Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hawaii Anyone?

Loch  View Cemetery
Pearl City, Hawaii

Do want to know what I'm going to do? 

Let's start with what I WANT to do. I look at that heap of broken headstones and I want to put them back in order. Among them might be my great great grand aunt and uncle, Elsa Skar, and her husband Christian Christophersen of Norway. Their headstones, I mean. Elsa is Hans' sister. Their descendants eventually moved to Washington State in the late 1800's.

On my early morning drive to Nashua this morning I asked my daughter to let me talk through my research about this cemetery. I told her about my fixer-upper project and she said, rolling her eyes, "We'd have to go to Hawaii, Mommy." 

"I know. We are." 

Laugh. More eye-rolling."Did you hear that, Kyle?" she joked with her brother sitting behind her. "We're going to Hawaii!" She obviously doesn't believe me. I can't say I blame her for doubting. I consistently and fervently say, "No!" to everything except the question, "Do you need some help?"

But somehow we're going. All of us. 

I was thinking of leaving a cache nearby for all geocachers to have a little fun. I just need an idea of some trinkets to put in the cache. Something creative that people who love family history and geocaching would enjoy. But that's for another day. 

Your reasons for liking cemeteries might be different from mine. I don't visit them to visit the dead. I love them because of the wealth of information one can gather from the headstones and the cemetery office's records, if any were kept. And they usually are. 

I want to get the Boy Scouts on Oahu to volunteer some time to clean up the grounds. My oldest boys' Eagle Scout Project was collecting information from the oldest part of a town cemetery, mapping the family plots, taking pictures of the headstones, and organizing all of the records created from his project. He gave the finished project to the cemetery's secretary, who updated the town's records of that cemetery. The next step would be to get all of that information online so that people wouldn't have to travel to get pictures, names and dates found on the headstones there.

But the Loch View Cemetery, overlooking Pearl Harbor, is a mess. Even if a map existed of the original plots, it would be too expensive to redo the whole thing. I'd like to do what was done at the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Olalla, Washington for some of my ancestors buried there. Someone created a memorial with names and dates of all of the people who had been buried there for visitors to see. Just a simple, engraved plaque mounted on a boulder (so I've been told).

I've started researching the cost of the memorial. It'll probably cost upwards of $1,000., depending on how many names and dates are added. But I'm good at finding deals. The airfare is another matter entirely. Perhaps we'll swim.

But what a dream. Huh? It'll take some time and planning. Kelley said, "If we go we HAVE to visit Pearl Harbor!"

Me? I just want to island hop and step on the same ground some of my ancestors stepped on. They lived on at least two of the islands. And I'm sure that the sand from the beaches they landed on is worn and washed away like the headstones. My imagination will have to bring me back in time because I know that things have changed since they were there. 

But the ocean doesn't change. I want to look at the same one that they did over 130 years ago. And I want to leave my mark. 

(Not really. I just want to go to Hawaii)

First I have to pay the electric bill.
And the heating and water bill.
And rent.


  1. We just booked our first trip to Hawaii for February 2012! I'll make room for you in my luggage :)

    On another note, I like cemeteries because they connect me to the past. Through the monuments, sculptures, quotes, etc. They don't frighten me at all, and I've often wandered through them with my camera capturing the essence.

  2. Which island Sandi? Please share the pictures. February is the perfect month to take a vacation to a tropical island.
    And...the only thing that creeps me out about cemeteries is the possibility of stepping on a grave and it caving in!!!

  3. We're off to Maui for 2 weeks! First visit for both of us :) It's never been on my list of places to visit; I think I assumed it would be too touristy. But after seeing and hearing about it from Mark's mom, we're going to find out for ourselves!

  4. Maui is where my ancestors from Norway landed. Some of them ended up on Oahu. Two weeks is a dream! I can't imagine!

  5. Betsy,
    You are so right about the wealth of information that is available simply by visiting a cemetery. I learned this about five years ago when I attended a family reunion in Great Falls, Montana. This was a reunion of 1st cousins and their offspring on my father's side. You see my father was one of 13 children, but by 2006 all of the 13 were gone.
    One of the reunion events was to visit all of the cemeteries. We were looking to locate all of the graves for those of the 13 that were buried in Great Falls, and to also to find and visit our grandparents' graves.
    It was so interesting. When we came to our grandparents' graves we found them to be in total disrepair. We made a commitment to get a quote for a new grave marker that would not only designate Martin and Mary Ann Eagen's graves, but also the graves of two of their children and two of their grandchildren. It took about a year. We raised the money, the 1st cousins donating what they could, then ordered the marker(s) - one large one for the children and grandchildren and one each for Mary Ann and Martin - then on a early Summer day in 2007 a number of the 1st cousins met again to update the graves. I have wonderful photos of this event.
    Also, the cemetery officials really do have so much information. And they are eager to share it.
    I noticed you live in NH. I lived in Kearsarge (North Conway), NH for 12 years.

    Here is a link to a post I wrote last December. I was pretending to be my grandmother writing a holiday letter in 1921.

    Have a great day.

  6. Judy,
    I loved your story! It's so cool how you took the time to fill in the blanks with the research on the state's history, etc. I'll bet you learned more than you ever expected! I was hoping you'd tell me how much you ended up investing in the markers and how you raised the money! I have ideas, but I'm open to ones that have already worked.
    Thank you so much for the comment. Today's post offers a prize to the winner of the Ancestor's Story Contest. Why don't you enter?

  7. Betsy,
    I am glad you like the story. Here is what I remember about the fund raising. Two or three of the cousins that live in Great Falls contacted a couple of gravestone makers to get quotes. They wanted two flat markers and one that stood upright with four names, including date of birth and death. I believe the quote they got was around $1000. They then sent an email out to the first cousins. Now keep in mind when you have 13 siblings and eight of them have children and grandchildren, there are quite a few people. Between those that could afford to give we raised the money. It might have been that 10 of us each gave $100.

    Additionally, they saved money by installing the markers themselves. A number of the first cousins have been in the construction business for many years - remember my grandfather built roads and railroads. So they saved money by picking up the gravestones from the vendor and doing the installation.

    I hope this helps. I will give some thought to your contest.


  8. Betsy, aloha. This is great. Already I can see that you have started the movement this way. Before long I will be receiving a note from you telling me you are planning to come over on _____ and where should you stay, etc.

    It will be so much fun for me to watch this unfold. Keep putting it out what you want to the universe, and it will provide for you.

    Look forward to meeting you and your family on your trip to Hawaii. Until later, aloha. Janet

  9. I love Hawaii so much. I think we might be heading there in January as a family. Maui this time. I've only been to Oahu, so I'm excited to check out another island.

    I too, love cemeteries. So many stories. So many lives to respect and honor.

  10. Hey Christian!
    Thanks for visiting. I've never been. Have a blast!


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