Serendipity...genealogical discoveries with a little help from above.

Relatives on Display

by Jennifer Godwin

My e-mail address is
and I live in Los Angeles, California.

This really happened to me In July, my family and I took a vacation to visit some cousins in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and then Chicago, where we made a trip Oak Woods Cemetery on the south side to see if we could find some family burials.

I brought along the location number of the family plot we had gotten over the phone and the names of my ancestors. We waited at the office desk for quite a while as all of the employees avoided eye contact with us and tried to pretend we weren't there.

As we were waiting to be helped my mother and cousins starting looking around the office, bored. Finally, some one asked what they could do. I showed them the information I had -- a typed plat card -- and said that I was looking for the original, handwritten records for these folks.

She looked at me like was I was crazy and grumblingly took the information. She brought back a copy of the plat card, which I told her I already had and I explained that I was looking for the original handwritten records which had to be around somewhere.

These folks were buried in the 1850s and a letter I had gotten previously from the cemetery had information no where to be found on the plat card -- I knew there had to be original records somewhere, created before the advent of the typewriter. She continued to act like I was nut and shuffled off again.

While I was waiting I glanced over at the historical display cabinet my mother and cousins were looking at and spotted what was clearly a record book, opened to the first page. I knelt down, and lo and behold, on the very first page of the book in the display case was the name of my great-great-great-grandfather!

He was the 39th burial at Oak Woods. According to the staff, as of 1998, there were about 188,000 persons buried at Oak Woods Cemetery!

Submitted:  Tue Nov 24 00:20:29 1998

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