When I explored this huge cemetery in 2009, it was a weekend, so I was not able to search systematically for the grave of Ole’s sister Marit Larsdatter [Johnson] (1837-1880), who died from complications at the birth of her third child, who also died. What I did find on that occasion, mostly by sheer luck, were the graves of all four great-great grandparents on my father’s mother’s side (not biologically related to Marit; all of her relatives, and even her husband, are buried at Brush Creek). So, these two Vernon County cemeteries contain the graves of all seven great-great grandparents who made the journey from Norway, and the four great-grandparents who came with them, or in one case was born after they arrived. By contrast, on my mother’s side, the 12 corresponding ancestors are buried in five cemeteries across four Midwestern states, only two of which I visited on this trip.
This time, the church office in Westby was open, so I looked up the grave on the cemetery map.
This made it easy to find the correct location, which was a good thing, as the gravestone itself was not positively identifiable.
As you can see, besides being badly eroded, the stone has been broken in half, and fastened back together at some later time, obliterating the inscriptions in that area. After long study of the photo, I can read the letters “RIT” in the arc above the crack, in a position where it could be a part of “MARIT JOHNSON.” But such a leap is only possible because of the stone’s position among its neighbors, including Amund Volden (see map above).
I got back to La Crosse in time for a little wild-goose chase at a local hospital, seeking medical records of great-uncle Smith Larson, who died in 1922 at one of the two hospitals in operation there. Later, I checked by phone with the other hospital, with negative results all-around. By the time I boarded the evening train, a heavy rain was falling, and it poured all night and next day, all the way across Minnesota, North Dakota, and half of Montana. Next: the homestead country.