Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wordless (mostly) Wednesday: Charles Morrill will

Charles Morrill will
(If you don't know who he is, (a) you must not be from Nebraska and (b) Google him.

I have a hard time being "wordless" so maybe we should change Wednesdays to Will Wednesday. LOL

Monday, May 4, 2020

Ida M. Hanson

A friend told me of the gruesome death of a local lady, Miss Ida M. Hanson.

Ida was born August 4, 1877 to Peter and Brita Hanson in Galva, Henry County, Illinois. She came to Osceola, Polk County, Nebraska with her parents when she was an infant. She completed school, then attended Bryant College, also Peru Normal and Fremont Normal. She taught school for several years. She held the position of bookkeeper in several stores, and later owned and operated millinery establishments in Osceola and Stromsburg
Ida was a successful milliner (hat seller) in Columbus working as head of the department for the last 2-3 years. She possessed a considerable amount of money and securities.

Miss Hanson went missing on May 7, 1933 after leaving Columbus to meet a friend in Chicago. The last communications received from Ida were from Evanston, Illinois and dated July 1933. She kept an appointment May 7 in Omaha with a man she planned to marry. Miss Hanson introduced the man to a friend, C. W. Neal of Chicago. Mr. Neal had an appointment with Miss Hanson in Omaha on May 7 for a business arrangements involving selling her bonds. He purchased her bonds for $10,000 on May 24 in Chicago. At that time she and her husband were planning to travel to South America. On the way for Neal to get the securities deposited, he was robbed. Two days later he saw Miss Hanson with the guy she married, but was unable to catch her to speak to her.
No marriage license was ever found for Miss Hanson in Cook County, Illinois.

Miss Hanson's body was discovered by miners on June 4, 1933 near Florissant, Colorado. She was in a shallow grave, and her foot was sticking out. Her body was mutilated and partially burned. Her body was covered with leaves and gasoline was poured on them in attempt to burn the remains. The left side of her skull was crushed. Sheriff Ed Vinyard of Cripple Creek, Colorado was nearly certain it was her, but waiting on confirmation from the family. Half a paisley shawl, a homespun rug, a shoe, dental work and scars were used to confirm her identity. Her sister and her split the shawl in half after their mother passed away. The shoe was a size 7AAA, an unusual size and the size Miss Hanson wore.
In a September 1934 newspaper it is reported that Sheriff Vinyard knew who the killer was, what his occupation was and where to pick him up. Charles W. Neal, a former convict, went on trial for the murder of Miss Hanson in March 1935. After 41 hours of deliberation, the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life in Colorado state penitentiary.

While living in Osceola she was a member of the Methodist Church, Order of Eastern Star, Woman's Club and Business and Professional Woman's Club, which she had served as president.
She leaves a brother and six sisters to mourn her death. She was preceded by her parents and one sister (Mrs. W. O. Johnson). The funeral was held at the Methodist Church with burial in the Stromsburg Cemetery.

Link to my Findagrave memorial with her gravestone photo (taken by myself):

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Former Nebraska Governor Albinus Nance

This is not a relative, but I periodically write articles for the NSGS publication Ancestree, so thought I would put it on my blog too.

Albinus Nance was born in Stark County, Illinois on March 30, 1848. His parents were Dr. Hiram Nance and Sarah Smith. His father was an eminent physician and surgeon, a descendant of French Huegenots who settled in North Carolina. His mother was of English heritage. He was educated in Kewanee, Illinois until age 16. At age of 16 he enlisted in the 9th Illinois Cavalry to fight in the Civil War. He fought in several battles and was wounded in the Battle of Nashville. After the Civil War he entered Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. In 1870 he was admitted to the bar in the supreme court in Illinois.

He moved to Nebraska in 1871 to homestead and practice law. He settled in Polk county being granted a homestead in 1875. Most of his time he spent practicing law in Osceola and working his real estate business. In 1873 his friends submitted his name to the Republican convention of the thirteenth district of the state legislature. He won at the election by about 2000. While in Polk county, he met notable residents who became his friends: Charles H. Morrill and John H. Mickey. They were members of an Osceola banking firm and started the Stromsburg Bank in 1881.

In 1875 Albinus Nance married Sarah White, daughter of Egbert and Mary White of Farragut, Iowa. To this union, one daughter was born, Helen. Helen later married Walter L. Anderson. Walter and Helen did not have any children, so Albinus Nance doesn’t have any living descendants at this time.

He served in the Nebraska House of Representatives from 1875 to 1878, serving as the speaker in 1877-1878. He also served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1876. In 1878 while he was serving as speaker, he was elected as governor of Nebraska. He was only 30 years old at the time, so he was nicknamed the “boy governor”. He and his administration were popular with the people. He won re-election in 1880 with “wild enthusiasm”. He is known for calling in the Nebraska state militia to subdue the strikers in the Camp Dump Strike; one striker was killed by the militia.

After serving as governor, he left Lincoln shortly after serving and made his home in Chicago. There he was engaged in handling railroad stocks and bonds.
Albinus Nance passed away at the Augustana hospital in Chicago on December 7, 1911 after having pneumonia. Funeral services were held at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Walter Anderson, in Chicago. The body was laid to rest in the family plot in Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska. Offices at the state house were closed for an hour for the funeral time as many of the state officers and prominent citizens attended his service. Governor Nance was a member of the Knights Templar and the Masons. Pallbearers included his friends Charles H. Morrill, A. S. Tibbets, C. O. Whedon, A. S. Raymond, A. W. Field, J. H. McClay, R. E. Moore, and Oliver E. Mickey (son of former governor John H. Mickey). Many other notable men served as honorary pallbearers including doctors, governors, a judge and a captain.

Nance County, Nebraska is named for former governor Albinus Nance and is located just northwest of Polk county where the governor resided for years.

For more about him and photos, go to his Findagrave page:

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Genealogy Review of 2019

Less than a week left of 2019, so it's a good time to see how the year went.


1. Worked on some collateral lines, finding more distant cousins. 
2. Got an additional DNA test done. So with 23 And Me done, my DNA is now on the 4 main DNA sites. 
3. I didn't blog much this year, only about 5 times. So I need to try to do better. I get busy and forget. 


1. I am an avid cemetery photographer. This year my total photos on Billion Graves is 10,835 and total transcriptions of 9933. This is an increase for the year of 8499 photos and 7709 transcriptions. For Findagrave my totals are now 10,842 memorials added and 24,061 photos added. This is an increase for the year of 861 memorials and 2986 photos. 
2. NSGS: I finished my first complete year as president, and also coordinated a conference in Grand Island with Blaine Bettinger, expert on DNA. It was well attended and everyone enjoyed Blaine as a presenter. 
3. GenWeb: I continue to maintain a county site. Didn't update it much this year.


1. I gave several presentations this year: Beginning DNA twice (in Columbus and David City), Cemeteries three times (twice in Arapahoe, once in Lincoln), and Homesteading at NSGS. I also recently got selected to speak in FGS 2020 in Kansas City next September. I am excited to give three presentations at my first national genealogy conference. 
2. I helped several clients this year. 
3. I started digitizing for FamilySearch. This has been quite the learning experience. I know computers well, but have learned a lot more about cameras. Also learned more specifically what FamilySearch wants. 
4. I attended APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) meetings when I could, most of them online.

I think that's about it. What did you accomplish in 2019? Do you set goals for 2020? Leave me a link below. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Amazing Local Man: James Calmar Wilson

I wrote up this article for our local newspaper and the state genealogical publication, so I figured I could put it on my blog.
Note I am NOT related to this man; neither is anyone in my family. I do live in the county where he is from.

James Calmar Wilson is the only son born to John Wesley and Margaret Olive (McCune) Wilson. He was born in Stromsburg, Polk County, Nebraska on October 8, 1900. His mother gave music lessons out of her home, and one student arrived that day and was told that she gave birth that morning so the student’s lesson would be postponed. His mother passed away when he was just 15 years old, and his father when he was 18, so he spent quite a bit of time with his maternal grandparents, Calmar and Julia McCune.

He was educated at home for the first year, and then entered Stromsburg schools in second grade. He graduated from Stromsburg High School with the Class of 1917. He then entered the state university and received his Bachelor’s of Science from that institution. Since graduation, he tried his hand at several occupations including farming, professional musician, college professor, explorer, writer and lecturer. He was an instructor for a time in the English department at the Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

The local paper records the departure of Jim and his friend Francis Flood in August 1927 for their trip around the world, calling them journalists. Francis was the associate editor of the Nebraska Farmer, while Jim is called a farmer, saxophone player and journalist. For this trip they needed passports and also had letters from the army, navy, White House and governor. They carried one suitcase between them, Wilson’s banjo, and a camera. They wrote articles for magazines, and took pictures and motion film for a couple companies. In 1928 with Francis, they became the first white men to cross central Africa from coast to coast. He and Francis made this 1200-mile trip by motorcycle, crossing roads never traveled by wheels. At one point, he was so thankful for a drink he played his banjo in gratefulness. Another day he played his banjo at the Emir’s palace and was offered three of his four wives, which he declined. He has made other travels and explorations to India, Burma, Siam, China, Japan, Canada, Alaska and Mexico. His love of travel and adventure seemed to come from his mother, herself quite a traveler in almost all the countries of Europe.

He married Alice Winona Olmstead on December 24, 1928 in Lincoln, Nebraska. To this union, two sons were born: David James and Steven Calmar.

As of the fall of 1933, he is a lecturer and writer and has been unusually successful. His articles have appeared in many leading magazines, and has lectured before Field Museum, Harvard Club of Boston, The Executives’ Club of Chicago, Colgate University and hundreds of other leading organizations throughout the east. At this time he made his home in northern Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan.

In 1936 Jim Wilson wrote a book “Three Wheeling Through Africa” which describes their trip in 1927-1928 with the motorcycles, at times having to carry them with the aid of camels. He cites the friendliness and helpfulness of the African peoples. This book was briefly on the New York Times bestseller list. The book was originally published by Robbs Merrill of Indianapolis and sold for $3.50.

Image of book from 

I found a copy of this book for a somewhat reasonable price and ordered it. I am browsing through it and will donate it to our local public library. In this book Jim calls himself “a misfit, drifting from engineering to peddling books to vandeville to blondes to music to brunettes to punching cows to Alaska to raising wheat, and now to Africa”. (chapter 3, page 41). 

In 1938-1939 he made another worldwide trip, this time writing for World Letters. After World War II, he taught again, this time at Colorado A & M in Fort Collins.
In 1954, he and Alice moved to a farm near Polk where he finally settled until his passing. There he pioneered the use of native tall-grass prairie grass for pasture, erosion control and prairie restoration. He co-authored a book with his wife Alice and his son Steve entitled “Grass Land” on ecological aesthetic and economical values of our Middle Western conservation society of America. This book is hard to find to purchase, but is available at Nebraska college and university libraries. This book was self-published by “Wide Skies Books” in Polk, Nebraska by the Wilson family. Their son Steve took all the photos in the book and has won international claim as a professional photographer.
He also had an article published in the August 1943 issue of Harper’s Magazine entitled “Don’t Waste the Game Crop!” co-authored with his wife Alice. Actually his wife was quite the writer; she wrote for “The Nebraska Farmer”, “Saturday Evening Post”, and “Family Circle”.

He also wrote many songs and was an accomplished musician, no doubt another talent passed on and encouraged by his talented mother, who herself was an accomplished musician having studied at the New York Conservatory of Music.

James Calmar Wilson has a valley named for him called “Jim Wilson Canyon” in Fall River County, South Dakota. It is in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland near Pine Ridge Reservation. 

He passed away January 31, 1995 and is buried in the Stromsburg Cemetery. 
Below is my photo of his gravestone: 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

August: Husband's relative, Floyd Buchanan

As an avid cemetery photographer, I am often trying to "complete" a cemetery by photographing the entire cemetery and put the photos on Findagrave and Billion Graves. Well little did I know that this part of my hobby would lead me to finding one of my husband's relatives less than 20 miles away from us!

My husband is a Nebraska transplant. He was born in Iowa, but never lived there as they just drove across the river to the hospital. He grew up some in Illinois, where many of his ancestors were from. Most of his life he spent in northwest Indiana. So I NEVER thought I would find one of his relatives in Nebraska, let alone less than 20 miles away!

So I ended up finding three of his first cousins two times removed. Floyd Buchanan, and two of his sisters Iva (Buchanan) Towslee and Maud (Buchanan) Roth. They are three of five children of Mary Regina Foresman and Robert A. Buchanan. Mary Regina Foresman is the daughter of John Piatt Foresman and Anna Filbert (my husband's great-great-grandparents).

Floyd, Iva and Maud were all born in McDonough County, Illinois. Iva is the oldest born in 1867, Maud in 1870, and Floyd in 1876. Also born to this couple were Carrie in 1873 and Grace in 1878. Their early life was spent in McDonough County, Illinois. At the age of 20, Floyd came to Merrick County, Nebraska. Sister Iva came in about 1885 to Merrick County, Nebraska to be with a step-sister (Mrs. Emma Sutton). Maud frequently visited her relatives in Silver Creek, Nebraska and it was there she met her beau, Alvin Roth.

Floyd married Mattie Floss Yeoman and was active in the community. He served as Postmaster from 1930-1935, also on city council, and in IOOF, Masonic Lodge and Rebekah Lodge. Floyd was the father of three daughters. All three siblings were members of the Episcopal church and served as active members. Maud had one daughter, and she (Maud) met her death the earliest at the age of 57. Iva married Edgar Towslee and to my knowledge, did not have any children.

Iva died at age 71 and Floyd at age 78. All three are buried in the Silver Creek cemetery with their spouses. One of Floyd's daughters who passed away young, is also buried there.
My cemetery photos are below. 
I got this information from the cemetery, from census records online and from the newspapers which are now online.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

January: Anna (Jorgensen) Dorman

Since my genealogy meeting got postponed, it's a good time to do a blog post. This one is not an ancestor, but is a relative. My paternal grandfather's sister, my great aunt, Anna (Jorgensen) Dorman.

Anna Marie Jorgensen was born June 23, 1905 at Minden (Kearney county), Nebraska to Jorgen Christian "Chris" and Inger Katrina "Katie" Jorgensen. She was the youngest of three siblings, and also the only one I met as she lived the longest of the three.

In 1907, the family moved to Sidney, Cheyenne county, Nebraska. Her father was farming. They remained there for a long time. The family is still in Cheyenne county, Nebraska in the 1920 census. A short time after that census, her older sister passed away. Martha Irene Jorgensen died March 9, 1920 at the age of 17 from influenza at their home in Cheyenne county. It must be hard to lose a sister when you are 14 years old.

Anna absorbed all the "book learning" she could in school. Anna kept herself busy working and writing the local gossip column. In the 1920s and1930s, from 1932 to 1940, she wrote the social news under the heading "Grand Prairie" for The Telegraph newspaper. She was paid 50 cents a week, and was supplied with paper, pencils, pens, envelopes and 3-cent stamps.

Anna got married a little later in life. At the age of 35, she married Clarence A. Dorman in Sidney, Cheyenne County, Nebraska. To this union three sons and one daughter were born. To my knowledge, two of the sons are deceased, David and Robert. One son and one daughter are still living.

They bought a farm northwest of Sidney, and not long after, oil was discovered on their property. They raised cattle and used the profits from the oil wells for a few additional conveniences.

On December 16, 1971 she lost her husband as he passed away at the hospital in Sidney, Nebraska.

Anna Dorman celebrated her 90th birthday in June 1995 at the Mountain Vista Health Center in Wheat Ridge, Colorado with many cards from her friends from Sidney. Shortly after, on August 11, 1995 she passed away in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

I should have a few photos of Anna somewhere. For records on her, I used the census, newspapers online, gravestone photos and family notes. If/When I find more family photos, I will add them. For now this will have to do. Rest in peace Great-Aunt Anna (or should it be Grand-Aunt). Another post to debate that.