Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sadness & Loss

The past two months I have attended too many funerals to count. The ages of the deceased spanned from 97 to 57 years of age. Today I attended the funeral of a friend’s husband. It was sad. He lived a beautiful 57 years leaving behind a loving wife, two daughters, a son-in-law and a multitude of adoring friends.

I wander cemeteries looking for ancestors. Their gravestones give me data to begin or confirm my research. What I have not thought about is the sorrow each death brought to their family. Today has been a day to reflect on how loss spans generations.  How did each family handle the loss? What were the customs of the time?

What I do know is that each of us is given life for a defined period of time. We don’t know when our time will end just as our ancestors didn’t know. I am not looking forward to that period of life but hopefully I will handle it with grace. I am thankful for my religious faith for it brings me peace. I trust my ancestors most likely felt the same.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Rich commented on my last post by saying, “It was nice to hear the story again even if it is from a secondary source.”  

It was nice to tell the story again but I mistakenly called Cousin Robbin a secondary source. I just reviewed my genealogy manual and  realized that the information reported to me was secondary information! I need to review my genealogical terms. Oops!

The definition of Secondary Information:
“Statements made by individuals who were not actual participants in an event or did not actually witness an occurrence are classed as secondary information. This category embraces family tradition and local lore…”

Elizabeth Shown Mills, Professional Genealogy (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001), p 234.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Primary and Secondary Information

Life returns to normal and I return to my genealogy world with time to breathe, think and write!

My last post of December 16, 2011, focused on my Uncle Robert Meyer. I am always struck by coincidences. December 16  marked my uncle’s birth date, the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge and his participation in that battle. December 16 was most certainly a significant date of his life!

Family lore can be very interesting. My uncle was present during the Battle of the Bulge and was a credible witness to the event. He told his story to the males of our family. In turn, I heard the stories from my father, my brother and my husband. Unfortunately, my uncle passed away and I lost my primary informant.

This presented a problem. Initially, I wrote the post by telling the story I had heard from my father, brother and husband. It was a good story! Just prior to posting I gave my cousin, Robbin, a call asking him for details of his father’s war experience.

Robbin became my secondary informant. While he was not present during his father’s war experiences, he did hear the war stories from his father. My secondary informant supplied me with details of his father’s battalion, battles he fought in and the story of the birthday cake. He told the personal side of his father’s war experiences.

Here is the story I heard from my father, my brother and my husband.

On December 16, 1944 my uncle slept on the second floor of a German farmhouse located in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. There was a knock on the farmhouse door. The sleeping soldiers knew Germans were at the door as no American would ever knock. They immediately rose, grabbed their gear and jumped out the second floor window. They ran for their truck, and sped away throwing grenades at the Germans. The Germans had come in the front door as my uncle jumped out the window!

Uncle Bob’s battalion was missing in action. At the end of the war, my uncle was in Austria busy cleaning up pocket of resistance. He continued fighting until someone informed him that the war was over. There was no need to fight any longer.

With his whereabouts unknown my grandmother began writing letters to newspapers and Congressmen asking for help in locating her son. He eventually returned home due to her letter writing campaign!

Please compare this story with my December 16 post. Genealogical research strives to find accurate information from informants who were as close to the event as possible. My cousin, Robbin, provided greater detail of his father’s war experience.

Robbin does not know exactly where his father was sleeping that morning of December 16. While possible, he could not confirm that he slept in a German farmhouse.  The Ardennes Forest is a thick forest and this suggests that he most likely slept in trenches.

My version comes from stories told by my uncle to my father. My father told my brothers and my husband. I heard them but did not pay close attention. With each retelling and my poor listening skills, details may have changed.

My grandmother most likely wrote letters looking for her son’s safe return though I doubt her letters were the sole reason for his return. To my knowledge no letters exist.  Most likely a combination of events occurred both here and in Europe.

With the desire to provide accurate information, I rewrote my post.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Intersections of Life


Robert Helmuth Meyer
December 16, 1920 - October 30, 2011

Today I honor my Uncle Robert Meyer.  He was the third of five sons born to Olga and George Meyer. They were a happy family who weathered the Depression then found themselves facing World War II as many Americans did. Four of the five sons served during World War II.

The Meyer Home
Uncle Bob was a radioman in the 535th AAA Battalion. His battalion was attached to the 99th Infantry Division;  which was a companion to the 101st  Airborne. Wherever the 101st  was, my uncle was not far away.

AAA stands for anti-aircraft and automatic weapons. Uncle Bob’s battalion protected bridges and airfields. He helped defend the famed Remagen Bridge. During the Normandy Invasion, he landed in the first wave on Utah Beach with the job protecting the battleships in the channel.

Intersections of Life: He continued to fight throughout Europe occasionally crossing paths with his brothers. One time my Dad was traveling in a truck when he saw his brother, Bob, sitting in a tree beside the road. Dad quickly jumped out the truck and the lucky brothers were reunited.

Intersections of Life: His path also intersected with older brother, Al. Al drove a tank named “The Destroyer.” One day Uncle Al was sitting in his tank when a guy came up to him and asked him if he had a brother, Bob. Bob and Al were just one mile apart! Al was granted permission to see his brother. Backtracking a mile Uncle Al and Uncle Bob were reunited. I can only imagine how happy they were to see each other.

Intersections of Life: In December 1944 Uncle Bob found himself in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. His birthday was December 16th and had received a birthday cake baked by his mother. There was no time to enjoy if for The Battle of the Bulge had begun. There are stories of Germans using captured jeeps and uniforms to imitate American soldiers. So when the battle began, his first responsibility was to destroy his radio and all papers and abandon that birthday cake.

Uncle Bob was on the front line and stationed in Krinklet, Belgium when the German Panzers rolled over the 99th Infantry. The battalions scattered and the 535th was listed as lost in action for a very long time.

Americans created deep trenches in this heavily wooded forest by bombing the ground. The large holes were cleaned up and topped with tree. A final layer of pine boughs were added creating warm, safe trenches. The Germans bombarded American forces by firing high above the Ardennes Forest. Bombs exploded in the air, tops of trees were blown off and shrapnel rained down on American soldiers. My uncle feared thunderstorms throughout the rest of his life. The rolling of thunder sent him back to the Ardennes Forest.

Back to the birthday cake…. It is said that a high-ranking German official inspected the vacated trenches and found a birthday cake. There are reports that he knew the war was lost. Germans had trouble getting necessary fuel, but an American could receive a birthday cake? I have read comments that the cake came from Iowa or New York. I wonder if that German official came upon my uncle’s cake from Illinois? You never know.

Uncle Bob continued to serve his country now as a MP. He made his way to Austria and then to Paris. World War II officially ended 2 September 1945 and men were beginning to return home. Uncle Bob’s battalion was not rotated home for they were still considered lost in battle. His Captain angrily asked,
“Why aren’t my men going home?” Eventually Uncle Bob returned home. His service to our nation began in October 1942 and ended 6 December 1945 just in time his twenty-fifth birthday!

One Christmas season, Uncle Bob sent his Christmas card making note the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. My husband belongs to an organization that spans the globe and sent my uncle’s Battle of the Bulge story out to membership of the organization. Several members had British roots and responded in thanks for the “Yanks” who bravely defended them. I sent those responses on for Uncle Bob to enjoy. I regret not saving a copy of them for my growing genealogy collection.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Happenings

Christmas 1985 is my most memorable Christmas. My Christmas gift weighed in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. He was due on December 26th but my gift arrived nine days early on December 16th! We were home from the hospital in plenty of time to celebrate his first Christmas.

His sister took this Polaroid photograph to nursery school and introduced her class to her newest brother. She called him our brown baby.

Jimmy has never felt neglected or short changed with his birthday being so close to Christmas. In fact, he loves it even today! As a child, Jimmy’s excitement level rose dramatically each December. The anticipation of his birthday and Christmas coming within nine days of each other caused our already busy boy to go into hyper speed. Each year I would warn his teachers that educating him might prove challenging during his favorite month of the year.

Christmas would not be present in our home until after his birthday was celebrated. Eventually his disappointment grew and Christmas appeared earlier but always focusing on his special day.

Tomorrow we are celebrating his birthday! We will gather around the dinner table, feast and tell Jimmy stories! I love all my children, but Jimmy will always be my Christmas Gift.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fruitcake: Friend or Foe

I say Foe!

Fruitcake touched my lips once as a child.  Visions of those sticky fruit chunks give me nightmares! Oh how I remember how I had to force myself to finish that one bite. Forty plus years have passed and fruitcake has yet to touch my lips again.

My grandmother was a friend of fruitcake. She would bring the blue tin over each Christmas and relish every bite! I cannot understand why.

I just spent a moment reviewing my fellow bloggers’ opinions of fruitcake and discovered several people who enjoy fruitcake. There appears to be a strong preference for homemade fruitcake and I believe this is where the difference lies.  Prince William and Kate Middleton chose fruitcake for their wedding cake! I am sure their pastry chef created a fruitcake far superior to our blue tin of fruitcake.

Today’s posts have opened my eyes to the possibility of someday giving fruitcake a second chance.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Du Page County Genealogical Society

On Saturday, February 25. 2012, the Du Page County Genealogical Society will host their 37th annual conference at the Hilton Garden Inn, 4070 East Main Street, St. Charles, Illinois. This one-day conference has a tradition of providing excellent educational opportunities for genealogists. Conference information can be found at their web site:

I attended this conference two years ago and had the opportunity to hear Elissa Powell and Philip Colletta, Ph.D. lecture. They are top-notch genealogists! This year’s conference once again is filled with quality speakers: Maureen Brady, Tony Burroughs, Jennifer Holik, Paul Milner, Juliana Smith and Loretto (Lou) Szucs.

I am particularly excited to hear Paul Milner’s lectures. This native of England has an impressive biography. It reports that he is a past president of BIGWILL and currently serves as product review editor of the society’s newsletter; which is of particular interest to me. BIGWILL is an acronym for British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois. It just so happens that I have a Membership Application for BIGWILL sitting on my desk!

My British interests lie in the County of Somerset and am confused with the British jurisdictions. I have learned of the Civil Parish of St. Decumann, The Hundred: Williton and Freemanners, The County of Somerset and the Country of England. Additionally there is a registration district and a sub-registration district both being Williton.
Paul Milner will be speaking about the English Parish Chest. An English Parish can be both ecclesiastical and civil jurisdictions. Records were kept in what is called a Parish Chest. I plan on spending most of the day listening to this gentleman and learning about this Parish Chest and British jurisdictions.

I have heard Tony Burroughs speak on the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He offers insight into finding those surviving records in an interesting and entertaining manner.  

I would love some company at this year’s conference. Please visit the web site and review the program schedule. You might find something of interest. Let me know if you do!


Monday, December 12, 2011

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

 Today’s Advent prompt is Charitable and Volunteer Work. This is an appropriate thought for the day as I prepare to volunteer tutor this afternoon.

I volunteer tutor in an after school reading program that provides one-to-one reading instruction targeted to the specific needs of at risk children in third and fourth grade. The lessons are designed for each individual child by reading specialists. The volunteer tutors attend annual workshops to improve tutoring skills with the hope of shrinking the literary gap for forty at risk children. Our program has been in existence for thirty three years!

First and second grade children attend Tuesdays and Thursdays.Third and fourth grade children attend Monday and Wednesdays. We do not help with homework or work on math skills. The program focuses on the specific reading needs of each child.

Last year, my beautiful student began the year reading at a second grade level. Her reading level dramatically improved and she finished the year at a fifth grade level! This year my student comes from Burma! She is a quick learner and I have big hopes for her success!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Christmas Advent Calendar and Holiday Parties

Sometimes I feel a bit like Scrooge. My tired, worn-out self is usually fighting a cold this time of year. A nap on the sofa and a date with the Hallmark Channel seems much more inviting than a holiday party. I really like the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. They are wholesome movies that always have a happy ending! 

My favorite holiday parties occurred a number of years ago. We used to gather with our dear friends, The Hammans, on Christmas Eve Eve. The Hammans and the Dooleys have a long history. Somehow both our families share the same names: Dave, Linda, Jim, Charlie, variations of the name Chris and Will!

We would celebrate our families’ friendship on Christmas Eve Eve with a dinner of roast turkey and all the trimmings. It was not a fancy party, just good food to nourish our bodies and our friendship. That tradition has passed on, but I fondly remember those days!

Merry Christmas,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Sixth Day of Advent means It Must Be Santa!

 Christmas Wishes circa 1927

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Fifth Day of Advent = Outdoor Lights

Chevy Chase’s antics in the movie Christmas Vacation makes me chuckle every Christmas season! My Dad was our family’s “exterior illumination specialist.” He always did a great job lighting the outside of our home minus Chevy’s antics.

Dad decorated our home with strings of beautiful red, green, yellow and blue colored bulbs. They were the big, old fashioned bulbs not the tiny ones of today. Dad pulled out his trusty ladder and decorated our home in all kinds of weather transforming our little home into something magical. Oh, how we waited in anticipation as he worked away.

As we grew older, kids in the neighborhood changed. They started spoiling Dad’s fun by cutting the strings of lights. Out he marched wondering what on earth happened only to learn the truth. Never fear, out came another string of lights to replace the damaged ones. No one would stop our lamplighter from brightening the Christmas sky!

What better day to pay tribute to my lamplighter, Father! On December 5, 2005, Dad passed quietly away. The Apostle Paul tells us that what we see is temporary and what we don’t see is eternal. God Bless my Father, Marvin Otto Meyer. While I no longer see him in person, his light shines in all whose lives he touched.

With Loving Gratitude,


Friday, December 2, 2011

St. Johannes Cemetery Revisited

My November 7-10, 2011 posts focused on the relocation of St. Johannes Cemetery. Following the November 10, 2011 ceremony of Christian and Millizena Duntemann, I received a phone call from the City of Chicago. They had located another grave. This unmarked grave belonged to Herbert J. Sheldon and I was his closest known relative. Thanks to a plaque on this coffin, his remains could be identified.

Herbert married Eveline Duntemann, granddaughter of Christian and Millizena. Herbert was my great, great uncle. His remains were located in a plot that had belonged to the Franzen Family. This connection seems logical as Eveline’s parents were Frederick Duntemann and Mary Franzen. Today Herbert J. Sheldon was re interred in Eden Memorial Park located at 9851 Irving Park Road, Schiller Park, Illinois. May he rest in peace.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The First Day of Advent = Christmas Trees

Everyone one loves a Christmas tree. I made a quick search of my family photographs and found several Christmas tree photographs. Photos of trees, trees surrounded by gifts and trees surrounded by happy children and gifts seem to cross generations.

I remember my paternal grandmother telling me about Christmas trees of her childhood. Her childhood trees were decorated with homemade ornaments and real candles! The candles would be lit on Christmas morning and her family would enjoy the beautifully lit tree. After a brief look, the candles would then be snuffed out!

My mother remembers Christmas Eve. She and her brother would be tucked snug in their beds. As they slept, her parents would decorate the tree for their Christmas morning surprise!

There are no natural trees in our home. Many years ago, our son had an allergic reaction to our “real” tree. A trip to the pediatrician sold us on the idea of artificial trees.

We enjoy our Christmas tree in much the same manner as parents and grandparents did. Christmas ornaments become treasures handed down from one generation to the next. When my mother passed away, our family gathered and everyone took turns choosing favorite ornaments. We are all happy to have them.

Have a Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

This fall I had the opportunity to visit Mackinac Island. My husband and I explored the island on bikes. We came upon St. Ann’s Cemetery in the center of the island. Wandering through the cemetery, I discovered this precious tombstone. There is a lucky penny sitting on this little lamb headstone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Home Is Where Your Story Begins

Everything begins at home. While 1625 Lincoln Avenue was neither my first home nor my last, it was my childhood home. It is here that I lived during my formative years and where my childhood memories reside. 1625 Lincoln Avenue gives me warm, fuzzy feelings. If stories begin at home, I can think of no better title for this blog of mine for this is where my story began.

My family home was built in 1953. My parents purchased it on 20 November 1957 from A. Edward and Alice Leclair. Mom and Dad lived at 1625 Lincoln Avenue for fifty two years! Failing health necessitated the move to a condominium on St. Patrick’s Day, 2005. 

Our last family photograph at 1625 Lincoln Avenue!
We grew up happily in our three bedroom, one bath home! Creative problem solving skills were perfected with four children (two of them teenagers) and one bathroom. My father got first “dibs” on the bathroom every morning, which meant he needed to rise early for his chance at the bathroom! Sorry Dad!

My Dad was a pretty smart man. I think he might have been an engineer had he had the opportunity to attend college. Necessity was the object of my father’s inventions. Tired of living without air conditioning, Dad decided to air condition our home. He designed and built the ductwork from scratch and installed the compressors by himself! He also designed, built and installed our garage door opener. He would get a little frustrated when asked, “Are you sure this is going to work?”

Genealogists search court records for deeds and property transfers. Acquiring deeds from Cook County is on my “2012 To Do List.” Lucky me, I have my parent's original Warranty Deed from the purchase of their home at 1625 Lincoln Avenue. That warranty deed informs me that in 1957 my parents made a down payment of $10.00 to Mr. and Mrs. Leclair! Times have changed!


On the fun side . . . Please check out the website,  Dear Photograph offers the opportunity to travel in time in a most fun and modern way! Here is the photograph I am going to submit. I wonder if they will publish it?

Dear Photograph, My childhood home revisited Thanksgiving 2011.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Shout Out To Thomas MacEntee and Geneabloggers

Thomas MacEntee is the creator of Geneabloggers. This is the place where genealogists and family historians gather to share ideas. Geneabloggers is over 2,000 genealogy blogs strong and can be located at Tune in to his blog talk radio on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. CST!  A variety of topics are discussed and always prove interesting to the genealogist in me.

I became a Thomas MacEntee fan this September at the 2011 FGS conference in Springfield, Illinois. This man with a giant personality WOWED me! He is smart, passionate, creative and willing to share his knowledge.

Thomas MacEntee is a mover and a shaker in the genealogy world.  Thomas manages numerous blogs and Facebook pages including and I am a fan and a follower!

Geneabloggers introduces new blogs weekly. 1625 Lincoln Avenue was introduced November 12, 2011. Thank you, Thomas, for giving my blog a jump-start!

With Gratitude,


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sarah Josepha Hale

Thinking about my Thanksgiving Day blog inspired a Google search of Thanksgiving facts. What to write about? Gratitude, Pilgrims, trivia and family stories topped my list. I found my way to the History Channel website where I learned about Sarah Josepha Hale. Educated in the Pilgrim story, I was unaware of her contribution to our modern day Thanksgiving. A visit to will introduce you to Sarah Josepha Hale.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born in 1788. At age, 25, Sarah married David Hale. Her husband passed away in 1822 leaving her to care for their five children. Fortunately Sarah was self-educated through a brotherly connection to Dartmouth.

Needing to provide for her children, Sarah Josepha Hale turned to literature. This author and editor became a champion for the improvement of women’s lives. Sarah Josepha Hale authored many books and poems, but her most recognized poem is “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

As editor of Godey’s Ladies Book she began a letter writing campaign to President Abraham Lincoln promoting a national day of thanks.  Her efforts resulted in our national holiday known as Thanksgiving. Thank you Sarah Josepha Hale for your persistence belief in a national day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, “Letter to Abraham Lincoln,” American Treasures of the Library of Congress, ( : accessed 23 November 2011).

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Turkeys and Rutabaga

I think every one remembers the first Thanksgiving turkey that they prepared. In my case, I was unaware that turkey giblets were to be found in a small bag located in the turkey’s neck area. Go figure! Isn’t that just where one might look to find a turkey’s heart and liver? Had my mother not clued me in on the location of the giblets, they would have been roasted bag and all! Fortunately for all, she did and my roast turkey was a success.

Today I wished my mother’s cousin, Joyce Tudyman, a Happy Thanksgiving. She will spend the holiday with relatives who are of Italian descent. They will be serving pasta along with their turkey. She mentioned that she was happy to be invited, but will miss the traditional English Thanksgiving dinner complete with rutabaga.

So that is how the rutabaga tradition came to my family! I always had a hunch that this rutabaga tradition hailed from my only English ancestors, John and Emma Dollen. My mother would simply peel and cube the rutabaga and simmer until soft. She would then mash it. I have updated her tried and true recipe by adding some butter, half and half, and a pinch of nutmeg! You either like this root veggie or you don’t!

So, all you Thanksgiving chefs, what was your first turkey experience like? What happened to you? I look forward to hearing your stories!

Monday, November 21, 2011

As We Head Into Thanksgiving Week

This weekend my daughter gave us a scare. She had a medical situation that required emergency surgery. Naturally, my husband and my anxiety levels rose as we wondered and waited to hear the results of her surgery. Fortunately, all went well and she is comfortably resting at our home. I get to spoil her and take care of her for the entire week!

As we approach Thanksgiving, I pause and reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving. This year I will once again prepare our turkey to the New York Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our home will be scented with aroma of roast turkey.  But most importantly, we will be giving thanks for our daughter’s good health.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

My mother’s cousin’s husband’s grandmother lived in Austria prior to 
World War II. The grandmother hired a painter to decorate her dining room. That painter was Adolph Hitler! Grandmother said she would never have allowed that young man in her house had she known what he would later do!

This tale has been orally passed down from the Austrian Grandmother to John Tudyman to his wife to my mother and finally to me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Farmers and Faith

I tell people that I come from a long line of farmers and people with faith. My heartbeat quickened when I saw my Great, Great Grandfather John Dollen’s Bible! His Bible was not used to record family history. I sense that in the Dollen home his Bible was a book to be respected.

Elaine holding the John Dollen Bible.

The John Dollen Bible is large. The pages are of a heavy linen type of paper.  The cover has come loose from its binding.  The words “J. Dollen 1814” are stamped on the inside of the cover. “John Dollen his book” is handwritten at the beginning of the New Testament. These words provide evidence that this Bible is indeed John Dollen’s Bible.

This is where genealogical research gets interesting! I do believe that this Bible belonged to my Great, Great Grandfather. An unknown family member recorded my Great, Great Grandfather’s birth date as 3 July 1830. Census records report his birth date within the range of 1827 and 1831.  However, this Bible gives evidence that J. Dollen owned this book in 1814!

The Bible, the name and the date suggest that it also belonged to my Great, Great, Great Grandfather whose name was also John Dollen. John Dollen of Curry Mallett, England was a wheelwright. He married Ann House and together they had four children: John, Silas, Emma and Adolphus. Census records report that the elder John Dollen was born between 1789 and 1791 which suggests that this Bible could be his. Of those four children, my Great, Great Grandfather John was the only child to leave England and immigrate to the United States.

I hope you enjoy the photographs of The Bible that I believe belonged to a father and son who shared the same name of John Dollen!

Posted with love,



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Worldless Wednesday

Beware of Mother-in-Laws With Guns!!!

Posted with love,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Treasures From The Dollen Past

We call ourselves the Dollen Girls. We are seven strong and growing. Only two have had the good fortune of actually growing up with the last name of Dollen. I am a Meyer. We have Lemkes in this little group too. My cousin, Sharon, is a Small!

Whatever our maiden names, we all descend from a long line of Dollen farmers. Sharon is in the unique position as she descends from a long line of family historians as well. Her Grandmother Eva and Aunt Evalyn both had a keen sense of family history. Not only did they save family treasures, they took notes about each item! Eva and Evalyn seemed to know that those yet to come would be interested in their lives.

Upon entering Sharon’s home, she directed me to hang my coat on the coat rack. As I hung up my coat, she gently informed me that this rack was our Great, Great Grandmother Emma Dollen’s coat rack. Amazed, I ran my hand over the wood. I wonder if Sharon delighted in watching each of our facial expressions when she spoke those words. Was this a coat rack used for company? Did their children or grandchildren actually hang their coats on this rack? It does not look large enough for so many coats.

Great, Great Grandmother Emma Dollen's Coat Rack. Coats were removed to see her coat rack!

We lunched in Sharon’s kitchen. Sitting around the table she pointed out different family treasures. Her Grandmother Eva’s coffee grinder hung on the wall with coffee beans inside ready for use. This was a special place.

During lunch I learned of her life on the farm. Their cozy home is heated by a wood burning furnace. Her husband, Gil, chops and splits the wood himself. Their apple trees provide fresh apple cider that is made using their apple press. As I drank my warm cider, small birds perched by her kitchen window then flit away!
Dishes piled in the sink and we offered to help. But there would be no dishwashing for us and there would be no dishwasher for Sharon! This “city mouse” knew she was learning about a different way of life. It is simpler way of life that the Dollens once knew. 

My cousin, Elaine, possesses those Dollen genes too. Living in a small town, she dreams of a farm. Elaine has a green thumb and grows the most spectacular vegetables. In fact, she even shares farm fresh eggs with this “city mouse.” 

After lunch, we move to the dining room and get down to business . . . Dollen business! As we sit down, Sharon let’s us in on another little secret: the table we sit around is Emma Dollen’s dining table complete with 14 leaves! It is a table built to fit her large family of eleven children. Family gatherings must have been an event! My imagination wanders. My Great grandfather, William most likely sat at this table. I wonder if my grandfather sat there as well. Was Emma a good cook? What did she serve? I cannot believe that I am at my Great, Great Grandmother’s dining table!

This is what I love about genealogy. It has taken me places and shown me things I never could have imagined!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dollen Girls Hit The Road Again

Last Friday, the Dollen girls hit the road. Armed with GPS and Map quest directions we converged at our cousin’s home. It was a long journey but well worth the trip.

Each time we gather, we get to know each other just a little bit better. Much of our time was spent around the kitchen table talking. Sharon and her husband, Gil, were gracious hosts. Their delicious lunch nourished us as we talked life past and present.

Sharon and Gil live on a 40-acre farm.  You enter their property via a long dirt road that leads you to their 100+ year old home. Their home is filled with antiques handed down from our shared ancestors! This “city mouse” got to visit her “country mouse” cousin.

We Dollen girls descend from a long line of farmers. It seems that Sharon may have inherited that love of land!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

My family recently lost a World War II veteran. We listened to taps being played and watched as a soldier presented the American Flag to my cousins. This was a very somber moment. It is something special to hear a soldier express gratitude on behalf of the United States of America. It is something special to have a veteran in your family.

I heard many, many World War II stories from my father and his three brothers. I think of my poor Grandmother worrying about her four sons in battle.

Who to honor on this day? That is a big question because our family has so many fine veterans! I have decided to honor the newest veteran in the Dooley family. His name is Devan Andrew Hatfield. He had always dreamed of becoming a Marine.

On September 11, 2001, Devan Andrew Hatfield was just seventeen years old. The events of the day made a profound impact on him. His country needed him and he was going to serve. On July 30, 2002, Devan enlisted in the Marine Corps. During the period of the second Iraq War, Devan served in Bagdad, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and Chile. Devan was a member of the Fast Team. Thank you, Devan, for your dedication and service to our country!

The photograph is courtesy of Devan’s proud grandfather, Stephen Dooley of Colorado. Yes, Devan’s mother did worry just like my grandmother!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christian and Millizena Duntemann

On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Johann Carl Christian Duntemann and Millizena Duntemann nee Erdmann and an unknown angel were re-interred. Burial took place at the Town of Maine Cemetery, Park Ridge, Illinois. Representatives of the City of Chicago were present. Pastor Virginia Ericson of Christ Church, Des Plaines, Illinois led the family in prayer.

While my first choice would have been to keep the cemetery in place, I must admit that everything was done respectfully.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Will You Spell That Please?

I am a puzzler. I love putting puzzle pieces together. In the end, I am rewarded with a beautiful picture. Genealogists are puzzlers at heart. They love finding and evaluating evidence.  In the end, genealogists are rewarded with a beautiful life story.

Finding those puzzle pieces can be difficult. The Duntemann research has been challenging primarily due to spelling variations of their surname. Here are a few examples of the spelling variations of the Duntemann surname.

The Family of Christian and Millzena Duntemann was indexed as
Christian and Wilsana Dontaman.

The family of Frederick Duntemann was indexed as Fred and Mary C. Dunterman, Fred and Mary Denteucaw and Dunteman Fandrich.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fresh Eyes

In my last post, Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana reminded me of what I have to be grateful for. Yes, the final resting places of many are being disturbed. Yet she reminds me that the process is being conducted in a thoughtful and responsible manner.

One of my favorite sayings is “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.”  Bill Dickerson of the Las Vegas Institute introduced me to this thought. I don’t know if it is an original Bill Dickerson statement, but I credit him nonetheless. He is a very smart man who knows how to challenge the intellect. So what have I learned?

I have learned that the City of Chicago hired The Louis Berger Group to oversee the movement of the cemetery. A visit to their website,, leaves me speechless. The Louis Berger Group is on the forefront of world happenings. Should you view their featured projects, you will see St. Johannes Cemetery of Du Page County, Illinois along with all their worldwide projects! Okay, Chicago. I thank you.

The Chicago Department of Aviation created a website, It has everything you need. The website gives information about the cemetery, the latest news, testimonials, FAQs and the location of all monuments and markers. Could one ask for more?

I learned that the Martha Ibbetson Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution meets the first Friday of the month and that Joan Cosgrove is their Regent. This information may suggest kinship between Joan Cosgrove and Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana. Most importantly, I am grateful to these dedicated women who indexed St. Johannes Cemetery. Their efforts will help preserve the history and memory of what once was. Thank you to Laura for the translation of the German headstones.

This evening I received a phone call from one of my newfound Duntemann relatives. She told me that remains of a third person were found in the grave. They believe the remains are those of Christian and Millizena Duntemann’s daughter, Laura. They found earrings with her remains. She will be interred with her parents.

Can anyone ask for more? I am truly humbled by the care given my residents of St. Johannes Cemetery. I suspect every resident was treated with equal care and respect.

Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana gave me the gift of Fresh Eyes. This the ability to look at issues thoroughly and from all perspectives.

With Gratitude,


Monday, November 7, 2011

You Can't Stop Progress

St. Johannes Cemetery has been front and center in the battle over the 
O’Hare International Airport Expansion Project. This 160 year-old cemetery is home to 1,200 graves. [1]

German immigrants settled the lands of Du Page County just northwest of the City of Chicago. They were farmers. My great, great, great grandparents were part of this immigrant group.  As this small community grew so did the need for a place of worship. St. Johannes Church was built.  Soon the need for a cemetery presented itself and St. Johannes Cemetery was created.

You can’t stop progress! A small airport, Orchard Place, was in need of expansion. The church sold land to the City of Chicago for the airport expansion. In 1952 St. Johannes Church was picked up and moved to the community of Bensenville. Orchard Place Airport received a new name. O’Hare Airport had arrived! The cross in the cemetery marks the location of the original church.[2]

This is a very long and complicated story involving many court battles. The airport continued growing and eventually surrounded this tiny cemetery. Today O’Hare International Airport is in the final stages of its expansion project. On October 28, 2011 Chicago’s ABC News reported the exhumation of the 900 graves. [3]

Johann Carl Christian Duntemann passed away on 13 June 1863. His wife, Millizena Duntemann nee Erdmann,  passed away on 30 December 1896. It is likely their remains are not intact. Christian and Millizena Duntemann will be reinterred November 10, 2011. I wonder where my great, great, great grandparents graves are right now.

You just can’t stop progress!

[1] Johnson, Geoffrey, “Dead Reckoning,” Chicago, October 2009, 58-65.
[2] Ibid.
[3] “Report: 900 Graves exhumed for O’Hare Runway,” WLS-TV/DT, 28 October 2011; e-news
( : accessed 6 November 2011.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Simple Beginnings

My desire to learn about my family took root in the year 2008. Having pondered for many years, I finally took the plunge and signed on to With high hopes, I registered for a World Membership.  Linda Dooley was going to search the world for those unknown ancestors for just about one dollar a day!

Four weeks into my project, my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Her cells were fast growing. She chose to undergo chemotherapy, which was not an easy path for my octogenarian mother. My genealogical finds entertained Mom throughout her battle with cancer.

Realizing that the window of opportunity was rapidly closing, we began hearty discussions about our family. My mother and I poured over old photographs. These walks down memory lane comforted us both as I watched mother decline.

As I discovered bits of the past, I brought them to her sick bed. Here is her Auntie Lou’s wedding announcement that gave Mom a case of the giggles. I just love the creative writing.

“A Surprise Shower For A June Bride

April showers began in advance for June brides,
When last Friday night, Miss Lucille Dollen thought
she had said, “Number Please” for the last time,
that night, when suddenly a group of her associates
in the telephone office burst in upon her like rain out
of a summer cloud. Yes it is a pre-nuptial show,
a regular pour down, sure to bring the orange blossoms
in June, when Miss Dollen is to be a bride.

From the office the merry party went to the home of
Mr. And Mrs. W. G. Meyer on State Road. There a
bountiful supper was served. A delicious mountain of cake
made by Mrs. Meyer, salads and all the choice dainties
young ladies enjoy. After answering a multitude of calls.

The color scheme in decorations was prettily carried
out in pink and green.

Of course the cloud was like a great white sheet
and it poured down snowy linens. A generous supply
such as any bride would be happy to receive.

The game played was “Progressive Fifty”.
Miss Lorraine Ayer won first prize, the second
Prize was won by Miss Eleanor Cronin.
Consolation, Miss Lucille Dollen.
These prizes which were kitchen utensils the winners
gave to the guest of honor, Miss Dollen.

Miss Dollen is leaving her position soon for her home
at Des Plaines and plans to be married in June.
After that all calls over the line will receive a busy signal.”[1]

Throughout our discussions, Mom had one recurring question. She wanted to know what happened to her cousin, Leroy Dollen. “Had I found him?” she would ask. Yes, I thought I did but cared not to share that he had passed on. Well, she kept on asking and I kept replying, “Not yet, Mom.”

My mother passed away on September 6, 2008. One week later, I discovered that someone downloaded my entire tree on Ancestry. Who could possibly be interested in my tree? To my surprise, they were the daughters of Leroy Dollen! My mother missed meeting them by just one week.

Three years have passed and I have become fast friends with my second cousins. We share genetics, family stories, research trips and are committed to gathering Dollen relatives wherever they may be.

In Mother’s Memory
Doris Jean Meyer nee Dollen
12 July 1927 – 8 September 2008

[1] “A Surprise Shower For A June Bride,” Cook County Herald, 1 Apr 1930, p. 2, col. 3; digital image, ( : accessed 27 Sep 2011).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Dedicate My First Post to My Grandmother

Olga Bertha Louise Meyer nee Schumann is my paternal grandmother and mentor. She meticulously, though not always accurately, recorded family milestones in her Bible. She believed in those four words: Who, What, When and Where!

She included information about her children, her husband and in-laws, parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouses. Let’s not forget her nieces, nephews, grandchildren, their spouses and of course her great grandchildren. Photographs, cards/notes and a poppy from Flanders Field are just few of the treasures that reside in her Bible. She gave me a gift. Her Bible is my reference book and I treasure it.

Bibles are great resources. Thank you to those who felt the need to record the details of family life and to those who feel the need today. Next week I am off to meet with my second cousins on my Mother’s side. I am really looking forward to this gathering. My cousin, Sharon, is bringing our Great-great Grandfather’s Bible! I can’t wait!