Or "Rednecks, Cemeteries And 2 Kids In The Back Seat"
by Uncle Hiram
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Friday 6PM - I came flying in the driveway, gravel slinging everywhere. The Station Wagon's loaded, the neighbors are gonna watch the dogs. It's "Vacation" time and we going to the cradle of my family roots to visit graveyards. Tuscaloosa County, Alabama or Bust. I yell out hit the bathrooms and load up, I wanna be in Shreveport by 10.
7 PM - We pull out of the Driveway after reloading the car -- this time including clothes. Put on a Waylon Jennings tape and settle in for a long drive.
7:12 PM - I hear one of the 3 most dreaded phrases on any family trip. "Daddy, I'm Hungry." Then I hear the sweet voice of the blonde I married "Honey, we're on vacation lets go somewhere nice for supper. They just opened that new IHOP in Greenville." OK Baby, we got 9 days, we ain't in no hurry.
8:30 PM - We pull out of IHOP our stomachs full, and my Blonde says Honey lets stop at Walmarts and pick up snacks for the trip so we don't have to stop so often. An Hour later loaded down with $50 bucks work of Beef Jerky, Hot Peanuts and cokes we hit the Road again.
We drive straight thru 3 Merle, 2 Willie, 1 Tanya Tucker, 1 Chipmunks and 1 Hanson tape. (Don't blame me, I got kids) The kids finally go to sleep and the wife asks me "Honey, why are we driving 700 miles to look at graveyards." "Well Baby, we can learn a lot from the cemeteries. Specially little ones. We can verify death dates and places plus by looking at the other stones we can find out who their neighbors were. If a lot of folks died at the same time, it usually means an epidemic, flood or other natural disasters.
What's written on the stones, can also give us some great clues, like Dr or Rev or if a military or club symbol is on the stone, we get more clues to follow up on. If the graves are well cared for and have flowers on them then the odds are we still have family in the area. If they are beside an active church, there might be membership records in the church we can check. "OK, Hon, but why did we bring the shovel?" "Well Babe, I gonna get answers one way of the other."
Saturday - Is just a blur of Stuckeys, Pecan rolls, roadside cafT's and historical markers. Got photos of the girls sittin on Cannons, Giant anchors and stone Pelicans. (Don't ask, it made the wife happy) Late that night we pull into Tuscaloosa.
Sunday - We attend the Baptist Church my Great Grandfather did. It may not help my research but it makes him feel a little realer. We spend the rest of the day visitin relatives and talkin to folks.
Monday - Bright and Early we meet Cousin Sandy and hit the Cemetery Trail. 40 Miles on 2 lane roads at breakneck speed brings us to the first cemetery. We all bail out and start reading headstones. Then I notice Sandy has a notebook and is carefully checking the stones. Being the tactful, respectful person I am, I yell "Sandy, what cha doing?" She shows me her notebook and explains that before she goes to cemetery hopping she always puts together a list of ancestors from the area to watch for. Then she explains the graph paper is for making a grid map of the cemetery so she cannot just know who is in the place but where they are. We find a couple of folks and make notes then we are off again.
Once again we go screaming down the back roads, after 15 minutes we turn off the PAVED road. 10 minutes and 400 potholes later, we turn into another church. We jump out and start searching the stones. Jackpot this time, I find my Grandfather and my Great Grandfathers stones. After taking notes, I ask Sandy "How did you know where this cemetery was?" She says "I called the county courthouse and got directions to all the cemeteries." COOL, I didn't know you could do that. We spend the rest of the day roamin graveyards and taking notes. At the end of the day I have 27 pages of notes, that given a couple of weeks I can whip into a usable format. Sandy, on the other hand has 7 Cemetery grids and 10 preprinted sheets with all her data annotated and easily referred to.
Another Adventure in Genealogy ends with another lesson learned:
1) Know who you are looking for
2) Prepare a form ahead of time with blanks for names, births, deaths, organizations and notes
3) Take Graph paper with you to make simple easy Cemetery Grids.
4) Call the county seat and get directions to the cemeteries.
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)