I’ve been perusing the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog again.  I just can’t help myself.  I’ve decided to start a weekly post about neat things I find each year as I “shop through the ages”.

I love seeing things that my ancestors may have bought.  Some seem silly, but then again – have you ever seen the stuff they sell on infomercials at night??  Times haven’t changed that much, have they?

This week, I am highlighting the 1896 Spring Catalog.  Come shopping with me.:)

  • A combination child’s carriage and chair. This looks like quite the contraption!  Being a mother, I can appreciate how nice it is to have your baby tied down for a bit.  I’m only partially kidding.  There are so many things for them to get into!  And this is the age before the exersaucer – and Cheerios (Or maybe not.  I don’t know how long Cheerios have been around).  Anyway, the chair actually lowers and the wheels come out.  You can then push your baby around the house.  I don’t know that it would be appropriate for outside though.  The wheels look a bit tipsy to me.
  • “Delay is dangerous when bargains like this are flying around”.  I love the ad campaign to sell this couch, which is billed as “The Greatest Thing in The World”. 
  • How about a telephone?  I’d love to have one of these antiques someday.
  • Or a “concert roller organ”?  I wonder what the quality of the music this produced was.
  • A “Scholar’s Companion” whatever that is.  I couldn’t quite figure it out.  Is it a small safe to lock your special possessions inside? Any ideas?
  • What about a full beard – or maybe just a goatee?  These couldn’t have looked real.  Why on earth would someone have needed these?  Maybe for a play?  I can’t imagine someone actually walking around town in one of these – even if you spent the extra money for the “ventilated” version.
  • Anybody up for a board game?  How about “The Rival Doctors”? It is the “race for a rich patient by the doctors of a country village”. 
  • Maybe you’re in the market for a new hat.  Doesn’t this one look comfortable?
  • What kid wouldn’t want to wear this?  Doesn’t exactly make you want to run outside and climb a tree, does it?
  • I have to admit that after having nursed 5 babies myself, I have often wondered how on earth women could possibly feed their babies when they were wearing a corset. I could imagine some very hungry, screaming infants out there, waiting for their moms to “get to the food” so to speak.  Apparently, they had nursing corsets!  Really!
  • Don’t slouch around your mom.  She might make you wear one of these shoulder braces! “A Cure for Round Shoulders”.
  • I can’t imagine living without a full bathroom in the house. I suppose if you have to have a “toilet set” though, it might as well be pretty. It lists the different pieces included in the set.  Does anyone know what the difference between a chamber and a slop jar are?  Just curious.  I’m sure that neither had a very nice function.
  • Could you see yourself cruising around the neighborhood on this? I would imagine that you’d end up pushing it more than actually riding.
  • What’s that you said? Huh?  Still can’t hear you, Sonny!
  • Wow, cameras have come a long way! 
  • And I’ll leave you with this: a picture of a full dining room from 1896.

See you next time, when we shop through 1897!

  • MN Family Historian - April 23, 2011 - 8:57 am

    Fun post! That chair/carriage thing looks like a death trap to me.

    The organ is the kind that organ grinders used to play. I wonder if the monkey comes separately? The latest issue of the Minnesota Genealogist had a story about Italian immigrants, including an organ grinder nicknamed “Monkey John,” who was quite rich.

    The cheapest camera was listed for $22.50, so based on inflation (CPI), it would cost $603 today! ($1 @ 1896 = $26.80 @ 2011) Definitely not a hobby for kids back then.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - April 28, 2011 - 1:37 am

      Maybe it was the Italian immigrants buying up the organs?ReplyCancel

  • Lori - April 23, 2011 - 10:24 am

    I LOVE this stuff. I have been going through some of my old newspapers looking for interesting items to share. Thanks for posting these!ReplyCancel

  • Shaz - April 23, 2011 - 3:05 pm

    I had a wooden high chair that folded
    over backwards to become a chair and
    table for the child. I would not
    remember this except it was used for
    my younger brother 10 years later. I tried
    looking for one to post the photo, but
    the ones I found had already been
    auctioned off.ReplyCancel

  • Sheri Fenley - April 23, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    Catalog shopping is going to be the financial ruin of me. I am a hopeless addict. I go crazy when something I ordered isn’t on my doorstep in a couple of days. I wonder how long our ancestors had to wait?ReplyCancel

    • Jen - April 28, 2011 - 1:34 am

      I don’t know Sheri. I’ll have to see if I can find the answer somewhere in the catalog. Probably a lot longer than a couple of days though!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Pat Kuhn - April 24, 2011 - 12:03 am

    Having nursed 3 children I loved the nursing corset. I wonder about it coming in White or drab. what color is drab?ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - April 24, 2011 - 11:57 pm

    What a wonderfully fun post! I recently found google newspapers and have been having fun looking and clothes to date photographs. Of course as I “read” the newspapers, I have to stop and look at all the ads. It takes me way too long….ReplyCancel

  • Wendy B. - April 27, 2011 - 2:30 pm

    I love the FULL BEARDS!! My friend, Lorna, keeps trying to get me to knit one for her. I’d rather just purchase it from Sears Roebuck!ReplyCancel

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Another week closer to the NGS Conference. I’m starting to get really excited!!! Leave a comment if you’re attending. I’d love to know who I might run into there!

  • Heather at Nutfield Genealogy had a great post on the 1940 census.  Only one more year!!  I am hoping that I might find some answers about my great-great grandmother, Ella Jane Hattery when it comes out.  I love the question about where they were living in 1935.  How helpful!!
  • Dru from Find Your Folks had a great post about Alternative Ancestral Family Tree Styles.  If I didn’t know who my father was (and had no hopes of finding out) then I probably wouldn’t want to display my tree in the traditional way – there would be an entire blank side.
  • You can now get a digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine.  While I enjoy reading “real” magazines and books (I haven’t jumped on the Nook bandwagon quite yet), they do take up a lot of room – especially when you move around as much as I do.  I’m considering a digital subscription when I go to renew.
  • Jo from Images Past posted about Greyfriars Bobby for Sentimental Sunday.  I love old cemeteries.
  • I loved Brenda from Journey to the Past‘s post “Only a Genealogist Would Go North For Spring Break“.  I love genealogy trips.  I’m hoping to make one of my own next month after the conference.:)
  • Heather from Leaves for Trees posted about “The enigma of the perhaps ancestor“.  We all know how this feels!
  • I enjoyed Nancy’s post “Photograph After a Family Argument“.  Don’t we all wish we knew what was really happening in those old photographs?  Head over to My Ancestors and Me to read her post.
  • Heather Rojo - April 22, 2011 - 10:58 am

    Hi, Jen! Thanks for putting me on your “Follow Friday” list again this week. If you can’t wait for the 1940 census, remember that you can always pay for a sneakpeek ahead of time if you are willing to pay the $65 fee!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda Leyndyke - April 22, 2011 - 11:19 am

    Thank you, Jen for mentioning me in your ‘Follow Friday’ list. I love genealogy trips, hope your trip is a good one.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - April 25, 2011 - 12:00 am

    Thanks so much for highlighting my photograph. I appreciate it.ReplyCancel

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I finally got the latest issue of Family Tree Magazine in the mail a couple of days ago.  For some reason, my friend Cherie got hers a few days before me!  Probably because her name is at the beginning of the alphabet and mine is at the end.  Or maybe because she lives in Texas.  Who knows.:)

It did arrive though.

And it was very cool to see my blog “in print”.

I had to post here to show my mom – since the magazine isn’t in stores yet.:)

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Reinhold Ambrosius Klarström was the eighth child of Carl Magnus Klarström and Christina Elisabeth Bennberg.

He was born April 4, 1882 in Älvkarleby, Uppsula, Sweden.

His family moved to Lenhovda in 1885, then on to Alem in 1889,

and finally to Gavle in 1890, where his father died that same year.  He would have been about 8 when he lost his father.

Many of his siblings immigrated to the US.  Maria left in 1883, when he was 1. Christina Josefina left in 1887, when he was 5. Olga in 1892, and Hjalmar and Robert in 1893 when he was 11 and Klara in 1898.  Even though he had 9 siblings, it looks like he didn’t grow up with many of them in the house.

He decided to follow in their footsteps and he immigrated in 1903.

Swedish parishes kept “moving out” records when someone left the parish.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Here is his moving out record from Gavle in 1903:

And here he is listed on the passenger lists.  He was headed to his sister’s in Boston – Christina Josefina Jensen, wife of Anton Jensen.

In 1908, he signed his Declaration of Intent to become a naturalized citizen.  His physical description said that he was 5’10 1/2″ tall and 165 lbs – with a light complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes.

He married Jennie Lindberg in about 1909 (I’m not sure where).  She was born in Massachusetts, but her parents were both born in Sweden. Did he meet her while living in MA?

Their first son, Raymond William Klarstrom, was born on May 9, 1910.

In 1910, they were living on George Avenue in Waukegan, Lake, Illinois.  He was listed as a machinist in a mill.  I wonder what made them move to Illinois, when the majority of his sisters were living in the Boston area.  Did his wife’s parents move there?

He was naturalized on 7 Mar 1911.

In about 1913, a daughter, Alice was born.

He registered for the draft in September of 1918.  At the time, he was working as a toolmaker at Northern Brass Manufacturing Company.  As far as I know, he didn’t serve in the military.  In the 1930 census, he was not listed as a veteran.

He was still living in Waukegan in 1920. Somewhere along the way, it appears he Americanized his name from Reinhold to Raymond.

Another son, Richard E. Klarstrom, was born in 1921.

In 1930, they were still in Waukegan.  He was listed as a machinist and toolmaker at a rare metal factory.

Reinhold (Raymond) Ambrosius Klarstrom died on January 4, 1940 in Waukegan, Illinois.  His wife Jennie, lived until 1973.

I wonder if he kept in contact with his sisters.  Did they visit?  Did their children know each other?  Did my grandmother know her cousins? I wish that I was able to ask her.





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These are my husband’s great-grandparents, William Homer Weeks (1880-1954) and Florence Marion (Baker) Weeks (1875-1949).

Doesn’t she look so sweet?

  • Susan - April 20, 2011 - 11:52 am

    Lovely photo, and yes, she looks very sweet.ReplyCancel

  • Jo Graham - April 21, 2011 - 12:57 am

    “Sweet” is exactly what I though when I saw this photo :-)ReplyCancel

  • robbie gelder - September 12, 2011 - 2:02 am

    Is this the Florence Weeks who lived at Headley Park, Surrey, England in 1925?ReplyCancel

    • Jen - September 12, 2011 - 9:36 am

      I’m sorry, but this Florence Weeks never lived in England. I hope you find what you’re looking for!!!ReplyCancel

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