Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Another Name Puzzle

This week's gravestone is my greatgrandmother, Mary F. Orand, at least that's what it says on the stone. She is buried in the Ralls Cemetery, Ralls, Crosby County, Texas. My mother never talked about her very much. About the only thing I knew was that before I was born, I was supposed to be named after her and my father's mother. I was supposed to be Francis Ann Cheek. My parent's were sure I was going to be a girl because they already had a boy. Many of us remember the days when you didn't know ahead of time. After my surprise entrance, they quickly changed my name to Richard Orand Cheek. I never knew for sure where the Richard came from. The Orand is my mother's maiden name. I am eternally grateful that they didn't decide to just go ahead and use Francis or Frances as a boy's name. When I began to research our family history, I looked for the only name I knew, Francis Orand and had a hard time coming up with anything. I found Mary Orand and even Elizabeth Orand in the right places and the right times but no Francis. I finally came across a cousin who clued me in. Our greatgrandmother Orand was originally Mary Francis Elizabeth Brandon. Shazam, the pieces all fell into place. I am grateful to Dave, a FindAGrave volunteer for this picture.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: What's In A Name

My mother's mother, who's gravestone is shown here, is a classic example of why we have problems with names when researching our family histories. The stone has Pauline T. Smith, Sept 22 1886, Feb 5 1965. When she was born her parents named her Paralee Tennessee Lancaster. Her first husband, my mother's father, was named Orand. Her second husband, who is buried near her with his first wife, was named Bex. She divorced the first and outlived both of them. Her third husband was named Smith. Somewhere along the way (I never found anyone who knew when) she changed from Paralee to Pauline, but not until after she passed on the Paralee name to two of her children.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Mystery of the Buried Bush

While using the last day of my vacation to fill some Findagrave requests, I found a stone that I'm really at a loss to explain. The stone is in the Purdy Cemetery in Garvin County, OK, not to be confused with the Old Purdy Cemetery which is much harder to find.

The cemetery is about nine miles south of Lindsay on state highway 76. It is easy to find from a large directional sign posted on the highway, is active and well-maintained.

The results of the volunteers annual Memorial Day clean-up are still very evident. Most of the older graves are dated around 1900. There is a larger number of home made stones than I have seen in similar cemeteries. But the real mystery is the partially buried Bush stone pictured below. That is all that it says. There is no other identifying information. The only transcription of this cemetery lists it as Bust, which was my first impression, but obviously not correct.

A search at Ancestry found no records of any Bush families living in this area. There are several in Garvin County, but nearly all of them way over on the east side. Unless someone happens to see it and can share something about it, it will remain the "mystery of the buried Bush."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Mystery of the Leaning Stone

Sometimes you just have to wonder. At the Olympus Cemetery in Grove, OK, I came across this grave. Remarkable in itself because it is one of the oldest persons buried in a traditional cemetery in Oklahoma. We just don't have a lot of really old cemeteries. It is the grave of Rebecca Boone Wainscott, b. Oct. 23, 1808, d. Feb. 26, 1892.

But the mystery comes in when I looked at the stone leaning against the back of Rebecca's stone. It is broken so there is no name visible but the last letters of the word above the break could be SCOTT. It has the same born day, Oct. 23, 1808 but a different died day, Jan. 20, 1893.

I searched for information to resolve the mystery of the leaning stone, but have not been able to find anything to help solve the mystery. As far as I have been able to determine she is the only Wainscott buried in Delaware County.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Les Miserables

Sometimes you wish you had been around sooner. While looking for some Cheek family graves at the Olympus Cemetery in Grove, OK, I came across this stone. It has fallen, cracked in half, and is now embedded into the turf. There were no other graves around it that it seemed to belong to. The inscription is

son of
J. W. and F. J.
June 1891
August 1891

Our little darling
sleeps sweetly in . . .

Someone has added to the Find A Grave memorial that the parents are Jonathan Welch Dawes and Phoebe Jane Kidd Dawes. Perhaps some family member will come across it and provide some mcu needed TLC for the grave.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Five in One

I previously posted about a three-in-one stone on the grave of my great grandparents, but just found in my files a five-in-one stone from the Brewer Cemetery in Franklin County, AR. My wife, whose mother was a Brewer from Franklin County, and I came across this cemetery quite by accident when driving through the hills (they call them mountains) of western Arkansas. We had just come around a rather sharp bend in the road and started up a fairly steep hill when I saw the Brewer Cemetery sign. We have not found any connection so far between her Brewers and those in the cemetery but we are still looking. I have posted most of the pictures I took that day at the Find-a-Grave site. Among the many Brewer stones was this one of the Elliot Hall family which includes father Elliot and mother Isabelle, sons Saloman and Edgar, and grandson Fred.

The stone did not have any dates but I discovered that Elliot was born 25 October 1852 in Missouri and died in 1913. His parents are Levi Hall and Rebecca Cooper, originally from Ohio. Isabelle was born 16 November 1869 in Greenup, KY and died in 1906. Her parents are Calvin and Sarah Jennings, also from Kentucky. I don't have any additional information on the sons and grandson buried with them. They did have another son, Jesse Homer Hall, b. 4 December 1895 in Franklin County, d. 14 September 1953 in Tucson, AZ.

There are other interesting gravestones in the cemetery which will have to be included in subsequent contributions to Tombstone Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Yesterday, we went out to Arlington Memory Gardens to visit the graves of several of our family who have gone on.  It was the first time since the funeral that we visited the grave of my wife's sister, Ann Creider.

It was not planned this way but Ann is buried only a few rows from my parents, which makes it convenient on our infrequent trips to the cemetery.

Among the nice things the cemetery does is place the small American flags on the graves of all of the veterans buried there on appropriate holidays.  They also fly the flags of those veterans who left them with the cemetery along the entry way.  My father's flag is one of those.

As it always is on Memorial Day the cemetery was alive with colors, flowers, flags and families.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Story of the Hanging Tanksley

It seems to be about time that I explained the gravestone picture I use as the header for my blog. I found the hanging Tanksley stone in the Bethel Greenwood Cemetery in Lincoln County, Oklahoma.

 I went to the cemetery because of a Find A Grave request for a picture.   To get there you go to Chandler which is on the Turner Turnpike (I44) between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Take state highway 18 north for about eight miles until you see the cemetery sign. 

Go right on the county road for about three miles and there it is. 

It was a really nice August day, not too hot which is remarkable for Oklahoma in August. I was looking for the grave of a retired peace officer, C. O. "Blackie" Winfrey. The Find A Grave entry for him includes the statement, "The greatest honor a fallen police officer can receive is the simple statement from other officers of, 'He was a damn good cop, one of the best.'" He also has the distinction of being born and passing away on the 4th of July.  I knew as soon as I saw the cemetery that I was going to find more than one interesting gravestone. My normal method of searching a cemetery is to start at the front right corner, work my way down one side and then back up the other.  Fortunately the Winfrey stone was not too far down the right side.

But before I found it I came across the Tanksley grave.  It caught my attention, not just because of the unusual method of hanging the stone, but because my great great grandmother was Lavinia Jane Tankersley.  Most people who research the Tankersley line agree that the Tankersleys and Tanksleys are probably related. The hanging stone was in the middle of a large family plot with only one other stone right next to it.  That stone marks the grave of Civil War soldier, James E. Tanksley, Co. F, 11 Kansas Cavalry, with no dates or other identifying information.

Being the driven genealogist that I am I tried my best to find a connection between the Tanksleys and my Tankersleys. The best that I could do was a reference that James might have been born in Illinois, where my Tankersleys were, but most records have him born in Tennessee in 1844, the son of Thomas P. Tanksley and Mary Surrelda Roberts. He died in Lincoln County in 1908.  So far I have not been able to track down the rest of his family and my search for his ancestors and a possible connection has been stopped cold at his father.  

There are many other interesting gravestones in this marvelous Oklahoma cemetery, but they will have to be patient and wait for another day.  Today was devoted to my, so far unfulfilled, search for a lost connection.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Wings of Mercy

Here lies the precious remains,
 of a Fearless and Faithful Eagle.
The Pilot of the "Wings of Mercy."
And Savior of countless human lives.

This is the inscription on one of the most memorable gravestones in Riverside Cemetery, Mangum, Greer County, Oklahoma.  

It marks the grave of Pilot, Paul Powell, 1907-1934.  

Paul was the pilot of an air ambulance that operated out of Mangum, OK for Dr. F. Border, a very prominent early physician in SW Oklahoma.  Paul and two passengers were killed when his plane crashed near Childress, TX in 1934.  I have been trying to find out more information about this crash and will post a follow up if I can ever find a good source. I'm sure there will be a story about it in The Mangum Star since Dr. Border was also a former owner of the newspaper.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Flanders Fields . . .

Sometimes you just don't have a gravestone.

"In Flanders Fields" was written by John McRae, a Canadian army officer after attending the funeral of a friend killed in World War 1. The poem has become a symbol for remembering those who were killed in the "War to End All Wars."

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery contains the remains of an unidentified American soldier who was killed in France in "The War to End All Wars." The inscription on the tomb is "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

While I have no evidence to prove it, it is possible that the body in the tomb is that of my great uncle, Robert Luther Cheek. He was born 02 November1894 in Buffington, GA and died somewhere in France on 29 September 1918. His body was never identified. Ironically, the day he was killed was the day Bulgaria, the first of the Central Powers to surrender, signed the armistice.

A few years after the war, a program began to allow the families of those who had been killed in France to travel to visit the cemeteries where their loved ones were buried. In the picture below, my great grandmother Carrie Savannah Cheek is picture beside a gravestone in France. I had always assumed that she was standing beside Luther's grave, but only recently learned that his body had never been identified and the inscription on the gravestone is "HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD," the same inscription that is on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

Does the old "two's company three's a crowd" saying apply to gravestones?

The gravestone of my paternal great-grandparents and great-great aunt. Robert Bruce Cheek, his wife, Carrie Savannah Adams Cheek and his sister, Columbia Cheek were all born in Georgia. Robert and Carrie left Georgia to travel West in 1882. They got as far as Searcy, AR where my grandfather was born in 1883 then for some reason turned around and went back to Georgia. After several years and several more children they headed west again, stopping first in Gainesville, TX and finally in Greer Co. OK before 1903. They homesteaded land just north of Mangum. Several years later, Aunt Columbia joined them. The grave is in Riverside Cemetery in Mangum.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Family Graves

The very first cemetery I remember visiting is the Riverside Cemetery in Mangum, Greer County, OK. More of my family is buried here than in any other cemetery. The cemetery was only a few blocks from my grandmother's house and we would go there often when I was staying with her. My grandfather, Joseph Marion Cheek, died shortly after I was born so I never got to know him. My grandmother never talked about him very much but we visited his grave frequently to put fresh flowers on it. Grandma Cheek died when I was eight. I remember a lot about her but almost nothing about her funeral. The plot where they are buried also has the graves of my Dad's two sisters, Cleta Cheek Jones and Ruby Cheek Lewis. I still visit Riverside Cemetery everytime we go to Mangum. Unfortunately that is not as often as I would like because none of the family live anywhere near there anymore. But I definitely give credit to Grandma Cheek for helping create my interest in cemeteries. I will be posting more about Riverside and will add to my store of knowledge about this treasured place every chance I get.

For more information on Dad's family go to http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cheekfamok/dadsann.html

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Closest to Home

It just seems fitting to begin this venture at the cemetery closest to home, both geographically and in my memories. My parents' graves are in Arlington Memory Gardens just a few miles from our home. As you can see from the gravestone, my Dad was an Army officer who served on WWII and Korea. He died of a heart attack in 1977 shortly before the birth of his sixth grandchild, my son Robert Aaron Cheek. Mom lived another 16 years. She died in 1993 and just missed the birth of her first great grandchild, my granddaughter, Erin Davis.

I have not done much exploration at this cemetery. Maybe because the memories here are still too personal. I'm sure that I will add it to my list of discoveries one day, but not yet. If anyone has an interest in something specific here I will be glad to find out what I can.