Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maybe yes, maybe no

I find it difficult to ignore an Ancestry leaf. Often the hints lead nowhere, or at least nowhere new, but recently a hint led me down a new path, er, branch. To make a long story short: I learned that a gentleman who is quite possibly a 3g grandfather is buried in a cemetery less than 30 miles from here.

Practically my backyard!

All week I planned my visit to Shoup-Thompson Cemetery in northwestern Delaware County. I would pick up any unclaimed photo requests from Find A Grave, pack a cheese sandwich and bottled water, grab a brimmed hat, and hit the road. The gravestone kit is always in the car: brushes, garden clippers, cheap aluminum foil, soft towels, water, and bug spray.

If life were a movie, this would be the foreshadowing part. When I arrived at Shoup-Thompson, I parked in the shade near the old part of the cemetery. Leaning against a nearby tree was an illegible, broken grave marker. Go ahead, tease me. His marker may be so weathered that I cannot read it—if it is even here.

Starting to walk the rows of old stones, I was feeling hopeful. Field ... Smith ... Perry ... Henderson. But the longer I walked, the less hopeful I became. Arnold Aldrich (b. 1796, d. 1854), where are you?

Finally, I noticed a broken stone under an old maple tree at the back of the cemetery, just steps from the Scioto River. The stone originally showed two names, but only one remained: Rebecca Aldrich. Had the other name been Arnold?

Yes, I was sure of it.

The death day and year was right, the age at death was right, and Arnold had had a daughter named Rebecca.

[Dec. ]29, 1854
58Ys, 8. Mo, 10 Ds.
AGED 19 Years

Was Arnold Aldrich my 3g grandfather? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Sitting under the maple tree, listening to the birds and other country sounds, I realized that “Maybe yes” is good enough for now.


  1. Great story! Isn't it great to find ancestors practically in your backyard?!


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