Decoration Day Memories

Peonies240As a child, Decoration Day started with mom going out to the back yard and picking flowers – particularly Peonies, Iris and Sweet William. My grandmother would do the same thing from her flowers. In addition, my grandmother would order Peonies from the grocery store. She would keep those Peonies in the refrigerator. Those Peonies would be set out the night before so they would open up.

Preparation for the day would have included digging out the vases — but more often coffee cans. The coffee cans were wrapped in foil. Then some sand and/or rocks would have been added to the bottom to add weight. The digging out also included finding the wire hooks to hold the vases. If these hooks could not be found, then new ‘hooks’ would be made from wire hangers.

Mom would take the Sweet William and a small white vase to prepare flowers for my brother’s grave. My brother, Duane Gail Crawford, was a day old when he died. His small grave was in the Crawford plot along with my great grandparents and other relatives.

Once the flowers were ready, we would all go to the cemetery. There we would help carry items to the plot and carry water for the vases. I’m sure my grandmother told us how we were related to the graves we were decorating. This was the beginning of my genealogy education!

 

Don’t Forget the Book!

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.

hannah smithHowever, 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.

IN-Warren-Cem-V2-p87

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!

 

Tombstone Challenge Accepted

This week’s ‘Saturday Night Genealogy Fun‘ challenge was to figure out how far back a line can be traced thru tombstones. My immediate reaction was that it was probably thru my dad’s CRAWFORD line

There are 4 generations of CRAWFORDs buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dodge City, Kansas

  • Dad: Eugene Crawford
  • Granddad: Leon Russel Crawford
  • Great Grandfather: Judson Crawford
  • Great Great Grandfather: Washington Marion Crawford (headstone and footstone shown)

My 3rd great grandfather is buried in the West Lebanon cemetery just outside of West Lebanon, Indiana.

My 4th great grandfather is buried in the cemetery at Eaton, Ohio.

The Mighty Mo – Then and Now

Saga of the Elwood Cemetery – Part 3

As pointed out in an earlier post (Elwood, Kansas and the Mighty Mo), the Kansas State Historical Society has made several historical maps of Elwood available as part of the Kansas Memory site. The 1870-1890 map of Elwood is particularly beneficial in that it shows the street layout and can easily be compared to a current map of Elwood. Vermont Street is common to both maps. The 1870-1890 historical map has 12 blocks between Vermont and the river’s edge. In addition, the 1882 and 1904 plat books of Doniphan County, have the Missouri River on the north edge of Elwood and actually making a right hand turn at the northeast corner of Elwood.

Taking the Find a Grave map showing the Elwood Cemetery, I’ve added a rectangle to illustrate where the Missouri River would have been in 1896. (1896 is when the burial would have occurred.)

ElwoodCem1900Riveradded

If the river was at the North edge of Elwood as indicated by the historical maps, then the GPS coordinates of the proposed cemetery would place the cemetery in Missouri (or the bottom of the river).

My next step was to look at the Google Earth view of Elwood and the river. Using that image, I added arrows showing where I think the image reveals the old river bed.

2014Elwood-Railroad-Bridge1900RiverBed

For more information regarding the Elwood Cemetery, see my previous posts: