Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Frank and Bert Martin

This photograph is of my gr. gr. gr. grandfather Francis "Frank" Marion Martin who was born in 1844 and my gr. gr. grandfather William Albert "Bert" Martin who was born in 1876. I never knew either one and neither did my mother. Bert left his wife Nellie (see hair post below) when their daughter was very young so although Grandma knew him she didn't have a lot of memories. Both men tended to move around a lot and remarried a few times. 

All genealogists develop a thing for dead people and cemeteries. After all, most of the people we research are, well, dead. I knew Frank was buried in Portland and over the years I asked many people to see if they could get a photo of his stone. Nobody ever did. Then, oddly, my daughter moved to Washington and we were passing back through Portland and made a little detour to visit the cemetery. And surprise... he doesn't have a stone. The cemetery had very good records and we found where he is buried but no stone. Sad.

Bert was another matter. We knew he was buried in the Los Angeles area. So when Jessica was still young we went to visit Disneyland and Doug took us to the cemetery. The office gave us a map of the plot and we walked and walked and couldn't find him. I was feeling bad for having my family take part of our vacation to roam around a cemetery (it wasn't the only time) but we kept saying, "we'll just look a little longer."

Doug was walking along and saw a big clod of dirt on a stone and thought it looked tacky and went to kick it off. It bounced a couple of stones over and landed on Bert's stone. It all felt kind of spooky. I took pictures and we were on our way.

A few weeks later I was chatting on the phone and fiddling with the photos and noticed what looked like strange writing above the stone. I broke out all in goosebumps as the writing looked like "Sarah" or "John" and "Martin." Since then many people have seen the writing and given me their opinions on the writing. Everybody seems to see the "Martin" but the first part is debated.

I just don't know what to think of these things. During my thirty plus years of doing family history lots of strange things have happened. This is just a case when there is something physical to go along with the story.

Do you have serendipitous stories about your family? I'd love to hear them.

Oh, and one more thing...Grandma always thought she had a brother through a later marriage of her father, Bert. Could his name be John?