Genealogy & Family History Community
I should rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not. ~ Jonathan F. DavisSeason's Greetings to one and all! I hope your Christmas was jolly and that 2013 will be filled with wonder, joy and good health for you and yours.
And so, we've arrived at the final bit of this collection of family tales and photos from my recent cemetery sleuthing trip. I hope you've enjoyed seeing these little burying grounds as I did while strolling through them, conversing with my own ghosts of Christmas past.
Today I'll finish with some stories of my paternal grandmother's forebears and the reasons for the anguish I've felt contemplating this part of my family history. Tragedy was a frequent and unwelcome visitor in this line. It has also been the cause of much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments as I've tried to push past the multiple veils of secrecy obscuring G-G-Grandmother Caroline Casey's (below) first husband, one William "something" Prater.
Well, look at that!! There's a sign on the county road that says "Hayes Cemetery." How nice of someone. According to my maps that's it, so buckle up your seat belts and let's follow the arrow or, since we are here on the GOS, the orange boa.......
Yet another dead tree, this one is the midst of what looked to be a farm equipment burial ground of sorts assured me I was on the right path. Fitting, I thought, just perfect.
And up ahead, there on the right, was a little green patch of ground and a cluster of trees. Here we are! And some other ancestor hunter had been here just recently.
I almost fell on my butt (again) getting out of the car. I was so excited, because this was the burial spot of my semi-enigmatic Great-Great Grandmother Nancy Caroline Hayes (nee Casey). She is enigmatic mostly because of her first marriage to the so elusive William Dudley? J? Prater that I hardly am sure that he ever existed. Not really, but I think he was one of those rambling men that I was once warned about. That or Caroline got tired of the seemingly endless moving hither and yon.
Here she was at last. Born Nancy Caroline Casey, her first marriage ended in divorce. At least it did according to someone on Ancestry.com who has the record but won't share it with me. Grrrrrrrr. In any event, after the birth of my Great-Grandmother Eliza Jane Prater in August of 1856 and her brother William Dudley (or J.) Prater, Jr. (Sonny) in July of 1859, Caroline married the widower John W. Hayes in August 1863. He was fifteen years older and had ten children by his first wife, the first two of whom had died in infancy. John and Caroline went on to have eight more children including Ida who died at the age of ten; Caroline who died at 5 months, Letta who was born in 1868 but "disappeared" sometime after the 1870 census, and my Grandmother's namesake Noi. Noi died at 18 years of age when she attempted to jump from a buggy to safety when her boyfriend's team (of horses) reared in fright of something.
I cannot imagine the pain this family endured. I just cannot even though there are worse stories from this time in history and they are not that terribly unusual. I do know that in John W. Hayes's obituary it was noted that he said "death was sweet." No wonder.
That does it for that. Aren't you glad? Next up on the map was the cemetery at Mt Carmel Baptist Church. Once again, I discover many familiar names on the monuments here. I actually remember coming here to a funeral when I was just a tiny little thing. Funny those hidden little places in our minds where such memories reside.
To add - a little soupçon (I just threw that in for our friend, the ever so gentile slksfca), just a scintilla of spicy confusion - to the genealogical mix, Nancy Caroline's very first child was my Great-Grandmother Eliza Jane Prater. Of course, as her mother before her, Eliza married a man named Hayes, to wit, Romulus McCray Hayes, or Mack, as he was known by all. I think it is quite possible that John W and Mack were related in some way. Uncle and nephew, maybe? Cousins? John's parents both died before he was one year old and Mack's died before he was eighteen when he came to Illinois with his older sister and family. Both came from Granville County, North Carolina. I have heard living relatives tell of Mack's recollections of being a boy sitting on a wooden fence watching waves of soldiers marching by. He was lucky to have missed the fighting.
My grandmother was told by her mother, so the story goes, that she could never understand why she and her brother were always treated so much differently than her half-siblings. How they were made to work so much harder and do the dirtier chores. Makes me think that Caroline took it out a little bit on those children of that Prater fellow and lends truth to the story of divorce. Such a shame. In any case, it didn't stop Eliza from naming her first child Ida and her last Noi, my own wonderful and loving Grandma.
We've almost come to the end but, like all of life, it's really just a circle. The last stop for now is another cemetery I'd visited before. I was hoping against hope that the little, forsaken church was still standing but my hopes were dashed again.
This cemetery is nicely situated on a little rise behind the farm home of a descendent of many buried here. When I talked to the owner of the farm, he told me that they had to demolish the church in 2002 as it had become such a fire hazard. It was, after all, just a primitive log cabin. I had seen it in 1995 but much to my everlasting chagrin I was too damn dumb to take a photo. He told me that the man hired to do the work really didn't want the job as he was afraid of being struck down by a wrathful God. Fortunately for him that didn't happen.
Here lies my 3rd Great Grandmother Angeline Harriet Halford Davis who was Jonathan's mother. Odd that the two tombstone misspellings that I found were Jonathan's and hers. Anyway, I have talked endlessly about J.F. Davis who had the good sense to leave us with his little red book. (Not related to Mao, I don't think.)
In one of the stories in that book he relates how he moved with his parents in the year of 1854 from Illinois to Jasper County, MO. "We moved in a covered wagon as there were no railroads in the west at that time. The oldest children had to walk most of the time as there wasn't room for all of us to ride. We learned how to get tired and hungry and ragged. There were nine in the family when we went out there, and ten when we came back." Which they did in the year of 1856. How I love his stories and how I wish I knew more of them. As he tells it his parents and grandparents were "stalwart and sturdy giants of those old days." Indeed!
I hereby nominate Angeline 'My Mother of the Year." And you can make that double as she is not only my 3rd G-Grandmother but was also the daughter of my 3rd and 4th G-Grandfather Jonathan Adkisson Halford. Oh how tangled branches twine.
In this last photo there are no mountains, no deep canyons, no sea or seashore; nothing to take your breath away, but to me and maybe because I'm just a country girl, this view is one of peace. Abiding and lasting peace.
'Tis now your turn, my GFHC friends, to take the floor and tell us your family tales. Have you found anything new lately? Become even more confused? Welcome to the Club!