Norwegians in the Dakotas

If you have ever had contact with the farming culture in the Dakotas prior to say 1970, I think that you might enjoy the following book.  This is especially true if you have Norwegian ancestors, whose homes you lived in or visited. It is a quick read and more descriptive than nostalgic.

Nothing to Do but Stay – My Pioneer Mother, by Carrie Young, c. 1991, University of Iowa Press.


A Good Explanation of ACA Health Plan Prices

It is easy to find the hype about the rising cost of health insurance for those having to buy it outside of their workplaces. The following article, however, paints the most complete picture that I have found of what is really going on.

It seems to me that people that are able to use the exchanges should see little impact. Those that do not use an exchange, for whatever reason (including high income), will in fact see cost increases. Complicating this is the fact that some exchanges have been poorly executed. (See for example Minnesota’s exchange implementation.) So, I think that we should not lose sight of the fact that this is NOT another issue painted in black and white. Discussion and analysis are needed, not diatribe.

Computer Solutions that Work!

I volunteer every week to help people deal with their computer problems – laptops, tablets, phones, etc. I am struck by how poorly much of the standard commercial off the shelf stuff performs for normal, not very technical people. Based on personal experience, I wish that more people knew of the option of buying a laptop or desktop machine that just works and is well supported. That option is buying a machine from System76. These devices come loaded with Ubuntu Linux.  I have recently bought one and am quite pleased. There are other sources for such devices, and I am not paid to promote System76 products. I just wish that more people knew that they have an option other than the type of stuff seen in typical big box stores.

Genealogy Notes: a recent Minnesota Genealogy Society Conference

On 10/1/2016, I attended the North Star Conference hosted by the Minnesota Genealogical Society. Here are some notes from sessions that I attended. Text in quotes shows excerpts that I drew directly from the handouts at the MNGS conference only to identify the topic and the speaker/author. My bulleted notes follow each section of quoted text.


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.


Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” Knowing the social history of our ancestors includes how they dealt with disease, a life and death issue of which they had little knowledge and even less control. As genealogists, we seek out death records of all sorts, but do we understand them? A basic understanding of historical epidemics and disease helps put our ancestors into a broader framework of history.”


Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Saami Research

Gregory S. Isola, Minneapolis MN

independent Finnish researcher

President/CCO, Finnesota LLC

Pursuing CG®

certification in 2016

Email or

Presenting at MGS 9th annual North Star Conference, 01 Oct 2016”

  • many records are in Swedish because Sweden controlled much of the area for periods of time
  • Saami= northern Nordic natives; “Lapp” derogatory
  • in old records in Swedish can see “Lappar” to indicate Saami
  • Norwegian records can indicate “Finn”.
  • Name structure(s):
    • first/given/Christian
    • sometimes there is a second given name
    • patronym (*dotter/datter, *son/sen)
    • family name (surname – location, farm name, town name, occupation, etc.!)
  • sometimes you see matronym used in the case of an illegitimate child
  • handwritten docs sometimes show date as day/mo (day on top and month on bottom in form of “fraction”
  • notes on the Gregorian Calendar:
    • 1582 – pope declares the change
    • many Protestant areas ignored this and only later came to grips with physical reality
    • 1752 – England made the change
    • 1700-1753 – Sweden made the change in fits and starts
  • author’s website:

“Ports and Ships of the Immigration Age: How Our European Ancestors Traveled to America

Jerome Biedny, Jr., past President

Polish Genealogical Society on Minnesota

6909 West 82nd Street

Bloomington, MN 55438

Our modes of transportation have changed over the ages to reflect their times. Until the late 1800’s people came to America on sailing ships from the main European seaports to those on the Atlantic coast of North America. This presentation focuses on the peak US immigration years 1870-1915. This was a time of transition from fragmented packet lines, using sailing ships, to sophisticated passenger lines, using ocean liners, connected to a web of railroads on both sides of the Atlantic.”

  • there was a coordination of rail and ship transportation through agents that sold tickets
  • examples: $18 from Bremen to NY per person, then $13 to Chicago, half price for people under 13 years of age and free for children under 5 years. (note: this can account for some age discrepancies due to lies about age in order to save money)
  • 1884 passage typically took 2 weeks
  • German Lines
    • HAPAG (1847): Hamburg to Hoboken
    • early ships would hold about 800 people and 120 crew, 300 ft. long and 40 ft. wide
    • North German Lloyd (1857): Bremerhaven to Hoboken (and South America)
    • ships were large (e.g., Barbarosa and Kaiser Wilhelm II) – 2000-2700 people, 500 crew, 540 ft. long, 60 ft. wide.
  • Other Lines: Red Star Line (1871) (JP Morgan), later became White Star; Austro-American Line small ships from Trieste to the US.
  • British Lines – Cuinard & White Star
  • Ports
    • early: first calls disembarked in Hobeken, then rest went to Castle Garden in NY (1855-1890)
    • Ellis Island (1892 – 1954)
    • Baltimore (1706 – ?) served by B&O RR and North German lloyd.
  • Quotas: in 1924 set at 150,000 people

“Online Tools to Organize and Collaborate with Your Cousins

Kelli Bergheimer

Mess on the Desk

P.O. Box 1028

Powell, OH 43065


  • surname message boards
  • aggregators: (to assemble info from roostweb, ancestry message boards, blogs, other favorite websites)
  • Google alerts: trigger on names, locations, topics, etc.
  • misc tools and techniques
    • legal genealogist (Judy Russell)
    • shared docs and calendars


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.


Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” As genealogists, we study our ancestors, which were likely “ordinary people,” so genealogy IS social history! Aspects of social history can include the study of race, ethnicity, labor, sex, gender, education, immigration, rural/urban life, religion, and more.”

  • Europe
    • marriage records not kept prior to reformation
    • social stratification
    • arranged marriages within class
  • US
    • marriage possibilities loosened up in the US
    • marriages occurred at earlier ages since people could become economically independent earlier in life
  • References to help enrich the history of your ancestors

Pointless Jobs!

A friend recently alerted me to this article. It points out something that I fear to be true.  That is, that capitalism in its current form is not serving us well. I hope that you enjoy it.

Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs