Thursday, April 28, 2016

We met another Janson ☺

Early in April, a bunch of Jansons sat down together and talked family ☺.  It was great fun, and I'm sorry it's taken me this long to post about it, but I knew I'd need to do a little research first.
Part of the fun was the WHO part of it: Tom, Glenn, Bev, Gary, Bob and me.   Bob is a descendant of Johannes Janson, the cousin and traveling companion of Josef Janson on their trip to America in 1883.  He first emailed about the ship our two families arrived on, the Zeeland.  That was December 2014.  So, how does he connect specifically?  His mom was Bette, the daughter of Sophie (Janson) and Nick Daniel.  Sophie, of course, was Johannes & Marie's daughter.
(The rest of us at the meeting were descendants of Joseph's via Sebastian and Anton, but you knew that, right?)


Bob's been doing research into his family that connects to Joseph and Franziska, too, so he's read this blog to see if we have any family stories in common.  One, of course, is How They Left Germany .  Bob questioned it!
Now, Larry and I've found a few dubious stories over the years we've been researching the family, but usually there's something true in a story, even if it's not the WHOLE truth.  However, it sounds like mom's story of 4 adults and 10 kids leaving by night in a rowboat was only true in that they did leave Germany together.
According to Bob's research, they left by...train.
Still, I think I heard the story once, not over and over.  I don't know how old I was, but I recall being thrilled imagining the romance and danger of the river, with dark woods and towering castled promontories along the way and towns that needed avoiding.  Of course it stuck in my head.  In reality, they had to leave because 9 of those 10 kids were boys, and subject to the draft in a few short years.  I imagine tales of America's opportunities were pretty irresistible, too.
Another fascinating question we discovered is this strange photo.  Bob couldn't figure out how it fit with other pics of the John Janson house--it's configured totally wrong to be that house, and yet, the people in the photo are definitely John and Maria and four of their adult kids.  Gary picked it up and recognized the house he grew up in, before the porch was added.  The windows and door configuration, the lean-to on the back (right side, which was gone by the time we knew it; only the cement slab was left, remember?)  So, if the two families were at odds after John moved 4 miles south, why were they sitting here?  Certainly, the original cabin on this spot was long gone, so it couldn't have been nostalgia. (By the look of John & Marie, it was around the time of their 50th wedding anniversary).
It's another cool mystery for us to ponder ☺
Here's Bob, by the way--5th adult from the left--white hair and glasses. 
 ☺
THANKS for traveling to Minnesota, Bob.
Meeting you was interesting & fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Joseph Janson's last will and testament

Oh, such a beautiful fall day today!  It's breezy and 64° and I'm happy ☺.

Yesterday, we heard from Bob G, a Johannes Janson descendant (his mom was a Daniel).  Bob's sent info before, about that side of the family and about the Zeeland, too, the ship that carried both families to America.

If you recall, Johannes had a son named Joseph, who became the blacksmith and village clerk in Buckman.  That made two Joe Jansons to keep separate, i.e., if the newspaper said Joe Janson had visitors from New Munich, then you knew it was old Joe, but if the paper mentioned Joe Janson's daughter who was working in Little Falls, you knew it was blacksmith Joe.  The problem ended in December 1911, when our grandpa's father Joseph died.  What Bob found was a last will written by (old) Joseph and his wife Franziska, from February, 1911.


The document must have been a transcription because the handwriting is too even and legible and (carelessly misspelled), but it gives us a list of what they owned, as well as who their close friends were (Ignatz Ronellenfitch and Joseph Weisbrik). This is soooo cool!
THANKS, BOB!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Peter Janson 1893-1981

What a marvelous thing online family genealogy is.  Since we began researching the Jansons (mom's family), the Heschs (dad's family),and writing about them here, I've met amazing relatives that I wasn't aware of.  Each one has stories that compliment or enhance, or conflict, with what I heard as a kid ☺.  I love it!

Case in point:  Last summer, I heard from Ed and his wife Sue.  Ed is descended from John, our great grandfather Joe's cousin (the two Jansons who settled in Buckman in 1883).  Ed's grandpa was Dan Janson, whose daughter Laura was Ed's mom.
Zu Verstehen so far?

Yesterday, Sue emailed this cool newspaper article found among Laura's effects, about Peter Adrian Janson, her uncle.  It's from Janesville, Minnesota, February 1, 1978.  Pete is the guy on the right in this picture, when he still lived in Oklahoma.
The article's about his life, of course, but the part that most interests me is in the second column, where he talks about how his parents arrived in Buckman in 1883.

Pete's account is interesting to me because my great grandpa Joe was that cousin, and of course I heard a different version of the story ☺.  I always thought John was the stronger character, and that once they arrived in Mn, they simply couldn't get along because there were four adults, eight kids under 12, plus two new babies...all in a tiny cabin on the land a mile west of Buckman. Sounds insufferable to me ☺.
THANKS, Sue & Ed!

A couple days later:  I found a copy of the WPA bio of Joseph A. Janson, who was Peter's brother.  He became the blacksmith in Buckman and was a council member and clerk of the village.  Part of the biographies were a little about a persons' roots.  Here's what Joe said about his parents:
"John Janson was a cabinet maker by trade in Germany. In the spring of 1883 he immigrated to America with his family, settling in Buckman twp., where he purchased 80 acres of land in section 29. The land was improved brush land.  Ten acres were under cultivation. There was a log house and a log barn on the place.
Mr Janson bought a team of oxen which he used for about six years.  Then he sold them and bought a team of horses. He began to clear more land and hired team and men during the first years to help him.  In 1897 he built a brick veneer house and the same year he purchased 80 acres more wild land which they also improved..."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Birth Certificate for another Joseph Janson c. 1901

 These two maps show Prince Edward County in the state of Virginia, where our Jansons tried farming for 10 months in 1900.   The map on the left shows the county in relation to larger Va cities, and the one on the right shows Hampden in the middle and Meherrin on the south edge, about 20 miles away.  Turns out that grandpa's brother Sebastian lived in Meherrin while their parents tried Hampton.  They all eventually moved back to Minnesota.

Larry found two interesting pieces of info online yesterday--both having to do with Joseph, Sebastian and Mary's son.  Evidently, in 1942, Joe had to prove when and where he was born to someone here in Stearns county.  Were they enlisting men over 40 then?  Anyway, these are interesting documents--see who little Joe's godfather was?  Anton was 20 years old.  We have no idea who the other sponsor was--looks like Mrs Zerknutzer?  Larry found a family named Zirknitzer but we have no clues beyond that.  Yes, new info always creates more questions!        









The very next day ☺:
Ha! It crossed my mind to check the 1900 census records for Hampden but I didn't actually do it.  Wanna guess who did? The Zirknitzer family lived next door to Joseph and Franziska Janson.  They were from Austria, so would have been as familiar as a lot of their Buckman neighbors.
In June 1900, Sebastian and Mary were still living in Buckman, according to the Minnesota census, with their adopted son John and Seb's brother Eugene.  We assume they left for Virginia shortly afterwords because their son Joseph was born in Meherrin, Va according to the green birth certificate above.
So baby Joseph's sponsors were Anton Janson and Katherine Zirknitzer.
(BTW, Larry scanned the rest of the population living around our great grandparents--almost every one, black or white, were born in Virginia of parents born in Virginia--not exactly the German settlement Joe and Fran hoped for).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mom as a bridesmaid

This weekend, Em was going thru the treasures in her former closet here at home. Evidently, there's some of my stuff in that closet, too, specifically, more old photos (I'd forgotten ☺).
I don't recognize anyone other than mom, but I assume the bride was one of her co-workers in the Cities, and one of the other "girls" who traveled to California with mom in 1939.  Was this Marjorie Albright's wedding?

Anyway, I was struck by how much my lovely niece Laurel looks like mom did then.  Isn't that cool? ☺

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Janson Philanthropists

Here's the last part of what Eileen sent about her contingent of the Jansons. They left Balzfeld, Germany in 1853 and settled in Columbia, Pennsylvania, some 30 years before the Minnesota Jansons left.

"The Frank, Valentine and Joseph Janson Foundation was formed through the will of Joseph Janson dated February 21, 1925. The Foundation was established to provide assistance to the needy of Holy Trinity, St. Peter’s Parish (also in Columbia), and Columbia residents. So the brothers were philanthropists as well.
In addition to helping the needy, the Janson Foundation provided for the purchase of plot of land located at Sixth and Cherry Streets in Columbia. This land is for perpetual use for the Borough of Columbia. The land is known as Janson Park and is managed by the Janson Foundation.
Since its’ inception, the Park has been host for many recreational events and activities. There were many street fairs/festivals held there for the people of the town and surrounding communities, baseball and softball leagues play there, and a summer playground program for Columbia youth. I remember going to
the Park as a child and playing on the jungle gym, see saws and sliding board. When I would go to the Park for the summer children’s program we could check out board games, jacks, pick-up sticks and other toys to play with the other children. This program ended many years ago but within the last year or
so, the town has restarted a summer program there.

Several years ago the Armstrong Foundation (Armstrong World Industries from nearby Marietta) renovated the playground with the purchase of new playground equipment. Gone are the metal ones of my youth. In place are colorful ones. I would have enjoyed them as a child. At the entrance to the Park is a plaque that bears the inscription

“Janson Park: Perpetuated by FRANK JANSON, 
VALENTINE JANSON, and JOSEPH JANSON. “ 


Janson Steel and Iron Company continued to operate after the death of the Janson brothers. At one time my Great Grandfather William Pieper Weisser (married Mary Catherine Kasel, daughter of Frank P. Kasel and Catherine Janson) was its’ Superintendent. The Company must have run into some challenging times  since it sought reorganization under Section 77B of the Bankruptcy Act on February 15, 1938. The business operated until January 11, 1941 when disinterested trustees were appointed by the Court.  It is so sad that the Company ran into difficulties. Janson Steel and Iron Company was sold to a company from Indiana.

The last child of Valentine and Catherine Duerk Janson was Martha Mary Janson. She was born on December 15, 1860 in Columbia. She married Joseph John Becker on June 15, 1892. Martha and Joseph had three daughters: Mary, Martha, and Serena Becker".

I think it's pretty cool that we have close relatives in other states, and that we're finding out how they fared in America, too, even at this late date ☺.  Thanks again to Colleen!  She adds that if any relative wants to contact her, I should give them her email address. Okay!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Janson Steel and Iron Company

A little re-cap here: Immigrants Valentine and Catherine Duerk Janson had three daughters and a son born in Horrenberg, Germany, (Gertrude, Catherine and Maria Eva and Joseph), and three more children born in America: Frank, Valentine, and Martha Mary, ok?

To continue Eileens story:

"Joseph Janson grew up in Pennsylvania. He married Serena B, Vogel in 1875.
Joe had a sharp mind and an acumen for business. He worked at Columbia National Bank on Locust Street in Columbia. This bank financed the bridge that was destroyed by a hurricane, which replaced the bridge that was burnt during the Civil War. There were 6 bridges in all that have spanned the Susquehanna River, connecting Lancaster and York Counties.

(The cities and counties of Lancaster and York were named for Lancashire and Yorkshire England-think War of the Roses here.

The Confederate Army came Northward into Pennsylvania with a plan to capture Philadelphia. Local people from Columbia and Wrightsville (York County) stopped this advance by burning the bridge.  The Confederates were forced to regroup. They then went on to the town of Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania!)

 Joseph’s keen business sense led him to become the Cashier of the Columbia National Bank in March of 1887. Prior to that he was the Paying Teller. Somewhere in my possession I have an article that was written about his brilliance as a young businessman. I will forward it on when I can relocate it. Columbia National Bank held total assets exceeding $1M. That was a lot of money for the day. At the time, it was the largest Bank in Lancaster County and only second to one in Philadelphia in total assets (in Pennsylvania).

In addition to his position as Bank Cashier, Joseph was the Treasurer of the Columbia Gas Company. He was also involved with the St. Joseph’s Association of Holy Trinity Church in Columbia. In addition to the financial roles he was
active in Columbia civics.

Joseph along with his brothers Frank and Valentine, formed the Janson Steel and Iron Company in 1899. Joseph was President of Janson Steel while Frank Janson was General Manager and Valentine Janson was the Treasurer. Frank P. Kasel, husband of Catherine Janson Kasel, was the Superintendent from its beginning until his death in 1919.

Eventually, Janson Steel And Iron had assets in excess of $100,000.00. The company was located at Twelfth and Mifflin Streets and employed about 200 people. My Paternal Great Grandfather George Washington Appold worked for the Jansons (maternal side).
The Janson Brothers purchased Empire Mill in New York in March of 1900. It was recorded in the March 10, 1900 New York Tribune.

Frank Janson was also civic minded. He ran for, and was elected to, a local office for the Borough of Columbia. He ran on the Democratic Party ticket.

He and Valentine Janson initially ran a slate mantel business prior to the opening of Janson Steel. Neither Frank nor Valentine Janson ever married.

Frank Janson died in Columbia on February 18, 1923 from influenza. Valentine Janson died shortly thereafter, on March 30, 1923. He died from a respiratory condition. I wonder if that was from years of dealing with the mill. Both Frank and Valentine Janson are buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery.

(This was the house Frank and Valentine built for themselves.  The current owner told Eileen that there is a vault is in the basement--see inscription above the door?  Stained glass windows were a part of the house, too.  The family on the porch are the next owners, not the Jansons).

Joseph Janson became ill with pneumonia while traveling to Europe with his wife Serena B. Vogel Janson and her niece Elizabeth Blackman. They were staying at a luxurious hotel in Hamburg, Germany when Joseph was taken ill. He passed away on October 20, 1925 in his native country.
He was taken back to the United States and was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery on November 13, 1925.
I only recently discovered the circumstances surrounding his death. I knew from reading travel information on Ancestry.com that Serena Vogel Janson and Elizabeth Blackman (Serena’s niece) had traveled back to the United States from Germany and wondered why Joseph was not with them. But within the last few months I found a new kind of record on Ancestry.com: Notice of
Americans Dying Abroad. It answered some questions for me. I had not been able to figure out why I did not have a Pennsylvania Death Certificate for him when I could locate ones for all of his siblings.
Lesson here is go back and recheck previously looked at sites!"
--To be continued!--