretty slowly.
They truly did stick together. My great grandmother's generation, and the one before hers (Those that emigrated mostly from the 1890s-1920s) brought some of Sweden with them and built their heritage up in these neighborhoods.

There were Swedish businesses, bakeries, clubs, churches, and hospitals in these neighborhoods. They created their own little pockets. The neighborhood of Andersonville in Chicago still has it's Swedish remnants seen in bakeries, shops and the Swedish History Museum that was built there. But as time passed, and the next generation came, and the next, they began to move further out into the suburbs of Chicago like Villa Park, Oak Lawn and Park Ridge.

If you have Swedish family that made their homes in Chicago, you may want to check out some of these links below. There are a lot of history and a lot of information in them! (An original Swedish neighborhood in Chicago)
The Encyclopedia of Chicago - Swedes (A good breakdown on the neighborhoods)
Early Swedish Chicago  
Chicago's Swedish American Museum
Ross Hayne's Chicago Neighborhoods (Not just Swedish ones, but they are there too. Nice little summaries on each of them, giving you an easy way to find history of the neighborhoods all in one tidy spot.) 

Monday, April 11, 2016

1940 Roll Call!

I had an idea, not necessarily a grand idea, but an idea to find out what all "our people" were up to in  1940, by searching the US Census. I tried to find photos of everyone close to the age they were at when the census was taken. It wasn't always possible, but I did my best!
            So where were the Jonsson's? Well, let's find out, shall we?

The Jonsson Family: Helge, Esther and Arthur

  Both Helge and Esther, and their son (My grandfather) Art were residing at 627 Oakland Ave in Villa Park, IL.  Grandpa was 12 and in school. Great Grandma was at 39 years old, and taking care of the home, and Great Grandpa was working as a mechanical engineer for C.H. Hanson in Chicago. (Which, might I add is still in business! Look Here!) From personal knowledge, Helge was in the business of inventing machinery, specifically engraving machines. I also believe he knew Mr. Hanson personally, as I have a book on mechanics belonging to a "C.H. Hanson" with notes in it that was part of my great grandfather's things.
   At this point, both Helge and Esther had been in America around 17 years now.

Jonsson's in the 1940 US Census

 The Wille Family: Henry, Ida, Ora Jean and Don

Sooo.... The Wille Family in 1940 they do not turn up in any searches.... They transitioned from the farm in Elk Grove to life in Elmhurst about this time, with a few short stays in several places in Elmhurst. One on Elm Ave. One on Oak Ave, and then finally settling at 136 E. Grantley in Elmhurst. 
   I started browsing by enumeration districts, and it turns out, it wasn't the Wille's at the Grantley house yet in 1940... but a florist with a totally different name and family. So I searched up and down Elm ave and Oak Ave. They were not there unless I missed it. They are there somewhere, and I WILL find them, but it's safe to say that in 1940, the Wille family was shifting gears, and quite drastically from rural farm life to life in town. By 1942 the Wille's were at the 136 E. Grantley house in Elmhurst and Henry was working at the Buick Engine Plant in Melrose Park. 
   In 1940, though... I can't find any member of their household.  

The Smith/Olsen Family: Ole Olsen, AJ Smith, Hannah (Joanne), AJ jr. (Mick) and Patricia Smith

In 1940, AJ Smith and his family were living with his father in law, Ole Olsen in his house on M149 in unincorporated Thompson, Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula. 

Ole was 69 and still farming his own small parcel. His daughter, my great grandmother, Hannah (or Joanne, as we knew her) was 35. Her husband, AJ was 46 and working as a teamster for a lumber camp. Hannah and AJ had 2 of their 5 children in 1940. AJ and Patricia, 8 and 3 respectively. Within the next 6 years, three more children would be born, including my grandmother. Shortly after her birth, AJ would die from complications of gangrene after an Axe split his foot, and Ole would suffer a horrible death from being burned alive. By 1946, Hannah would be on her own with 5 small children. A charmed life it was not, but life was often hard in the Upper Peninsula. Things didn't come easy and it looks like our glimpse into 1940 for them was the calm before the storm. 

Smith and Olsen Family in the 1940 US Census

 The Billings Family: Raymond and Lucille, who was pregnant with Leland.

    I have no photos of Raymond or Lucille, but I do have their census. They were owners of the home at 262 Elm in Manistique, Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Which doesn't seem to exist anymore). Lucille was about 4 months pregnant at the time with my biological grandfather, Leland Raymond Billings. Come September of 1940, there would be another addition to the household.
    Raymond was a painter of houses and their interiors, and Lucille worked as a Stenographer for the Bureau of Social Security. They were both 26 years old, and seemed to be doing quite well in a place where jobs could be hard to come by, now that the Lumber boom was slowly dying out.


The Billings Family, 1940 US Census

Next up in my 1940 Roll Call will be my husband's grandparents! Stay Tuned! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

#TBT: Everyday Life

Throwing it back this Thursday to some of my favorite photos of family just doing their thing.... a fleeting glimpse into everyday life. 

My Grandma, Ora Jean Wille, Joking with her friends now that she's newly pregnant. They're estimating what she'll look like in a few months!

   Great Grandma, Esther E. Stenman at her home. Doing her thing. And never without a plant nearby. Even indoors....

My Nans. Ora Jean Wille again, outside gardening in the 1950's with  my Auntie helping.

Great grandpa Johnston making me a sandwich in his trailer.

Grandma Connie Charuhas and her mom. Are they being true to their Greek roots and spinning gyro meat on those coals?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our Jeweled Babies in the Buff

Have you seen these babies?

There is a large batch of portraits of naked babies wearing necklaces in my inlaws photo collection, all unidentified. Of Italian or Greek descent or both. I have a few reasons for making this post.

1. Family can help identify some of these babies if they know (And PLEASE comment below if you do!!)
2. Other heritage seekers with Greek or Italian families may have copies of these photos and actually might know who one of these cutie pies is (And PLEASE comment below if you do!)
3. To explore the cultural significance of naked babies wearing (sometimes very peculiar) necklaces (And PLEASE comment below if you have insight!)

So please feel free to explore the photos. Compare with some of your own, if you recognize some of these faces,  and help me learn about these Jeweled Babies in the Buff.

 This Cutie pie above has both earrings and a crucifix, which, of all the necklaces, seems to be the most common, and least peculiar.

This fella, different from the others, has no jewelry and his baby bits are exposed as opposed to the others who are more covered. 

Although the pendant of the necklace is covered, we can see he is still adorned with one, although no earrings are visible. 
 Another little one with his Crucifix visible.

 This is one of the most peculiar of all the necklaces. It seems to have tentacles. 
I've tried to get as close a look as I can, but all I can make out is... tentacles?

This babe's photo was taken at the same studio as the tentacled necklace baby above. You can see the drapings are the same, with the wicker chair underneath. 
  Again, the necklace is there, but I cannot see the pendant.

This one I tried to make as large as possible, so it may run off the page a bit, but I wanted to be able for you to get a close look at the necklace. A crucifix is present along with another piece I can't identify. Also, earrings again on this one. 

 This little sweetie has drop earrings, maybe a bracelet of some kind, and a necklace that has so far differed from everyone elses. A heart with *possibly* a cross in the middle?

Now, these are our non naked babies, but still unidentified and dazzled up in some jewelery.
 This babe, a bit older. Same scruffy fluffy patch of whatever that it... could it be the same studio? Again, drop earrings and necklace, though pendant is hidden. Could it even be the same child, at a later date? Hmm....

This beauty, fully clothed has a large heart pendant. Possibly an older photo of one of the unidentified babies above? I've compared and seen some similarities with one, but I can't, of course, be sure. 

This baby is neither bedazzled nor naked. But nonetheless, still unidentified. 
I didn't want to leave him(her) out.  

  In most instances, these appear to be charms or amulets, some worn as protection from the "Evil Eye" or "Malocchio" The Crucifixes themselves were also worn to ward off evil spirits.
  The photo with the baby that wore the "tentacle" necklace is very likely a chain full of "cuornuciellos"  or little horns worn to protect against the evil eye. The amount of them on the chain makes me think the parents were either being extra protective, or a "test" had been preformed and the infant had been "afflicted" with the Evil Eye.

The Evil Eye, in Greece and Italy, according to Wiki:


The evil eye, known as μάτι (mati), "eye", as an apotropaic visual device, is known to have been a fixture in Greece dating back to at least the 6th century BC, when it commonly appeared on drinking vessels.[24] In Greece, the evil eye is cast away through the process of xematiasma (ξεμάτιασμα), whereby the "healer" silently recites a secret prayer passed over from an older relative of the opposite sex, usually a grandparent. Such prayers are revealed only under specific circumstances, for according to superstition those who reveal them indiscriminately lose their ability to cast off the evil eye. There are several regional versions of the prayer in question, a common one being: "Holy Virgin, Our Lady, if [insert name of the victim] is suffering of the evil eye, release him/her of it." Evil repeated three times. According to custom, if one is indeed afflicted with the evil eye, both victim and "healer" then start yawning profusely. The "healer" then performs the sign of the cross three times, and emits spitting-like sounds in the air three times. A very similar ritual can be found in neighboring Bulgaria.
Another "test" used to check if the evil eye was cast is that of the oil: under normal conditions, olive oil floats in water, as it is less dense than water. The test of the oil is performed by placing one drop of olive oil in a glass of water, typically holy water. If the drop floats, the test concludes there is no evil eye involved. If the drop sinks, then it is asserted that the evil eye is cast indeed. Another form of the test is to place two drops of olive oil into a glass of water. If the drops remain separated, the test concludes there is no evil eye, but if they merge, there is. There is also a third form where in a plate full of water the "healer" places three or nine drops of oil. If the oil drops become larger and eventually dissolve in the water there is evil eye. If the drops remain separated from water in a form of a small circle there isn't. The first drops are the most important and the number of drops that dissolve in water indicate the strength of the evil eye.
There is another form of the "test" where the "healer" prepares a few cloves by piercing each one with a pin. Then she lights a candle and grabs a pinned clove with a pair of scissors. She then uses it to do the sign of the cross over the afflicted whilst the afflicted is asked to think of a person who may have given him the evil eye. Then the healer holds the clove over the flame. If the clove burns silently, there is no evil eye present; however, if the clove explodes or burns noisily, that means the person in the thoughts of the afflicted is the one who has cast the evil eye. As the clove explodes, the evil eye is released from the afflicted. Cloves that burn with some noise are considered to be λόγια - words - someone foul-mouthing you that you ought to be wary of. The burned cloves are extinguished into a glass of water and are later buried in the garden along with the pins as they are considered to be contaminated. (So be careful if you are ever digging in a Greek garden!) Greek people will also ward off the evil eye by saying φτου να μη σε ματιάξω! which translates to "I spit so that I won't give you the evil eye." The shortened version of this is ftoo, ftoo, ftoo. Contrary to popular belief, the evil eye is not necessarily given by someone wishing you ill, but it stems from admiration. Since it is technically possible to give yourself the evil eye, it is advised to be humble.
The Greek Fathers accepted the traditional belief in the evil eye, but attributed it to the Devil and envy. In Greek theology, the evil eye or vaskania (βασκανία) is considered harmful for the one whose envy inflicts it on others as well as for the sufferer. The Greek Church has an ancient prayer against vaskania from the Megan Hieron Synekdemon (Μέγαν Ιερόν Συνέκδημον) book of prayers.


Two handsigns (fig sign and horned sign) used in Italy against the evil eye (1914).
The cornicello, "little horn", is also called the cornetto (little horn) or cornetti (plural), is a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made from gold or silver. The type of horn they are intended to copy is not a curled-over sheep horn or goat horn but rather like the twisted horn of an African eland or a chili pepper.[25]
One idea that the ribald suggestions made by sexual symbols distract the witch from the mental effort needed to successfully bestow the curse. Another is that since the effect of the eye was to dry up liquids, the drying of the phallus (resulting in male impotence) would be averted by seeking refuge in the moist female genitals. Among the ancient Romans and their cultural descendants in the Mediterranean nations, those who were not fortified with phallic charms had to make use of sexual gestures to avoid the eye. Such gestures include the fig sign; a fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers, representing the phallus within the vagina. In addition to the phallic talismans, statues of hands in these gestures, or covered with magical symbols, were carried by the Romans as talismans. In Latin America, carvings of the fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers continue to be carried as good luck charms.
The wielder of the evil eye, the jettatore, is described as having a striking facial appearance, high arching brows with a stark stare that leaps from his black eyes. He often has a reputation for clandestine involvement with dark powers and is the object of gossip about dealings in magic and other forbidden practices. Successful men having tremendous personal magnetism quickly gain notoriety as jettatori. Pope Pius IV was dreaded for his evil eye, and a whole cycle of stories about the disasters that happened in his wake were current in Rome during the latter decades of the 19th century. Public figures of every type, from poets to gangsters, have had their specialized abilities attributed to the power of their eyes.[26]

If you have looked through the photos and read through the post and find anything to add that would help, or you have your own family experiences in this,  feel free to comment! I would love your input!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Hee Hawwwwww

 I saw the quadruped in the prompt photo and thought, "Oh yes. I got this."

 Because, although MY family has no photos of this sort.... My husband's side has a curious amount. And these aren't burros in Mexico from his Lopez side. They are photos of Italians from Chicago sitting on donkeys or horses. An unusual amount photos. ;) So this was a perfect opportunity to share some!

Let's say hi to Uncle Lou, again! You may recall him from a different Sepia Saturday post "driving" a steer in Hot Springs. In all his posed photos and postcards written home, (and mob ties, cough cough), he seems to be quite the character! He's made me laugh a few times, and I've never even met the guy.

Postcard Worthy: Two Chicago Italians in suits and newsie caps on little donkeys in the thick of Arkansas. 
(Lou is on the right)

The postcard was sent to his sister Jennie, my husband's 2nd great grandmother.  When he gives his regards to "Smooth" I'm going to guess he was referring to her husband, Tony Schavone.

Mr. Tony Schavone. Quite Smooth indeed.....but he isn't riding anything, so I will move on.....

Moving on.......

          Above is another Italian American, Christ McLane (Married to George McLane) in her dress and heels,  who, although is not riding her burro, she is lovingly standing beside it. They clearly enjoy each other. Who doesn't like their ears scratched, right?!

 Obviously not a donkey, but a hoofed cousin, so he counts. This is poor little Peter Schavone, ca 1920's who looks like he would love to enjoy this photo op, but Santa is just a little too creepy....

 See? Absolutely frightening.

 Peter just can't escape! And this time it's not even a horse. It's a deer who just returned from the taxidermist. Poor Peter.

 Ahh, here we go. Peter is a couple years younger here. Maybe he pulled these happier memories of ponies out of his file while in the grips of the creepy santa.... "remember the good times. remember the good times......"
He's so cute, isn't he?

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you next Saturday!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Where We Come From: Rosales/Villa Union, Coahuila, Mexico

In continuing with the "Where we come from" series, and after taking a look at some of our German origins, I thought I'd cross to the other side of the tree and find out a bit about where a part of my husband's family comes from:

Rosales and Villa Union, Coahuila, Mexico

     Rosales, or Villa Union as it is called today is in the Mexican state of Coahuila, near the border of the United States.

State of Coahuila in which Rosales resided.

 It is our Lopez name that comes out of Rosales, so I was interested in finding out a little more of its history. I am sure there is so much more than what I have here, but it's a start!

       The first settlement of the area was in the mid 1600's and was a Mission. According to Wiki, the Mission of The Holy Name of Jesus Peyotes to be exact.This mission was small and soon after abandoned. An interesting write up by on the Holy Child of Peyotes can be read here in Spanish, but easily translated with google. (Thank you, Google!)
Iglesia Santo Niño de Peyotes
      The area was left alone until 1737 when another misson (San Francisco de Vizarrón) was formed and inhabited by mostly indigenous people. 2 tribes, the Pausana tribes and Tampajuaya came together to form the Mission of San Francisco de Vizarrón as a more permanent settlement.
      Later, on Valentine's Day, 1868, the town was named Rosales, for a Mexican Field Marshal who fought the Spanish Royals in the Mexican War of Independence, Victor Rosales.   
Victor Rosales
             In 1927, the town of Rosales joined the town of Gigedo, creating what we know now as Villa Union.

 The oldest relatives of Rosales I can locate from my husband's tree (So far) were found on a tree given to me that was previously worked up by I believe a professional. They are the 5th great grandparents of my husband: Francisco Barrera (b 1760) and his wife, Maria Josefa Maña (b 1757), both said to be born in Rosales.  Their daughter, Paula Barrera Maña (b 1784 in Rosales) married Domingo López (b 1780, from unknown place), from whom our Lopez name comes from, and who was of fighting age during the Mexican War for Independence from Spain; down the line to their son Jacinto López Barrera (b. 1802 in Rosales) who came of age during the war; to his son, Domingo López Peña (b. 1830 in Rosales); on to his son Antonio López Ortíz (b. 1873 in Rosales and pictured below on the left) who would have been 37- 47 years old during the next armed struggle Mexico was to participate in, the Mexican Revolution; to his son, Antonio López Antú, (b. 1917 in Rosales), my husband's grandfather, born in the midst of the Revolution. 

Antonio Lopez Ortiz on the left, and his brother Jesus on the right
         I am not aware of who, if anyone, was engaged in any of these historical events, Although I was told by my father in law that the family's purpose for coming to America was to escape Pancho Villa's rise in the north, as their family had sided with the Federal Government. According to him, they lost all of their land and all they had because they had to either flee or face death. And that, my friends, is about as much as I know about the Lopez family and the Mexican Revolution. But I look forward to learning more!

Part of Mexican history and history of Villa Union includes Cabalgatas, or Cavalcades, in which a famous event is honored by a "parade" of people following an historic trail on horseback, or as part of a pilgrimage. I watched one on Youtube coming through Villa Union and it was fascinating! The people and their horses in these Cabalgatas aren't on parade, on show in costume, but rather, participating in something for themselves. Whether it is commemorating an event, or following a pilgrimage, it is about the person and the ride, not something necessarily on show for display. It is simply what it says it is.... a cavalcade. And it would be awesome to be a part of one! Some are small, only passing through town with a few hundred riders while some ride through several towns. Some Cabalgatas can stretch over 100 miles, and can even have over 10,000 riders and horses!


 To the left is a map of Coahuila. I have circled present day Villa Union in blue, and also circled the two most common ports of entrance to the U.S. used by the family based on the border crossing documents I've found. These are Eagle Pass, TX and Laredo, TX.

 I hope to learn much more! So of course, Lopez Family, if you have any information, please leave what you know or what's been passed down to you in oral history in the comments below! It's a great way to communicate with each other over family history!

Want to take a drive through Rosales/VillaUnion today? Why the heck not.... 
Just turn that radio down. ;)