I was reading a blog post today that was about family members resembling each other, on a lovely blog I just discovered https://talesofafamily.blog/ I belong to many Facebook genealogy groups and people are always posting pictures asking us to confirm what they think are uncanny resemblances – which for the most part I have trouble seeing. I believe we see what we want to see most of the time and those pictures prove it to me. Not to be a Debbie downer, but it just ain’t there people!
But it reminded me of my sister, Barb. My sister and I don’t look much alike, my sister and brother did. But that makes sense since they both had the same mother and father. I learned that I have the same mother, but different father and that totally explained why I didn’t resemble either one! In our zillions of pictures inherited from our parents are many of our Grandma May. Grandma was dad’s (who will always be my dad because he loved and raised me) mother. A feisty woman, Swedish immigrant, matron of a boarding house for many years, who had a hard life but lived to a nice old age of 88. When I knew her she was married to her second husband, Grandpa Charlie, who treated her as a queen for 13+ years until she passed away in 1963. I didn’t know her well, she died when I was 10 and had suffered from debilitating strokes in the few years prior to her death. There was one great picture of grandma in her 70’s that my sister put up on her wall many years ago. The whole family used to laugh and tell my sister that we didn’t need to wonder what she would look like when she was older, she was that picture! My middle son once was standing near the photo and I asked him if he knew who the lady in the picture was – without much hesitation he said “Auntie Barbie!” and he was pretty surprised when I told him it was our grandmother, not his aunt/my sister.
Tell me what you think!
This picture was up on the wall in the house I grew up in for as long as I can remember. It is funny how you can look at a photo every day for years and not really know much about it or the people in it. My dad was the little boy on his dad’s lap. He was only 2 at the time and they were still living in Worcester, Massachusetts. I love my grandmother’s hairdo and her dress, so elegant looking. I only knew her when she was confined to a wheelchair or her bed after a stroke, looking nothing like the lovely lady in the photo. Over the years I had to ask questions, research in libraries and on line to find the stories of these people. It would be many years later that I found out we had no blood relation, but they will always be my grandparents nonetheless. They were a colorful bunch and their stories should never be forgotten. I will start with Grandpa, Knut Henrik Halldin, who always went by Henry after he became a naturalized citizen in 1903.
My grandparents were both from Sweden, both emigrated in the late 1800’s. Grandma came with her family but Grandpa came alone, in fact he was the only one of his family to emigrate. I never met him as he died before I was born, but my dad used to say that his father was a wanderer, he loved to travel and would only come home to get grandma pregnant and then leave again. I have found evidence that Knut Henrik Halldin (1862-1947) came to the U.S. in 1886 alone, to New York and then to Philadelphia and very soon traveled across the country to San Francisco. He only stayed a year and then traveled all the way back east. That could not have been an easy journey in 1886, I can’t even imagine it. I have a few of his writings from that time period and it seems he had names of people from Sweden to visit along the way – this was the era of mass migration to the U.S. so I am sure many people they knew from Sweden had immigrated.
Henry is listed as an Engineer or draftsman on some census records but I honestly can’t find a record of him really ever working much. I have a picture of a button he had as an employee of the Osgood Car Company (they made railroad/trolly cars). He looks to me like a prisoner. His father had a successful business in Sweden and I wonder if he didn’t help them out over the years. Henry and family lived in a huge 3 story house that they built in Worcester, Massachusetts until 1921 when they decided to join their eldest daughter in Los Angeles. They packed up their open touring car and drove across country. What a trip that must have been in 1921!! No interstate highway system, no motels yet along the way. I don’t know how or why my Aunt Gertrude ended up in Los Angeles, but she married there and had their first child (Willis “Bill” Jones) and shortly thereafter here come the folks and siblings.
Henry did go back to Sweden twice in his lifetime that I can find. He stayed in the U.S. from 1886 to 1890ish, then went home to Sweden and stayed there until 1896 – the year he married Grandma – but they met here in the U.S. so I don’t really understand how that all fit together. They were 10 years apart in age, he being 33 when they married and she was 23.
They had a grand wedding in Sweden and then returned to the U.S. to begin their life together first in Philadelphia, PA, then Worcester, Mass. They had their daughter Gertrude in March 1897 and then Henry went prospecting for Gold during the Alaskan Gold Rush in 1898, he went with a whole group of people from Massachusetts. He stayed about a year and then came home, nope he didn’t find any gold!
Henry went back to Sweden in 1920, his brother had just died and his father was old and I think he went to help him either sell or close the business. I have a letter from him to grandma where he is complaining that nobody is writing to him while he is away. Poor guy.
I once asked my dad about his dad and what kind of man he was. It seems he didn’t know his dad very well. My dad was born in 1915 and grandpa was already 54. He
probably wasn’t too keen on little kids by then. My dad also told me that his mom worked her butt off in the rooming house they owned in downtown Los Angeles. It doesn’t sound like Grandpa did much to help her. Dad said he did work with him on some apartments they built behind the boarding house, but it didn’t sound like fun. I asked him if he ever played ball with him or something and the answer was no. Grandpa was very close to his daughter Gertrude, and when she died in 1930 I think it broke his heart completely. I have learned from other family members that Grandpa also had a bit part in a movie in Hollywood, but don’t ask me the title, it is a story that is passed down. They had actors stay in their boarding house all during the 1930’s and grandpa even tried writing a screenplay and tried to get someone to pitch it to a studio. Problem was it was HORRIBLE. I have it and tried to read it and it’s all about vikings and such and terribly boring. Sorry Grandpa
Knut had lots of heartache in his life, his daughter dying in 1930, his grandson Bill in WWII, his younger daughter moving to Australia and his youngest son (my dad) getting a girl (my mom) pregnant and having to marry at 19 and living in the boarding house with them. And there was lots of alcohol in the mix to make family gatherings sometimes very interesting affairs. Once his son Tod (Thorston) threw a brick through the front window of the boarding house during an altercation at a family party. But all in all he had a good life. He got to travel, he had loving children, a wonderful wife and many grandchildren, great grandchildren and now great great grandchildren. He left a lasting legacy I am sure he would be proud of.
I love this picture, don’t they all look so happy? This was at the wedding of my cousin Dick (Albert Richard Jones) and his bride Carol Montgomery. It was taken on June 22, 1953. My mother was very pregnant with me so maybe she decided to stay out of the photo!
As with any picture, the stories of the people always interested me. On the left is my dad, not biological, but that is a whole different story you can read on this blog. Dexter Halldin, a sweeter guy you never could meet. Only problem was he was an alcoholic. He was able to hold on to a business, function successfully, and drink every darn day. He lived to be 79 and I always say it was because he was “pickled” and therefore his body could last (he passed in 1995).
Carol was such a beauty, even in her later years she had such a poise and grace. But she didn’t like our family. Not sure if it was because of the drinking, or because we were loud and kinda nuts but Dick and Carol dropped out of our lives for many years until I found them when they were in their 70’s, living only about an hour from where my husband and I lived at the time. Dick had been a pretty bad alcoholic himself until he quit in his 60’s and he was glad to be back with the family after I coaxed him into attending a family reunion. Carol was always gracious to me when I saw her but very standoffish….oh well, I liked her.
The lady next to her is her mother, Carol. I didn’t know her but I have inherited from Dick and Carol quite a few pictures and items from her mother’s life. She was an accountant, a very smart woman, but according to family lore, a very controlling and manipulative one.
Cousin Dick, now he was a sweetie. He shared with me so much during the few years we got to get to know each other. He lived in the shadow of his older brother who was killed in WWII , see my blog page Cousin Bill Their father, also Bill Jones, was so crestfallen when his son was killed I think he left a wound in Dick that never healed. Dick told me once that he and his brother weren’t close, and he seemed to feel so guilty. Dick and Carol would go on to have one son, they named him Bill. But no grandchildren. In fact their son Bill died in 2002, before they did. He had only one lung and something went wrong and he died in his sleep. He never married. Dick became a successful real estate salesman. Dick had been estranged from the entire Halldin family from after his dad died in 1967 until I found him in 1995 after my father died. Dick was glad I looked him up and he shared so much with me, including all his letters home from WWII, along with the letters from his brother. Dick started getting Alzheimer disease in the early 2000’s. Carol took care of him but she died in 2007. We had moved to Colorado in 2004 and hadn’t stayed in as good a touch as I should have so we only learned of Carol’s passing from a caregiver. Carol wanted to be sure Dick was taken care of and they picked a family friend who handled everything. Dick was able to stay home with a live in caregiver until about 2012 and then he had to go to assisted living. He passed in 2013. Whenever we came to California we would visit him and Carol, and him and his caregiver after Carol died. Even when he couldn’t remember who we were he was the sweetest guy ever. I think he really felt bad about not staying in touch with the Halldin family over the years and I am glad we could share a few years with him. I inherited all of his pictures from our family and Carol’s family – I love looking through them.
And then Aunt Vivian. What a lady! She wasn’t Dick’s mother. Dick’s mother was my dad Dexter’s sister Gertrude. She had died when Dick was 7 years old of pneumonia – those were the days before antibiotics. She was only 33 and my father was devastated, he was very close to his sister.. Vivian met Gertrude’s husband, my Uncle Bill, in 1945. She was living in a little apartment behind my grandparents house and Bill lived in another apartment. They hit it off right away and became a couple pretty quickly. His son Bill had already died in the war and Dick was coming home soon from the Navy. Vivian and Dick became so close that she legally adopted him so that he could be in charge of her affairs if anything happened to her. Vivian was married to Uncle Bill until his death in 1967. She didn’t remarry until about 1983 when she married a good friend of her and Uncle Bill’s, unfortunately he passed away shortly thereafter. She stayed in Southern California until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and it scared her so badly she moved to Las Vegas, and she was 88 years old! Aunt Vivian lived to be 99 years old, passing in 2005. I visited with Vivian a few times in Las Vegas and she was always so chipper and sweet. She loved to gamble the nickel slots and we had a lot of laughs doing that!
So the happy faces of this picture may have held so much joy on that wedding day, but there was lots of heartache in the years to follow. A family separated that had been so close. No real reason why that I know of – but there are so many secrets in my family – maybe I just don’t know the real reason.
So…I did my DNA testing with Ancestry.com and then I did it with 23andme – the ethnicity came out about the same on both. But the weird thing is that I don’t seem to match up as cousins to my dad’s great nieces and nephew. Ancestry has this really cool feature where they go through their DNA database and match you up with people who share some part of DNA with you….they predict the relationship, although it is not an exact science and I sure do not quite understand it all.
I had asked my cousins on dad’s side if they would test and they did and we don’t seem to have any shared DNA, which leads me back to Dad and wondering why I don’t share any DNA with his side of the family. Continue Reading
My cousin Bill was actually named Willis Henry Jones but he went by Bill ever since he was born I think. He was born in 1921, the first grandchild for my grandparents May and Henry and I believe he is the reason they moved to California from Massachusetts. Somehow my aunt Gertrude (Bill’s mother) ended up in California and married Calvin
Willis Jones and then came Bill (and later his brother Albert Richard Jones). Anyway, I am writing about Bill today because he is one of the main reasons that I got started in my genealogy search. I always knew Bill existed, but since I was born in 1953 and he died during WWII in 1944 we obviously never met. Continue Reading