Friday, October 2, 2009

….and a visit with a local historian…

The road trip continues ….and a visit with a local historian…

From the cemetery at Nine mile, I would travel south three miles or so looking for the Hoverstock, Cemetery at Zanesville, Indiana. I noticed that there was a man smoking out in front of a small local market. Since I did not have a map and I was quickly running out of time, I decided I would ask for directions to the cemetery. I spoke to the butcher and he explained that Hoverstock was just down the road a half a mile or so. He said that the oldest graves would be on the east side of the road and the main cemetery is now on the west side. He told me that I should stop to see the local town historian who lived in the house at the end of the street. Her name was Melba. I thought to myself that would visit her after going to the cemetery IF I had time. I was able to locate Oella Smith’s parent’s graves, Walter and Mary Denney. I also located the graves of Cora Crites’ Grandparents, Jesse and Elizabeth (Meyer) Crites but not Cora parents, John and Emma (McGoogan) Crites. I found other McGoogan graves and wonder if they were related.

After leaving the cemetery, I decided that I would visit Melba Edwards but I would need to keep it short. So I located the house. She lived in an old home which I would later learn was originally her Grandfather home, it reminded me of my house in Fox River Grove which was built in 1902. It had an old fashion doorbell which I rang. As I waited I thought, “This is crazy you are just dropping in on the woman. You don’t know her from Adam.” She was a round faced woman with a colorful character. She greeted me warmly as if she had known me for ever and had expected me to visit her that day. As you walked into her home it was like walking back in time. It was a bit dark at first but once your eyes adjusted it became obvious that the home was full of the all the original furniture and much, much more. I would learn that her Grandfather had been the local doctor in the area between 1890 until around 1940. She was the local historian. I explained that the man down the street had insisted that I stop by and that I hoped I was not interrupting her. She said “Of course you are not, dear…” My time with Melba became the fastest two hours of my life.

This woman lived and breathed the history of Zanesville, Indiana and the neighboring communities. She has the medical ledgers of her Grandfather’s practice and other doctor’s records from in the area. She was able to provide me with a peek into the medical history of my GG Grandparents, John and Emma Crites as well as some of the Denney family members. Grandma Emma was very sick for several years in the late 1890’s while we could not know for sure what she was sick from she had accumulated some large bills and the Dr visited her everyday for several weeks with what appeared to have been rebounds of the same illness which happened several times over the course of many years. Grandpa John would end up with a bill of over 57.00 which was a lot when the cost of having a baby was 50 cents and an Office call or home visit was 5 cents. Grandpa John spent a long time paying off Emma’s medical bill by providing cords of wood to the DR, Melba’s Grandfather and some of his patients and family members. He also fixed a roof and did some general repairs for him on a house that he owned that a relative lived in when ever the Dr needed them. It is at this point in these two hours when a close loving bond formed for me with my GG Grandparents. I saw the hard working Americans that I came from and I was overwhelmed.

Melba had book cases full of old books and ledgers. She had the ledger for the local mercantile who showed that Grandpa John has a sweet tooth and Emma sewed frequently. She made the dusty old documents come to life reviling the sweet characters who were my GG Grandparents. I could have stayed in her house for days learning all I could about these people but I had a small tiny baby waiting to meet me too so I had to leave. Oh was I ever late, I had figured that I had about three or four hours that I could spend in the area before I needed to get on the road again… I had been there almost six hours. I called Sue, my sister to let her know that I was OK and on the road again but I would be late.

I got to meet several people that wonderful fall day. A brand new tiny baby, named Elizabeth and my elderly GG Grandparents who were long gone from this world but who had waited a long time for me to discover them….and a local historian who is passionate about one small town in Indiana.

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