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Monday July 6th 2020

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Geneology Second only to Gardening

How does geneology become accurate when almost identical markers with common date of death, February 11, 1914, for brothers Lars G. Anderson and Lars G. Nelson is juxtaposed with the “burial cards” with names as Lars and Louis Stublein including death on January 10, 1909. Markers are at Block E, Lot 20 of Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery and records are in Cemetery office amongst those of the other 20,000 +people buried there.

by Susan Hunter Weir

Genealogy is the second most popular hobby in America (gardening is first). Genealogy is like solving puzzles—finding that one clue that leads you to the maiden name of your great-great-grandmother or locating the name of the town where she was born. Millions of people spend their leisure time searching the internet, digging through trunks in attics and reading obituaries looking for information about long-lost relatives.

The cemetery office has records on all of the 21,000 people buried there. The amount and type of information varies a little bit and tends not to be as complete for the earliest burials (the 1850s and 60s) as it is for later ones. Every person has a burial card, and most cards contain information about that person’s age, place of death and cause of death. Some contain birthdates and birth locations. For those who died after 1876 there are burial permits as well.

Grave locations are recorded in a large plat book. The original plat book was created during the Depression, a project of the Works Progress Administration. It is drawn with India ink on vellum and individual graves are hand tinted. Occupied graves are colored green except for veterans’ graves which are red; empty graves are brown. A few years ago, after someone broke into and vandalized the cemetery office, the original plat book was removed to the archives in City Hall. The cemetery has a full-sized, color digitized copy of the original.

Given the age of the cemetery, the records are amazingly complete. The Layman family kept detailed records of all burials. Despite their best efforts, the information is not always accurate.

In Block E, Lot 20, there are two almost-identical markers. The names on the markers are for Lars G. Anderson and Lars G. Nelson. According to the markers, the two men, who were brothers, both died on February 11, 1914. Their burial cards give their names as Lars and Louis Stublien and their date of death as January 10, 1909. So, which is it?

There’s an obituary for Louis Stublien in the 1909 newspaper (Stublien was the name of the family farm), but none for Lars. Louis’ 1909 death certificate gives his name as Lars Peterson Stublien. There is a death certificate for Lars G. Anderson dated February 11, 1914. Still with me? Louis Stublien (obituary), Lars Peterson Stublien (death certificate) and Lars G. Nelson (grave marker with wrong date of death) are the same person. Lars Stublien (burial card with wrong date of death) is the same person as Lars G. Anderson (1911 death certificate and grave marker with the correct date of death).

It’s not too hard to see why the person who carved their grave markers got a little confused. If family members noticed the mistake on the marker back in 1911, it didn’t seem to bother them enough to have it corrected.

Both markers have the same inscription written in Norwegian. Roughly translated, they read: “Sleep dear brother, and rest. God has called you and He knows best.”

If you are looking for Lars or Louis Anderson/Nelson/Stublien, we can show you right where they are.

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