The Worland Family in America and Beyond

I began my life in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, on an island filled with forests and wild rhododendrons. I was separated from my Worland family there at an early age. Recently, I was reunited with my family and learned of my heritage. And so, this journey to know my ancestors began. The Worlands, Gideons, Newtons, Conards... they were the colonists, the settlers, the pioneers. They fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War. This is their story, and the story of a nation. -Deci Worland MacKinnon

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rhododendrons for Minnesota

Azaleas and rhododendrons, best known for their showy, colorful flowers, can be used in many Minnesota landscapes if the proper species and cultivars are selected.
Rhododendron "Pink Lights" (Pink Lights Azalea) was developed and released in 1984 by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Rosella B. Johnston

Boats on the waterfront at Fairhaven. Photograph Collection, Postcard 1911

My grandmother, Rosella B. Johnston, was born December 8, 1893, in Minnesota. She grew up in Fairhaven Township, Minnesota. Her mother was Estella Lucinda Johson, (nee: Randall).
Her father, Aaron C. "Acy" Johnson was a farmer from Iowa. Acy had migrated from Allaamakee Co, Iowa, to Clearwater, Minnesota some time around 1880, with his two brothers, Charles H. and Frank.
Acy died on Aug. 20, 1900 at 3:30 in the morning. He had been kicked in the face by a horse on August 15, leaving him in bad shape.
Pneumonia set in shortly after the accident, which led to his death. He was 42 years of age.

On May 19, 1908, Rosella married Alfred Leslie Worland in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Free Genealogy Course

Brigham Young University offers a free online genealogy course. Their records are extensive.

Wild Rhododendrons on Whidbey Island

There is a beautiful old campground near Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Washington. It is where the wild rhododendrons grow. I remember it from my childhood.
Family legend says my uncle shot a bear here.

Notes on Surnames

One difficulty I faced almost immediately was the problem of changing surnames. My grandmother's maiden name was Rosella Johnston, but very quickly this surname became Johnson in the databases. Johnston is simply a variant, names often change as we travel back through time.
Johnson is an English patronymic name meaning "son of John (gift of God)." The name John derives from the Latin Johannes, which is derived from the Hebrew Yohanan meaning "Jehovah has favoured."
The suffix meaning "son," creates several different variations of the JOHNSON surname. Examples: English son, Norwegian sen, German sohn, and Swedish sson. JONES is the common Welsh version of this surname. The JOHNSON surname may also be an Anglicisation of the Gaelic surname MacSeain or MacShane. Johnson was a very popular name among Christians, given the many saints named John, including St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

Getting Started.

The book, "One Man's Family" was a great start, it really piqued my interest. But, I wanted to seriously trace my grandparent's pedigree. I didn't know where to start.
Often, when I want to learn something new, I look to They have sections on almost everything. More information than you could ever need.
Sure enough, they have a great genealogy section.
I needed a way to organize my information, and they had a link to download a free pedigree chart. This is invaluable for recording your ancestry.
They also provide a list of free databases. I began combing through the records at Rootsweb. This free service is provided by and is part of a project called WorldConnect.
I was up and running.

The Journey Begins

I was given a picture. My maternal grandparents- Alfred Leslie Worland and his wife, Rosella.

A cousin I have never met sent me some information. I was given a book, One Man's Family The History and Genealogy of the Worland Family in America 1662-1962.

I learned that Alfred Leslie Worland was born on March 20, 1877 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Federal Census lists him as living with his family in Excelsior, Hennepin County, Minnesota in 1880. He was two years old.
The 1900 Census places the family in Stearns, Minnesota.
On May 19, 1908, he married Rosella Johnston, who had been born on December 8, 1893 in Hibbing, Minnesota. At the time of her marriage, Rosella was just fourteen years of age.
The 1910 Census shows the family living in Hubbard, Minnesota.
Draft records show that Alfred registered for the World War I draft, 1917-1918, in Hubbard, Minnesota.
In 1925, they migrated west to Idaho, and later on to Medford, and Grant's Pass, Oregon. The Federal Census lists the family as residing in Lane, Oregon in 1930.
In the 1940s, they settled on Whidbey Island, in Washington's Puget Sound. They lived the rest of their lives there. Alfred died November 25, 1948 in Langley, Washington. Rosella passed away on September 18, 1979 in Seattle, Washington.

They had ten children.


The person I most remember is my grandmother. (We called her "Ma.") My grandfather passed before I was born.

I visited family gravesites on my trip to Whidbey Island, and thought of all those who went before me. The ones I barely remembered or never knew.
Most of my life, I had no family or no past. Now, I need to know. And so, this journey began. I decided to trace my ancestry.
In the interest of privacy, this blog will not deal with the living, only those that have gone before.
I know nothing of my father or his line, I do not even know his name.
So, I began with my maternal grandparents - Alfred and Rosella Worland.

Finding the Past

I began my journey in the Pacific Northwest, Washington's Puget Sound. It was a happy childhood, playing in the forests and on the beaches of Whidbey Island with my cousins.
Unfortunately, this was all to change. When I was seven, a chain of sad circumstances led to my removal from the island and the family that I knew. I would have no contact for fifty years.
I recently returned to Whidbey Island, visiting places of remembrance, and the graves of those I lost so long ago.
I found the wild rhododendrons.