Tag Archives: Chicago

Wordless Wednesday – A Knight in Shining Armor


Wordless Wednesday – Graceland Cemetery

Memory Monday Good Ole’ Uncle Bill

William Ramsden
24 Feb 1920
6 May 2001

When I was young, we spent many of our weekends with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Dorothy. We would all go to Wisconsin to land we owned there. Bill and Dorothy had a piece of land which had a garage on it. They turned the garage into a home. They spent many weekends there and lots of time in the summer as well.

In the summer, they cut down trees. Remember those manual saws, where there was a person on each side holding an end and moving it back and forth until they cut through the tree. Nothing like today when you take the electric and do it in half the time. I remember snowmobiling. That was always fun. This large machine running the grounds and the snow blowing in our faces. I truly remember just loving the outdoors. The last time I was there I was about 7 years old. I believe my parents sold our land by the time I was 10.

Anyhow, Uncle Bill was a carpenter by trade. He worked for the Riverview Amusement Park in Chicago, IL. If my memory serves me right he was the head carpenter there. One day, Riverview had an important guest walking through the park. This guest offered  Uncle Bill a job, to go to California and help him build an amusement park there. Bill went home and discussed this great opportunity with his wife Dororthy. Her reply, “I will not leave my family.” So Bill turned down this wonderful job in California. Where his name would be forever etched on Mainstreet USA. So, who was this mysterious guest that walked the Riverview park and offered my sweet Uncle Bill a job in California? That’s right, Walt Disney! Here is a piece of Disney Trivia for everyone out there. All those that were instrumental in the building of Walt Disney’s parks have there name etched in glass on the store fronts of Main Street USA.

This story is one that I will never forget. We grew up very much a Disney family. Spent many vacations in Florida enjoying the parks there.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – Graceland Cemetery



This stone is not for any of my ancestors. I took it on a recent outing to Graceland Cemetery. I love all of the old stones. It is sad that many of these stones are degrading and one is not able to read them anymore.

Newberry Library, Chicago’s Family History Center

Today we had beautiful weather, a great day to be outside and enjoying the many sites Chicago has to offer. Instead, I opted for a day of research at Newberry Library. First and foremost, drivers beware, parking is costly! Parking meters are now $2.00 per hour with a 2 hour maximum. Local parking garage is $6 for the first half hour and $19 for 2-10 hours. So, if public transportation is an option I suggest taking it. Beware, the library does not allow any bags into the reading rooms. 

As you walk into this impressive building you are greeted by security. You must show your reading card and sign in. If you have any bags on you, security will promptly point you to lockers. Once you have signed in and passed security you follow the stairs to the second floor, which is where they house their genealogical materials. You must check in here with the librarian and he/she will assign you a desk to work at. Each desk seats four people, the staff does a great job at making sure they spread everyone out. It always seems like we are there alone!

The staff is overly helpful. I spent probably a good half hour with their historian today. I was seeking assistance with my Russian research, that I seem to ignore daily. My mother in law’s Grandfather was in the Russian White Army and came to the USA in 1916 (with his family). He was here working with the Russian Artillery Commission. You can read this previous post for information. I did learn today that once the Czar was overthrown the Russian Embassy began paying the salary of the Russians that ended up losing there salary due to this.  They were then given the job of assisting the Russians that were coming to the USA. The Embassy continued paying them until mid 1920’s. What I am trying to find is how Anatoly Porai Koshetz arrived in America, with his family. I have not been able to find any records through Ellis Island, either on Ancestry or Ellis Islands websites. My question was should I continue to look here or should I be looking in Russia. His suggestion was to continue with research in America. He believes something will surface. So for now, I will do that.

What I really want to share with you is the history of the collections in this building. As I stated earlier, this was not my first visit to the Newberry Library. Some of the books/folio’s we requested to look at today were very old, and in great condition. I want to tell you about my 3 favorite.

  1. First I browsed a book form the late 1800’s. The pages seemed to be made of cloth instead of paper. It had a very silk like feel to it. 
  2. I also looked over a few folio’s that were family tree’s, one from the 1800’s, it was the Royal lineage of England. I was in awe as I opened each flap of it. 
  3. Last another family tree folio which was also of the Royal families. This one was from the 1700’s. The tree itself went a few generations before “King Jesus” . 

They were all amazing to look through and honestly I feel privileged to have been able to hold and go through each one of these items. I appreciate the great job Newberry does in preserving history.

Besides the great conversation and research trips from the Historian, my research did not prove to be anything great today. I found a few marriage dates for some collateral lines. Found two ancestors in the DAR index. But that’s about it. 

I have one question for all of my fellow researchers that have their tree uploaded on Ancestry. How do you differentiate your direct line ancestors from your collateral lines? I know in some programs, such as Reunion you can “mark” these ancestors. I need some assistance as to how to make it easier to search my tree on Ancestry. My sister-in-law and I had a 20 minute conversation on the way home as to how we can make this more efficient. Any advice?

Uncle Gunk, my Vietnam Veteran!


Butch and siblings

Butch and siblings



Frederick John Fischer, Jr.  4  Dec 1939 – 7  May 1999

I remember one morning when I was young (probably about 4-5 years old). We lived in Chicago in a two flat. My family lived on the first floor and my paternal Grandma lived on the second floor. Convenient set up for my Dad and Step Mother, built in babysitter 24/7! On this one morning, I remember being upstairs at Grandma’s, looking out a window which looked down on our yard. This morning, I remember telling my Grandma that there was a “man” sleeping in our yard. She came to the window, looked out, laughed and told me “that’s no man, that’s your Uncle Butch!” He was wrapped completely in a sheet, could not even see his head. I have no clue how I knew he was a man! He just loved the out doors and that meant sleeping there as well. 

Uncle Butch was always the silent type. He never had much to say, and when he did, you listened! He went about his business and did not get involved with others, if it did not have anything to do with him. He was not involved. Being the silent type, Butch was more of a loner. Handled things on his own, by himself. As a young adult, I found it strange that friends showed up to his funeral. I did not know that he had friends, this man was always to himself. He even worked for a friend of the family on Sundays, doing security at a closed Restaurant. I remember asking him why he did this Sunday job and his reply was it is quite there and no one is there to bother him. He must have been extremely comfortable with himself, to spend all his time this way.

I am not the oldest or youngest of the nieces/nephews for Butch. He was one of seven children from two different marriages. So you can just imagine the number of nieces and nephews he had. My California cousins, Tim and Tom gave him the nickname of Uncle Gunk when they were little boys, which stuck with him until the day he died. Even today when we talk about him, Gunk is the name we use. Which starts the conversation with a good hearty laugh!  One day, I will have to remember to get the story behind the nick name (all I remember is at has something to do with a trip to the grocery store).

Butch joined the service (I believe the Air Force) when he was under 17 and was sent home to wait until he was of age. As soon as 18 hit, he re-enlisted  (I believe in the Army) and was sent off to Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Butch met and fell in love with a women he wanted to marry when he got home. Due to the times,  he was told it was unacceptable and he did not go through with it. He never married, or I believe dated for that matter. When he died in 1999, he still had the picture on his wall of the women he loved. How sad, to go your whole life, in love with one person, and not have her there with you.  How lonely he must have been.

Besides the women he left behind after Vietnam, Butch also had a love for Cigarettes, Beer, his dog Gar, and crossword puzzles. Gar, was very dear to his heart, he took the dog everywhere with him. I don’t remember much about Gar, except that he scared me as a child. He spent many hours at our kitchen table with a cigarette in his mouth, a beer on the table, the newspaper crossword puzzle in front of him and a pen in his hand. I do not believe he ever asked someone to assist him with the puzzles.

Butch spent the later part of his years living with his sister Betty, which is where he passed on May 7, 1999.


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