Dani's Niche

Family history. A novel idea.

The Old Red Case: the search for an immigrant family of the 1800s

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My sister lifted the hasp of the tattered red case and found ephemeral treasures dating back to the late 1800s. What immigrant family had posed for the photos and received letters in Swedish and German? Why had they given land to extend a New York City cemetery? Here is my sister’s account of her findings.

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In an old red case, inherited from my mother who operated an antique store to raise funds for church mission work in the 1970’s and 80’s, I found names of immigrant families living in New York and Boston, foreign language letters, photos, a wax stamp kit, land deeds, and wills all dated in the 1800’s. Someone alive today is related in some way to these folks of long ago. While harboring in place at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, I sought to find family histories and descendants, or someone interested, a historical society perhaps.

One item immediately stirred my curiosity—an 1873 Deed of property sold for $162,000.00 ($2,500.00 per acre for about 65 acres) to the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for land to add acreage to Calvary Cemetery located in Queens, New York. Upon further investigation, I found that the cemetery was established in 1848 and has the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the U.S. covering 365 acres. It is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and managed by the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. By 1855 there were 50 burials a day, half of them poor Irish children under seven years of age. In the early 20th century, influenza and tuberculosis epidemics caused a shortage of gravediggers, and people dug graves for their own loved ones there. By 1990 there were nearly 3 million burials.

Reading this brought to mind things we give little attention to in our modern era. Our ancestors had many struggles including invisible bacteria and viruses causing epidemics and pandemics, e.g. Bubonic Plague, Spanish Flu, tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, smallpox, polio, mumps, rubeola, rubella, chickenpox, and others. I have memories of surviving childhood diseases prevalent in the 1950’s, and I remember hearing about certain ancestors who did not survive communicable diseases. It should make us aware of just how fragile life is and of things taken for granted since the advent of treatments for infections and viruses, and better sanitation, clean water, etc. I feel thankful to live in a modern era and in a modern country. But life tomorrow is never guaranteed and living through the current world pandemic, it puts life in a different perspective of what is truly important- God, family, friends, helping others, etc.

My sister was able to track down one family, not named below, and has contacted them about receiving photos and other items of their heritage. We have yet to learn if they are related to any other people named in the documents inside the case. We believe most of the items in the case belong to the Hultin family. The search continues.


Soldier x 2

two unmarked photos in a red velvet album

Please leave a comment if you recognize any of these names. This is a sampling of the information we have.

Erick Magnus Hultin, born 1798 Sweden and died 1873 in Boston. Letters in Danish ℅ German Coffeehouse in Boston. 1816-23

Eliza Hultin married Erick Hultin March 8, 1840

Their children: Erick, 1836, Eliza 1898, Christina Hultin Folson (Foleson), 1840-1913. Christina’s son Frederick 1860/61

The following people may not be related to the Hultin family. A handwritten document has the following about a family in England:

Isaac Hall married Susannah Ridgway August 16, 1784 in London.

Children: John, 1785, Sarah 1787, Isaac, 1789, Thos, 1790, Dan, 1792, Wm, 1794, Saripa, 1797

Names on other documents, all of New York:

Jeremiah, Mary Ann Spaulding and Susan E. Spaulding 

John Lambert, Ann S. Lewin, Frank S. Lewin, and Mary P. Lewis



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