Flanders

John William Ross tombstone

(I originally published this in 2008.  I edited it and updated it with pictures for today.)

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.

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.

Growing up in Idaho means we had little or no realization of any war.  There are small war memorials inside of cemeteries 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 had been to their graves but they were 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 or two on the way to the mission office.  I did notice the cenotaph.  I thought how oddly placed it was.  It was something that we have relegated mostly to cemeteries in the US.  Once and a while you find one in front of a town or city hall.

While I served in Hyde, Cheshire once of the way we knew where to turn in town was at the cenotaphs.  The same in Dukinfield.  When we arrived early at one member’s house we would loiter at the cenotaph to street contact until time for dinner.  A number of times I thought how oddly placed these things were.  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.

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.

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.

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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Irwin Jonas Honored

Irwin Jonas Newspaper Article

This newspaper article regarding the funeral of Irwin Jonas was just shared with me.  I have wrote of Irwin’s life previously.  Family history is an ongoing endeavor with little nuggets appearing from time to time!

I don’t know which newspaper this article was published.  I do know that Irwin died 11 July 1944 in Saint-Lo, Normandy, France.  He was actually buried 6 February 1948 in Richmond, Cache, Utah, almost four years later.  But this article sounds like a memorial service held within weeks or months afterward, and not with Irwin’s body actually present.  It is my understanding he was buried for a time in France, then brought home years later.  I cannot imagine having to deal with this as his parent, widow, or family member.

“Memorial services will be held Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Richmond South ward chapel for Sgt. Irwin Jonas who was killed in France on July 11.  Bishop E. M. Hicken will preside and Commander Neal Hillyard of the American Legion Post 33 will conduct the services.

“The program has been arranged as follows: Advance of colors; selection, The Lord’s Prayer, by the ladies’ chorus; invocation, Hyrum Hansen; solo, My Task, C. I. Stoddard; poem composed by Leona Carson and dedicated to the son of Sgt. Jonas will be read by Bishop E. M. Hicken; talk, Scoutmaster A. J. Mendenhall, Jr.; duet, Resignation, Florence and Rebecca Lewis; talk, O. L. Ballam; violin solo, J. W. Pulsipher; talk, William Jonas of Salt Lake City; and Lt. Commander G. Ellis Doty; selection, the Flag Without a Stain, Ladiers’ chorus; retiring of colors, taps, and benediction, J. W. Stoddard.

Isn’t it amazing where our society is now found?  Due to the sacrifice of people like Irwin, we have the right to fight over what we can see and how we can treat each other?  Without that freedom protected Irwin, we might all be dead, speaking another language, or without the rights of speech or equal protection.  Rather than defend those rights and use them, we would rather trample the symbol of them.  But that too is protected speech.  But let us be careful that we actually use the right so much that we divide and undermine and actually lose it in doing so.

William Fredrick Andra Jr

This past week Issiah and Jennifer Andra stopped by and visited our family with theirs.  We had a pleasant lunch, opportunity to talk, and rekindling of distant family relationships.  During that conversation, Issiah mentioned that he really did not have much information on his grandparents William and Edith Andra.  I told him I would give him some more information.  I wrote a short pictorial history of his grandmother Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra last year after her passing.  I thought I would do the same for his grandfather, William Fredrick Andra Jr.

William Fredrick Andra was born 25 November 1920 in Whitney, Franklin, Idaho to William Fredrick Andra and Mary Louise Wanner Andra.  He was the oldest of 12 children.

I tried to somewhat organized the photos in order, but some of them I just cannot tell.  But generally they should be close.

Mary and Bill, William standing holding June.

1926, Bill with his arm around Mary, William standing in front of Mary, June beside William, and holding Millie.

 

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait.  William and Edith married 13 June 1947

William and Edith married 13 June 1947 in the Logan, Utah LDS Temple.

Back: Colleen, Millie, June, William, Mary, Bill; Front: Larry, Ross, Donald, Sergene at Richmond, Utah

 

William Military Picture

 

Elder William F Andra Jr, 1941-1943.

William served a mission to Mexico, learned the language there, and converted many people.

Gracias for the nice xmas card and money dear Grandmother. William

 

1946, William and Golden in back, Sergene, Millie, Colleen, June standing, Donald, Larry, Bill, Dale, Mary, and Ross sitting.

 

Portrait

 

1960s Reunion: William, Donald, Larry, Bill, Golden, Dale, Ross

 

1984 Reunion: Ross, Colleen, June, Millie, William, Golden, Donald, Larry

 

1989 Reunion (b) June, Colleen, Mary, Sergene, William, Millie, Dale (f) Donald, Ross, Bill, Dale, Larry

William, Donald, Dale, Bill, Larry, Golden, Ross Andra

 

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

Edith and William at Colleen’s

 

William at Deer Creek Inn

 

You can read more on Edith’s page.  William died 22 August 1992 in Weaubleau, Hickory, Missouri.  He was buried 23 August 1992 in the Mormon Cemetery, Arnica, Cedar, Missouri.

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

1959 Andra Reunion

B

Back l-r: Kenny Beck, Twila Andra (holding Jeffrey Andra), Marlene Beck, Patty Andra, Sharon Johnson, Gary Beck, and Peggy Johnson.  Middle l-r: Doug Jonas, Jeffrey Andra (held by Twila), Sandy Jonas, Golden Andra Jr, Mary Lou Johnson, Chad Andra, Greg Andra.  Front l-r: Marc Andra, Kent Andra, Andy Sorenson, Lanny Johnson, Scott Sorenson, and Cindy Johnson

In my constant pursuit of family history photos, I stumbled upon this gem.  We believe it is the Andra family reunion from 1959.  Most of the reunions during this time were in Richmond, Utah or Preston, Idaho.  I believe these three photos were all taken in Preston.  This photo includes the older children from the older Andra siblings.  I don’t have many pictures of the Andra grandchildren from the reunions.  Plenty of photos of the siblings or even my Great Grandparents, Bill and Mary Andra.  That makes this even more rare.

This photo has children of the six oldest siblings.  William, June (married Johnson), Millie (married Beck), Golden, Colleen (married Jonas), and Sergene (married Sorenson).  I will not include much information since most of these children are alive.

Kenneth Beck (1949 – Living)

Twila Andra (1947 – Living)

Marlene Beck (1948 – Living)

Patricia Andra (1946 – Living)

Sharon Johnson (1943 – Living)

Gary Beck (1947 – Living)

Peggy Johnson (1945 – Living)

Douglas Jonas (1952 – Living)

Jeffrey Andra (1957 – Living)

Sandra Jonas (1954 – Living)

Golden Andra Jr (1951 – Living)

Mary Lou Johnson (1953 – Living)

Chad Andra (1949 – Living)

Greg Andra(1948 – Living)

Marc David Andra (2 September 1955 – 6 August 2011), son of William and Edith.

Kent Melvin Andra (20 April 1954 – 17 April 2003), son of William and Edith.

Andrew Sorenson (1953 – Living)

Lanny Johnson (1947 – Living)

Scott B Sorenson (28 April 1951 – 10 December 2001), son of Bert and Sergene.

Cindy Johnson (1955 – Living)

Here is a second shot, but not as clear.

andra-kids-2

Here a photo of the parent siblings from the same day.

l-r: Bill Andra,

l-r: Bill & Mary Andra, June Johnson, Mildred (Millie) Beck, Colleen Jonas, Sergene Sorenson, Ross Andra, Dale Andra, Larry Andra.

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.

 

 

 

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.