The Edna G. Culver Family Papers are an eclectic collection of papers I "inherited" when Grandma passed on, consisting of a large number of newspaper clippings, genealogical documents, family photos, and so forth. Think of Grandma's scrapbooks, for those who remember, together with all the genealogical information she possessed, as well as hundreds of photos gathered from every corner of their house.

The original documents have been well-guarded in Mt. Horeb since I relocated to Taiwan several years ago. However, on my return visit last year, I digitized the entire collection. Since that time I have been engaged in attempts to impose some sense of order on what was in essence four boxes of chaos. I hope I have had some modicum of success. Since my main focus has been on the genealogical content, I have in general divided everything by genealogical document type—birth records, marriage records, death records, compiled genealogies, and so forth. But as always, there is a large (more than one-third of the collection by weight) group of errata (which I have here very creatively called "Other"(TM)), documents which are of little genealogical value—mostly a collection of newspaper clippings from Grandma's scrapbooks unrelated to the family or its history—but which may still be of interest. All together, this collection consists of nearly two thousand digital scans, or three gigabytes of information. The bulk of the files are very high resolution scans so that they should reproduce quite well on even high-quality printing equipment, should you wish to do so.

In addition to the family papers, I have included a few other items which some my find of interest. 1) Kittle's History of Iowa County, in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), is a work well-known among Iowa County, Wisconsin, genealogists and historians, published in 1881. Though over half the work consists of a more general history of Wisconsin, the book does eventually get around to a very detailed history of the early years of settlement in Iowa County. The final section is the famous collection of biographical sketches of prominent Iowa County residents to 1881, including several of our ancestors. 2) Frederic Lathrop Colver's Colver-Culver Genealogy, a staple amongst Colver-Culver genealogists for nearly a century, though it has now been supplanted by Valerie Dyer Giorgi's update.

Finally, in addition to scanning documents, I took a series of cemetery photographs during my visit home in 2004, including the Windsor, Old Helena, Wyoming Valley and Dover cemeteries. I have included those photos here as well.

A brief look at each collection follows, together with some comments of my own I hope will be of interest.

Biography - Some of you may know that Grandma was a life-long diarist. Her diaries have for many years been in my mother's keeping. I am adding the images as they are scanned. And with their addition comes a new section, Biography, consisting of grandma's diaries along with grandpa's autobiographies, which were previously hidden away under Other. This section should be of great interest to all family historians (read, for example, of Grandpa's brush with death in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, one of the deadliest pandemics in human history). Anyone wanna help with the transcription?

Birth - a collection of newspaper clippings, birth and birthday announcements, and birth certificates, including a napkin from great-aunt Maria's 100th birthday party. Of interest here is the certification of Grandpa's birth records. Though family history claims that Grandpa was given the name John Elmer at birth, only later changing it to Elmer Thomas (because, so he said, he liked the initials "etc."), there is no evidence to corroborate the story. As early as the 1900 census he was listed as Elmer and the original birth records apparently give his name, quite unhelpfully, as "not yet conferred". It wasn't until 1956 that the record was amended—to Elmer Thomas.

Correspondence — This section should be of great interest to the family historians amongst you. It consists of numerous letters of genealogical interest preserved by grandma. The core of the collection is a series of letters to Grandma's grandfather, Charles W. Sutcliffe (who emigrated from Leeds to Iowa County in 1845), written between 1847 and 1895 by members of his family in England updating him on the doings of his brothers, sisters and collateral "rellies" back home. Most poignant, perhaps, is the 1847 letter, written by Charles' father, describing the death of his mother, who probably died in the typhus epidemic that swept through Leeds that year, only two years after Charles had left. Most prominent here is a forty-page journal kept by Charles of his journey back home in 1873 to visit those of his family that remained (in addition to his mother, the intervening years had deprived him of his father and three siblings). During his three-month visit, Charles visited endless numbers of siblings, nieces, nephews and in-laws, making this single document so rich in genealogical information it has taken years to sift through.

Death — Mostly newspaper obituaries, together with a few funeral cards. This collection consists of mostly Gefkes and Sutcliffes.

Genealogies — This is a collection of prepared genealogies and family trees. Prominent here are Bev Pike's 112-page compiled Culver genealogy, which was for years the backbone of our knowledge of Culver history, and Grandma's hand-drawn Culver family tree—the one she used to display prominently at all family reunions. I have used a colorized version of this both on the cover of this DVD and above. And the latest addition is the Culver Family Bible, or faded images thereof.

Legal — a small collection of legal documents, including the wills of Charles W. Sutcliffe and Joachim Gafke, and the divorce proceedings of great-aunt Ruth (no not that great-aunt Ruth) and her first husband, Gayle Stanerson.

Marriage — newspaper clippings, wedding invitations, and a few marriage certificates, including (great-)Grandpa and Grandma Culver's.

Military — draft eligibility cards, draft induction cards, and discharge papers for Elmer Culver and Leonard Gefke.

Photos — Included here are all of the photos I scanned back in 1997, which some of you received copies of, together with a number of new scans of previously unknown photos. Of particular interest amongst the new additions is the only existing photograph of Grandpa's father, Charley Culver, who was killed in that horrific tractor accident back in 1907. With the addition of this photo, we at last have a complete set going all the way back to our Culver progenitors, Alvah and Catherine. In addition, there are previously undiscovered photos of Grandma's grandparents, Charles W. and Sarah (Blakey) Sutcliffe.

Religious — two baptismal certificates—Grandpa and great-aunt Ruth.

School — a declamatory contest program from Grandpa's junior high school days, and Grandma's application for admission to UW-Madison.

Other — just about anything else that Grandma found interesting enough to stick in her scrapbooks. Mostly clippings she collected from the newspaper related to friends, places of interest, or the "olden days" in general. Prominent here are the several autobiographies Grandpa wrote of himself. Also of curiosity are a card describing Robert Henry Sutcliffe's "World's Smallest Steam Engine", Grandpa's plastic "victory" penny, his letter of condolence to, and reply from, Jacqueline Kennedy on the death of JFK, and Grandpa's student pilot license from 1929. He always did says Lindbergh beat him across the Atlantic by only a few weeks; here's the proof.

I hope you find this information useful, or at least interesting.

Hide Comments