It's only three letters, but if I had a quarter for every time I've had to spell my last name, spell it again, and still ask to have the "w" removed, I could fund a dozen instant research trips to Europe, just like I was starring in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are. (Seriously, what fills me with envy every single episode is the celebrity finding out what town they're from in some far-off country and the next day they jet over to check it out.)
It took me far longer than I thought it would, so I'll break this saga up so you all don't die of boredom reading along. In the fall of 2007, I started a serious search for my father's father's father's line. Family lore provided only this:
- My great-grandfather, Hans Loe, came to Chicago from a town called Drammen in Norway at some unknown date.
- His last name used to be Christianson, but it got somehow changed along the way.
- He was a tailor in Chicago, but used to be a lumberjack in Norway. (Seriously?)
- His wife's name was Annie.
- He and his wife had all boys, including my grandfather, Edward.
I found the family in the various censuses and got the names of my great-uncles and eventually learned that my uncle was the only surviving descendant of six sons. My parents had a photograph of Hans and Anna's headstone, but couldn't
|Hans C. Loe, 1854-1907|
remember which Chicago cemetery they were buried in. Before FamilySearch put the Cook County death certificates online, it used to take $15 and about 4 months to get a death certificate. I did the happy dance at the mailbox (the neighbors are used to it by now) when it finally showed up. Death from tuberculosis at the age of 52 saddened me – Hans died two years younger than I was when I started looking for him.
While I was waiting, I found a death notice for Hans in the Proquest Obituaries database (thank you, Southern California Genealogical Society Library).
That summer, we made it back to Chicago and to Mount Olive Cemetery and found their headstone, complete with birth and death dates.