Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall road trip.....

My granddaughter Elizabeth Mae Tietz was October 13, 1999.  A few days later, Grandma Jan took a couple of days off from work and decided a road trip was in order. I love fall, I probably never told you that but I LOVE the colorful leaves, the crisp morning and evening air and a new crop of apples! There is an aroma in the air on a prefect Indian summer day that reminds me of heaven. I know it instantly and I want it to last for ever. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun and take very deep breaths of this wonderful aroma. I do not know if it is the smell of leave changing but it is an aroma that only happens on a perfect fall day.

My road trip to see Elizabeth began on such a day. I live in Chicago and she lives in Capac, Michigan. I decided to take the long way to Capac, Michigan by way of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Yes. I know what you are thinking! I left first thing Friday morning figuring I would have a few hours to check out a cemetery or two.

I love cemeteries, I always have. I remember as a school girl, I would ride my bike to a small country cemetery down the road from our house. This was a very old cemetery and I visited it often. As I read the names and dates on the tombstones, I would make up stories in my head about the people in the cemetery. Some of my made up stories were about rich people, some were about poor people, some were old people and some were about very young people. I always pondered why they died and how they had lived.

I decided to take a more rural route to Fort Wayne to get away from traffic. I took a US Highway 30 through northern Indiana from the south east suburbs of Chicago to Fort Wayne. The fall leaves were beautiful. The sun was shining and I traveled the whole distance with the window rolled down absorbing every second of the fall ride. My first stop was at the Methodist church at Nine Mile Indiana. I had found records which indicated that my Smith Family had likely lived nearby and that the father James and some of the children may be buried in the cemetery at this church.

I found a section of the cemetery in the northwest corner which had the oldest stones. There did not seem to be Smith family stones anywhere.  Eventually I would find a pile of stone carefully placed on a worn base.  When I moved them, I was thrilled to discover that they were the Smith stones I was searching for.

All these pieces are actually one stone. The church burial records which I would later obtain from a cemetery trustee would show that James, Charles, Kisiah and a baby named Barberry are all buried in this plot and listed on this stone. Susannah is also on the stone but the church has no record of her being buried here.

James Smith died on March 24, 1868. Charles Smith died in 1863. I believe he died while serving in the Civil War. I have been unable to obtain his records but there is a Charles Smith listed as killed from Indiana in 1863. I will continue to work to verifying this information. I believe that the loss of Charles was a contributing factor to the enlistment of Charles brother’s James W. Smith (my GGGrandfather) and Joseph J. Smith in 1864. Kisiah died in 1861. She was 19 years old. I do not why she died. I do not know an exact date which will make it difficult to obtain a death record. Barberry died as an infant and no date is listed. To date I do not know when Susannah died either. She was alive and counted in the 1870 census after the death of James but I do not find her in the 1880 Census ten years later. She continues to be a needle in my haystack.

The remaining Smiths' buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery are in the plot to the south of this worn base stone. I noticed the stone that day but I did not record it.  I noticed it because the stone looks like it is growing out of a tree.  I thought to myself, "what a shame".  A tree has grown in that woman's grave. I read the name on the stone but thought nothing of it.  After returning home and obtaining burial records from the trustee of the cemetery, I realized that Mary Ann Kimble and her daughter Susanna, who are buried in this grave are the daughter and grandaughter of James and Susannah Smith.  I have made many visits to this cemetery and will like return many times more....Soon fall road trip will continue in the next segment of my blog...

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