Saturday, January 7, 2012

SNGF ~ My Very Best Genealogy Adventure of 2011

Minnesota Historical Society

This past summer I had the opportunity to visit my sister and her family in Minnesota.  While I was there, I went to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota (MNHS) and spent a couple of Saturdays conducting birth and death records research, county history research, and lots of newspaper research.  If you have Minnesota ancestors and have the opportunity to go to St. Paul, you are in for a treat.  You can accomplish a great deal of "recon work " by going online to their website, checking out the marriage index through Minnesota Official Marriage System, and going online with the various local genealogical society facilities.  One of the best facilities is Wright County Historical Society's Library (WCHS).

After I acquired "just the facts ~ birth, marriage, and death data" at MNHS, I followed up with trips to the WCHS's Library in Buffalo, Minnesota.  I made a couple of trips because there was a wealth of material about my Larsson/Lidman, Eriksen, Mattson, and Robertson lines.  My "finds" were due in no small part to the assistance from the volunteers and employees at WCHS.

Wright County Historical Society

My finds included:

  • plat books locating various ancestors' property 
  • marriage books which showed marriage indexes and certificates for several ancestors 
  • probate records for two ancestors which had a wealth of information on spouses and grown children (the heirs), property, and gave a great snapshot of the family's holdings at the time of each person's death
  • the church records for Hylunda Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, a group established by Varmlands lan Swedish immigrants (a cluster group) which included my immigrant ancestors.  The annual reports, and records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages & deaths they kept were similar in format and language to their Swedish Lutheran Church records.  Later members transcribed and translated (from the original Swedish) the records.  These records provided fascinating reading about the early immigrants, how they built and kept their church going, some political infighting and the inter-relationship of the various families.  
  • burial and cemetery records at the family and private cemeteries in the County (for my purposes I was especially interested in Nylunda, Hylunda and Oster Covenant)
  • emigration and immigration records 
With the help of a WCHS employee I looked up the addresses, maps and directions for the three cemeteries.  I set out that afternoon hoping to find whether various ancestors were buried at these three cemeteries and hopefully find their tombstones.  The area where all three cemeteries are located remains quite rural however, it was quite easy to find Oster Covenant's cemetery as the church is still active and the cemetery is located next to the church (with great signs pointing out the Church).   The Nylunda Cemetery was also easy to find as it was located on a corner lot and could be seen clearly from the road.  I took photographs of all the tombstones located at both cemeteries (there are several extended family ancestors located at both these cemeteries) and then proceeded to try to locate the Hylunda Cemetery.

Oster Covenant Cemetery

Oster Covenant Church

Nylunda Cemetery

Nylunda Swedish Lutheran Church Cemetery

Both the plat of the area and Google Maps showed Hylunda Cemetery located at a specific rural address along a 4 mile stretch of a rather bumpy, unpaved rural road.  I drove the road twice slowly (with my GPS chirping "you have arrived at your destination") but could not find the cemetery.  I finally gave up and called it a day.

The following day and after being assured that the cemetery was located on that road, I decided to give it one more try.  I parked my car on the side of the road facing a small rutted driveway because a truck and trailer were parked about 250 feet down the driveway.  I thought I would ask whoever was with the truck if he knew where the cemetery was located.  No one was with the truck but I did notice to the left hand side a small gate with a cross ~ could that be the cemetery?

Hylunda Cemetery ~ well hidden

There was a older gentlemen and two young boys cleaning the area of grass and summer growth.  I asked if I was at the Hylunda Cemetery and they told me they weren't sure of the name but it was their family/church cemetery.  I told them my name and who I was looking for and ~ wait for it ~ discovered that we were related.  Harry Larson is my 2nd cousin once removed and the Larson boys are my 3rd cousins once removed.  Their great great grandmother was my great grandaunt and I was able to tell them why Elof & Mary Lidman were listed on the reverse side of their great great grandparents tombstone (Christine Lidman  & Robert Robertson) ~ Elof and Mary were Christine's parents.  I was able to tell them about Christine's siblings (who later moved from Minnesota to Washington).  The boys and their uncle showed me all the tombstones and pointed out how the more recent individuals were related as well as what extended family remained in Minnesota.  We exchanged addresses and emails and they are now on my list of new-found relatives.

My great grandaunt Christine (Elofsdotter/Lidman) & her husband Robert Robertson

My great great grandparents Elof Larsson & Marit Larsdotter ~ Elof & Mary Lidman

If I had found Hylunda Cemetery that first day I would have missed meeting them and finding out all about the cemetery and my extended relatives.  It was an absolutely amazing afternoon, the boys and their uncle were a delight (I am sure they wondered about me), and it was a true moment of genealogical serendipity.  Without a doubt that was my very best genealogy adventure of 2011!  Cheers.



  1. You have a really great blog. I certainly understand why this would qualify for your best genealogy adventure of 2011.

    I used to have a print friendly button on my blog. When I updated the format, I had difficulty reinstalling it. I'm going to have to give it another try.

  2. Thanks Kathy - it is really helpful for family members who want to print a post to share with other family who don't have computers (amazing I know!).


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