Tending family graves

Clinton J. “Joe” and Mary Springsteen, Dad’s uncle and aunt, faithfully tended the graves of his parents Loyal Davis “L.D.” and Agnes Springsteen in the Gunnisonville Cemetery north of Lansing, Michigan. On Joe’s passing, the mantle of care was taken up by the next generation, including my parents, aunts and uncles: Donovan “Mick” and Helen Springsteen, Lorna Wolf, Edwin and Lois Springsteen, Madge and Durward “Dude” Pontius, and Harold “Hud” and Dorothy Springsteen.

In preparation for Memorial Day every year, they travelled to plant flowers at family graves in several cemeteries. After my cousin Rodney and I retired, we joined the expedition to care for our family’s memorials. Here are a few pictures from cemetery visits in recent years.

Dad (Ed Springsteen) at the Sheridan Cemetery, 2006
Ed, Mick, and Madge planting for Joe and Mary Springsteen, Niles Cemetery, 2007
Ed, Mick, Dude, and Hud planting for John and Mary Springsteen, Wilsey Cemetery, 2007
Ed, Madge, Mick, and Hud planting for Edwin and Loretta Case, Carson City Cemetery, 2007
Dude, Ed, Madge, Hud, and Mick planting for Aden and Verda Case Springsteen Olsen, Sheridan Cemetery, 2007
Dad watering flowers for my brother Eddie, Sheridan Cemetery, 2007
Hud, Rod, and Ed planting for L.D. and Aggie Springsteen, Gunnisonville Cemetery, 2010
Ed and Hud planting for Fred Olsen’s family, South Sidney Cemetery, 2010
Rod and Hud planting for Thomas and Amanda Green, Forest Hill Cemetery, 2010
Hud, Helen, Rod, Lorna, and Madge planting for L.D. and Aggie Springsteen, Gunnisonville Cemetery, 2011
Helen and Rod planting for Mick, Sheridan Cemetery, 2011
Helen, Rod, and Lorna at Jim and Joel Springsteen’s graves, Sheridan Cemetery, 2011
Rod, Dorothy, and Hud planting for Joe and Mary Springsteen, Niles Cemetery, 2014
Hud, Rod, and Madge planting for L.D. and Aggie Springsteen, Gunnisonville Cemetery, 2015
Dee at Dad’s marker, Sheridan Cemetery, 2017

The ranks of Dad’s generation have thinned, with only my Uncle Hud remaining of his siblings. Aunt Helen, Mom, and Aunt Dorothy still support our annual planting expeditions.

Cleaning gravestones

Sooner or later, the question of how to clean gravestones arises. Dick Eastman recently posted an article about a Good Cemeterian in the Tampa, Florida area who cleans veterans’ gravestones as a public service. Dick’s article contains a link to a Reader’s Digest article with further information about Andrew Lumish’s service to veterans’ memorials and about guidance in cleaning gravestones.

A few who served

Memorial Day is set aside in the Unites States to remember deceased men and women who served in our nation’s armed forces. We are grateful to those who gave years of their lives, and sometimes life itself, to serve our nation in time of need, putting public interest ahead of personal gain.

After our belated military involvement in World War I, the United States withdrew from international efforts to prevent or win war. The attack on Pearl Harbor made it clear that we could not safely or responsibly remain uninvolved in threats to peace. World War II marked the beginning of a continuing series of conflicts that have called upon our service.

Service in our family

The ranks of those who served in World War II are rapidly thinning. Several close relatives served in that conflict, and many others have served since then. I wish to recognize here a few members of our local family who heeded the call and either died in their service or have since passed on.

Ed and Lois Springsteen’s family markers
Ed Springsteen Sr, 1924-2016
Ed Springsteen Jr, 1949-1997

I risk overlooking someone in my effort to recall, but these are a few of our close family members who have served and are no longer with us:

  • Donovan E. Springsteen, 1921-2009, Army
  • James Donovan Springsteen, 1967-1997, Navy
  • Alexander Ronald Raczkowski, 1921-2010, Army
  • Edwin Frank Springsteen Sr, 1924-2016, Navy
  • Edwin Frank Springsteen Jr, 1949-1997, Army
  • Durward Mark Pontius, 1925-2010, Navy
  • Mark Durward Pontius, 1949-1970, Army
  • Erin Lee Springsteen, 1980-2004, Army
  • Richard Thomas Pilkinton Sr, 1917-1997, Army Air Force

Oatka Cemetery, Smith and Springsteen families

How many of us are related to John Smith? Well, maybe not the same John Smith. My three-times-great grandparents Jacob and Margaret Springsteen brought the Smith and Springsteen families together in Monroe County, New York. Margaret, known as Peggy, was the daughter of John and Nancy Smith, immigrants to New York from Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

John Smith of Annan was trained as a surveyor. After bringing his family to New York in 1796 he reportedly worked as a landscape gardener for Aaron Burr.[i] By 1805 he had settled in the present-day Town of Wheatland in Monroe County, where he died in 1821. According to Carl F. Schmidt, former Historian of the Town of Wheatland, John Smith was active in the early community of Scottsville.[ii]

According to an unpublished research report by Frank Van Rensselaer Phelps dated 27 September 1970, John and Nancy Smith had eleven children, the first five born in Scotland:

  1. Francis Smith, born 19 April 1787, married Elizabeth Conkle.
  2. James Smith, born 28 December 1789, married Lydia Currier and her sister Huldah Currier.
  3. Andrew Smith, born 1 September 1790, married Lucinda Dillingham and Sarah (Winslow) Williams.
  4. Robert Smith, born 6 April 1792, married Amanda [?] and Nancy Sackner.
  5. David Smith, born 7 February 1795, married Sarah Cory [Frank didn’t have her name].
  6. Margaret Smith, born 25 December 1796, married Jacob Springsteen.
  7. John Smith, born 15 Jul 1798, is not known to have married.
  8. Jane Smith, born 15 December 1799, married Asa Abell.
  9. Agnes Smith, born 23 June 1801, is not known to have married.
  10. William Smith, born 3 February 1803, married Clarissa Munn.
  11. Thomas Smith, born 15 March 1805, married Emeline June.

Jacob and Margaret Springsteen had five children:

  1. John S. Springsteen, born in 1818, married Mary E. Howe.
  2. Nancy M. Springsteen, born 26 May 1820, married Davis Huntley.
  3. Jane Springsteen, born about 1824, married Sherman Hyde Rogers.
  4. Francis Eugene Springsteen, born 4 March 1825, married Cornelia Ireland Grenelle.
  5. Lucinda Margaret Springsteen, born 18 June 1828, married William L. Miller.

I hope to write more about these families in future articles.

Smiths and Springsteens in the Oatka Cemetery

Scottsville, New York is at the east end of the Town of Wheatland near the outlet of Oatka Creek into the Genesee River. Staats and Anna Springsteen moved with their family to the Scottsville area before 1810, enabling the union of the Smith and Springsteen families. Some structures from their time still stand in Scottsville.

Downtown Scottsville in September 2015. John Smith lived down the road to the right. His youngest son Thomas lived up the road to Rochester on the left.
Isaac Scott historical marker at Oatka Cemetery

The Oatka Cemetery, located on Scottsville Mumford Road southwest of Scottsville near Oatka Creek, is the final resting place for several family members who remained in the area.

Thomas and Emeline Smith’s family, Oatka Cemetery
Thomas and Emeline Smith family monument
Graves of Emeline and Thomas Smith
Grave of Isaac Smith, son of Thomas and Emeline
Grave of Emily Goodnow Smith, wife of Isaac
Grave of Pearl Smith, daughter of Isaac and Emily
Grave of Henry Smith, son of Thomas and Emeline
Frank and Margaret Smith’s family, Oatka Cemetery
Grave of Frank Smith, son of Thomas
Grave of Margaret Smith, wife of Frank
Grave of Dwight Smith, son of Frank and Margaret
Edwin (son of Thomas and Emeline) and Helen Woodruff Smith family monument
Grave of Fred (son of Edwin and Helen) and Edith Smith
Graves of Eleanor Smith and Marvin Kerber and of Edwin and Olive Smith, children of Fred and Edith
Grave of Francis Springsteen, son of Jacob and Margaret Smith Springsteen
Grave of Francis Springsteen, son of Jacob and Margaret Smith Springsteen

John and Nancy Smith’s son Robert, and likely other family members, are also buried in the Oatka Cemetery. Several of John and Nancy’s sons and daughters moved to Michigan and Ohio.

Notes

[i] Account of Andrew Smith in History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), 735; digital image, Michigan County Histories and Atlases (page 735).

[ii] Carl F. Schmidt, History of the Town of Wheatland (Rochester, New York, 1953), 14, 17, 22.

John S. and Mary E. Springsteen’s family

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 opened the floodgates for migration from New England and western New York to Michigan Territory. The flow of settlers in the next decade led to Michigan statehood in 1837. Among those who came to Michigan during the next ten years were my great-great grandparents John S. Springsteen and Mary E. Howe, both born in Genesee County, New York. An 1825 map shows the counties in western New York that had originally constituted Genesee County. This map includes the towns of Wheatland, Monroe County, from which John came, and Bethany, Genesee County, Mary’s early childhood home. Wyoming County was yet to be created from the south half of the remainder of Genesee County.

Origins

In 1825, John S. Springsteen was seven years old. He was probably born in what in 1818 was the north part of the Town of Caledonia, Genesee County. In 1821, this portion of Caledonia became the Town of Wheatland in newly created Monroe County. John’s parents were Jacob Springsteen, son of Staats and Anna Springsteen, and Margaret Smith, daughter of John Smith and Nancy Johnston. John might have been named after his grandfather John Smith. I wonder if John’s middle name was either Smith or Staats. I have seen one report that Jacob and Margaret removed to Michigan, but have found no corroborating evidence. John was enumerated in Jacob’s household in 1820, 1830, and 1840. All of Jacob’s brothers and sisters moved to southeast Michigan, including John Price Springsteen and his wife Mary E. Bristol. John S. Springsteen moved to Michigan sometime in the 1840s.

When the Erie Canal opened, Mary E. Howe was still more than six years from her birth in the Town of Bethany, Genesee County, New York on 11 May 1832. Orison M. and Susan (Filmore) Howe, Mary’s parents, moved with their family to Oakland County, Michigan in 1837. Orison and Susan established a farm in Section 36 of Springfield Township between the communities of Holly and Davisburg. Mary was counted in Orison’s household in 1840. Orison died on the farm in 1842, leaving Susan to run the farm and raise their family.

John and Mary’s family

John S. Springsteen
Mary E. Howe Springsteen

John S. Springsteen and Mary E. Howe were married 23 October 1848 and took up residence in Fenton Township, Genesee County, Michigan. They apparently had nine children:

  1. Maliza Springsteen, sometimes called Eliza, was born about 1849, presumably in Fenton Township. She appears to have been named after Mary’s older sister Maliza Howe. Maliza Springsteen married David Overacker on 28 Feb 1867 in Clinton County, Michigan. David and Maliza do not appear to have had children, but I wonder if she might have died from complications of childbirth. Maliza died in 1868 and was buried in the Wilsey Cemetery in Olive Township, Clinton County.
  2. John Willard Springsteen, known as Will, was born 11 April 1851 in Fenton. He married Elenora Elderkin (or Eldercan) on 23 January 1877 in DeWitt, Clinton County. Will and Elenora had no children. She died 12 October 1907 and he on 15 September 1909, both in DeWitt Township. They were buried in the Gunnisonville Cemetery in DeWitt Township.
  3. Marvin L. Springsteen was born 10 August 1852 in Fenton. He might well have been named after his mother Mary’s brother Marvin Howe. In 1870, he was a farm laborer in the household of Christopher Overacker, likely the family of Maliza’s husband David. According to the 1900 census enumeration, Marvin married Eliza Becker in 1872. However, Marvin and Eliza were married in Windsor, Essex County, Ontario on 24 March 1910, suggesting that they had either divorced or never been married. The marriage registration indicates that Marvin was a bachelor and Eliza was widowed. Eliza died in Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan on 6 September 1919. Marvin and Eliza had one son:
    • Jerry Springsteen, born 5 May 1876 in DeWitt Township, married Lottie May Schoals. They had no children. Jerry died 17 January 1939 in Lansing.

    Marvin married Nellie Anderson in Lucas County, Ohio on 16 October 1926. A notation on their marriage registration instructed ‘Don’t publish.’ Marvin was reported to be 74 years old and Nellie 40 when they were married. Nellie’s mother Mariah Becker might have been Eliza’s sister. Marvin, a retired farmer, died at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing on 23 September 1934. He and Nellie were residents of Eaton Rapids, Eaton County, Michigan at the time of his death. Marvin was buried in the Gunnisonville Cemetery, apparently with Eliza.

  4. Francis A. Springsteen, perhaps named for John’s brother, was born 6 August 1853 in Fenton Township. Known as Frank, he died in DeWitt Township 13 September 1868 and was buried in the Wilsey Cemetery.
  5. Ella Springsteen was born in 1855, presumably in Fenton Township. She married Levi Linn 12 October 1870 in DeWitt Township. Ella died in 1887 and was buried in the Wilsey Cemetery. Levi and Ella had two children:
    • Claude C. Linn, born 9 November 1883 in DeWitt Township, married Kate Emmer. They had six children. Claude died 14 November 1953.
    • Emma N. Linn, born 22 June 1885 in DeWitt Township, married Roy L. Reasoner. They had three sons. Emma died 28 February 1965.
  6. Ida J. Springsteen, born about 1856, died sometime before her family moved to Clinton County in 1863. She was enumerated with her family in Fenton Township in 1860.
  7. Eda Springsteen, apparently the Alace listed with her family in Fenton Township in 1860, was born about August 1859. She also appears to have died young but might possibly have been taken in by someone else after her father’s death.
  8. Emma J. Springsteen was born about 18 December 1861 when the family still lived in Fenton Township. She married Elmer E. Allen 10 January 1889 at Davisburg, Oakland County. She died 25 July 1898 in Springfield Township, Oakland County. Elmer and Emma had four children:
    • Jay Elmer Allen, born 18 October 1889. Jay never married. He died 10 October 1944.
    • Lucy May Allen, born 2 June 1891, married John William Davis. They had no children. Lucy died 20 March 1989.
    • Charles Ray Allen, born 15 January 1893, married Mary LaVerna McPhail. They had three children. Ray died 29 August 1981.
    • Doris Ruth Allen, born 12 December 1897, married Elmer E. Thompson, with whom she had two children, and Thomas F. Clark. I don’t know when or where Ruth died. My granduncle Clinton “Joe” Springsteen reported that Jay and Ruth were raised by Marv and Eliza and that Lucy and Ray were raised by Joe’s parents L.D. and Agnes.
  9. Loyal Davis Springsteen, my great grandfather, was born 6 December 1864 after John and Mary moved with their family to Clinton County. Generally known as L.D., I wonder if he might have been named in recognition of his father’s sister Nancy Springsteen’s husband Davis Huntley. I also wonder if L.D. had any memory of his father, who almost certainly died before L.D. was three.

L.D. married Katherine (or Catherine) Agatha Keck, who became known as Agnes, on 2 March 1892. They were married at her parents’ home in DeWitt Township. L.D. died 12 October 1943 in Lansing. L.D. and Agnes had three sons:

  • Aden Loyal Springsteen, born 29 July 1896, married Goldy Verda Case. They had seven children, including my father. Aden died 6 March 1941.
  • Clinton J. “Joe” Springsteen, born 19 December 1898, married Iva June Woods for a short time and Mary Rosetta Eddy for a lifetime. Joe and Mary had one adopted son. Joe died 2 January 1985.
  • Harold Edward Springsteen, born 2 May 1904, married Martha K. Feneis, with whom he had one daughter. After Martha’s death, he married Frances Ellen Kiplinger Jeffries. Harold died 7 June 2000.

John and Mary in Fenton Township

John and Mary Springsteen lived in Fenton Township, Genesee County for about fifteen years. In 1850 we find them in Fenton with Maliza, listed as Malissa. Their neighbor Henry Sackner was John’s uncle, the widowed husband of Jacob’s sister Mary “Polly” Springsteen. Another neighbor, Eloner Carle, piques my curiosity. I vaguely remember receiving email from a Carle or Carl around fifteen or twenty years ago with the message “hello cousin.” I think I was still working at the time and my response would likely have been brief. I suspect that the Eddy neighbors were related to Mary Eddy Springsteen.

Sometime in the early 1980s I abstracted index entries for Springsteen land transactions in the office of the Genesee County Register of Deeds. I apparently examined a few of those registrations and took additional notes on them. In 2004 I found a Fenton Township land patent certificate for Francis E. Springsteen on the General Land Office Records web site. The certificate identified Francis as a resident of Monroe County, Michigan, but he was probably a resident of Monroe County, New York.

Here is a summary of land transactions for Springsteens in Section 13 of Fenton Township:

Date of record Instrument Grantor Grantee SW frl 1/4 NW 1/4 of SE 1/4
4/25/1854 Agreement John Duncan John S. Springsteen X
4/28/1855 Warranty deed John Duncan John S. Springsteen X
4/28/1855 Warranty deed John S.  and Mary Springsteen Frances E. Springsteen X
1/10/1856 Certificate United States Francis E. Springsteen X
6/17/1859 Warranty deed Frances E. and Cornelia Springstein Thomas Smith X
11/15/1862 Warranty deed Frances E. and Cornelia T. Springsteen Thomas Smith X

The 1854 agreement between John Duncan and John S. Springsteen indicated that Duncan was a resident of Avon, Connecticut and that Springsteen was of Fenton. The 1855 deed conveying land from John and Mary Springsteen to Frances Springsteen indicated that the grantee acquiring the property was of Rochester, New York.

Francis E. Springsteen was John’s younger brother. Thomas Smith was their mother Margaret Smith’s brother.

W. Beers’ 1873 Atlas of Genesee Co., Michigan shows the combined properties in the name of I. J. Smith. Israel J. Smith was a son of Thomas Smith and a first cousin of John and Francis Springsteen.

I. J. Smith property, Section 13, Fenton Township, 1873

The land south of Butcher Road between Long Lake (now Lake Fenton) and Crooked Lake that was once owned by the Springsteens and Smiths is now extensively developed as can be seen here.

Further research at the Genesee County Register of Deeds office should yield more information based on my increasing understanding of the extended family. John and Mary Springsteen might have owned the land acquired from John Duncan solely as proxies for Francis Springsteen, but a comparison of neighbors in the 1860 census enumeration for John and Mary Springsteen, the 1870 census enumeration for Israel and Helen Smith, and Beers’ 1873 map suggests that John’s family had lived in the immediate vicinity if not on the same land that Israel’s family called home in 1870.

John and Mary in DeWitt Township

John and Mary Springsteen moved from Fenton Township, Genesee County to DeWitt Township, Clinton County in 1863. This move might have been prompted by the sale from Francis and Cornelia Springsteen to Thomas Smith of the land in Fenton. Clinton J. Springsteen (Uncle Joe) told me that [John and] Mary lived in a log cabin on the south side of Howe Road east of Wood Road in DeWitt Township. This location is now probably in the path of US 127, a divided highway.

John died around 1865-1867 and was buried in the Wilsey Cemetery. His gravestone records his death as 1867, but it is not clear whether it was placed shortly after his death or much later. Notes that appear to have been written by a family member for Mary’s obituary initially recorded his death year as 1867 and then changed it to 1865.

John was identified in August 1866 as an heir-at-law in the probate of his brother Francis’s will. John was notified by mail and ordered to appear at the Surrogate’s Court of Monroe County in Rochester, New York on 15 October 1866. There is no indication in the estate file for Francis that John either appeared or was determined to be deceased. Uncle Joe told me in 1980 that John was on a train from Holly to Detroit to settle an estate when he died. Perhaps this was regarding the estate of his brother Francis.

 

Next of kin, Francis E. Springsteen, August 1866

The Oakland County Clerk’s office informed me in 1980 that they had no record of John’s death, but the State of Michigan didn’t require counties to keep death records until 1867 and the practice wasn’t well established for several years. I should investigate the possibility of an estate file for John S. Springsteen at the Clinton County Probate Court office.

Mary’s later years

Mary was living in DeWitt Township with Will, Marvin, Ella, Emma, and Loyal in 1870. Her obituary stated that she struggled to keep her family together after John’s death. Uncle Joe said that she bartered with Chief Okemos for meat, but this is probably not correct at least in terms of his identity given that Okemos reportedly died in 1858.

Mary moved back to Oakland County around 1872 to care for her mother Susan Howe and perhaps to pool resources. Mary was listed in Susan Howe’s household in Springfield Township in 1880 and 1900. This household was on the farm where had Mary lived as a girl. By 1900 Mary’s brother Jerome, who lived across the road in Groveland Township, owned the farm. An 1896 Illustrated atlas of Oakland County, Michigan shows the adjacent properties in Section 6 of Springfield Township and Sections 31 and 32 of Groveland Township. In October 1980, I participated in a road trip to Holly with Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary, Grandma Olsen (Joe’s sister-in-law), Dad, and some of Dad’s siblings. Joe identified Orison and Susan’s home, the tenant house, and Jerome’s house on Tucker Road east of Holly. Joe and my grandfather Aden Springsteen were born in the tenant house where their parents lived while L.D. worked for Jerome. After Susan’s death, Mary lived alone in Springfield township in 1910.

Howe homes on Tucker Road

In 1920, Mary lived with her brother Charles E. Howe in DeWitt Township. At the time of her death on 12 August 1922, Mary lived with L.D. in Section 12, Watertown Township, Clinton County. L.D. and Aggie were living on the Brink farm on the west side of what is now Airport Road west of DeWitt. Dad was born on this farm in 1924.

L.D., Mary, and Marvin Springsteen
L.D., Mary, and Marvin Springsteen
Mary E. Springsteen
Mary E. Springsteen

Mary E. Springsteen and her mother Susan Howe were both widowed in their mid-thirties; neither remarried. Susan lived to the age of 95 and Mary to age 90, both after long lives sustaining their families. For many years in my occasional early exploration of family history, they and their husbands were among my earliest known ancestors. I hope to learn more about their lives and families.

Biographical notes, John and Mary Springsteen’s family
Obituary, Mary E. Springsteen
Memoir, Mary E. Springsteen
Frank, Mary, and John Springsteen’s graves, Wilsey Cemetery

Assorted research notes

  1. Genesee County, Michigan Register of Deeds, select Springsteen transactions
  2. Notes from Joe and Mary Springsteen, 23 March 1980
  3. Notes from Joe and Mary Springsteen, 26 May 1980
  4. Notes from road trip to Holly, 11 October 1980

South Sidney Cemetery, Olsen Family

This article continues a series I am planning about final resting places for some of our families. Today we will visit my Grandpa Olsen’s family and some of their graves in the South Sidney Cemetery.

Fred Olsen’s family

Aden Loyal Springsteen died in 1941 at 45 years of age. Verda Springsteen, his wife, was left with a farm to run and six children ranging from ten to twenty years old. Dad was sixteen when he lost his dad. During the next few years Grandma sold the farm in Section 1, Fairplain Township, south of Sheridan, Michigan. She moved to Lansing, Michigan where she worked in the office of State Treasurer D. Hale Brake of Stanton. Fred O. Olsen, who was active in Fairplain Township government, helped Grandma in some of these arrangements. After Fred lost his wife Carrie to death in 1944, he married Grandma on 22 July 1945. Fred and Verda were my Grandpa and Grandma Olsen from the day I was born.

Fred Olsen was the son of Hans and Sophie Olsen, immigrants from the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in Denmark. Their marriage entry in the records of St. Thomas Lutheran Church of Trufant, Michigan provides a glimpse of their origins:

Hans Kristian Olsen, Son af Ole Hansen og Hustru Kristiane Hansen, fodt i Udby, Holbæk Amt, d. 27 Februar 1855, og Pigen Ane Sofie Andersen, Datter af Anders Jensen og Hustru Kristine Jensen, fodt i Svallerup, Holbæk Amt, d. 26 September 1858, agteviedes i Gowen Town af Montcalm, Montcalm Co., d. 20 November 1882.

Marriage record of Hans and Sophie Olsen

This record can be found on Ancestry here. With the help of Google Translate and a Danish-English dictionary at the Flat River Community Library in Greenville, Michigan this is rendered in English as follows:

Hans Kristian Olsen, son of Ole Hansen and wife Kristiane Hansen, born in Udby, Holbæk County, d. February 27, 1855, and the girl, Ane Sofie Andersen, daughter of Anders Jensen and wife Kristine Jensen, born in Svallerup, Holbæk County, d. 26 September 1858, were married in Gowen, Town of Montcalm, Montcalm Co., d. 20 November 1882.

A note in the record indicates (Ikke af Menigheden) that they were not of the church. The record image also indicates that they were married in Gowen, Montcalm Township, not at the church in Trufant, Maple Valley Township. Both communities are in Montcalm County, Michigan.

Notice that Hans Kristian Olsen was the son of Ole and Kristiane Hansen (he was the son of Hans) and that Ane Sofie Andersen was the daughter of Anders and Kristine Jensen (son of Jens). Family surnames, passed from generation to generation, were not yet in common use in Denmark.

Amsden area, Fairplain Township, 1897

Hans and Sophie, or Sophia, as the spelling of her name was anglicized, lived on a farm east of Amsden in Fairplain Township where they raised their family. Their property can be found in Section 14 on page 43 of Ogle’s 1897 Standard atlas of Montcalm County, Michigan. In later years, they moved into Greenville. Hans and Sophie had four children, all probably born on the family farm in Fairplain Township:

  1. Frank Olsen was born 10 September 1883. He married Jenny Petersen on 4 April 1911 in Gowen. They had a stillborn daughter 27 January 1912 in Birmingham, Oakland County, Michigan. Jenny died in Birmingham 29 March 1914. Frank next married Mary Logan on 30 July 1918 in either Rochester, Oakland County or Rochester, New York. Mary was granted a divorce in Oakland County on 21 October 1921. Frank finally married Bertha May Bell in Southfield, Oakland County on 16 April 1924. Bertha, the widow of Joseph Alexander McClelland, brought daughter Evelyn and son Drayton McClelland to her home with Frank Olsen. Frank and Bertha lived in Oakland County for the remainder of their lives. Bertha died 22 December 1959 in Birmingham. Frank died 25 October 1962 in West Branch, Ogemaw County, Michigan near a cottage he had built with his brothers on Harrison Lake. He was buried with Jenny in the South Sidney Cemetery.
  2. William G. Olsen, known in the family as Will, was born 26 March 1889. He died 13 November 1947 in Pontiac, Oakland County. Will married Bessie Mae Bell on 17 May 1912 in Birmingham, Oakland County. Bessie’s father John Alexander Bell was a brother of David William James Bell, Bertha Bell’s father. Bessie’s mother Adriana Beebe was a sister of Justina Beebe, Bertha Bell’s mother. Bessie’s sister Anna married John C. McClelland, brother of Joseph McClelland, Bertha Bell’s first husband. Will and Bessie Olsen had the following children:
    • A stillborn son on 12 August 1912.
    • Merritt William Olsen, born 27 September 1915 in Birmingham, Oakland County. He married Marjorie Canever on 18 July 1938 in Birmingham. Merritt and Marjorie had one daughter of which I am aware, Mary Lee. Merritt died in Pontiac, Oakland County on 27 October 1989. I remember Merritt’s visits to Grandpa and Grandma Olsen’s house here in Sheridan. I enjoyed his music on the fiddle and especially the hammered dulcimer.
    • Elizabeth Ann Olsen, born 5 March 1919 in Birmingham. She married Werner Gustave Schettling on 10 September 1945 in Birmingham. They apparently lived in or near Birmingham until her death in Pasco County, Florida on 28 April 1993.
    • Frederick John Olsen, who lived for only a few hours after his birth in Birmingham on 7 March 1921.
    • Virginia Ida Olsen, born 15 March 1923 in Birmingham. She trained and served in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps from 1944 until at least 1947. She married Curnell Lee Stanger on 10 February 1947 in Birmingham. They lived in Clawson, Oakland County in 1993. They were living in Hartford, Wisconsin at the time of his death there on 12 November 2010. Virginia died 16 November 2014, presumably in or near her residence at Hartford.
  3. Fred Oscar Olsen was born 20 January 1891. He married Carrie Matilda Mason on 5 June 1918 at Gowen. Fred died 19 January 1975 in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida. Carrie Mason was born on 21 July 1886, the daughter of Christian Mason and Ane Dortha Larsen. Fred and Carrie had three children:
    • Marie Arlene Olsen, born with her twin sister Marian in Greenville on 23 July 1924. Marie died in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan on 29 May 1999.
    • Marian Eileen Olsen, born 21 July 1886. Marian and Marie lived together in Grand Rapids most of their adult lives. They were active in state and national organizations for twins. Marian and Marie were married for a short time to twin brothers from Wisconsin named Don and Delos, but I don’t know which of them was married to Marie and which to Marian, nor do I know their surname.
    • Ronald Erwin Olsen, born 16 May 1930 in Montcalm County. He died at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids on 27 July 1946.
    • Fred and Carrie also took in a girl named Rosemond Blodgett, born 3 October 1912, sometime in the early 1920s before Marian and Marie were born. Rosemond married Donald N Jensen in Greenville on 29 November 1934. They had three daughters and one other child. Rosemond and Donald divorced on 7 August 1944. Rosemond married Merle Billings on 7 December 1945. They moved to California by 1954. Rosemond died in Mendocino, California on 15 January 1995.
  4. Ida Christine Olsen, perhaps known as Edith, was born 10 August 1899. She moved to Greenville with her parents by 1920. Ida married Seaver Mendun Perkins in Greenville on 17 August 1921. She died at West Branch, Ogemaw County on 12 January 1964. Ida and Seaver had five children. Because they have not all passed on, I list only their names:
    • Anna Belle Perkins
    • Dorothy Lee Perkins
    • Kenneth George Perkins
    • Betty Jane Perkins
    • Delbert Gene Perkins

Here are a few pictures of the Olsen family, primarily from Marian and Marie Olsen.

Hans, Frank, Sophie and Fred Olsen with Rosemond Blodgett
Fred and Carrie Olsen’s wedding picture, 1918
Alice, Finda, and Carrie Mason, 1906
Carrie, Fred, Rosemond, and the twins
Marie and Marian Olsen, about 1928
Confirmation, Dannebrog Church, 1939: Helen Stub, Arthur Hemmingsen, Calvin Nielsen, Marie Olsen, Marian Olsen, Rev. C.A. Stub, Raymond [surname unknown]
Fred and Carrie Olsen’s family, 1940. Back: Marian, Carrie, and Marie Olsen. Front: Sophie, Ron, and Fred Olsen. I might have Marian and Marie switched.
Ronald Olsen, 1945 or 1946

Fred and Carrie raised their children on Fred’s parents’ farm east of Amsden. When Verda Springsteen married Fred Olsen, she moved to his farm with her youngest children. Although most of Fred’s and Verda’s children were at or near adulthood, they effectively became one family, maintaining a close relationship through the ensuing decades. When Fred and Verda built a house on Pearl Lake in Sheridan in the late 1950s, their home became the gathering place for family reunions and holiday gatherings.

Ron Olsen, after whom I was named, and my uncle Harold “Hud” Springsteen were the same age and attended high school together in Greenville. Mom has told me that for a time she was informally dating both Ron and Hud, and she never knew which one would show up at the door to take her out. On one occasion they sent Dad, and the rest is history. Ron contracted polio in late July of 1946. His friend (and mine) Eugene Rydahl has told me that he and Ron had been working on someone’s farm on a particularly hot day when they stopped for a swim in the cold creek on the way home. Ron fell ill that night and was taken to hospitals in Grand Rapids, where he died. Apparently, several cases of infantile poliomyelitis occurred in late summer every year at that time. Daily accounts of Ron’s illness and decline can be found in the Greenville Daily News at the Flat River Community Library:

Verda and Fred Olsen on the family farm, 1955
Verda and Merritt Olsen making lively music, 1960
Fred and Verda Olsen’s 25th anniversary celebration, Sheridan Congregational Church: Lorna Wolf, Donovan “Mick” Springsteen, Verda Olsen, Fred Olsen, Madge Pontius, Marie Olsen, Marian Olsen, Loretta Potter, Ed Springsteen, Harold Springsteen, Dorothy Pilkinton

Fred Olsen represented Montcalm County in the Michigan House of Representatives for the final ten years of its part-time legislature. I sat with him on the floor of the House on my sixteenth birthday. He was a man of evident integrity, and I am confident that he wouldn’t think much of the state of governmental affairs today.

Fred O. Olsen
News of Fred Olsen’s death, from The Daily News and Belding Banner, 20 January 1975, page 1, column 3

Olsen family in the South Sidney Cemetery

The South Sidney Cemetery and Dannebrog Lutheran Church are located on the south side of Muskrat Road in Section 31 of Sidney Township, Montcalm County. Several of the Olsens are buried there. Verda Olsen was buried in the Sheridan Cemetery with her first husband, Aden Springsteen.

South Sidney Cemetery and Dannebrog Lutheran Church
Dannebrog Lutheran Church
Burial site of Hans and Sophie Olsen’s family
Hans C Olsen, 1856-1925
Ane Sofie Olsen, 1858-1941
Frank Olsen, 1883-1962
Jennie Olsen, 1882-1914
Fred O. Olsen, 1891-1975
Carrie M. Olsen, 1886-1944
Ronald E Olsen, 1930-1946

This exercise has helped me become more acquainted with Grandpa Olsen’s extended family. As much as our society seems to be increasingly focused on individual accomplishment and responsibility, which are good, we were placed in families and communities for a reason. We are members of a greater body, and we can’t understand ourselves or our ancestors well without looking around at people who have or had a personal impact on our lives and theirs. I am grateful to be related to the Olsen family.