28 November 2009

A Thoughtful Child

From page 11 of the 17 February 1916 Fremont Times Indicator.
A little boy whose grandmother had just died wrote the following letter that he duly posted: Dear Angels--We have just sent you grandma. Please give her a harp to play, as she is short-winded and cannot blow a trumpet. "

25 November 2009

Kreative Blogger

Hey, look what we got nominated for!

Luxengen Genealogy and Family History blog from Canada included us in their list of 7 blogs worthy of the award. And shucks! We are only a couple months old. Guess we have something to live up to now.

The rules are that we have to tell 7 things about ourselves and then nominate 7 other blogs we think are worthy. So here goes.

  1. We are both from small towns in Newaygo County Michigan. If you look at the palm of your right hand, we located about half way up the left side of your palm, (The Lake Michigan side)and in about an inch. Living in a hand-shaped state can be so "handy."

  2. Linda, the quiet and shy one, also has a passion for many fiber related pastimes such as spinning and knitting. She also loves NASCAR. Her blog is FarmMomMusings.

  3. Sandy, the boss of the room, (who is not nearby as I type this) is an animal lover. She has been the proud owner of many dogs, as well as cats and whatever crosses her path. She has even recommended inspecting the pouches of road-kill possums, to check for surviving babies.

  4. Our domain is the local history room of the Fremont Area District Library. We collect vital stats from the weekly papers and microfilm of old papers. Check the link for our room on the left of the library site, and then the Local History Room databases for names of family members.

  5. One of us absolutely LOVES snow and cold and can't wait for it to come. Got lots of wool to wear you know. Oh, did that give me away?

  6. The other of us is currently waiting both the completion of her new house and foot surgery. Mixed blessings there.

  7. We recently attended a genealogy seminar together. And we made it all the way there and back, without stopping at a cemetery. Of course, we were running late on the way there, and it was very late on the way home. But still......I can't believe we passed them all up.

And now---7 blogs we recommend for the award. Actually, we are presenting 8, so we each could have 4 to pick.

Linda's 4

  1. Pink Lemon Twist by Melanie. A great blog with knitting and family. Patterns and pictures. She features "Knitting, Spinning, and My Crazy Life." Fun read.
  2. WendyKnits from, who else, Wendy is another favorite. Its about "Adventures With Sticks and String", with some pictures thrown in of her adorable cat Lucy. Patterns and tips. She is famous for her toe-up socks.
  3. A Year of Crockpotting is from Stepahnie Ok, so I discovered her in 2009 after the year was over. She still posts regularly and all the recipes from the previous year are searchable. Do I like the blog. Well-I bought 2 crock-pots--a 6 quart and a 4 quart since I started reading her. And I bought her book--Make it Slow, Cook it Fast.
  4. My friend and fellow spinner has My 8 Kids Mom Gets Crafty. This fearless woman homeschools, makes her own cheese, spins, dyes fibers, and knits among other things. They have one dairy cow (at this time.) And chickens, sheep, dogs, and...oh yes--kids.

These are some of my favorite blogs to read. I also read some genealogy ones, but most of what I read has already been nominated.

Sandy's nominees:

  1. Granite in My Blood. Its a great resource for gravestone photography, as well as genealogy and family history. A charter member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.
  2. Life is a Spectacular Mess is a blog we can relate to. Her emphasis is scrapbooking with a vintage flair.
  3. The Graveyard Rabbit is another favorite. Its association is "dedicated to the academic promotion of the historical importance of cemeteries, gravemarkers and the family history to be learned...."
  4. The Cemetery Club celebrates the art and history of cemeteries across the country and even the world.

Now, we just have to notify these of their award.

24 November 2009

Surrarrer Cemetery

Surrarrer Cemetery is far off the main road it is on a dusty seasonal road that follows the power line in Newaygo County. Several years ago Terry Wantz a local historian and friend ask me to help out trying to find names of people buried there. It is a lonely place but beautiful, it is sandy and forgotten and hard to reach.
The prairie was known as a place that many Native Americans called home and was a large village since it was close to the river where it was narrow and easy passing. It was also a rich hunting ground. Many believe the cemetery started out as a Native American burial ground. We also seen signs of burial mounds in the area. The area was also known as a place where two major trails leading to the Mackinaw area crossed according to maps of Native American trails that were found.
We have the names of about 8 people but that list is uncertain. You can see where several more people are buried by the indentations in the ground. Many people were moved to Oak Grove in Croton when the area was abandoned. Searching in the nearby fields you can see where a old building stood. A lilac tree plated there by someone years ago dreaming of what her new home will become. A few of the families who were buried there are English's, Overly's, Saunders and a Mr. Boyd.
When looking for information neither the Newaygo County Goverment offices nor the Brooks Township have any records of this cemetery. It is also believe that Mr. Surrarrer was buried here. Ransom Surrarrer made the first purchase of the land thus its name. On the 1880 atlas shows a Phillip Dickinson and his wife Sophonia Tibbits owning 160 acres on the edge of the prairie. It also shows records that they sold a piece of land for a new school that was to become Dickinson school.
Many families had moved here since it was a logging area and a days trip from Grand Rapids but this area was developing and many families moved on to more fertile land.
Terry has worked for several years keeping the area neat and trimmed up. Cutting the grass over the burial site. Putting a fence along the edge to keep Orv's off the burial area. Building and installing a sign and putting benches to rest on. It was a job that he took on as a sign of respect for his ancestors the Dickinson's.
The spelling has changed many times over the years from Serrarrer, Surarrer, among other spelling hence you will see spelling changes depending on the source used.

Tombstone Tuesday--Clark Cemetery

Clark is nearby cemetery that is not city or township owned. It sits near the corners of 3 counties and 4 townships. Across the street from a farm machinery dealership, and sided by a large pole building, it still maintains it rural touch. This classic stone shown above for Amanda Wright shows the clasped hands that was often shown on the graves of wife's who had died.

I have several family members in this cemetery. The below stone is from my paternal grandparents. Although I have found unusual first names are helpful in genealogy, they can also present a problem. Gramp's name is misspelled here and never corrected. At least they had a stone. Grandma's brother and wife are buried here also, near Grandma and Grampa. However, although Uncle Bert had a stone, Aunt Lyla had none. Apparently that small aluminum marker was all she had. Dad made up this stone for her out of cement and wooden letters. Although the letters have since fallen out, you can at least read the name and in real life, the dates. I liked Aunt Lyla. She taught me to enjoy Perry Como.
My Hubby also has family in this cemetery. Although most of his family is in the Holton cemetery, I had searched in vain for the older generations of Walsworths. Imagine my surprise, when, as so often happens, I saw the name Walsworth just before the cemetery exit. The name is carved in the base, and around the sides were the names of Hubby's great-grandparents Artemas and Amanda, but also his great-greats--Elijah and Lucina. I love cemetery serendipity!
Of course I am not related to everyone there. The stones are varied while some are almost hidden in the tall flowers.
One of the nearby roads in one of the adjoining counties are named for this family. I love the log style stones. This one looks like pink granite.
This is such a sad stone. It incorporates many of the commonly seen symbols. The drapery and the lambs. The top of the stones says "Our Little Lambs." And also "the children of _____ and ______ Stevens." Apparently the Stevens children died at the same time. I don't see the names of the children, maybe they are on the sides or back of the stone.
This last tombstone seems to have an urn on the top. I cannot read the name of this rather hidden stone.
But did you notice the little slab leaning against the bottom?

Railroad Map Request

One of the Diva's readers and friends asked for help finding railroad maps. See his inquiry:
Do know of a source online of maps of railroad lines in use in the 1900-1910 era? Several of the people I am trying to track worked on the construction/maintenance of railroads. Therefore they may have traveled on the rails from state to state. So far I have not found such a site. Can the Divas help me?

If anyone has any ideas, please reply in a post. Maybe you can come up with something before we can.

19 November 2009

Obituary--Mrs Mary McIlveen (Wallace)

We have obtained the permission of our local paper, the TimesIndicator to reprint some of the older obituaries we have in our notebooks in the Local History Room. While touching, some of the styles of writing and explicit details can cause one to pause. When I cannot refrain from commenting--those editorial comments will be in italics.
From 7 July 1910.
Mrs. Mary McIlveen (Wallace), consort of Hon. robert C. Wallace of Ashland township, Newaygo county Mich, was born at Cogneaut, Armagh Co., Ireland May 12 1841, and together with her father, John McIlveen and mother , Nancy (Austin) McIlveen, emigrated to Chester, Ottawa county, Michigan, in 1847, where she resided until July 16, 1876, when she was married to Robert C Wallace and moved to the farm home in Ashland where they have since resided and where she departed this life, after a lingering illness of some months, June 27 1910. (Whew1 Note that this is the first period so far.) In the many long years of life in Ashland she had endeared herself to the entire community by the native goodness always characteristic of her. Educated in the sturdy old Presbyterian faith of her parentage, hers became naturally a religion of good works, for which she became known as one of the foremost, in her home life.
The great esteem in which she was held was attested to by the large and sympathetic audience who attended the last sad rites at the Baptist church, Ashland Center June 29 at 2 o'clock p.m. After a brief discourse by Elder Charles W Gardner of Bailey, the services were taken in charge by the Daughters of Rebekah, of which she was an honored member, and the closing service performed by the beautiful and imposing service of their ritual.
The sympathy of the entire community is extended to Mr Wallace in his bereavement.

18 November 2009

cost of burial plots

I just recieved this email from a friend and had to share:

It is hard to understand how a cemetery raised its burial rates and blamed it on the cost of living.

so true!

The Black Camel of Death

One of our favorite articles we have found when searching for obituaries in the local paper started with these words: "The Black Camel of Death has knelt at the gates of prominent and much loved Newaygo county folk during the last week, signifying a toll somewhat unparalleled." (Fremont Times Indicator, page 1 I think, 16 February 1922) Doesn't that sound profound?
We have been trying to research the phrase and found that The Black Camel was the name of a 1929 book by Earl Derr Biggers, the fourth in the series of Charlie Chan novels that he wrote. The phrase was also used in the 2nd Charlie Chan movie that came out in 1931. ("Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate. Tonight black camel has knelt here.") Can't you just picture Charlie Chan solemnly intoning those words?
But our local newspaper quoted those words years before the book or movie. Do any of our readers know if this is an older saying? If you do, please enlighten us.
Until then, --watch out for black camels. They should be easier to spot than black cats.

17 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Alton Cemetery, Kent County

One of the last road trips my father took before he passed away was to go cemetery hopping with his 2 sisters and myself.
We visited some of the cemeterys in Kent County where his grandparents and some of the greats were buried. Since Aunt Glenna had been there more than any us, she quickly found the first graves.
Omar Allen and his wife Carrie Ford Allen were resting peacefully side by side in a lower portion of the rolling graveyard.
With some roaming around, I spotted the ancester with my favorite name, my 3rd great grandfather, Barlo Barto. Isn't that name great? Wife Fanny (Frances Clark) was listed on the south side of this stone and the inscription was fading. Aunt Glenna said it was much fainter since her previous trip.
Barlo and Fanny's daughter Edna married into the Ford line. Somewhere here is the legendary connection to Gerald Fords adoptive family. He was at Ford reunions that my grandmother attend, so all I have to do is confirm the connection. I once wrote to President Ford asking about this. He referred me to his daughter, but I was too chicken to write to her. Maybe someday.
My grandmother, Edna Cross Allen, was named for her grandmother whose grave is shown here: Edna Barto Ford.

16 November 2009

Hungerford Cemetery

I don't understand why we have such scary views of cemeteries after dark. It must be due to television and movies but I never have felt that fear. I am fascinated by them regardless of the time of day.Last night driving home from Big Rapids we drove by Hungerford Cemetery Northeast corner of Newaygo County. It is a pretty little cemetery on a gently sloping hill in a wooded area. Very peaceful and serene. I wanted to stop and look around and my Mother and Husband thought I had lost my mind (not the first time). OK so it was dark and opening day for deer season but it looked to pretty and peaceful. I just really wanted to stop. I have gone by it before and always thought how pretty but never felt the urge to stop so strongly. It must of been the time of day. I plan another trip to revisit.

13 November 2009

Another Cemetery Connection

A week or so ago on Tombstone Tuesday I wrote a post about Jewell Cemetery. While I have never been there, I have had some affection for it, since it's alternate name is Doud Cemetery. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my family discovered that our home was not in the Hesperia school district, which had a consolidated elementary school when I started school. Regardless of the fact that my next door grandparents WAS in that school district, we were in Doud school district and I should have attended that tiny one room school.

I never did attend that country school, but it was reason to feel a connection to the school and to the cemetery that shared its name.
Then, one day talking with my father, I discovered another reason to feel a connection to the cemetery.
After World War II, my father was on a scavanger hunt with some other young adults, including my mother. They had to go to Jewell cemetery for one of their items. And it was there that Dad first kissed my mom.


12 November 2009

The Genealogy Guys

Last Saturday, Sandy and I attended the conference marking the 55th anniversary of the West Michigan Genealogical Society. This "Got Ancestors?!" event featured George Morgan and Drew Smith.

Each gave 3 presentations. I was in the 3 presented by Mr Morgan and really enjoyed the whole day.

The titles of his talks were: The Genealogist as CSI (a great reminder to leave no stone unturned.) Bring 'em Back to Life: Developing an Ancestor Profile (a reason to make timelines on your family members, or at least the most interesting ones.) and last Planning a Very Successful Genealogical Research Trip. (tips for planning ahead, as well as calling ahead.)

Last of all was a session where the two together recorded their "The Genealogy Guys" podcast, fielding questions that had been submitted by attendees.

All in all, a great day.

One of my favorite subjects to do in our cemetery walks and to study is the customs that our ancestors practiced. Many they brought from the "old country" and still practiced once they came to the United States.

Funeral Customs:

If a dead person’s eyes are left open, he will find a companion to take with him.

Place a quarter in the coffin of a dead person so he can pay his toll across the River Jordan.

If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even dogs and chickens. This will protect against death’s spreading further.

Pull the shades at a funeral. If the sunshines on the face of a mourner, he will be next to die.

Cover mirrors in a house where there is a corpse. The person who sees himself will be the next victim.

Never allow a child under the age of one to attend a funeral.

Do not attend a funeral if you are pregnant.

It is bad luck for a bride and groom to meet a funeral procession.

Do not wear anything new to a funeral. Especially shoes.

A corpse must be taken from the house feet first. If his head faces backward, he may beckon another member of the family to follow him.

If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers will bloom on his grave; if he has been evil weeds will grow.

It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one coming turn around!

Never arrange a Friday funeral. This is apt to mean another death in the family during the year.

A person who transplants a cedar tree will die when the lower limbs of the tree reach the length of his coffin.

If a broom is rested against a bed, the person who sleeps there will soon die.

Taking ashes out of a stove after sundown will bring death to the family.

A person who sees thirteen white horses at the same time will soon be carried in a hearse.

Large drops of rain warn there has just been a death.

Count the cars of a passenger train, and you will hear of a death.

Stop the clock in a death room, or you will have bad luck.

You will have bad luck if you meet a white chicken when you are on your way to a funeral.

To lock the door after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.

Bury a woman all in black and she will return to haunt the family.

If rain falls on a corpse, the deceased will go to heaven.

If you hear a clap of thunder following a burial, it indicates that the soul has of the dead person has reached heaven.

10 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--East Hesperia

As you may guess, it has been a busy week, but a post will be forthcoming about Saturday's Genealogy conference.
But today, I am posting pictures of East Hesperia Cemetery. This is my hometown, and my parents and maternal grandparents rest here. There is also a West Hesperia Cemetery, across the main street of town, in the adjoining county. Fun time for finding records when the town is split between 2 counties.
There are a wide variety of stones and monuments. Like many of the area cemeteries, there are the "tree stump" memorials like this one that I like so much.
The name on this monument is Britton. There are many large and elaborate stones in this cemetery, as well as the more subdued ones.
This stone and marker lean against a much larger one. The worn marble slab beside the GAR marker are so close to the large monument, I am sure they must be the same family or person. But the slab is very worn and nothing is legible.
I don't believe I have ever seen a stone of this shape. The child died at the age of 7 months and 12 days. At least in the picture, there are not family stones nearby.
There are stones showing so much of the death symbols that are so prevalent on older stones. This stone for Jennie Eldridge shows the pall cloth draped over the stone and the tassels at each corner.
This stone, for Dora M Maynard who died in 1881 at the age of 21, shows the clasped hands. I am unable to tell if they are a man's and women's hand. Given her age, it is possible, as that would stand for the man saying farewell to his wife.
Again with the bushes! Someone has to tell people, don't plant shrubs in front of the stones. They do grow up you know. This stone has an open book on the top, probably symbolizing the Word of God, or book of knowledge. Without being able to see if there is a scripture verse on the top it is hard to tell.

As I mentioned I have parents and grandparents buried here. There is a couple of rather new areas, as well as the large older area. The stones are varied. One stone of a young farmer who died often has small toy tractors as a memory of the life he lived. Another more recent has a ornate monument that resembles the twin towers of the former Trade Center. They do help in locating other stones, as they are quite prominent.

03 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Jewell

This week I am sharing some shots of Jewell Cemetery. AKA Dayton Center Cemetery. I have also seen it called Doud Cemetery, after the nearby country schoolhouse in some of the obituaries we have from the early 1900's.

It is still an active cemetery and have just recently seen obituaries with Jewell Cemetery listed as the place of internment.

But as always it is the older stones I find the most interesting. Especially the ones that appear to have been made by the next of kin. Did Clarence's next of kin not plan ahead? Or were they someone who was simply struggling to leave some kind of marker, and doing the best they could?
This appears to be the front of this stone. I think I can make out carving near the top. Did the family plant a small bush as a remembrance? A reminder here to all, remember plants do grow, and sometimes bigger than you imagine.
Apparently a flag marker, this picture was taken in the fall. I know that recently area scouts were removing flags from graves for the winter, to prevent being ripped apart in the harsh winter elements. Did that happen here?
And the disappearing stone. I have great and great-great-grandparents with the stones flush to the ground. Grass grows up, covers the edges and before you know it, its lost.
I must remember to tell my children, I want an upright stone, not one flush to the ground when I go. Luckily, our plot is located with my in-laws and already has an stone that is raised above grass level.
I will be able to rest in peace, knowing the precedent has been set.

Seminar Approacing

This Saturday, my partner in crime on this blog and I will be heading to Grand Rapids MI for a seminar entitled “GotAncestors?!—Guydes to Genealogical Research.” It is put on the the Western Michigan Genealogical Society.
I am quite excited about attending, as I haven't been to a conference in several years. It is always great to attend one of these events and get all inspired.
If you are in the area, I hope you can attend.

02 November 2009

Cemetery Walk and Calico Jane

At a cemetery walk we hosted two years ago Linda did a great job as Calico Jane the lumber camp cook from a script written by author Bill Jamerson for us. It was a success! Everyone loved Calico Jane. I did myths and lore of death and dying. I think it went well . I actually had a couple of groups ask me to come to their meeting and talk. It was fun and educational for all. We are starting to work on 2010 cemetery walk, so please contact us if you can help in anyway.