Goodnight and I have made it through the first day of our heritage trip.
We had a beautiful day of driving. A few drops of rain here and there, but mostly sunny skies.
About an hour into our trip, we arrived in an unincorporated village to visit a cemetery where some of my relatives are buried. The cemetery for this little village was out-of-town a wee bit, surrounded by corn fields. There were 17 ancestors buried there.
GN and I tend to tarry when we are in the cemeteries. It’s history, so we aren’t really in a hurry. That particular county has been very good about documenting the cemeteries online, so I came well-prepared. We both always seem to pause longer at the markers of babies. I go in with my notebook and camera and GN takes her enthusiasm. It’s a good combination.
After our first visit, we continued our journey to our stopping point for the day. I needed time during business hours in this community so I could visit the county records office and look up the actual death certificates of my father’s grandparents. We heard so little about them when I was growing up, that I knew virtually nothing.
After my trip to the county records office, I went to the historical society. They confirmed what I suspected. The name of the cemetery had changed since 1909, but it was one I had visited before. One of the historians went through the microfiche and found a death notice for my great-grandfather and printed it for me. In the course of my research, I didn’t find much more, but enough that my instinct was right. My great-grandparents ARE buried in the same cemetery as my grandfather, but my great-grandfather has no grave marker. My great-grandmother is buried with her siblings far enough away from my grandfather that I wouldn’t have spotted her until I knew she was there.
With this stop today, I have gone back as far as I can in the United States for both sets of paternal great-grandparents. We laid flowers where we could, and gave an extra to my grandfather in honor of his father. That’s the best we could do.
My grandmother worked at an orphanage before I was born. When I was visiting with a road construction crew member, he told me where to find the three buildings that remain. He also mentioned that there was a cemetery for the children who died at the orphanage.
I went to have a look. I found the three remaining orphanage buildings. They are not used as an orphanage any longer and haven’t been for a while, but in all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never seen them. We just never walked this far from my grandmother’s house. We always played in the blue spruce woods a block away from hhere she lived.
As touching as it is to find the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried, the orphanage cemetery was a heart-breaker. The stones were only numbered: 300 hundred of them. All the names of the children were carved into one large stone, but with no numbers to correspond with any of the markers. It was a little refuge on the outskirts of town, but now it’s surrounded by a golf course. I had to walk between two greens to get to the cemetery gate. Despite the golfing, it’s quite serene.
When I was a child, there were band concerts held in the park every Wednesday through the summer. My grandmother never drove, but she would walk us to the park and we would sit and listen to the music – mostly marches. I loved it!
Guess what? It’s Wednesday and they are still having band concerts. I actually planned it that way. Enough of cemeteries for today. (We hit a thrift shop already, too). I am going to take GN to a summer outdoor concert just like my grandmother used to do. Then I’m going to toss her in the motel pool!