Thursday, July 26, 2012

A New Old Cemetery Site, WOOPEEE

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

As a volunteer now and then I get to see something, or learn something or find something that is just so cool there are no good words to describe the experience.

OK, let's face it, many of my volunteer hours are tedious, filled with an overwhelming amount of facts, dates, names, places, columns, lots and lots of columns, filled with those names, dates, places,   I tromp around cemeteries in the sun and heat and deal with bugs and critters and headstones that cannot be read due to age.  I tromp around the courthouse pulling those big ole heavy dirty books down from shelves wayyyyyy up there to find a deed or a marriage or death or something to help other researchers that live far far away. Sometimes I read old newspapers with old microfilm readers that have scratched lenses and glass and dim illumination and faded newspapers; never mind that those newspapers never printed the obituaries in the same place from day to day.  I feel good some days to find a 4 sentence mention of someone's ancestor's passing after 3 hours of reading small faded print.

Then, there are days when I get to re-discover a long forgotten cemetery.  No kidding, let me tell you, that is a hoot!  And, here it is:

Luther Cemetery, Rome Township, Lenawee County, Michigan

Researchers in Lenawee County are blessed with a number of histories that chat about our county, townships, towns, cities, little burgs.  We have several active historical societies and several fine library collections of all these wonderful resources.  I have been collecting copies of as many of those books and papers and articles as I can get my hands on, I have a nice collection.  One work (which I do NOT have a copy of but have good access to in one of the local libraries) is the Adrian (Lenawee County) DAR 5 volume set of cemetery books titled, "Gravestones of Lenawee County".  This 5 volume set was published in the 1930s and 1940s.  It covered about 112 cemeteries in Lenawee County, some of which were already little more than a burial site long since moved or abandoned.  The "Gravestones of Lenawee County" is the back bone and basis of our current "Burial Records of Lenawee County" series we have been working on for well over 15 years.  In the last 12 years we have published 8 books of burials.  We have many more that need to be done.

We are working our way around the county, township by township, there is no order of publication, we publish when we get done with a township.  We walk the cemeteries, several times, we record the data in tables (that's where all those columns come in), we re-walk, we proof read, we compare each cemetery to the Gravestones series, we even include names of ancestors that were recorded in the Gravestones series that we can no longer find stones or markers for.  They were there in 1940, they still are, we just cannot find the stone now.

We borrow heavily from the Gravestone series, histories, tidbits, maps, whatever we can use, we do.

Luther Cemetery is NOT listed in the Gravestone series for Rome Township.  Luther Cemetery is not listed at the web site Michigan Cemetery Sources, maintained by the Library of Michigan.  Luther Cemetery is not listed in the companion books by the Library of Michigan, "Michigan Cemetery Atlas and the Michigan Cemetery Source Book"  Luther is not mentioned anywhere except ONE place.  I found it in one of the articles/booklets I have collected about Lenawee County, in a work written by Ronald C. Ryan titled, “The History of Rome Township”.  Ronald's work was published in the Brooklyn Exponent (Brooklyn, Jackson County, Michigan) between November 5 and 8th, 1981.  I was using his work as one of the sources for the histories for Rome Township, when I read this one brief, but, amazing, breath stealing sentence:

“There was the Luther Cemetery ½ mile west of Springville Hwy., on Hoddinott Rd.  The graves from here were dug up and moved to East Rome Cemetery.”

That's it.  One sentence.  I read it several times.  I doubted my eyes, what I was looking at?  Ronald is naming a cemetery, giving an exact location and this is the first I am hearing about it?  Why isn't it in the Gravestones series?  Actually I have NO idea why it is NOT in the Gravestone series.  And, yes indeedy, I rechecked the volume of the Gravestones series that has Rome Township in it, several times.

Well, you know this sent me on a research tangent.  I pulled every map I had for Lenawee.  I got the magnifying glass out.  I studied and studied.  I doubted myself.  OK, I doubted Ronald.  (Sorry Ronald.)

On many of the early plat maps there are no road names.  To use these early plat maps I must compare the sections and the roads with the current maps.   I lay out maps and books of maps all over the house, on the back of the couch, all over the kitchen table,  some of the maps are quite large. I move from map to map.

On the 1916 Plat map, there is no cemetery to be found on Hoddinott Road.  Same for 1893, no cemetery to be found.  I can find the rest of the cemeteries I know to be in the township, but, no Luther Cemetery on the 1893 and 1916 maps.  Here is a section of the 1893 plat map, this is where Hoddinott Road is.  Do you see any crosses on there?  Crosses are the icons used in this series of maps to represent cemeteries.  Nope, me either - -

I have two more chances, the 1857 Plat map, which is extremely difficult to read, some townships have torn maps, with serious missing hunks.   I could not find a cemetery cross on the 1857 map in the correct section.   All that is left is the 1874 map.

I take the current large road map of Lenawee and the 1874 plat map of Rome Township and look at it carefully, slowly, with due diligence.  Finally I do indeed find a cemetery that is exactly where Ronald said it would be, on Hoddinott Road just a little west of Springfield Highway.  And, who owns the property this tiny little cemetery is on??

T. Luther

BINGO!!  I have my Luther Cemetery!

You can see the small cross icon which indicates a cemetery, look above and slightly left of the "2" from the section 27 number.  (It was a bit harder to find that little cross because my map was not this large, I got this graphic this large thanks to Sony and digital photo editing.  It is actually pretty easy to see here, when compared to the actual paper maps.)

Woopeee, I have just re-discovered an old cemetery, I have me a new old cemetery!

It was days before I was over the shock and stopped checking the maps and everything I could muster up from my personal library.  Admission:  I am still in a state of delighted surprise and slight disbelief.

I have me a new old cemetery site.  Really!


Of course, now that I have made a fuss about it, one of the locals that have lived here all their lives will say, but, of course - - - - - could have told you that if you had only asked.

But, until they do  - - -

I have me a new old cemetery site!  Really!

Gosh that was fun!



Lynne Carothers said...

Congrats! Such determination and diligence. Do you have any idea whose graves used to be there and can you find them in the cemetery to which they were moved? Sounds kinda like a geocaching trip for graves. Funny how several things you enjoy are similar.

Carol said...

Thanks Lynne. In answer to your questions:

I have suspicions of who may have been buried there, taking the land owners names from the 1874 and reviewing the list of burials we have for the East Rome Cemetery I can come up with some VERY good guesses. But, there is no official list of burials there, nope.

We have 2 other cemeteries in this township that suffered similar fates, in that they are no longer in existence, but, both of those we have a few names and are told that they were both "plowed under". I have found both of them on the 1874 plat map as well.

Hummer said...

Love it. You are such a great sleuth.

Celia said...

Great digging, Carol! Amazing results. Old maps are my favourite artifacts - so many fascinating details can be found about our ancestors and their lives. Congratulations on your great find.

Joan said...

Not only was that "great fun" for you, but for me too. I was right their with you, draping maps over chairs, couches, tables -- and perhaps even over Mr G. I was almost as delighted as you with that great find!! Good Job!!

Kathy Reed said...

This is really wonderful! I can't believe the clarity you were able to achieve with your map.