This summer (2005) Shirley and I went to Wisconsin and Minnesota. While she was able to make some progress with her OLIGNEY family in Wisconsin (between frequent visits to Culverís, a great place to eat), I made some great discoveries of my BAKER and STRATHERN lines in Minnesota.
I was able to find out a lot about the STRATHERNS, who were pioneers in the Rich Valley area of Dakota County, just south and east of Saint Paul. Indeed, I was able to find the resting place of my great grandmother, Margaret Brown STRATHERN BAKER, her father, William STRATHERN, and his father, William Sr, all three of whom are buried in the Pine Bend Cemetery in Dakota County, just across the highway from an oil refinery. The Masonic heritage of my family was present in the Strathern line as well.
The caretaker of the cemetery was kind enough to provide the name of perhaps the only living Strathern in the area, that being Norma STRATHERN SELL. Norma is descended from Walter STRATHERN (her great grandfather). Walther is brother to my younger William, all of whom are also at Pine Bend. I talked with her and her kind husband Elroy at length, a conversation made more poignant by the fact that my sister, Melinda, died about an hour prior to my conversation. It is ironic but comforting that Linda learned of the Stratherns, and indeed likely met many other departed ancestors prior to my discussion with Norma and Elroy.
The STRATHERNS were a wealthy family of farmers and were well known in the area. Norma and Elroy still live on a few remaining acres of the farm in Rich Valley. Because Wyman BAKER was seated on the first Grand Jury in Ramsey County MN, itís likely that these two families traveled in some of the same circles. Small wonder that Wymanís handsome son Francis met and wooed Bill STRATHERN'S daughter Margaret. Oh, those cold Minnesota winters!
We were able to find some very interesting documents including some photos of some of the STRATHERNS and, most precious, the obituary of my great grandmother Margaret Brown STRATHERN BAKER. While family tradition had it that she died on a train on her way back to Minnesota, the facts were a bit different. She left California after having been widowed when her husband Francis died. She spent several months staying with children in Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa, finally succumbing in Lauren, Iowa at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Grace Carpenter. No doubt there are more cousins there.
Click on an image to view a larger version.I regret that some of the below documents aren't very legible in the larger version. After you get to the larger image, move your mouse over the image and a colored square may appear in the lower right corner of the image. If you click on that square, the image will enlarge even further and become clearer. I'm not sure if this will work with all computers?
Updated 18 April 2008