Tuesday Newsday

August Dirk and the Fruits of Frozen Bait

75 Year Old Snags Pike on Frozen Bait

from The Bismarck Tribune, unknown publication date

August Dirk is 75 years old and has been fishing a long time. He also has some angling techniques that run a little different than the ordinary.

For instance, minnows that he doesn’t use up he freezes until he gets the chance to go fishing again and they are simply hooked on the end of an 80 pound test line.

But Dirk’s methods must work. Fishing alone in the Missouri River near Eagles Park the 303 9th St. resident snagged on to a 20 pound, 40 inch Northern Pike that took him 45 minutes to bring in.

Why does he use an 80 pound test line? “Then I don’t lose my line on snags.”

From The Bismarck Tribune, publication date unknown

August Dirk and his Pike August 1968

Mayflower Passage

Trying to Get our Family on the Ship…

“Mayflower e porzh-mor Aberplymm” gant William Halsall, 1882

What happens when you follow the female lines in your family history research? In my case, it leads to some exciting finds!

When following the family of Hannah Sowle, wife of Smith Fancher, I found an interesting possible connection to a Soule family from Blenheim, New York. Further research into this family leads all the way back to Mayflower Pilgrim George Soule!

Of course I was excited, but proof is necessary in the pursuit of accurate genealogy. I found that there is a Facebook group for descendants of George Soule so I asked for permission to join. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would be accepted into the group because the question they ask when you apply is how you are related to George Soule. I was not sure at all that my husband WAS related to George Soule. My hope in joining the group was to find some information to aid me in finding sources to prove or disprove a connection. What I got was a total surprise.

Lineage of George Soule down to my husband’s grandmother

One of the administrators for the page is Louise Walsh Throop. She contacted me a few days after my initial post and confirmed my husband’s line all the way down to the point at which I was stuck – Hannah Sowle. As it happens, the Mayflower Society has published verified genealogies on several Mayflower Pilgrims. George Soule happens to have his known line published down to generation 6 in several publications known as the “pink books”.  Louise Walsh Throop is the author of the revised additions.

She recommended I order the books and join the Soule Kindred in America lineage society. She also recommended that I contact my state Mayflower Membership Society with my husband’s proposed lineage. The researchers will evaluate the connections and then inform me of the missing documentation needed to determine lineage.

I am currently awaiting their reply. In the meantime, I am going through my records to find any holes and am searching for records to fill in the gaps. This is the first lineage society that I have applied to. I’m looking forward to this as a learning experience. I will post updates on the process as we go along.

Tuesday Newsday

A Wedding to Remember

Our favorite Green Bay Packer memory is the game played Sunday, November 16, 1941, at the old city stadium.

Mr and Mrs Robert Reif

We were married the 15th in Oshkosh and, knowing we were (and are) great Packer fans and had only the weekend off from work, my folks wrote and ordered tickets for the game – mentioning the wanted “good seats” because it was our honeymoon.

At halftime the public address announcer introduced us as newlyweds and Russ Winnie – the sports announcer for WTMJ in Milwaukee – set the microphone so that the radio listeners heard the announcement also.

It was a special time for us and an exciting game. Most importantly, the Packers beat the then Chicago Cardinals 17-13. The Cardinals became the St Louis Cardinals and are now the Phoenix Cardinals.

But the Green Bay Packers are still going strong and so are we. If you check the date you will see in 3 months we will have been married 52 years and are also still going strong.

From the Oshkosh Northwestern 5 Sept 1993, Sunday, page 35


Conrad Schalk

Conrad Schalk

Conrad Schalk was born in Germany (probably Baden) 18 February 1865. He was the son of Thomas Schalk and Salise Gunther. Conrad arrived in the US around 1885. In 1887 he was living in Milwaukee working as a carpenter.

He married Maria Charlotta Egide in Milwaukee in 1888. Two children were born to the couple: a son Edward in 1889, and daughter Anna Magdalena in 1890. Maria Charlotta died in Milwaukee in January 1892.

In June of 1892, Conrad remarried to Maria Rehe in Milwaukee. Nine months later daughter Pauline was born. The couple would go on to have 11 more children between 1895 and 1917.

In 1895 the Schalk family was living in Hampden, Columbia County, WI. By 1900 the Schalks had moved up to Wood County and bought a farm in the town of Cameron just south of Marshfield. A severe thunderstorm in 1905 resulted in the barn adn 2 cattle being destroyed by lightning. In 1911, Conrad purchased the former John Gutten farm in the town of Day.

Conrad seems to have suffered from some sort of mental illness. In 1915, he was brought to court for a sanity hearing. He was taken to the county hospital near Wausau for two weeks of treatment while other witnesses were subpoenaed to testify as to his mental health. Conrad must have been able to return home for some time but in 1929 he was committed to the Northern Hospital in Winnebago County. Again, Conrad must have been allowed to return home – he is enumerated on the 1930 census at his home in the town of Day.

Conrad died at his home in the town of Day 11 December 1933. He was survived by his wife Marie and 12 of his 14 children.

Tuesday Newsday

Rare old picture from Fjotland around 1850

If our information about this picture is correct, it is a rare opportunity for us to present such an old photograph.  The little girl’s name is Asgerd, born 1851.  She is sitting on her mother, Torborg Eielsdatter Engedal’s lap.  Torborg Engedal born 1822 – died 1874.  The father, Tor Oddson Eiesland, born 1811 – died 1877.

Last row: Karen Tonette  1836 – 1916 and Nils Olaus 1842 – 1918

Both children from Tor’s first marriage.

Nils Olaus signed up with the 25th Wisconsin Regiment and fought in the Civil War, a war we are watching every week on TV right now.  He was taken prisoner and sat in Libby Prison, Andersonville, GA where 12,286 of the North’s soldiers died during a 14 month period because of hunger and awful treatment.

Asgerd left home at age 18 in 1869 to go to her brother.

The picture was found in a crack in a wall when the house on Eiesland was torn down.  It is supposed to have been taken by a man from Fjotland who had brought photo equipment from the US.  Photography was seldom used in Norway before 1880.  The first photographers came to Flekkefjord around 1860.  It is a rarity to have a photograph from as early as 1850.  There are a few more early pictures from this Norw/American.

There are relatives after Torborg and Tor on Eiesland, Haaland, Gunstenslf, and Veggeland.

Translated from AGDER  No. 99 August 1987

Ancestors in Salem, Massachusetts

Goodale/Goodall/Goodell Family

We had always been aware that my husband had New England ancestry. His grandmother had been told stories of Patriot ancestors that fought during the Revolutionary War and she had passed those stories on to her children and grandchildren. That particular branch – the Ehle family – had come to the colonies in the mid 1700’s and were of German descent. The Ehle brothers and their children married into some of the families descended from some of the earliest settlers to come to New England.

When we (finally) discovered the lost parentage of Harriet Elizabeth “Libby” Sharp, it opened up a whole new avenue of research in New York and other New England states. It turns out that Harriet’s great great grandmother was a woman named Sarah Goodell. Sarah had married Solomon Sharp in Connecticut in 1739 and this is where the Sharp and Goodell family lines meet.

Sarah was the daughter of Thomas Goodale and Sarah Horrell and the granddaughter of Zachariah Goodale and his wife Elizabeth Beauchamp. Zachariah and Elizabeth were both born in Salem and remained residents of Salem presumably until their deaths sometime after 1715. As residents of Salem, they would have been witness to many of the events leading up to and surrounding the notorious witch trials of 1692-1693. Zachariah was listed in the membership of the church lead by Samuel Parris.

Zachariah’s father, Robert Goodale, was an English immigrant who settled in Salem in 1634. In the years following his immigration, Robert purchased land in the village amounting to nearly 500 acres. Robert gifted his children with generous parcels of land when they married, and some he sold off to other residents. In 1660, Robert sold 50 acres to Giles Corey. (You can read more about Robert Goodale here.)

excerpt from Salem Quarterly Court Records and Files

The Corey farm was about a mile from the farms of Zachariah Goodale and his brother Isaac Goodale. The youngest Goodale son, Jacob, was a hired worker at the farm of Giles Corey. In 1675, Jacob was caught stealing some apples and Giles beat him so severely that he died. Giles was put on trial and even though several village members testified against him, Giles was fined and released. (You can read the court transcript here.)

There are varying versions of the story in biographies on Giles Corey, but the overall impression is that some people thought that Giles Corey bought his way out of a murder charge. There is also some speculation that Jacob may have been mentally challenged in some way. In any case, Mr. Corey was evidently not the most popular man in the village.

Giles had a long history with the law in Salem. In the early court records he is mentioned on several different occasions being accused of stealing, shirking his duty on watch, and even arson. Seventeen years after Jacob Goodale’s death, when the strange happenings began in Salem and citizens were being accused with alarming speed, Giles and his wife Martha were both among them.

Martha was arrested first and Giles spoke against her in court. A month later, Giles was arrested on the same charge. Giles Corey was pressed to death in September of 1692 because he refused to plead to the charges against him in court. It took 3 days for him to die. He was 80 years old at the time. Martha was hanged 3 days later. (There is a great website dedicated to the witch trials and you can see images of original documents here.)

It is a gruesome piece of American history and sadly also a part of my husband’s personal history. Try as I might, I cannot find any evidence that the Goodale’s testified against anyone in the trials and they were not among the accused. As Salem residents during this time, the Goodells had to be very aware of the accusations and trials. What would it have been like to live in the village during that time? Surely the Goodells knew many if not most of those accused and those convicted personally. I’m sure the family was present for some of the church sermons, the trials, and the executions.

I wasn’t sure what I would find as I researched this branch of the tree. In reading many of the court documents and various versions of the events published, I was left with a sense of profound sadness for the people who died so needlessly during the hysteria surrounding the trials. It is a relief to know that our ancestors seemed to have skated the edge of this tragic event with out coming to harm or causing harm to anyone else.


Nels Olavus Thorson

Nels Olavus Thorson ca. 1861

Nels Olavus Thorson was born at Eiesland Gaard, Eiken, Haeggebostad, Vest-Agder, Norway on 8 January 1842.  He was the second child born to Thor Oddson Eiesland and his first wife, Asgerd Gassesdatter Veggeland.  Asgerd died when Nels was just 5 years old, leaving him and his older sister Karen in their father’s care.  Thor later married Torbjorg Eielsdatter in 1850 and they would have 8 more children.

Nels emigrated to the US when he was 19 years old.  According to church records, he would have left Fjotland on 9 April 1861.  The family story is that he came with his friend Didrick Njatvan to Winnebago County, WI where they had no family or friends.  With the ships of that time, it is likely that Nels would have arrived at a port on the east coast of the US or Canada about 3 weeks after his departure from Norway.  He would then have had to travel by boat or by train along the Great Lakes for another several days to a week, eventually reaching Wisconsin.

No one knows why Nels came to America.  Perhaps it was the idea of rising above the strict class system in place in Norway, or just the idea of owning his own land and making a living for himself.  For a 19 year old man and his friend, the simple idea of adventure may have been reason enough.

The American Civil War began as Nels was on his way to the US.  The Union Army was offering a $100 bounty, $13 a month, free clothing and food to any man willing to enlist.  In 1861 land was being sold for about $1.25 an acre, so enlisting probably sounded like a good prospect to many of the new immigrants who were trying to start their lives in America, including Nels.

In Wisconsin, there was a desire to have an all Norwegian regiment due to the amount of new immigrants who did not speak much English.  There was a large amount of interest from this group in joining the army due to the incentives offered by the government.  In December 1861, the 15th Wisconsin Regiment was formed at Camp Randall in Madison and mustered into service on 14 February 1862. The man chosen to lead the regiment was Colonel Hans C. Heg, a Norwegian who came to the settlement of Muskego in Racine County as a young boy in 1840 with his parents.

Nels was enlisted under the name Nels Olans into Company B of the 15th Wisconsin Regiment on 6 January 1862 for a 3 year term of service.  (It was not unusual for the men to use alternate names when enlisting.  As you might imagine, there were several “Nels”, “Oles”, etc. and the aliases were sometimes necessary in order that the men could be told apart.)  Nels was mustered into service with the rank of Private on 18 January 1862 and at that time he was listed as 20 years old, not married, and a resident of Winchester, Winnebago County, Wisconsin.

Thorson, Nils Olavus aka Olans, Nils

After about 6 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Nels left there on 1 March 1862 in a snowstorm with his company and regiment to join the war.   He was listed as “present” with the 15th until September 1863.  As such, he would have participated in several significant events including; the battle at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in Tennessee, the raid on Union City, Tennessee, the 400 mile retreat with U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell up to Louisville, Kentucky, the Battle of Chaplin Hills, the battle at Knob Gap, Tennessee, where the 15th captured a brass cannon, the Battle of Stone River, Tennessee (also called the Battle of Murfreesboro) where the 15th was cited for bravery, U.S. Major General Rosecrans’ Tullahoma campaign, and General Rosecrans’ Chickamauga campaign which would be the last battle that Nels would participate in.

Nels was present at the early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on 28 August, which the 15th led.  He was also present at the 19-20 September, 1863 fighting at Chickamauga, Georgia – the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War.  There he survived the vicious fighting around Viniard’s Farm on the first day, but was taken prisoner around noon on the 20th near Brotherton Field during Longstreet’s Breakthrough.  That was the last time he was with the 15th during the war. 

About 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.  Colonel Heg was one of those killed at Chickamauga.  Before he died, he said that “he was glad the 15th had held their places like men and had done their duty to the last”. His own life, he said, was given for a just cause.

Colonel Heg’s body was returned to Muskego, Wisconsin where he was buried.  He was the highest ranking officer from Wisconsin killed during the war. Today, at Chickamauga battlefield a pyramid of cannon balls stands to mark the spot where Hans Christian Heg fell at Viniard’s farm along with a monument to the 15th Wisconsin Regiment.  In Madison, on the grounds of the State Capitol, stands a statue of Col. Heg.  Replicas of this statue stand at Lier, Norway and at the old Muskego community of Racine.

After the battle at Chickamauga, Nels was marched under guard to Tunnel Hill, Georgia, along with other captured 15th soldiers.  Then he was transported by railroad train to Atlanta, Georgia, and further on to Richmond, Virginia, where he was confined beginning 29 September 1863. The Confederates held Nels as a prisoner of war for 359 days before paroling him to Federal authorities on 12 September 1864.  He was then reported as being “sick” in a U.S. Army hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, and then later in a hospital at Louisville, Kentucky.

Although it is not specifically stated in his papers from the war, I found the name Nels Olans on the list of prisoners held at Andersonville, Georgia – the most notorious prison camp in the south.  When Nels was taken prisoner, he weighed 180 pounds.  At the time of his parole, he weighed just 106 pounds. 

Nels was mustered out of service on 18 January 1865 at Madison, Wisconsin 6 weeks after the expiration of his 3 year term of service and the muster out of Company B on 1 December 1864, at Chattanooga Tennessee.

After the war, Nels returned to Winchester and would marry a young widow named Birgit Knudsdatter – known better to most of us as Betsey Johnson- on 11 November 1867.  Betsey had a daughter, Evalina, from her first marriage.  Over the years, Nels and Betsey would continue to live on their farm in Greenville, Outagamie County and would raise 10 more children together.

In 1917, just a year before his death, Nels would write a letter to the Adjutant General’s office describing an event that took place during the war in which he saved the life of an officer.  Nels felt that his actions placed his own life in jeopardy and that he therefore was deserving of the Medal of Honor.  The reply from that office was simply that they could not find his name in the roster of the soldiers of the 15th and that his request could not be further investigated for that reason.

I found that reply interesting in that they seemed to be able to find his name in order that he received not only his regular pension, but also the pension due him for his time served as a prisoner of war.  His name is also clearly listed in the index of civil war soldiers compiled by the state in 1885, 1895, and 1905.

Nels died on 29 September 1918 at his home.  His funeral was held on 1 October 1918 in Winchester.  It was written that his funeral was one of the largest ever held at Grace Lutheran Church.  According to the diary of Adolph Erickson, the pallbearers were his five sons Tobias, Gilbert, Alvin, Julius, Charlie and his nephew Theo Larson.  Six surviving members of his Regiment also accompanied the casket.  At the time of his death, he left behind Betsey and 10 of their children, 51 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.