Author Archives: needlesinahaystackblog

About needlesinahaystackblog

Avid Family Historian who write about her discoveries. Someday I just might write a book so today I blog to keep writing about all the things I find and uncover! Stay tuned for more fun!

Tombstone Tuesday – December 4, 2018 – Olava Hansdatter Andersen Jorgansen

Olava was the daughter of Hans Neilssen and Kirstian Pernille Hansdatter. She was born on September 23, 1828 in the Kjaere Farm on Tjome in Norway.  Tjome is a small Island in the Oslo fjord south west of Oslo about sixty five miles. It is very near the city of Tonsberg which is the oldest recorded city in Norway.  Tonsberg was founded by Harald Fairhair prior to 870 AD.

Hans and Kirstian had five children; Neils Amt(1817), Karen Henrikka (1820), Jorgen (1823), Hans (1826), Olava (1828). Olava married Anders Hansen on January 9, 1859 in Notteroy, Tjome, Norway. They were married for ten years. Anders died in 1869. Olava and Anders had two children; Hans Henrik(1859) and Kirstine Petrine(1863-1871). Olava married a second time to Nils Jorgensen on February 28, 1875.

The house of Olava

The white house on the left is Olava’s house around 1900.

Olava was a devoted Grandmother to Hans’ sons when their mother, Ingeborg Helene, died in 1894.  Hans and Ingeborg had three sons; Andrew (1883), Hagbart (1888) and Haakon 1891). Hans was a sailor and was left to raise his sons without a mother.  The boys lived with their Grandmother, Olava, when Hans was at sea until Hans remarried 1898. Olava remained near them and actively involved with their upbringing,  living a few yards down a lane on the waterfront in the house in the picture above.

When Andrew, the oldest of Hans’ children began sailing, Olava wrote to him regularly.  When he decided to remain in America, she continued to write to him.  She and Hans both begged him to come home to Norway at least for a visit.


Village of Grimstad 1900 – Home of Olava Jorgensen

This is a post card Birthday greeting that Olava sent to her grandson, Andrew, in America for his 25th birthday on September 16, 1908.  The post card shows Grimstad, the village that Andrew had left behind. It shows his house which is the small white house in the distance center left of the post card. Olava’s home is on the shore of the inlet of water that you see in the center of the post card and is out of view in the post card.

One hundred and seven years ago today, Olava died in Grimstad, Tjome. She was buried in the Tjome Cemetery.


In Norway, cemeteries are handled differently. Her grave does not remain because there was no money to maintain it.  In 2017, my sister, my nephew and I visited Grimstad and the Tjome Cemetery.  We could feel the spirit of our relative there but we found no evidence.

Rest in peace, Olava.  I am so happy to have found you and the village that we came from. You were a special Grandmother to Andrew and to me too.

Love, Jan

Olava is my two times Great Grandmother.

Tombstone Tuesday – November 27, 2018 – Emeline Drusilla Swackhammer


Emeline was born on June 6, 1831 in Halton, Ontario. She was the daughter of Jacob and Maria (Thompson) Swackhammer. Jacob and Maria had seventeen children; Nancy Ann (1818) Susan Margaret (1820), Catherine Jane (1822), Christopher (1824), Sarah Matilda (1826), Julie Ann (1827), Hannah Elize (1829), Emeline Drusilla (1831), Robert (1832-1832), Amanda Marilla (1833-1849), Phoebe Cordilla (1835), James (1836-1842), Hiram Denny (1838), John (1839-1842), Mary Priscilla (1839), Martha Rosena (1842), Caroline Lucinda (1845)

She married David Wardell Smith in 1853. They had four children; Albert (1854), Ella (1855), John Hiram (1860), Mary Elisa (1862). They lived in Wellington, Ontario where  David was a farmer.  It appears that they stayed in the same area throughout their lives.

In the 1861 Canadian Census, David and Emeline Smith are found with two small children and David’s parents seem to be living with them. By the time of the 1871 Canadian Census, David’s parents Deborah (69 years old) and John (74 years old) remain living with David and Emeline and they now have four children, Albert, Ella, John and Mary. They are living in Wellington Center, Ontario. In the 1881 Canadian Census, David and Emeline reside next to his parents, John and Deborah. The two youngest children remain at home, John and Mary. In the 1891 Canadian Census, there seems to be some confusion about who lives in what household by the census taker. Albert is married and lives next door to his parents. John and his wife may still be living with Emeline and David. John and May appear to have a son named Alvin. In the 1901 Canadian Census, David and Emeline live in Wellington with John and Albert and their families living on either side of them.


One hundred and fourteen years ago today, Emeline died.  She is buried in Churchill Cemetery where there are many Swackhammer and Smith relatives buried.


Rest in peace, Emeline!

Love, Jan

Emeline is the niece of the husband of my three time Great Grand Aunt.



Tombstone Tuesday – November 20,2018 – Edmund William Barkham


Edmund was born on October 1, 1882 in Commerce, Michigan. He was the son of Marshall and Lillian Cozadd. Marshall and Lillian had five children; Edmund (1882), Alice (1885), Ambrey (1887), Robert (1890), Beryl (1901)

Edmund married Ethel Slater in Traverse City, Michigan on June 17,1913. They lived in Petoskey, Michigan. Edmund and Ethel appear in Genesee County about 1917. Edmund registered for the WWI draft on Sept 12, 1918. He stated that he was self employed and living in Mount Morris, Michigan.

In the 1920 Federal Census, Edmund and Ethel are living in Mount Morris and Edmund is a florist. According to the Mount Morris Directory, Ethel and Edmund are living with Edmund’s parents, Marshall and Lillian, at 802 Stone Street.  They are listed as boarders of Marshall and Lillian. In the 1921 Mount Morris directory,  Edmund and his brother, Robert have formed a partnership called Barkham Bros and it is florist.

By the 1930 Federal Census, Edmund and Ethel now own a home at 550 Elm Street in Mount Morris. He list his occupation as proprietor and the industry is greenhouse. Edmund and Ethel have no children. The 1940 Federal Census shows the Barkham’s have remained in Mount Morris, Michigan. Edmund’s occupation is still a florist. In the 1942 WWII Draft, Edmund lists his name as Edward W Barkham but he signed it Edmund. He registered and stated that he was fifty nine years old and that his birthday was October 1, 1892, which would make him 48 years old.

Seventy Five Years ago today, Edmund Barkham died in Mount Morris, Michigan. He was buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Mount Morris, Michigan.


Rest in peace, Edmund!

Love, Jan

Edmund is the brother-in-law of my Great Grand Aunt Gladys (Losee) Barkham.

Tombtone Tuesday – November 13, 2018 – Merton Royal Losee



Merton (Mert)Royal Losee was born on October 17, 1882 in Thetford, Genesee County, Michigan. He was the son of Newton and Nellie M (Best) Losee. Newton and Nellie had ten children; George Stephen (1879), Edmon Edwin (1881), Merton Royal (1882), Sarah A. (1884), Frank (1888), Harry T (1890), Grover C (1892), Dorothy Emeline (1894), Gladys M. (1898) and Verna (1899).

Mert’s first appearances in a Federal Census is in 1900. He is an eighteen year old young man who is still living with his parents. They live in Clare, Michigan. Newton has a farm and the three oldest sons are helping him on it. In the 1910 Federal Census, Merton is living with his older brother, George Stephen in Thetford Township, Genesee County. He is single and works as a laborer. George, his brother and my Great Grandfather,  is a farmer and he is working with him.


George, Mae, Lester, Mert, Minnie, maybe Nellie or one of the Losee sisters –  in Clio around 1910

On December 14, 1910, Mert Losee married Minnie McComb. I find records which indicate that they were married in Oakland County and in Genesee County, Michigan. Did they feel the need to marry both places?  Mert’s residence is listed as Vienna Township, (Clio) Genesee County, Michigan.   Minnie McComb and Mae Boyer Losee, (George Stephen’s wife) are first cousins from the Holly area.

Mert registered for the draft on December 12, 1918. He lists his residence as Holly, Michigan and his wife is Minnie. In the 1920 Federal Census, Mert and Minnie are living with Amie (Boyer) McComb in Holly. Minnie’s father, Charles had died in 1916. Amie McComb died in 1922. According to the Flint City directories, Mert and Minnie first appear in the Flint Directory in 1924.

In the 1930 Federal Census, Mert and Minnie are living in Flint at 515 W Fifth Street.  Mert is working for the Auto Industry as a tool grinder. In the 1940 Census, Mert and Minnie are still on Fifth Street in Flint.  Mert remains working for the Auto Industry.

I find Mert and Minnie in the Flint City Directory at the same address from 1924 until 1959.  Mert also registered for the World War II Draft in 1942 listing his younger sister, Gladys Barkman of Mount Morris, as his contact.


Mert and Minnie – about 1960

Fifty two years ago today, Mert died on November 13, 1966 seven months after Minnie died. He is buried in the McComb plot in the Beebe Cemetery in Holly Michigan with Minnie.

McComb Plot

McComb Plot



Rest in peace Mert!

Love, Jan

Mert is my Great Grand Uncle.

Tombstone Tuesday – November 6, 2018 – Dorothy S. Densmore


Dorothy S Densmore was born on September 20, 1901 in East China, Michigan. She is the daughter of Charles and Mary (Hayner) Densmore. Charles and Mary had eleven children; Addie Mae (1891),  Normer (1893-1893), Charles Ray (1895), Elizabeth L. (1897), Dorothy S. (1901), Jay Morgan (1904), John Reynolds (1906), Harry Hayner (1908), Mary Katherine(1910), Allan Glenn (1912) and Alvin Chester (1912-1912). They lived in East China, St Clair County, Michigan when Dorothy was born. Later they lived to Cottrellville and Marine City, Michigan.

In the 1910 Federal Census, Dorothy is eight years old and probably attending school. The family lived in Cottrellville, Michigan. The census indicates that all the living children remain at home.  Addie has married Andrew Anderson and they are living with Addie’s parent, Charles and Mary.


This photo of Dorothy was taken shortly before she died. Ninety eight years ago today Dorothy died of a hemorrhage according to her death certificate.


She was buried in the Densmore/Hayner plot in Rosehill Cemetery.

Rosehill Cemetery

Rest in Peace, Dorothy.

Love, Jan

Dorothy Densmore was my Great Aunt.

Tombstone Tuesday – October 30, 2018 – Herman Rehnen


Herman Rehnen was the son of Ulrick and Mary Ann (Hutker) Rehnen. He was born in 1856 in Indiana. Ulrick and Mary Ann had eight children; Bernard (1847), Henry (1849), Maria (1851 – 1855), Joseph (1853-1856), Herman (1856), Johann (1858-1860), Martin (1862), Elizabeth(1866).

In the 1870 Federal Census, Herman is a 14 year old who is still attending school and living at home with his parents in the Third Ward of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He can also be found in several Fort Wayne City Directory entries for the years of 1877, and 1879. In the 1880 Census, Herman is a Saloon Keeper in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is single and living alone on West Main Street. The census was recorded on October 25, 1880.

One hundred and thirty-eight years ago today, on October 30, 1880, Herman died. It was five days after being recorded in the 1880 Federal Census and three days before the November 2, 1880 presidential election between James A. Garfield and Winfield S. Hancock. Based on the newspaper article quoted below, it appears that Herman was a Hancock supporter. It make me think that there must have been lively debates about the presidential race in the saloon which Herman ran.

In the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel on November 3, 1880, there was the following article about Herman’s Funeral.

Gentlemen Everyone

It is a pleasant note amid the animosities engendered by the campaign, the harmony existing between the democratic and republican organizations of this city. It has been demonstrated that blood is thicker than water, and that brotherly love far outshines any jealousies that a political campaign may have cause. The funeral of Herman Rehnen, yesterday afternoon was a piece of genuine sorrow rarely witnessed and never equaled. The deceased was captain of the Hancock and English guards, but was well known among the members of the Garfield’s Legion, who attended the funeral in a body, as in his own Party ranks. And be it said to the credit of those composing the followers of General Garfield may it rebound to their credit as gentlemen and Politicians, that they occupied a position in the procession which no discrimination selected, which no motives but esteem and love for a departed friend made valuable and which they filled with gentlemanly deportment characteristic of such an occasion General Garfield may be proud of such followers, Fort Wayne of such citizens.

Herman is buried in the Rehnen Family plot in the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana according to the cemetery records. No tombstone is available.

Henry Rehnen2

Herman, just so you know, nothing much has changed in politics. Elections are still very hot topics with the Democrats and the Republicans severely divided along party lines. While we are not voting on a president this year, the election is no less heated!

Rest in peace. Herman!

Love, Jan

Herman was the Brother-in-law to my 2nd Grand Aunt. I can’t help but wonder why a seemingly health 25 year old saloon keeper died. Was it an act of violence?  There may be an interesting story here. I just might have to buy his death certificate. I sure wish Indiana and some of the other states would provide death certificates online like the state of Michigan does.

Tombstone Tuesday – October 23, 2018 – Bessie J Hainer


Bessie Hainer was born on August 30, 1890 in Michigan. She is the daughter of Joseph  Hainer and his wife Nettie Louise Currier. Joseph and Nettie had four children; Bessie (1890), Hazel (1995), Elta (1995), Grace (1900).


One hundred and thirteen years ago to day, Bessie died at the tender age of fifteen. She is buried in Duplain Cemetery in Saint Johns, Michigan. Her death Certificate states Motor Paralysis as the cause of death.


She is buried in the family plot in the Duplain Cemetery in Clinton County, Michigan.

Rest in peace, Bessie!

Love, Jan

Bessie is a second cousin three times removed.