Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Biography from the Heart: Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen

During most days of my childhood and youth I spent time with my grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff Meinzen. She lived two doors and one large yard away on our street in the village of Mineral Ridge. My mom watched me from our doorway when, at age five or six, I walked down the street alone to Gramma's. Through grade school I spent as much time in her company as my parents would allow.

Gramma taught me how to crochet granny squares and how to cut and hand stitch Dresden Plate quilt blocks. She answered my questions about baking and cooking while she made dinner, measured a cake, or mixed and rolled out pie dough. She treated me to Vienna bread and real butter after school. (Our own house was an oleo-only house. Eating real butter was almost as good as eating chocolate.) I watched her sew, helped her hang laundry outside on the clotheslines on summer Mondays, and we picked strawberries on June mornings then toted them home and made jam and fresh strawberry pie.

Grampa was a barber. To keep the costs down, Gramma used a wringer washer to wash the towels Grampa used in his barber shop (though my mom and aunt have said that she washed them by hand before she had a wringer washer). When her youngest daughter graduated from high school and chose to go to college, Gramma worked in a bakery to help pay for her tuition.

Gramma never had a driver's license: someone else drove when she needed to go anywhere. If the driver was my grandfather, she frequently reminded him that he was going too fast (at 35 mph!). On the other hand, fast trains were not a problem. She once took me with her on a train trip to Cleveland. Someone drove us to the train station in Niles where we boarded the train and an hour or so later we arrived at our destination. (The trip by car from Mineral Ridge to Cleveland took two hours or more.) Riding a train was an exciting adventure, all the better because I shared it with Gramma.

Because of the precious hours I spent in her company I think I should know some facts about my grandmother's childhood and youth; her parents and their personalities; her school experiences; how she met my grandfather and decided to marry him; and so much more. But I don't know any of those things. Maybe I never asked when I was young; or maybe I asked and she didn't answer; or maybe I asked and have forgotten her answers. (It's easy to believe that she didn't share much about her younger years: I come from a long line of non-storytellers on both sides of my family who remained mum about their childhood experiences.)

Other than the anecdotal information above, everything I know about my grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff Meinzen, can fit in a thimble. She was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, on July 6, 1892. Her parents are Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff. She is the second of 9 siblings. She married William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, on September 8, 1914, and is the mother of four daughters. She died on February 7, 1973, in Warren, Ohio, and is buried in Kerr Cemetery, Evansville, Ohio.

That last paragraph, the one with the bare-bones biographical information, is important for genealogical purposes. But the previous paragraphs are the biography from my heart. They tell who my grandmother was by going beyond dates and locations. I wish I could find paragraphs like those for every ancestor. They will help future generations know my grandmother, know the kind, loving, and generous person she was, and help them understand a little about the relationship I had with her. I'm grateful to have been able to spend so much time with her. She was a light in my young life.

. . . . . . . . .

This post is being contributed to the Carnival of Genealogy #116, Picture/Story for Women's History Month, which is hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. Thank you, Jasia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Site for British Sources - Tuesday's Tip

Do you have ancestors from England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales? If so, you may find Chris Paton's blog, British GENES (British Genealogy News and Events), helpful. I am amazed at his prolific energy: he's published over 400 posts this year and it's only March! He alerts his readers to new databases, information about genealogy societies and libraries, meetings, presentations, and genealogy news in general. As the subheading for his blog says, "The top stories and events concerning British Isles ancestral research from Irish born Scottish based blogger and family historian Chris Paton." Exactly. His posts also sometimes spill over to New Zealand, Australia, the Channel Islands, India, and various other Commonwealth countries.

Though British GENES does not have a search box, there is a long and detailed "labels" list on the right sidebar. On the left sidebar, posts are archived monthly which means that you can see the titles of a whole month's worth of posts by scrolling down.

One other aspect of British GENES that I really appreciate is the tab Essential genie links. Its categories include: national archives/libraries; local archives/libraries; family history societies; online genealogy records suppliers; UK and Ireland genealogy magazines; podcasts/vodcasts; gateway sites; and genealogy courses. Under each are lists of sources with links.

England, United Kingdom, or Great Britain?

On a slightly different topic though closely associated with Chris's blog.... I had trouble deciding whether to use "United Kingdom," "Great Britain," or "England " for the title of this post. I decided to do a little research before choosing and found information at infoplease. They're not the same. (If you already know the differences just skip over this part.)
  • Great Britain is the island that includes England, Scotland, and Wales. (On the map at right, if you drew a slightly curved line between Liverpool and Bristol, Wales would be on the left side of the line. If you drew a diagonally horizontal line about where the "K" in "Kingdom" is, above that line would be Scotland.")
  • The United Kingdom is a country that includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is its official name. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are often thought of as countries but are part of the country of the United Kingdom.
  • The British Isles includes Great Britain, the island of Ireland, plus some other smaller islands such as the Isle of Man. Infoplease states, "The Isle of Man is not a part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, even though its Lord is the Monarch of the United Kingdom."
  • The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of countries that at one time were British colonies. Members of the Commonwealth of Nations accept the United Kingdom Monarch as their own king or queen but each remains politically independent. Some members of the Commonwealth of Nations are Canada, India, Kenya, Malta, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tonga, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Ghana, Belize, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania, Solomon Islands, and Bahamas. There are 54 member countries.
There's the geography lesson (that you may or may not have needed!) and a recommendation for genealogy resources if you have ancestors from the United Kingdom and some of the Commonwealth Nations. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From the National Archives, about the 1940 Census

I hope you enjoy this brief presentation of the the behind-the-scenes work of the employees of the National Archives. Learn about their preparations to make the 1940 U.S. Census available on April 2, 2012.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Surname Variations #2 - Surname Saturday

These are some of the surnames I'm researching in my family history. I will continue to update this list as I work on different families.

Below each surname are the spelling variations, the dates found in records, and the location where the ancestor lived at the time.

ARMITAGE (Abel, Elizabeth)
  • Armitage - 1841-1861 Yorkshire, U.K. Censuses; 1880 U.S. Census
  • Harmatage - 1870 U.S. Census, Steubenville, Jefferson, Ohio
  • Armiddage - 1874 final naturalization record, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Armatage - 1875-76 Steubenville (Jefferson County, Ohio) City Directory

BICKERSTAFF (Augustine, William, Ellis, Edward Jesse, Emma)
  • Bickerstaff - early 1800s-present, Jefferson, Mahoning, & Trumbull Counties, Ohio
  • Biggerstaff - (Ellis) 1890-1907, Civil War Pension File; Jefferson, Mahoning, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio; Alleghany and Westmoreland Counties, Pennsylvania

DOYLE (Andrew, William, Gust, Lee)
  • Doyle - Mercer County, Pennsylvania, Northumberland, England - most commonly-found spelling across all research
  • Doile - (Andrew) 1880 U.S. Census

FROMAN (John, Tressa)
  • Frommann - 1856 passenger list, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
  • Fromann - 1860 U.S. Census, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
  • Fromman -1868 transcription of Tressa's baptismal record, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
  • Fromer - 1870 U.S. Census, Mercer County, Pennsylvania

GERNER (Fredrick)
  • Gener - 1926 - Pennsylvania Death Certificate Index, Butler County, Pennsylvania

MEINZEN (Henry Carl)
  • Minson - 1870 U.S. Census, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Minzen - 1880 U.S. Census, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Mincin - 1920 U.S. Census, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio


1940s Color Photographs

I want to know what 1940 looked like in Mineral Ridge, Ohio. Or Niles, or Youngstown, or Warren, Ohio. I can look at newspapers and find a few images; see advertisements for clothing, food, other necessities. But there are no color photographs like the one at right.

As I was sorting through some old emails tonight I found one from a friend who sent a link to a Denver Post website, Captured: America in Color from, 1939-1943. There are several dozen photographs that were taken on slides, some of the only color photographs of the time. They are some of clearest old photographs I've seen (and nothing like the little snapshots in any of our family albums!). Photographers include Jack Delano, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, John Vachon, and others.

In this photograph people are standing outside the newspaper office where headlines have been written on large sheets of paper and hung in the windows of the office. "Prince Calls on Roosevelt." "Billy Hill Is Dead, Aged 41." "New Earthquake Hits Brockton." "War News. Urges Italians to Oust Mussolini." (Click on the photo to enlarge it, then click again to make it even bigger and read the news.)

This photo was taken by Jack Delano in December, 1940, a little later than the census but it gives me a view into the times, as do the others at the Denver Post website.

At Wikimedia Commons I found more of Jack Delano's photographs, many available for download and public use. He documented the effects of the Depression; rural life including homes, farming, and community events; preparations for war, support for the war, and the war effort; and people at work.

I would like to jump back into those times -- but only as an observer, I think. How about you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Practicing for April 2

I spent some time this afternoon practicing my indexing skills, warming up my fingers and eyes in preparation to better index the 1940 U.S. Census on April 2. Just 13 days!

I'm probably more prepared to index than I am to find my ancestors in the 1940 Census. I haven't yet identified the Enumeration District (E. D.) for every family and/or individual I hope to find. But there's still a little time to look at the maps.

Have you looked at the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project blog yet? (Just click on the highlighted text and a new window will open with the blog in it.) There's a brief, interesting post there comparing the media blitz about the census in 1940 and the media blitz this year. Go to the blog to read about the excitement in 1940. The excitement this year? This will be the first time ever that a U.S. Census will be released to the internet and not on microfilm. Thank you, technology!

Have you signed up to index yet? Indexing is the process of looking at a digitized version of an original record and typing some specific information from it into boxes in the indexing program. Names, dates, ages, and locations are some of the most important pieces of information to index for a census. Once the census is indexed, it will be available for free public use. We'll be able to type in a name and, with a little luck, our ancestor's name will appear as a clickable link. Another thanks and tip of my hat to technology.

You can download the indexing software at the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project or at the FamilySearch Indexing page where, I just found, you can try a sample index project. (Click any of the highlighted words to go to the sites which will open in new windows.)

Won't you please join me in warming up your fingers?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading the Doctors' Handwriting - Military Monday

When I began to scan and transcribe Ellis Bickerstaff's Civil War Pension File it honestly hadn't occurred to me that I would be spending most of the time transcribing the handwriting of doctors who examined Ellis. Of the 15 documents I've transcribed, 5 of them have been Surgeon's Certificates. There's more handwriting in one of those certificates than in any other document. All five surgeons have nearly-illegible handwriting! (Click on the image and you'll be able to see what I mean.)

As I work on this file I find myself wondering why I decided to transcribe every document. Is it
  1. because I want to find genealogy information: the names of Ellis's wives, the dates of their marriages, addresses, and any other dates and and places? Or
  2. because I want to learn about the final years of Ellis's life and the challenges he faced?
I've decided it's for both reasons. I'm beginning to get a picture of Ellis's last years. He was given a pension of $8.00/month. Every several years he requested an increase which (as far as I've transcribed) was always denied. How frustrated he must have felt as his health deteriorated and he was unable to work to earn a living.

Because Ellis's widow is not my great-great-grandmother, I think I will only transcribe the documents from her file while are specifically genealogy-related.

It's slow going. Transcribing is slower than scanning. I think I was hasty to expect (and/or ignorant of the time it would require) to finish the file in one month. I could do it if I set aside the rest of my life for the month. Transcribing this file may be one item on my to do list that I don't finish in March.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Youth, Age, and the Month of March

I so enjoy looking at photos of people across a period of time to compare how they looked when they were young with how age changed their appearance. These are my great-grandparents, William and Tressa Rose Froman Doyle. Their eyes seemed to have become more deep-set, their hair thinner. And I've heard it said that noses and ears never stop growing. Looking at these photos I'd say there's some truth to that.

March was their month, it seems. Tressa was born in March, 1867. (The exact date is uncertain, a situation which I hope will be cleared up when her Pennsylvania death certificate arrives.) William was born on March 3, 1863. And they were married on March 17, 1885. I wish I knew how they chose March for their wedding. Was it for convenience sake or was it a purposeful choice to keep major events in the same month? Were they thinking about St. Patrick's Day?

They were married just over 51 years. March was the month of Tressa's death, on March 27, 1936.

Today I'm commemorating their 127th anniversary and remembering their birthdays. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Me? Why, Yes, I Do Have Irish Blood in My Veins

You know how I can tell I have Irish ancestors?  It's because of the idioms I heard as a child and youth. (Though that's not the only way I can tell.   Genealogy gives me the information, too.)

I grew up in the non-Irish community of Mineral Ridge, Ohio.   Until just a few months ago I didn't know the idioms I heard as a child were Irish.   I recently found them in a glossary of Irish words and phrases at the back of Patrick Taylor's Irish Country books.   As I read through the list I wondered to myself, "Irish?  Is that really an Irish idiom?"  My father always insisted there was no Irish blood -- absolutely none! -- on our Doyle side of the family.

Here are a few of the idioms from Taylor's glossary; idioms I heard as a child; idioms I didn't need the glossary to define for me because they were so familiar.

ants in your pants -- inability to sit still; constantly fidgeting
Mom to her 6-year-old daughter:   "You must have ants in your pants. Go sit on the porch step until I'm ready to go."

bound and determined -- absolutely set on a course of action (sometimes unintentionally)
Mom, to me after the third spill while making something:  "You are bound and determined to make a mess in the kitchen today, aren't you?"
Or:  "She is bound and determined to get her driver's permit the day she turns 16."

hit the spot –- the very thing I needed, usually used with a beverage or food
Dad, after eating a favorite dessert prepared by my mom:  "That pie and ice cream sure hit the spot."

hold your horses -- wait a minute
Mom:  "You just hold your horses.  We are not ready to make a decision about that today."

shank’s ponies -- your own two feet
Mom:   Niles was 3 miles distant from Mineral Ridge.  Mom used to talk about going to Niles when she was a girl.  When we asked her how she got there she said, "We used shanks ponies."

bit my head off -- expressed anger by shouting or being very curt
Mom:  "When I asked about ______ she just about bit my head off!  It was just a question. "

fit to be tied - furious
Mom, when someone broke something:  "I am fit to be tied that she broke the vacuum and I'm not done cleaning yet."

take a shine to - be attracted to
Dad:  "I've taken a shine to that little car and the way it drives."

hard row to hoe - very difficult
Mom:  "She'll have a hard row to hoe if she decides to marry him."

out of kilter -- out of alignment
Dad:  Maybe because he fixed everything broken in our home, he noticed things that were out of kilter.   He might have said of a picture hanging crooked, "That picture's out of kilter."   Or if a chair wobbled, "That chair's out of kilter.  One of the chair legs must be longer than the others."

raring to go -- eager and fully prepared
Mom, at 1:30 p.m.:   "She is just raring to go and the interview isn't until 4 p.m."

And then there's the shillelagh.
My maternal grandmother had a "shillelagh club," as she called it, which she kept on the top of a high cabinet.  It looked like a gnarled section of tree or tree root with knots and mounds in and on it.  I don't know if she waxed it but it was smooth and shiny.  She teasingly told us it was for protection.  I never learned how she came to have it or from where it came.   And I never saw her use it.  She always pronounced it shuh-lay-lee with the accent on the middle syllable.  Taylor gives the pronunciation as shi-lay-luh.   (Both pronunciations are given in the dictionary.)   He describes it as a blackthorn club used in stick-fighting sports or as a weapon.

As I remembered who said which phrases, I realized that the Irish idioms must come from both sides of my family (though I haven't researched far enough to find Irish ancestry on my mother's Bickerstaff side yet).  When I searched for the origin of the above phrases, I was unable to trace them specifically to Ireland.   I suppose many of these idioms are common across nationalities and boundaries.   I just thought it was fun to see Taylor's list that correlated to my own childhood memories.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone!


Copyright ©2012-2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Remembering Edward Jesse and Mary's Anniversary

Edward Jesse and Mary Thompson Bickerstaff were married on March 15, 1891. Their family gathered to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 1931.

Edward Jesse was 59 and Mary was 58. They had nine children. Their eight living children are standing with them in the photo, above. Left to right are Edward, 26; Cora, 20; William, 38; Edward Jesse; Emma, 38; Andrew, 24; Mary; John, 35; Mary Ellen, 31; and Daniel, 33.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa Bickerstaff!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Any Day But Friday

My mother, a member of "the Greatest Generation," always discouraged me from starting anything (reading a book; writing a letter; a sewing, cleaning, or painting project; etc.) on a Friday unless I could finish it on Friday. I don't know if that idea was based on her own lack of success in finishing things on Fridays or not. From my own experience, the projects I've started on Fridays have been challenging to complete if they take longer than that day. Maybe interest dwindles over the weekend.

On Friday night I downloaded the census indexing program from the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project website. I hesitated, remembering my mom's admonition. Then I realized that since downloading the program was all I did, it was both started and completed on Friday. Whew! Safe. No worries about it not getting done the same day.

Not wanting to take any chances with my lack of finishing things on Fridays, I waited to begin indexing until today. Of course I doubt that the need for indexing will ever end in my lifetime so it probably would have been okay to start on Friday: I can index till I die (or my vision goes).

Reading the instructions and agreement and downloading the program didn't take long at all and now I have this cute little icon sitting on my desktop. I click it and up pops an indexing screen which greets me with "Welcome, Nancy" and shows new messages for indexers; instructions; options for choosing what to index; and tools to help me understand the process. I wanted to share the process with you but when I signed the agreement to index, I agreed not to make and post screenshots of what I was working on. Instead, I found a video that shows the process. If you're hesitant to start indexing because you don't know what it might be like, this video will show you.

Indexing is a satisfying use of my time. In the end, my work will help others as well as myself. In addition to that, it feels like it stretches my brain just a little because I'm learning something new. Since there are different levels of indexing and a great variety of projects, that learning will continue into the future.

Want to give indexing a try? Don't wait till Friday. Begin today.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Which Would You Rather Have?

If you could choose only one for an ancestor you've never met, would you rather have . . .

. . . an ancestor's photograph with the person identified by name?
. . . a journal or diary entry?
. . . an heirloom?
. . . a one-page document with his or her signature?

We don't usually get to choose but if you could, which would you rather have in your possession?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Behind but Marching On - To Do List for March

The month is one quarter over and I've only just decided on what I hope to accomplish in March! I'm late, I'm late!

My to do list:
  • Scan and transcribe the rest of Ellis Bickerstaff’s Civil War Pension File. I thought it would work to scan a little every month but this file has become a monkey on my back. If I do only a document or two each month I would still be at it next year at this time. So this month I'm going to dive into the project and do as much as I can.
  • Post one book review. I've already posted an article about The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women. Because this book is so descriptive of the physical, cultural, and financial environment of the United Kingdom in the early 1800s, I think that if one has ancestors from that time period and location, the time reading it will be well-spent.
  • Rename and organize at least one batch of photographs. I tell myself to just keep working on this project and it will eventually get done.
  • Update and publish one surname variations post for Surname Saturday. I've always searched without a written list, trying to remember all the ways I've seen a surname spelled. I think having a the variations on a written list will allow me to make better use of my search time.
  • Publish 4 posts for 1940 U.S. Census Ambassador.
  • RootsMagic. This is another monkey. I don't know what my problem is but I need to just do it. I tend toward perfectionism but there are some tasks and projects that I know won't come out perfectly no matter how much time or effort I spend on them. I am persuading myself that imperfection is not usually a life or death situation. If I don't get things right in RootsMagic the first time, they can be changed, removed, improved. I just have to do it.
  • Watch/listen to at least one webinar or other educational program; read at least one Skillbuilders article

Monday, March 5, 2012

Women Triumphant

History, drama, poverty, injustice, adventure, suspense, early 1800s England and Scotland, Old Bailey, Newgate Prison, travel, ocean voyages, women's history, Van Dieman's Land, Australia....

If any of those topics interest you, or if you have ancestors who lived in the United Kingdom during this time period, I recommend The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women by Deborah J. Swiss.   I had a hard time putting it down.  In fact, I devoured it and then wished I hadn't read it so fast.  Careful research and Swiss's excellent writing skills paint vivid pictures and open windows for readers to view the life and times of four women transported to Australia.

Until a year ago I knew nothing about convict transportation.  Carolly Erickson's book, The Girl from Botany Bay, gave me my first introduction to this sad era in British history.  It was a short but gruesome account of a young woman, Mary Broad, who had been convicted of theft in the late 1700s.  Her sentence was transportation to Botany Bay, Australia's early convict colony.

The Tin Ticket takes place several decades later.  It begins in Scotland where we meet two abandoned, penniless, hungry teen girls fending for themselves and trying to stay alive in a poor and unsympathetic community.  Their story moves to prison in England, to a prison ship, then to Van Dieman's Land where we follow their imprisonment at Cascades Female Factory.  Next we meet a middle-aged widow who doesn't earn enough to feed her daughter even though she's employed.  She and her daughter follow the route of the two young girls and their paths eventually cross.  Later in the book we meet a woman from Ireland who also serves a sentence at Cascades Female Factory.

The four heroines are all convicted of what we would now call petty crimes, but which were considered worthy of transportation to "land beyond the seas" in the early to mid-1800s.  The interest of the book isn't learning whether these women survive.  We know they survive.  The interest of the book comes in the suspense of reading the conditions of their lives and how they survived, overcame adversity, and eventually triumphed.

Fi of Dance Skeletons first introduced me to this book in her post, The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women.   She posted a video that included interviews of descendants of the heroines of this story and images of Cascades Female Factory.  It was interesting to watch before I read the book but much better after I finished it.  Thank you, Fi.

The women in this book triumphed over adversity beyond my imagination.   I agree with Fi's assessment of the book:  "The truth of their stories is better than fiction."   If you read it, I hope you find it worthwhile.


Friday, March 2, 2012

1940 U.S. Census Community Project

The 1940 U. S. Census Community Project is sponsored in part by, FamilySearch, and Society sponsors are the National Genealogical Society (NGS), Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

Together they are hosting the indexing initiative for the 1940 U.S. Census. When the census becomes publicly available online on April 2, it will be pages of completely unindexed census records. Many of us who have been seeking our ancestors online for the past 8 or 10 years have become very comfortable with, maybe casual about, how easy it is to find our ancestors in records offered at, FamilySearch,, and other online sites, especially if we haven't indexed before. Perhaps we even take the indexed census records for granted.
Will we be surprised when we finally see the pages of the 1940 census? Will we know where to look to find our ancestors? Will we wish its pages were indexed already?

Indexing can't begin until April 2, but you can prepare now by downloading and installing the software at 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. After you do that you can try your hand at indexing a "batch" of records. Start now!

I've always loved the saying, "Many hands make light work."

Census image above from Measuring America: The Decennial Census From 1790 to 2000, p. 62.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Memory of a Kent, Ohio, Cemetery - Abundant Genealogy Week 9

As my friend and I rode the bus from the shopping district back to campus, we passed a beautiful old cemetery. The gravestones we saw out the window intrigued and beckoned to us. We were students at Kent State University and we determined to explore the cemetery during our next free afternoon. It would be the first cemetery I ever visited.

We pushed open the rusty gate and entered to stand under a canopy of tall trees offering shade and shadow for the final resting place of people we never knew. The gravestones dated to the 1800s. Some stood tall and proud. Others were broken, leaning, or had fallen. A few were beautifully carved with figurative engravings and epitaphs. The cemetery seemed abandoned. It was overgrown with grass, weeds, and bushes. We guessed that no living family members visited these graves of their long-dead ancestors.

We returned for a second visit, this time with a roll of paper and some charcoal in hand. We carefully made rubbings of several of the grave markers, took them home, and hung them on the bare walls over our beds. Roommates suggested they were macabre. We thought they were lovely.

The cemetery my friend and I visited was Pioneer Cemetery. At the time of our visit there was no sign identifying its name. I rediscovered it this week when I searched for cemeteries in Kent. I found photographs which align with my memory of the names and markers we saw those 40 years ago. These days the citizens of Kent realize the treasure of Pioneer Cemetery and it receives the care it deserves.

I'd forgotten about that cemetery until the other day when I was deciding what to write for Abundant Genealogy this week. As much as I love cemeteries and gravestones, I don't visit them often. I'm most interested in the graves of my own ancestors, none of which are nearby. Despite the fact that none of my ancestors are buried in Pioneer Cemetery, it was the best first cemetery I could ever have visited.

The double image bordered in black, at top, is a screenshot from DeadOhio Pioneer Cemetery where you can see more photos of Pioneer Cemetery's gravestones. "Kent Cemetery Holds Historic Secrets" is a screenshot from which you can visit if you'd like to read the rest of the article and learn more about Kent.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. I invite you to join in if you'd like.

This week's theme is Cemeteries: Genealogists understand the full value of cemeteries and appreciate them in ways most others can’t see. Share a cemetery or cemetery experience for which you are most thankful. What makes this place special? What does it mean to you and your family history?

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