Cemeteries in January in Minnesota

The combination in the title is not one I’d recommend, but this is a strange January in Minnesota, and while there was too much snow to make it easy to trudge around cemeteries today and see every stone (some had icy snow on them), it definitely wasn’t a complete hindrance.

Today was my last day of a 10-day stint off from work, and my parents and I drove about 45 minutes to Chisago County, which is where one-half of my dad’s Swedish immigrant ancestors landed in the 1850s (one family emigrated in 1853, but we don’t know for sure where they were between then and 1857, when land was purchased in Chisago County; one story has them in Iowa for a time) and 1887.

We hadn’t called ahead to see if we could access the historical society, but had a few cemeteries to look at (mostly for my benefit because my parents have been to them, but I hadn’t). First, however, we headed to the Recorder’s Office in the Chisago County Government Center to see if we could access old vital records that aren’t available at the state level.

Access was pretty easy, as long as we wanted records more than 100 years old (this isn’t quite the policy at the state level, but was sufficient for what we wanted today). They have tall tables where you can stand and view the books, so we requested the book that included the marriage record for my great-great-grandparents Frank Strum and Minnie Tolberg, and the book that contains the marriage record for Minnie’s parents, Alfred Tolberg and Mary Peterson. The book with Alfred and Mary also included the marriage record for Alfred’s sister Sophia and Julius Johnson.

The only hitch? They don’t allow digital photography, even without the flash. So, today I was able to utilize the transcription skills I learned during the earliest part of the BU genealogical studies certificate program. However, there are lots more records we’d like to obtain, so it might end up being a few trips to get them all, with the writing and standing. Now I just need to get the ones from today typed up.

Mr & Mrs Strum -- Almelund Cemetery

Most of the cemetery visits today were for my familiarity of where they are, but there’s one where I recently found a “Mr. and Mrs. Strum” listed with no first names or dates (the county historical society has done great work documenting the many county cemeteries), so we thought we’d see if we could find the stone(s) to see if they might be Frank’s parents, Carl and Stina, whose graves have so far not been located, but their death certificates indicate they were likely buried at this cemetery. We found where Mr. and Mrs. Strum are buried, but there are no stones for them. In the photo, they’re between the Bengtson stone and one behind it.

My mom and I found someone in the office of the church that manages the cemetery, and it turns out he serves on the cemetery committee. We wrote down the info for the graves we’re interested in and who we think might be in them along with their vital info, and he agreed to look into their records to see if there’s more information about who is buried there. Even records of when the burials occurred would help confirm their identity. It would be great to have found Carl and Stina, and then we can look into adding markers for their graves.

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