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Archive for April, 2012

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 California 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!

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This week I’m going to honor my very own Grandma Nellie with her headstone as my “Headstone of the Week.” The reason I selected her is because I just celebrated the marriage of my grandson to a beautiful bride, and my grandmother was a beautiful bride! These two brides a few things in common, as you will soon see.On Saturday evening, 31 March 2012, Stephanie Ages became the bride of Nellie Viola Niess Sherman’s great-great-grandson, Michael Foster. She was a lovely bride in a beautiful ceremony. She had her friends and relatives attend her, as bridesmaids and maid of honor. Nothing was lacking in the ceremony or reception. . . . and 98 years prior, the groom’s great-great-grandmother had a similar ceremony on 16 September 1914. She, too, was attended by a maid of honor, and four bridesmaids, that included both relatives and a BFF (although the term would be foreign to her!)  in the perfect wedding ceremony with the perfect reception. Details of it were written up in the Washington Post on Thursday, September 17, 1914:

 The marriage of Miss Nellie Viola Niess, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Niess, and Mr. William Francis Sherman took place last evening at 8 o’clock in the First Congregational Church in the presence of a large company of relatives and friends.  The pastor of the church, the Rev. Jay T. Stocking, officiated.  The bride was given in marriage by her father, and wore a gown of ivory brocaded crepe de chine made with a court train.  Her veil, which was of tulle, fell from a cap of lace and orange blossoms to the edge of the train, and she carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley, orchids, and bride roses.  Mrs. Jarvis Goodwin was matron of honor, and her gown was of pale pink satin and lace.  She wore a cop of pink tulle and carried a basket of pink roses.

There were four bridesmaids, each of whom wore a gown of crepe de chine in the pastel shade to form the colors of the rainbow.  Miss Hattie Montgomery, of Baltimore, was in pale green; Miss Martha Niess, of Pennsylvania, in pale mauve; Miss Dorothy McElwee in yellow, and Miss Elsie Small in pale blue.  They all carried standard baskets of asters tied with chiffon ribbons to match their gowns.

Mr. Charles Graves was best man, and the ushers were Benjamin Harlan, Mr. Edwin N. (sic) Niess, Mr. Carl Joras, and Mr. Edwin Kavanaugh of New York.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at the home of the bride’s parents, 61 Rhode Island avenue, after which Mr. and Mrs. Sherman left for their wedding trip.  They will be at home after November 1, at 20 W street.

Out of town guests here for the wedding included Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Niess, grandparents of the bride; Mrs. Louis Houseal, Messrs. Louis and Robert Houseal, Mrs. Julia Kern (sic), Miss Fannie Laverty, and Mrs. Sarah Luxen (sic), all of Harrisburgh(sic), Pa., Mr. James Montgomery of Kansas City, Mr. Samuel J. Montgomery and Mrs. Hildeman of Baltimore, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Lehman and Mrs. Saide Leham (sic) of Camden,  N.J.

This is probably where the similarities will end, however. Times have changed and expectations differ in the 21st century. My grandmother was expected to fit into society, have Bridge parties as her mother did, belong to the DAR, and all the proper societies. Stephanie, on the other hand, plans to continue her schooling and be a supportive wife of a husband serving his country in the US Coast Guard.

Grandma Nellie’s life took a turn for the worse as the Depression affected the family and a downward spiral sent the family first to New York City, then San Francisco where the only available jobs could be found. Her “Papa” continued to write and spoil his Nellie who eventually spent her waning life engulfed in that terrible Alzheimer’s disease. We called her, affectionately, “Grandma Forgetful.”

She died in Riverside, California on 30 April 1976 and her ashes were sent to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to be placed in the same grave with her mother. A small ceremony was held with about 10 people present and she was laid to rest with flowers placed on her grave. Until I moved to Pennsylvania, I doubt that anyone remembered her or her mother on those special occasions such as Mother’s Day or Memorial Day. We remember her each year with fresh flowers even though she didn’t remember us for years before her death, thanks to that dreaded disease.

We remember her as a beautiful bride, a talented artist and most of all a loving and caring grandmother.

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