A History Uncovered – Part Deux

Gramma's Swedish Family before she was born.

Gramma’s Swedish Family before she was born.

Above is my gramma’s family.  They emigrated to the Midwest from Sweden.  In the photo is her older sister, my great aunt.  I never met her.  My gramma’s mother died ten days after my gramma’s birth – puerperal fever, child-bed fever.  My gramma’s father left her – a ten-day old infant – at an orphanage, took his older daughter and vanished.

The only photo of my grandmother with her older sister.

The only photo of my grandmother with her older sister.

This photo is in terrible shape but it’s very dear.  It is the only photo in existence of my grandmother with her older sister – taken when her older sister came to meet her.  She left her with her adoptive family.  See below:

Gramma, the older girl, with one of her siblings (adoptive family)

Gramma, the older girl, with one of her siblings (adoptive family)

After my grandmother was adopted, the childless couple went on to have six natural children.  However my grandmother didn’t learn she was adopted until after she’d married (at sixteen) and her older sister contacted her again.  She also learned her father had abandoned two half-sisters in an orphanage in Ohio after their mother had died.  She traveled to Ohio and brought them to live with her and her new husband.

Hungarian great grandmother.

Hungarian great grandmother.

Sorry, I was afraid to remove this photo from the glass.  This great grandmother was descended from a chef for the Hungarian Royal Family.  This is the only photo of her and this is all I know of her.  She was my grampa’s mother.



One of the few photos of my mother’s father, my grampa.  He died when my mother was a child.

Now I must get these preserved for posterity.  Not that posterity will remember them, but it’s the least I can do.



Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A History Uncovered – Part Deux

  1. What a touching, troubling story, Julia. Protect the pictures and the details you’ve pieced together. Sadly, similar stories–babies and other siblings being abandoned at orphanages or left with strangers, or worse–are not uncommon. And yet there are also many examples of triumph, as this one. After all, because of this baby abandoned, you are here.
    We owe much to our ancestors.

  2. Thanks, Marylin. My grandmother was a very unusual woman. She quite school at 12 to raise her six adopted siblings after their mother became ill. She married at 16, met her older sister who was sick with cancer, and moved to her farm to care for her and her three boys – her older biological sister died within a year of breast cancer. My grandmother learned of her two half-sisters in the orphanage in Cleveland and brought them to live with her. I had lots of great aunts and uncles but never knew who was who.

  3. Amber Skyze says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing the stories behind the pics too. Touching and sad, but in the end survivors.

  4. Penelope says:

    These are fascinating, as is your family history.

    Hope you can get everything restored. Your children will appreciate them one day.

  5. Family histories are intriguing and sad. Your grandma’s history sounds close to my husband’s grandmother. Her mother died when she was two and her step-father took her to an orphanage. She was adopted when she was five. When she was thirteen, her adoptive father died and her adoptive mother took her back to the orphanage. She had a child out of wedlock (grandpa had gone to war) and the town doctor took it and said it was his (his wife couldn’t have children). With no family, she couldn’t fight a powerful man.
    After all this, she always had a smile and was loving and sweet.
    I love seeing the pictures.

  6. Tom Stronach says:

    You’ll remember them Jules and so will others now that you have given them an audience, job done xxxx

  7. Well, Tom, I will. Yes. But then I’ll be gone one day and it’s back to obscurity. ;)

  8. That is interesting, Stephanie. Back in those days there were orphanages. Are there still orphanages as such in the U.S.? Or have we gone the way of foster homes?

  9. I’ll try, Penny. Too bad someone taped them! Right over the faces.

  10. We are survivors, Amber. I always say about my ancestors – they were smart enough to leave Europe almost 100 years before the Holocaust.

  11. Sandra Cox says:

    Oh my gosh, Julia. What an amazing woman. I know you’re so proud of her.

  12. She was, Sandra. And she was a happy woman.

  13. Your gramma was so strong. To go, as a YOUNG bride and get her sisters, girls she had never met, was an amazing feat. She was a superhero.

    You know those American Girl books? Your grandmother was a REAL AMERICAN GIRL STORY, much more real than any of the stuff they sell with those dolls.
    Please write her story. Fictionalized, but you’d be doing a service to your family and all of us by bringing her story to life. Thanks so very much for sharing it with us. Steph

  14. I probably should, Steph. She was pretty amazing. And the most unassuming woman you’d ever meet. A quiet rock.

  15. Katalina Leon says:

    Incredibly beautiful and sad.

  16. It’s inspiring, Kat. We all have a cross or something to bear.

  17. Diana Stevan says:

    Beautiful photos. Made me choke up thinking of your grandmother’s struggles. What a lovely soul to take in her sisters after awhile. And the photo of your grandfather, sweet looking boy. While I’m writing you, Julia, I miss getting your posts in my inbox. With our busy lives, I don’t want to lose touch. Any suggestions? Hugs.

  18. Thanks, Diana. My grandmother was always one to do what needed to be done and never ever complain.