One of the earliest and most famous Norwegian settlements in the Midwest was Coon Prairie, Wisconsin. It is adjacent to the current town of Westby, where I visited cousin Norma Haakenstad on our trip there last month. We think that Ole Larson and his family first arrived at Coon Prairie, although records from as early as 1865 are not perfectly clear.
Norma’s neighbor, a Ms. Lund, offered to open the church for us, which I (perhaps unwisely) declined. It is documented that Ole Larson’s sister, Marit Larsdatter Johnson, is buried there, along with her daughter, who died on the same day in 1880 at the age of five days. I even knew the plot number of their graves, but the cemetery is enormous, and there were no outside guides to the plots.
Quite by accident, at the very front of the cemetery, we encountered the graves of Mr .and Mrs. Torger Gunderson Moen, the paternal grandparents of Anna Moen.
In “The Book” on Coon Prairie, Torger is highlighted as an important early member of the community. We also stumbled upon the graves of Anna Moen’s maternal grandparents, and one of their sons.
That wraps up my report on last month’s Wisconsin journey. I hope to revisit Coon Prairie cemetery on the next trip to Dubuque, find the graves I missed this time, and have a more relaxed visit with cousin Aline up in Rockland. I am quite satisfied for the moment with the results of this one-day excursion.