Darlene Foster's Blog

A Special Resting Place

Posted on: January 15, 2018

I am fascinated by graveyards, always have been. The older the better. I visit them wherever I go, including Canada, the US, England, Spain, Holland and ancient sites in the United Arab Emirates and Malta. I love to wander the site and think about the individuals buried there. I don’t find them spooky, but rather peaceful, often sad and full of stories. When I was visiting my granddaughter in southern Alberta last summer we went for a drive in the prairies and discovered a well-kept, old cemetery not too far from her place. There were only about a dozen gravestones but what we found was amazing. This was the final resting place of my great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, Juliana Wegner Frisch.



We found my great-great-grandmother buried here in the Eagle Butte Little Plume Cemetery




German translation – Mother Juliana Frisch, born Wegner, born Jan 27, 1852, died Sept 17, 1927, Age 75 years, 8 months and 21 days

I have written quite a lot on this blog about my mother’s side of the family but we don’t know as much about my father’s side (Frisch) except that they were also German people who immigrated to North America from south Russia. They arrived in the late 1800s and many settled initially in the United States. My brother and my dad’s cousin have done some research and from what they discovered, Johann Frisch and his wife Juliana Wegner were both born in south Russia in an area what was, at the time, called Bessarabia.  They emigrated from Hamburg, Germany on April 20, 1898, arriving in New York on May 6, 1898, on a ship named “S.S.Scotia.”  With them were all seven of their surviving children, including my great-grandparents, John Frisch and Sophie (Schlect), who had already met and married in Russia. Johann and Juliana homesteaded in southern Alberta and later moved into the town of Irvine to set up a livery stable business and later a mail delivery business.

After retiring to the city of Medicine Hat, they split up in 1917.  Julianna lived the remainder of her life with her daughters until she passed away in 1927. Johann moved to the US where he passed away in 1928 on a “poor farm” in Portland, Oregon where he is buried. I can´t help but wonder why they went their separate ways.


It was an awesome feeling to be there, at the place where my roots in Canada began. But even more amazing was the reaction of my seven-year-old great-granddaughter who was totally aware of the significance of the place. She was very serious and solemn and asked good questions. This woman was eight generations from her and resting only ten miles from where she lived!

DSCN0201 (2)

Standing beside the grave of her 5 times great-grandmother and feeling emotional

All the graves, although old, were in good repair. Apparently, other members of the family are buried there as well, some without gravestones.





Always sad to see a baby’s grave.

There was a church nearby and I assume the congregation must look after the graveyard.


And in amongst the dry grass, I found little flowers blooming and it made me think of how life is created and carries on no matter what. How a woman with seven children arrived in a new country, thrived and is responsible for so many descendants. I looked at my great-granddaughter and thought of how her legacy lives on.DSCN0193

The only picture of Juliana I could find was in the Frisch Family Tree book, painstakingly compiled by my dad’s cousin, Reuben Frisch. In the book, nine generations are documented and 1153 people listed (including spouses). In the front cover he wrote,  Thanks to these two people, Johann Frisch and Juliana Wegner who came to Canada, with their children, we get to live the good life.


Thank you, Juliana Frisch. May you rest in peace.

96 Responses to "A Special Resting Place"

A lovely tribute, Darlene. I, too, love graveyards and find them peaceful and sometimes sad. When I see a headstone for a married couple who died well into old age and they died in the same year, I think of them as ‘going together’. It makes me smile.

But, as you say, seeing the headstones of babies is sad, especially when you see several from a family spread over a few months. You know they died of a sickness, perhaps influenza, scarlet fever or one of the many others that plagued children.

Your ancestors graveyard is lovely, and I happy to see it is well kept. So many old ones are not.

It is a good question to ask regarding why Juliana and Johann did not stay together. Given their age and the era, one would think they would have.

Thanks for sharing. I love visiting graveyards, and the pictures make me feel as if it is summer–though we are months away from wearing shorts.

I am asking around to see if anyone can shed some light on why they parted at that age. Perhaps he wanted to move and she was fed up with relocating and wanted to stay close to her children. Perhaps we will never know. It was a hot August day in southern Alberta, the scene is quite different now with much snow and cold temperatures. It´s nice to know another who appreciates graveyards. Even as a child, my aunt and I would spend hours in the local cemetery while other children played baseball etc. I was so pleased to see this one so well looked after and I must find out who takes care of it, to thank them.

Good research, nice story, I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks, Andrew. I am trying to find out more about this side of my family.

That was really interesting. I share your fascination for cemeteries – I think it is the peace and all the stories behind every stone, as you say. I assume you knew your great-grandmother was there before you visited – it would be even more amazing if you just stumbled across her, so to speak!

So pleased you enjoyed reading about my history. My brother told me he thought our great-great-grandmother´s grave was nearby my granddaughter´s new place, although he had not seen it. So we decided to try and find it. The cemetery is tucked away in the middle of nowhere so we were delighted to find it and then to actually see the tombstone. I had not been there before or even knew it was there. My father had never mentioned it. An emotional discovery which has evoked many questions. So many stories!

Dear Darlene, something that you may not know that might help you: a lot of Swabians, southern German artisans from areas like Stuttgart, were hired to go to Russia to work, and eventually left for the states and Canada from there. Usually on a boat from Hamburg. Just a small additional fact. Love this post.

Thank you. So pleased you liked the post and appreciate the extra information. It seems my family, along with many German farmers, were invited by Catherine the Great to come to south Russia to farm the steppes. Once rumblings of a revolution began, they emigrated to Canada and the US to once again tame a rugged terrain and make it productive.

Wonderful post, Darlene. I, too, enjoy cemeteries. The old ones in New England are well preserved because they were carved from slate.

I´m sure New England would be a great place to explore cemeteries and imagine the stories behind each stone.

Interesting family history and what a sweet post! I am impressed with the cemetery and how well-kept it is. My sister has done research on ours and it is always fascinating to read. Thanks for sharing yours!

Thanks for visiting and for your comment. It is always good to know about your history, isn´t it?

Interesting place being so remote. Small church nearby but where’s the community or old buildings? I don’t specifically visit cemeteries but love visiting medieval churches, so much history around the communities, but always added to by wandering around the associated cemetery.

Welcome to the Canadian prairies where there is nothing for miles and miles. Imagine how lonely it must have been for the early settlers. The nearest village would have been a day´s ride away. I also love the cemeteries attached to medieval churches. Love the one at Whitby Abbey especially.

We are surrounded by them, all in a 10 miles radius! But, our Tour of England will take us to Whitby soon

That was wonderful to read of your find in the cemetery. John has always been interested in history, so we go to graveyards from time to time. Like you, we read the names and wonder at the quiet history there.

Glad you enjoyed it. It was a pleasant surprise!!

Enjoyed this post, as I also have a fascination with graveyards. I thought I was the only one!

Now I see I am not alone in my draw to graveyards. There are some great ones in England. I loved the one in Newport on the Isle of Wight and included it in my Amanda in England book. (of course, my character loves visiting them.)

In Bonchurch (Isle of Wight) is the poet Swinburne’s grave. I spent a happy hour searching for it a few years back.

Wow beautiful, Darlene! It is so special to know your roots and the fact that your great-granddaugter was there too and appreciated its significance means that the legacy will carry on. It is a shame that Johann and Julianna parted their ways. Who knows what might have caused it? Such brave people!

Yes, they were very brave to leave the comfort of what they knew to come to a new undeveloped world. This was an exceptional find and to think it is very near where my granddaughter has her boarding kennel. It is like life has come full circle. xx

Love this post, Darlene. I always find graveyards fascinating too. Have you been to the one in Highgate, North London?

I haven’t been to that one but I’ve heard of it. Perhaps it is those of us with vivid imaginations that enjoy graveyards.xo

What a great post Darlene. I think it is so great that this little cemetery is so well maintained and what a great tribute to your ancestors and what they went through to establish a life half way around the world if you will. Kind of sad they went their separate ways at that stage of life. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, Kirt. It was a great find and I am trying to discover more about them. I feel there is more to the story. I may have to fil in the blanks myself.

This is fascinating, Darlene – and I also share your interest in cemeteries. Through Ancestry.com, my son and I traced our roots back to the early 1500s on my mother’s side. So interesting.

I see there are a number of us who belong to the “l ❤ Cemeteries Club." I have heard good things about Ancestry.com. How great to be able to trace back so far.

The graveyards in your post are well-kept and evocative. I especially like the photo of your great grand-daughter, who apparently has become a history buff. Like you, my youngest sister is fascinated by graveyards. As children, we visited the pre-Revolutionary cemetery in Grandma Longenecker’s woods, which I refer to as a minor “character” in my memoir draft.

Generally, I don’t care for graveyards although I have gleaned some valuable information (birth-death dates) as I tell the story of my family’s history. I agree: Thanks to the sacrifices of our forebears, we get “to live the good life.”

Graveyards do provide valuable history and a feeling that, yes, these people really did exist once. A pre-Revolutionary gravesite would be awesome and I look forward to reading about it in your book. Visiting this site with my granddaughter and great-granddaughter made it extra special.

How wonderful to spend time here and be able to look both back and forward with your family!

It was wonderful to look back and forward. Some of these stories will be lost on future generations if we don’t honour them.

Life is funny like that sometimes. On Saturday, we arrived at Fontvieille in Provence and when I walked down to the village from our parking spot, I saw a sign saying it was twinned with Beas de Segura (Jaén), where my father’s family come from and most of thre Rosales still live there! How is that for a coincidence!!!

That is so cool. Life is funny like that and I believe if you are meant to find these things, you will! Have a great day.

That’s a wonderful story and a touching post. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a graveyard with so few graves, but it looks beautifully serene and tranquil. It’s lovely that your great-granddaughter is taking such an interest in her forebears.

I know, the few headstones look lonely out there. I believe there are more folks buried there but the gravestones have not survived the ages. I was amazed at my great-grandaughters interest and care.

What a wonderful happenstance to find your ancestor’s grave and even more wonderful to share the experience with your granddaughter. You do wonder, after all the hardships they experienced together, what caused them to go their separate ways.

Maybe that was it, the hardships may have taken their toll. I suppose we will never know. It was a wonderful experience for all of us.

What a beautiful resting place. Its amazing to think how your life was impacted by a move to Canada so long ago.

It is beautiful in its own way. Not the lush, green, floral beauty of graveyards in other parts of the world. I was so pleased to see the small cemetery, in the middle of nowhere, was so well looked after. What has happened in the past has a direct impact on our current lives.

Wow! What a story! You found her. Amazing to discover one’s roots. It is nice that you could visit her resting place. I’ve tried to find out more about both sides of our family. It’s a lot of work. I went from graveyard to graveyard. My uncle is visiting me next summer and we will do some exploration then.

I do hope you are able to find out more about your family. I just wish I had asked more questions when people who would have known were still alive. Like why did my dad never take me to this site, or did he even know about it?

I too regret history from my Dad. He had written some down. Then had a stroke. Now i carry a notepad to glean what i can when i can.

Darlene, I felt quite transported whilst reading this, it would make a good basis for a book. How wonderful that you found the place Joanna Frisch was buried and the history of where they came from. They obviously – from the language and names were German – but interesting that they lived in Russia. The picture of your great granddaughter is so touching,
How often does this happen?
I loved the flower ( called Vitsippa in Swedish ) , my favourite spring flower.

Thank you, Miriam. All sides of my family are German people from South Russia. They settled this part of the Canadian prairies 100 or so years ago. They had emigrated to Russia from Germany to farm the steppes, when they realized a revolution was imminent, they emigrated to Canda and the US.Thank you for the name of the little flower. Here is a bit more about my Germans from Russia family on my mother’s side you may enjoy. https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/the-sunday-living-history-interview-a-tale-of-two-katharinas-a-legacy-of-strong-women-by-darlene-foster/

What a touching moment. Funny how simple coincidences lead to things like this! 🙂

So true. It was a touching moment for all of us.

Wow, that’s incredible, Darlene. Thank you for sharing a part of your family history!

Thanks, Debra.It´s so great learning more about my family and sharing it.

Darlene, this is such an extraordinary family story and wow, what a huge extended family from Julianna and Johann. I always think of the courage and determination to emigrate to the absolute unknown. It’s wonderful how she is remembered not only by you but also now your great-granddaughter! (Btw I can’t brlive you have an 8-Year-old granddaughter- you look so young!) Graveyards are always fascinating and I like to wander around and imagine the stories behind the names…the location of this one is wonderfully isolated and atmospheric.

Thanks so much Annika (and for the compliment!). It is a peaceful place for her to be buried.

How lovely. I always loved graveyards, so peaceful and I love all the different styles and sizes of graves. Nice post!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m pleased you liked the post. I like to think the variety of graves honours the uniqueness of the individuals buried in a graveyard. xo

My grandparents also emigrated from S.Russia (Crimea region) to Oregon and then to Alberta (Camrose) to homestead, around 1898. They were Baptists. Catherine The Great (who was German) wanted Germans to populate that part of Russia (which she’d taken over) and promised the pacifist German Baptists no military conscription. When later Czars went back on this promise, many of them emigrated (which is why Baptists are the largest US protestant denomination). My father said they were not treated well by Canadians during both wars because the family continued to speak German in the home, and eventually emigrated back to the USA. I however, born dual national, emigrated back to Canada during the Vietnam War when I was being conscripted. The rest of my family is in The United States. Your post is particularly fascinating and I thank you!

Thanks. Your grandparent’s story is very similar to mine, although the family stayed in Alberta. One side was Baptist, the other Luthern. My mother also said they were not always treated well during the war as they were German, even though my great uncles served in the Canadian army during WWII as interpreters. Immigrants have never been treated well, even though they are who built both nations.

Such heart. Such history. Your granddaughter sounds like my daughter… an old wise soul. Your history speaks volumes. Your granddaughter i imagine will be visiting often.

Thanks for visiting. Yes, I am sure she will stop by from time to time and bring her daughter as well.

So very interesting, Darlene. So amazing that you could find a picture and so much information about your family.

I was pleased to have found the picture, even though it is not clear. Our family was great at taking pictures and documenting things. I love this sort of thing and am pleased that the younger generations like it too.

Its funny. I always find cemeteries so interesting as well. 👌

There seems to be a number of us who enjoy visiting cemeteries.

I love visiting cemeteries as well and when I was in college I often went to the local cemetery to study. Weird maybe, but no one bothered me. 🙂 It is actually the cemetery where my grandparents and my father are buried as well as Chris’s parents which is a pretty weird coincidence. I loved this post, Darlene.

I´m not surprised as we are kindred spirits! A perfect place to study. Nice that your close family members are all in the same place.

This is fascinating and such a different idea for a post. I often wonder why we all don’t put more information on our gravestones that we were passionate about when we were alive.

Glad you found it interesting. I agree, each gravestone should be a little story.

Someone has to start the trend. 🙂

Perhaps this would be a good writing prompt.

Fascinating history Darlene. I’m envious at how much you learned about your family’s roots and history. I can’t say I’d want to go to a graveyard at night, but like you, when I visit lost loved ones I too feel a sense of peace. 🙂

I am fortunate that there is information on my family available. I should mention that I visit graveyards in daylight!

Lol, glad to hear! 🙂

Very interesting to have located graves of your family from so long ago. When we lived in New Hampshire, we used to take visitors down to Boston and one stop was the cemetery where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere as well as Mother Goose’s graves could be found.

Boston would have some great old graves to explore. Finding this was an amazing experience for me. I just couldn’t believe I hadn’t found it sooner but then I haven’t lived in the area for quite some time.

What a wonderful discovery, Darlene… and so good for your great-granddaughter to be there with you, part of this lone of women.

It was incredible. What impressed me was the fact that my great-granddaughter understood the significance of this place.

I think children often understand more than we expect…given half a chance.

WOW – thanks Darlene for sharing some history and heritage with us at Senior Salon

My pleasure. Hope everyone enjoys it. xo

Very interesting Darlene. Though I am not fond of visiting a cemetery unless when I visit my relatives buried there, I am interested in the history behind the grave. I am glad you know about your great great grandmothers’ history.

Graveyards are so full of history. It was so great that I found my ancestor and learned some of her history. Thanks for commenting, Thelma.

I added Juliana Wegner to my family tree recently (1st cousin, 3x removed). Her father’s occupation in Kloestitz Bessarabia was listed on blackseagr.org document as “tailor”.

Thank you, Diane. So pleased you found my blog. It appears we are related, although distantly. Do you live in the Medicine Hat area?

I forgot to use my name. I’m Diane Sweeney. My great grandmother was Elizabeth Wegner Schramm.

I retired and moved back to Oklahoma 3 years ago. Both my maternal grandparents were both born in the same town of Beresina in Bessarabia. My grandmother immigrated as a child with her parents Daniel and Elizabeth Wegner Schramm and brother to North Dakota. My grandfather immigrated by himself to North Dakota when he was 18 years old. They married in North Dakota but moved to western Oklahoma around 1900.

That is so cool. Many of the relatives on my dad’s side are still in the US. So pleased to meet you, Diane.

I forgot to use my name. I’m Diane Sweeney. My great grandmother was Elizabeth Wegner Schramm.

What a wonderful, heartfelt account of generations of a family. I too like to walk in cemeteries and read the headstones. Our ancestors were hardworking people with a vision of a better life for their families. What a lovely blog entry. Thank you.

Thanks, I thought you would enjoy it. I was so pleased to find her grave as I don’t know as much about my dad’s side of the family.

My pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed the posts. One of my sisters has carried on genealogy work with our mother’s side of the family, the Irish side. She also told me of people who volunteer their time to go to grave sites and take photos of them should people be unable to travel all over. I find that noble and helpful work to those searching for loved ones. From my father I learned that there is a huge site in Salt Lake City, Utah (by the Mormons) which stores family histories on their computers. Probably our story is there now too. There are all sorts of sites you can join to search for lost family members too. Good luck with your father’s side. I was transported to another place and time via your blog. Thank you so much. “”__””

My brother has done much research and has used the Mormon site as well. I also found some interesting info on the ship that brought my grandfather, age 5, and his parents over to North America on the Statue of Liberty website. Seeing their names on the manifest was fascinating. It does take you back.

How thrilled you must have been upon seeing their names on the manifest! That’s when history comes alive. Great that your brother has done a great deal of research. Future generations will be blessed. “”__””

Oh, this is wonderful, Darlene. Imagine finding the graves, and how special for your great-granddaughter. I agree that there’s a beautiful energy with many cemeteries, and excellent to walk through, reflect, be reminded of who and what came before us.

It was a special thing to experience, especially as I was with my granddaughter and her daughter. I agree, there is something peaceful amongst the gravestones.

This was a lovely read! Thanks for presenting your thoughts and observations about this tiny place on the prairie. My uncle is buried there and he died in 1935 aged 18 – Reinhart Wonnenberg (spelled incorrectly as Wonnenburg on the monument). We all new the story of how my uncle died when he dove off a raft at a swimming hole and hit his head on a rock causing him to drown. He was with his best friend at the time.
Thanks again for shining a light on my own history as well as yours.
Best regards,
Janet Wonnenberg

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, Janet. Such a sad story of your uncle. My brother died at age 19 in 1975, an industrial accident. The little graveyard was such a wonderful find. Some special folks buried there. I will look for your uncle the next time I visit. Do you live near there?

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