By Eilene Lyon
As with my other genealogy trips, when I went to Blackford and Jay counties in Indiana last year, I visited several cemeteries to pay respects to my ancestors and other relatives.
For me, that means more than just placing some flowers, saying a silent thanks (or maybe out loud, talking to myself is becoming a habit in my doddering old age), and taking some photos.
As with Dexter Cemetery in South Dakota, if it’s feasible, I will document all the graves and post them on Find-a-grave.
At Trenton South Cemetery in Blackford County, I found many graves for people related to me by blood or marriage. This is a cemetery that could use some TLC. Unfortunately, at the time I could only straighten up a few things and add some silk flowers.
View of Trenton South Cemetery from the road in April 2017 (E. Lyon)
Ransom family graves at Trenton South Cemetery in April 2017 (E. Lyon)
I dug Sarah Jellison Anderson’s headstone out of the dirt and set it upright and put the two pieces of the obelisk together to get a picture. It needs to be repaired.
The three pieces of 4th great-aunt Sarah Jellison Anderson’s vandalized headstone (E. Lyon)
I took time after I got home to create a more complete listing of the graves for the local historical society.
At Hillside Cemetery (aka Old Quaker Cemetery) in Pennville, Jay County, I found a different story altogether. The township trustee takes an active role in maintaining the cemetery and it looks well-cared for. (See feature image, above)
While I was there, I met a man who’d been hired to repair and clean headstones professionally. It sounded like he keeps a very full schedule, so I didn’t try to hire him.
Recently, I was having an email conversation with someone I found on Ancestry who is related to one of my Gold Rush men (Dennis Lowry). She mentioned that her sister does gravestone restoration and lives in Indiana. It turns out she learned from the man I met at Hillside.
She visited the two cemeteries and I asked for a quote for her to clean Henry and Abigail Jenkins’ headstones. She finished the job recently and I want to share the wonderful results!!
Jenkins family graves in Hillside Cemetery in April 2017 (E. Lyon)
Abigail Bedford Jenkins’ headstone in April 2017 (E. Lyon)
Abigail’s headstone in the cleaning process (Annie Hoffmeier 2018)
Abigail’s headstone after cleaning (Annie Hoffmeier 2018)
This scrap of paper from my files was written by Henry Zane Jenkins after Abigail’s death and shows his original sketch for her headstone (March 1882). The inscription was modified somewhat from what he wrote.
Henry Z. Jenkins’ headstone in April 2017 (E. Lyon). His was in much worse condition than Abigail’s.
Henry’s stone after cleaning (Annie Hoffmeier 2018)
Headstones of Abigail and Henry after cleaning (Annie Hoffmeier 2018)
We are fortunate to have places in this country where we can pay respects to our loved ones. I discovered in Germany that grave rental is common. Some cultures don’t do the cemetery thing. And, sadly, many people are lost in wars and natural disasters who never receive a proper burial.