Tag: minnesota

Historical Imaging 2



This follow-up post presents the historical imaging I’ve done focused on maps and location. Actually, I’d say that it’s most correct to say that this is imagery driven not by simply the “location”, but by the agenda of attempting to locate a thing; to impart a sense of how and where the thing in question is located–oriented–to the viewer.

To locate a thing so that it fits with the audience’s world.

Obviously this can’t always work.

It turns out (of course) that usually at least some sort of context is necessary. For images of a place (whether from a map, an aerial photograph or other rendering, crude diagram in the sand…whatever!), for it to mean a ding dang thing, your intended audience much of the time needs to have at least some basic geographical knowledge.

But that said, it’s a very interesting and multi-faceted challenge to try and make an image conveying a sense of place if you consider your audience consisting of people who don’t know…don’t really care. lol

When & Where… & when, again?

  1.  Basic “when & where” map for an individual or familyMD2MA-1
  2. Tighter focus on the “where” (central Massachusetts in this case; a father and son located)
  3. Placing the very specific in the macro
    1. Farmstead of 4x-great-grandad that served as homebase for 3 generationswashcozoom1
    2. City unfamiliar to coast-dwelling typesLOUISVILLE 1 copy2
    3. When the exact part of a foreign place is important (for some reason)Jura copy
    4. Using cool maps cooly. For this one, the only context necessary is that this is the east coast of Ireland, just south of Dublin and that north is to the right.
      Wicklow 3D2 copy
    5. Tighter focus–after you’ve given some context
      1. Tober Townland was directly referenced on the map above, so now  you can zoom in there to see detail. The inset maintains the tether to the broad knowledge base you’re attempting to access.TUBBER1 copy 2
      2. southwestern Wisconsin, a couple miles off the Mississippi River & 5 or 7 miles from Illinois, showcasing an original land grantee whose descendants carried on in the location; 4x-great-grandkids remain in 2017.T DUSTIN LAND copy
      3. Various specific spots within a larger, but still relatively small (and not commonly  nown) location, the Dordogne in southwestern France. In the upper right of this one is Jumilhac, the castle seen in the last post.
      4. one place, Haverhill, Massachusetts and vicinity…

        image2212 copy

        … variations on perspective

        HAVERHILL SALEM copy

      5.  One place in detail: Foley, Minnesota

        FOLEY copy

Foley sits nearly smack dab in the middle of the state, among the flat, flat fields 15 miles east-northeast of the mini urban hub of St. Cloud and the bend over which it presides of the still quite wide Mississippi River. The tiny hamlet FLC LHC FOLEY copyof Foley has given the world doctors, lawyers, Indy 500 participants, lumber, all-night jazz dances in barns once upon a time, and been home to retired farmers, aspiring capitalist fashionistas, former religious zealots & their kids, descendants of royalty and lots and lots of regular people who very well might’ve been born in other countries or been the kids of those who were.

Rockefeller had a gas station here (like 10s of thousands of of other places in these United States); women turned out nearly to a 100% here in 1924 the first occasion they GnG OGG FOLEY copywere permitted to help choose the President. Foley is a stand-in for whatever your little town is, or was. Our Town is the most performed play (or close to it) in America because 100s of millions of us came from our towns like this. “I didn’t, but my mom did”,–we’re all from it together.

These small towns, whose children and grandchildren have flocked and flown out to the gothams and metropolitanias  were in their way, factories of the ever-new, ever-renewing people, of us all–factories of Americans.

The sprawling and ever interconnected suburbs and ex-urbs where so many millions of us now reside and have for some time–they are built by the developers and they are inhabited by the dwellers on the model of the myriad iterations of “Small Town America” like Foley, Minnesota. It was in these places that generations of people learned and were taught how to be Americans. Despite the regional differences that might inculcate one attitude or another toward or about other people, the style of day-to-day interaction and pacing and level of attentiveness to the people around you, it’s all very similar in this small town substrate of our collective sense of ourselves and how and who we are.

It is from this America that in many critical ways we came. And it seems to me worth knowing in order to figure out into what America we are, might, or can decide to be going.


Club Chill

Axevalla Hed – Garrison of the Skaraborgs and Västergötland regiments of the Swedish Army


AXE MOREKungshuset

A visual meditation on the couple of things the name “Kylén” would’ve meant to my gr-gr-grandfather, Sven Andersson, when he received it as his soldatennamen (soldier name) when he served in the Swedish Army, probably sometime between 1842 and 1849. Through an incredibly nice guy in Sweden who has it as a last name (for the same reason that Sven’s daughter had it as her last name; ie, his ancestor was given it as a nickname in the army) I learned that it was a word meaning thigh-bone, from the German “Keule”, which has the meaning of “cudgel”, as in a “club”, like a fighting stick. He shared this info with me after consulting an etymology dictionary from the 1800s himself! Cuz up to that point (w/out knowing each other) we both DID know that today, SVEN KYLEN“Kylén” is the word in Sweden for “the fridge”. Yeah yeah, all very funny, but what the hell did it mean in 1842, 80 years b1000px-Skaraborgsgruppen_vapen.svgefore “the fridge” was invented? The legbone-as-weapon sounded pretty good.


But then I looked up more stuff and it might just as well have simply meant “chill”, along the lines of “cold snap” or “icy blast of air”, “coldness”. Imagine a battaliion of 50 guys, the seargent at Axevalla (the garrison where my, and the ancestor of this Swedish fellow I just mentioned, were both stationed [some 30 years apart, though]) barks out a few soldiers’ names: “Sword! Thunder! Evergreen! Lightning!…Chill?…Stick? Cudgel? Coldness? Icy Chill?


<sigh … or is that “brrrrr!”>

So it looks like the quest continues. Here I go trying to find a native Swedish speaker who also happens to know rather a lot about the military history of his country that hasn’t had or been in a war for 200 years, and a bit about the evolution of his language. lol  In the meantime, here’s the picture I made about it all.

So, until later; I’ll just be chillin’ da mos’ all up in here at Club Kylén…




150th Part 2

Scan 4_3 copy

We all celebrate birthday weeks these days, yeah? So let’s say I’m extending the same courtesy to my dear old namesake great-grandmother, Selma Kylen.




First, a little reality check: in Osterbitterna, where she was born, it’s 17 degrees Farenheit today! (-2 Celsius)! Yowzah!




So as part 2 of the info celebrating her, this post is the beginning of the “big reveal” as to what it turns out her last name and my first name mean. (Reminder, or background for any 1st time readers: She was born Jan 10, uni_i_m_m1845c1864 in southwestern Sweden & came to the US in 1880, married an American named Frank Campbell in Minnesota, etc etc. Her birth last name can also be considered to have been Selma Svensdotter; her dad was named Sven Andersson, but while in the Swedish army he received, as was the practice, the soldier name–soldaten namen–of “Kylen”, and the name was passed on to/used by himself and some of his 9 kids, including Selma. These days it means “the fridge” in Swedish, but other leads point to another meaning.)AXE 1


This is the place that was (almost certainly) the location where Sven was trained 2093_1910Aand served in the army back in the 1840s. Thus it’s the place where he received the moniker that would Picture 8eventually find its way to being my name. These uniforms from the period are approximately what he would’ve been wearing in those days.

More to come!

1864 – 2014

Picture 6S KYLEN WDGSK CARDSelma Kylén

January 10

1864 – 2014

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth in Sweden of a very particular great-grandmother of mine. VARA ETC SWE copyAlthough, sadly, not even my mom or her siblings got to meet her since she died several years before they were born, she holds a very special place in my heart since her last name came to be me…or rather, mine…Er, the name…I call myself…


It seems altogether fitting and just that I share a pile of stuff about her, and revolving around her on this day.
Some has to do with the origin of the name (again, a topic dear to my heart; especially since as a little kid I wanted to change my name to Charlie, or Tommy, or Jimmy; and yeah, you could say I’m more than glad I steered clear of doing that).

Another bit will be to share what I’ve fused together thanks to the kind donation of some DNA code of a fellow great-grandson of Selma’s with some extremely productive on-site famtracking done in Sweden a few years back by my aunt. (And while we’re all usually used to thinking of “be fruitful…” to mean on the downward flow of generations–and Selma and her husband Frank Campbell were indeed that–my aunt’s investigations on the ground in Sweden proved just as fruitful in the backward flow, giving us a dozen or more ancestors we had no idea about beforehand!)

First, though, the basics.

Selma was born 150 January 10ths ago (in 1864) in a place called Österbitterna in Sweden, which is about 25 miles or 40 kilometers south of that huge lake, Lake Vänern, in the southwest part of the country, the 7th child images%2f191-2images%2f10-2and 5th daughter born to her mother Marja and father Sven. Thus going by the patronymic naming tradition she would be called Selma Svensdotter. Judging by the blondish looking hair she has in all the pictures we have of her and the blonde hair all of her kids sported as kids, it’s most likely as a little girl, she too was a blondie. Her older brothers came to the USA first and sent money back–very common, of course, in those days when much of Europe was emigrating across the Atlantic. Selma was only 16 when she and her one of her sisters sailed to America in the fall of 1880. Their parents and a younger brother joined them within a couple years.

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Lee is the little guy, 2nd from the left, holding his daddy’s hand.

Like so many other Scandanavians, they went to Minnesota. My aunt did most of the digging and finding on Selma’s ancestors and family, so I’ll quote her succinct summary: “Upon arrival she was hired as a maid in the FnS WEDDINGhome of John Murphy’s family. (The Murphy family later moved to Foley, Minnesota and had a life long friendship with Selma and Frank.)” Frank is Frank L. Campbell (1861 – 1952), the American man she married  who, the story goes, was also employed in the Murphy household as a gardener. If my memory serves, that was all in Minneapolis. My aunt continues: “Following her marriage to Frank she became a farmer’s wife in Blue Earth County until 1898 when they moved to St. George twp., Benton County, Minnesota.” Blue Earth County is out by Mankato, Minnesota, about 60 miles south-southwest of Minneapolis. And it was there that Selma became a mother, herself, in 1890, to a girl they named Myrtle. Another girl two years later was named Abigail (probably after relatives of Frank’s), and a third two years after that they named Gladys. In the winter of 1896 Selma gave birth to a boy. They gave him his dad’s middle name (Lee). That little guy would go on to be my grampa.
As my aunt noted, they moved a few years later to Benton County, which is due north of Blue Earth, about 60 miles north-northwest of the twin cities. Two more kids followed, Vern in 1900 and Vida in 1903. Selma’s dad, Sven, died in 1901, and her mom (name anglisized to Maria) went to live with Selma and Frank. She and they would remain right there for the rest of their lives, growing their family and then later being there and getting to see the familes that their kids in turn grew.

Next part: Why I’m Not Named “Svensdotter”  (Wha??)