At the end of the last post we were in 2001 and had just discovered the pieces of Margaret's stone. We looked that day without success for her grandson Olen's stone. According to the cemetery plat we had with us, it was supposed to have been placed to the right of Margaret's when you faced her stone. It was missing, and we assumed it had been felled by the same tree that had sheared Margaret's in half. As thrilled as we were about locating Margaret (and for the particulars of that story refer to my last post!) the four of us -- me, my cousin Pat, my other cousin Linda, and her husband Cliff -- were still pretty disappointed. We left the cemetery without anything left of poor Olen but a piece of paper and some memories.
Did I mention that my cousin Linda and her hubby Cliff were intrepid souls? Well they are! They went back to the Wilkin Cemetery a couple of times and continued looking, hoping to find little Olen's stone. They were frustrated until three years later, when in July 2004, Cliff decided to take a chance and utilize a probe to poke around in the ground. He did exactly that and lo and behold, he got a hit!
They very carefully delved into the ground, barely wanting to hope. It took a while but slowly Olen's stone emerged from its earthy prison. It had fallen over flat and was lying about 3-4 inches deep. No lawnmowers had chipped it and no trees had clipped it. The base was evenly broken and the stone had no grooves or fissures. It was in near-pristine condition, like it had been made only yesterday.
Cliff pulled it up and set it at the same time he set Margaret's. Having been there since 1856, you would never believe this little stone (the one to the left) was 152 years old. It's a beautiful piece of work. Though I was thrilled to see it and even more thrilled to have it standing proud beside grandma like the family had meant it to be, there was a part of me that was sad. Being in the ground had kept it whole; protected from the ravages of time and the elements. It's not so lucky any more. Someday its words will be gone forever. But for right now, little Olen sure looks grand!
Olen Barron Browning was the son of Asbury Taylor Browning and Minerva Corderman. He got his middle name from his maternal grandmother Sarah Viola Barron. He was born on 21 Sept 1853 in Crawford County IL and died on 8 Sept 1856 in Crawford County, IL. Olen was Taylor and Minerva's firstborn child.