Buried in Colorado

Week 4: #52 Ancestors – Close to Home

By Eilene Lyon

I’ve lived in Colorado for the past 35 years, but not because of any family connection to this state. When I really started digging into my family tree on Ancestry a decade ago, I discovered that some relatives also ended up here in the Centennial State.

The Nesmiths

One branch of the Springer tree did quite a bit of roaming around the country before finally settling on Colorado as a final home. Lydia Springer (b. 1872) was the younger sister of my great-great-grandmother, Olive Springer Gusso (b. 1870).1 Lydia married Frank Nesmith in Codington County, South Dakota, in 1896, and they had four children: Milton, Rollin, Blanche, and Claude Nesmith.2

Lydia Springer
Lydia Springer from a Springer family portrait in the 1880s.

Frank (full name: John Franklin) died in 1927.3 Two years earlier, Blanche married Robert Underwood, and then moved to Los Angeles so Robert could attend medical school. Lydia followed her daughter, along with her sons Milton and Claude.

Lydia’s grandson, Robert Lincoln Underwood came along in 1928. They all lived together – one big happy family – in L.A. at the 1930 census.4 At least for a time. Only Rollin, married and with a little boy, lived elsewhere. He was in Lincoln, Nebraska, working as a teacher.5 Eventually he became a Seventh Day Adventist preacher and moved around some more, as far east as Massachusetts.

Claude was the only one to remain in Los Angeles. Lydia and Milton returned to South Dakota for a time.5 Milton, who never married, followed Rollin and the Underwoods around a bit. But eventually Lydia, Milton, and the Underwoods settled in Delta, a western-slope town in Colorado. That’s about a 3-hour drive from Durango and I’ve been there a number of times. I’ve yet to visit the cemetery, though.

Lydia fell and broke her hip in 1949. She went to a care home for a short time before the injury became fatal.6 She was buried in Delta Cemetery. Robert Underwood was next to join her in 1958. Milton went in 1967. And finally, Blanche in 1995. Blanche died in Cortez, Colorado, however.7 Why?

That’s where her son, R. Lincoln Underwood, an optometrist, ended up. I’m not sure why he chose Cortez, which is just one county away from my home, but it might have been because his uncle, Rollin Nesmith, had settled there. Rollin is buried in Cortez Cemetery beside his wife, June. I visited their grave in 2012.

NesmithRollin

It’s a shame that my grandmother, Reatha Halse, didn’t realize her second cousin lived in southwest Colorado, or she probably would have told me. It turns out I could have met R. Lincoln Underwood, and even Blanche, his mother, before they died. Lincoln was buried in Cortez Cemetery, a scant hour away from where I live, in 2001.

The Gussos

2020-03-24_141232

There is another couple buried in Colorado that I know of. My 2nd great-uncle, Henry E. Gusso, and his wife, Grace Myers, are located in the Logan National Cemetery in Denver. I visited them there in 2012, also. Henry served as a doughboy in World War I, though I have yet to learn more about his service. He also happens to be Lydia Springer Nesmith’s nephew.

Unfortunately, I do not have any family photos of Henry, Grace and their two sons. I just have this image of him with an unidentified comrade in their army uniforms. Of course, you’ve seen him before with his brothers in The Musician.

SCAN1773
Henry E. Gusso and unknown comrade in WWI uniform. (Courtesy of S. Halse)

Feature image: Lydia and Milton Nesmith, probably taken in Los Angeles in the early 1930s (Courtesy of S. Halse)

Find-a-grave Memorials:

Lydia Springer Nesmith

Blanche and Robert Underwood

Milton Nesmith

Rollin and June Nesmith

Robert Lincoln Underwood

Henry and Grace Gusso


  1. “Mrs. Lydia Nesmith Dies at Delta Sunday” The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction), July 25, 1949, p. 5, newspapers.com. Olive Gusso obituary, Northern Union Outlook, June 24, 1941 p. 6, adventistdigitallibrary.org. 
  2. Year: 1900; Census Place: Dexter, Codington, South Dakota; Page: 11; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1241548. 
  3. Franklin J. Nesmith. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Death Index, 1879-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004. 
  4. Robert A. Underwood. Year: 1930; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0780; FHL microfilm: 2339901. 
  5. Lydia Nesmith. Year: 1940; Census Place: Dexter, Codington, South Dakota; Roll: m-t0627-03852; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 15-1. 
  6. See note 1. 
  7. Blanche B. Underwood. Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File – at Ancestry.com. 

9 thoughts on “Buried in Colorado

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  1. So close, but who knew? I wonder how many of us might have a similar story if we were to start studying our family trees. I’m glad, at least, you can now confirm that your ancestors are buried near to where you live. Great story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Ally. It was even more disappointing when I realized how much (dead) family I was close to when I lived in Ohio. My history there goes back to 1801. And lots in Pennsylvania, too. Now I have to travel so far to find them. Better meeting living ones, of course, as I’ve done in South Dakota, Idaho, and a few other places.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I was interested in the term “doughboy” so I had to look up its origins on Encyclopedia Britannica . . . “the word was said to have been derived from the doughlike appearance of a uniform soiled by moistened pipe clay.”

    The things I learn thanks to you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always found it fascinating to think about where ancestors have lived–and why and how they ended up in the places that they did. So many of those details of family history are very quickly lost to time, and we can only speculate from the records now available to us.

    Liked by 1 person

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