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!

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, 

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 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 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!--

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How we're related to the Pennsylvania Jansons

Okay!  Cousin Eileen Wood sent photos and a lovely narrative of her part of the Janson family history.  Knowing your attention span and the fact that "begats" can get overwhelming, I'll break it up into chapters, with pictures.

The ancestor we have in common with Eileen is Georg Valentin Janson (1773), who, with his wife Eva Reissfelder (1781) were the parents of Valentine (1812), below, and younger brother Johannes (1803).  This Johannes was my great great grandfather (mom, Anton, Joseph, Johannes).
I suspect that there were many letters sent back to Balzfeld about what America had to offer.

Here's the first part of what Eileen sent.  I messed with it a little for clarity ☺

"As with the Minnesota Jansons, the Janson family that immigrated to Pennsylvania were also from Horrenberg/Balzfeld, Germany.

Johann Valentin Janson (“Valentine”) was born May 26, 1812 in Horrenberg.  He married Katharina Duerk (“Catherine”) on April 27, 1845 in Balzfeld. Valentine was the son of Georgius Valentinus Janson and Eva Catharina Reissfelder.  Catherine was the daughter of Johann Valentin Durk and Maria Franziska Sauer.   Valentine and Catherine had four children while they lived in Germany: Gertraud Janson, Katharina (“Catherine”), Maria Eva Janson and Joseph Janson.
Valentine Janson immigrated by himself to the United States in 1853.

In October 1854 the rest of Valentine’s family immigrated to the United States. Catherine Duerk Janson traveled aboard the SS William Tell with her daughters Gertraud, Catherine and Maria Eva and son Joseph. They departed from LeHavre, France and arrived in at Castle Garden, New York on October 23, 1854. Ellis Island was not open yet but the immigration record is on the Castle Garden website.

According to the 1880 United States Census Valentine Janson was a laborer/farmer. Lancaster County in the 1850’s would have had a lot more farmland than it does today so it would make a good location. It is situated along the Susquehanna River so it would be easy to transport crops/goods. Columbia was also a transportation center with a number of mills: steel, lace, silk, and other products.
As of yet, I do not know a lot about Valentine and Catherine Janson except what I know about their children.

After arriving in the United States, Valentine and Catherine Janson had three more children:  Frank Janson, Valentine Janson, and Martha Mary Janson.

Valentine Janson died on October 9, 1881 in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery (Tenth and Manor Streets) in Columbia. Upon his death, Catherine Durek Janson lived with her daughter Catherine Janson Kasel and her family until her death on January 20,
1904. She was laid to rest alongside her husband Valentine at Holy Trinity Cemetery.

While the Minnesota Jansons settled there because of Father Pierz, I believe that the Pennsylvania Jansons may have chosen Columbia in part because of Father William Pieper. Father Pieper hailed from Germany also and was the Priest at the German Catholic Church in Columbia,  (Holy Trinity). The other Catholic Church was St. Peter’s. St. Peter parishioners were primarily Irish. My Dad’s side of the family went to St. Peter’s, my Mom’s went to Holy Trinity. Father Pieper was the second Priest at Holy Trinity. He was responsible for purchasing land for its cemetery.
Prior to 1865, all Catholics were buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Klinesville, just outside of Columbia. Father Pieper also saw a need for a parochial school. Holy Trinity School opened in 1865.

Valentine and Catherine Janson’s oldest daughter was Gertraud (“Gertrude”) Janson. She was born on March 1, 1846 in Horrenberg. She died in 1868 in Pennsylvania (probably Columbia). I am still trying to get information about her. Death Certificates were not required statewide in Pennsylvania until 1906.
For that reason, it is more challenging to research people who passed away before 1906.
Maria Eva Janson was the third daughter of Valentine and Catherine. She was born on October 6, 1849 in Horrenberg. She died on August 6, 1914 from "heart exhaustion". Contributory cause of death was cancer of the uterus, bladder and intestines.
Katharina (“Catherine”) Janson was the second daughter of Valentine and Catherine Janson. She was born on February 20, 1848 in Horrenberg. This is my 2X Great Grandmother. Catherine married Frank P. Kasel from Prussia at Holy Trinity Church on October 22, 1870. Frank immigrated to the United States in
1866. Father Pieper performed the ceremony.

Frank and Catherine Janson Kasel had eight children: Mary Catherine Kasel, Joseph Kasel, Edward Kasel, Frank Valentine Kasel, Edmund Joseph Kasel, Catherine A. Kasel, William Charles Kasel, and Ada Genevieve (“Genevieve) Kasel.
Mary Catherine Kasel was the oldest of the Kasel children. She was my maternal Great Grandmother. Mary Catherine was born on Christmas Day 1871. She was married to William Pieper Weisser (Pieper after Father Pieper I think) on October 26, 1898 at Holy Trinity. The Weisser family originated in Talheim, Germany. Mary Catherine and William had six children: Catherine A. Weisser Watson, William Bartholomew Weisser, Edmund Joseph Weisser, Mary Elizabeth Weisser Charles, Swidbert E. Weisser, Sr. and Gertrude Weisser. Gertrude Weisser became Sister Mary Bernard, O. S. F. when she took her vows. My Uncle Bernard Weisser was named in her honor.
Mary Catherine Kasel Weisser passed away on February 16, 1936 in Columbia. She was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery. She died of endo______ malignancy. I could not decipher the Doctor’s writing on her Death Certificate. Secondary cause of death was listed as abdominal tumor.
The youngest of the Kasel children was Ada A. Genevieve Kasel (they called her Genevieve). She was born on August 14, 1892 in Columbia. She died on February 7, 1919 from influenza. This was at the time of the influenza pandemic. She was buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery on February 10, 1919.

Tragically, Catherine Kasel Janson died on February 10, 1919. The VERY day that her youngest daughter Genevieve was laid to rest. She died of vascular disease of the heart according to her death certificate. I feel as though she was grieving so much that her heart just gave out. She did have a previous history of heart disease. (Tragically, her husband) Frank P. Kasel also died in 1919. Before I read the Death Certificates for Catherine, Frank and Genevieve I had already felt a sense of tragedy involved.  Frank died on March 31, 1919. His cause of death is also listed as vascular disease of the heart. I feel that his condition probably deteriorated after the death of his youngest daughter and that of his wife of more than 40 years".

So that's the family background. The photos Eileen sent are mostly of the sons born to Valentine and Catherine here in the US, and what became of them.  I'm building a little anticipation here. Stay tuned!