Monthly Archives: November 2012

Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part II

This is the second installment dedicated to the artwork of my great-grandmother Olga Hanson Schmidt.  Part one is here.  These are all pieces currently in the possession of Olga’s grand-daughter Gloria Johnson.   She had this to say about her collection:

“I don’t remember what years any of these pieces were completed.   I do remember well grandma sitting in her living room working on her patches,  every stitch was done by hand.   She could never understand how the “new generation” was sewing their patches together by machine.    On some of her quilts, like the Double Wedding Ring, we all could find pieces we recognized from our home sewn clothing.    Then, when grandma had her patches all together in the pattern for the top of the quilt, she’d have a quilting Bee.  Her quilting girlfriends would come over to help “quilt” the top layer to the bottom fabric – of course there would be batting between the 2 layers.  The quilt frame would be set up over her dining room table.    We children would be in and out of the house, knowing grandma was having help completing her quilt.   Of course, we didn’t have much appreciation for that art at the time.   Now days, many quilters take their finished machine sewn quilt top in to a quilt shop where they hire someone to quilt their quilt for them.    That quilting is done by machine now too.
I remember grandma doing her oil painting in her dining room.   She had an easel set up in the SW or SE corner of the room where the light was good.    I wonder what happened to that easel?   I remember many many tubes of oil paint in many colors.”

Fall River Scene

“This oil painting is hanging over my mother’s antique table and lamp in our Woodruff home.  It could very well be of the Eau Claire River which flows East of Wausau and eventually into the Wisconsin River.” – Gloria Johnson

Wisconsin River Bay

“This lovely picture hangs in our foyer of our Woodruff home.   It is a sunset scene, probably of a small bay of the Wisconsin River.” – Gloria Johnson

Unknown Quilt Pattern

“This quilt was on my mother and dad’s  bed for many years.  I don’t know the name of the pattern.    It is now displayed on my quilt rack in my guest bedroom.” – Gloria Johnson

Double Wedding Ring

“Double Wedding Ring.   I’ve had this quilt since I was married.  It is a full size and was on my bed for many years.   Now it’s displayed on my quilt rack.  A quilting friend told me it’s one of the hardest quilt patterns to do.” – Gloria Johnson

Double Wedding Ring (detail)

Drunkard’s Path

“Drunkards Path.   I love this quilt!    The red is stunning!   It belongs to my son, Brian and for now it is on my quilt rack in the guest bedroom.   It is a twin size.” – Gloria Johnson

Tumbling Blocks

“Tumbling Blocks.   This quilt belongs to daughter, Carrie.   It is a twin size.  It is displayed on my quilt rack for now.”

Olga Hanson Schmidt with some of her quilts. 1975.

Click here for Part III

Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt

My great-grandmother Olga Hanson Schmidt (1891-1990) was a multi-talented artist.  The most common memories related by those who knew her involve her artwork.  She was a teacher of the art of quilting, and painted and drew in many different mediums.

Rather than being a biographical article, I just wanted to create a place where some of her artwork could be displayed.  I’ll continue to update this article with other photos and artwork as they become available.  [You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them and/or download them.]

This still-life is owned by Olga’s granddaughter, Ellen Krueger Larson.  It’s in one of the upstairs bedrooms at her home.

Sunset In Wood

“This painting is very old. The colors are incredible. It hangs in the master bathroom.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

Fall Scene

“This looks like our driveway up north. It hangs in our living room every autumn.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner.  The piece originally belonged to Gloria Johnson.

Ice Skating

“Original owner was Gloria [Johnson].  After her divorce she gave to me.  It hangs in one of our guest bedrooms.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

Eau Claire River

“Grandma Schmidt painted this when I was in high school. The boat house to the right belonged to Dick’s Grandfather (Louis) Rhyner.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

Wolf River Scene

Johnson Home in the Snow

“Gloria [Johnson] in the snow bank, Peggy [Voght] pulling Ann [Voght] in the sled.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner


“Again, the original owner of this painting was Gloria. Grandma had never finished it.  Our daughter, Kris, added a few strokes along the shoreline.  It hangs in one of our guest bedrooms.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

John Voght Quilt

This quilt is owned by John Voght.

Kay Rhyner’s Quilts

“The top two were my Mother’s.  The top one she used until her death in 1986 .  The second is a twin size with wool batting… very heavy.  Mother had that quilt before she was married.  The third quilt is twin size and on loan from my daughter Becky [Rhyner Duffy].  The bottom two are both mine, and Grandma gave them to me the year I was married in 1961.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner


Ashtrays – Apart

“This was a set of ash trays that Grandma made for her daughter Mabel.  This set is the only ceramics that I have from her ” clay period”, but I wonder if there are more.” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

Candle Holder in Ceramic

Candle Holder in Ceramic

“I knew I had another piece of Grandma Schmidt’s ceramic period. Found this beautiful rose this morning as I was looking for something else. ” – Kay Johnson Rhyner

Click here for Part II

Robert Erwin Thomas & Claire Muncy

Robert Erwin Thomas (1887 – 1965, who went by “Erwin”) was the sixth of seven children of my great-great-grandfather Horace Luther Thomas, and was the beloved uncle of my paternal grandfather, Fred Thomas Jr.  Erwin was born in Winooski, VT on 26 Jul 1887, and married Claire Maria Muncy (1890-1973) on 12 Nov 1912 in Burlington, VT.  Over the years they also lived in Essex Junction, Milton, Rutland, Brandon, and Morrisville, Vermont.

As I wrote previously, after my grandfather Fred Thomas Jr. was taken back from his aunt’s home to live with his father, he often felt left out of the new family dynamic.  As a result, he spent a lot of time with Erwin, who became almost like a father to him.

My father wrote of Erwin and Claire, and their daughter Lois Thomas Soderberg:

I have hazy memories of Lois, I seem to remember that she was petite and quite pretty. Erwin and Claire played an important part in my father’s life.  He was never quite accepted by my grandfather’s new wife, she favored her own sons and especially Charles [Charles Fogg Thomas], so my father spent much of his childhood in Essex Junction living with Erwin and Claire.  The two of them were both kind and gentle people, so it’s no wonder my father felt comfortable with them.  The last time I saw Erwin was my junior year at college, he was with a firm that sold meat and groceries to restaurants and institutions and my fraternity was one of his clients.

Today “Uncle Erwin”‘s great-grandson, Tom E. Soderberg, sent me a batch of photos of Erwin and Claire.  I thought I’d share them here:

Robert Erwin Thomas, abt 1960

Claire as a young woman.  Labor Day, 1908.

Claire as a middle-aged woman, about 1935

Claire at a more advanced age, about 1965.

And a bonus… riding in a genuine Fringe-Top Surrey!

Surry with the Fringe on Top

[Note: I believe this photo was staged to look “old” and was probably taken sometime in the 1960’s.  Claire looks the same as she does in the photo above from c1965, plus the careful observer will note that they appear to be in front of a backdrop based on the shadows in the right corner behind the right front wheel.]

Folsom Family Images

For some reason the floodgates have opened on my Folsom family recently, so I apologize for so many blogs about them in a row.  I’m sure I’ll get back to other things soon enough… however!

Today the Town Archivist for New London, New Hampshire, Jim Perkins, sent me two photos very much related to my family.  The first is a photo of a home built by my 3x great grand uncle, Charles Edward Folsom (1833-1919).  It appears to be a very lovely home that was connected to a very lovely barn by way of a heated, covered living area with upstairs living quarters and large plate-glass windows.  It was referred to locally, apparently, as “Folsom’s Folly”, and was built in 1871 in Elkins, New Hampshire:

Scytheville, Charles E. Folsom House, Built 1871, “Folsom’s Folly”

He writes further, regarding Charles E. Folsom:

Charles E. Folsom started working at the scythe company in 1868. Serving as foreman of manufacturing, he soon became a partner by purchasing an $8,000 share of the business in 1869.  He built the house, quite ambitious for the neighborhood, in 1871. It apparently required the excavation of some massive glacial boulders and earned the nickname “Folsom’s Follie.” The scythe company went bankrupt in 1887 and its real assets were sold at public auction in June 1888. The town history says that Charles E. Folsom went on to “similar work in Winsted, Connecticut.” The town history (published in 1899) also says that he resided in Scytheville from 1869 to 1889. It mentions that his wife, who died in 1895, is buried in the village cemetery. It looks like he died at age 85 in Hudson, Maine, in 1919.

Checking the town reports, we find that Charles E. Folsom was on the “prudential committee” for School District No. 5, whose schoolhouse was located nearby. It’s not clear whether he was the entire committee or the chairman, but his reports appear in the town records for 1877 and 1878 along with some transfers of school tax money.

I was able to determine today that when Charles’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Shackley, died in 1895, he married her niece, Laura E Shackley in 1899. The two of them are living with Laura’s brother, James Shackley, in the 1910 census for Hudson, Maine. James was both Charles’s brother-in-law and the nephew of his first wife!

The second photo is of Charles E. Folsom’s son, Edward N. Folsom (1864-1902).  It seems to have been taken as a student photo during his days at the “Colby Academy”.  I love the first time I get to put a face with a name from the family tree.  It ranges from thrilling to overwhelmingly emotional, depending on the person in question:

“Edward N. Folsom of Scytheville / Elkins. Colby Academy ’83. d. December 1902”

Scythe Manufacturing – Part II

I’m getting a clearer picture of the forces at work that brought certain parts of my family together.  Specifically the Folsom, Gilman, and Nason families, who moved around following opportunities in the skilled metal-working trade (making scythes and axes).

The family of my 4x great-grandfather Charles Taylor Folsom was living in Waterville, Maine and he was listed as a “mechanic” in the 29 Aug 1850 census.  Only two months later the same family was caught by the census-takers again after having moved to Fayette, Maine (which was the home town of Charles’s wife Elizabeth Judkins).  There he and his son Charles Edward Folsom began working for the North Wayne Scythe Company and are listed as “Scythe Manufacturers” on the second census.

Scythes from the North Wayne Tool Company

Scythe shop workers at the North Wayne factory.

In 1857 the North Wayne Scythe Company burns down, so Charles T moved the family to New London, New Hampshire, part of which used to be named “Scytheville” because of the large scythe-manufacturing facility there.  He and his son are again listed as “scythe manufactures” in the 1860 census for New London, working at the New London Scythe Company.

“The enlarged forge shop (old stone shop) and other buildings. Note the tracks, catwalk, etc. In left across pond is a carriage shed for Scythe Co. Beyond that a double house. Over the right corner of the shop is another company house (1 of 3). Between the shop roof and the Phillips House may be seen the roof of the early office and paint shop — later the Scytheville Post Office.” – Courtesy of the New London Town Archives

“Scytheville (c. 1875). Forge Shop, built 1866. Phillips House and worker tenements in the background.” – Courtesy of the New London Town Archives

“New London Scythe Company, 1871. Business offices, final polishing, painting, and shipping.” – Courtesy of the New London Town Archives.

According to the New London Town Archives, Charles E. Folsom served as foreman of manufacturing and then became a partner by purchasing an $8,000 share of the business in 1869.  Unfortunately the scythe company went bankrupt in 1887, so the younger Charles left town and “went on to similar work in Winsted, Connecticut”.

My 3x great-grandfather Ruel Nason was also born in Maine and also lived in Norridgewock, Maine.  His father Uriah Nason was a farmer.  Ruel then moved to Wayne, Maine, where he met and married Charles T. Folsom’s daughter Lucy Gilman Folsom about 1856.  The couple was living next door to Charles E. Folsom in 1860.  Ruel is listed as an “axe maker” and Charles E. Folsom as a “scythe maker” in that census.

Ruel then moved to Skowhegan, Maine where he was working as an axe manufacturer in 1870.  In 1881 he moved to Bedford, Canada and continued working in the same capacity.  By 1886 he had moved back to Bedford, New Hampshire where he died in 1889 from pneumonia.  Charles T. Folsom had died from pneumonia in 1886 in New London, New Hampshire.  His wife died only three weeks before him, likely of pneumonia as well.

The Gilman family also started off in Maine.  Joseph Gilman married Florilla Folsom in Norridgewock, Maine in 1847.  They then moved to Fayette and Waterville, Maine in 1850 where Joesph was working as a scythe manufacturer, a trade he continued after the family moved with the Folsoms to New London, New Hampshire according to the 1860 and 1870 census.

Joseph’s sons Charles and Clarence Gilman are both living side-by-side in the 1880 census for New London, New Hampshire.  Clarence is living with his mother, the widowed Florilla Folsom Gilman and her other son Fred Gilman.  Charles T. Folsom, his wife Elizabeth Judkins, and brother-in-law Stephen Judkins are living nearby, as is Charles E. Folsom and his wife Mary Shackley.  Charles Gilman is listed as a “scythe plater”.  Charles T Folsom is a “scythe polisher”.  Fred Gilman is listed as a “scythe plater”.  Charles E Folsom is listed as a “scythe manufacturer”.

In 1901 Charles Gilman went to Bedford, Canada (as Ruel Nason had in the 1880s) where he was working as an “axe manufacturer” in the 1901 census.  His brother Clarence Gilman was in Highgate, Vermont plying the same trade at that point.  Clarence then also went to Bedford, Canada and both Charles and Clarence were living together there and working as scythe manufacturers in 1911.

Bedford Axe Company, Bedford, Canada.

So working through Maine, New Hampshire, and Canada, the three families lived near each other, married into each other, and worked in the metal-working trades together.

Folsom Family Found

I had spent months trying to find the parents of my 4x great-grandfather Charles T. Folsom (1808 – 1886) about whom I have written previously.

Grave of Charles T. Folsom and Elizabeth Judkins.

Charles was a scythe manufacturer, and was born in Leeds, Maine.  He and his family (along with other families related to me) moved around following this “skilled-metal manufacturing” trade.  But I just could not find Charles’s parents!  Very frustrating.

In my usual pattern of pursuing all avenues, apparently, at some point, I had sent an email to the reference section of the Maine State Library looking for any information about Charles.  Today they wrote me back with some pretty amazing news:

According to Elizabeth Knowles Folsom in “Genealogy of the Folsom Family”, Charles Taylor Folsom was born in Leeds on the first of August, 1808. His parents were Gordon and Mary (Taylor) Folsom [actually Nancy Taylor, not Mary], and his siblings were Mary, Seneca and James.

So, yes, there is an entire book written about my ancestors from this family [“Genealogy of the Folsom Family: A Revised and Extended Edition, Including English Records, 1638-1938”, by Elizabeth Knowles Folsom (1938).].  It’s pretty incredible, and goes all the way up to my great-aunt Helen “Duffy” Forrest.  Once I found the book and was able to get over the hump of finding Charles’s parents, I was able to trace this line entirely back to the original immigrant, John Foulsham, who was born about 1613 in Hingham, England and settled in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he died 27 Dec 1681.  There’s a plaque there in his honor:

Plaque in Exeter, New Hampshire honoring John Foulsham and his wife Mary Gilman.

Here is the lineage that links me to him:

John Foulsham Folsom (1613 – 1681)
Nathaniel Folsom (1644 – 1714) Son of John
Nathaniel Folsom Jr. (1698 – 1747) Son of Nathaniel
Capt. Benjamin Folsom (1730 – 1815) Son of Nathaniel
Tristram S Folsom (1761 – 1811) Son of Capt. Benjamin
Gordon Folsom (1788 – 1813) Son of Tristram S
Charles Taylor Folsom (1808 – 1886) Son of Gordon
Lucy Gilman Folsom (1835 – 1916) Daughter of Charles Taylor
Helen Maria Nason (1863 – 1912) Daughter of Lucy Gilman
Lulu Maria Cairns (1888 – 1975) Daughter of Helen Maria
Mildred Jean Forrest (1915 – 2006) Daughter of Lulu Maria
Frederick Clifford Thomas III (1941 – ) Son of Mildred Jean

So, yes.  Another line of Pilgrims, replete with heroes of the Revolutionary War, etc.  My father’s New England roots grow ever deeper.