Sometimes while pursuing our ancestral research, we encounter superior service that far exceeds our expectations. Such was the experience my husband, Jim, and I had recently on a visit to Evergreen Cemetery in Everett, Washington.
It’s almost five thousand miles from Slimminge, Sweden to Everett, Washington … but that was the path Olaf A. Hanson took in his lifetime of April 10, 1862 to April 2, 1912. His story may have ended there, but my husband Jim and I picked up the trail on a recent trip to the east coast. Olaf, a great-uncle of Jim’s, became a relative of interest when were trying to locate the birthplaces and point of origin of this family. (Nels, a brother of Olaf, is Jim’s maternal grandfather.) Through extensive previous research, we had learned the brothers left Malmo, Sweden, in 1880 and immigrated to the Algona, Iowa, area, living for a time in Ruthven, Iowa. Eventually, Nels and Olaf went to Lily, Day County, South Dakota. It was there the two lives of the two brothers diverged when Olaf, his wife Olga, and their children (Alfred, Sadie, Herman, Olga, and Jack) moved to the state of Washington in about 1902.
Since we knew Olaf and Anna Hanson were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Everett, we decided to visit their graves, as well as those of any of their children, and photograph the monuments.
Evergreen Cemetery, established in 1898, encompasses 100 acres and is known for the Rucker Mausoleum, a 30-foot Washington granite pyramid. It is the final resting place for numerous prominent citizens (including Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson) and Civil War veterans. The plantings and state champion trees add to the beautiful and serene setting.
Because of the size of the cemetery, we stopped at the office to ask directions to the graves. (I thought we would be there only briefly.) We were greeted by Sergae Rokusek, family service advisor, who noted what information we had and what we were searching. He verified the information we had with cemetery records and provided maps of the cemetery. Then he offered to drive us to the graves of the Hanson family members which were located in three separate areas of the cemetery.
When we reached the area where the last set of graves were supposedly located, we could not find a marker with the Hanson name. There was one large stone that had fallen from its base and was face down. Sergae radioed to grounds crew to come to the site with some equipment to lift the stone. They arrived at the location in a brief time and were able to lift the heavy stone enough to confirm the stone had the names of Olaf and Anna Hanson. As we discussed the situation, it was decided that Dave Shorter and Don Dahlstrom, the grounds crew, would attempt to repair the stone by remounting it on the base. First, they brought in some fill dirt to stabilize the foundation, and then with the use of their equipment, were able to restore the stone to the original position. The entire process took several hours. We were thrilled the repair could be done while we were there. It was so gratifying to see the process completed and leave knowing the memorial for this family has been restored.
None of this would have been accomplished if it had not been for the caring staff at Evergreen Cemetery. The staff were extremely dedicated and gracious in helping us locate the graves and going beyond expectations. I might anticipate this attitude in making funeral arrangements, but to extend such courtesy to visitors trying to locate several graves was a hallmark of service. Sergae Rokusek, Don Dahlstrom and Dave Shorter are to be commended for their outstanding dedication and work.
Restored monument. Notice the ornate detail on the base.
Rucker Monument, a landmark at Evergreen Cemetery, Everett, Washington.