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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 4 and 5 - Where are my ancestors?

These last three days have been fun for me.  I am a genealogist and I have always wanted to go cemetery hopping - not just checking out the cemeteries but also checking out where my ancestors lived.  We have been able to do just that these last couple of days.  We have been across so many states so quickly.  Here are a couple of interesting things to me.
(We drove across the Mississippi River)

We were stopped along the highway so these trucks carrying these really long things could make a turn.  They stopped the traffic several times.  I finally realized what they were carrying....the pieces for a windmill.  It took several huge and long trucks to carry the parts for one windmill.  This is one of the wands (or whatever you call them).

Tonight we are in Pennsylvania.  We had planned to stay in Greenville, PA but found no motels in Greenville so we are staying in a nearby town.  Yesterday we were in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  So we have been all across the US these last few days and I have found, other than where I live, this to be the prettiest place in this is Pennsylvania - at least Mercer County.  It is quaint and beautiful.  Maybe it is the time of year as everything is so green and lush but I love the well manicured homes, the old awesome buildings, and the is beautiful - that's all I can say.  I forgot to take pictures of the really pretty places that we saw but this is one little farm that I thought was cute.
I love old barns and this was a cool one right across from one of the little country cemeteries.

Yesterday we were hunting for my family in Indiana.  We went right to the cemetery where I knew they were buried.  We looked and looked but could not find them.  I found some distant relatives but not my great grandmother and her brother.  My great grandmother was visiting her daughter and her brother at Hudson Lake near Carlisle, Indiana.  My great grandmother and her brother Noah had been traveling by horse and buggy and crossing a train track.  One train went by and they thought the way was clear so started to cross when another train came the other direction killing them both as well as the horse.  They had a double funeral and I knew they would be buried close to each other....but we could find neither of them.  I was so discouraged.
I saw a couple of ladies with a map of the cemetery and they told me they got it at the town hall but the town hall was closing in 20 minutes.  My husband and I rushed down main street to find the town hall.  I hurried in with a whole 6 minutes to spare only to be told that since it was the end of the month, they were closing down early.  But, the lady seeing me about to break into tears (not really but it sounded good), she did a quick look through some files to see if she could find my ancestors.  I had 4 great grandmother Mary Ann Smith, her brother Noah Zaring, and their parents John and Nancy Zaring.   Unfortunately, she said that they did not keep records at the time of death of my ancestors.  Now she could have found the cemetery plot read out but she needed to know where my ancestors were before she could go through the cemetery plot list.  She did offer to take down the names and do some research for me and would probably have it ready by Monday afternoon.  Since that didn't work, I thanked her and my husband and I headed back to the cemetery to look again.

Again, nothing.  My husband suggested we take a drive to Hudson Lake to see where my family had once lived.  So we reluctantly left the cemetery and headed down the road.  The funny thing was that there was no lake at Hudson least none that we could see.  We turned around and were headed home when my husband asked if I wanted to try one more time.  (We both had walked just about the whole cemetery already).  I started to say no but I was so disappointed at not finding them that I wanted to give it one more try.

Lucky and I were walking through the cemetery checking out all of the older stones more carefully.  Many were very hard even impossible to read.  My husband was talking to our daughter on the phone.  He had asked her to say a prayer for me because he knew how much it meant to me.
Suddenly he called out "There's a Zaring".  I ran across the cemetery and low and behold...there was Noah and his wife Ellen.  I was so excited.  We both began searching everywhere to find my great grandmother.  No luck.   I was happy to have at least found Noah and told my husband it was okay for us to go.  As I looked towards the car, there it was, big as life.  My grandmother's stone.  How we missed it before I do not know.  Her stone was exactly like Noah's but they were facing each other yet were about 30 feet from each other.  I took lots of pictures, gave thanks for prayers answered, and was satisfied to head on to our next destination.

So today we got to Greenville, PA to search for my husband's family.  This time we were not real sure where the cemetery was located.  We believe it is in Mercer County and around Greenville but not exactly sure where.  We are pretty sure it is in a very old cemetery.  We set out to find their grave stones.  We found several old cemeteries but never found the graves of his ancestors.  We did get a wonder experience of seeing where they had lived.  So many of the building were so old that I am sure some of them had to be standing when his family was alive.

I was very saddened by some of the cemeteries.  Some of these really old cemeteries are no longer being cared for.  We saw headstones falling over with grass growing wildly around them.  We spoke to a lady at one cemetery and she said that they had sold the church but the guy that bought it doesn't want to take care of the he hasn't.  It was sad to see.

A couple of the cemeteries were these little country places tucked away in the middle of nothing.  I am sure there are probably thousands of these cemeteries around the world.  It was fun just checking out the dates and names.  We tried to think about how life was when they were living in this area.  I really enjoyed this.  I did learn a few things though.  1st be sure to wear comfortable shoes as many of these cemeteries are on hillsides...very hard walking.  Also, make sure you use the restroom prior to walking the cemetery as there are no restrooms there.  I also learned that it is best to look at cemeteries during the week and during working hours.  If you need to look something up or talk to someone about the cemetery, you will get more help during the week.

Tomorrow we are taking it easy.  We are really tired.  We are heading over to the Buffalo, New York area next.  We have a couple of places to check out on the way - one more cemetery and Lake Erie.

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