Search for family roots leads to unmarked grave
Interesting things can happen when you start looking into your family tree. About four years ago, Leola and Florian Mamer of Canada became interested in genealogy. Leola's paternal grandfather was born and raised in Callaway and had moved to Cana...
Interesting things can happen when you start looking into your family tree.
About four years ago, Leola and Florian Mamer of Canada became interested in genealogy.
Leola's paternal grandfather was born and raised in Callaway and had moved to Canada in 1929 with his family.
"My father never talked about his childhood and we never asked, so we had little to go on," she said. "Luckily we got some replies on the Internet and found out some information about my great-grandfather."
Her grandfather had changed his name from Sven Svensson to Swan Swanson when he came to America from Sweden in 1869. He married Eline Olsen, and Mamer's grandfather was the eldest, born in 1877. In 1887, Eline died in childbirth leaving five children from 2 to 10 years old.
She is buried in Upsala Lutheran church cemetery near Richwood.
"We were surprised later to find out he was re-married to Bertha Strom in 1889, and had a second family of eight children," she said. "Tragically, three of the little girls died of diphtheria within two weeks of each other."
The family lived near Richwood and eventually moved to Audubon. Her grandfather passed away in 1905 of Typhoid Fever. The Mamers and other family members didn't know where he was buried, though.
About two to three years ago, the Mamers contacted the Heart O'Lakes Genealogical Society for some assistance.
"I live in the area, so I volunteered," member Judy Nodsle said.
They knew that Swanson's first wife was buried in the Upsala Cemetery and that there was an empty grave next to her. They dowsed the grave and found that there was someone buried in it. Nodsle said the family pondered exhuming the grave and running DNA tests to see if it was Swanson. Luckily, that turned out to not be needed.
"We contacted families of the second marriage in Washington state and Minnesota who were able to locate a handwritten letter by their grandmother Bertha," Mamer explained. "She wrote that Swan was buried beside his first wife in Upsala cemetery."
Nodsle said once the family received the old document that Swanson had been buried next to his first wife, "it brought it all together."
Once the family found the site, they had a headstone made and placed it on the gravesite on Aug. 16 of this summer. Other family members contributed and came from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, North West Territories, Ontario, Canada, and Washington State to witness the event.
"It was a beautiful day and wonderful to get together with our extended family members and the actual placement of the marker had a profound effect on those that attended," Mamer said in an e-mail from her home in Dorintosh, Saskatchewan, Canada.
"It's really wonderful the extremes they went to give him a stone," Nodsle said.
"We would like to thank the Heart' O'Lakes Genealogical Society, especially member Judy Nodsle, for their assistance. Also cemetery board member Rick White for his help in getting the placement of the marker approved," Mamer wrote.
Nodsle said the family is still searching for two daughters whose gravesites are unknown as well.
Anyone with information on old church and cemetery records for Upsala Church would be greatly appreciated at email@example.com , the Heart O'Lakes Genealogical Society.