Lyman Parks Weeks was my husband’s great-great grandfather’s younger brother.

He was walking home at 3 in the morning after a night of drinking, and he fell into a hole and got so wedged in that he ended up dying.   What a horrible accident.  The transcription of the article follows the copy of it.

On a side note, almost exactly a year after he died, his widow, Priscilla Galusha Weeks, married his nephew, Lyman Charles Weeks.



Special to the News.
SALIDA, Colo., July 20 – Lyman P. Weeks, an old-time resident of this city, engaged in painting and paper hanging, was found dead beneath a window of his home at 10 o’clock this forenoon by workmen employed in the construction of a business block nearby.
It is said Weeks was intoxicated when he started home at 3 o’clock this morning. He had evidently approached the window to wake his wife, and stumbling fell head-first into a three-foot hole just dug by the Colorado Telephone company, and in which a large pole was temporarily braced.
Weeks’ body was wedged in so closely that had he been sober the work of liberating himself would have been doubtful, An inquest will be held this afternoon.

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Do you ever use divorce records in your research? 

Everyone wants to hear that their ancestors were happily married and lived to celebrate their golden anniversary with their family and friends around them  That’s definitely not always the case though.

I’ve found a few divorces in my family tree – including a few in the 1800’s, which for some reason surprised me.  Why I have it in my head that people were more happily married 150 years ago is beyond me.

One of my great-great grandmothers was committing adultery in two counties and lost custody of her children.  Another of my ancestors left his wife and hadn’t been seen for years, so she was granted a divorce. I realized that if I didn’t have these records to explain the situation, I would have been wondering what had gone wrong. (Of course, we’ll never know all of the details,  but it’s nice to get a bit of information to help better understand the situtation).

The records were extremely helpful in giving information on property they owned, marriage dates, names and ages of children, and often the little details to daily life which are so exciting to us genealogists.

So, why have I put off ordering the divorce records for my great-grandparents, Lars Julius and Eugenia Bergman?  I guess it’s because they are a closer generation than the others I have used in the past.  Even though I never met them (they died 15-20 years before I was born), there are people who knew them that are still living and that somehow makes it different.  It makes me feel like I’m prying a bit.

Despite my initial misgivings, I went ahead and finally ordered the records.  It was incredibly easy (it was delivered as a 30-page PDF) and it gave me a surprising amount of information.Bergman Divorce2

The first thing I noticed when looking through the records is that Lars drank too much.  The reason I found this so interesting is that his own father had died of “excessive consumption of strong drinks” a month before Lars was born.  It makes me sad that he seems to have followed along the same path.

Also, I appreciated the description of their home life.  They had been married for almost 30 years when they divorced, so this wasn’t a sudden decision.  It sounds like the home situation wasn’t a very happy one. My grandma was 14 when her parents divorced, so that means that this was her childhood, and it didn’t sound like a happy one. 🙁

Bergman Divorce 1Some of the pages gave me information on my Grandma Eleanore.  She was attending the University of Washington, but was still unmarried and not working.

Bergman Divorce3
Lars was pretty far behind on child support payments. I wonder if she had any contact with her dad.  Did he ever visit?
Bergman Divorce4It looks like Lars was brought in for not paying child support in 1942.Bergman Divorce5His wages were going to be garnished.  This was helpful information for me, because I found out where he was working – The Standard Table Company.Bergman Divorce6All in all, I’m glad that I ordered the records. They’ve given me a bit more of a picture of their lives, even if it wasn’t all good.


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My 8th great-grandparents John Nicholas Blankenbaker and his wife, Appelonia Käfer were part of the Second Germanna Colony, which came to Virginia in 1717. I visited the Germanna Colony Visitor Center last month, and a few weeks ago we were on a trip to visit friends and were able to stop by and see the Hebron Lutheran Church, which the members of the colony started in 1740 after moving to the area.

It is the oldest church building in continuous use as a Lutheran church in the U.S and one of four surviving wooden churches from Virginia’s colonial period.
I wasn’t able to go inside, as we were just passing through and I hand’t called ahead. It was still so nice to see the area that they lived in though – picturesque farms and rolling hills.  It’s hard for me to believe that just one generation later, my ancestors decided to move on to Kentucky.  Really, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to leave this area!!  It belongs on a puzzle or a calendar or something. 🙂
2016-03-30_00122016-03-30_0014One pleasant surprise was the fact that the church was on the corner of Hebron Church Rd and BLANKENBAKER RD.  Their name lives on in the area. 🙂2016-03-30_0013

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I know that this isn’t technically an obituary, but more of a death notice.  It was such a sad accident.

Nathan W. Rigway was a farmer in McLouth, Kansas. and was married to Eliza (Lida) Stafford in about 1900.

Later in life, he decided to become a minister and they moved to Barclay, Kansas.

Please be careful around railroad tracks!!!


Relatives here received word Monday morning of the accidental death of Rev. Nathan W. Ridgway, Sunday evening at 8:45 at his home in Barclay, Kansas. Mr. Ridgway and wife were returning from church and as they were crossing the railroad track Mrs. Ridgway fell, and Mr. Ridgway in assisting her was struck by the fast express just due at that moment. Mr. Ridgway lived only a short time, but Mrs. Ridgway was unharmed by the accident. On the account of the inability of near relatives to arrive here funeral services will not be held till Thursday morning, at the Methodist church in McLouth, conducted by Rev. Ballard on Tonganoxie. Mr. Ridgway had lived nearly all his life, except the past few years, near McLouth where he was held in high esteem among his friends and neighbors. He leaves a devoted wife, three sons and one daughter to mourn his sudden death.

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Although the majority of my ancestors were Northerners or living in Scandinavia, Ireland, Germany, or Spain during the early years of our country, I cringe now knowing that I have a number of ancestors who were southern slave owners. Up until several years ago, I was in the dark about this subject.  It wasn’t something that had been passed down through my family’s oral history. I knew that I had ancestors who lived in Virginia and North Carolina, but I somehow imagined them as being uninvolved in the horror of slavery.

Reading through old probate records is a wonderful glimpse into the lives of our ancestors.  I, of course, was excited when I had the opportunity to visit the Virginia courthouse where many of my ancestors lived.  I made copy after copy of the old records, and anxiously sifted through them all when I got home from my long trip.  It was so exciting to read through the list of their possessions and get a greater idea of what their lives were like.  The emerging picture wasn’t a pretty one. What was disconcerting, was the fact that along with their furniture and dishes, livestock and farm equipment, there was a list of the slaves they owned.  Humans listed as property.  Their names, guessed age, and their value.  Reading through it, I could tell that the extremely young and old weren’t worth nearly as much as the young adults – who could do hard labor.


As I was reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass this past week, this passage really spoke to me. I imagined that these slaves had to go through something similar at the time of my great-great-great-great grandfather’s demise.

“We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men and women, old and young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep and swine. There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to the same narrow examination. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth, maids and matrons, had to undergo the same indelicate inspection. At this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both slave and slaveholder.

After the valuation, then came the division. I have no language to express the high excitement and deep anxiety which were felt among us poor slaves during this time. Our fate for life was  now to be decided. We had no more voice in that decision than the brutes [animals] among whom we were ranked. A single word from the white men was enough – against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties – to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings. In addition to the pain of separation, there was the horrid dread of falling into the hands of Master Andrew. He was known to us all as being a most cruel wretch – a common drunkard, who had, by his reckless mismanagement and profligate dissipation, already wasted a large portion of his father’s property. We all felt that we might as well  be sold at once to the Georgia traders, as to pass into his hands; for we knew that that would be our inevitable condition, – a condition held by us all in utmost horror and dread. ” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Chapter VII, p. 57-58, written in 1845, Signet Classic Edition, c 1997)

2016-03-25_0003It perfectly depicts what it must have been like to be a slave after the death of their master – to be at the mercy of the white men and their whims. I couldn’t help but think of all of those names listed in the probate records I had read.  What happened to them?  Were they split up?  Were they sold off? Were my ancestors cruel? I know that everyone wants to think of their ancestors as having been kind and godly people.  Pillars of the community. But I can’t possibly tell myself that MY ancestors must have been the nice ones that didn’t mistreat their slaves.  THEY must have been kind and taught them to read and given them days off and of course NEVER beat them.

The truth is, out of all of the probate records I’ve read so far, I haven’t found one slave that was freed after the death of one of my ancestors (as sometimes happened).  They appear to have been split between their different heirs.  Sometimes the younger children would be listed as someone’s son or daughter, but for the most part, I have no way of telling if they were related to one another, so I can’t tell if families were being broken up or not.

All I can do is share the records and hope that it helps someone in researching their family’s history.

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