Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cemetery confessions: Adopting an unknown

Not sure I believe in ghosts exactly, but now and then, walking in a cemetery, reading the gravestones, something trips my imagination lever. The results are recorded now and then as Cemetery confessions.

The temperature was in the 90s. The humidity was uncomfortably high. Even though I was prepared with plenty of water, loose clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat, I was hot hot hot.

Row after long row of gravestones, but where was the marker for the ancestor I was 99% sure was buried here?

But the longer I searched, the less confident—and less enthusiastic—I became.

When I came upon a broken marker, its words washed away by time, I wondered whether it was his. I was looking for anything that might identify the marker when a devilish ghost whispered in my ear, “It’s hot. You’re tired. Go ahead: Adopt this gravestone as Uncle Charlie’s.”

No no no! I managed to shake off the tempting suggestion and, just a short while later, I found Uncle Charlie’s gravestone. The real one.

By the way, Uncle Charlie’s name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent me. Who knows what might happen the next time I am feeling desperate in the cemetery?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Pearl Oller

Recently, tidying up my cemetery photo folders, I stopped for a second look at the gravestone for Pearl Oller (b. 1888, d. 1894). I snapped this photo in May, on my first visit to Oller Cemetery.

The epitaph is touching in its simplicity.

G.E. & H.E.
OLLER, 1888


Oller Cemetery is a quiet country cemetery overlooking the Scioto River. Buried there, Pearl Oller is surrounded by family.

Oller Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Ruth

Just Ruth. You will find her small, plain marker beside a young maple tree in Powell Cemetery. It bears only her first name, year of birth, year of death. No other gravestones are especially close by. Who is she? Where are her parents buried?

Or are we making a faulty assumption? Perhaps this is not Ruth Somebody, but rather Somebody Ruth?

1910 – 1911

Powell Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Genealogy kismet

I had not planned to visit Foster Chapel Cemetery that day, but it was on my route home from another cemetery in the county. Country cemetery, old gravestones, historical marker, ... Who wouldn’t stop?

I wandered the cemetery and took a number of photographs, even though many older inscriptions were not legible. The marker for Sally Kilgore (b. 1804, d. 1825), sitting in a patch of sunlight among the trees, was easy to read.

Of all the gravestones I photographed that day, only Ms. Kilgore’s was not already posted on Find A Grave. Surprisingly, she did not even have a memorial page. I created the page, posted the photo, and forgot about it.

Until two days ago.

That’s when an unexpected email landed in my in-box. “Hello. This is Sally from Twitter.” Sally, a genealogy Twitter friend, had been looking for Sally Kilgore in her genealogy research—the same Sally Kilgore whose gravestone I had just happened to photograph and post.

I’m thinking one of us should be buying a lottery ticket this week. Isn’t genealogy fun?

In Memory of
Sally, wife of
James Kilgore, who
was born Nov. 7, 1804:
& died Jan. 22, 1825.

Why lovely friend indulge that tear,
Why trembling view this dark abode.
Tho’ you with me must moulder here,
Yet faith can wing the soul to God.

Foster Chapel Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Aldrich daughter

With Aldrich ancestors on my mind since visiting the graves of Timothy and Lucinda Aldrich in a remote country cemetery, it seems appropriate to devote this Wednesday’s post to an Aldrich child.

Daughter of
Timothy &
Aldrich, died
Dec 20, 1829

This child was the granddaughter of the Timothy I blogged about earlier, daughter of his son Timothy. Temperance is buried nearby, although I could not find a marker for the younger Timothy. He remarried after Temperance died; perhaps he and his second wife are buried elsewhere.

The child buried here was my first cousin, four times removed. I wish she had a name.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Take only memories

The sign posted at the head of the narrow, unpaved lane leading to Mound Cemetery reads:

Mound Cemetery sits on land that is privately owned. If you choose to visit the cemetery you do so at your own risk. Poison ivy, nettles, ticks, mosquitoes, sticker bushes and thorn trees makes their homes on our land. Animals make holes in the land, springs make it muddy, and other hazards are yet to be discovered. In many respects the land is being allowed to remain natural.

If you walk back to the cemetery, follow the grass lane. Enjoy the walk and the cemetery, then return by way of the lane.

As a point of interest, Mound Cemetery is not an Indian mound but a glacial kame left when the great ice sheet melted. The kame was used as a burial ground during the 1800s and early 1900s.

Leave only footprints and take only memories.

 Katie and I grabbed a few cemetery tools—whisk broom, grass clippers, aluminum foil—and, each with a bottle of water, set off into the woods to find the graves of our ancestors: Timothy Aldrich (b. abt 1762,d. 1837) and Lucina Aldrich (b. abt 1766, d. 1836).

It was a pleasant walk down the narrow, grassy lane. We walked comfortably, almost strolling but watching our steps. Soon we came to the end of the lane at the base of the small mound. We could see the tops of gravestones in front of us.

After the short climb to the top, we saw the gravestone for Timothy Aldrich immediately, just to the left. Lucina’s gravestone, the perfect mate to Timothy’s, stood a few empty spaces to the left.

Eventually we left with photos and, as the property owner suggested, memories: Memories of the afternoon that a mother and daughter took a walk in the woods and “discovered” the graves of their first (known) ancestors to settle in Ohio. 

Died March 11,
In his 75 year.

wife of
Timothy Aldrich
Died 22.Feb.1836:
In her 70 year.

Mound (or Foust) Cemetery, Morrow Co., OH

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Find A Grave tip for your smartphone

Are you a Find A Grave photo volunteer? Do you have a smartphone with a data plan? Me too! Here is how I make sure I always have an up-to-date list of nearby photo requests: Bookmarks.
  1. Open the browser on your smartphone and browse to the Contributor Tools page at
  2. Do a 5-mile radius search for photo requests. Bookmark the results page.
  3. Do a 10-mile radius search. Bookmark it.
  4. Go big. Search and bookmark 25- and 50-mile requests for a rainy day.
Next time you are taking a Sunday drive and you pass a cemetery, take out that smartphone (it has a camera, doesn’t it?), check for photo requests, and do a good deed for a fellow family historian.

What?! You are not a photo volunteer on Find A Grave? C’mon. Join the fun.

Wednesday’s child: Charley McCarty

For years Williamsville Cemetery was hidden from view, its gravel access drive off a busy four-lane road difficult to locate. The only visitors were family, die-hard gravers, and vandals.

Now that the area is being developed, the small cemetery faces a newly built side road and welcomes all visitors. The day I visited, a heavy equipment operator leaned against his equipment trailer just outside the cemetery fence, enjoying the shade as he ate his lunch.

The small marker for Charley McCarty sits on the west end of the cemetery, with family nearby. On top of his marker is a small stone bird’s nest with three tiny carved eggs inside.

son of
G.W. & L.
JUNE 1, 1876
1YR. 1M. 9DS.

Was Charles his given name? Call him Charley. The family did.

Williamsville Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
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