Ole Larson's Folks

I was just launching into the Marte Forbrigd-Bø story when Thiel and I took another of our Amtrak excursions to see our grandchildren in Dubuque, Iowa. Similar to last year, I extended my own version of the trip to include some family-history exploration.

This time, we took a different Amtrak route, the California Zephyr, which runs from the San Francisco Bay area to Chicago, by way of Salt Lake City and Denver. On the return trip, I stopped off in Lincoln, Nebraska, while Thiel continued west toward home. In a rented car, I spent three days visiting six ancestral sites in three states.

When finished, an important item on my bucket list was checked off: I have now paid my respects at the graves of all thirty of my direct ancestors, back to second great-grandparents, along with a number of their home and work sites. As an added bonus, several of Thiel’s ancestral sites have also been visited. And, of course, a smattering of third, fourth, and fifth great-grandparents.

Here are the towns I visited this trip, on a map of Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, and surrounding.


My first destination, less than a mile from the car rental store in Lincoln, was Wyuka Cemetery. It was raining steadily the morning of my visit.


This is the resting place of my second great-grandparents Richard Sprung (1825-1895) and Anna Hudye (Sprung).


The Sprung family immigrated from Canada to Illinois in the 1860s, and apparently to Nebraska before 1892. Richard’s grandfather Gabriel Sprung migrated from New York to Ontario, Canada prior to 1800, to a land grant provided for Revolutionary War Loyalists. Two of Richard and Anna’s children are also buried here in Lincoln. Another child, my great-grandmother, is buried in Frankfort, South Dakota.

Frankfort ent

The Frankfort town cemetery was earlier known as Mount Hope Cemetery. The sexton there assured me they are one and the same.

Frankfort Cem Post

My great-grandmother Hattie, née Hannah Sprung (1861-1947) was the only great-grandparent still living when I was born. We never met, though; she died only four days later.

1937 Wm Hattie Drayer stone DSC_0277

“Grandma Drayer” was well-known and loved in the family. She visited, or was visited by, the Larsons at least once, when Darlene was a child.

1938 Hattie Darlene

And here is Hattie some 45 years earlier with her daughter, my Grandma Lillian Drayer (1890-1979).

Lil Hattie 1893

Finally, a 50th anniversary snapshot of William and Hattie, the year before William’s death.

1936 Drayer golden anniv

The next town to the east of Frankfort is Clark, SD. Clark is the childhood home of cousin and genealogy mentor Gail Myers.

Rose Hill

In Clark’s Rose Hill  Cemetery are buried Gail’s father (my grand-uncle) Lawrence Myers (1879-1937), Gail’s sister Mary Helen and her husband Lloyd Aldous, and Gail’s maternal grandparents, Peder and Mary Engen. Gail’s mother, Pauline Engen, remarried after Lawrence Myers died, and is buried elsewhere with her second husband.

1937 Lawrence Myers stone

Next: The Iowans.

Mini-Journey 2014, part 2: Western Iowa