We are excited to announce the addition of the Carl P. Begich Collection to the photo section of WFH.

Included in this collection is a small batch of Begich family images. Also included in this collection are the war time letters of Carl P. Begich written from September 1943 to May 1945, the month that he died.

It is a huge collection and a project that has taken hundreds of hours of work. These letters were scanned, optimized and organized by Matt Westover, a great grandson, who continues to work of transcription.

The letters are an important record. They provide much of what we know about Grandpa Carl and we believe they will yield some genealogical clues in furthering the Begich family research efforts.

Carl was born of Yugoslavian immigrants in northern Minnesota in 1919. He met Winifred C. Welty in New York in 1942, married her and together they brought forth a daughter in January 1943. That daughter is my mother. They were together as a family only until February 1943, when he was shipped off for training. We do not have the letters written from when he entered the Army until September 1943. But the collection from September 1943 to his death is included here and is quite comprehensive.

Carl was a reporter before the war and had desires to document his experience and produce a book after the war. Much of what is in these letters are notes to that end. But these are personal letters as well and they reveal much of his as a man, as a son, as a father, as a patriot, as American. He died when he was only 26.

The project to digitize these images is an important one. Now anyone in the family studying World War II has an eyewitness perspective thanks to these letters. We are certain this record will prove valuable for generations to come.

As my Dad has labored this past year on the history of his Mother, Maurine R. Westover, I have been sitting on this video just waiting to share it now — at Christmastime. Many of you have seen these before and may, in fact, have it in your possession. But many others have not seen it. It is as timely now as when Grandma recorded it 29 years ago.

As I understand the story, even though she was very ill at this time (and I think the video makes this somewhat apparent), Grandma was asked to give the main talk in Church the Sunday before Christmas. Of course, she was in no condition to be there but Dad would video tape her message and they would playback the video for her ward during the meeting.

Watching this video brings a variety of emotions to me. Seeing Grandma, no matter her age, brings back a flood of memories. Hearing her voice and seeing her in her home always makes me remember times from my childhood. But there are other elements in this video that get to me now. The afghan in her lap was made by my mother. I’d know her work anywhere. The chair grandma is sitting in, the way she and Grandpa would decorate the Christmas tree — it all comes back even though the image is simple.

But best of all is the message of Christmas. It was never really elaborate at Grandma and Grandpa’s for Christmas. But I loved it there at that time of the year because it was always filled with conversation accented by laughter and memories. Tears were sometimes shed but only because people were fondly remembered and missed.

Please share this video with your family with our best wishes here at Westover Family History for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year:

ATT3058204In this section of the narrative audio Uncle Loris details Navy life in the years before the war leading up to and including the events of December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.

Loris talks about the condition of his ship and crew that Sunday morning and how they were the first ship out of the harbor.

Though his 4-year enlistment was complete the war changed things for everyone and Loris remained in the Navy.

This is the first of three recordings of Loris Westover recounting his military experience in World War II, inclusive of his experiences at Pearl Harbor.

This recording was made in 2001. Loris is recorded by his brother, Darrell J. Westover. (I am uncertain how this was first recorded. There is some background noise that I attempted to minimize. You can hear Loris and Darrell clearly but the background noise is still evident but improved over the original).

I have some knowledge of Loris’ life story but I am hoping this post gets passed around to his family and invite them to comment or share memories of his life and story as an attachment to these posts. I believe they can better represent his story than I ever could. I did not have the opportunity to get to know Loris but it is a thrill to hear his voice through the stories he tells in these recordings.

In this portion of the recording Loris recounts enlisting at the age of 17 and his experiences and observations at boot camp. He recalls being shipped on an oil tanker from San Diego to Vallejo and assigned to the Indianapolis where he worked scrubbing decks. After a week he was transferred to the Henley.

Special thanks to Marc Westover for providing me with this recording to add to our archives here.