The Search for

a Great-Grandfather’s burial/headstone in Finland.

For me, a life in my Family Tree really isn’t complete if I don’t have the complete life — from birth til death and all the things in between.

And so, the search to confirm where my Great Grandfather, Johannes Johansson Snabb was buried began many, many years ago.

I had several things: a couple of photos, a few stories but what I did not have was confirmation of death and burial. My Aunt had said that they had never left his home town of Björköby, Finland, so I had hoped to find the information somewhere on a Finland Historical Site, but while there were only photos of my Great-Grandmother and other family members, including his parents and others in the Snabb/Forsman Line that are buried in the Björkö Cemetery, but no photo for him or his 2nd wife.

I had a complete records of my Great-Grandmother and all of their children, including my Grandma, Edit Amanda Snabb, here in Canada along with her sisters in the USA and her brother, who died in Australia. Their memorials had a photo of their final resting place.

I decided to try a facebook group I belong to and ask there if anyone was located near or knew of anyone that would be able to see if he was truly buried there and if he had a headstone.

The facebook group is part of Swedish-Finn Historical Society in Seattle, Washington. I had learned about them years and years ago. In fact, it was a member of the group, Hasse Nygård who originally got me in touch with my family still in Finland. He lives in Finland and runs a wonderful site with a huge database called TALKO.

On September 30th, I posted asking if there was anyone that knew where I could find a burial list or anything that would confirm his burial, and possibly get me a photo of his headstone. Well, there were many suggestions given and finally, one of the women, Syrene Forsman (sadly no relation) asked me to send his name and information to her at the SFHS office and she would see what she could find. She said she was stubborn and like to find things out.

First, a Per-Erik Berglund answered an inquiry that Syrene had left on a message board, but after emailing him, he sadly could not help, but gave me links to a website. Unfortunately, I had tried this website before and it was there that my Great-Grandmother as well as my Great-Great Grandmother had been photographed and posted.

I was then given an email for Torbjörn Nikus, who was actually the photographer of the other headstone photos. He lived about 250 kms away from the cemetery and would not be able to go back to see if it was possible that the headstone had been missed. He also said that there was a possibility that if he had only had a wooden cross or there was no one looking after his plot, that there might not be anything there to be photographed. That was a sad thought.

But what I didn’t know at the time, Per-Erik had forwarded my email to another person, someone that was living in the the town of Björköby, and her email would contain several surprises.

On October 21, I received an email that started out:

My name is Mona Britwin and I live i Björköby in Finland. I heard from Per-Erik Berglund in Bergö that you would like to know more about your ancester Johannes Johansson Snabb from Björkö.

It seems that her Mom kept track of people from the “village” over the years, and while the first part I knew she had a lot of information that I didn’t know, like my Great-Grandfather was a “Garvaren” which means ” garvare means tanner, he was tanning skins when he wasn´t fishing”. She was also wondering which of his children I was related to, and how.

She also sent me this:

It is my Great Grandfather’s house still standing although vacant. What I wouldn’t do to have the money to buy it and move there.

So, I emailed her back, explaining my relationship to him, along with a link to my website (see link on side). And then I waited. I was hoping that it would not be like many other times, I email, they email me, ask questions that I answer and then I never hear from them again. But then it came!!

She apologized for not getting back to me sooner but she works all week and she apologized for her poor English but I understood everything and it just makes me want to learn more how to speak the language (on bucket list for 2015). She explained how they had different names than what I had listed or at least they were called different names than the names I had for them.

She also told me how we are distantly related. If I have it right, it is through my 5th Great Uncle, Anders Mickelsson Snabb. This is wonderful as I do not have anything on this line for him. Or at least, I don’t have anything on my site, but must check my papers.

And right after this email came her 2nd email and IT WAS A PHOTO OF THE HEADSTONE!!!! For both my Great-Grandfather and his 2nd Wife!!!. And it isn’t a little cross but a very large headstone. I got to complete his memorial!!!

Great Grandfather Memorial

As Syrene said “One simply has to ask!”

Oh and Mona has asked me for help with a relative of hers, and if all goes as planned, I will be able to give her information in a week or so.

I love Genealogy and finding family!!!

Lost Cemeteries . . . .

Almost all my life, I have heard that New Westminster High School was buried close to or over a cemetery. Then about 10 years ago, the story started coming out more as they were talking about having to replace the now aging school. It is closing in on 10 years of talks, and just recently it was in the paper how there should be an “archaeological dig” as it is the only way to determine the exactly where bodies are buried.

I have always under the belief that the cemetery was in 1 corner of this property, but in reading more and more, there is not just 1 cemetery, but possibly 4 separate cemeteries between the years of 1860 to 1920 when they were all closed down. And they are in different areas of the school property, including but not limited to being under the teachers parking lot (a survey done in 2007 stated that there were areas “that could be graves”.

The information I am putting here is from various articles, reports, etc that I have read online. The scope of the entire thing to me will always remain the same — that the people buried within these cemeteries deserve to be remembered. Not one of the different pages, stories, documents I read had a list of who was buried there. Some of the people are just referred to as poor, prisoners and insane. One of the prisoners could be an Indian Chief that was hanged.

There are 3 active cemeteries in New Westminster: Fraser Cemetery (opened in 1869 or 1870) which run by City; right next to it is St. Peters Catholic Cemetery (run by the Archdiocese, opened in 1880) and then Schara Tzedeck- the Jewish Cemetery which was opened in the 1920s. Nothing seems to point to any of the people being re-interned in any of these cemeteries.

Now about the Lost Cemeteries:

Douglas Road Cemetery

This cemetery was also called the New Westminster Public Cemetery and was opened around 1859 on a 27 acre site. The entire area was used as a Cemetery for close to 60 years, finally closed in 1920. But sadly, the breakup of the cemetery started way back in about 1892, when the Crown ended up subdividing the southeast corner of the property in order to give the city of New West the entire east side.

Around 1908, when the southwest corner, which included the older of 2 Chinese cemeteries was filled up, they then opened the northwest corner for burials. The new City Works yard was then built in the southwest corner which, according to records was “ploughed and cleared”.

In 1920, the Douglas Road cemetery was closed (Northwest Section) and the area was used as barracks to house 1000 soldiers at a time while in training. They were built on top of the 4 acres that was originally used to bury the institutionalized; poor and incarcerated. They also use 2 acres of the new Chinese burial section. The estimate of buried in these cemeteries is said to be around 6,000 men, woman and children. The current High School is said to be on the western half of the cemetery, with the other sections taken up by the city and the East sections owned by private companies.

Sadly, no one will take the responsibility of either finding out or explaining what happened to all the people buried within these cemeteries. Officially, there is apparently there was only 1 coffin that has been uncovered and it is believed no other remains where unearthed or moved. But, according to rumours, this is not the case. What is said to have taken place is that there was a funeral director and his son who sat on the school board from 1908 to 1956 when a lot of the rebuilding took place including the building of the school in 1948. The talk is of workers who would pile bones up and then a Funeral Home would cart some off and others were piled into trucks and dumped somewhere.

To imagine that the City, Provincial and possibly Federal Governments are all involved in some sort of cover up is very sad. The northwest corner (Douglas), 6.5 acres, is suppose be designated the symbolic cemetery, to be a passive park but what exactly will they do, is not know.

I have never seen anything that lists the names of the Chinese cemeteries or the unnamed cemetery for the poor or institutionalized people that were buried there. How will all of them be remembered? They don’t seem to be listed anywhere. Or will a small park be the only way these people will be remembered.

There is a report about the area that shows the size and shape of the School area, along with where they believe the cemeteries are located. You can read about it here: Cemetery Site Information

What I found to be very interesting and had never heard about before was the story of an Indian Chef that has hanged in New Westminster and his body disappeared. Is it possible that he is one of the many forgotten souls buried in one of the cemeteries.

The following is from various articles done in 2008.

Is this resting place of Tsilhqot’in warrior Chief Ahan

or not?
Ahan was tried and convicted of murder for his part in a raid on a road-building crew near Bute Inlet. Twelve men were slaughtered in the raid and Ahan was hanged in New Westminster on July 18, 1865. Five other Tsilhqot’in men were hanged in Quesnel.

The attacks came after the Tsilhqot’in demanded payment from the roadbuilders who were using their land and were refused. It was when the roadbuilders took the women from the tribe and used them for their entertainment that was the last straw. War was declared.

When a government militia failed to turn up the war party, they sent messengers to the Tsilhqot’in seeking peace talks. But when they went, they were put in shackles.

The problem is now that there are no records of where he was buried. It is possible that Ahan was buried originally on the site of the jail where prisoners were hanged, but the Tsilhqot’in believe that Ahan was moved after his death, and that he may have then been buried buried on the grounds of the school.

According to Joe Alphonse, director of government services for the Tsilhqot’in National Government, “He is a hero to us and the province was ordered to find the remains of our people executed in the Chilcotin War and return them.”

There is a small chance that he is buried on the school grounds and they would like to have DNA testing done on any bones that are discovered in the grounds.

A historian hired by the school district was not able to locate Ahan’s final resting place. He did find that some remains were removed from the site of the old courthouse. But there is nothing that says who was removed or where the bodies were re-interned.

My final word:

While yes, there should be a new High School built, the people whose bodies were buried there need to be recognized and a memorial for all – the people buried in the Douglas Road Cemetery, then Chinese Cemeteries as well as the sections that were for the poor and institutionalized. Hopefully, everyone involved will be able to get together and remember the past while also build on the future with a school for children who could possibly be descendants of the people buried there.

The following is a picture of what is currently in the South West Corner of the property, which is where one of the Chinese Cemeteries is said to have been.

South West Corner

Religion in the Family Tree . .

Now anyone that knows me knows that I am not a religious person. I was not brought up with any type of religion, in fact the only times I have been in Church is for weddings and funerals.

There was a time, around Grade 5 when I joined a Church group with a friend of mine. It was at, I believe a small Anglican Church. The group was called the Explorers and we wore white shirts, with a red ribbon tie with a little pin and a skirt. I only went for about 6 month or so because I did not attend the Church and therefore couldn’t go any further. I know that my friends’ parents would have taken me with them (they had 5 kids so what would be 1 more) but my parents wouldn’t let me. Said that it would cost too much. So, the only memory I have of my one time with a Church is this little pin:

Small Pin

Small Pin

And that was the end of my religious interests as a child. I knew that other family members (cousins) went to Church, friends went and many others but just not us. So, it really wasn’t anything that I thought about, even after having a child. It was not something that seemed to be a part of my life.

But then I started doing the family tree and the more I researched, the more that I found out that I had family on both sides (Paternal and Maternal) that were involved, sometimes quite heavily, in various religions.

One of the first people that I learned about was my GG-Uncle Gustaf Vilhelm Rusén

Great Great Uncle

He was a Minister of a Church in Umas, Sweden which he helped to build and is buried in the cemetery next to the church.

This is a picture of him and his wife. You can see his outfit better in this picture.

Great Great Uncle2

And the Church:

Church

I one day hope to go there and attended a service and visit his memorial to place flowers.

End of Part One . . .

Sad deaths of Two Young Ladies

while working on the McCargar Branch of my family line, I found the burial location of some distant relatives, a 2nd cousin 4 times removed that are buried in an old Cemetery in New York — Groton Rural Cemetery. I entered the memorials, on findagrave.com, for the father, mother and several possible children from the burial index listed for the cemetery. Luckily, the list proved the plot numbers which gives a better chance of getting the photo requests filled for the pictures. Now photo requests can take awhile but luckily, these only took a few days.

Now the surprise was that on the top of the 2 daughters, Hester A “Hettie” McCargar and Mary E McCargar was that they died on the same day and it said “Killed at Tariffville on Jan 15, 1878″.

Now, I have seen were family members have died on the same date or within a week or so, but never listed as killed on the same day. I knew the chances of finding out how they were killed was small, but I thought I would give it a try. I googled “Tariffville 1878″. There were several links to the story, and a sad story it is.

The Story

On January 15th, 1878, 2 sisters, Mary and Hettie McCargar attended a revival meeting in Hartford, Connecticut to hear the popular Protestant evangelist Dwight Moody and singer and organist David Sankey. It is said that people would travel miles to hear his sermons and listen to the music.

When the meeting was over, the sisters, along with many other faithful, boarded the train at the Union Station heading home to northwest Hartford County, upper Litchfield County and New York state. The train left the station around 9:20pm and it was just a short time later around 10:15pm as the train was crossing Howe truss bridge that carried the railroad across the Farmington River that the accident happened.

The bridge reached the middle span and suddenly the bridge collapsed, sending the first part of the train down twenty feet to the dark, icy river below. I cannot imagine the terror of the people as the train fell on that cold January evening. Even though help arrived within the hour, 13 people including the McCargar sisters, died and 70 people were injured.

There was an inquiry about the wreck with the bridge builder blaming the railroad and the railroad blaming the bridge maker. In the end, Four jurors believed that the bridge was safe and that a derailment caused the accident.

In the end, the Railway company paid the families of those that died between $300 -$600 per person.

*****

For those that don’t know the McCargar family is part of the Beach Line. Many of the Beach Line married into the McCargar line. The Beach Family line then goes into the Dicks Line which marries into the Rutledge Line.

One of my Mystery Pictures . .

my Mom has many photos in her collections that come from Sweden, Finland as well as Canada, a lot of which do not have names or even an idea of which side of the family they come from. This is one of them.

Little Girl

She is such a cute little girl, I wish that I knew the name, the year or where she is from. She has almost a sad look on her face.

I have looked and tried to see some sort of family resemblance with other family. I think that with the blond hair she is from Sweden, as all the family from Finland had dark hair. The photo was in a set of photos my Mom had which is why I think she is either from Sweden or Finland not my English side. But then I could be wrong.

So I hope that this is a reminder that you should date and name photos, I know that I am trying with mine.

A Photo Story . . .

I am going to post a photo and with it, the history of the photo.

The first one will be from Sweden. And is called The Placing of Poles.

Placing Poles

My Mom had this picture and there was writing on the back of it but it had been glued in the photo album and alot was unreadable.. . With the help of my cousin, Christer & the museum in Åskilje, Västerbotten, Sweden, they were able to let me know the following:

The names from left to right:

Nils Johan Eriksson; Jan-Ersen; Halvar Byström; Johan-Olov Rusén; Karl Mattsson; Hjalmar Larsson; Artur Åström; Oskar Eriksson; Fredrik Fredriksson, Valdemar – Strömberg och Valdemar Jäger.

Valdemar Strömberg is work foreman

Christer even got the name of the horse, it´s “Mat-Jonk”. Mat means food so I guess he liked to eat. I´m not sure but I think Jonk is a nickname for some real name, but I don´t know which.

This was when they were placing Poles for electrical wires in 1923.

Johan-Olov Rusén is 2nd Great Uncle.

It is photos like this that make Family History come to life for me. I must have thousands of scanned photos.

Do you have an old family photo = English or Swedish or Finnish that you would like to share with me? I would love any I could get and stories behind them are even better.

It has been awhile but

being sick does that to you. You just let things go to the side, but I am finally feeling better and hope to get back to writing more as I have found more and more information about my family tree, especially the Beach side and several articles about my GG Grandfather, Walter Dicks.

My original post on Walter Dicks, is here – Sgt Walter Dicks

I haven’t gotten much more information on him, I did find a couple of articles that back up that he did work for the Ottawa Police Department and a little bit better photo of him close to the time he died.

Walter Dicks

Walter Dicks

And then there is an article Congratulating him on becoming a Sargeant – A Police Constable . .

I also found another article about his funeral and how he got Masonic Honours, flowers for the family, etc. It also talks about him being a police Sargeant – Late Walter Dicks

Now, you would think with all these articles, the picture of him in his uniform, etc that he would be the the Book called 100 Years of the Ottawa Police Department, right? Wrong!! The book is for sale on ebay and I asked the guy selling it if there was anything about him. He wrote back and said no, he was not listed in the index nor could he see his name in the section for that time frame. What a piss off!!!!

But at least I have the information and remember him as a wonderful man and what seems to be a great Police Officer as well.

Susan

My Dad . . .

short and to the point, I am a Daddy’s girl. I have never married because I think that I will never find a man like my Dad.

Now I have a photo of my Dad when he was about 5/6 months old on a bare skin rug but he would kill me if I posted it, so I won’t.

But this is my Dad as a little boy:

He was the 3rd child of Gordon Rutledge and Gladys Compton, born in Burnaby on a September evening, many years ago.

From stories he has told me, I have a feeling that my Dad was a little bit of a hellion when he was younger. He has told us many stories of his younger days but the one I love the most is the Rabbit Story.

When he was a young lad, he decided that he was going to raise and sell rabbits as there was a butcher down the street that would buy them from him. So, my Dad (who was a boxer) raised a bunch of rabbits and when it came time to sell them, he boxed them up and took them down to the butcher. He arrived and showed them to the butcher and the butcher agreed to buy them BUT not until my Dad had killed, skinned and cleaned them.

So, what did my brave Dad do?? He took them and let them all go in Central Park in Burnaby. To this day, when I see a rabbit there, I have to wonder if it is a descendant from my Dad’s rabbits.

Then as young men of that time do, my Dad meet a young lady named Nancie and he has told us the story of the geese that my Mom’s Dad was raising. I loved this story when I was younger because my Dad would tell it so well.

He would talk about showing up at my Mom’s family home in North Burnaby and that he would try to be very quiet so that the geese didn’t hear him. But they always did! He would be walking along and would suddenly hear this thumping coming at him — thump, thump, thump — and he would turn around and there would be this pack of geese running towards him making the noise that geese make. Enough to scare a guy away.

Luckily for me and my sister and brother, it didn’t and they became engaged.

So, at the young age of 21, my Dad began his life — as a husband, then father, grandfather and soon Great-Grandfather.

In between, there there have been many other things.

At one time, he and his older brother, Robert ran a Pie Shop that I believe was called Best Pies. They sold to grocery stores and others. It was located on what is now Edmonds and Canada Way in Burnaby. He had many different jobs including working at the Port of Vancouver in the Grain terminal, he was a truck driver for many, many years as well as a Bartender.

Growing up, he was the BBQ Master (except maybe doing a duck), the Stuffing maker for the turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, he could build just about anything and did, he was the man who yelled at the TV when he didn’t like the play on the Saturday night hockey game or the call at a boxing match. He was tough as nails on us kids when he had to be and caring and concerned when needed (like all the times my sister and I got car sick).

He taught us to laugh at things some might not — like when he “passed wind” and would blame the noise on the geese in the picture above the couch.

This is my favorite picture of him and I — I say that is why I am short with a little neck, he will say it is because he had to hold onto me somehow as I was always running away/around.

And despite his tough, Teamster exterior – he is a softy at heart. To this day, beside his bed is a picture of his Mom and a picture of my Mom.

I think that I have only seen my Dad cry 3 times in my life — the first was at his brothers’ funeral — that shocked even my daughter as she said she had never seen her Pa cry before and then the following year at his sister.

The last time was in 2009, when I was lying in a hospital bed, waiting to find out what was wrong with me. Nancie and I had been there for awhile and she had called them to tell where we were. I opened my eyes to see my Dad leaning over and kissing me on the forehead with tears in his eyes. And for the next 11 days, he came out to see me there and even now, lectures me when I don’t do what I should.

So, here is to my Dad — the only man who has been there through it all — skipping school, the rotten teen years, the loosing of my mind in my twenties, the baby at 30, then watching both my daughter and I grow up.

An new old Family Member – Rutledge

found. Although an old family member, it seems that he is not really been linked to the family before.

Grant Victor Gifford Rutledge, born on 28 Sep 1913, York County, Ontario, Canada. The son of Robert Rutledge and Jean Gifford.

Now, I have seen the name Grant talked about before. In a letter from Robert Rutledge to my Grandfather, his son, Gordon. The year is 1947 and he talks about Grant being an Office Clerk and that Mother was visiting from Lindsay, Ontario. I have been told that although they did not divorce, at least that is what is said, that Robert and his 2nd wife, Georgina (Jean) did not live together.

Several years ago, I found out about their daughter, Verna Eileen Hope Rutledge, who died at just over a year old but there has never been a mention of a son before this.

I have been looking at the 1921 Canadian Census in hoping of finding something linking my Grandparents together as I haven’t found their marriage date yet but I found this:

1921 Canada Census

the list shows them as Ruthledge but all the names match up, except the listing of a son, Grant, age 7:

Robert Ruthledge 46
Jean Ruthledge 31
Russel Ruthledge 19
Gordon Ruthledge 18
Grant Ruthledge 7

So, who was this Grant? I hope to find something about him, but as the Birth Records only go to 1913, would it be possible as they list him as 7, which mean he could have been born in 1914, depending on when the Census was taken. So I took a chance, typed in his name, year of birth as 1913 and place of birth Ontario.

Well, look what comes up:

Grant Victor Gifford Rutledge

A new Grand Uncle!!!

Then thinking more about why I had never heard the name before or anything else about him, I googled his name and came up with a Wedding Announcement for him. It is interesting as it mentions his Mom, Jean Rutledge but not his Dad, who was still alive in 1946 as I have a letter from him written in 1947 as well as I have a letter he wrote to me in 1958.

Wedding Announcement in the Ottawa Times.

After the letter, there is nothing I know about Grant, his wife or if he had any family. They did stay in Ontario as they are listed in the Canada Voters List until 1974, so he would have been 61 years old.

And his Mom, Georgina Gifford Rutledge – what happened to her? Where did she go? When did she pass??

So many unanswered questions.

As for the letters, I have them scanned as pdf files and they will not upload as they are too big, I will have to find another way to show them.

In the mean time, I will now have to search for Grant and family — hello, are you out there? Are you reading this and wondering who I am???

Verna Eileen Hope Rutledge . .

my Great Aunt.

I didn’t know that my Grandfather had a sister or a step mother until 2 separate things brought this information to light.

The first was a photo that I got from my Uncle Doug. It was of his father (Gordon Elliott) and his older brother (Walter Russell). They were both in Toronto Maple Leaf sweaters and on the back it said “A few months before they got a Step-Mother”

So the research started, and I found that on 29 Jun 1910 in Lanark County, Ontario Robert Rutledge, widower married Georgina Gifford, Spinster. Both are listed as Methodist.

I don’t know if it was a happy marriage but from what I found out later, it was probably in the beginning, but in the end, not so much.

It wasn’t til a few years later, when I was visiting my Auntie Verna (only sister of my Dad) that she told me that she was named after her father’s sister. I was confused because as far as I knew, Grandpa didn’t have a sister. But my Aunt was positive and she said that somewhere, she had the plaque from her coffin. She hoped to one day find it and give it to me as she said she knew that I would cherish it.

Auntie Verna told me that the daughter had died very young and that things in the marriage didn’t go well after that. At some point in time, Georgina left and lived somewhere else, but I don’t think they ever divorced. I have letters from my Great-Grandfather where he talks about Mother coming for a visit and this was in the mid 1940′s. I haven’t been able to find out when she died or where she is buried — this is on my bucket list.

But the child. My Great-Aunt Verna Eileen Hope Rutledge. After some searching, I found her death certificate. She was born on April 6th, 1911 less than a year after her parents marriage. She died of whooping cough on May 12, 1912 at the age of 1 year, 1 month and six days.

I wonder who she would have been like. Would she have married, had children, would her parents marriage have been better if she had lived. What effect did her death have on my Grandfather and his brother. To think that the lost not only their Mother but also a sister at such young ages.

I don’t know if she was remembered much before, but she will always be remembered by me, for after my Auntie Verna’s death, I received the coffin plaque of my Great Aunt. It has been framed and will always have a special place in my home where she will be remembered.

Coffin Plaque

May she always Rest in Peace