Finding our stories through genealogy
Published in County Life March 16, 2017
One part of science and some of mythology
Oodles of doodles and deaths you’ll insist
Are fantastic stories that just can’t exist
Graves marked with names now eroded
Holding a life, gone but supported
By ladies who toil for families alive
Keeping the past for those that survive
Every name is important, remember it well
Work on fair ladies and ring a bell
Let everyone know that the past is alive
Piece the clues, make a surprise
We all have ancestors, each with a name
Visit a cemetery, pause and remain.
One part of science and much of cryptology
Don’t you owe researchers a humble apology
(Poem inspired by Dr. A. E. R. Westman)
All cemeteries have stories. A few are true. Perhaps they have “alternative” facts. In Highland Grove three ladies push on with their genealogy research to uncover the truth and record their results for future generations.
Most small communities have at least one person who knows local family relationships. Highland Grove has “queen bee” Joanne Burroughs, assisted by worker bees Jane Rinne and Zoe Cave. They enjoy searching death certificates, marriage dates, burial locations and unrecorded local myths of the approximately 50 pioneer families in our files.
Using this research, the museum produces quality hard covered iPhoto books. Genealogy and photos are compiled on a Mac computer and sent via the Internet. Within a week a bound book arrives.
Occasionally Joanne receives a request about an individual, such as Daisy Bowen, a teenager who died in 1934. Joanne searched our files, checked Ancestry for death certificates, and looked at the Deer Lake Cemetery file. Daisy died of appendicitis age 13. Buried in plot 52 at the cemetery. Fortunately one of our hard covered books made for the Drury/Hughes family contains a photo of her 1930s class.
But now the mystery. Why was she is buried at the extreme back of the cemetery and with no grave marker? There were no close by graves. She was buried at the bottom of a slope which makes her location generally invisible. Why is the ground around her apparent burial area not nicely covered with grass as other graves? She is the only burial in a six person block. After 83 years we stare at the picture of a smiling Daisy Bowen and wonder why.
At present, the volunteers are trying to piece the pioneer Watson genealogy starting with two brothers, Robert and James born around 1805 and 1806 in Ireland and immigrated to the Cardiff area. Several Watsons are well known.
Priscilla (Toms) Watson became a Silver Cross Mother, after losing a son David at the poison gas battle at Hill 70 in France during the First World War. The museum is looking for more information on the Watsons and other pioneer families.
The Highland Grove Museum supports people who want direction in starting their family genealogy. Contact us.
(Photo of the three Watsons supplied.)