In western Tennessee, I met up with my father's father's people in their graves. Mt. Olive Cemetery, in Dyer, is a beautiful place, full of Horner and Flowers people - my great grandparents, great greats, and so on. Though a tornado destroyed the church several years ago, and had its way with some of the tombstones, I found my people.
In my genealogy research, the Horner and Flowers families have been extensively documented by other people, so I've known about these folks for a while. Still, it was nice to see them resting there. My grandfather lived in Dyer until he enlisted in the Army in World War I. After that he went to work for the railroad. He retired to California and is buried at the veterans cemetery in San Diego. I don't have a photo of that tombstone yet.
Dyer is a quiet town today. I wonder what Grandpa's life would have been like if he'd come home when the war ended.
In Wallins Creek, in Harlan County in eastern Kentucky, I found a very old grave belonging to a predecessor of my father's mother. Though it's been several generations since my direct ancestors lived there, I'm probably related to half the people in Harlan.
I knew about these gravestones, too, though they're not in a churchyard cemetery. I followed the directions provided to me and found them.
Jesse Brock's son George was my gggg grandfather; he emigrated to Ohio as a young man. I'll need to go to Scioto County in that state one of these trips to find where he's buried. I suspect life in eastern Kentucky was rough; maybe there was more possibility in Ohio - even though George went north rather than west to find a place for himself.
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, I had a graveyard adventure. That's where I found some of my mother's father's people. My ggg grandmother, Catherine Reddick McNeal, is buried in Pioneer cemetery with two of her children. I knew that from my online research. When we arrived in Bowling Green in mid-afternoon it was 85 degrees and humid. We got directions from the desk clerk at the Fairfield Suites, where we were staying for the night. Once in the general area of the cemetery, I was at a loss. Finally stopped at a minimarket near our supposed destination. Went in. Asked the clerk where the "real old cemetery" was. She had no idea. Asked several people in line with their beer and ice if they knew. Everyone shrugged. Then one smiling man, wearing a "wife beater" t-shirt and missing half his teeth, said, "It's down four blocks, with a black fence." I thanked him.
Pioneer Cemetery's gates were locked. It's owned by the city, and some problems with vandalism resulted in a fence being put up. Across the street, in a former auto repair shop, I found a CrossFit gym, with two women working out. I explained my dilemma. One of the women, Julie, walked across the street with me. Lean and trim, she slid under a space beneath the fence and walked the cemetery looking for Catherine! After a few minutes I found a wider opening and wiggled beneath the fence as Julie took my picture. I got grass stains on my shirt - for the first time in over 50 years.
The cemetery was full by 1861, and all the old gravestones were moss covered. I wasn't able to find Catherine and her children Elizabeth and Pendleton in there, but I know that's their resting place. I wondered if a map of the cemetery existed showing who was buried where.
As we drove off, Art noticed a funeral home. I pulled in. It was closed, but there was a phone number on the door. I called it. Within minutes a funeral director called me back. I explained my dilemma. He told me I should call the City of Bowling Green. I did that. The lady there told me to call the library at Western Kentucky State, which is in Bowling Green. I did. Apparently there's no map, but they do have access to a list of cemetery residents. I had that myself, so I think I'm at the end of the line. Unless on some moonless light I take a pressure washer into the cemetery and clean up all the tombstones. I did that last year in Nebraska with my mother's mother's people, but I knew which tombstones were theirs. Maybe I'll just have to lay this issue to rest!
Not far away, Fairview Cemetery houses a number of Catherine's children, in-laws, and grandchildren. The land for the cemetery was purchased in 1861 from William McNeal, one of Catherine's children. He is buried there. I didn't realize until recently that all these people were related to my gg grandfather Robert Theophilus McNeal (he's buried in Denver). I only knew that when I found the last of Catherine's children, Drucilla, and found on her death certificate that she had the same parents as my Robert. As a genealogist, it's exciting to find a link that's been missing.
So, back home again, I'm feeling part of a large family. Even if most of them are very, very quiet.