Visiting Ancestral Towns

Last week, I found myself passing nearby an ancestral city and could not resist stopping by and seeing what I could find.

I had done some basic research prior to visiting the town of Spring City, Utah (it lies in the northern half of Sanpete Valley, about seventeen miles north of Manti, the Sanpete county seat).  I wrote down the names and dates of my ancestors who lived in Spring City but I did not think to record their immigration date, parent's names, children's names, etc.  I had hoped to rely on my phone to access online information.

My main focus was on my Jensen ancestors who immigrated from Denmark:
1. Kristi Ellsworth 
2. Douglas Keith Ellsworth (living)
3. Diane Hadley (living)  
4. Lloyd Reed Ellsworth (living)
5. Alice Josephine Cluff (living) 
10. Alfred Orval Cluff (1908-1980)
11. Clea Emily Nielsen (1907-1988) 
22. Carl Emil Nielsen (1860-1935)
23. Jensine Oline Jensen (1867-1951) 
46. Niels Christian Jensen (1842-1916)
47. Dorothea Marie Jensen (1839-1918) 
94. Jens Christian Nielsen
95. Ane Marie Andersen
Note: according to records in Spring City, the parents of Dorothea Maria Jensen are Jens C Andersen and Annie Maria Nielsen.
 Although I arrived unprepared, the Lord presented me with several tender mercies.  Fifteen minutes outside of town, I exited my navigation (to set it to the Spring City cemetery location instead of just Spring City) and found out I'm out of service range.  I now had no idea how to get to Spring City or the city cemetery.  Thankfully, I was observant enough to notice signs (I had a feeling to u-turn outside one town and learned coming northbound there was a sign direction for Spring City, when southbound had no such sign).  

When I finally entered into Spring City (thank goodness for the welcome sign!), I was blessed to find the Geological Society (located in Old City Hall at 46 North Main) right off the main road across from the gas station (where I was going to stop for directions).  Although it was closed, another couple had called the genealogist to come help so when I approached the building they were just leaving.  The genealogist was sweet enough to help me out since she was already there helping the other couple. We went through a cemetery index book then she lead me over to the Old Firehouse next door (44 North Main) to look through records about houses that belong to my ancestors - such as two homes of Jens C. Andersen that are still standing.  One other home (I'm uncertain who had built it) had recently been torn down to build a ranch house in its place.  Also, she had a filing cabinet of information for each ancestral person known to have lived in the town.  Because the information was submitted by Jensine Oline Nielsen (my great-great grandmother) I assumed we already had the paperwork and did not request copies (also, I had found the same information online just a few days before).  Not sure that assumption was the right choice.

A $10 brochure (which I did not buy due to limited funds) had the following information about Jens C. Andersen's homes.  I took a drive through town and I took these pictures myself (information copied from brochure):

Andersen-Madsen House, c. 1882
325 East Center
This one and one half story brick house was built about 1880 by Jens C. Andersen, a Dane.  The main portion of the house contains a second story door above a small porch and is built with multi-colored brick.  Note the prominent brick round-arched lintels above the door and window opening in contrast to the brick color of the exterior walls.  The may may have come from the same kiln as the brick used for the old elementary school. In 1885 Jens sold the house to Christian Andersen.  Andrew Madsen, a handcart pioneer, purchased the house in 1891.  Madsen, also from Denmark, was a Black Hawk War veteran, and was involved in the Spring City Roller Mills.  A kitchen addition was constructed in 1910.  Additional living space has been added by the current owners.

Jens C. Andersen House, c. 1884
91 East 100 South
Andersen, an immigrant from Thorring, Denmark, built this one and one half story brick house in `884. This house is significant for its early use of locally fired bricks from a brickyard west of town.  Originally a hall-parlor plan a matching brick addition was added in 1995.

After visiting these homes and viewing a few more prominent buildings in town, I finally made my way to the cemetery.  Thankfully I was wise enough to ask for directions from the genealogist because if I didn't, I would have never found it!

In Memory of
Anne Marie Anderson.
Born in Denmark
April 11, 1811
Died Spring City
Nov. 18, 1889
(Spring City Cemetery 1SE-04-L05-12)

Niels C. Jensen
July 30, 1842 - Dec. 14, 1916
(Spring City Cemetery 1SE-04-L05-13)

Dorothea M. Jensen
Mar. 16, 1869 - Aug. 23, 1918 
(Spring City Cemetery 1SE-04-L05-14)

Even now, as I look over my notes, I realize even more how I was ill prepared.  I had taken some notes but did not copy the information about these ancestors as appeared in the book that indexed all the Spring City ancestors in the cemetery.  In the future, I will make sure to copy (or at least take a picture) of everything with my ancestor's names.  I did not think it was important at the time, but now I do.  Good thing I drive pass Spring City every time I take a road trip to Utah.

Under the name of Niels C. Jensen, it listed his parents as Jens Nielson and Maria Hansen.  Well, not having internet access and having no family history books with me, I knew not if this could be an ancestor, but because of the name and dates, I thought it important to picture document this find when I accidentally came across it in the cemetery.  Unfortunately, I did not write down the plot information.  It was either 4NE-16 or 1SE-01 right up against the eastern road.

Jens Neilson
Born in
Lyngaa, Den.
April 11, 1823
May 11, 1880

There was one more family member I wanted to find: Niels Madsen.  However, after I walked around the whole cemetery several times, I had to give up my search.  The Spring City index only gave me the information: Block 13, Lot 6, HL Rasmussen lot.  The cemetery locator (index posted in the center of the cemetery) did not have him listed; and searching in Block 13, Lot 6 gave no results although there were a few Rasmussens buried there (no H.L. Rasmussen though).  

So, what did I learn?
  • Bring a paper map - can't always rely on GPS navigations
  • Come prepared with family group records and detailed information
  • Collect any scrap of information, no matter how insignificant it may appear
  • Don't expect your phone and/or internet to work - bring paper documents
  • Ask family about what information has already been gathered
  • Bring spending money and buy brochures, books, etc that contains ancestral information
I had so much fun, I look forward to future visits to ancestral towns.  I'll make sure to be more prepared, although being unprepared will not stop me from visiting if I find myself passing near an ancestral town.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I need to start doing research for Scott's dad's line. He's a convert, so there's probably a lot of work to be done. :o)


I live in the present yet feel for the past
Seeking connections and roots that outlast
The change of the seasons, the distance of time
Stories and people who I can call mine

Someone who's part of me -- Who will that someone be?

For the hearts of the children are turning
Turning to fathers they've never seen
And the hearts of the fathers are burning
With the promise of what will be

Play the song "The Hearts of the Fathers are Turning" by Steven Kapp Perry