Ole Larson's Folks

Thursday, May 30

After an all-night train ride through heavy rain, it was still raining at noon, when Larry Larson met me at the Williston, ND Amtrak station. On the way to his home in Sidney, MT, we detoured by way of Sunny Side cemetery, a most ironic name on this day. My photos came out rather poorly, so I am substituting a couple of older ones. First, the cemetery gate, as photographed by my mother in the 1970s.

Sunny Side gate

This is the resting place of my paternal grandparents, Isaac Larson (1884-1969) and Anna Moen Larson. Click here for an extensive profile I assembled some time ago. Alongside them lies my father, Lovell Larson (1914-1970). This composite photo of their graves was taken on my previous visit there, ten years ago.

isaac et al

Also resting here are Larry’s parents, my great-uncle Oscar and his wife Mary (Hart).

Oscar Mary stone

Pardon the raindrops on the lens. Due to the weather, we did not go to the homestead sites that we visited together in 2003, nor to the church at Skaar, both of which would have required driving some distance on unpaved roads. Larry tells me that both Isaac’s and Oscar’s houses are still standing, but in disrepair. We did drive past the site of Uncle Axel’s farm near Squaw Gap, but there are no buildings or recognizable features there any more. I think that was already the case ten years ago, but I did not go there at that time.

Still under a moderate rain, we arrived in Sidney, and after waiting at Larry’s house for it to let up (it didn’t), went to the town cemetery. There lie great-uncle Axel Larson (1881-1947), his wife Minnie (Franson), and several family members.

Axel Minnie

There, tragically, also lies Axel’s great-granddaughter, cousin Sherry Whited Arnold (1968-2012), victim of a terrible act of random violence right there in her little hometown. Here are links to a photo album of her memorial service.

Sherry Arnold stone1

At the near end of the grave, Sherry’s temporary marker was adorned for the Memorial Day holiday. For some reason, there is no permanent monument yet.

Sherry Arnold stone2

At the opposite end was a separate display placed by Sherry’s parents, Ron and Sharon Whited.

Sherry Arnold stone3

Regrettably, Ron and Sharon were out of town, so I was not able to visit them this time.

After a nice dinner with Larry and Winnie, he drove me to meet the long-haul bus for the ride to Billings. It came in about an hour late, and was a pretty shoddy ride. The bus was decrepit, the driver poorly skilled, and it was crowded with shady-looking, loud-talking characters, no doubt from the oil fields near Williston. I arrived in Billings at 3 AM, now two hours late, and walked six blocks to my reserved motel room, where I had to pay a $25 late check-in fee. Grrr. Did I mention, it rained all the way?

Because Billings is 300 miles from the nearest Amtrak station, I almost skipped it on this tour. But it was sooo worth the hassle of getting there – wait ’til I tell ya …

Mari Larsdatter at Coon Prairie
Sidney Followup