Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grandma Mattson and her Brother as Children in Rapid City

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Everyone!
I'm sitting in my rocker with feet up on the widow sill. The clock ticks away over my right shoulder reminding me how long I've spent in this chair today. This is today's third post for the Family History Blog! You know, this can become addictive. You get researching a line and you can't let it go until you get an answer, and most of the time you end up in some dark, dank back ally of history that ends with a brick wall and two or three beat up, metal trash cans minus their lids, oozing with trash and smells. That's when you walk up to the dead end, place your forehead against the weather worn bricks and start banging away until you remember its time for 30 Rock (or Modern Family. Both OK in my opinion).

My problem is that I'm interested in our 'Way Back' ancestors AND the ones within my memory. I'm surrounded with wicker cabinets full of old family photographs and documents that will eventually all be scanned and inserted into this blog, providing everyone in the family a complete history of who we are and where we came from. Some of you've written wondering how I have the patience to do this. Well, after spending the full day surrounded by scores and scores of ultra hyper 10 - 14 year olds on field trips to the Space Center and a staff of adolescents suffering from excessive hormonal output mixed with over inflated or deflated egos - the natural highs and lows of being a teenager, the quiet and piece of this chair and the window sill are a blessing. I type and unwind at the same time (until I hit that brick wall and then want to prove that you can rip a lap top in two like a telephone book - which I saw Jake do so I know it can be done. I mean if Jake can do it, well........ anyone can - Right?)

OK, enough said.

I found these pictures of Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) and her brother in one of Mom's neglected file folders. They are fading with age. Today they are digitized and locked into a state of preservation for your enjoyment. I used iPhoto to restore the images. What you see is the best I could do, so here goes.

We set our Way Back Machine to 1924/25. Rapid City South Dakota.

This is 7 year old Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) sitting outside her home in Rapid City. She lived there with her mother (Vesta) and her older brother Walter. They lived in a neighborhood called North Rapid. Remember from previous posts, Violet's parents divorced when she was about 3 years old. Her mother had no help (no government programs to help single mothers in those days) and had to raise the children on her own working as a waitress. Extreme poverty was the only way to describe their living conditions.

This is another picture taken at the same time. Seven year old Grandma is in a dance pose. Violet once told Luella she wanted to dance so badly that she use to walk into downtown Rapid and peer through the window of a dance studio to watch the young girls dance, then she'd go home and practice what she saw on her own. Of course, they couldn't afford dance lessons. Mother just commented on how thin Violet looks in these pictures.
Violet told Luella that she and Walter walked to downtown Rapid to watch the construction of the Hotel Alex Johnson pictured below on its opening day in 1927.

The New Alex Johnson Hotel

Rapid City as Grandma Saw it in the 1920's

This is a picture of Violet's 8 year old brother Walter on his wagon in front of their home in 1924. Violet and Walter always referred to each other as Brother and Sister, never by their first names.

Doesn't it make you appreciate what you have when you see Grandma's living conditions as a child? It makes you think your kids are spoiled just a bit doesn't it when you look at everything you've given them and then consider the wagon you see our Great Uncle playing with might be his only toy.

Here is another picture of Great Uncle Walter. This picture was taken in 1925 when he was 9 years old. His coveralls are far to big, but you did what you had to do in those days.

And finally, the mystery photograph. Mom doesn't know who this is and of course, Grandma isn't here to tell us. This was taken on the same roll of film as the other pictures. It doesn't look like Great Grandma Vesta so it may be one of her friends or a relative. Another example of the importance of getting these pictures digitized and labeled correctly before we lose the only people that know who they are. The clock is ticking and there are so many pictures.


The Last Will and Testament of our 5th Great Grandfather George Frederick Phlegar, and Photos (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Happy Sunday!

We saw the entire spectrum of weather this week in our hamlet of Pleasant Grove. The week started warm, very warm. By mid week the storm front that spawned so many tornadoes in the south and east swept through Utah toward the Rocky Mountains. By Thursday snow was falling in the back yard.

That is one advantage of living in Northern Utah. Our weather is mild and tame considering many other parts of the country. The storms that produce treacherous ice storms, tornadoes, blizzards and flooding in the Mid West usually sweep through Utah first in their mild state. They intensify as they climb through the mountains toward Denver and the East. Perhaps I will send out weather alerts to our cousins living east whenever a front passes through. So, here is a picture of Sunday’s weather as seen from the Upper deck of the “Fortress”.

The Last Will and Testament of George Frederick Phlegar

Today I'd like to let you read the Last Will and Testament of my generation's 5th Great Grandfather, George Frederick Phlegar.

Tom Phlegar, one of our distant cousins, sent this to me. Tom reads the Blog and wanted to extend a hearty "Hello" to all of us from the Phlegars living in the 'Old Country' of the South. Tom sent a parcel full of documents relating to our Phlegar line, many of which I will be posting as time permits. One of the documents was a typed copy of George Frederick's Will.

Let's begin with the first page of the Frederick's Will (notice that he goes by the name Frederick and also notice he calls his wife Maria, leaving off the Anna). Remember, click on the image to enlarge.

I'm interested in how each item of furniture in the home seems to be accounted for. He gives away the "Copper Kettle" and "one iron pot". All of the items mentioned are very typical for a well provisioned home in the late 1700's. From this page we also read about his farm's holdings.
Now Page 2 (Click to Enlarge)

Well Well Well...... It seems our Great Grandfather kept a bit of whiskey around the house. I'm sure it was for medicinal use only. On page two he disperses garden tools and the crop already in the field. He then orders the Plantation sold (150 acres) and all the money used to pay his debts. The remaining money is directed to purchase things for his wife and family.
Now Page 3: (Click to Enlarge)

I enjoyed reading his provision that his daughter Maria Margaret receive "one good bed (which will contain no less than eighteen pounds of feathers) and a bedstand". That had to be one comfortable bed! It seemed he was taking care his daughter had the necessary "hope chest" to ensure a successful marriage.

You'll notice that, with the plantation sold, he orders a home be purchased near the village of York for his wife. It seemed he felt the plantation couldn't manage without him. To be sure his family had the funds to continue living without the plantation he ordered the sum of 200 British Pounds be set aside and the family live off its interest (around $50,000 - $75,000 in today's money).
And now the final page of the Will: (Click to Enlarge)

Life was certainly different in the late 1700's. Remember, this will was signed in 1789, the year Washington was elected to be the nation's first President.

In addition to the Will, Tom sent the following photographs from his family's vacation to Germany to visit the Point of Phlegar Origins where distant cousins of our still live.

The old Lutheran Church in Wiernsheim. Tom wrote that "Records are now in the archives in Stutgart" referring to the church's records of Phlegar birth's, marriages and deaths.

"Main Street Wiernsheim, Germany looking at Rathaus (Town Hall)" Tom wrote on the back of this photo.

And finally, to wrap up this lengthy post on the Phlegar line Tom sent this picture of a business run by one of our 7th Cousins. Notice the family name is spelt differently in Germany.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I'm hoping you found something of interest in this historical peak into the lives of our ancestors from the early days of our Republic.


And Now for Something Completely Different.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Happy Sunday!
Yes, we start today with something completely different.
Before I started this blog I was unaware of our family's strong German ties on the Williamson line. So, in honor of that strong German, Lutheran blood I'd like to share a bit of German culture with you.
I wanted to find a song I was sure our German ancestors sang in their homes. My requirement? It had to be as old as our family link to Germany. Take a minute to enjoy this 200 year old German Lullaby and imagine one of our German Great Grandmothers singing it to you.