Part 3 of tour through historic cemetery

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Historic marker: Mr. J. O. Johnson and his wife, Erica, were both Swedes who lived and worked in Thorsby.

By Tracia Bussey

With this article, we will continue our stroll through Thorsby’s Scandinavian Cemetery, located just outside of town on County Road 37. Here lie the remains of many of the Scandinavian settlers who traveled to an unknown area and carved out a town named Thorsby.

J. Oscar Johnson, who would be remembered by some of the older folk as J.O. Johnson, and his wife Erica were both born in Sweden. He had worked in several foundries before coming to Thorsby and at one time had been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He started a brass band in each location he lived, and Thorsby would be no different. His band played for numerous occasions and was the only brass band in this part of Alabama during that time.

Anna Martha Grothy was born in Norway. She came to Thorsby with her husband, Halvor Halvorsen Grothy, from Red Wing, Minn. She was a midwife and assisted in the births of many children born in Thorsby. Her two daughters, Anna and Nellie Werness, children by her first husband, are believed to be buried in the lot marked Grothy-Werness.

Einar Anderson, of which not much is known, lies beneath a monument with an engraving of a soldier on the back. He died while in the army, not from combat but from an illness. Einar was a graduate of Thorsby Institute.

Nestor Oberg was born in Sweden. The only information known about Mr. Oberg was found in an article written by Mrs. Grover Bice that accompanied a photograph of him in a group of picnickers in 1912. The article tells that a storm passed through Thorsby, after this photograph was taken, which unroofed Mr. Oberg’s home, picked him up in the chair where he was sitting and set him down several feet from his house. Mr. Oberg lived alone, and as far as we know, he never married.

The small square marker that was on his grave had nearly faded away, so the Thorsby Historical Preservation Committee bought a new marker for his grave this year. Distant relatives of Mr. Oberg have recently contacted Jane Sutlive in search of more information concerning his life. They were very happy to find whatever small amount of facts that was known about him.

–Tracia Bussey is a community columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at