Tattered Past

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Cemeteries

Cemeteries are often the last physical link to your ancestors. Headstones are indicative of the times.
Family groupings show up and there may even be children unknown to the later generations. They may also be the only proof of somebody's birth and death dates (always be aware they may be incorrect.)

This is the grave of my great, great, great grandmother in the family plot in Kansas
 where two other generations can be found. 

At the time I took this picture I did not know her name so "Grandma Thompson" wasn't much help. The dates should have been helpful but they are wrong. After a great deal of research in 1900 I finally found Jane (Malone) Thompson died three years after the stone says. 

"The Meade County News" Meade, Meade Co., Kansas. Thursday. Oct. 8, 1903.
Two aged soldiers of the Cross have fought the good fight of faith and gone home to rest.
     Grandma Thompson, sister Keith's mother, passed away Friday p.m., Oct. 2. This Sainted mother in Israel was born ninety eight years ago in Tenn., having lived in many states. She came with her children to Meade Co. Kansas several years ago, living with her children until the day of her death.
     Grandma Thompson united with the Baptist church more than 70 years ago. The writer visited her several months ago and held services in her room, she expressed a desire to unite with the Meade church, stating that she desired to die in the church. She enjoyed her religion and was always able to give a reason of the hope she had in Christ.
     We laid her to rest in Graceland cemetery on Saturday afternoon to await the voice of the resurrection.
     "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

My theory is that when my great grandmother passed away in 1963 the family decided to put a stone on Grandma Thompson's at the same time. The stones are similar. After time the memories were incorrect and thus the wrong death year.

Another way to find stones is to correspond with other researchers. Perhaps you will find a very distant cousin who lives in the area or has at least visited the cemeteries. That is how I got this photo of my third great grandfather, John Collinsworth who died in Tennessee.

Another similar experience produced this monument in Ohio for all the children of another ancestor. 
Pretty impressive. 

The most important thing to remember when you contact distant cousins is to be willing to share. Nothing will turn other researchers away faster than being asked for "everything they have" with nothing coming in return. 

This is one I visited myself. It is in Kansas. The stone told me he was from West Virginia and in the Civil War. I've since acquired his military records from the National Archives. 

Grave sites are getting easier to find because of local organizations reading the researching the cemeteries and posting the results on line. There is also a great site: Find A Grave which has photos of hundreds of stones for many graveyards. 

Don't avoid the cemeteries. Perhaps you could even help others by helping to index a cemetery in your area or joining a preservation society.