Our wedding was wonderful and a complete whirlwind, and the one extra project I decided to take on was to create family trees to put side by side to illustrate our families joining. I’ve done so much research over the years, and Brian’s mom, Caroline, has done even more for his side, so how hard could it be?
Right. Well, it turns out it can be pretty hard.
I didn’t know of an out-of-the-box program or app, so I decided to jump into Adobe Illustrator, which I really haven’t used since I was in college. I found some cool vector images on iStock for a tree for the background and men/women silhouettes for placeholders.
It took a ton of work, and as I was putting them together, I used gray silhouettes for the ancestors we didn’t know enough about – no names or partial names. I was sad to see so clearly that for several branches back on my dad’s side, I didn’t know much.
I grew up with the last name Gullickson, but I didn’t have any firm details about the Norwegian side of my ancestry. In fact, I only knew my great-great-grandparents’ names because I pulled up census records.
Then, out of the blue almost a year ago, I received a message on Ancestry.com from a gentleman in Norway who was researching what happened to Theodore Gullickson and who had quite a lot of information about the family from before they immigrated to the U.S. because he’s been researching families in Luster, Norway for many years.
If you’re like me, you live for these kinds of emails! I absolutely love to hear from relatives or relatives of relatives who know more than I do and who want to share information. I only get maybe one every couple years, but it’s always thrilling. I imagine it’s similar to being a detective and feeling like you just got a big break on your case.
This gentleman shared the names of ancestors I had never heard of — Ole Gullickson, Anna Anderson, Zacharias Anderson, and Martha Erickson (I love this last name, because my dad had always said we were somehow related to Lief Erickson, so maybe that tidbit of family lore is true!).
AND this gentleman even knew how Demetra (Demetri, David) Gullickson came to travel to the U.S. with Christine Anderson — he was her son and his father was a Russian sailor! What a romantic story, although perhaps also tragic.
This gentleman was asking if I had ever heard of Theodore Gullickson, David Gullickson, or Oscar Gullickson. They dropped off census records after 1905, and even when Theodore’s mother passed away, no one back in Norway heard from him after 1906. One rumor that this gentleman was following up on was that they all perished in the 1906 earthquake, but I had never heard that rumor out here and a lot of my dad’s side of the family lived in San Francisco for decades, so I feel like that’s a story that would have stayed alive were it true. If anyone happens to know what did became of Theodore, David, or Oscar, please share in the comments!
I plan to do some more research on the Norwegian side of the family, and update you all on what I find.
I’ll conclude this post by saying that the hardest part of creating these family trees for the wedding was actually printing them. So, if you’re interested in making your own for a wedding or a family reunion, I highly recommend starting well ahead of time and using a reliable printer. I had thought our local big-box office supply location would have been able to handle it, but they ended up unapologetically botching it twice. Not that I’m holding a resentment. I’m definitely letting that one go.