Thursday, January 23, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 4: My Grandma Helen's Grandmother: Anna Melichar Hroch

Anna Melichar (my 2x great grandmother) was born in March 1865 in Bohemia.

Charles Bridge in Prague

At age 14, she left Bohemia with her parents Thomas (47) and Josefa (44) and 3 sisters Maria (21), Franziska (12), and Valentina (4) and a brother Alois (8) and traveled to Bremen, Germany where she boarded the ship named The Rhein.

Vltava River in Prague

   Don’t know how long the voyage lasted, but the ship had 2 masts, so I imagine it took many weeks.  They arrived in New York, New York on 7 Apr 1879.

click image to enlarge

They went to Gage County, Nebraska (south of Lincoln).  Three years later at age 17, she married James Hroch in 1882.

Her in-laws, the Hrochs, (John and Bertha and their 3 sons James, John and Joseph) had also emigrated from Bohemia (ca 1868).  They went to Iowa first where they had three children and then on to Gage County where their seventh child was born.

Anna and James moved to the Lake George, Charles Mix, Dakota Territory (southern part of SD, near the Missouri River) to farm. They had seven children:  Frank (1883), Mary (1885), John (1887), Joseph (1891), Emma (1893), Eliza (1898) and Henry (1900).

By 1910, they have moved back to Gage County with their two youngest children, and James is doing odd jobs.

1930 finds Anna and James in Wharton TX (60 miles SW of Houston) and James is a merchant dealing in general merchandise.

1940 finds Anna living with one of her sons and his family in Wharton. Perhaps James has died by this time.

Anna dies on May 1, 1941 in Wharton and is buried there.

click image to enlarge

During this research I found many different spellings for Hroch:
1880 1885 1895 1900 1910 Hroch
1885 Wroach
1910 Hisch
1930 Roch
1941 Horoch

I was curious about Bohemia, and so here are a few quick facts:

  • Bohemia is the area around Praha (Prague) in the Czech Republic.  
  • The Czech Republic is about the size of South Carolina. 
  • Prague has a population of about 1.1 million people.  
  • They speak Czech which currently has about 12 million native speakers, and is the majority language in the Czech Republic.  The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century.  
  • The Czech were recognized as Austrian citizens on immigration records.
  • It is generally believed that more then 350,000 citizens of Czech origin streamed to the U.S. between 1850 and 1914.
  • “The fare ranged from 80 to 100 guldens per person and was paid in silver, as the Austrian money was not accepted abroad. The voyage  lasted  up to 3 months by sailboat.“
  • Reasons for immigration: at the “end of the 1870s, most emigrants were peasants who despaired of acquiring land along with the social position it conferred, and who generally aspired to earn a living by farming in their new homeland.”
  • “Interest in America grew especially from the 1860s, when the Homestead Act and the immigration treaty between the United States and Austria-Hungary opened the door to mass emigration.”

1880, 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940, United States Federal Census
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
Passenger Ships and Images
South Dakota, State Census, 1895
South Dakota, Territorial Census, 1885
Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982
Nebraska State Census, 1885

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 3: Ann Matilda Tipler Peck

Ann Matilda Tipler Peck
I am always interested in finding immigration stories about my ancestors.  The Pecks emigrated from England in the mid 1800s. They seemed to have thrived here.  There must be hundreds of descendants from this couple.  Maybe some day I will try and figure that out.

It was their son George who left Neenah, WI and went west to the Dakota Territory where he met Nyda Beliel (week one) in 1883.

My 3x great grandmother, Ann Matilda Tipler was born on 25 Oct 1835 in Garrid, Lincolnshire, England (130 miles north of London) as the sixth of twelve children.

Age 16:  Ann married John William Peck, on 16 Oct 1853 in Timberland, Lincolnshire, England, and they had 14 children in 23 years.  She had her first baby at age 18 and her last at age 42.

Age 22: Ann emigrated from Liverpool to New York on 02 Jan 1858 on the ship "Calhoun". She sailed with her two brothers in law and one sister in law and her two children Lizzie (5) and Billy (3).

“When my mother, Ann, came to this country, she was on a sailing vessel 7 weeks.  She said the journey was fraught by several storms, so that things rolled from side to side on the vessel and was endured by much discomfort.”   Excerpts from a letter written by Ann’s daughter Grace.  (She was the only member of her family to emigrate:  her parents and siblings all stayed in England)

About one year earlier, her husband John and his brother Henry sailed on the Jeremiah Thompson Ship and arrived in New York on 22 Dec 1856.  (5 of the 6 Peck siblings emigrated from England to the US)

 “John and Ann lived in (Leavenworth, Kansas Territory) where Ann operated a bakery.  I've heard my mother tell often she took in $35 before breakfast.  Now that was way back in 1863, so that was considered quite a sizable sum.

As near as I remember, from my mother telling me, they moved to Cherry Valley (Illinois).  There they operated what was known as “The White Horse Inn.”  That place is where the mail riders use to change horses on their long routes of delivery.  It was at this same place that George (age 2) fell off the porch and broke his hip.  That was the cause of his one leg being shorter than the other, which made him lame for the rest of his life.

It was at this White Horse Inn, that they heard quite a commotion under the porch and John found that a big snake had swallowed several baby chicks.  He got a pitch fork and held the snake thru its head and then proceeded to cut in between the lumps on the snake’s body and thus brought out all the little chicks alive. Now this was told me as a true incident.

Ann was quite a horse woman.  She owned a spirited black mare in Cherry Valley, and used to ride the range.
As near as I can make out the folks moved to Neenah, Wisconsin in 1868.  They lived in rented places for quite a few years and then bought the old Tipplers place. The purchase price was $450.  I can remember as a very small child (ca 1877) as the Indians in their red blankets would come to the back door for handouts—used to scare the life out of me.

There we had 3 teams of horses as John used to carry freight from Neenah to Green Bay; also had 3 cows & sold milk at 4¢ a quart.”  Excerpts from a letter written by Ann’s daughter Grace.

Ann died on April 20, 1916, in Wausau, Wisconsin, at the age of 80, and was buried in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Her husband John died 3 years later on 3 Sep 1919 in Roundup, MT at age 88, and was buried in Neenah, Wisconsin.

  • Excerpt of letter from Grace Peck Hunt to grand-niece Bettye Whitehouse Clothier c. early 1967 (about age 93). Submitted by tiarella9 to 2011
  • 1841 England Census
  • 1851 England Census
  • England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915
  • New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
  • 1859, 1865  Kansas State Census
  • 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 US Federal Census
  • Wisconsin, Find A Grave Index, 1836-2012
  • The Daily Northwestern Newspaper 1916
  • Montana Death Index, 1907-2007
  • RaymondBanks24 originally shared the church picture and passenger list on
  • tiarella9 originally submitted this marriage certificate and photos of John and Ann on

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2: My Grandma Olive's other Grandmother: Ragna Knutson Locken

My grandmother's maternal grandmother was
Ragna (Randi) Knutson Locken.

She was born right after Christmas on 28 Dec 1868 in Gulbrandsdalen, Norway, about 90 miles north of Lillehammer, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics.

I don't know anything about her young life in Norway, nor about her parents.

At age 24, she married Ole Hansen Locken (age 22) on 11 Oct 1892 in Norway.

After about 10 years of marriage, he emigrated in 1902 and she came in 1903 (age 34) with 4 children in tow, ages 9, 7, 4 and 2, along with her 18 year old nephew.

The brand new ship, christened the Hellig Olav had made it's maiden voyage to New York just 1 month prior. On it's second voyage, it left Copenhagen with about 590 passengers and traveled north to Christiania (Oslo) and picked up 895 more. So the ship was carrying nearly 1500 passengers. The trip took 11 days.

Hellig Olav
The manifest says that they traveled in steerage (which normally was pretty miserable), but "there was no steerage on the ship, as they operated with a third class."
Third Class 2 person Stateroom
"The third class staterooms, all of which were spacious, and well ventilated, were comfortably furnished with iron beds, springs, mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets, wash-stands, mirrors, towels, soap and water. They were also supplied with fresh drinking water, and kept in order by stewards and stewardesses. They could accommodate two, four and six passengers, enabling whole families to keep together."

"Meals were served by uniformed waiters in clean dining rooms at tables set
Third Class Dining Room
with clean linen and porcelain tableware, and the food was of good quality, cooked in the palatable Scandinavian style, served plentifully, and with a wide variety in the menus. Ample deck space for open air promenading and exercise was reserved for the third class passengers."

"Ladies' saloon, well furnished comfortable smoking rooms, barber shops and many baths were a few of the conveniences furnished to those traveling in third class. The services of a physician and nurse, and the facilities of a well equipped hospital and dispensary were at the service of passengers.

The same standards of courtesy and cleanliness that made traveling in the first and second cabins were also found in third class. Women and children traveling alone were in the care of a special matron and stewardesses." courtesy of:

They left Christiania on May 7 and arrived at Ellis Island, New York on May 18, with a final destination of Willmar, Minnesota. 
Ellis Island Certificate
Randi had $26 dollars on her, (equivalent to about $700 today). Her passage had been paid for by her husband and she had a ticket for transportation to Willmar by train? or by boat? traveling 1300 miles inland.

The family shows up in the 1905 Minnesota State Census. Baby Oscar was born in 1904, in Willmar. Her husband was a tailor, and she was a housewife. Then she has her 6th baby Reynold in 1906.

And then so sadly, on 20 Oct 1907, Randi passes away at age 38 from typhoid fever, a bacterial disease resulting from contaminated food or water.
click image to enlarge


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1: My Grandma Olive's grandmother: Nyda Denese Beliel

Nyda Beliel
Nyda Denese Beliel was born on 18 Dec 1859 in Washington Iowa, a first generation American.  Her parents immigrated from Quebec,Canada in 1856.  She was the fourth of thirteen children.  I imagine that their household was bilingual, French and English.

She grew up in Washington, (1860, 1870 census) and then she went to college and lived with her aunt in the neighboring town of Delta. Both she and her aunt were listed as milliners.  (1880 census)

She wrote a letter documenting her adventures in 1883 (when she was 23 years old).  Here are a few excerpts:

In March of 1883 I left college and joined two friends in Minneapolis.-Mrs. Axtel and daughter Margaret, and came to Dakota (Territory) with them.

...Then we made our first trip by compass to the Missouri river, where they had filed homesteads without seeing them. They wished me to file a pre-emption.

...Early the next morning we went on our way, traveling several miles before eating our breakfast.  We reached a tent hotel about noon where the town of Rosco is now located.  We got a very good dinner.  There was a crowd of young men there waiting to file on claims.  They apologized for staring at us so much, as they said they had not seen any women for over three months."

...So just before reaching Capitol Hill, which was very steep and rocky, we saw coming toward us what we thought was an Indian on horseback.  Miss Margaret Axtel got her revolver out and loaded it.  When he rode up to us, he said that Captain Houser had sent him to pilot us in.

...We found our claims and returned to Aberdeen for me to file.

...I had only one day left to establish my residence. A Mr. Merin, who is still residing in Walworth county and one of its prominent citizens, had promised to plough fifteen acres, but had not yet arrive. So Mrs. Axtel took me down to my claim, which was two miles away. I took a lunch and a spade and some lath. She left me there. I dug a well down by the creek six feet deep, as deep as I could, as I was only five feet five. I put lath all around it so nothing could fall in. Then I walked back. I had no fear of directions. I was very happy as I was greatly fascinated with this whole country. When I reached home there was fear on their faces, as they said I was taking a great risk to try and find my way back.

...We then went into LeBeau, where Miss Margaret had bought eleven hundred dollars worth of lots. They built a nice cottage and I got a position as assistant in the post office, which was a distributing office. There were four stage coaches coming in twice a week from Bismark, Blunt, Pierre, and Aberdeen. One was a Concord coach. The winter was a severe one and often the stages did not get in until dark. So we had to stay up until eleven or twelve at night to get the mail ready to be taken just at day break. The post office was then a good frame building with a general store connected to it.

That was a never to be forgotten winter. All the people there were wonderful. All happy, expecting a railroad in the spring. We held Sunday school and church services in a log building with board put across empty nail keys for pews. I never got so much enjoyment out of church work as I did there. This same log building was also used for a school building, and we organized and held a literary society there, which was the envy of all along the different stage routes. We had college women, lawyers, a major, a colonel, an ex-governor and many other people of note, who gave us their very best productions. That winter was an enjoyable one. I'm sure it lives in the memories of all who were there.  

Mrs George Peck, since 1884, former Nyda Beliel.

Age 24: She married John George* William Peck, on 16 Nov 1884 in Le Beau, Dakota Territory (now SD).

They had 4 children.
Age 25: Grace Lucille Peck b. on 26 Oct 1885 in Le Beau, Dakota Territory.
Age 28: Flossie Gwendolyn (Ann) Peck b. on 11 Jun 1888 in SD.
Age 36: Raymond Tom Peck b. 11 Feb 1896 in Selby, SD.
Age 41: Margaret Elizabeth Peck b.19 Mar 1901 in Edmunds, SD.

Age 50-70: She shows up in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census living in Isabel, SD.  (where my grandmother was born)  My grandmother remembers going to her house after school to read the bible to her.  She was blind.  That was probably in the late 1920s.

Age 71: She was widowed.

Age 72: She died 6 months after George on 18 May 1932 in Perkins, SD.