2019 September 13: Lesley and Margaret Clarkson from England
"There, on a hill overlooking the most beautiful landscape of open prairie ground was the cemetery we needed. We were shown the grave site of the Clarkson family. To say that mum and I had tears in our eyes was an understatement. My dream had been realized. I was standing in front of my ancestor’s grave. I touched the head stone and stroked it. I spoke to them that I had found them, and they would never be forgotten from now on." Lesley (Clarkson) Wynter
Friday, September 13, 2019: Lesley (Clarkson) Wynter and Margaret Clarkson, visitors from York, Yorkshire, England visited the museum seeking information on the Clarkson family members that died on June 30, 1903 explosion of Union Pacific Coal Company's No. 1 in Hanna.
The museum staff members were able to provide the visitors with information about their family and took them to the Carbon cemetery to visit the grave site. The visitors were able to place handmade family decorations, hand carried from England, on the grave.
Our Trip to Hanna, Wyoming
by Lesley (Clarkson) Wynter
I’ve been researching my family tree since I was 10 years old. It started with a school lesson and the research leading me to finding family connections in Hanna, Wyoming.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year, so we put into action my dream trip of going to Hanna and finding my Clarkson ancestors. She wanted to make sure I realized that dream. We decided to make it my birthday gift also.
We departed the UK on the 9th September, very early, like 02.00 hrs., and travelled to Manchester airport. We hopped on a plane, both of us very excited. We had to change flights in Newark, to Denver and then another flight to Casper. We landed very late and had to find a hotel. We found the Hotel 9 in Casper, booked in and flopped into bed. The next day was my birthday, the 10th, because we were so tired, we didn't go far for the next few days, even though we had planned to go to ‘The Battle of the Big Horn,' but we were warned not to go as the weather was changing for the worst. We didn't go, that is saved for another time now.
On Friday the 13th, yep I know that I am not superstitious, Mum and I enjoyed the drive to Hanna and what a drive. The views were second to none, breathtaking and it would change every time you blinked. The pictures I took just don't do it justice. You have to see it to understand how someone can fall in love with the beauty of Wyoming.
Anyway, we found Hanna. We knew it would be an isolated kind of run down town in the middle of nowhere, but it still had its own beauty.
We found the cemetery in Hanna, a good drive down a twisty dirt track. We searched every inch twice over, we found no grave site belonging to my Clarkson ancestors. We went to the museum, as I had found out by chance on the net that there was one.
At the museum we were asked what name we were looking for. The minute we said Clarkson, the staff knew who we were referring to. Mum and I were introduced to Bob, the person who had the most fantastic idea to open the wonderful museum website. We were asked how we were connected to the Clarkson family, and I had already made a rough tree to explain. With that, Bob and his team told us about the day of the mine explosion and what happened to our family. He even showed us pictures of them. I was so overwhelmed, I found it hard to speak, but inside I was jumping for joy. The pictures answered questions for me, and I answered questions for the team.
We were shown the little house next door, to see how people lived back then. Not much comfort really. We were shown the actual mine entrance and what it looked like now. We were taken in Sunshine’s Jeep to a monument not far from the site itself. From there Sunshine and Bob drove Mum and I to the cemetery where our family was buried, in Carbon, which is why we couldn’t find them in the Hanna cemetery earlier.
Carbon is roughly 10 miles from Hanna, down a very twisty dirt road, which goes past other mines that were in use at the same time as the Hanna No. 1 mine.
There, on a hill overlooking the most beautiful landscape of open prairie ground was the cemetery we needed. We were shown the grave site of the Clarkson family. To say that mum and I had tears in our eyes was an understatement. My dream had been realized. I was standing in front of my ancestor’s grave. I touched the head stone and stroked it. I spoke to them that I had found them, and they would never be forgotten from now on.
Mum and I left tokens to say we love you, a knitted heart from me and a poppy tag from Mum which she carried on her handbag. Photos were taken by Sunshine of us putting these tokens on the bush beside the head stone.
Both Sunshine and Bob then gave us a history lesson on Big Nose George and his gang. I found it very interesting as I love history. We said goodbye to the grave site and left a promise that we or I would return again.
Back at the museum we thanked Sunshine and Bob for their exceptional customer service and information. Mum and I drove back to Casper in awe of what we had seen and learnt.
Taking in the beauty of the surrounding area, I for one will never forget my trip to Hanna and the best hosts a museum has.
Thank you to all the staff of Hanna Basin Museum, Wyoming.
Lesley and Margaret CLARKSON.