Sunday, January 16, 2011

Family Research Part II

Visiting Family Cemeteries

Typically, Missouri settlers were farmers and they buried their loved ones on the family homestead. Some of the burial sites contain as little as one grave to several. The condition of each cemetery is different. Some appear well cared for and others neglected and covered in undergrowth. The surnames on some headstones may not correspond to the surname you are looking for, but may be relevant to your lineage. The married name of female ancestors appears on the headstones and this may seem curious to you until you realize the connection.    

1) Plan a trip to visit family cemeteries. Sometimes cemeteries are in proximity to each other, and you can make a tour in one day. This can be an adventure in itself especially if you enjoy traveling country roads. You may have to park your car and hike to the location of a cemetery. Not all of them are so remote and are easily accessible.

2) Fill up the gas tank, and service the vehicle for a road trip. Locations of cemeteries can be as much as two hours away from a town. This may not seem like much driving distance, but it is if your car is low on gas or a hose breaks on your car. For the same reason, pack a picnic lunch or take snack bars and water. You may spend at least an hour at the site and the return trip adds to time spent without eating.  

3) Dress in comfortable clothes and wear shoes made for walking. My sister, Elisa and I, took a trip to several burial places in one day, including some that were not on the itinerary. Amazingly, it seemed like the ones difficult to get to were in excellent condition and another that did not require much effort to get to was overgrown and neglected. For instance, the Hedrick cemetery located on a high bluff above Crooked Creek, near Viburnum, Missouri required us to do some hiking. Below the bluff is an open field used for grazing or planting. We had to leave the van and walk a few hundred yards from the creek.

Once at the creek we took off our shoes, rolled up our pant legs and waded across to the gravel road just beyond the water. The road lies on a steep grade requiring us to walk up the hill bent slightly forward. Finally, we reached our destination and the graveyard was well kept and mowed. Another piece of advice, based on experience, is that if you are on a path in an Ozark forest do not step too far off the path. Keep track of the direction from where you came, and return the same way. When the foliage is thick, you can easily lose sight of the track and lose your sense of direction. In other words, a sense of dread creeps in because you do not know which way to go.

Family Research Part I

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