Vesterheim Museum & Decorah Genealogical Society

The Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, is dedicated to Norwegian heritage. (I learned about it while researching places that might help me with my BCG portfolio projects.) It contains an amazing collection of Norwegian artifacts depicting life in Norway and in immigrant America. The craftsmanship of the items on display is beyond description. Walking through the four floors of exhibits, not to mention the many buildings on the grounds behind the museum, one can experience life in 19th century Norway, leaving a beloved family and homeland for America, and the immigrant’s life in their new home. Visiting a site such as this always puts me in awe of the fortitude of our ancestors. We owe them so much. Learning about their lives is one way to show our gratitude for their sacrifices.

This trunk came with Bertha Knuddt. Skaug to America in 1857. It belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother, immigrant from Norway. It is a treasured family heirloom. Many of these are on display in the Vesterheim Museum, along with hundreds, possibly thousands, of other finely-crafted items.

As I continue on this journey to certification, I am amazed by the many unexpected turns my path has taken. One of the staff at the museum, upon learning of my interest in genealogy, suggested I visit the Decorah Genealogical Society. This was not on my radar, but I was ecstatic to find a new repository of information. For anyone interested in researching ancestors from Winneshiek County, Iowa, Norwegian or otherwise, I highly recommend you visit the Decorah Genealogical Society.

The librarian/archivist on staff the day I visited was wonderful! She helped me find Norwegian emigration records and birth records I had not yet located on my own, taught me about Norwegian internet sites I had not used before, and took me on a tour of their society’s abundant resources. At least six rooms filled with books, microfilm, maps, and more. What a goldmine I stumbled into!

You just never know where and when you will find that one record, that one repository, that one person who will help break through a brick wall. The joy is in the journey!


A Special NGS Moment

NGS Family History Conference 2018 ended a few hours ago. Now to put all of this new-found knowledge to work. I attended about 15 sessions, reviewed successful BCG portfolios, reconnected with friends, ate some great food, and bought a few souvenirs.

It was interesting to learn about how many Dutch immigrants settled in this area of Western Michigan. Over the past twenty years I have been researching my father’s paternal line in earnest. I have discovered that they came from Ostfriesland, which included northwestern Germany and northeastern Netherlands, not far from the North Sea. The Davids branch, his paternal grandmother’s line, have roots in the Netherlands. I have located records for the Brinkman line in Marienhafe, Engerhafe, and Siegelsum, all part of the province of Hannover, kindgom of Prussia, during the years before their emigration.

One of the highlights of the conference for me was a special presentation shared by Yvette Hoitink, a certified genealogist from the Netherlands, at last night’s NGS banquet. She shared a heartfelt story of a Dutch tradition that occurs every May 4th and 5th–Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) and Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag), respectively. At about 8 pm, after explaining the significance of these two special days, Yvette invited everyone at the banquet to stand in silence for two minutes in honor of those who lost their lives in WWII, and in wars since, fighting for freedom from tyrrany and oppression. The following link explains those special days in the Netherlands.

May 4 and May 5: Remembrance Day And Liberation Day In The Netherlands

The more I study and learn about my family’s history, the more I want to learn and know. Maybe it is the same with you. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” As I come to know more about the lives of my ancestors, about my roots, I am beginning to understand what parts of me come from each of them.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

We don’t have company over for dinner very often, but when we do, I like to try out new recipes. I figure, if company gives it the thumbs up, then it is good enough to make again. I mean, there are no kids at home to try things out on, so have to go fishing in a different pond, so to speak.

Well, if you know one thing about me, you know I love chocolate. I mean, I LOVE chocolate! But I am trying to lose weight. Such a slow process! Well, for dinner last night, I decided to try a new dessert. A chocolate fudge avocado cake, of all things. As I said, I love chocolate, but avocadoes are pretty dang good, too. It sounds like an odd coupling, but so does chocolate-dipped bacon. I have been pleasantly surprised by the yumminess of both.

The cake recipe was published in the April 2018 edition of The Costco Connection, created by Vevian Vazmediano for Index Fresh, Inc., who were evidently marketing their avocadoes through Costco. The recipe is full of healthy alternatives to the normal cake batter, like avocadoes instead of oil, honey instead of sugar,  and almond flour instead of wheat flour, along with eggs, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. The frosting was made from avocadoes, honey, cocoa powder, and coconut oil. No butter.

All four of us gave it our seal of approval. It is pretty great to find a recipe full of healthy ingredients that tastes good, also. Having my cake, and eating it too. Yahoo!







End of Hiatus

I can’t believe it has been six months since I last posted here. I had so many thoughts for writing, but never got back to it. Then, life got hectic with travel and studies. I successfully completed ProGen 29. A huge accomplishment! I was accepted into Gen-Fed 2017 and turned that into a five-week trip: a week in DC, a week in New England (family history research), a week in Minneapolis (IGGP Conference), and then about two weeks traveling with spouse, sister, and brother-in-law back to California. Road Trip!! Reunited with family, met cousins for the first time, saw new sites… I have so much to share!!

Today is just about getting my feet wet again in the blogging pool, like starting over in a way. I have felt a combination of guilt and anxiety about restarting, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” they say.  Welcome back!