Christian Oliver Dann left the area in 1937 and hasn’t been heard from since. For the last 77 years, his sister has been wondering what happened to him. And now, her granddaughters are hoping social media can help.
They’ve started a Facebook page to get the word out, and hopefully find some long-overdue answers.
Ninety-six-year-old Barbara Cook has only had a scrapbook, some black and white photographs and hope to go on all of these years.
Christian Oliver Dann, Jr. was 21 years old and anxious to explore life outside of West Michigan. He was born on January 27, 1916 in Cedar Springs. His last letter came from Arizona– but that was 77 years ago.
“He traveled all over. He used to ride the rails when we were kids to see the country. One day I had a letter and said if i don’t freeze traveling over the hump I’ll see you in a couple weeks. Never heard from him since,” said Cook.
She thought she saw him once, decades later. Cook was at a theme park in Florida in the early 1970s when she caught a glimpse of a man who looked just like her brother.
She said, “My sister and brother-in-law and I were in Cypress Gardens. Somebody told us they had seen him and he had a red headed wife. And there was a little red-haired woman with him. But every time I tried to get over to him somebody would come in between us. I knew if i could see his leg I would know it was him cause he had surgery from his knee to his ankle. But I never could contact him.”
Barbara never saw or heard from him again, but she never forgot about her brother. “She’s always talking about her brother that was missing. She would always love to find him,” said granddaughter Sheri Kemp.
Family tree searches and online genealogy sites only led to dead ends.
“It breaks my heart for my grandma. She’s such a wonderful lady and I want to help her to be able to do something to find him,” said Kemp.
So Kemp created a Facebook page to ask for information, hoping for something, anything about Christian, who would now be 98 years old.
“The best case is he’s still alive and we can reunite them. But if not, just know what happened so my grandma can get some closure after so many years. And if he has family, we can reunite with some family,” said Kemp.