NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday June 22nd 2017

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“Who will remember that we were here after we are gone?” Keepsakes and records entrusted between Bible’s pages

 Joe Schumann found an old Bible including a note that said “Will you keep the number of Hilmars grave in case we should loose tract of it. Eugene lost the one we had befor. I gave him one to so in case he loose it I’ve got one and so have you and as they may grade that part where he lays so if they take that marker I put there sometime ago we got the number of it. So take care of it.”The Bible was a wedding gift to Rachel and her husband John from her parents almost exactly 100 years ago. They were married on December 22, 1913. 

By Sue Hunter Weir

It was almost a year ago that Joe Schumann found an old Bible in the attic of a house that he was working on in North Minneapolis. The Bible was written in Norwegian and had several small items tucked inside. There are three bookmarks, two of them celebrating Easter. The third looks like a miniature Turkish rug. There is a gold foil sticker with the word “father” written in script that most likely came from a funeral wreath. There is also an undated Norwegian-language copy of the “Konstitution” from Mindekirke, the Norwegian Lutheran Church located at the intersection of 21st Street and 10th Avenue South.

A letter that was folded in among the pages connects the Bible to Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery and is how Joe tracked us down. Uncorrected, except for added punctuation, the letter reads: “Will you keep the number of Hilmars grave in case we should loose tract of it. Eugene lost the one we had befor. I gave him one to so in case he loose it I’ve got one and so have you and as they may grade that part where he lays so if they take that marker I put there sometime ago we got the number of it. So take care of it.”

It’s not clear who wrote the letter and, even though it doesn’t say so, it was probably intended for Rachel Kleppe. The Bible was a wedding gift to Rachel and her husband John from her parents almost exactly 100 years ago. They were married on December 22, 1913.

Rachel was Hilmar’s younger sister. Their last name was Evanson. Their parents, Edwin and Caroline Evanson, had at least seven children. The three oldest, including Hilmar, were born in Norway. Rachel was the first to be born in Minnesota.

Hilmar Evanson died in the Thomas Hospital on November 7, 1913. The Thomas Hospital was built to serve people suffering from tuberculosis in 1907 by an organization associated with the Lutheran church known as the United Church Hospital Association (UCHA). The hospital was located on the West Bank on the site of what later became known as Fairview Hospital. Hilmar Evanson spent two months in Thomas Hospital before he died at the age of 29 years, six months and 13 days old. Earlier, when he had been healthy enough to work, he was employed as a machinist for the J. L. Onans Company.

Hilmar married Dorothy Hansen on March 2, 1905. It was a double wedding. Hilmar’s brother Eugene married Mary Hansen (possibly Dorothy’s sister) the same day. Dorothy was only 16 years old. She survived Hilmar although she, too, died young. She died in the Thomas Hospital on December 17, 1915, when she was 26 years, 4 months and 19 days old.

Whoever wrote the letter need not have worried. We know where Hilmar is buried. He’s in Lot 40, Block E. We also know where Dorothy is buried. She is in an adjoining section of the cemetery in Lot 36, Block G.

Shortly after they were married, John and Rachel Kleppe moved to Iowa and farmed. They had one daughter, Mildred. John Kleppe died in 1931 and is buried in the graveyard of the First Lutheran Church in Ossian, Iowa. Rachel returned to Minneapolis after he died.

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