I was reading Monday Madness posts on Monday (as I am wont to do, fancy that!) and came across this post by ThisAndThat over on her blog Conversations With Ancestors Past. Her Madness post was about Hugh Lawson Baldwin, a man who skipped off to Texas and became her featured "elusive man."
The Texas connection perked me right up because the city where he'd been buried (Lancaster) was about 45 minutes away from me. I looked up the cemetery she mentioned and wow, it just so happened that I had made a doctor's appointment about 20 minutes away from the cemetery (the Edgewood Cemetery in Lancaster, Dallas County, TX) that Hugh had been buried in! I didn't hesitate to comment and let her know that I'd be happy to go to the cemetery and find him if it would give her a clue.
So that appointment was today and afterwards I headed out with a bottle of water to battle the ridiculous Texas heat. I'd initially figured I'd be able to walk the cemetery and find him but decided at the last minute to give the funeral home governing the cemetery a call. I am SOooo glad I did and would recommend that course of action to anyone doing something like this! The cemetery (contrary to my thinking) wasn't a small one and I know I would never have located him had I neglected doing so. Anyway, I found the funeral home and studied the burial records to orient myself as to the location of his marker. Then off I went!
I figured it would be easy. Well.....
I had to call the funeral home again after about 20 minutes. I was SURE I'd found the right place, but it looked like this:
No stone in sight. After I checked to see if I was in the right place -- and sure enough, I was -- I got a bit determined. I dug around in my trunk and found a thin probe to poke into the soil. I spent about ten minutes poking around randomly and then got smart and started looking at the other older stones in neat rows to each side. I sunk the probe back and forth and halfway down I got a satisfying thud. I'm glad I was the only one in the cemetery because anyone else would've rightly been a bit nervous being around the wildly cackling lady on her hands and knees in the grass!
I started digging and soon unearthed the entire base of a stone. According to the burial plot records Hugh's stone was the only one listed, so I figured it was his. I was so excited. I was really hoping to find the rest of the stone and spent another ten or twenty minutes digging (Texas roots love to take hold!) and probing around. Nothing. After I cleared much of the dirt and grime away I got up and snapped a picture:
Then I kept digging around the front and back and sides of the stone. Bah! Another ten minutes of nothing but grass and dirt. By that time the shadows were growing long and I still had about an hour's drive home. I didn't want to but I had to throw in the towel. If there's anything still left of his stone it's either so far down that the tools I had today weren't good enough or it's been lost to posterity -- vandalized, broken and thrown away, or leaned somewhere else and grown over by years of flora.
Hm, I have more doctor's appointments this way in the coming months. I might have to stock my car with a better, tougher, longer and thinner probe. Or I'll have to drag my daughter out here. That girl can witch graves! I swear she can, I've seen her do it and it's amazing. She can tell me how many others are buried near him....
Can you tell I hate admitting defeat? :)
For the time being, I sure am sorry, ThisAndThat. I really wanted to get you a picture. I mean a picture of a pretty little stone, not a sad and broken base, you know. It appears that in death, your Hugh is just as slippery and elusive as he was in life.
(I'm just glad you have the burial records at the funeral home! Reminds me of some cemetery records at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Crawford Co., IL, where many of my earliest Brownings are buried. The caretaker copied the oldest ones onto the back of a pull-down shade in the front window of his home. He'd just roll down the shade, fill in a death, roll it back up. Ah, but upon his death? No one thought to look for them there. They just bulldozed his house.....and poof! Arrggghhh.......)
22nd October...time flies
10 months ago