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30 May 2012

Tombstone Tuesday... 500 Gravestone photos

When I went to Ohio last week, I visited some cemeteries where I knew my family members were buried. While at most cemeteries, I took additional pictures in hopes that they were needed on I've uploaded about 50 new photos to the website and added 14 names that were previously not in the database. That has been so exciting.

Uriah Lytle (1864 - 1951)
Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio
Section 75
I took this photo because a blogger I follow is search Lytle's. I don't know if this
person belongs in their family. However, it was fun to think he might be.

Thus far, I've not been able to fulfill a 'Photo Request' with the photos I've uploaded. However, I have an additional 500+ photos to add to the website. They might not all be needed, per se. But if I've made even half of those additional photos available for a researcher, then I know the extra time was well spent. In the process, I'll be able to post my family member's grave markers as well. Fabulous Stuff!!!

I can't thank Amy O'Neal at the Gravestoned blog enough for all of her valuable tips. I feel the trip was a success, even if I forgot to be careful about my reflection showing up in the highly reflective markers. However, all is not lost. I've been able to use a clone brush in Paint Shop Pro to take me out of most photos. Yeah!

22 May 2012

The Sadness of the Unmarked Plot

I've been blessed to take a journey to Columbus, Ohio. I visited the Green Lawn Cemetery, which proclaims to be the fifth largest cemetery in Ohio. It has perhaps 20,000 (or was is 200,000) people buried there.

Thanks to Stacy Baliss who graciously gave up her time to search through the Green Lawn microfilms at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. She provided me with a list of 60 persons complete with their burial cards and their plot locations. I also received a section map to find each person in this massive cemetery.

I blocked off the entire day to visit the cemetery to find these names and to snap other pictures. I took over 400 pictures of additional stone to see if they're needed on Perhaps this is the wrong method of snapping photos at a cemetery; but I didn't have hours to devote to looking up names. I figured, if the pictures aren't needed, I still had practice documenting photos.

The experience of finding ancestor headstones and documenting someone else's stones was a true blessing. I thank my husband for this opportunity as he's manning the home front while I'm away. What happened next I didn't expect.

I knew that Anna Magaretha HOPPE (1869-1896) was buried in Green Lawn cemetery on a plot she owned., as confirmed by her burial records. I knew she married Samuel ROSS but I don't know his birth or death dates. Would the plot reveal this? I knew several others were buried on her plot. With plot map in hand, I headed over to her plot. It was not easy to find. I searched, checked the map, searched, and checked the map. I was stumped. Where was she? Finally, I came across a tiny, weather worn stone and a great big empty space. The stone was for Anna's brother Christ HOPPE (1859-1900).

Christoph Hoppe stone found in the Green Lawn Cemetery,
Columbus, Ohio
 I was excited but sad. The stone isn't set correctly. It's greatly deteriorated. There is an inscription beneath the name but I have no idea it says. And the sadness continues.

Anna M Hoppe Ross Plot in Green Lawn Cemetery
There are supposed to be at least three other people buried on this plot. But there are no markers. Just a bunch of grass. Tears welled up in my eyes. What happened to this family that and why are there not any other markers? Why hasn't anyone cared about these markers until me, almost 100 years later? Anna and her brother Christ (really Christopher Christian) had no children but they had nieces and nephews. Anna's infant nephew was also buried here. Why didn't that family care about Aunt Anna's plot? Anna had a husband who wasn't buried on her plot. I'm still seeking out the story of him (no birth or death dates known at this time). Why didn't his nieces and nephews care about Aunt Anna?

Could the family have been poor and not purchased stones? Were they a family that just didn't mark their graves? Given the condition of Christ's plot, were the stones of poor quality, deteriorated and been removed? Were they destroyed by vandals because they were German? Were they destroyed by vandals, "just because"?

I don't know the story as to why they have no stones. But the tears flowed down my cheeks. Why? Perhaps it was because my heart ached for a family that no one remembers. Perhaps it was because I had been hoping for months to find some clues to the past. When I got to the grave site and found only one marker, I was let down and disappointed. Perhaps it was something more.

I searched for Anna's sister Marguerite Hoppe GEISZLER (1861-1921) in another part of the cemetery. Her stone was not there. I did find a marker that said Maggie, but it belonged to a collection of stones with a large family monument and this was the child's marker. It was not her family. Marguerite's husband Henry Joseph GEISZLER (1859-1931) was not buried next to his wife. He was supposed to be buried next to his mother and step-father's in Oak Grove / Georgesville Cemetery. These parent's markers are there (though greatly faded). He has no stone. Henry's father Joseph GEISZLER (1836-1863) has not been located in any cemetery. No death record has been found to even give a clue for him. Again, no stone. I went to East Lawn Cemetery to look for Henry and Marguerite's son William Joseph GEISZLER (1881-1935). He has no stone as well. With all of these non-existent stones in one family, I feel so sad. There are family stores plaguing this Geiszler family of disownership and other dark events. The lack of grave markers gives more weight to these 'stories' and greater sadness to the fact that this family begin by Joseph and Caroline Geiszler in 1863 and continued with Henry and Marguerite (Hoppe) Geiszler has nearly fallen apart. There are some rays of hope. Some of their descendants are overcoming the past and building better relationships all around. But the forebearers are not marked in any way.

Though the source of the tears are unclear, I take something away. Sure having a grave marker doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. And, in genealogical research we're going to be disappointed (and elated) throughout the research process. But the true lesson is what I take away. No matter what challenges I face, I must do everything to ensure that my husband and children know they are loved. In essence, I don't want to be a No Stone Momma. It's a concept rather than a materialistic desire for a grave marker. I want to live so that my children and grandchildren want to remember me fondly and not wait for a hundred years before anyone cares to remember who I am.

17 May 2012

Thankful Thursday.... Dague Brick Wall Crumbles Down

Whew!!! I can't say how excited I am. Let's just say I should probably video tape this happy dance. Here's how it all started.

My ancestor Leon Philip Smith was a bugger to figure out because his posterity only knew him as Philip Smith. Once I figured out he was LEON Philip Smith, I was able to connect him into a line that has had work done for generations prior to this one. His wife was only known as Katherine for the longest time. Philip was buried with his second wife Mary Smith in the Green Lawn Cemetery. But where was Katherine buried?

I forgot the step that lead me to realize that Katherine's name was Catherine Dague. But, I figured it out. In any case, when I found Leon's parents buried in Smith Cemtery (aka Union Cemetery), a Catherine Smith wife of Philip Smith was buried on their plot! 

Kenneth Gilbert's photo for the
Find-A-Grave listing of Catherine Smith

Okay, so I have confirmed (documentation not listed in this narrative confirms) my connection of Philip to his first wife and his parents. So... what to do about Catherine's family?

We're told many time to review the records of our ancestors again and again to see if there are any new clues. BEST ADVICE EVER! So, I reviewed the marriage records for Philip and Catherine and found something amazing! Catherine was not of legal age and needed to have a parental consent. The parental consent was an Andrew Dague.

One day I was playing around with Find-A-Grave and came across an Andrew Dague who looked promising. I fired off an email to the person who created the listing. Judy Llamas, praise her name, wrote the following...
"You may be able to connect if you find the Dague family history book by Carrie M. Dague, 1938."
So, I proceeded to search for this book. (Mind you, I should really be practicing a speech I'm giving later this weekend, but I digress). In any case, I did a Google search for the book and found a full copy of the book at the Internet Archive. Who ever scanned this book and posted it, can I just give you a big virtual hug? Seriously? I never thought the Brick Wall of Catherine Dague would burst...

Dague Family History and Genealogy, by Carrie Dague, page 180

I knew Catherine's birthday was Feb 11, 1832 and her father's name was Andrew. I confirmed that Andrew lived in Ohio and I'm certain I have my person. The next thing that I checked with the list in this book from his will.

Dague Family History and Genealogy, by Carrie Dague, page 180-181

The fact that Catherine Dague became Catherine Smith almost had me seal the deal and say we're done here. BUT, I noticed a descendant chart for each of Andrew's children. Would it list Catherine and name her husband as Philip?

Dague Family History and Genealogy, by Carrie Dague, page 183
YES! It did. Every date in this entry is a date I've found of my own accord and documented. This is my great+ grandmother Catherine Dague Smith.

Thank you Judy Llamas for giving me the clues I needed to find the book Dague Family History and Genealogy, by Carrie Dague, published 1938.Thank you Carrie Dague for your research. I now have a family tree line that goes into the 1700s!!!!!

08 May 2012

The Moment I Knew Came After My Father's Death

Devon Noel Lee A Patient Genealogist
On a mission to find my ancestors!
I was so touched by the reasons The Armchair Genealogist started working on her family history work. She became engaged in family history after the unexpected deaths of her in-laws. I can relate as my father's death opened up family history to me.

A little back story to the moment that the passion ignited to turn me from someone who casually thought she should do some family history into someone who is fully engaged is necessary.

Throughout my life, I have always lived far away from living relatives. I cherished every phone call, letter, and each rare vacation. Through phone calls and letters, I came to idolize my cousin Boomer was a decade older than me. His photos and Navy piloting stories made him a real-life Maverick from "Top Gun" in my eyes. I even cheered for the Navy football team in the early 80s when Boomer played quarterback.

My Grandpa Lew died when I was two. I don't remember much about him, except the stories his daughters told about him. My aunts and mom told me he was a great dad and a great dancer. They told me of his hobbies, his military service, and how much they loved dancing with him. He was gone but not forgotten because their stories made him as real as a beloved character on television.

The stories did not ignite my passion. I still needed something more.

In tmid-70s70s, my mother was introduced to genealogy at church. As I grew up, she'd share the few  stories about my Zumstein great-grandparents and the family that lived in Elcho, Ontario, Canada that she had discovered. She had research files, a Book of Remembrance, and photo albums. However, as we aged, my mother had to set family history aside to focus on being a full-time mother.

Her research files and stories were not enough to inspire me, but I won't say they weren't adding to the foundation of a stable fire.

Alonzo and Myra Comfort of Cananda

In high school, I started a family history project as part of a self-development program.  I struggled because so much of the information I needed was in Ohio and Canada when I lived in Texas.  As such, the barriers of distance, cost, and limited technology move genealogy to a low priority once the high school project was complete.

The result of the project was a spark of interest but the fire couldn't grow without more resources to establish the flame.

After I married my husband, technology had improved and I pursued genealogy again. It was easier to do at home which was a great fit for my young family with hours that did not allow for research at genealogy libraries or trips to Ohio from upstate New York or South Carolina.

As the technology decreased my barriers to the work, my fire started to spread and catch on the fuel that would maintain the flames.

As morbid as it is, my father's death exploded the single ember to a fiery dance of flames. Prior to his death, association with his side of the family was cut off. His family was small to begin with as he was an only child and his parents were now in a nursing home. A feud with his uncles and aunts and cousins, close their door to their relationships (and genealogy). With his passing, that barrier was coming down.

Cautiously and with child-like hope, I began reaching out to my father's only surviving aunt. I simply asked for the family history of my parents and grandparents. I didn't want to know about the feud and argue who was right or wrong. I just wanted to know SOMETHING about my father's relatives. I knew NOTHING. I had no photos. I only had the information on a pedigree chart and that wasn't enough.

Evaline Peak Geiszler and her children
Evaline (Peak) Geiszler and her children in the 1920s. A photo I never
would have seen had I not contacted my great-aunt (the girl pictured in the middle front)

My sweet great-aunt courageously allowed me to ask the questions and relive her memories of her loved ones. She shared pictures with me, stories, and her voice on tape. It was an exciting time.Since my great-aunt was willing to open up the family tree, I felt I could pursue more relations with other distant relatives.

The moment I knew the importance of family history and my role in it wasn't instantaneous, but it was a series of events following my father's passing. Now, I have an insatiable thirst for more and a desire to capture and preserve my ancestors' stories so future generations will know.

What was the moment you knew family history and genealogy was for you? Was it quick or was it built over time?

Share your story in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or on your blog and share a link below.

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