25 years of Norsk Hostfest North Dakota Norwegians have planned a big party and you’re invited. The 25th anniversary of Norsk Hostfest promises to be one of the parties of the year with big name acts like Bill Cosby, Tim Conway, Wayne Newton and Lee Greenwood, just to name a few.
Festivities take place in Minot, North Dakota, from October 9 to 12th. The fest includes Scandinavian history, ethnic bands, numerous entertainers and games. There are games and attractions for kids, or the young at heart. Craftmaking and anything Scandinavian and ethnic will be found at the event. The fee for most big name entertainment is $35.
Contact: Norsk Hostfest, PO Box 1347, Minot ND 58702; 701-852-2368; 701-838-7873 (fax); email@example.com; www.hostfest.com.
A Luna fest
by Cesar Garza
The stated objective for the Luna Family Reunion is to celebrate heritage, culture, history and family pride and unity.
Adrian and Maria Luna were married in 1905. They had 17 children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. Today there are over 700 descendants, 300 of them in the Chicago area and the rest scattered throughout the United States, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Almost half are under the age of 25, and 89 are under the age of 10. In the past 20 years, 6.7 family members have been born per year. During 77 years in Chicago, the family intermarried with many other ethnic groups.
Preparations for the Luna Family Reunion 2001 took a year. A committee was created from ten branches of the Luna family. At mini-reunions, committee members brought a dish to share with everyone at each meeting. The committee decided upon a three-day celebration which would give members plenty of time to meet families traveling from Mexico and California. Volunteers were recruited to plan activities. Some were in charge of the banquet hall, DJ, registration and picnic activities planned for Saturday. Members brought their favorite dishes to share for one of the biggest potlucks many of us had seen. We had frijoles a la charra, rice, carnitas, arroz con candules, lasagna, potato salad, cake, tortillas, arrachera, hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs and many other delicious American, Mexican, Polish, Italian, Puerto Rican, and German dishes that represent the Lunas multiculturalism.
The weekend started Friday with a glamorous banquet in Crestwood, Illinois. Over 200 family members enjoyed a great evening of food, dance and excitement, meeting new relatives and catching up with the old. During the evening the family danced to House Music, Cumbias, Nortenas, Merengue, Salsa, Pop Music, Spanish Rock, Rancheras and Tejano Music.
The theme was “We are Family: The Luna Legacy Continues.” Adrian and Maria would not have imagined the legacy they left, and the family of over 700 descendants keeps growing. The oldest family member at the reunion was 88-year-old Esperanza Luna; youngest was Estefania de la Torre, only one month old.
On Saturday temperatures hovered over 90. Some members arrived early to set up. Taking the group photo of approximately 350 family members preceded a day full of fun with the annual tug-of-war, softball, piñatas, baby races, hoola-hoop competition, potato sack races, water balloon fights, baseball and football, as well as games for small children. The tug-of-war brought everyone together. There were competitions for women, men and children. Everyone seemed to have fun whether they lost or won. It was not about losing or winning but about having an enjoyable time. A talent show showcased family members. The younger children danced to el Jarape Tapatio, the most typical dances in Mexico. Others sang Spanish and English music.
Sunday morning everyone enjoyed a Catholic Mass at St. Francis of Assisi parish, where in the 1920s the first Luna immigrants put down roots. It is where the oldest Lunas were married and baptized. It is also special because in 1992 this church was ready for destruction, but survived urban renewal as an historic church to Chicago’s Mexican population. After Mass, Esperanza Luna — the one who settled in the old neighborhood — gave a tour of where the family lived.
After the walking tour, we headed for Original Jim's hot dog stand to have the famous Maxwell Street polish sausages; for many family members it has been a tradition to snack on these sausages, some of the best in the city. Nearby a blues band was playing, so we went and danced. The band realized that the majority of the people were Mexican, so they changed their tunes to Spanish.
After all the dancing, we showed our beautiful city to our family from a rented double-decker bus. Both Mexican and American flags hung from the top deck. We strolled along Greek Town, State Street, Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. There was a quick stop to take a family picture with Chicago’s beautiful skyline in the background. Coming back after the bus tour was the sad part of the reunion, as the three-day reunion was coming to an end.
Future plans include another reunion in Chicago. The following year there will be two reunions, one in Chicago and a Monterrey mega-family reunion where members from Monterrey, Guanajuato and Mexico City will predominate. Lunas living in the US will have an opportunity to learn more about the culture and country their great-grandparents left. About the author
César Garza is a Program Evaluation Specialist the Chicago Mayor's Office of Workforce Development. A native of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, he holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has completed graduate coursework at Chicago State University. He is an active member of the Chicago Historical Society.
You can go home again
Diversity is the cornerstone of America but too often ethnicity and race are politicized, polarized and romanticized. Ignoring differences, trying to boil them away in the big melting pot aggravates social fragmentation. Instead of glossing over the strong pull of tradition – long after immigration – reunions put those values to work, binding strong families and communities.
These are examples of reunions who honor their backgrounds and origins. Every family has much of celebrate in the richness of their history.
Hot fish featured at Cornish Cousins gathering by Flora Toms O'Hagan
Cornish Cousins from the US, Canada and Cornwall gathered in Ely, Minnesota, where their forebearers had brought their mining expertise in the 1880s. Cornwall is the narrow southwestern edge of England tipped by Land's End. Cornwall's St. Piran's flag flew at Ely's city hall with the American flag.
Workshops dominated daytime activities followed each evening with entertainment. Wonderfully talented cousins from Cornwall included musician and poet Bert Biscoe, Sue Hill of the Kneehigh Theatre, Dr. Philip Payton, director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter and Chris Blount of BBC Radio Cornwall. All shared the excitement of what it means to be Cornish.
In addition to her theatre work, Sue Hill works in Cornish communities to revitalize old celebrations or invent new ones. Her hands-on workshops for children of all ages created "a shoal of fish lanterns." Willow branches were bent and shaped into fish skeletons, then covered with wet strength tissue paper saturated in glue.
Candles were mounted in the lanterns for a hot fish parade in Ely in the style of an annual Cornish procession which celebrates a story about a man without kin or wife who set out into stormy waters to catch fish to feed his starving village of Mousehole. Villagers lit his way to shore with lanterns. This miracle of food is celebrated on December 23rd with Starry Gazey pie with seven different kinds of fish. About the author Flora Toms O'Hagan is the granddaughter of a Cornish mining Captain who came to northern Minnesota in 1895. She was born and raised in Ely, Minnesota. Chairing the 9th Gathering of Cornish Cousins made her increasingly aware of her heritage and introduced her to the strong spirit of the Cornish. Flora and her husband Robert, both retired educators, live in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
More Cornish cousins ...Membership is open to anyone interested in the history and culture of Cornwall in the Cornish American Heritage Society. James Thomas, 8494 Wesley Drive, Flushing, MI 48433; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Czech and Slovak heritage Vitáme vás (welcome) will greet you at the new National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library modeled after elements common to buildings in the Czech Republic. Dedicated to preserving and educating about Czech and Slovak ancestors and contributions, there are exhibits, demonstrations and tours. There are facilities for reunion groups, as well as family and business memberships. Contact the museum at 30 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids IA 52404; 319-362-8500.
The American Indian Institute "serving North American Indian tribes of the US and First Nations of Canada" has a Web at www.occe.ou.edu/aii. It is updated continually and includes Institute history, current projects and grants, publications, videos and conferences.
Looking to go Dutch? Then check out the 34th Annual Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, August 11-12, 2000, 35 miles north of Philadelphia. The festival celebrates and portrays Pennsylvanian Dutch folk culture. This year's theme, Zammekumme, translates as "coming together." Featured activities include a barn raising, corn husking, quilting bee, hoe down, auction and a shivaree band. If that weren't enough, expect eight hundred interpreters, dressed in 18th and 19th century garb, demonstrating skilled trades and pasttimes found in early Goschenhoppen.
Contact Goschenhopper Historian, Box 476, Greenlane PA 10854; 215-234-8953.
Saucy Holland days
A reunion is being planned for anyone who has an interest in or ancestors from the Dutch island of Goeree-Overflakkee in the province of Zuid, Holland. Set for September 2001, the reunion will take place near the village of Ouddorp, which has been inhabited since before 300 B.C. More information at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Lake/1588/index.html.
Profile in courage
One cold January day in 1888, John J. Cummings walked nine miles in a blinding blizzard to buy medicine for his ailing one-year-old daughter, then, walked back home. His beard and clothing caked with ice, Cummings found his way by following railroad tracks that ran past his Blunt, South Dakota, farm. Happily, the child recovered.
Over 111 years later, Cummings' heroics were remembered during a family reunion at Milwaukee's Irish Fest, the world's largest festival celebrating all things Irish. Cummings' father, Hugh, immigrated from County Waterford, Ireland in 1849 and settled in southwestern Wisconsin. Photos of John and his daughter, with a 1950 newspaper article describing his snowy ordeal, were among displays featured at the reunion.
"I heard the story through the years," said Joan Cummings about her great uncle's courage. "It's a very touching story."
Cape Fear Facts
One of the most historically significant African-American cities in the US, Wilimington, North Carolina, has provided visitors with an exciting look at the contributions made by blacks to southern history. That contribution has been made even more informative by the creation of the African American Heritage Trail. The trail's seventeen points of historical interest include the Cape Fear Museum; Bellamy Mansion Slave Quarters, built in 1859; the Wilmington Daily Record and the Wilmington Journal, the only black-owned daily newspapers of their time; and the downtown business district, where African-Americans have owned their own businesses for over two centuries.
Wilmington serves as both reminder of slavery and racial repression and the triumph of human courage, perseverance and cooperation. The African American Heritage Trail is a trip the whole family will long remember. Contact Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-222-4757.
The van der Grinten adventure
The van der Grinten Family Reunion was a terrific success. Almost 150 relatives assembled in Kranenburg, Germany if not v.d.G. by name, but then in spirit. Many ladies who were born v.d.G. and brought husbands and kids. Elisabeth Peters, born v.d.G., was 103 years young and stayed at the reunion the whole day. The festivities started with a special service by "Theo Schmidt," a priest whose mother was a v.d.G. by birth, in the old local church.
After a collection paid for expenses, there were a few hundred marks left over which an anonymous spender rounded to 1000 DM. It was decided to donate the money to the kindergarten in Kranenburg. The reunion was described in the local press. Reported by Wolfgang Heinrich van der Grinten
A web discovery could help with family research that has crossed language lines. The Translation Team (email@example.com) is a volunteer service limited to genealogical research. They work in 14 languages. Your message should have a maximum length of 40 lines. Translators are doing this for free, usually in addition to daily work. The shorter your message, the higher the chance translation might be done during the next coffee break. Volunteers make no guarantees nor can they be held liable. If you need a guarantee, ask a professional translator. Please sign your request with a real name, not your screen handle. There is no cost but the courtesy of a thank you to the translator would be nice.
Hochman Family Centennial Reunion
More than 125 descendants of Velvel and Charna Hochman returned to celebrate the centennial of the family's arrival in St. Joseph, Missouri. They immigrated from Bessarabia, then part of Russia, now part of the Republic of Moldova.
The Hochman family is not unlike many families who came from Eastern and Western Europe around the turn of the last century. For many years, Velvel and Charna's children and their families lived in St. Joseph.
By the 1930s, Velvel and Charna could count 29 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. The grandchildren were so close, they considered themselves sisters and brothers rather than first cousins. Aunts and uncles were stand-in mothers and fathers. That idyllic condition existed until World War II took many of the family's sons and daughters to serve in all branches of service. When the war ended, cousins were living all over the country.
Colonel Irv Schoenberg, family genealogist, led a session called "Know Your Hochman Roots" which, for many of the younger members, was both a history lesson and a revelation. For older cousins, it was an opportunity to tell and retell favorite stories of Zeda and Baba Hochman and their ten children. Building on the enthusiasm from the 'roots' session, the family took a guided city bus tour including sites significant in city history as well as in family history. City Hall, Buchanan County Court House, public schools and downtown buildings remain as they appeared over the last century. The City Market, Shaare Sholem Synagogue and Talmud Torah and many of the early family homes and businesses are gone, leaving former locations to be identified. Young cousins saw where the Pony Express started, where Jesse James was killed, and where wagon trains were provisioned for trips west across the Missouri River to the plains beyond.
Entertainment Saturday night included skits, songs and Colonel Schoenberg talked about a video of his visit to the Republic of Moldova and Telenesht, the 'shetl' which was the Hochman home before they began their 'exodus' to America.
The organization of the Hochman Family Reunion is a tribute to modern technology. The reunion committee included cousins who live in St. Joseph, Altanta, Georgia, Kansas City, Missouri, and Sarasota, Florida. There were ten project managers, each representing one of the ten family branches. The primary qualifications for membership on the committee or as a project manager was access to e-mail. Project managers were instrumental in getting Individual Data Sheets completed by cousins around the country and Canada. Their reunion favors were a family tree book. from a news release by Irv Schoenberg, Dunwoody, Georgia
Finnish Embassy is very generous
Cheryl Miller, Racine, Wisconsin, made an exciting find when, while planning the Hentila Family Reunion for next summer, she contacted the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC for help. Miller's husband's mother's side is Finnish, and she was looking for ways to celebrate the family's ethnicity. She received posters, music books, CD's of folk and classical music, books about Finland and its history, cookbooks and flags to decorate a table, and more. It cost her nothing and was shipped within days of her request. Foreign tourist boards can also supply information about the country that represents your heritage. Send a brief summary about your reunion and how you plan to celebrate your ethnicity to the embassy or tourism bureau of your choice.
Reunion places worth dreaming about by Edith Wagner
We've made a wonderful discovery for families who dream of following in the footsteps and trails of elders or ancestors. Project ECHO (Exporting Cultural Heritage Overseas), supported by the European Union, is a new European initiative aimed at promoting tourism to parts of England, France and Holland that have strong, distinctive historic ties with North America.
Our travels abroad tend to concentrate on large cities, however, the richness of foreign lands is often in the countryside away from cities. Life is as full and unpretentious as it is in any inland area of the US. You will feel as comfortable in any of these places as you do at home.
If you have the luxury of being able to concentrate on an area important in your history, make the most of it. For the millions of North Americans descended from ancestors who lived in coastal England, Holland and France, for those millions whose ancestors set sail for the new world from Southampton, Cherbourg, LeHavre or Amsterdam, much awaits you in Southern England, Northern France and Holland.
Hope for a bright future drew millions of Europeans from poverty or persecution to a fresh start in the New World starting with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620.
Follow their footsteps
Imagination comes alive when you walk the same paths and breath air from the same space as ancestors who debarked for their new world lives. Their sacrifice and challenges are not forgotten. Visit history
Memorials and museums are neither dry nor lifeless. They're full of life about those who lived it and their progeny and descendants. Activities and exhibits are engaging. High tech plays an important role in telling history; computer enhancements and interactive displays abound. Hands-on involvement clearly engages younger generations to build an interest in history and, not so altruistically, build a new generation of audiences for living history.
Few of us have connections anymore to maritime history, focal to these areas which depend even today on the sea for transit and shipping. It was the center of the trading world until the last half century. Go anytime
If you travel off season, you'll have the pleasure of being surrounded everywhere you go by school children who are enormously fascinated by living history. Children climbing about the planes at Southhampton's Hall of Aviation, exploring history in a Victorian kitchen at the Poole Museum or eager to explore exquisite ship models at the Vauban Docks in LeHavre. Perhaps most notable were hundreds of students of all ages who blanketed the wonderfully interactive and engaging Memorial to Peace in Caen, France. These are wonderful places for your children to visit. Tracing your roots
Are you one of many millions of North Americans who are exploring the genealogy of their families? Where did your ancestors debark? The information is all there. How you access it is up to you but visiting the archives to see for yourself adds a whole new dimension to how your family, as you know it, in the US, started from a port. Did they debark from Southampton? or Le Havre? Both port cities come alive with growing exhibits and information that reconstruct the travels of your ancestors.
Searching for ancestors from these areas?
The Portsmouth Records Office maintains city archives back to the 14th century while Southampton's City Archives and Central Library, Poole Central Library and Bournemouth Reference Library all offer public access to records. The EngladGenWeb offers a guide to local reference centers, listings for Parish and Census Records and links to other English Genealogy web sites (www.rootsweb.com/~engwgw/index.html).
LeHavre and Cherbourg offer research facilities with English speaking staff at their municipal archives and libraries. The French National Archives is in Paris. Francêtres is a bilingual (French/English) web site that accesses archive records and links to regional genealogical societies (www.world-address.com/francetres/).
Portsmouth offers an extensive maritime history with a rich collection of historic ships you can climb on and see up close and personal. Of particular note is the recently raised Mary Rose, a four masted flagship built in 1509 and sunk in 1545. At Portsmouths D-Day museum you'll see the breath-taking Overlord Embroidery which commemorates the city's role as the main assembly point for the D-Day invasion, Operation Overlord. This hand-stitched masterpiece took 20 embroiderers and five apprentices over five years to complete.
Southampton enjoys a strategic maritime location which was the departure point for the Pilgrim fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Southampton bid farewell to maiden voyages of the Titanic and Queen Mary and saw 5 million movements passing through beginning June 6, 1944. For a contemporary touch, the Titanic Trail in Southampton helps add to the fabric of understanding the true personal tragedy of hundreds of families. Visit the Grapes Inn where some of the Titanic crew drank before their journey. Trail starts in Southampton and continues in Cherbourg before its fateful final departure.
Poole is an ancient seaport whose circumference makes it the second largest harbor in the world. It was the second largest embarkation point for US troops in 1944. The Waterfront Museum tells a fascinating tale of the town and port's history with a touch of high technology to its exhibits.
Nearby Bournemouth is a seaside resort town popular with tourists from around the world. Entertainment, shopping and recreational activities abound. Bournemouth was a special furlough destination during World War II. The building that housed Red Cross headquarters during the war is now the lovely Marsham Court Hotel with a priceless view of the strand.
Northern France A pleasant four-hour ferry trip connects Poole, England to Cherbourg, France.
Cherbourg is dominated by the Liberation Museum (Musée de la Liberation) high atop this city, a bustling working and pleasure boat harbor. Cherbourg is a departure point for wonderful tours of Normandy and particularly to Utah, Omaha, Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches. Along the way, a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur Mer is a moving experience for any patriotic American.
In Caen The Memorial to Peace is an absolute must-see in an area that both understands the horror of war and the pursuit of peace with Americans (proudly) often pictured as at the forefront of making peace a reality.
LeHavre, founded in 1517 and located on the northern bank of the Seine River, has a long history as a military and commercial port. Its Port Centre of Vauban docks offers a fascinating panorama of 150 years of maritime history and trading out of LeHavre. The city also home to an exciting art museum with its impressive collection of impressionist art.
How to get there By air: From the US fly to one of the principal European gateways: London, Paris, Amsterdam Direct flights inside Europe: Southampton-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-LeHavre, LeHavre-Southampton (summer only) I'm a sucker for flying the airlines of the countries I'm visiting. My experience is that the airline tries hard at making your first impression a great one. British Airways succeeds! By train: Reliable trains connect London, Paris and Amsterdam with connections to the South Coast of England, northern France and Flevoland/the Golden Circle in Holland. Rail Europe, 800-438-7245. By ferry: A ferry trip can be a pleasant leisure part of your journey between Cherbourg and Poole, LeHavre and Portsmouth, Portsmouth and Cherbourg or Caen. Getting around: Local travel is easy. Fine public transportation is available as are rental cars and campers for self-directed tours.
New books aid ethnic searches Reviewed by Adam Rose Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. (2000, 260 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45207.
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack shares her diverse professional genealogical expertise regularly in this magazine and also in Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors.
The "Getting your genealogical research started" section is a guide for those just starting to search. It shows you how to collect your family’s oral history – and separate fact from myth, understand historical trends that might affect your research, develop strategies for tracing ancestors back to their arrival in America, successfully locate and interpret naturalization, immigration and emigration records and identify sources to help continue researching your ancestors in their homeland.
The guide then moves to "Major ethnic groups in America: historical overviews." This helps focus your search using profiles of forty-two distinct ethnic groups, including American Indians and African Americans, determine when ancestors arrived, where they likely settled and why, and resources particular to each ethnic group.
The book concludes with "Leaving a legacy," which teaches you how to turn your research into a memorable family history narrative for future generations.
Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors by S. Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode. (2000, 191 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, see above.
If your ancestors came from Germany, try Discovering Your Germanic Ancestry. This hands-on guide designed specifically for beginners addresses virtually every aspect of tracing Germanic lineage. It covers basics and provides a history of Germanic countries and their changing boundaries to help researchers find villages of origin and determine events that led ancestors to emigrate. Anderson and Thode have written several genealogical books and combine 60 plus years of research in this guide.
Discovering Your English Ancestors by Paul Milner and Linda Jonas. (2000, 184 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, see above.
With technology at your disposal, there’s never been a better time to research your English ancestry. You don’t need to leave the US to do it.
This guide gives a well-rounded perspective to your research and shows which records you’ll need and where to find them. It also describes why records were created and how to reveal more about your ancestors’ lives.
There is step-by-step instruction from focusing your research to overcoming special challenges with a case study to learn from. With this information you’ll be able to create a history that brings your family’s story to life.
Both Paul Milner and Linda Jonas have longtime experience in English genealogy. Their insights and experience will pay off as you uncover your family’s history.
Note: All three of these Betterway Books use the same easy to follow format. Each uses icons in the margins to highlight key points in the text. A table of icons provides definitions to easily spot help you’re looking for. Each section utilizes pictures and graphics similar to ones you’ll encounter in research. Definitions and interpretations ensure you’re able to interpret information to record your family’s story.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, summers are festival season throughout the area but particularly on the city's fabulous shoreline of Lake Michigan. The nineteen year Milwaukee Irish Fest features music, dance, culture, entertainment and heritage activities for all ages are annually enjoyed by over 100,000. Each year Irish Fest also honors family reunions. Call 414-476-3378; www.irishfest.com.
A topless doubledecker and cream tea by Jill Nielsen
Chances are we're related if the unusual name of POUT is on your family tree. As far back as 1410, Pout families lived in and around Canterbury, Kent, England, relying on land and sea for their living. By the 1840s some Pouts had emigrated to Australia and North America, where their descendants live today. Correspondence with an English cousin who had researched the family tree resulted in plans for a reunion in Canterbury.
More than 100 people attended the week-long flurry of activities, including a bus outing to visit farmlands once owned or worked by Pout families. But the evening before someone stole the engine out of the bus. Fortunately, the owner's had another bus – a topless doubledecker.
Many of us wanted to sit up top. But as we traveled it became quite windy. On the way to our last stop the driver was driving at a fast clip and we were really bouncing around in our seats. The curvy country road was now lined with trees and as we flew past, overhanging branches brushed the top deck. The wind was working up to a gale and we were laughing hysterically as we constantly ducked to avoid getting smacked on the head by branches.
When we tumbled out of the bus at the vineyard it looked like we had bird nests on top of our heads. Our cream tea – scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, served with tea, was delicious. Later we sampled the wine and discovered a family trait: everyone shared a taste for sweet wine. We agreed that the entire reunion week was a fantastic success which we would always remember – especially the wild bus ride to our cream tea.
Great ethnic resources
If you live in the southeastern part of the country, you may have access to Pepperbird Pathways, a series of illustrated fliers about the events and cultural interests of African Americans, Native Americans and Americans of Latino and Hispanic heritage. Festivals, museums and historic sites all of interest to individual ethnic groups are listed to help plan your reunion program. Pathways is usually sponsored by tourism bureaus, banks or insurance companies who supply them free. If you cannot find Pathways, contact Pepperbird Foundation, PO Box 1071, Williamsburg VA 23187; 757-220-5761.