Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Digging for Roots

On our mid-west trip, we took along with us a couple of family history documents, including a certificate of baptism for B's maternal grandmother. We knew that B's mom's family came to Florida from Ft. Madison, Iowa and, as that was just downstream on the Mississippi from where we were, we took that route to Missouri. So it was that we came to spend an afternoon in Ft. Madison. The internet is an amazing thing and I easily learned (in the car) that the historical society has an office in the public library there. They even had  a link to a list of area cemeteries, with family names buried there. We stopped in a cemetery in the next farming community but were unable to read many of the old stones and found no familiar names. Once in the library, though, we were enthusiastically helped by three local residents. With their help, we obtained quite a bit of new family information.

One story (that we had heard) was interesting to get reprinted from the front page of the local newspaper. One of the sons of the man below, was born with a hairlip and had saved his money to have surgery in Arkansas. He was last seen waiting for the train to go there, with his money in his pocket. Two or three men robbed and murdered him and his body was found in the Mississippi River seven weeks later. The previous fall, his brother had died from carbon monoxide poisoning while working on a car in his garage. So this poor man and his wife lost two young sons within a year. The grave below is that of B's great-grandfather. We were also able to get his obituary and that of his mother-in-law (B's great-great-grandmother) who died in 1916.

The families were Catholic and we found St. Mary's where they were all active members. The church had been remodeled on the same location, but we suspected the spire might have been saved.

This is the train station (now a museum) where in the 1930s, the uncle was last seen alive. It is also where his sister and family left from to go to Gadsden County, Florida, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

If they had not, I would probably have never met B.

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