Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Research Trip - Day Two, Part Two

You can read about Day Two, Part One here.
After the triumph of finding Freddie’s grave we headed back to Wabash County to photograph another cemetery. This one would not have as many ancestors as yesterday but we still managed to take 56 photos! We even found some that had photo requests on Find A Grave.

The disturbing trend we noticed yesterday continued today. While most of this cemetery was beautifully maintained, the older section was in sad disrepair. The grass needed to be cut and shrubs had overgrown to the point they had entirely engulfed sections of stones. It was going to take more gardening tools than my little cemetery bucket held to dig into that overgrowth. We didn’t locate stones for some of our family members and I feel sure that they are buried underneath all that shrubbery. The plan is to return in the fall and bring my husband along to do the dirty work here!

By now it is midday and my mother was nursing an extremely sore ankle. She had hurt it before we left for the trip and had irritated it by walking down the hotel stairs that morning. It was starting to look like locating America Cemetery may not be in the plans for this trip. However, I was driving and decided to go back to America to see if anyone was home at the house we were told may have the cemetery in the woods behind them. At least we could locate where we should return next trip.

When we arrived at the home there were cars in the driveway which was a great sign and all the encouragement I needed to hop out of the van and knock on the front door. It was opened by a lovely woman who told me that the cemetery was indeed in the woods and was genuinely happy to have someone stop and ask about it! She stated that she had lived there for 26 years and only a couple people had ever stopped and inquired about the cemetery. She told me to pull the van to the side of the drive and she would meet me out back and show me how to access the cemetery.

Beyond excited I hurried back to the car to pull it over and explained to my mom and aunt that the homeowner had offered to show me how to find the cemetery and that I was going to follow her. I can’t express the excitement in the air!

I got back out of the car and the kind lady told me that it would be quite a hike and that it included climbing a steep hill. I could feel my mom’s disappointment. There was no way she could manage on her ankle. But my aunt donned her hiking boots, intent on joining me. We met up with the homeowner and set off for the woods. As soon as we reached the edge and saw the initial hill we needed to climb my aunt backed off. It was covered in poison ivy and she is highly allergic. It looked like I was going on alone.

The homeowner gave me directions but then decided to join me! She had not been back to the cemetery in years and was not sure I would be able to find it. It seems she had been lost in those woods a couple of times and was worried I might get turned around. Instead it turns out the path was still visible and we set off together.

I’m not really sure how far we went but all of the sudden in the distance I saw a headstone! And then another and another. I left out a whoop of excitement! Among the trees in this woods lay America Cemetery. According to cemetery records the earliest burial occurred in 1836 and the last burial in 1871. Among those buried include Indians which lived in the area. My first thought as I stood there among the quiet of the woods was “how long has it been since one of my ancestors visited this place?” The last of my ancestors were buried here in 1861. Before the civil war had ended. I can easily guess it had been more than 100 years. And with that thought, I began to cry. I felt so blessed to be there among those stones.

I got out my camera and began photographing every stone in the cemetery that was still visible and standing. The homeowner joined me in my quest, pointing out stones among trees and behind shrubs. Some stones had fallen over and we were not able to lift them (another job for my husband in the fall!) so we had to leave those for now. The names we were able to read off the stones came straight out the of Wabash County history books: Garrison, Harrell, Pearson, Rinearson and Scott!

After I photographed all the stones I took a moment and photographed the cemetery itself. And then we started back. Before the cemetery disappeared from my view I turned around and took one last look and promised…..I will be back.


  1. I'm so glad that you were able to find this cemetery in the woods and document it. It's wonderful that you are going to go back and document the stones that have fallen. It sounds like you had a very productive trip!

  2. Congratulations on finding this cemetery despite a steep climb and poison ivy. Obviously it was well worth the trek. It certainly looks like a beautiful, peaceful setting.

  3. I am enjoying hearing about your trip for 2 reasons- I used to live in those parts of the state, and I am going to be trying to find a couple family cemeteries in Ohio County, KY in June and only pray I am lucky enough to find that the owners of the property will be as gracious for us. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Wow! I know my mom was really disappointed about the poison ivy. I loved reading the details of the trek.