Barry's Relatively Speaking: A Pot of Geraniums

Posted on Oct 22, 2012

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

The graveyard in Mason, New Hampshire was empty of the usual signs of a younger generation remembering. No flowers or flags were in evidence as I somewhat methodically tried to read each marker for the one named Silas B. Thompson, my great great grandfather who was buried in 1886.

The last burial took place in this yard of graves in 1890, therefore I felt that this was the proper location. The stones were in an informal array. Quickly losing patience I decided to seek the help of the town clerk and cemetery record keeper.

He was sitting in a tiny room overlooking the green. He pulled the dusty volume of cataloged burials from the top shelf. A Silas B. Thompson was listed in the graveyard I had just escaped from. I tried again. Four stones up from the lilac bush, two over... Thompson. In this quiet unadorned cemetery my great great grandfather's memorial was before me. Upon it was a pot of flowering geranuims. The only pot of living flowers in the entire place. In this cemetery so devoid of human care, why did my ancestral marker have a flowering tribute?

My feet flew to the town hall. I repeated the story. "That must have shook you up," the keeper uttered calmly. "Can't help you, try the librarian." No one could help. Finally, I was sent to a lady down the road. She listened, then replied, "Oh, Esther put them there before she left for Maine for the summer. She is Nellie Thompson's daughter, Silas B. Thompson was her grandfather."

I wrote to Esther in Maine. She replied that she was 88 years old and quite startled to find a new cousin. We continue to exchange family history and all because of a geranium.

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