It happened to me late last night before shutting down the computer. Maybe it has happened to you too? Let me try to explain.
We contact other genealogical researchers; or vice versa. We correspond with them for a while (maybe it was years ago before the Internet and handwritten letters with SASE’s were the preferred choice of contact, or using your manual or electric typewriter to compile a neatly typed up correspondence with SASE’s), but time moves on and the exchanges trailed off. We move on to other unsolved genealogical mysteries that we realize lie before us begging to be solved.
And, speaking of ‘trails’…quite often among our last steps on the trail to learn more about the lives of our ancestors are those that lead us to the cemetery where they were buried. Invariably, we must pass by one grave marker after another; eagerly looking for the names on stones we are hoping to find. We see veterans with gravestones or waving flags that tell us they served in an early war such as the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or the Civil War. Our ancestor may have also been a veteran. Our slow walk through the cemetery gives us a good look at who else found eternal rest and peace at the same cemetery our ancestor and their family chose for themselves.
So, whether you found your ancestor’s gravesite marked by a readable grave marker or not, you can gain a certain sense of who your ancestors’ neighbors were and how they also helped shape their community. You want to learn more about these folks whom you suspect your ancestor often greeted after church was over, shook hands with, or served alongside in one of those long ago wars.
You widen your research to include contacting those who are researching others buried at the same cemetery as your ancestor. It is easier to do since the Internet now too!
So it was that last night I decided to once again read through one of the documents I had compiled several years ago about the Butcher (AKA Walnut Grove) Cemetery in North Lewisburg, in Champaign County, Ohio where a 3rd great-aunt and her first husband, daughter, and a grand-daughter were buried. The document I chose to browse through was about just the veterans buried at this cemetery. In the notes, I came across two emails I had copied into the document from a charming lady named Jane “Janie” Martin Whitty. Her email address was “Whittyfun” which I thought was unique and yes, funny. Jane had actually found me first and decided to contact me; and I am so glad that she did.
Sharing Jane “Janie” Martin Whitty’s email to me from April of 2010.:
“I am trying to contact you. I am the Evans/Underwood descendant of Charles E. Evans, Civil War Veteran buried in Butcher/Garwood Cemetery in Champaign County, Ohio, mentioned in your PDF file at the North Lewisburg website (I am OhioHeritage with the Evans/Underwood family histories).
Charles E. Evans was my Great-great grandfather, and I also have info on the Underwood family Francis Sara Jane Underwood, daughter of Amos Underwood, who was his, Charles E. Evans’, wife). Amos Underwood and Sara Jane Rossell, his wife, were also residents of North Lewisburg, Champaign County, Ohio and are in the 1881 Beers history.
I have pictures and histories on them. One of their grandchildren, Frankie Underwood is also buried in Butcher Cemetery (and a daughter and son of Charles E. Evans, as well, buried there with Charles).
If there is any info I can contribute for your excellent research of that area and those residents during that time, please contact me at this site
I would also very much appreciate if you could send me a copy or transcription of the news article on Charles E. Evans death May 10, 1888 (published in the Urbana Daily citizen you referenced on the additional info). I live in Florida and this article has eluded me. Our family history has handed down that his death was a “hunting accident” but suspected suicide and they weren’t sure.
I would like to know more and can tell you what I know from what was handed down.
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org of mine you found on Charles E. Evans
(Cached version as of May 15, 2018.: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://ohioheritage.tripod.com/ohioheritagephotoalbum/id1.html )
Thank you so much for your excellent research!!
Janie Martin Whitty – an Evans/Underwood Descendant…still researching after all these years.”
Of course, I recall being totally thrilled to hear from Janie and her email (which I can no longer find in my Yahoo email account!) which thankfully remains in that document for me to re-read anytime I want!
As I re-read Janie’s email again last night I felt an urging to see what Janie has been ‘up to’ since we last corresponded over 8 years ago. A Google search gave me my answer. Sadly, I learned that Janie passed away on December 25, 2015. I was overcome with grief knowing that Janie had passed away. With my feelings of loss came my guilt that I had not found a way to continue our correspondence so we could have stayed connected longer.
Thus, I want to share this beautifully touching tribute to Jane “Janie” Martin Whitty that was compiled by her family and shared in a slideshow of photographs from Janie’s childhood years to her last years. To me Janie and her research work live on, and what we shared with each other about her ancestors, my ancestors, the condition of the cemetery — all of it — remain with me in my memories and from re-reading her emails to me.
Sharing this moving and loving tribute to a dynamic lady who touched my life in a way I won’t ever forget.:
A cemetery is a sacred ground that lives and breathes with a history that changed a community during its years of early development. It may look long forgotten and neglected, but under the layers of vines, possibly intertwined with poison ivy, are what remain of the gravestones and monuments that mark the final resting places of those who came before us. If they want to be found, they will, I always tell myself; and there is a reason they reach out to those of us who are receptive to them. Not to just tell us their story, but to help us connect with each other!