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 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!

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