Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 Beryl Swanson - A Flower Story About a Flour Sack Dress

“I thought you meant a ‘flower’ sack dress!” My almost-7-year-old granddaughter and I shared a moment a month ago that left me speechless, a smile on my face, and the great feeling that perhaps I have grandchildren who are interested in the stories about our family history. My 9-year-old grandson asked me last week if I had written a story for that week. I hesitated a bit, wondering what he was referring to, and then suddenly I realized that he was talking about the weekly stories I put together for this blog. I said, “Yes,” and he asked me, “What was it about?” With his limited knowledge of our tax system, I said, “Well, today is April 15, tax day, and I wrote a story about taxes.” He knows what sales taxes are so I will do a little more storytelling about our present-day income tax obligation at a later date.

I often sit down with my grandchildren to talk about events that have happened to me and those who came before me. I tell stories on their level so that they understand why things happened the way that they did.

I told my granddaughter that my mom grew up very poor in south Dakota and that they lost their crops during the destructive dust bowl days. Mom had to wear her sisters’ worn hand-me-down dresses to school. When my grandmother was able to buy flour, she would find the flour sacks that had a pretty design on the front. She would soak the dress to soften the burlap, perhaps with baking soda added to the mix, and then rub it back and forth between her hands to help make it wearable. Then she would cut out a dress pattern from the flour sack, paying special attention to the different kind of pattern that the company created on each sack, and she sent my mother off to school.

My granddaughter decided to draw some pictures to show how much she learned about my family “history lesson.” She drew the first picture with a dress that had a small flower in the middle as she thought I meant “flower” sack dress. I then drew a picture of what a “flour” sack looked like, but that didn’t stop her. She wrote “old days” on the first picture. I reminded her that she needed to use crayons to color the picture, but she said that she wanted to leave it the way it was because that’s what old pictures look like. I didn’t even know that she paid attention to that detail about “old” pictures from the past!

On the “New days” picture, she drew a “heart dress” and she colored it with crayons. Even though there were some bad times associated with the first picture of the “flower-sack dress,” the sun was always shining and the grass was still growing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: #15 Welte Assessment for Taxes - 1864

Today is tax day! I’m sure that many Americans are finishing up their yearly wage data, exemptions, schedules, and payment vouchers that need to be completed and postmarked each year on this date. As the Bible says in Matthew 22:21 "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God's.” Keeping it simple regarding the separation of church and state, and notwithstanding the relationship between Christianity and secular authority, this phrase represents payment of taxes, as we have known it in our lifetimes, to various government entities. However, over the years of American Quaker history, there was opposition to Christians paying “general” taxes if used explicitly used for purposes of war and subsequently was forbidden.[1]

In 1862, in order to support the Civil War effort, Congress enacted the first income tax law and through the Act of 1862, it established the office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue. It was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and withheld income on a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year at the rate of 3%. Those who had incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Not only were sales and excise taxes added, but an “inheritance” tax also made its debut.[2]

On www.Ancestry.com I checked in the Card Catalog and clicked on the “Tax, Criminal, Land & Wills” link. Under “Filter By Collection,” I clicked on “Tax Lists.” In the results list, I clicked on the “U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918.” I entered my ancestor’s surname, Welte, and I found several records for the state of Iowa. It shows the taxes incurred on his articles that he produced which were “Boots & Shoes to Order.”

[1] Philalethes (pseud.) "Tribute to C├Žsar, How paid by the Best Christians, And to what Purpose; With Some Remarks on the late vigorous Expedition against Canada. Of Civil Government, How Inconsistent it is with the Government of Christ in his Church. Compared with the Ancient Just and Righteous Principles of the Quakers, and their Modern Practice and Doctrine. With some Notes upon the Discipline of their Church in this Province, especially at Philadelphia" (1715?) as found in Gross, David M. (ed.) American Quaker War Tax Resistance (2008) ISBN 978-1-4382-6015-0 pp. 23-42
[2] History of the Income Tax in the United States,” Source: Tax Foundation, Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved; (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html : accessed 15 April 2014)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

52 Ancestors: #14 Bob Gosa and His Band of Brothers

It never ceases to amaze me how we make sacrifices to help others. For those who are sick and need special care, it is very important that we take stock in who we are and not forget how important others are to us. This is something we should think about every day to truly appreciate those of us around us who may not be as fortunate as we are.

820th Red Horse -Vietnam War
Tuy Hoa Air Base 1968
My husband, Bob Gosa, is one of those special persons who likes to help others. He thinks highly of his fellow Vietnam vets who spent the one-year obligation with him back in 1968-69. He knows of the dedication between military members and how sad it is whenever these guys have medical problems and do not survive.

Last year, Bob and I traveled to Wichita, Kansas, to visit one of these veterans who had been ill for some time. We spent a few days with him and his family, played music for him, and listened to him sing the words of some Beatles songs. It was a great time, but within two months, Bob’s friend lost his battle due to his illness. He talks about how surprised his friend was when he saw Bob and much fun they had talking about the times they spent together. Each story is important, especially the one that sparked happiness or created a memory that both of them shared. It is very sad to know that these guys are slowly leaving us, becoming distant memories, and being remembered as “special” to their families and friends.

Bob and I have now traveled again to be with another one of his friends who may be needing special attention. He is not only Bob’s friend who shares a love of music, but he came back from the Vietnam War and made a life with his wife and career. Twelve years ago, with the help of the Internet and a stroke of luck, Bob was able to find his Vietnam vet friends and they all met to talk about old memories, good and bad, and how they survived such a turbulent time.

It’s good to know that Bob has a deep-down, genuine concern about how they are doing with their lives. That’s why Bob is such a special person who makes the extra effort to be sure that they are doing alright and who talks about the special bond created among them so long ago. It is truly a “band of brothers” that existed then, and which still exists today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors: #13 A Picture Can Tell a Thousand Stories! The Swanson, Esterberg, and Lindau Family Members

I would like to say “A picture can tell a thousand stories!” Well, perhaps not a thousand stories, but there are many nuances of a family history that are waiting to be told whenever a picture is taken. I like pictures from the past because these are stories about people that, through my detective-like research, “pop out” at you and begs you to tell everyone more about what was going on that particular moment. For instance, look at this picture of the Swanson, Esterberg, and Lindau family members:

Back Row - George Swanson, Walter Esterberg, Alfred Esterberg,
Edwin Lindau, Joel Esterberg; Front Row - Thelma Swanson,
Teckla Swanson, Georgia Swanson, Maxine Swanson
My Aunt Maxine, in the striped dress, remembered it as a hot, dry, and windy day. This was taken on a Sunday and it appears that they are in their Sunday best, possibly going to a church function or a get-together. Most of the gentlemen in the back row were farmers and I see that they were dressed up in suits and vests. It also appears that Joel Esterberg, with the hat in his hand and the watch chain, probably took his hat off so that it wouldn’t blow away. I can just imagine what it felt like because I have been in that area near Huron, South Dakota, and it gets very windy and hot in August.

During the 1920s, dresses were becoming shorter as you can see in this picture. However, my grandmother, Teckla Esterberg Swanson, who is in the front row, still has a dress that is longer than probably what she was used to wearing only about 15 years before that. Her Uncle Alfred Esterberg is just behind her to the right. Teckla’s own brother, behind her to the left, wore glasses and always looked away from the camera because he had a sight problem. He never married, but he enjoyed traveling to many places including the Chicago 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.

Teckla’s husband, my grandfather, George E. Swanson, is at the far left, holding their 6-year-old daughter, Thelma. He had been quite successful in farming up until the Stock Market Crash in 1929. Their one other daughter, Georgia, is the one in the front row next to Maxine. It appears that the daughters had very nice dresses, stockings, and shoes. Again, there was prosperity in farming in those days and the prospect for a good life on the South Dakota prairie.

The most interesting story from this one picture is the one surrounding the gentleman in the back row with the moustache and the light-colored newsboy cap. He was a cousin of my great uncles Alfred and Joel. The Lindau’s small dairy farm was on a high rise of land not too far from the James River, south and east of Huron. His name was Edwin Lindau and his second wife had taken this picture.

Edwin and his family were in San Francisco at the time of the Great Earthquake that occurred on Wednesday, 18 April 1906 at 5 a.m. He lived in the city at the time and when the earthquake hit, Aunt Maxine recalled hearing Edwin Lindau say the earthquake was so bad that it shook him to the ground. He also said that everyone went outside to the park until the shocks were over to escape the falling buildings. Then they watched what happened to San Francisco from the park.

He returned to Huron after his wife, Anna D. Swedland, died in California about 1908. Aunt Maxine always felt that he had much more and better living in California than in Huron. She felt their son was well educated and had a good position, but she didn’t think the son ever came to Huron.

I will never tire of looking at these old pictures because I know someone will say the same about the pictures taken during my lifetime!