Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Coincidence or Serendipity?

I'm currently reading the book Physic Roots by Henry Z. Jones and it has made me more aware of those genealogical research moments that, well, just aren't logical!

I experienced one of those moments recently while transcribing a cemetery with my local genealogy group.

Last Tuesday our group met at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Cemetery to begin documenting the over 20,000 burials there.  We began by splitting off into groups, two to a group, and selecting a section of the cemetery we wanted to start with.  My partner, Lin, looked at the map and selected section 10 for us.  We drove around until we were able to locate section 10 and looked at it in dismay.  It looked so organized and doable on the map but the reality is that it may take us until the snow flies to complete it!  It is a large area and not laid out in a perfect grid....the stones are scattered througout the section.

We stood there and pondered where to begin for a few minutes before deciding to start in the back and work our way forward.  As we walked to the back of the section Lin asked me if I had anyone buried here.  I quickly replied "no" and then as quickly amended it to say "well yes".  I had a friend in high school who died and is buried here but I have no idea where and chances are with over 20,000 burials out here I won't stumble across it.

I know what you are thinking.......and nope....that's not what happened.  What did happen is just as strange.

As we uncovered the second stone located underneath a large pine tree my heart stopped.  There laid the grave for Barry Burke, my husband's best friend from grade school.  Barry died tragically at the age of 19 one year after we graduated from high school.  My husband was away at college when it happened and Barry was living out of state.  We always assumed he was buried in Florida.

But there he was.  Coincidence or Serendity?  You tell me.

Barry E. Burke
Beloved Son and Brother
11 May 1962 - 8 Jan 1981

1 comment:

  1. These kind of things happen all the time once you let them! I love the Hank Z Jones books! When I'm in a cemetery and can't find the obvious, I summon up the spirits and ask for help. Sure enough, I turn around and find myself looking right at the tombstone I was looking for.