Barry's Relatively Speaking: Lesson From The Littlest Genealogist

Posted on Aug 25, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on MyGenShare.com. Mary-Helen  shares the following experience.

On a brief trip to South Carolina we were searching for a family cemetery where Rowan Jennings, an immigrant ancestor from Ireland was said to be buried. Relatives had located the gravesite earlier and described it in a letter, but after driving up and down the lonely stretch of road for an hour without success we decided to try contacting the widow of a grandson of Rowan Jennings, who operated a small general store. She was unable to help us, but as we talked two customers entered the store and joined our conversation. By coincidence the cemetery happened to border their farm and they would be happy to have us follow them there. We eagerly did so and to our surprise found the cemetery was located in the very spot we had jokingly chosen as "most likely place to be buried". How we could have missed it, we do not know; for although it was hidden from sight by a tangle of trees and bushes, there was a bright red stop sign right in front of it.

After an unproductive search through the thick undergrowth, our efforts were being interrupted by the growing twilight and protests from our two little children, when my husband's foot struck something solid. Unable to read in the shade he carried a broken half of an old headstone down to the roadside, it was so weathered and worn that it was totally illegible, and we had neglected to bring chalk or other materials for making a rubbing. As my husband returned to make one last search, I turned to see our two-year old son guietly sifting handfuls of dirt all over the aged stone. Chastising him I ordered him to clean off the pile of sand immediately. To my great surprise from beneath that layer of rich, red clay emerged the words "Catharine Byars born 1790 d. 9 March 1883, age 93 years." Here was the gravestone of the mother-in-law of our Rowan Jennings. Although his stone was not located, we felt thrilled with the opening of this new line of research, and we had learned a valuable lesson from our littlest genealogist.

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