Season Two

The Genealogy Gems Podcast

Episode 21 Show Notes
Genealogy Review Online review of Genealogy Gems, Movie Pick: Full of Life,
FOIA follow up, Thanks for the Memories

Episode 22 Show Notes
Mailbox: Family History Display, Memory Books, Anna-Karin’s Genealogical Podcast,
Turn your iPod into a family history tool.

Episode 23 Show Notes
FOIA Reply, iPod follow up: Photos

Episode 24 Show Notes
NAR Announcement, Genealogy Gems Book, Swedish book recommendations, Genealogy Gems TV tour.

Episode 25 Show Notes
Book announcement, Germany History Videos, Allen County Library Records, N. Utah Genealogy Jamboree, Newspapers at World Vital Records, Newsletter update.

Episode 26 Show Notes
Internet Explorer Favorites Management, The Socks to America Video

Episode 27 Show Notes
Military FOIA, World Vital Records Success, Sharing the podcast with your society, Interview with DearMYRTLE.

Episode 28 Show Notes
Interviewing strangers on the telephone

Episode 29 Show Notes
Interview with Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

Episode 30 Show Notes
Interview with Ali Selim, director of the film Sweet Land

Episode 31 Show Notes
The Library of Congress, Genealogy for the Next Generation

Episode 32 Show Notes
Freedom of Information Act Followup. Mailbox, Family History Christmas Wreath

Episode 33 Show Notes
History of the Census, The Genealogy Gems News Blog, Kathryn Flocken’s Silhouettes, More Google Gadgets

Episode 34 Show Notes
A Thanksgiving Celebration

Episode 35 Show Notes
Facebook, Funtime.com Genealogy Quizzes, Tapping into the Strengths of Others, Library of Congress Webcasts, Using Juvenile Books, New Access to More British Records

Episode 36 Show Notes
The Book has gone digital, Passport Applications Database, History of Sound Recordings, Lisa’s 10 Golden Rules for making family history sound recordings.

Episode 37 Show Notes
Polycola.com, Family History Expo 2008 Video Premiere, Passport Find, iTunes GET ALL, The History of the Christmas Seal

Episode 38 Show Notes
The Family Tree of Venice

Episode 39 Show Notes
History Podcasts, Heritage Quilts

Episode 40
Show Notes
Everything Old is New Again, Family History Expo 2008, Lisa’s Top 5 Inherited Traits, The Care, Storage and Display of Heritage Quilts

Family History Never Tasted So Good!

We all have cookbooks in our kitchen, many of which were handed down to us by our mothers and grandmothers. In addition to be overflowing with delectable recipes, they are often brimming with family history. Today I’d like to share with you a recipe mystery that followed me for years, and the bit of genealogical serendipity that solved it. 

family history never tasted so good: cookie recipe

I once gave a presentation called Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-Genealogists in Your Family at a local genealogical society. (Genealogy Gems Premium Members can log in and watch this vide class as part of their membership here.)

In it, I gave an example of some items I had found on Ebay from my husband’s Larson family. If you listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcast then you have heard me mention the Larson family. They hailed from Winthrop Minnesota and owned a hardware store and lumber business there for many years.

LJ Larson Hardware store

LJ Larson Hardware store

While I was taking questions toward the end of the presentation a woman in the front raised her hand. Her name was Harriet, and she said she was sure that she had a cookbook from Winthrop, Minnesota in her collection of books at home. She offered to send it to me and I gladly gave her my email address so we could connect.

Considering that Winthrop is such a small town, it make her statement surprising indeed! To provide perspective: Winthrop is about 1 square mile and the population hovers somewhere around 1300. So, I was surprised indeed to have someone in Pleasanton, California telling me that she had a cookbook that dated back to the early 20th century from this little town.

As promised, Harriett followed up with me by email. She asked for my address and told me that the book “looks a little worn but all of the pages are there. I hope it can be of some use to you. My sister taught either first grade or kindergarten there during World War 2 and that’s how it came in to her possession.”

The Cookbook Filled with Family History

Harriett was a woman of her word because about a week later the 340 Home Tested Recipes cookbook compiled by members of The Ladies Aid of the First Lutheran Church of Winthrop, Minnesota was in my mailbox.

The Winthrop Cookbook

The Winthrop Cookbook

It continues to amaze and delight me how powerful just putting your family history “out there” is. By regularly mentioning real people and places in your own research, it so often leads to information and items that just seem to be waiting to be found. It’s what we call “genealogical serendipity” in genealogy circles. 

But the genealogical serendipity didn’t end there. Not only did my husband’s ancestors contribute recipes to this little community cookbook, which of course I was thrilled to find – but there was a recipe in there that I had been in search of for over 25 years.

The Great Cookie Mystery

You see, when Bill and I got married, he shared his fond memories of a sour cream cookie his grandmother used to make. I’m an avid baker, so I checked with his mom to see if she had the recipe. Sadly, she didn’t.
 
Over the years I have tried to find a recipe for sour cream cookies in an attempt to recreate them. Every time I found one, I whipped up a batch. Bill would take a bite and shake his head saying they’ were good, but they weren’t like grandma’s cookies.
 

Bill enjoying baked treats with his Grandma Helen (Larson) Mansfield.

 
So as you can imagine, the first thing I looked for when I received this cookbook from the town where Bill’s grandma was born, was a recipe for sour cream cookies. There were many yummy-sounding treats to comb through like Pecan Sticks, Victoria Cookies, Father and Son Favorite Cookies, and Sorghum Cookies. 
 
I got excited as I came across names I recognized from the family tree including Mrs. Sheldon S. Larson, the mother of a cousin we had the good fortune to finally meet two years ago when I presented a genealogy seminar in Minnesota at the Swedish Genealogical Society. 
 
But the real thrill came when I made my way to page 42. There I found a recipe for Sour Cream Drop Cookies:
 

Larson sour cream cookie recipe (1)

The infamous sour cream cookie recipe!

 
Surprisingly, the recipe wasn’t contributed by Bill’s grandma Helen (Larson) Mansfield or anyone named Larson. Instead it was submitted for inclusion in the cookbook by Mrs. Hulda Anderson. That fact didn’t deter me from trying it out. In a small town like Winthrop, recipes likely were regularly swapped and handed down through various families. 
 
I immediately baked a batch and served them up to Bill. I’ll never forget his eyes as they lit up in excitement! He took a bite, and was ecstatic to once again be tasting Grandma’s sour cream cookies!
 
It may sound like a small victory in the scheme of thing, but for me it was a thrilling one, none the less!
 
I emailed Harriet and told her the good news and thanked her profusely.
 
I got a reply from her husband George. He wrote:
 
“I thought I would add a little amusement to the coincidence of the Sour Cream cookies. My father, George Anderson, Sr., was a salesman for American Steel and Wire, subsidiary of U. S. Steel, from the 1920s to the 1960s, traveling to every hardware store and lumber yard in southern Minnesota to sell fence, posts, nails etc. I don’t have any record of it, but I’m sure he would have called on your family’s hardware store in Winthrop. He knew all of his customers by first name, no doubt your in-laws included.”
 
Genealogy Serendipity never tasted so good!
 

A Genealogical Look at the Cookbook

 
I looked through the book carefully for a publishing date but none was to be found. However, there were several clues including the name of the church and the pastors name:
 
First Lutheran Church
Lambert Engwall, Pastor
 
To put these clues to use, I headed to Google and searched the name of the church, the location and the name of the pastor:
first lutheran church winthrop minnesota lambert engwall, pastor
 

Googling the pastor

Googling the church, location and pastor

 
The first result was just what I needed. The link to me to a Wikipedia page about the church: 
 

researching the pastor

The church in Wikipedia

 
It was a fairly comprehensive page, and I was specifically looking for a list of pastors who had served at the church. To save time, I used Control + F (PC) to trigger a find on page search bar. I searched for “pastor” and was immediately take much further down the page to exactly what I wanted to know. 
 

previous pastors

A helpful list of previous pastors

 
I quickly learned that Lambert Engwall served at this church in Winthrop, Minnesota from 1944 to 1972. Given that Harriett through it hailed from the World War II era when her sister lived there, and from the condition and style of the book, I feel confident it was published closer to 1944. 
 
The next steps to learn more about the relationship between the Andersons and Larson include could include:

  • Reviewing the 1940 census for Winthrop, Sibley County, Minnesota, and mapping their homes in Google Earth.
  • conducting additional research into church and their available records include church meeting minutes.
  • A comprehensive search of the Winthrop News newspaper, with a particular eye on the social pages. 

Share Your Genealogical Serendipity and Cookbook Stories

Have you experienced glorious instances of genealogical serendipity in your own family history quest? Do you have a cookbook that has been handed down to you that you treasure? Please leave a comment below and share your story!  
 

Resources

  • Learn more powerful Google search techniques and ways to use Google Earth for genealogy in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louse Cooke (2020) available at the Genealogy Gems Store.
  • The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

    Book by the author

    Learn more here about how to access the 50+ video classes that are a part of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. 

Evernote for Genealogy: Use a Research Checklist Template Like This One for Australian Family History

australia_400_wht_12238Do you use Evernote for genealogy, or are you planning to? Why not try a research checklist template?

Genealogy Gems listener Michelle Patient sent us a link to her Evernote template for family history research in Australia and New Zealand. Better yet, she gave us permission to share it with all of you!

This template is a blank checklist you can use for every ancestor you research. On the checklist are all the different record types you might check: each type of vital record, census, land record, electoral roll, etc.l, along with the various repositories that should be visited or contacted. Why not create a similar temple for the countries you research, if you don’t have Aussie or Kiwi roots?

Resources

This is just one way Evernote helps you track your family history research. Learn more with these resources:

Genealogy Gems Premium members can enjoy a year’s worth of unlimited access to my complete series of genealogy how-to videos, which includes these full-length classes on using Evernote for genealogy:

  • Making Evernote effortlessHow the Genealogist can Remember Everything with Evernote (Beginner)
  • How to Organize Your Research with Evernote (Intermediate)
  • Making Evernote Effortless (Intermediate)
  • Collaborative Genealogy with Evernote
    (Intermediate) 
  • Using Evernote to Create a Research Plan
    (Advanced)

That’s just a peek at what Genealogy Gems Premium membership offers: click here to learn more!

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