On Saturday, I hop on a plane again to visit my mom, Doris, and sister, Becky, who live in Oxford, Alabama. This time, I am planning a drive out to Marietta National Cemetery near Atlanta, where I hope to find the grave of Thor Paulsen Sloan (Slaaen), an uncle of my great grandmother, Anna Marie Sloan Berge. Thor P. Sloan died as a Union soldier in June 1864 at the town of Big Shanty (now called Kennesaw) Georgia.
I was not aware that any part of my mother's family had arrived in America early enough to participate in the Civil War, until I found a website detailing Thor's experience as a Union soldier. The Sloans arrived in Wisconsin in the 1850s and settled in Dane County, along with many other Norwegians. Thor, a bachelor farmer in his prime, accepted a call for volunteers in December 1861. He became part of Company E (Odin's Rifles) in the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, also known as the "Scandinavian Regiment." After an amazing two and a half years of surviving the war, Sargent Sloan was mortally wounded while making coffee at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. A copy of his photograph is owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
I had quite a surprise in September 2004 when I visited Dale Finch of Brainerd, Minessota. Dale is a grandson of Anna Marie Sloan Berge. In his possession was a photo of Thor P. Sloan in civilian clothes. The handwriting on the mat of that family-owned photo matches the handwriting on the mat of the unretouched Civil War portrait of Thor that is now owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society. This is proof that Thor was a member of my great grandmother's family.