As genealogists, I think one of our favorite things to do is visit the cemeteries that are the final resting places of our ancestors. To see where they are buried and to know that is our family and that our family has continued.
When I first started working on my family history, my great aunt went with my parents and me to the cemetery where my great, great grandfather was buried. I learned a great deal that day. Not only did I learn what regiment John M. Carder served during the Civil War because it was on his tombstone. I learned that it’s not just the tombstones you find that matter but the ones that you don’t find. There was several bare spots of ground around John’s tombstone. My great aunt explained to us that there were several other family members buried there but they had no tombstones.
She walked along and pointed out where the various family members were buried and told us who was buried in each of the graves. She also told us why a few of them did not have tombstones. One of the graves as that of her brother who died when he was twelve years old.
That was during the time period when the tombstones for little children had the lamb on them. Her mother wanted a tombstone with a lamb for her young son. My great grandpa, Nathan said they were too expensive and refused to buy one. When Nathan died, my great grandma, Alice said that Nathan would not get that tombstone for their son, so he wasn’t getting a tombstone either and she did not have a tombstone put on his grave. That accounts for two of them with no stones. My great, great grandmother, Eliza Jane is buried with John. It looks like her anme may have been below his at one time and time and weather has worn it away.
I’m not sure why the others have no stones unless it was because of the expense. The others were one of John and Eliza’s sons who died in the county home and two infants who were stillborn.
Aunt Marge was able to identify all of them and where each one was buried. I was able to verify it with death certificates. So, the lesson learned was that you have to pay attention to the bare spots surrounding an ancestor’s grave because there is probably someone buried there also and they could be your family members, too.
Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail
Deborah A. Carder Mayes is a genealogist and speaker in Northwestern and West Central Ohio. She has been researching her family history and actively involved in the genealogy community since 1998.
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