August 2018 Pointers from Papa

I think I can safely say that older people like family history a lot more than younger people do. So, as a grandparent, you may be interested in learning about your ancestors; however, your grandchildren likely are not. They will be someday, though, and by gathering information about your ancestors (and theirs), you will be doing them a big favor—they just won’t know it yet.

Some of my ancestors came to the United States from Iceland. Second great grandparents Benedikt Hansen and his wife, Ragnhildur Steffansdottir Hansen, had a son named Ephraim. In the late 1850s, they left Iceland, went to Denmark, and ultimately made their way with Ephraim to the United States. They were headed to Utah, but were spending the winter in Nebraska. Tragically, Benedikt died. About the same time, a daughter, Mary Hansen (Ephraim’s little sister), was born.

Mary was my great-grandmother; Ephraim was my great-great uncle. Along with their mother, they made it to Utah and initially settled in Spanish Fork.

To make a long story short, Mary lived a long life and had many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (including me). However, Ephraim died in 1879 at age 26 without a spouse and without posterity.

(And now I need to note that family history websites, such as familysearch.org and ancestry.com, have a messaging feature that allows you to get in touch with other relatives who are interested in learning about their ancestors.)

Last year, I learned from my discount cousin, via familysearch.org, that Ephraim was buried in Spanish Fork, Utah, in an unmarked grave. The grave location was known, but the family had been too poor in 1879 to afford a headstone—and no one had paid attention to Ephraim since.

Earlier this year, I replaced my parent’s headstone with an upright stone. I had the gravestone company take my parents’ old gravestone, flip it over, clean and engrave Ephraim’s name on it, and place it on his grave in Spanish Fork. 

And so, after having lain in an unmarked grave for 139 years, my great-great uncle, Ephraim, has a headstone. My mom’s (Ephraim’s great niece’s) name is on the underside of Ephraim’s new headstone. I could not be happier. And someday, I think, my grandkids will care too.

Family Search

Ancestry.com

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