Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thinking about roots.

It's getting close to the Illinois St. Andrew Society's Highland Games, June 18-19, at the Oakbrook Polo Grounds. I'll have a brand spanking new tent to set up. If the weather looks even remotely dicey on Friday, I won't go. The memories of last year are still fresh.

As I mentioned, I visited my old hometown last week when I went to Decorah on business. I stopped by my dad's grave and told him everything that has been going on. After that, I walked among the headstones in one of the older parts of the cemetery looking for relatives.

We know where my grandparents, Archie and Eltha, are buried. We know where my grandfather's parents, Lawrence and Minnie, are buried. We know where Lawrence's father, Andrew, is probably buried, but we don't know where his mother, Anna, is buried. Andrew came to America with his uncle, Matthew, and aunt, Jean. We know where Matthew and Jean are buried.

I should have brought along the hand drawn map I received several years ago when I was doing more digging into the Thompsons than I do now. But I honestly didn't think I'd have the time to stop so the idea of bringing along my genealogy materials whooshed through my head like a stiff breeze. When I walked through the older section of the cemetery, I had a vague remembrance of where Anna's grave might be but no clear image. I didn't find Anna but I found another Jean and Janet.

My camera died after taking these two photos. I need to come back and photograph the stones from all angles. In the top photo, I think the small marker on the right side had a name that began with "M". There was, I believe, a Margaret. Again, without the stacks of information I have, I couldn't remember.

These markers are exciting to find. My mom and I have talked about meeting at the cemetery some weekend day with cameras and paper and pencil, to decipher the aging stones and document their location in the cemetery. I took a look at the Google earth view in the hopes that we could use that to mark where everyone rests. It's not the clearest. Still, it's better than nothing and, 5 years ago, we couldn't do that so we will make it work.

Jean, the top marker, was born in Scotland and came over on the boat, the British Bark Sterling. Janet was born shortly after the family arrived in Northeast Iowa.

Time is not a friend to headstones. I wasn't sure if I could scrape that orange stuff off or it I should leave it. I would like to do something that the names and dates will still be visible for years to come. I guess the first step is contacting the cemetery association to see what is and is not allowed. Then, what would it cost to clean these and do some preservation work.

My father rests to the left of the building in the background. He's got a wonderful view of a cornfield and it's peaceful.

Beverage: V8


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