Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Jens Tinus Christensen

This week, I'm featuring two entries for Tombstone Tuesday. The quest to locate the tombstone shown here began with a mysterious photograph in an album that belonged to my grandmother in the early 1920s. There were a few photographs taken in a cemetery and I had no idea where the cemeteries were located, or if the tombstones had any connection to our family.

This photograph caught my eye, as you might imagine, because of the airplane propeller perched atop the stone. I couldn't even read the inscription on the stone in the photograph with the naked eye. I scanned the photo at 600 dpi so I could view it on my computer. I was then able to ascertain that it was a monument for someone named Tinus Christensen.

My first stop was FindAGrave.com. Fortunately, there was a memorial for this person. The memorial on that site states that Tinus Christensen was an air mail pilot who was killed in 1921. I needed to learn more and turned to Google. From that search, I discovered the Blair Historic Preservation Alliance web site which tells the story of how this brave pilot sacrificed his own life rather than risk the lives of others in an emergency landing in a street in Cleveland. Reports state that thousands of people attended his funeral in Blair, Nebraska.

Another recent photograph of his grave site my be viewed here. The propeller atop the stone in this more recent photograph is not the same one as in the photograph in my grandmother's album.

I know that members of the Petersen family lived in Blair. I am speculating that my grandparents went to visit sometime after the funeral once the monument was set and they took the photographs at that time. The pilot's mother's maiden name was Pedersen, but I'm not aware of any relation to my family.

Still, I think it turned out to be an interesting discovery, one based only on a photograph in an album. Hey, does that make me a History Detective!?! Not quite, but it was fun to look into this.

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