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By Dale Anderson
Sports columnist 

Finding roots


Last updated 8/24/2022 at 1:04pm

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had read some history about my mom’s family. It is interesting to envision how life was over 100 years ago. Life was certainly not easy especially travel and the comfort of riding in a vehicle with A/C in the summer and heat in the winter was non-existent. I would have to say that those relatives that went before us were certainly a lot tougher than we have become.

When I read the family history, I saw that my great grandparents and great uncle were buried in Odessa. When I mentioned that to my wife, she said we need to see if we can find their graves. So, a few days ago we decided to go to Odessa and see what we could find.

A couple miles outside of Odessa is the Bohemian Cemetery. Since my mom’s family came to the America from Bohemia I thought that we should start our search here. The cemetery is pretty well maintained for a rural cemetery but none of my kin folk ended up there. So, it was off to the Odessa cemetery west of Odessa on Highway 28. We each took a section looking for a headstone that said Vostral.

I have relatives from Odessa and know a bunch of people that are from there so walking through the cemetery I recognized these names and would probably know a relative with the same last name. There were also several names of people I knew.

I saw the final resting place of my good friend’s father; an old girlfriend’s father’s grave; the guy I replaced as football coach in Lind in 1990 is buried there. The Hall of fame football coach can also be found in this cemetery. If I would have taken more time, I’m sure I could have found more people that I had met through the years. But it is summer and I am on a mission.

It probably took a half an hour or so, but I finally came across the grave of my grandfather’s brother and his wife or my mom’s uncle and aunt. Nearby I also found the final resting place for my mom’s favorite cousin and her husband. I remember attending her funeral with my mom in the 1990s. But we didn’t find a grave for my mom’s grandfather and grandmother.

By this time my wife came over from her section and I told her that we found Uncle James but my great grandparents were not here. I know we cuss our cellphones but my wife started doing some research for other cemeteries and the names of my ancestors. It didn’t take her long to find the cemetery about a mile and a half away from the Odessa Cemetery called the St. Joseph Cemetery. It conveniently also had a map location.

We got back in the car and took the short drive and as we pulled off Highway 28 and headed south at the top of the hill were two trees. That had to be where the cemetery is on a gravel road in rural Lincoln County, and it was

There is a nice gate at the cemetery entrance, but the weeds and some small sage brush is also part of the scenery. I found a couple of graves that would have been my mom’s cousins that had died. One about 4 days after birth and the other one died less than two months after entering this world. The two infants died in 1901 and 1902.

After we took pictures of those graves I looked around for more graves and about 20 yards away was the large headstone for my great grandparents Vaclav and Katherine Vostral. Vaclav was born in Bohemia in 1840 and died at the age of 79 in 1919. Katherine was also born in Bohemia in 1844 and died at the age of 90 in 1935.

I contacted one of my cousins from Odessa and she had no idea that this cemetery existed. Credit my wife for knowing how to look up where cemeteries are located and where people are buried. It certainly made me think of those that went before us and how they lived their lives so that another generation could prosper.

I really know very little about my great grandparents but searching for where their final resting place was a real adventure and worth every minute on a hot afternoon.

Dale Anderson is a Ritzville-based sports columnist. Email him at [email protected].


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