John “Jack” William Ross Grave

While we were in San Francisco this summer, I told Amanda the only required stop was my Great Grandpa’s grave in Goldengate National Cemetery in San Bruno, San Mateo, California.  Since the summer went to pot with medical issues for our little girl, I have not posted much of California.  Here is the first of hopefully several.

Goldengate National Cemetery

Goldengate National Cemetery

This is a picture from Jack’s grave looking toward the east.  As you can tell the rows and graves go for a very long distance.  Sources show the cemetery is 161.5 acres with over 145,000 interments.  Jack’s is grave #512.

We showed up as the rain was coming down pretty hard.  We stopped at the office to find out where John “Jack” William Ross could be found within the cemetery.  We obtained a map, directions, and started toward his grave.  It probably only took us about 15 minutes.  Fortunately the rain slowed a bit when we got out of the car.

John William Ross tombstone

John William Ross tombstone

I have written before about Jack.  He was born 2 September 1890 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  You can read at the link about his marriages and life.  He died 13 June 1948 in Livermore Veterans Hospital in Livermore, Alameda, California.  The building he passed away in is still there.  Which brings to life more of the story of my Grandfather, Milo James Ross, told of when he went to visit Jack.  Milo was present when Jack passed away.

Back of John William Ross' grave, #512

Back of John William Ross’ grave, #512

The rain was starting again after we had been there for a few minutes.  I could not help but wonder, am I the only descendant of Jack to visit his grave?  I know Grandpa wasn’t there for his burial and as far as I know never made it back.  Harold is the only other son, and he was pretty negative toward his father, so I doubt he personally made it.  How lonely is that?  Some of Jack’s nephews lived in California, but I doubt they ever paid a visit.  Who knows, but that I suspect I am the only descendant to visit his grave.

Rest well until the Resurrection.

 

Olaves & Hanna Jorgensen

The writing of this post comes after receiving two photos in the mail this week of my fourth great grandparents.  I supposed there were photos out there somewhere and finally found some of them.

Here is the photo I had been given of Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen by one of the descendants of her daughter, Amanda.  These old photos that are a watercolor/drawing of a photo means there is a photo out there somewhere.  It was just a matter of finding it.  This photo obviously had some issues with it, like water damage and the print just bothered me for a number of reasons.

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Well, I found a descendant of another daughter, Othelia, in the past month.  She provided me this photo of Hanna, the actual photo the print above came from.  It too looks like a print, it is of higher quality, and the eyes are.  Further, they removed some of her facial features, which I suppose they could be viewed as a defect, but they offer much more personality and flavor than the doctored picture.

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Along with the photo of Hanna come the colored print of Olavus.  I have also seen his name spelled Olaves, Olavis, and variations of that.  No clue on actual pronunciation, but I have my guess.  But his tombstone has Olover Jorgensen.  But that we have this coloring means there hopefully is still an actual photo floating out in the world somewhere.  The ears seem a bit much, maybe they were actually like that, or maybe it is the imperfections of the artist.

Olavus Jorgensen

Olavus Jorgensen

Before I get much into the facts, I think it is important to share the story of Olaves and Hanna as told by their daughter.  Amanda Emilie Jorgensen wrote this short biography about 1933.  She married Albert Sigvard Swensen.  Her grandson, Robert Mathis, shared the handwritten story with me.

~
“History of my Parents

“My father Olaves Jorgensen was born in Drammen Norway 19 November 1830.

“When he was twelve years old he started working in a saw mill for Mr Kjer.

“My mother Hannah Mathea Christensen was born in Drammen Norway fourteen November 1831. She was a dressmaker when she was old enough to work. They were married fourth november 1855 in Drammen Norway. Two girls were born there. Constanse and Olga. Then Mr. Kjer transferred Father to Fredrikstad Norway to another saw mill and he worked there until he came to America in 1896.

“Mother was very religious and always went to a church but never felt satisfied. She lived in an apartment house and was talking to a lady named Mrs. Ask that lived across the hall. Religion was mentioned and mother said she wanted to find a religion that baptised people like Jesus was baptised.

“Mrs. Ask asked her if she had ever heard about the Mormon people and mother said no. Mrs. Ask said to be ready Sunday afternoon and she would take her to hear the Mormon Elders.

“As soon as mother heard the Elders preach she knew it was the true church. The Priest and other people tried to tell her it was wrong but she wouldn’t listen. The Elders had to take her to the ocean to be baptised after dark as they would be arrested and put in jail if they were seen baptising people.

“Mother was a very faithful member and the missionaries were always welcome in their home. She was President of the Relief Society for years.

Father wanted to join but didn’t dare to because he knew he would lose his job. Father was baptised just before he and mother came to Utah.

“They went directly to Richmond Utah in Cache Valley to be near their daughter Othelia. They were here four years and had never had the opportunity to go to the temple when mother died in November, 1900. Father and Othelia and Constanse came to Logan and did the work for mother and she was sealed to Father. Father died in November 1904 and they were both buried in Richmond Utah.

“Mother told me that the pastor of the Luteran Church said her parents Christen Hansen and Marie Evensen were the most beautiful couple he had ever married while he was a pastor.

~

Olavus Jørgensen was born 18 November 1830 according to his christening record, christened 26 December 1830 in Bragernes, Drammen, Buskerud, Norway.  His parents are listed as Jorgen Olsen and Oline Knudsdatter.

Olavus and Hanna Mathaea Christensdatter were married 4 November 1855 in Stromso, Buskerud, Norway.

On the 1875 Norwegian Census, Olaves is listed as a Skiber ved Kjos Brug at Nygaard Gulbergsiden Glemmen, Ostfold, Norway.  Not sure what that means and I could not find a good translation.  He did something with ships.

On the 1875 census and in the family history records are the following children:

Konstanse Elise Olavesen who is 18 and born in Drammen.  Her husband, Ole Kristiansen is also listed along with their oldest daughter Valborg Olsen.  Ole and Valborg listed as born in Glemminge.  It is interesting that my Constance/Konstanse’s last name is Olavesen which should give more clarification on her father’s actual name.  Valborg/Walborg Olsen, her father certainly was Ole, but it is interesting they appear to have stopped using the datter by this point.  I have written on Constance previously and you can read about her here.

Constance Jorgensen Christiansen

Constance Josephine Eliza Jorgensen Christiansen

Olga Olavesen, 15, born in Drammen.

Marie Olavesen, 11, born in Fredrickstad.

Otilie Mathilde Olavesen, 8, born in Glemminge.

Amanda Olavesen, 3, born in Glemminge.

Amanda Jorgensen Swensen

Amanda Emilie Jorgensen Swensen

With the gaps in the children, we know of at least one more child, Olav Emil, who was born 28 October 1870 in Fredrickstad and died 16 February 1871.  There may be more, but we don’t have records of them yet.

Constance married Ole Christiansen.  I have linked her history page above.

Olga married Oskar Darius Danielsen and remained in Norway.  They had 10 children together.  They were LDS but I think they struggled with activity due to the constant flow of LDS people out of Norway to Zion.

Mari Caspara married Lorenz Christian Mathisen.  I believe they also remained in Norway but I have not been able to confirm anything on this family.

Othelia Matilda married Niels Lillienqvist Eskelsen.  I believe Othelia emigrated with her parents.  She met and married Niels in Utah and married him in 1896 in the Logan LDS Temple.  She did not emigrate with her parents in 1896.

Amanda Emilie married Albert Sigvard Swensen in 1894.  I referenced her and provided a photo in a previous post.

Olaves and Hanna immigrated alone to the United States.  They departed from Glasgow, Scotland on the Circassia and arrived 17 December 1896 in New York.

Hanna and Olaves are located on the 1900 Census on 10 June 1900 in Richmond, Cache, Utah.

I really don’t know anything more than what Amanda wrote above.

Hanna died 2 November 1900 in Richmond at age 69.  Her death certificate indicates her name as Hanna Mattie Jornsen and she died from Asthma.  The certificate says her husband is Oloyes Jornsen, probably some sign of a person taking the record from a thick accent.

Olaves died 16 November 1904 in Richmond at age 74.  His death certificate indicates his name as Oloyes Jornsen and he died of LaGrippe.  I had to look up LeGrippe, which is apparently another name for influenza.  His son-in-law, Neils Eskelson provided the information and indicated Olaves was a widower.

Both are buried in Richmond, Cache, Utah.

 

 

 

Eagle Scout

I received my Eagle Scout on 19 October 1993 making it 23 years ago!  Where does the time go?  Here are some photos of that occasion.

Newspaper clipping from the South Idaho Press.

Newspaper clipping from the South Idaho Press.

My Dad, Milo Ross, is also an Eagle Scout, so he could make the award to me.  Mom refused to step into a Mormon church, so my Grandma, Gladys Donaldson Ross, stood in for her.  Mom finally showed up and came in and then became offended because Grandma stood in her place.  Sometimes you cannot win!

The Court of Honor.

The Court of Honor.  Me, Grandma, Dad on stage with the Eagle Nest.

paul-ross-eagle-court-of-honor-with-gladys-and-milo-ross

 

Dad shaking my hand afterward for photos.

Dad shaking my hand for a photo for the newspaper.

Here is one of those awkward teen photos.  Dad had me take a picture before we went to the Court of Honor.  I borrowed someone else’s pants so they did not fit.  I was already in love with the green trousers.

paul-ross-eagle-uniform

I have a couple of the invitations and the programs for the Court of Honor.  Next time I stumble on them I should scan a copy so they are also saved for posterity.  Just remember, we all go through that awkward teenage stage.

Birthday Season

I just passed by 37th birthday last month.  It came and went like all the others, just another day with a little extra sugar.

If the average lifespan of a male is 72 years, I am now officially over half dead.

With the passing of the date, I thought I would post some pictures of birthdays from days gone.  Some of this will surely be to the chagrin of my little sister, Andra.  But she was born the day before my birthday, so we inevitably had our birthday parties together.

Some of the photos were scanned from a scrapbook, so you will have to forgive some of the stickers and other related paraphernalia.

Maybe I didn’t have birthdays in later years, or at least no pictures in my collection to commemorate the day.

I think this is about my 5th birthday, Andra's 3rd at Grandma's house in Paul, Idaho.

I think this is about my 4th birthday, Andra’s 2nd at Grandma’s house in Paul, Idaho.

 

I think this is about my 5th, Andra's 3rd.

I think this is about my 5th, Andra’s 3rd.

 

This one you can see my arrowhead necklace I wore for many years. I loved that necklace.

This one you can see my arrowhead necklace I wore for many years. I loved that necklace.

 

I think this is about age 7 for me, age 5 for Andra.

I think this is about age 7 for me, age 5 for Andra.

 

I believe this is my 11th birthday, Andra's 9th.

I believe this is my 9th birthday, Andra’s 7th.

 

With Gwen Thompson at their home in Virginia.  This was my 26th birthday.

With Gwen Thompson at their home in Virginia. This was my 26th birthday.

Happy 100th Anniversary

Joseph and Lillian Portrait

For several weeks leading up to September 6, I repeatedly thought of my Great Grandparents Joseph and Lillian Jonas.

I have written of their life, you can read the post here.

It is not because I have some great memory for the dates of others.  That particulate date has more history for Joseph and Lillian.  They married on that date in 1916.  Their son, Ellis, was born on that date in 1926.  Joseph tragically died on that date in 1932.  Grandson Randall was born on that date in 1950.

Alas, I found myself in trial on the date of their anniversary and did not get an opportunity to write about it before.  At least I am doing it afterward.

Happy 100th Anniversary Great Grandpa and Grandma Jonas.

Plain City Cemetery Incident

I wanted to share this interesting little incident that happened on Friday.

Amanda and the rest of the kids went to Utah for the weekend.  Aliza stayed because she had school and rode down with me on Friday.

As we neared Plain City I asked if she remembered Great Grandpa Milo.  She said that she did.  She then asked if we could drive past his house.  (She often asks to drive past places.)

We drove past and I asked if she wanted to stop at the Plain City Cemetery.  She said yes.

We stopped and walked over to Grandpa and Grandma Ross’ grave stone.

Aliza with Milo & Gladys Ross tombstone

Aliza with Milo & Gladys Ross tombstone

I asked if she wanted to see Grandpa Milo’s mother’s grave.  She agreed and we walked over to the grave of Ethel Sharp Ross.

I also took her to the grave of Paul Ross, 1922-1932, and I explained my relationship to him.

We then walked to the grave of Ethel Sharp Ross’ parents, Milo Riley and Mary Ann “Lillie” Stoker Sharp.

Aliza with Milo and Mary Ann "Lillie" Sharp, also Mary Ann Stoker.

Aliza with Milo and Mary Ann “Lillie” Sharp, also Mary Ann Sharp’s tombstone.

Aliza recognized the Lillie, although Lillian was only loosely named after this Lillie.  We use the Lillie spelling for her nickname based on this Lillie though.  I explained the Milo name, the relationships, and how Mary Ann on this stone is Mary Ann Bailey Sharp, Milo Riley’s mother.

We then walked over to Lillie’s father, William Edward Stoker.  In this picture below, you can see Mary Ann or Lillie Sharp’s proximity to her father’s grave.  Her mother died in England before the family could immigrate to Utah.

Aliza with William Edward Stoker

Aliza with William Edward Stoker’s grave stone

Needless to say, being related to some of the older graves in the cemetery, we are related to a number of the other families in the graveyard.  We walked around for quite a while talking about names and how they are related.

I started walking back toward the car and Aliza wanted to go back over by William Stoker.  I told her we did not have any more family graves over in that part of the cemetery.  She insisted, “we didn’t stop at the other family tombstone for a picture.”  Knowing there was no other family over there, I followed her so she could see for herself.

She then stopped at another grave.  She wanted to take a picture of it.  I told her we were not related to them and she said, “Yes we are, I want a picture.”  Rather than have a battle in the cemetery over it, I took her picture.

Aliza with William and Martha Wayment tomb stone

Aliza with William and Martha Wayment tombstone

If you look closely, you can see William Stoker’s grave behind William Wayment’s grave marker, and the Sharp tombstone right above Aliza.  I took the picture and it dawned on me, Amanda’s Great Grandfather’s middle name was Wayment and his mother had been a Wayment.  I was not sure if these Wayments were related to Amanda’s Wayments or not.

Sure enough, Aliza was right.  While not related to me, these were her relatives!  These are her 5th Great Grandparents through Amanda’s line.

I was a bit struck by the determination she had that we had another family grave I had not taken her.  Dumbfounded that they were in fact her family, and not mine!  It inspired and spooked at the same time.

Amanda’s Great Grandfather is Walter Wayment Hansen, 1904 -1995.  His mother is Martha Ann Wayment Hansen, 1877-1908.  Her father is Joseph Wayment, 1844 – 1931.  His parents are William Wayment, 1822 – 1883, and Martha Brown, 1823 – 1905, the individuals whose graves Aliza wanted a picture.  My father-in-law, Bryan Hemsley, did not remember they were buried in Plain City.

Martha Brown and William Wayment's tombestone

Martha Brown and William Wayment’s tombestone

A quick internet search located this brief history of William and Martha Wayment.  In reading, the Stokers and Wayments came to America both on the same ship, the Amazon!  Multiple linkages in history between the two families.  I corrected a couple of spellings in the biography.

Martha Brown was born May 26, 1823 in Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire, England to William Brown and Mary Wade. Cambridge is a flat coastal plain located in the southeast part of England. The climate is moderate with much rainfall which produces much vegetation. Martha met and married William Wayment on Christmas Day December 25, 1841 in the Bassingbourne Parrish in Whaddon, Cambridgeshire, England. They both signed the certificate which seemed an unusual procedure to the clerk. William signed his name Whayment. He gave his age as 20 and was listed as a laborer. Martha gave her age as 19 and was listed as a s spinster. William and Mary made their home with h is widowed mother, Mary Rook Wayment. Several members of her family have told of this incident – “as a bride living in her mother-in-laws home”, Martha found that circumstances and conditions were not always pleasant. One stressful day Martha threatened to leave the home and her husband. She went into a small room (or a clothes closet) to get some of her things, her mother-in-law quickly closed and locked the door. There Martha was kept until she promised not to leave. Satisfactory adjustments were made and she kept her promise. Martha’s grandfather, William Brown of Whaddon has been described as a wealthy farmer. His son, Samuel, Martha’s father was disinherited after he married a servant girl, Mary Wade, who worked for his parents. He was a butcher by trade. He extended his business and it is said he became a well to do merchant. Martha had seven brothers and 1 sister all born in Bassingbourne. It is said the Browns were a family of large men, all of them being over 6 ft tall, and long lived. Martha was the only one to live to be over 80, however. Though a hard worker William, Martha father, never accumulated much wealth. Their modest home and limited circumstances was a source of embarrassment at times for Martha in England. William earning being sometimes about 8 shillings a week (about $2 in US dollars). But through careful management they were able to take care of their children as they came into the family. William and Martha had 6 boys and 2 girls, all born in Whaddon. Aaron, Joseph, Samuel, William Emily John Brown William Thomas, Martha. Seems as though it was necessary for them to come to America to develop their potential. The children hired out at an early age, working for farmers of the area. work included keeping birds out of the cherry trees and pulling poppies out of the grain fields. Often the children would leave home at 5:00 in the morning and work for 3 or 4 hours then they would be called in for breakfast. Some meals were very meager. The first missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints arrived in Liverpool, England July 20, 1837. Having sailed on the ship “Garrick” under the leadership of Heber C Kimball. Later working their way to the Whaddon, Bassingbourne area. after William and Martha heard their messages they opened their home to the missionaries. Many people of the community stirred up others to try to stop the spread of the gospel. This made it necessary to hold meetings and baptisms services at night to avoid the mobs that were a continually threat to them. The Brown family were especially bitter against the church. This caused William and Martha to delay joining the church although they were convince of the truth. Finally in 1850 William and Martha decided to disregard the threats of the Brown family. William was baptized May 1850 a few months later Williams mother, Mary Rook Wayment was baptized in 1851. The three of them continued to support the missionaries. Martha was baptized 1 May 1857 in spite of her families wishes. When her father learned of her actions he disinherited her except for the benefit o f a few schillings. All the children were each baptized into the church eventually. Joseph the oldest living son worked with his father fossil digging and earned enough money for his transportation to America. Joseph aged 19, 1863 booked passage on the “Amazon”. After Joseph left the family continued working together to meet their needs and maybe to emigrate? It took many years to reach their goal. by the spring of 1878 they were making final preparations to emigrate to Zion. They booked passage on the ship “Nevada” and sailed from Liverpool May 25, 1878. Travel was long and much seasickness. After arriving on the shores they rode west on Pullman cars to Philadelphia then changed here to “immigrant cars” which were very uncomfortable. The east was beautiful but the farther west they came the habitation vanished and scenes about them were dry and barren. They arrived in Ogden, Utah Territory June 1878 the family was met by son, Joseph and Samuel and taken to Samuel’s home in Plain City, After living here a few months they settled in the Salt Creek area close to Joseph on land he had purchased in 1872. Their home was a log house. William applied for homestead rights to a quarter section of land. They planted cotton wood trees, yellow roses, tea vines and other fast growing plants. They all continued being active in the church and received their endowments in the Salt Lake Temple. Martha was not idle as she received her citizenship papers November 16, 1885. In 1886 Martha received the property deed William had applied for Signed by President Grover C Cleveland, President of the United States of America Oct 18,1886 Martha cared for most of her needs but over the years became very overweight. The story is told: April 12, 1905 at age 82, she saw the traveling grocer coming & hastened to arrive home before him. Arriving about the same time, she told him she would have to gather her eggs for his pay. The grocer said he would go to other places and come back later. When he returned he could not find her, over exertion had brought on a stroke and she died. Her survivors were, Joseph, Samuel, John, William Thomas, Emily and Martha, 46 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren. Her service held in the Warren church was overflowing with family & friends. She is buried in the Plain City Cemetery next to her loving husband April 14, 1905

 

Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra

Edith Gudmunson

Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra, 91, passed away on Monday, 18 July 2016 at her home in Stockton, Missouri, from natural causes related to age.  She was born the first of two children on 21 September 1924 in Logan, Utah, to Melvin Peter and Maude Victoria Wollaston Gudmundson.  She married William Fredrick Andra Jr 13 June 1947 in the Logan Utah LDS Temple.  Together they had six children.  William passed away in 1992.  Edith married Leland Fred Williams 10 March 1999 in Arnica, Missouri.  He predeceased her in 2011.

Edith grew up in Logan at 253 East 3rd South.  She had one sister, Shirley, born in 1928, with who she grew up.

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith

 

Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Her mother passed away in 1931 and the family had to work through those difficult years with just the three of them.  She attended Wilson School and Logan Junior and Senior Schools where she graduated. She played the violin.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 005

Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook

 

Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook

 

Edith Maude Gudmunson 012 Edith Maude Gudmunson 014 Edith Maude Gudmunson 008 Edith Maude Gudmunson 010

She enlisted in the Navy in Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 September 1944 and served until discharge in San Francisco, California, 1 May 1946.  She trained and served as a switchboard operator for the majority of the time of her service.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 015 Edith Maude Gudmunson 016

After her military service, she attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith 002

During this time she met William Andra, who discharged from the Marines 20 June 1946.  I am not aware that he attended Brigham Young University, but I know he was living in Orem and it was likely there that William and Edith met culminating in their marriage in 1947.

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Greg William was born in Preston, Idaho in 1948.  Chad Fredrick was born in Preston in 1949.

Edith

Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad

By 1950, the family was living in Boise for a short time.

Edith in 1951

Edith in 1951

The family then moved back to Logan where Kent Melvin was born in 1954.

Bill and Edith with Marc, chad, and Kent

Edith Maude Gudmunson

The family was living in Midvale by 1955 where Marc David was born.  Then to Salt Lake City in 1956.  Troy Norman was born in Providence in 1960.

Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad and Kent, marc

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

A few years later the family moved to Smithfield.  Todd Nathan was born in Smithfield in 1968.

Greg,Kent and Marc, Chad, Edith, Bill

Greg and Chad and Kent 001

It is in Smithfield that my mother came to know the family, since she was living in Richmond.  Kent and my Mom were close in age and played together.

Larry and Mom both told me stories about William and Edith being very particular about being healthy eaters.  Larry remembers Edith washing every leaf of a head of lettuce before it could be eaten.  William tried to convince Larry of the unhealthy nature of bacon and milk.  Nobody else seemed to care, but it would really get William and Edith upset when people would not come to their way of thinking.  William was also particular about when you ate, not mixing the various parts of your food with other parts.  Larry found much of this amusing.

The Andra family was a fairly tight knit family and held reunions together yearly.  Relationships started to strain in 1965 when William and Edith learned and accepted polygamy leading to their excommunication from the LDS church.  The Andra family relationships started to strain further after attempts to convert William’s parents and some of the siblings to polygamy.  Even while William’s parents were in a nursing home late in life, there were attempts to convert them to polygamy which led to final severing ties.

Bill and Edith with 5 boys

William Andra Jr FamilyBill Edith Children 1981

I don’t know when, but the family after converting to polygamy moved to Santa Clara.  Nobody in the immediate family knows when due to the severance.  After many years in Santa Clara, they then moved to Cedar County, Missouri.

Bill Edith 1981

Bill and Edith Family 1981

Bill and Edith in SLC (2)Todd, Troy, Marc, Kent, Chad, Greg 004

Todd, Edith, and Kent Andra

My first visit to Edith was in 2001.  I was moving to Branson, Missouri for work and before I left Uncle Ross Andra told me Edith lived in Missouri somewhere.  I do not have any memories with William and Edith and did not even know she was still alive.  Ross told me I should stop and visit.  I knew nothing of the divide that had come into the family.

When I stayed the night before entering Missouri in Florence, Kansas, I looked to see what I could find in the phone book.  With a last name like Andra, it wasn’t hard to find who I thought was the right name in Stockton, Missouri.  I called the number and it was Mary Andra, wife of Kent Andra who answered.  She told me I was welcome to stop by and since their shop was a bit off the beaten path, gave me directions.

I arrived later that day and found a long lost number of cousins I never knew existed.  I saw the shop, I met a number of Kent’s children, and then I was taken down to the home to meet more of the family.  When I was introduced to his wife, Tammy, I thought I had already met his wife, Mary, but I assumed I must have misunderstood.  I met more and more children.

Kent sent one of his daughters with me to help me find Edith’s home.  I sat with Edith meeting her for the first time in my memory and chatted for quite a while.  She showed me some family history, told me some sweet stories of my Grandmother Colleen, and various conversations.  Edith did not know Colleen had passed away.  She told me of her new marriage to Leland Williams.  We parted on great terms and went back to Kent’s home, enjoyed some carrot juice, and visited.

In a funny situation, I was enjoying my carrot juice trying to keep the children’s names straight when Mary came into the house.  I sat there talking with Kent, Tammy, and Mary having a good laugh.  I kept wondering how I misunderstood and was unclear on who was Kent’s wife, so I asked.  They stated that both were.  I sat there not comprehending.  I must have looked confused because they just looked at me.  It then dawned on me and I made some comment like, “Well, we are family right?”  I laughed, they laughed, and I think any tension or misunderstanding that may have been there melted away.  That was not something I was expecting that day!

We said our goodbyes knowing that we were still family.  I quite enjoyed my visit.

It was later that week I got a phone call from Edith asking me to not share names, circumstances, or anything else regarding the family because it had caused so much trouble with the rest of the family.  I told her that we were family and it did not bother me and I really did not think it bothered anyone else.

I visited again in 2002.  When Kent passed away in 2003, I thought they were very kind to let me know.

Amanda and I stopped in 2006 on our move from Utah to Virginia.  As we drove to the boonies where they lived, she joked with me that I was going to drop her off out in the middle of nowhere.  We again had a very pleasant visit with Mary, Tammy, and Edith.  Amanda was prepped with the information and quickly found out nobody had multiple heads or horns.  I think it was the boonies that gave her more concern than the polygamy.

I visited again in 2008 driving from Virginia through to Washington for work.  That time Edith had moved to a home nearer to her son Marc.  I stopped to visit Marc and Cheryl and met them for the first time.  Edith also came over to the house and we visited with her.  Here is a photo from that visit.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

I tried to call Edith every other year or so.  Sometimes it was hard to track her down, but I typically found her and was able to call.  The last time I visited with her was when Donald was sick and dying with cancer in the spring of 2016.  I asked Donald if I could let some of the extended family know.  He said yes.  With that, I called Edith and visited with her about Sergene’s passing and Donald’s cancer.  She talked about how the family was distant and she appreciated the updates.  She also indicated that life continues to pass and we all end up dealing with death at some point.  She reminded me of her age and she did not know where she would be next week either.

Now she is gone.

While I know there was quite a bit of angst in the family over the beliefs and separation, but despite all that I am glad I did not know of the polygamy issues and got to know the family as just that, family.  Their position, beliefs, and practices at no point directly affected me in any way.  I am glad I know them!

Aunt Edith, until we meet again.