Thursday, June 23, 2016

Knowing Where We Come From

A couple weeks ago I spent 6 days traveling around South East Iowa and North East Missouri visiting the graves of my ancestors. Each Memorial weekend for as long as I can remember my mom, aunts, and grandmother would take me to the various cemeteries and show me where many of my family members were buried. They told each year who each person was and how they were related to me. When I was young not much of the information sank in and I always got bored traveling around. It wasn't until a few years back that I really started taking an interest in family history and genealogy. So in 2014 I asked my mom if we could do the cemetery visits again and this time I wanted to document it all. I took my camera and a note pad and took pictures of each family member and wrote down how they were related. I was over the moon excited to do this.

It blew my mind that for years they were taking me to visit places that several sets of my 4th great grandparents were! It really struck an interest in me to learn more about who they were. Later that year I became busy with school and work and wasn't able to go do the cemetery visits on Memorial Day 2015. But earlier this year I signed up for and started making my family tree out. That has enabled me to find more ancestors and information. They become more than just names on a stone. You learn their professions, where they came from, and other interesting facts.

So this year I was able to take off of work and we started our adventures memorial weekend and visited graves of most of my moms family but did see a few on my dads side. We visited 9 different cemeteries and found one set of 5th great grandparents on my dads side! That's the farthest back that I've been able to see the graves of so far. The sad part was it was in a cemetery not far form where we've driven a thousand times and could have stopped at on numerous occasions.

Then we came home for a couple days but left again for 3 more days for more family history fun. We stopped at a library in one of the counties where some of my dads family were from. It was the first time i'd been able to do research scanning through books and old records. I felt i could now officially call myself a genealogist! We found lots of neat information on not only my dads side but even my moms side which surprised me! One neat tidbit was there was a book about Ohio history (in a Missouri library) that mentioned my 4th great grandfather on my moms side was the first sheriff in Holmes Co. Ohio and that his brother served on one of the first courts. To find and see their names in books really is an amazing thing to me. After that we met up with my dads 1st cousin whom I've known all my life and a 4th cousin twice removed who I hadn't met yet, in a cemetery in NE Missouri. We looked around there and found family members and then went and ate a picnic in a park.

After the picnic we still had 3 hrs of daylight left so we hit up 3 more cemeteries. One of which was in the back of this guys pasture! We pulled up to the drive way and luckily he was outside. We walked up and introduced ourselves and said we had 4 generations of family buried back in his pasture and that we would like to see it if possible. He was nice enough to drive us out there! 3 strange women he'd never met before. It was a beautiful evening for tromping though a grown up cemetery not visited in several years.

The next day we visited a museum in another county where my dad was born and the local library and looked at their genealogical records. We found stuff that my cousin who's done a lot of research didn't know. We also visited 4 more cemeteries 2 of which were also again in cow pastures!! Luckily they were easier to get to and didn't require permission. This brought our total for this weekend up to 10 cemeteries and 19 cemeteries for the week!

One of the things that I've realized about my ancestors is that they loved hills!!! Most of the places where they lived and then were buried were in some of the hilliest parts of the area! But being buried in hilly land makes for some beautiful scenery when visiting the cemeteries. It was an awesome week and an experience I wish everyone would take the time to do. Most people I know don't know many relatives past their Great grandparents and sometimes even grandparents. If you don't take an interest and pass the stories down then they get lost and those people become forgotten. I know that I will drag my future kids around to the cemeteries in hopes that they to will learn to appreciate where they come from and who they came from.