Highland Township’s Early History

It’s hard to believe that Highland Township, in the northeast corner of Winneshiek County, Iowa, was once at the western edge of civilization. Here are excerpts from some early histories that show the difficulties as well as the promise of those who settled here. These early regional histories and many more are available for download. Continue reading

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Understanding Norwegian Naming Patterns

As you go back through the generations, you will see many different names used to describe the same family. There a few different forces of history influencing this phenomenon. Let’s clear it up a bit. Continue reading

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How to Read an Ahnentafel Report

If you have been poking around your family history, you’ve probably encountered an ahnentafel (“on-en-toffle”) report. You recognize the names, but what’s with all those confusing numbers? It’s not as difficult as you think – there’s a very simple numbering system that keeps everyone organized, and once you learn it you can browse a printed report faster than looking it up on your computer. I recommend reading Dick Eastman’s explanation of how to read an ahnentafel report, and be sure to read the comments as they clarify some tricky situations.

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Reading Old Norwegian Handwriting

When looking at old sources from Norway or even some from the US, reading the handwriting on official forms can be very difficult. There are several forms of script, as well as regional variations to make the job more confusing. The excellent FamilySearch.org wiki has an excellent primer on reading Norwegian handwriting, including some great examples. Continue reading

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