ancestors, family, Find A Grave, Gayle Neuhaus, grandmother, history, Knox County, memorial, Nebraska, Norwegian, Ole Oleson, Rasmus Oleson, Revolutionary War Veteran, story, wagon trail, Winnetoon
Okay, I confess. I haunt cemeteries digging up dirt on my dearly departed ancestors. I lurk among the gravestones recording information and imagining their lives. Since many of my ancestors’ graves are scattered across the United States, I needed a fix for my addiction. Was there an answer?
When I stumbled upon Find a Grave, I knew there was hope.
Find A Grave is a rewarding and fun site. Yes, cemeteries can be fun, especially when you find your ancestors or learn of new ones. If a memorial for your family member isn’t there, you can add it, as long as you know the cemetery where the burial occurred. There are so many options on this site. Check it out. You won’t regret it and may find that elusive ancestor. I found my fifth great grandfather, a Revolutionary War Veteran, my fourth great grandmother, daughter of a Revolutionary War Soldier and my great, great uncle, a gambler who was shot to death in CO. How I would like to learn more about him! If not for Find A Grave, I may never have met these ancestors.
As much as I love Find A Grave, I always end up back in Knox County, NE at my favorite little country cemetery just south of the village of Winnetoon.
The first burial here occurred in 1881 when Rasmus Oleson died. Rasmus was placed on a rise at the corner of one of the four homesteads Ole Oleson and his sons claimed in 1872.
This was before the wagon trail became a county road, before the railroad passed by and before the village of Winnetoon sprang up.
Over the years that one grave became a line of Oleson stones. It was the Oleson Family Cemetery. Another line of graves later appeared, the families of Henry and Anna Oleson Fredrickson, Ole’s daughter and son-in-law.
As more Norwegians moved to the area, they needed a burial site. The Oleson Family Cemetery became the Norwegian Cemetery. Norwegians could purchase lots for $1, others had to pay $2.50.
In 1920 the Village of Winnetoon took over the Cemetery. The Oleson family stipulated that anyone with Olesen blood was to have a free plot. The board frowned on this and upped the fee.
You have probably guessed this is my family cemetery and, yes, I paid for my plot. My Norwegian and Oleson blood did not exempt me.
Henry and Anna’s gravestone is the biggest and fanciest one here. My plot is right beside theirs. My marker will be a small homemade cross with the usual inscribed plaque…and,
“I was into history and now I am history.”
…Gayle Neuhaus, Winnetoon, NE
Anne Van Patten said:
Love this little story, especially the inscription you plan to have put on your tombstone!!
theresa casteel said:
I have had great luck with both find-a-grave and the local county websites for cemetery searches. And, like you, I always seem to end up at the same small town cemetery.
Theresa (Tangled Trees)