Monday, December 28, 2009
During my genealogical explorations, many of my relatives spanning three generations ended up being buried in Smith Cemetery in rural Clinton county Iowa. One rainy day, my daughter and I decided to track it down using GPS coordinates that I obtained from a couple verbal descriptions of its locations and following along on Google Earth. Since the family cemetery was in the middle of a field and not along the road, it was not visible to wayward travelers and using GPS coordinates was my only shot, if they were in fact correct.
As I got close, I came upon a farm with some historical looking buildings on one side of the road and a gate to a farm field on the other. The GPS told me to turn into the farm field but before I did, I paused to look over the farm and noticed two words painted on the side of an old barn. Smith Farm. I knew I was in the right location. I turned into the gateway to the field and drove up and over a hill on a grass strip bordering it and came to my destination, the Smith family cemetery pictured above.
Unlike many family cemeteries of this age and one I would visit just an hour later and a mile down the road, this one was still being maintained. In fact, many of the original gravestones had been replaced with newer ones right beside them. Since it was a small cemetery and not one documented by the Iowa Gravestone Project, I quickly photographed all the stones so that I could later enter it into the system for other future researchers to find. Among those photographed were one set of 3rd great grandparents, two sets of 4th great grandparents and my 5th great grandmother. The two sets of 4th great grandparents are the beginning of a small loop in my family tree that I blogged about earlier. I have also blogged about my 3rd great grandfather and his journey to Iowa in this post as well.
As my daughter ran around, I paused at each grave comparing what was written on the stone with my book of research that I take with me and also just to hold a silent conversation with that person or persons buried beneath. I also took time to gaze around me at the terrain on what was certainly fertile ground in the day and the old farmstead that I had driven by at the bottom of the hill and next to the river flowed in the bottoms below. It was a good place to raise family which is why I suppose three generations died there and two more generations grew up there and are buried nearby.
I visited another cemetery down the road a mile that was an offshoot of this line and where another 5th great grandparent is buried. I was hoping to find out information about his wife whom I only know as Rebecca since she wasn't listed in the burial records. Unfortunately, the tombstones were in such a bad state of decay that I could only read two of the dozen or so there and neither of them were the Peter Thomas I was looking for. Fortunately, a month ago someone wrote me an email from an inquiry I had made on a board about his wife letting me know she was actually buried halfway across the state in Greene county though there still was no more information on her maiden name or ancestry. That email prompted me to search my blog archives only to realize I had never blogged about this trip as I had planned. Better late than never I suppose.