Monday, June 29, 2009

Graveyards and Indiana!!

Since Bruce has already talked about the boat and the fun we had on the first day, I'll talk a bit about what we are really doing here -- finding the family!

Now, Bruce is the expert but I can tell you that one of the amazing things that happens when you start contacting the people you are related to is that you find out that they are a lot like you in a bunch of small ways and sometimes in a few big ways.

For instance, my cousine Shirley is my same age (almost to the day), she is a computer programmer (I'm a Web guy), she has the same couch my wife and I once owned and we immediately felt comfortable talking to each other. But until yesterday, I only knew she existed as a part of what Bruce calls "the tree". Uncanny!
Graveyards (cemeteries)... not a place I have spent any time at all until yesterday!! Yesterday morning Bruce suggested that we visit a couple graveyards and try to verify some connections he has made on paper or by inference but had yet to prove. So off we went to Monroeville, IN to look at grave stones.
Guess what?? I was nervous about walking around in those places and more than a little creeped out by the entire process. But in for a nickel, in for a dime, so I trooped...
Guess what else?? There ain't no map to most graveyards so ya' gotta' walk around a lot and read on the fly! After about an hour of the two of us searching, we found the 5 tombstones that reinforced a key link among some folks Bruce was trying to link!! Success!!
That was Sunday...


  1. Sounds like y'all are having a good time! Graveyards aren't to bad. And it's interesting to read some of the old tombstones. They can be a lot more interesting than those you see today. You can learn a little bit about the people and their families.

    Continue to keep an open mind and have a great adventure!

  2. The things we found out on Sunday were amazing. I had no idea what had ever happened to my great grandmother Julia Downing Mencer after her husband William died in 1924. I could not find her on any census records and had found no record of her death. I wasn't even sure if the obit that had for William Mencer who died in Sept of 1924 was "my" William Mencer. I didn't think there would be a marker because on the death cert his residence was listed as the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. I did find that one of his sons, the younger brother of my grandfather was buried in the same cemetery (Memorial Cemetery in Monroeville, Allen, IN) so that was my goal. To find Charles, and to look for William.

    Well, to put it mildly I found the motherlode. I found Charles, buried with his wife. The stone next to him was William Mencer (1854-1924) and there right in front of William was Julia Mencer. She had actually died a year before he did.

    Meeting with heretofore unknown family was great. Curt is right as we all felt an immediate connection. My cousin Louis (Louie), now the patriarch of our family at 79 was a hoot! We got to meet all of our cousin Shirley's family as well and she even took us to another cemetery to find the brother of my grandfather, who is Shirley's grandfather.

    All in all a great day. Monday is research day at the Allen County Genealogy Library.

  3. Oh the things we learn in a library!

    The first thing I learned is that having ALL that information available is more than a little overwhelming. Not knowing how to access it is more than a little frustrating. Trying to take on too much too fast is a recipe for disaster. I did find the death certificate for my great grandmother Julia (died of liver cancer). I found enough documentation that the second wife that I was never sure was my great grandfather's was in fact his. I found the actual court docket book that held the record of his divorce so I got the actual date of that. I even discovered a couple potential skeletons in the "Mencer Closet" that I hope to verify tomorrow at the courthouse.

    The Allen County Library Genealogy Center is amazing. I could have stayed there for days on end just digging, and looking and digging some more. BUT...the best thing I found to do is to find EXACTLY what things you are looking for and then ask someone there to help you either by telling you where to look or telling you the records are not there. I did not know my great grandmothers exact date of death or birth. Speaking to one of the gentlemen that worked there about it he went and pulled out a book that had her listed by name and it showed not only the date of death, but the burial location (which I had found the day before) and her exact date of birth.

    All in all a profitable visit from a genealogical point of view.

    Tomorrow we go to the courthouse in Fort Wayne and then off to Wheeling West Virginia to find some of the answers I could not find here.

    Should be fun!