My father's family in America is much simpler than my mother's family. Both of my father's parents were born in March of 1896 in Dayton, Ohio. They both grew up in a German speaking area and attended the same German speaking Catholic church.
Since my grandfather's family had just recently arrived from Alsace, Germany (France later, then German, and French again), they spoke French as well as Elsasser, a high German dialect. My grandmother's family spoke German and her family came to the United States a few years earlier than Grandfather's family. Her father did not speak Slovene to her that I know of, just German. Apparently after her mother died in 1896, grandmother was not taught about her parents original home, because she expressed interest to me about where her family came from but she knew nothing about them. I have written about finding her family in Slovenia (Austria when they emigrated).
My grandparents knew each other through my grandmother's step-mother's sister, Aunt Bertha, and grandfather's Aunt Alphonsine Willig Blind, who were friends. They were married in Dayton, Ohio, in 1917. The Dangel family moved to California in 1918 for my great-grandmother's health. My newly wed grandparents also chose to move west at the same time. They were first in Stockton and my father's family ended up in San Francisco.
My father was sent to Alaska by the Army National Guard in 1940. My mother found him sitting at the kitchen table where she lived at the family photo shop in Sitka. After Dad was four years in Kodiak, Alaska, my Mom followed him there and they were married in 1944. Dad was sent to Europe in 1945 and arrived shortly before the war ended. After the war, he returned quickly to Alaska to see my sister, who was born in his absence.
Katie, or Katherine Gertrude, was born in 1945. She is a registered nurse and teaches emergency medical technician classes. She has three children of her own (Michael, Matthew, and Melinda) and adopted her present husbands two daughters.
I am the second child, born in 1947. After I served four years in the Navy, I attended college and received a bachelors degree in fisheries science. I worked for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game long enough to retire in December, 1994. I have two daughters, Helen and Laura, one presently living in Alaska. Helen is in Sitka and has presented me with my first grandchild, Keet Tlein James Dangel Lorrigan, born 24 June 2001 in Sitka.
Richard is the third child, born in 1949. Richard was also in the navy. He has been working maintenance at the local fish freezing plant for over 10 years. He has no children.
Ruth is the fourth sibling, born in 1951. She works as a ward clerk at the local hospital. She admits patients and keeps the papers flowing. She has one son, Ian, who graduated from high school in 1997.
Patricia or Pat was the next to last child, born in 1952. She lived in Texas, but has moved to near Seattle, Washington. She works for a grocery chain wrapping meat. She raises Arabian horses to keep her busy. She has a daughter and one son. Donnette has two children.
The last child is Christine, born in 1961. She is a registered nurse and has two daughters, Tayja and Zailey.
My mother stayed home to raise all of us. My father was a longshoreman, fire inspector, and finally chief of electric generation (mostly hydroelectric) for the city utility.
At one time all of my siblings or I were living elsewhere, besides Sitka. All except Pat have returned some time ago. Can’t be too bad here! Pat said she would be back if she could live with fewer horses; feed is imported here and expensive.
My Mom's Family in the United States of America
My mother's family in America has been here much longer than my father's family. They mostly came early and kept moving west. Got as far as Alaska and ran into the ocean and had to stop. Most of the ones I can trace back to Europe came in the early 1600's to New England. They were not on the Mayflower, but many came soon after. They settled in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other places.
The last of my grandmother's family arrived in the America later that the others, coming from Scotland in 1833 to Canada, then later to the midwest, spending time in Moline, Illinois. This was James Fergus and his family pioneered in Minnesota before following the gold to Montana. There his daughter Luella met and married in 1867 one of the family that had originated in Maine, lived in Buffalo, New York, and Galena, Illinois. This was Stephen Collins Gilpatrick whose son James Henry Gilpatrick married Katherine Imogene Blackstone in Helena, Montana, in 1893. The Blackstones started in Boston before it was Boston and and then the family started west, leaving behind family members in Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, and many other places before Montana. Katherine's mother had known Stephen Collins Gilpatrick when their families were in White Oak Springs in Wisconsin near Galena, Illinois.
I have only recently found much of anything about my grandfather. My mother had the same experience growing up as I did. When we asked my grandmother about him it was if we had not spoken; she ignored us. They were married in Sitka in 1919. I found out a little about him from my grandmother's sister Georgia Littlepage. I found him in the census in 1900 and 1910 in Fort Worth, Texas, and later in the social security files. I have since tracked his family down to various places in Texas, Tennessee, and back to Ohio and Virginia. Found lots of cousins in the South, but could not get the ancestors back to Ireland, Scotland, or England, but I am sure they are from there.
James Henry Gilpatrick with his family lived in West Seattle, Washington, for a time. Then he moved to Juneau, Alaska, to work as a carpenter. My Grandmother Luella and her sister Georgia followed him the next year, 1915. Katherine and the last great aunt, Josephine moved to Juneau the following year. The family moved to Sitka in 1918, after having lived in Suloia Bay and working at a box factory. Suloia Bay was about half way between Juneau and Sitka and a box factory was a mill that made wooden cases for packing salmon cans before there was cardboard.
From an old notebook that Grandmother kept, I learned she met my Grandfather Robert Claire while she was in Suloia Bay. He was in the U. S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Saturn and she and later her family followed him to Sitka. My grandparents divorced when my mother was a baby and before my Uncle Jim was born. Grandfather returned to the states and was in the merchant marines.
Grandmother bought a photo shop in Sitka about 1924. She kept the business going till 1973 when she retired. It was at the old Photo Shop Studio where they lived in the back that my mother came home to find my future father sitting at the dining room table. After following him to Kodiak and getting married I guess you know the rest!
James R. Dangel
1504 Sawmill Creek Road
Sitka, Alaska 99835 USA