Monday, March 24, 2014

52 Ancestor in 52 Weeks: Week 12 - Greg Rasmussen

This week I highlight my uncle, Greg Rasmussen.    

I attended Greg's funeral this past weekend, he died on March 17, 2014.

Obituary from

I spent a fair amount of time with Greg growing up, not as much later on as I moved to different parts of the country and he moved to LaVerkin, and later Hurricane Utah.

When I was growing up - I went almost every weekend to my grandparents house with my dad.   Even though Bountiful was a mere 20 minutes away from our home in Salt Lake City, Bountiful was like visiting another world.  It was like going on vacation.

Grandma's house had a huge garden, chickens, a swing set with tire swings that my grandpa made himself.  My uncle Kurt lived there too, and on and off - Uncle Greg.

Greg was the uncle that taught you things your parents didn't want you to know, and let you do things your parents did not want you to do.    I learned how to play blackjack when I was about 7-8, I learned about music and I learned that uncles can be crazy.   He let my brothers have their first cigars and took them hunting.  He loved animals and he loved to cook and he loved to play, and he was perfectly fine including the little kids.  When he married Stacie Clark - I played blackjack with both of them.   I went to my first casino - and I was not yet 21, with them.

Greg and Stacie (Clark) Rasmussen - Wedding Day
As I entered High School, Greg was working with my dad at the insurance company, as was my sister, and my other uncle Kurt.    

Not to long before I left for college, Greg and Stacie had their first baby - Aaron, and while I was at college - their second baby Robyn.  While the kids were still young, Stacie was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.  Greg moved to LaVerkin and he and the kids lived with my grandparents.

After high school - I didn't see all that much of Greg.   Mostly at family functions here and there and funerals.    He helped my aunt, his sister, a great deal with my grandmother as her health declined.  Not too long after my grandmother died, Greg was diagnosed with colon cancer.   He had not been healthy for awhile already.

His daughter moved to Hurricane and had her first baby - Greg's first and only grandchild.    He was able to be part of her life for a short while, and hopefully she will remember him.

When I was in Hurricane for Greg's funeral, I was in the car with his daughter and granddaughter - who is 2.     The baby was in the back seat and regularly asked for her Papa, not understanding that he was no longer there for her.

Greg Rasmussen and his granddaughter

Rest in peace Greg! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 11 The Civil War

I was so excited this week to FINALLY find an ancestor that served in the Civil War.    At the time of the Civil War - my family, for the most part, is either in Utah, or on their way to Utah.  I have TONS of relatives who served in the Revolutionary War, WWI, WWII - but not so much in The Civil War.

Alphonso Ray
I also have literally thousands of DNA hits with people who are living in, or who's families come from the south.   I have yet to find any ancestors in the southern part of the United States.  Because of this mystery - I keep an eye out for anybody serving in The Civil War, or moving to the south, or even Virginia!!!

Last week, while trying to look at some of the several thousand "shaky leaves" - I ran into Alphonso Ray, my 2nd cousin, 4x removed.  Here is his story - the parts that I know of.......

Alphonso Ray with his wife and children

Alphonso Ray was born May 16, 1831 in St. Lawrence, New York.  On September 2, 1864 he joined the Union troops fighting in The Civil War as a private, assigned to Company F.    At some point he became a Sargent and he served until he mustered out on June 5, 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.

Company F was part of the 2nd Regiment in the NY Calvary, which became better known as The Harris Light Calvary. 

There is not a lot of information specifically about Alphonso Ray during his time in The Civil War, but there is a lot of information about The Harris Light Calvary.  They participated in several key battles toward the end of The Civil War, and were present at the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

Some of the key battles that The Harris Light Calvary participated in during the time that Alphonso was with them were:

  • Battle of Opequan, Winchester
  • Battle of Cedar Creek
  • Sheridan's Raid
  • Appomatox Campaign

Following The Civil War, Alphonso Ray returned to his family in New York, and in 1870 he moved to Kansas where he lived until his death on December 18, 1912.   He was married to Frances Bailey and had 7 children.

Sources: - The Winfield Daily Free Press

Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Ancestory Week 10: Thomas Briggs and the Twice Buried Leg

Thomas Briggs is my 3x Great Grandfather.  Lucky for me - he was a prolific writer, and prominent in Utah history - so there is a lot written by and about him.  One of my favorite stores started as old family lore and was so outrageous that it seemed unbelievable.   Then - I found it in one of the books written about him as well.

Thomas Briggs had issues with one of his legs since he was a small child - perhaps even since birth.    His condition is described as a "withered limb" which had stopped growing and was very painful.   His parents had consulted many physicians, but nothing was able to help.

In 1848 the Briggs family was living in Hull, England.  That year, yet another doctor was consulted about Thomas' withered limb.  The diagnosis was that nothing could be done and the child would not live much longer.

In reading about Thomas Briggs, I learned that faith healing is something that he believed in strongly.  The first mention of healing by faith in his life - was his withered limb.      The Briggs family joined the Mormon church earlier in 1848.  The story goes that upon hearing the doctors prognosis that year he decided to pray for healing, and asked that the Mormon Elders join him in prayer, and if his prayer was not answered, resign himself to death.

The Briggs home was the meeting place for many Mormon meetings, and the next time the elders convened in the Briggs home, a special prayer was said for Thomas.    The next morning, he awoke and his withered leg (his left) was the same length as his right leg, and within a few weeks was equally strong.

There are many other stories of healing by faith in his writings, but my story is about his leg.   The next time we hear about the leg is in 1855.   By this time Thomas and his family had left England for Utah.  While they arrived in America as expected, it took several years before Thomas made his way from Missouri to Utah.    In 1855 Thomas was married and living in Missouri.  He fell and hurt his leg.  Initially thought to be a minor injury, the leg quickly became infected and he almost died.   In 1856 he had a relapse of the infection in his leg and was was once again declared on deaths doorstep.   He declared to his wife that he had a vision telling him that he would live in the mountains and build a large house, and not to worry.     

Thomas, now living in Bountiful, Utah, re-injured his leg in 1885 and was once again told that he would die.   Once again he reported a vision.  This time the vision directed him to have his leg removed.    He asked his son to take him to Salt Lake City, and on December 15, 1885 had his leg removed.   He had his whole leg removed and was left with only a 6 inch stump.    Once again - nobody expected him to live - but he did.

Thomas had arranged to have his leg buried in the cemetery.    For months after his leg was removed, Thomas experienced severe discomfort in the missing leg.  In particular from the foot.    Thomas convinced his sons to exhume his leg.  While he sons were out digging up his leg, he experienced some discomfort and then the remaining part of his leg turned ice cold.  Thomas reported to his wife that he knew that his sons had just removed the leg from the box.      The sons straighted out the leg, uncurled the toes, and then wrapped it carefully in cotton and placed the leg in a larger box, allowing it to be in a more "comfortable" position, and then re-buried the leg.    From that point on, Thomas no longer experienced any discomfort.

Precious Memories, Sixteenth Book of the Faith Promoting Series.  George C Lambert, 1914, Salt Lake City Utah

Monday, March 3, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 9: Is it Ellen or Ann?

This week has been the week of questions......... I first noticed a single anomaly in the information available about my 2x great grandmother........Mrs. Levi Jackman. 

It started out with:   Where was Ann Jackman actually born?   And has grown to many more questions!

Carterton New Zealand

Let's start at the beginning.     I saw a mention that my 2x Great Grandmother Ann Jackman was born in New Zealand.   

New Zealand?   Huh?   

I had her down as being born in Utah.     Not to mention my DNA results put my ancestry solidly in Denmark/England/Ireland/Sweden.   

Ann was born in either 1879 or 1880 so I suspect that movement between Sweden and New Zealand and Utah is not particularly easy, nor common.

After recently attending RootsTech - I decided to use some of my new found knowledge and approach this like a real genealogist and create a research log to lay this all out and see if I could find answer.....

  • 1900 census says she was born in Utah.
  • 1910 census says she was born in New Zealand, but wait - that was lined through and it says Pacific Isles.
  • 1920 census says she was born in New Zealand.
  • Death Certificate says she was born in New Zealand

There is a big difference between New Zealand and Utah.  So how is New Zealand possible?   

One record mentions her mother is Danish and was born on the island of Sj√¶lland, which is written in English as Zealand.   Maybe someone got Zealand in Denmark confused with New Zealand?    

Her father is listed pretty consistently as being born in Sweden.   

How did someone from Sweden end up meeting someone from Denmark in the 1800's?   And why on earth would either be in New Zealand?

Elsinore Utah

I see on the 1910 census that another Peterson is listed as as wife to another Jackman living next door.   A quick check tells me this is Ann's sister Mary and Levi's brother Reuben Oliver.

Quick check of her census records shows similar confusion between Utah, Pacific Isles and New Zealand.

OK........7687687987 searches later things are getting even more interesting.....

  • Is her name Ann?  Anna?  Anne? Annie? or is it Ellen??????
  • Is her middle name Margaret or Marguerite?
  • Was she born in 1879 or 1880?
  • Did she come to the United States in 1892?  1893?  1894?
  • Is her last name Peterson or Petersen?
  • Is her father's name Charles?  Chas?  Carl?  or Karl?
  • One site tells me that many immigrants changes their names to be more English.    It used Charles Peterson as an example and indicated that the last name in Sweden may have been Pedersen, Peddersen or August. 
  • Is her father's last name August?   Or is that his middle name?
  • Is her mother's name Ane?  Anna?  Annie?

Pacific Islands

Here is where I am as of today.

I learned that between 1871 and 1874 there was an assisted immigration program in place in Sweden which encouraged young families and single people to move and settle in New Zealand.  Similar programs were going on in Denmark, Finland, England and Germany.     This gives a possible way where 2 people from different countries could have met and married and started a family so far away.

I found records on the New Zealand Birth, Death and Marriage site of a marriage between Charles August Petersen and Anna Sofia Hansen in 1874 - which matches most of the references to this couple and their marriage date.     I found mentions on the same site for all of Ann's brothers and sisters who were also supposedly born in New Zealand. 

Except - I found no record of Ann.   I did find a record of an Ellen Margaret born to Charles August Petersen and Anna Sofia in 1879.  Supposedly Ann was born in 1879 or 1880 - depending on where you look.

I went ahead and ordered the print outs for the marriage between Charles August Petersen and Ann Sofia Hansen - to see what information may show up.  I also ordered Ellen's birth print out from New Zealand.   I'm eagerly, and not so patiently, awaiting additional information.     

Must.  Solve.  The.  Puzzle!!!!!