Monthly Archives: October 2013

Classic Photo: Doll Collection, c1939

My mother, Marilyn Matthews, and her dolls, Queens, NY, c1939. What I like best about this photo is not as obvious as a laughing girl and her doll collection. Look closely and you’ll see there’s one doll perched on the back of my mother’s neck. That’s what Mom thinks is so funny. That’s definitely my grandfather’s sense of humor.

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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Classic Photos


Thomas L. Riis (1930- ), Musicologist

Thomas is the great-grandson of Hans Christian Riis’ brother Jens Hansen Riis, and the 3rd cousin of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, James, Anne, Bonnie, Wendy, Pamela, Gail and Paul.

Riis,%20TomDr. Thomas Laurence Riis, the Joseph Negler Professor of Musicology and the Director of the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado – Boulder’s College of Music, was born in New Hampshire on October 6, 1950, the son of Laurence and Ruth Riis. He earned degrees from Oberlin College (1973) and the University of Michigan (1976, 1981).

Thomas is a specialist in Musical Theater and writes and lectures frequently on many topics in 19th and 20th-century American music. His book Just Before Jazz, devoted to African American Broadway and minstrel shows, received an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1995. In 2002, Tom served as a period musical consultant for the Martin Scorsese film, Gangs of New York. He taught as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Lüneburg, Germany, in 2005-2006. Tom’s most recent book, Frank Loesser, the fifth volume in the Yale Broadway Masters series, was published in 2008. That same year he gave the Rey Longyear Memorial Lecture at the University of Kentucky’s American Music Center and was elected to the presidency of the Society for American Music for 2009-2010.

Tom’s other interests include medieval song and historical performance practice. He is active as a choral singer, viol player, and cellist.


Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Biographies, Connections


Poul Hansen Anker (1628-1697), Liberator

Poul Anker is the 10th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, James, Anne, Bonnie, Wendy, Pamela, Gail and Paul; and the 11th great-grandfather of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Andrew, Joshua, Connor, Derek, Dylan, Priscilla, Lukas, Abigail, Trevor, Ross, Elliot, Britt and Erik.

Poul Hansen Anker or Ancher was the parish priest in the Hasle and Rutsker parishes of Bornholm from 1654 to 1697, and a  principal organizer in the campaign for the liberation of Bornholm from the Swedish.

Poul’s birthplace is uncertain, although it is likely he was born in Hovby, Denmark, in the Skåne region now a part of Sweden, where Hans Povlsen, also named Anker, sat as parish priest and died in 1655. Poul graduated in 1650 from Our Lady’s School in København and registered June 1, 1650, as a theological student with the university. When an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed six of Bornholm’s 15 parish priests in 1654, Poul was appointed priest of the church at Hasle.

Poul Anker's church at Hasle

Poul Anker’s church at Hasle

Poul’s predecessor in that parish had been Jens Hansen Sode (1603-1654), who had been rector of the Rønne Latin School before he was made parish priest in Hasle and Rutsker in 1642. On June 5, 1655, Poul married Jens Hansen Sode’s daughter, Karen Jensdatter Sode, Their first child, Margrethe, was born in 1658, followed by Hans (our ancestor; 1662), Jens (1664), Else (1666), Key (1669) and Jørgen (1669). After Else’s death in 1684, Poul married Lene Nielsdatter and had three additional children: Gurris, Karen and Maren.

Following a bloody war between Denmark and Sweden (1655-1658), Bornholm and three other Danish counties, including Skåne, were ceded to Sweden, who established a vigorously oppressive rule on the island. Shortly after Swedish general Johan Printzensköld was sent to Bornholm to assume authority over the island, the inhabitants began to hatch a plot against the occupying Swedes. Bornholmers rallied around three leaders: Poul, who mobilized the citizenry; Hasle mayor Peder Olson, who handled communications with the Danish government in København; and Poul’s brother-in-law’s cousin, Jens Pedersen Kofoed, who organized and led an armed attack. In November 1658, General Printzensköld was ambushed and shot to death and an assault was made upon the Swedish garrison at the Hammershus fortress. The Swedish fled the island as a result of the ensuing chaos and panic among their own soldiers. A messenger was dispatched to inform King Frederick III that Bornholm had liberated itself and wished to return to Danish rule. This was confirmed in the 1660 peace settlement between Denmark and Sweden. Poul, Jens Kofoed and Peder Olsen are revered by Bornholmers to this day as liberators and folk heroes.

The assassination of Johan Printzensköld, 1658, as depicted in the Bornholm Museum

The assassination of Johan Printzensköld, 1658, as depicted in the Bornholm Museum

In 1685 Poul Anker was appointed Provost for the whole of Bornholm to succeed his late brother-in-law Hans Jensen Sode.

Poul died Oct 28, 1697, in Hasle, and was buried in the church there.

One of the large ferries that plié the Baltic between Bornholm and Sweden is named for our 10th great grandfather.

One of the large ferries that ply the Baltic Sea to and from Bornholm is named for our 10th great grandfather.


Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Biographies


Connections: Unexpected Family

The Schoelermanns

The Schoelermanns

A few years ago a coworker, Karen Schoelermann, asked me to look into a family legend of her own, that her grandmother, a Boone, may have been a descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone. The Boone connection was quickly disproved, but researching Karen’s family tree turned up something potentially even more interesting: her great-great grandmother had been one Henrietta Huyck of Chatham, New York. Huyck is a surname found in my own family tree. I shifted my attention from the Boones to the Huycks, and it wasn’t long before I had made a connection: Karen’s 8th great-grandparents, Andries Hanse Huyck (c1645-1707) and  Catrijn Lambertse Van Valkenburg (c1655-c1705) of Kinderhook, New York, were also my 9th great-grandparents.

Welcome to the family, cousin!

Karen Schoelermann is the 8th cousin once removed of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt, and Sandy.

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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Connections


Classic Photo: Cousins, 1950

The blurred focus does little to harm the candlelit warmth of this photo of three cousins – Karen Lefgren, Judy Henken and Betty Jane Riis – from June 1950.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Classic Photos


Classic Photo: Favorite Doll, c1945

Marilyn Lois Matthews, Cambria Heights, NY, c1945.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Classic Photos


Classic Photo: Wedding, 1928

My grandparents, Leander Leonard Matthews and Antoinette Beatrice Gmelin, were married in New York City on September 9, 1928. The bride’s brother, Robert Howard Gmelin, stand left of center; his wife, Agnes Brosnan Gmelin, is seated left of center.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Classic Photos

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