For the April meeting of the Topeka Genealogical Society‘s ‘Brick Wall Study Group’, we were supposed to bring one of our brick walls to the April meeting yesterday. The intent was that we would discuss our brick wall with another member of the group and get their input. (And then we would discuss their brick wall and provide input.)
For this task, I decided to take one of my SMITH brick walls. In 1833, my ancestor, Nelson G. Crawford, married Martha Smith in Warren County, Indiana. Even though I have Martha’s life documented after her marriage, I have no information on her parents or siblings.
However, I remembered that I had seen a tombstone for Hannah Smith in the West Lebanon City Cemetery to the East of the plots for Nelson and Martha Crawford. Because my memory says that Hannah was buried close to Martha Crawford Smith, I elected to try and prove that Hannah was Martha’s mother.
So, I went to the meeting armed with SMITH census and marriage records to try and find Martha’s father and/or siblings. As we visited about this research, we kept returning to my recollection of the placement of the stones and whether I could find anything to validate my memory. Unfortunately, I couldn’t rely my recent set of photos from the West Lebanon Cemetery, since the Hannah Smith stone was not found. Nor can I rely on Find a Grave for help, since that site does not show a Hannah Smith in the West Lebanon Cemetery.
That’s when we turned to the book I had brought along: Warren County, Indiana Cemetery Inscriptions, Volume II by Rosella Jenkins (c1985). There is information in this book for Hannah Smith on page 87.
From studying the book, we made the following observations:
- Hannah Smith is listed in Stack 3 of the West Lebanon City Cemetery
- Hannah Smith is listed on the same page as Nelson G. Crawford and Martha Crawford
- The names are NOT in alphabetical order
- Based on the ‘introduction’ to the book the information was obtained by reading the stones
- “This volume of cemetery inscriptions includes …”
- “Every time I found a stone so weathered as to be almost impossible to read, I would think that perhaps this very stone would be just the one someone needed for their records.”
- Hannah Smith is listed just above William C. Crawford (d. 1868). This William C. Crawford is believed to be a son of Nelson G. Crawford and Martha Smith Crawford.
Based on the order in the book, we believe that it is possible that Hannah Smith was the mother of Martha and grandmother of William C. Crawford.
Without this book, I would not have been able to
- verify that the stone for Hannah Smith was in the West Lebanon Cemetery at some point in time
- see the possible family connection based on the closeness of Hannah Smith’s grave to the Crawford family graves.
- seen that Hannah Smith’s stone was next to William C. Crawford’s stone.
This experience has reinforced the concepts that
- not everything is online
- in some cases, context is lost when the data is placed online (For example, Find a Grave does not help determine who was buried next to whom.)
- books are valuable resources for genealogical research
- libraries provide access to resources not available online
When all else fails, go old school:
visit a genealogy library and
open the books to see what clues are hidden inside!