131. LaVaun Rosalie Johnson
Information on LaVaun Johnson's family received from Earl H. Lillestrand,14 SEPT 2000.
142. Robert Lloyd Lillestrand
In notes received from Earl H. Lillestrand 13 NOV 2000: Robert graduatedwith a masters degree from the U. of MN; he majored in physics andminored in math. He served in the Navy, and then worked for GeneralMills and Control Data.
In additional notes received 5 JAN 2001: Robert held about 20 US andforeign patents. He participated in two scientific North PoleExpeditions. He was a member of the Explorer's Club, Arctic Institute ofNorth America, board member of the Morwegian American HistoricalAssociation, and the Society for thhe History of Discoveries. At thetime of his death, he had recently retired from Control Data as ChiefScientist of Government Systems. (Earl H. Lillestrand gives DOD as 7 MAR1990).
SSDI Ancestry.com 4 JAN 2001:
DOD: 15 MAR 1990.
NOTE: DOD corrected by daughter, Susan Lillestrand Richter (see noteunder her name)
LILLESTRAND, ROBERT LLOYD
Date of Death: 03/07/1990
County of Death: HENNEPIN
One of the many projects on which Robert worked was the one conducted byNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC trying to figure out where Columbus made his firstlandfall. Here is an article from the Washington Post which discussesthat project and Robert's role in it:
"Where Did Columbus Really Land?"
'5-Year National Geographic Study Settles on a Different Bahamian Isle'
by Boyce Rensberger (October 9, 1986)
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071
National Geographic magazine, joining a controversy that hastantalized historians, geographers and countless amateur investigatorsfor centuries, said yesterday that most history books are wrong when theysay Christopher Columbus' first landing in the New World was on theBahamian island of Watling or, as it hasbeen called since 1926 SanSalvador.
Columbus really landed 65 miles to the southeast, on anotherBahamian island, a narrow, 9-mile long patch of uninhabited land calledSamana Cay, the magazine said after a five-year study that included a newtranslation of Columbus' log and a computer simulation of the Italianexplorer's voyage.
Because Columbus' log does not give the exact location of the islandhe named San Salvador, scholars have debated exactly where he first wentashore, was greeted by people he named "Indians," claimed the land forthe Spanish crown and opened a new age of world history.
At least nine Bahamian islands have been advanced as the true SanSalvador by such disparate figures as Washington Irving, Alexander vonHumboldt and Edwin Link. Early in this century, opinion converged soconfidently on Watling Island that in 1926 it was renamed San Salvador.In 1942 any remaining debate withered when the influential Harvardhistorian Samuel Eliot Morison pronounced unequivocally that Watling wasthe true San Salvador.
About five years ago, however, scholars began to challenge Morison'sclaims and it became academically respectable to reopen the debate. Allagreed that the explorer's first landfall was in
the Bahamas, but advocates have arisen for islands as much as 450 milesapart in the archipelago.
Drawn to the fray, Joseph Judge, senior associate editor of NationalGeographic magazine, launched his own study, commissioning a variety ofspecialists to make a new translation of Columbus' log, sail the routeelectronically through a computer programmed with relevant clues, and digon the now uninhabited Samana Cay to establish that Indians lived therein Columbus' time.
"We believe we have solved, after five centuries, one of thegrandest of all geographic mysteries," Judge said at a news conferenceyesterday. "We think we have demonstrated conclusively that this matteris finally settled."
The Geographic's case, detailed in the magazine's November issue, has already converted some scholars.
"They're right beyond any reasonable doubt," said Robert Fuson, aUniversity of Florida geographer who had championed Grand Turk, one ofthe southernmost Bahamas. "I wish it had been my island but . . . I nowcan see the folly of my ways. This is really a vindication of GustavusFox."
Fox, who had been Abraham Lincoln's assistant secretary of the Navy,used methods somewhat similar to Judge's and argued for Samana Cay in1882.
The starting point for the Geographic's study, as for most others,is a transcript of Columbus' log. The original disappeared centuries agobut there survives an "abstract" made by a contemporary, Bartolome de lasCasas. It contains what is probably a verbatim copy of Columbus' accountof the landfall and his travels among nearby islands.
Judge commissioned Eugene Lyon, a specialist in old Spanishdocuments, to make a new, literal translation of de las Casas'transcript. He also asked Luis Marden, a retired Geographic staffer andtrans-Atlantic sailor, and his wife, Ethel Marden, a mathematician, toplot Columbus' voyage from the Canary Islands day by day according to thelog. The log gives each day's compass headings and Columbus' estimate ofhow far he traveled.
The Mardens also made corrections for currents that would havepushed the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria southward and additionalcorrections for leeway, the sideways skid of a ship when the wind comesfrom one side.
Judge said these corrections were significant. Morison made no suchcorrections, so his westward track took him to Watling. The correctionsin the Marden-Judge track, though small in any one day, would haveaccumulated over the voyage's 33 days, putting Columbus 65 miles to thesouth, at Samana.
Judge also asked experts at Control Data Corp. to write a computerprogram that would "sail" electronically. Control Data vice president
headed this effort, producing a program that made all the corrections andincluding a digitized map of the Caribbean islands. The computersearched for the first land that would have been visible from a crow'snest 60 feet above the water. The computer made landfall at Samana Cay.
More convincing to some specialists, however, was anothercomputerized sailing exercise. The de las Casas transcript gives generalinformation on the directions and distances Columbus traveled from sanSalvador to four other islands before going on to Cuba. Judge said oneday's log is so specific that a location can be pinned downunequivocally. By running the course backward from that point, thecomputer showed that Columbus could have started only from Samana. Judgesaid the log's descriptions of the islands fit well with what he saw whenhe visited them.
"All roads led to Samana," Judge said, "but Samana had always beenconsidered uninhabited and uninhabitable. We had to find out whetherthere was any evidence people had lived there in
On their first visit to Samana, Judge and his colleagues foundpieces of Indian pottery. Charles and Nancy Hoffman, archeologists whodevoted their careers to digging on Watling to learn about the Indianswho greeted Columbus, were asked to try Samana. They soon found largeamounts of pottery, a hearth and other evidence of nine small settlements.
Not everyone is convinced by the Geographic's claim. Robert Power,a California restaurateur and amateur historian, said he still believesthat the case for Grand Turk is stronger. Arne Molander, a Gaithersburgengineer. said he will still argue for Egg Island, some 240 miles to thenorthwest.
All, however, agree that Morison's case for Watling is finished.Morison "deliberately, I'd say fraudulently, mistranslated the log,changing words around to suit his own preconceived notion," Fuson said.
Judge does not think his Samana case will convince everyone: "I'dsay we're 98 percent sure, but history grows. This will go on forever.It should go on forever."
MARION NORRIS 21 Apr 1921 Apr 1967 IL (Before 195) 340-16-8712