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Buried in snow: The search for Lina Anderson

DCN Correspondent

Walking through a cemetery, searching for dead, researching facts and names, all to bring a person’s story to life; it sounds like a Halloween thriller. It is actually a reporter’s way of researching people who have passed on.

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Our assignment was to gather names and dates of our dearly departed. I chose to begin my quest at Park Hill Cemetery in Duluth.

I, of course, left this assignment until one of the coldest days of winter. My mother was in Duluth for the weekend and she decided to help me with my initiative. Our plan was to drive around the graveyard, to stay warm in the car, and peer out from the car’s frosty windows, searching for names and dates. Sadly, this research did not work as well as planned. On our way up a snow covered hill, the car slid on a patch of ice and ended up stuck in a snow bank.

So there we were, stuck in a cemetery on a freezing cold day. My mom was the braver one, and got out of the car to start pushing us down toward the bottom of the hill. After a 20-minute struggle, we were free. However, the assignment was still not finished.

I walked around the graveyard, bundled in my hat, snow pants, and mittens, with my camera in hand to take pictures of the gravestones. It was so cold outside that the snow had hardened and I found that I was able to walk on top of the glazed snow.

After taking five steps into the graveyard, however, I fell into the snow and found myself unable to move. When I looked up, I noticed that I had landed on the grave of Lina Anderson. I took this as a sign that this would be the person I would research.

Searching in the Duluth News Tribune archives, I found microfilms from Nov. 19, 1938, which helped me discover that Lina was born in 1874 in Norway. She lived until the age of 64 at the address of 1248 Brainerd Ave. in Duluth. During her life she gave birth to five sons; Axel, Julius, Leonard, Olaf and Hartley. Two of the boys were twins who had died at birth.

Trying to find information about Lina was difficult, especially because of the commonality of her last name. Lina was married to Andrew Anderson, who died in 1910. He and their sons were buried beside her. I found most of this information from the interment record at Park Hill Cemetery. According to Susan Rich, the superintendent at Park Hill, the Andersons were not buried in a special residing location.

After digging deeper into Lina Anderson’s story, and not finding much information, I decided to use Pat Maus as a reference. She helped me search for Lina in census Index books. The trouble was that it only listed her in the books after her husband died. According to Maus, women were only entered into the census index book if they were widowed. Therefore, it was difficult to find Lina’s occupation or place of employment.

This biographical sketch was written for the Research for Reporters class at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Each student in the class went to a cemetery in Duluth, got a name from a grave marker, and then used a variety of primary and secondary sources to find out as much as possible about the person.