Week 8: #52 Ancestors – Family Photo
By Eilene Lyon
Rather than a standard group portrait, I will share a trio of images recently added to Ancestry.com by my 4th cousin, Twinkycat.
She and I met in Wisconsin in 2012. As we got acquainted over drinks, she showed me a hardbound, professionally printed copy of her great-aunt’s scrapbook. Amazingly, it contained photos of my dad and his brothers as young boys. Their great-grandmother must have sent the pictures from South Dakota to Wisconsin.
Because my cousin’s branch of the family remained in Wisconsin, she has closer ties to our history there. (My ancestors were perennially on the move.) She also gave me a copy of her genealogy, which had many photos from my side of the family. My family has no such collection of photos from her branch.
Our common ancestors are German immigrants, Mathias and Dorethe (Sandring) Nordt. They had two daughters, Mary Frederica (my 2nd great-grandmother) and Agatha (Twinkycat’s 2nd great-grandmother). Mary Frederica was my last ancestor to be born on foreign soil. Mathias and Dorethe also had a son, Wilhelm (William) Daniel Nordt.
The Nordts emigrated in 1881. Mathias and William arrived in April at New York. Dorethe and her daughters arrived in November at Baltimore.1 They settled in southeastern Wisconsin. In Germany, Mathias had been a shoemaker. William was a musician.2 Thanks to recently found baptismal records and a marriage record, we know that the Nordts were from a small community that is now a suburb of Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, in northern Germany.3
The Nordts established a hotel/tavern in Sullivan, Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Judging by the photo above, it was a happening sort of place. I wish I could be raising a tankard with Mathias there (though it might be frowned on for a woman – note there’s not a single female in either tavern photo).
The children all married: William to Mary Hansen; Mary Frederica to Alton P. Crandall; and Agatha to John Cook.
According to my cousin, the Sullivan hotel burned down in the summer of 1907. I haven’t been able to verify the event with other sources. Allegedly, Dorethe sustained fatal injuries during the fire. Her death certificate lists the causes of death as “Oedema of Lungs” and “Heart failure” for a duration of 2 ½ days, but does not mention the fire as the proximate cause.4
After the fire and the death of his wife, Mathias Nordt became a dairy farmer near Hebron. In 1920, he was living with his younger daughter, Agatha Cook, in Koshkonong, Wisconsin. He eventually moved to South Dakota to live with his elder daughter, Mary F. Crandall. He died in Codington County in 1927 and his body was returned to Wisconsin for burial in the family plot.5
Feature image: Group portrait on the porch of the tavern in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Mathias Nordt is the bearded man in the center (Courtesy of twinkycat171)
- The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Year: 1881; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 434; Line: 30; List Number: 372 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Baptism record for Marie Friederika Nordt (also for her siblings). Landesarchiv Sachsen-Anhalt; Magdeburg, Deutschland; Film Number: 1190624. Ancestry.com. Saxony, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1890 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. ↩
- Dortha Sandring Nordt. Wisconsin Certificate of Death. Copy supplied by twinkycat171. ↩
- Mathias Nordt. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Death Index, 1879-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004. ↩