Tag Archives: Nebraska

Forgotten Faces In Time

Clara Tollman graduates Nebraska Wesleyan Collge 1930My grandmother, Clara Tollman Anderson attended Nebraska Wesleyan College and graduated in 1930. She majored in chemistry and math, unusual majors for a young woman of her time.   Throughout her college years she kept a scrapbook that happily found its way to me not long ago.

In grandma’s scrapbook I discovered an entirely new woman. My quiet, serious grandma had been a sorority girl socialite on campus! She was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and The Order of the Golden Chain (a sorority for Methodist women). She kept mementos of parties, socials and other events spanning her life from 1926 until shortly after her graduation.

Among the pages were lots of photos of her sorority sisters. Some with full names, some just first names and many with no names at all.  Beautiful young women that had been an important part of her life, now just faces in a scrapbook.

I have the good fortune of having a lot of family photos spanning many generations.  There are also pictures of friends, classmates, and even places that were all important to my ancestor’s lives but have less value to us today.

These pictures have been really bothering me for a couple of years.  Remembering the thrill of discovering new photos, I wanted to somehow share these pictures with the hope that one day someone else would finally find that missing person they’ve never seen.  I knew these friends and classmate photos needed to be online somewhere.

So, I created a Facebook group Forgotten Faces In Time specifically for sharing these types of photos. The ones with partial identification.

Yes, I do know about the many blogs and websites that exist and already host thousands of unidentified photos. But my idea and this new Facebook group is different. I have created a place for anyone to share photos that they can partially identify. This distinction will help make these photos more searchable and that, hopefully, will make them easier for descendants to find.

So, I’m inviting you to share your partially identified photos with the world. Together we can help our families friends and classmates connect with their own family researchers. Come share at Forgotten Faces In Time on Facebook today.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/473127579456329/

Marsland? Yes, There Really Is Such A Place In Nebraska!

Unless you are in my family circle, I’d bet you a whole nickle, as my grandpa Archie would say,  that you’ve never heard of Marsland, much less know where on earth it is. So you might imagine my surprise when during an insomnia induced fit of late night random Googling, I found myself at this page on  ghost towns. Even more surprising, I found myself looking at a photo of my own great grandparent’s home.

Tollman Family Home in Marsland, NE.
J.M.Tollman home in Marsland, Nebraska. Built in 1912.

My great grandparents were James Mundy Tollman and Flora Caroline Maika. They built this home in 1912 of cement blocks made on site. This was their second home in Marsland, the first being on a homestead nearby. This photo was taken just after its completion and the farm eventually expanded to include a large barn, cattle pens, a smoke house, an ice house, huge garden area, silo, and hog pen. A family letter written by one of the children, James Perry Tollman, written in his retirement details life in Marsland and on the family farm in vivid memories. One of the amusing comments is that the neighbors were always stopping by to check on the building progress and they were quite perplexed by the modern bathroom that was being installed…apparently one of the first in the county…especially since there was a perfectly good two holer not far from the kitchen door!

Marsland is located in western Nebraska in Dawes County. It’s pretty remote. In its heyday, the population was about 800, according the the Nebraska Historical Society Virtual Nebraska. The nearest large town is Chadron.

The Tollman home in the 1980's.
The Tollman home in the 1980’s.

Today, Marsland is just a shadow of itself, perhaps deserving of the ghost town designation to the outside world. Not for me, a woman who hears the whispers of long gone ancestors. And apparently not for the Nebraska Historical Society; shortly after seeing the house on the ghost town site, I came across it again while doing genealogical research on a Tollman aunt. The Nebraska Historical Society has done an excellent job incorporating the internet with their holdings and I found the house listed in a survey of historic buildings in Nebraska, shown as an unknown home. Since it wasn’t identified, I contacted them was not identified,  offering details should they be interested.

A very enthusiastic response followed the next day and I’ve sent them several photos and other bits of family information to help them document and preserve this part of Nebraska history. The Tollman family has deep roots in Nebraska and although it is scattered across the USA today, family reunions are still held in western Nebraska and always include a stop at the old house. The old house may not last forever, but it sure feels great to have helped it become a part of Nebraska history.
UPDATE:  Another big surprise! The Tollman home was included in a New York Times photo essay in December 2013 called Life Along the 100th Meridian that captures the essence of life in Nebraska’s far west panhandle.