My headstone of the week is going to honor my great-grandfather, Ola Lindgren. Since he brought his family across the ocean and then across this great nation of ours to end up in California and I just recently returned from a trip across this country of ours, I decided to see if I could do the trip faster! Ha! One hundred and 10 years gives me an advantage, and of course I did! I probably could have done it a dozen times and still beat him!Ola is buried with his family in Sacramento’s Masonic Cemetery. His headstone also marks the passing of his son’s life, my grandfather, Henry. Take another look at that headstone. Notice Ola’s surname is spelled differently than Henry’s? Bet you think a headstone carver made a mistake but the family accepted it anyway, don’t you? If so, you’d be wrong.
As family historians, we always hear stories of how a name was changed at Ellis Island and 95% of the time it is just a family legend. Well, this one could be a family legend also, but I rather doubt it. I can see where a European’s pronunciation of Lindgren could sound like Lindgreen to an “American” ear filing out immigration papers at Ellis Island. Whether the name was changed upon arrival to these shores or not, the name was spelled Lindgreen until my grandfather went to court in Sacramento, California and had his name changed back to the correct Swedish spelling. A copy of the decree is in my files.
Ola was born in Wanga, Sweden on 7 October 1852 to Ingar Persdotter and Lars Jonnson Lindgren. At some time in his life he crossed the border and went into Germany where he began working for a farmer and fell in love with his daughter and married her. I imagine the next picture was taken about that time. The couple look very young. According to Family Legend, their first home was the Pig House, which was cleaned out and remodeled just for them! Whoopie!
Whether the fact that Ola’s sister Augusta was already in America was part of the decision to migrate is not known. She lived in Galesburg, Illinois with her new husband and son about the time the family arrived in their new country. It would be the third country Ola had lived in. Two children were born to them before they finally immigrated to America. The family arrived in New York on 18 April 1887 aboard the ship Rhaetia and settled in Big Rapids, Michigan. They didn’t stay in Michigan long and by 1896 they were in the Golden State where Ola renounced “his allegiance and fidelity to . . . The King of Norway and Sweden” and became a citizen of the United States.
Ola worked as a boilermaker, as did his son Henry in his footsteps. On story related to me was during one strike, Ola felt a loyalty to the company that employed him and crossed the picket line. He got beat severely by those on the picket line for doing what he considered the right thing to do.
Ola came through Ellis Island twice, and I will assume it was easier the second time. On 20 August 1913, when they arrived at that New York portal aboard the ship Imperator from Germany Ola and Catharine entered as citizens. They had gone home to visit family and friends, but returned to their new chosen home to live the rest of their days.
I am assuming that this picture was taken about the 1920′s. Catharine died in 1925 and Ola followed her a short 3 years later on 26 December 1928. His passing was noted in the Sacramento Bee with the following obituary:
Ola Lindgreen, a resident of Sacramento for forty years, died today following a long illness. Lindgreen was the father of Mrs. Albert Greilich, wife of a Sacramento funeral director.
For several years, Lindgreen had been on a pension from the Southern Pacific Company. He formerly was employed in the local railroad shops. He was born in Sweden seventy-six years ago, and came to Calfirnia forty years ago, taking up his residence in Sacramento.
He was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 4. I.O.O.F. The Odd Fellows will participate in the funeral services, to be held from the parlors of Andrews & Greilich Friday at 2 P.M. The interment will be in the Masonic Lawn Cemetery.
In addition to Mrs. Greilich, Lindgreen is survived by a son, Henry Lindgreen of Hilo, Hawaii.
Four short paragraphs to cover a man who’s life covered 3 countries! My Great-Grandfather, and the man I honor as
This Week’s Headstone of the Week, for Week #15!