Wednesday, May 21, 2008

At Long Last, the First Notch In My Genealogy Belt

This weekend in an effort to put my new GPS system to the test in regards to genealogy, we took the "scenic" route to a nearby town to do some shopping. We ended up NE of the town of Martinsburg where my 3G grandparents were buried and the closest to where I currently live. It was a church cemetery so even though I didn't know where within the cemetery they were buried, I was hoping it would be small enough to find them anyway. I did but I was lucky.

The GPS led us right to the church and cemetery located on a small gravel road in a gentle valley in an otherwise perfectly flat plain as far as the eye could see in any direction. As we pulled up, Little Abbey was asleep so I was turning the vehicle around to face the other direction to give her some shade to sleep in while we looked when I saw their headstone. It was located only about 50 feet from the road and under a large cedar tree. You couldn't miss it.

I know very little about David Monohon other than he and his wife both were born in Indiana but moved to Iowa in the early 19th century where they spent their lives on a farm near Martinsburg. David was a Civil War Veteran who fought for the Union in the 35th Iowa Infantry, Company F. According to lore, he was wounded and spent time in a POW camp where he supposedly chopped off a toe for reasons now lost to memory. He used to tell his grandkids that he used to eat black ants while a POW and that they tasted like picked. His brothers lived short lives, one run over by a wagonload of wood in San Diego, another killed in the Civil War and another killed on the Milwaukee Railroad. Perhaps that is why David Monohon supposedly got drunk one night and tried to knock the engine off the track. However, David outlived them all living to the ripe old age of 81years only survived by his wife who died a dozen years later.

This was my second attempt at finding the grave of one of my 3G grandparents and my only successful attempt so far. Eventually, perhaps soon, I hope to add to this list. Now however, kneeling at their grave I'm not sure how I should feel. I feel elated having found a part of me that until recently in my life, I never knew existed. I feel sorrow that I can never get closer to someone directly responsible for bringing me into this world than the six feet between us and 150 years. I wonder what it would be like to teleport back through time and just have an hour to talk with David and Lucy and even then, what would we talk about? Most likely, I would just sip lemonade on a wide porch of their farmhouse and keep an eye on my 2G grandmother Rosa as she played out front with her siblings.

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