100 Years of Flanders

John William Ross tombstone

(I originally published this in 2008.  I edited it and updated it with pictures for today, the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.)

I thought I would write a little in relation to Veteran’s Day.  For the most part, it seems this holiday is somewhat forgotten in the United States.  Really, American’s celebrate the same day on Memorial Day in May.  I can understand the European View of holding it on the 11th of November.  It is the day WWI ended.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery, Nov 2005

I remember well the time I first experienced Veteran’s Day.  I sat in the Eccles Ward Chapel in Patricroft, England.  I sat there on 11 November 1999.  The services started at 11 AM.  We had the hymn, opening prayer, and a few comments by the Bishop until 11:11 arrived.  It was then we took two minutes to remember what was done.  Somehow those two minutes seared into my heart and soul.

Growing up in Idaho means we have little or no realization of any war.  There are small war memorials inside of cemeteries and an occasional one in a park to commemorate.  No war in modern days has taken place anywhere near Idaho.  Even the American Civil War means little to Idahoans.  My grandfather served in the Philippines during WWII but he spoke so little of it.  I had Uncles and Great Uncles who perished in WWI and WWII.  I have been to their graves but they are the dead, just like the other dead in the cemetery.  The idea of dying for one’s country meant very little to me.

Irwin John Jonas

One of my first memories of England is the day after we arrived.  We were taken into Altrincham Town Centre and there we proselyted for an hour on the way to the mission office.  I did notice the cenotaph.  I thought it rather oddly placed.

Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery, Nov 2005

While I served in Hyde, Cheshire one of the ways we knew where to turn in town was at the cenotaphs.  The same in Dukinfield.  When we arrived early at a member’s house we would loiter at the cenotaph to street contact until time for dinner.  Regularly I thought these things were oddly placed.  I knew they were naming those who died in the ‘Great War’.  For some reason or another I thought they doubled up on the names over the various cenotaphs.  It never occurred to me names are not typically duplicated on these things, or if they do, the intention is not to do so.

Ellis Seth Jonas

Suddenly I found myself sitting in a church meeting remembering.  These souls did not fight for my country.  However I felt come into my heart a gratitude for their sacrifice.  Could I do the same thing if called upon?  Somehow a dawning realization came upon me of the hundreds if not thousands of names I had seen on cenotaphs in my first year in England.  They were everywhere.  There were continuous reminders of the dead who fought for their country.

William Jr Military Pic

About a month later I found myself walking the streets of Runcorn, Cheshire.  There is a large cenotaph probably 15 feet tall.  The bus would drive by it every day.  I could not help but notice the little red, fake flowers on popsicle sticks stuck in the flower bed all around it.  The cenotaph meant more to me by this point but what were the little red flowers?  I noticed each of them had a name written on them and they appeared hand-made.

James William Ross

I asked what the little red flowers meant that were still scattered everywhere a month after the 11th of November.  I was then told about Flanders Fields and the poppies.  The poem was shared with me.  It made sense, I felt the poignancy of it.  I have a cousin, Harry Coley (1891 – 1917) who died in Broodseinde, Flanders, Belgium as part of the war.  His body was lost in the mud and potholes of the war and never recovered.

The imagery is intense while the poem isn’t all that catchy to me.  In fact, some of it still doesn’t make sense to me so I share only the first verse here:

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

David Delos Donaldson (back), John Edmund Donaldson (left), and William George Donaldson

Would I have this type of courage?  Would I be willing to go and serve my country so willingly?  Even if I was drafted, unwillingly?  To set aside all other hopes and aspirations to serve my country?  I did so to serve a mission for my church.  I would think I would be willing to for my nation.  While I am not entirely enamoured with my country at the present, would I still be willing to do it?  Probably.

Art and Golden Coley

Art and Golden Coley

In fact, I feel some desire to serve in the military.  My life hasn’t permitted the chance and my wife is against the idea.  I don’t think I will be making the decision to join.  But I wish to honour those who do and especially those who died in doing so.  Accordingly, when I saw my clock at 11:11 this morning, I stopped for 2 minutes to remember.  What does our future hold?  I don’t know.  But our past is nobler because of these good souls who gave all.  Not only to join, but they never returned.  We were on the side of right then, and our nation was preserved.  I hope and pray our nation continues on the side of right and we will yet be preserved.

Guarding the tomb

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington, VA, Nov 2005

An Wanner uncle of mine arrived in Whitney, Idaho a year after his death in WWI.  His remains arrived in a lead casket which was buried with great fanfare for the small community.  WWII repeated this scenario with another Uncle, another family line, buried in Richmond, Utah.  His body arrived months later and he was interred with great fanfare.  May we live our lives in such a way, regardless if dying for our nation, but let us die in such a way that the community wishes to come out and pay homage for your great sacrifice for the future of man, good, and our country.

Milo James Ross

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Ole Loren Christiansen

Which Christiansen?

I have this photo sitting on my desk at work.  It is a little 2×3 inch picture inside a soldered silver metallic frame.  It belonged to my Great Grandmother, Lillian Coley Jonas (1898 – 1987).  It came from the collection of photos left to her by her mother, Martha Christiansen Coley (1879 – 1961).

My first impressions of the picture remind me of Lillian’s brother, Arthur Christiansen Coley (1921 – 2004).  But for his age, the clothing are the wrong time frame.  But because of the family resemblance I can see in Uncle Art, I know this man is related to me.

Since the picture belonged to Martha, I have often wondered if this is a picture of her father, Olle Christiansen (1853 – 1900).  But the hat, tie, shirt, and suspenders don’t match for a person who passed away in 1900.

Since he looks like Uncle Art, but the person in the photo has to be greying and older by the 1930’s, then I believe this is one of Marth’a brothers.  I know very little about the brothers.  Martha had three brothers: Henry Owen Christiansen (1887 – 1932), Roy Christin Christiansen (1892 – 1892), and Ole Loren Christiansen (1898 – 1977).  Since Roy died as a baby, I know it isn’t him.

That leaves me to Henry Owen and Ole Loren.  Henry Owen and Martha seem to have done very little to keep in contact.  Not a single letter, post card, or photograph that we can tell document anything in communication.  Plus he died in 1932, so the photo above had to predate that date.  I am not a great teller of fashion styles and changes, but I believe the above photo’s clothing would date during the 1930s into the 1940s.  As such, I believe this photo is of Ole Loren.

I have one photo of Ole Loren.  Don’t you think they are close enough in features that they could be the same.  However, I do not know if Henry Owen looked like him.

Sister, Ole Loren, Florence?

I don’t even know which sister of Loren’s is on the left.  From other photos and correspondence I very much believe this is Rhoda.  With the letters and cards between the two, it is very likely this photo was provided to Martha by her.  The photo only says “Sister, Loren, and wife” on the back.  Ole Loren, who I believe went by Loren, probably to differentiate him from his father, only had two wives that I am aware.  Sara Strong (1900 – ?) who he married in 1918 and Florence Knapp (1898 – ?) who he married in 1926.  I don’t know what happened to Sara, there appears to have been a divorce.  For the time of this photo, Florence is likely his wife.  I can tell the sister on the left is a sibling to Martha and Loren, I just don’t know which one.

Henry Owen Christiansen appears to have died in Tillamook County, Oregon.  On his service registration in 1918 he is living in Northport, Stevens, Washington with a wife of Anna Wilda Christiansen.  I believe she is Anna Wilda Hooser from Texas.  They appear to have had children named Mary, Madison, Gerald, Henry Jr, and John.  Quite a bit more research to properly piece the family together.

Ole Loren Christiansen appears to have died in Oakland, Alameda, California.  I believe two children were born to Sara, Ruth and Robert, and two to Florence, Lorraine, and Lucille.  Lorraine and Lucille may have been twins, both born the same year.

Without more photos to compare, I don’t believe I will pin point these individuals while in mortality.  But at least I have narrowed down the family relationships.  If anyone has more information on Ole Loren Christiansen or Henry Owen Christiansen, I am very much interested in any clues or leads you can provide.

At any rate, people often ask me about the little frame on my desk.  All I usually say is it is my Great Great Grandmother’s brother, I don’t know which one.  Most don’t say anything about that, but a number of commented on how intriguing the picture is.  I agree, some day I will learn more on Loren and Henry and hopefully can provide an update.

 

1961 Coley Film

I stumbled upon a photo of a Great, Great Uncle, Wilford Herbert Coley, posted on a website. I e-mailed the lady who posted the picture and she forwarded my e-mail to her brother. As it turns out, the family has a number of film reels taken from the early 1960’s. I asked him to share any that he thought I might be interested in.  He indicated that one was from a funeral and it seemed to include extended family.  He could only identify his grandfather, Wilford Herbert Coley, in the film.

On a hunch, I sent him this photo and informed him that it was taken 17 August 1961 at the burial of my Great, Great Grandmother, Martha Christiansen Coley, in Richmond, Utah.  This is Wilford’s mother and I knew he was at the funeral.  I also knew that if the family was into filming events, this could very well be one such event to catch.

Art, Golden, Wilford, Roland, Lloyd, Edna, Hannah, Carrie, Lillian, Ivan Coley at their mother’s funeral in 1961.

He responded to me stating the film was from the same funeral and it actually covered the carrying of the casket from the hearse, some scanning of the crowd, and then the final shots of the 10 siblings standing together in which this photo was taken. He shared the converted video from the film with me yesterday.

The 10 siblings in the picture above and film are as follows from left to right.
Arthur Christiansen Coley (Art), 1921-2004
William Golden Coley (Goldie), 1924-2009
Wilford Herbert Coley, 1903-1966
Roland Charles Coley, 1915-2005
Oley Lloyd Coley (Lloyd), 1918-1998
Edna Coley Neilson, 1900-1983
Hannah Marie Coley Thomson, 1909-1982
Carrie Christiansen Coley McMurdie, 1906-1992
Lillian Coley Jonas, 1898-1987
Ivan Stephen Coley, 1912-1994

The film starts out with children carrying flowers out of the church.  I am pretty sure this is the old Richmond, Utah South Ward Building (demolished after the 1962 earthquake).  I do not think we will be able to identify any of these girls because of how cloudy and short the video is at this point.

The film then moves to the Richmond, Utah Cemetery viewing the place where Martha will be laid to rest.  Two girls appear in the background, again probably too short a span of time and too fuzzy to identify them.

We jump to the casket being carried by 6 men, the 6 male siblings.  On the far side of the casket from right to left are Roland, Wilford, and Art.  On the near side from right to left are Lloyd, Golden, and Ivan.

In the background right as the pallbearers appear with the casket are two girls dressed in white.  The taller of the two are Connie Gittins (Wilford’s granddaughter) and an unknown girl.

A young unidentified girl walks in front of the group bearing the casket.

Then we start the first scan of the crowd counter-clockwise from the south.  These are the individuals:
Wilford Coley
Short boy in white that Bob Jonas steps in front of
Bob Jonas in white shirt
Steve Coley in white shirt
Gary Coley revealed when Steve Coley steps aside
Art Coley
Mary Coley (Art’s wife and Bob, Steve, and Gary’s mother)
Lillian Coley Jonas
Carrie Coley McMurdie
Edna Coley Neilson
Hannah Thomson
Tall guy in background (probably Lorenzo “Ren” Bowcutt?)
Lady in white in background
Tall thin man in background
Shorter man in foreground, very short time

Then we move to the 10 siblings back and forth as mentioned above in the photo.

The video is below.  Be sure to open it in full screen and to have your mouse on the pause button so you can look more carefully.

If anyone can add more information, I certainly welcome it.  I hope we can identify every person in the video but I think I hope for too much.  After all, this was taken 40 years ago!  Nevertheless, the video is interesting to see people living and moving who are now all gone from mortality.

For those interested, here is a copy of Lillian Coley Jonas’ journal that includes this funeral.  Martha died on the 14th of August 1961.  I also include the other two journals we have for her.

Lillians 1961 Journal

Lillians 1962 Journal

Lillians 1963 Journal

Boy with Top

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This is one of those photos that will captivate you.  You can stare at it and wonder who this little boy is, who did he become, what became of his life?

This photo came from the collection of Martha Christiansen Coley (1879 – 1961).  While I cannot be certain who the photo is, I believe it is Clair Charles Anderson (1902 – 1956).  Clair is Marth’a nephew through Martha’s sister, Walborg Christiansen Anderson (18775 – 1951).  I don’t know much about his life.  Perhaps some day.

"Clair C Anderson to Martha Coley"

“Clair C Anderson to Martha Coley”

Here is a picture of Clair’s brother, LeGrand Clive Anderson (1914 – 1973).

LeGrand Clive Anderson

LeGrand Clive Anderson

Haunting Eyes

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I was thinking of this little girl the other day.  Her eyes and smile are hauntingly familiar to me.  I know she is full blood family, I just wish I knew for certain who.

This photo was one in the collection of my Great Great Grandmother, Martha Christiansen Coley (1879 – 1961).

I am convinced this little child, I don’t know if male or female but assume female, is likely one of Martha’s own children.  I just don’t have baby pictures of her children though so I cannot tell for certain.  But I do seriously wonder if this is not my Great Grandmother, Lillian Coley Jonas.  I do have this picture to compare.

Baby Lillian Coley

Baby Lillian Coley

You can view all the other unknown photos I have from Martha’s photo album here.

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.

Logan revisited

Later this year will be our 10 year anniversary.  Ten years since we were married in the Logan LDS Temple in Cache County, Utah.  Since we were down with the kids in Logan for a reunion, we made a stop.

Hiram, Aliza, Amanda, and Lillian Ross

Hiram, Aliza, Amanda, and Lillian Ross

The day turned out to be beautiful despite being the middle of October.  Other than the angle of the sun, you might never have known it was October.

We took a picture in one of the doorways that we also took pictures 10 years ago.  Time flies.

Amanda, Lillian, Hiram, Paul, and Aliza Ross

Amanda, Lillian, Hiram, Paul, and Aliza Ross

Of course I have heard multiple comments on my neon toes!  Thank you to my in-laws for making me push my boundaries and wear toed shoes.

On the way home I asked the kids their favorite part of the trip.  The quick response for both was the temple.

I have always felt a strong family connection to the Logan Temple.

John Nuffer and Eva Greiner, my 3rd great grandparents were sealed here 123 years ago in 1892.  They were married 25 July 1867 in Neuffen, Esslingen, Wuerttemberg.  You can read of them here.

Olle Christiansen and Constance Jorgensen, my 3rd great grandparents were sealed here 122 years ago in 1893.  They were married in 1874 in Norway (and have yet to find the exact date and location).

John Wanner and Anna Schmid, my 3rd great grandparents were sealed here 117 years ago in 1898.  They were married 6 June 1870 in Holzgerlingen, Boblingen, Wuerttemberg.  Read more about them at this link.

John Wanner and Regina Nuffer, my 2nd great grandparents were married and sealed here 117 years ago on 31 August 1898.  Read of them with this click.

Herbert Coley and Martha Christiansen, my 2nd great grandparents were sealed here 115 years ago in 1900.  They were married 1 December 1896 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah.

Joseph Jonas and Lillian Coley, my great grandparents were married and sealed here 99 years ago on 6 September 1916.  Read more of their marriage here.

Paul Ross and Amanda Hemsley, us, were married and sealed here 10 years ago on 20 December 2005.

This is just the sealing ordinances.  This does not include endowments, baptisms, or second washings and anointings for my ancestors.  I received my own endowment here with my father on 1 September 1998.  Who knows what future ordinances for my family may take place in Logan.

All I know, I miss the days of attending the Logan temple.  I miss learning in the House of the Lord for Stake instruction.  I miss the fill the temple sessions where we would work in the temple all night long.  I miss going to the temple with roommates.  I miss doing endowment sessions on a regular basis with my wife, we often feel guilty leaving our kids with others for that long (and the drive).

One thing I know, and I hope my family history work proves this, I know the temple blessings are real.  I see them in my life and feel them on a regular basis.  I am grateful for my ancestors who went before and provided an example of what, and what not, to do.

Aliza kept asking if she could go inside the temple.  I told her she would have to wait until she was at least 12.  I am glad Aliza and Hiram also feel the draw to the temple.  Hopefully those covenants are already beginning to find the way into their little hearts.  Great promises and responsibilities come from the temple.  That is my testimony.