Sunday, November 24, 2013

Year to Remember - 1942

When my maternal grandmother was just 13, the family uprooted from her hometown of Wishek, North Dakota, a very tight knit town in which about 90% of the people there were from Russia. However, these were a unique set of people from Russia. They were German in ethnicity, but had left their homeland to live in parts of Russia - especially chosen by Catherine the Great in the 1700's, who was of German descent herself. She had her German fellows come to Russia to work the land and cultivate it. These parts of Russia were especially difficult to grow much in, but they still came to a foreign country. What drove them to do so? To look for a new life? Escape hardship they were already facing in Germany? It's hard to say why someone would go hundreds or thousands of miles from their home, especially if they'd never been there or had never seen it.

But, this is a whole blog post in itself, so I will have to delve into this at another time.

Back to 1942, my grandmother, her mother and father, and a baby on the way, drove out to California, for her father to find work in the Richmond shipyards. Once there, her father worked for the Kaiser shipyards, the same Kaiser who developed what we know as today Kaiser Permanente HMO healthcare. As a side note, I recently learned that her older sister worked as a typist for Kaiser.

My grandmother would start a new life in the new town of Richmond, CA. Fortunately, her sister lived not too far away in a town called Linden (near Stockton). She was married to one of the Purviance sons, who were known for their oil drilling in the area. My grandmother would often go down to visit her sister and see her nephew and spend time with the Purviance family.

Here are a few pictures during this time in the early 1940's when they were knew to the area and new to California. However, I think they adapted well to California. The weather was far more milder than North Dakota's harsh winters; the scenery was not quite as flat and of course, there was the beach! And, dance halls - where she'd meet my grandfather (sometime in 1947) who was a native to El Cerrito and part of a very large Irish family.

Grandma with her youngest sibling, James (Jimmy), Richmond, CA, 1945

Grandma at the kitchen table, Richmond, CA

Grandma outside their Richmond, CA home, a common spot for poses, circa 1942-43

 She is holding a flower (not a cigarette - Grandma never took up smoking)

In Linden with her nephew

Not long before they headed out to California, circa 1941, Wishek, ND

Grandma with her close middle-school and HS friend, Babe, circa 1942-43

Grandma at age 15, circa 1944

Thanksgiving, Pilgrims & the Chilton Family

I remember one morning around the week of Thanksgiving, right before leaving school, our local paper published all of the names of people who were aboard the Mayflower. My Dad showed it to me and was so proud to see names of our ancestors on this famous boat - the Chilton's. There is some folklore that the daughter, Mary Chilton, was the first person to step foot on Plymouth Rock and also of of the few surviving pilgrims to witness the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

My father's mother was a Chilton. It was her maiden name (Bonnie Lucille Chilton, born August 20th, 1932 - Died: May 24th 1980). Her father came from Texas, and further down the Chilton line, many of them came from Tennessee. I have yet to go as far back as the 1820's on the Chilton's but I think I can do so once given a little more time.

We still have the newspaper article from that day (sometime in 1992), and we added it to a family history book of my brother's he had to make in the 4th grade (sometime in 1988-89). We kept adding things to it after he made it. I made my own family history book in 1997 and extracted some items out of it, but for the most part, his stayed in tact.

Thanksgiving is one of those days were our family has had many varied celebrations. Often they were at one of our family member's home, or we'd go out and celebrate. Nevertheless, being with my cousins and extended family made our Thanksgivings a very meaningful time of year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Hello! My name is Kristen and I have designed a blog to help chronicle my family history findings as I research or learn new facts. I intend this blog to be rich with stories, photos and a "love of heritage."

I feel a deep connection to the family ties in which I was born into. I am not sure why I feel this connection unlike most others, but it is something I value very much. Family means a lot to me. Knowing the stories, the whereabouts and the ideas my ancestors had, gives me an intimate connection to them and maybe in some way, let's me feel a closeness to them as if I actually knew them.

I have been researching for over 16 years, but more heavily since about 2009.

I am excited to get this blog going as it's been a vision in my mind for years. I had a personal blog which I chronicled some of my family history, however, I decided to put that blog to rest about two years ago. It was a time in my life in which I needed a new start.

Please come along and join me on this fun ride of discovery of one's roots. I hope it can allow you to gain more perspective on your own and help you start researching and collecting facts!

All my best!