Friday, July 26, 2013

About Cemeteries

by Audrey Barclay

I like to visit cemeteries, particularly old ones. The older they are, the more fascinating I find them. The inscriptions on the ancient gravestones intrigue me, as do some of the names I've found. To me such places are of great historical interest. I can spend hours letting my mind's eye travel backward, trying to visualize an individual to fit the name and the era. I don't believe I am any more morbid than most people just because I find such peaceful places interesting.

A few years ago my husband and I toured the eastern states and visited the graves of many of our famous people. We never failed to find others of special interest, for one reason or another. One that especially intrigued me was found in a small churchyard cemetery in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was first attracted by the apparent age of the monument. On inspection I discovered the date to be in the late 1770s, but I was so impressed with the inscription that I forgot to copy the vital statistics. Quite legibly inscribed were these words:

"Remember, friend, as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, you soon will be,
Prepare thyself to follow me."

I have since found out the inscription was not new, but, nevertheless, there is much truth to it and I liked it!

I suppose my interest in burial places was largely due to my having lived near such places during most of my childhood. Not large cemeteries; on the contrary. The first one was that of a tiny premature infant, not large enough to justify a regulation burial, but large enough that the young parents were impelled to give it a decent burial at the corner of their backyard garden. I was but four years old when we moved next door. I soon discovered the little mound and was told it was the grave of a baby. I couldn't imagine a baby so tiny, as kids my age didn't know about "preemies" in those days. How often I wished we had moved there sooner so I could have seen the baby! As it was, I made it my special project to see that flowers were added to the other ornaments--shells and pretty colored glass--all during clover blossom time for the five years we lived there.

The next place I remember was the grave of my paternal grandfather who had lived in another county. The man who lived on the adjoining farm had recently donated an acre of land for a community cemetery when my grandfather suffered a heart attack and was the first to be placed there. It was but a short time until Mr. Rowland, who had donated the land, became the second occupant. A pen of split rails was erected around the plot to protect them from being trampled by animals.

I went to spend a few weeks with my grandmother the summer I was eight years old, and my day was not complete if I failed to take my twilight walk to stand atop the rails beside grandpa's grave and remember him. I felt no sense of sadness, and I still don't, when I visit that tranquil, well-maintained place, as I did only a month ago. Needless to say, the seventy years since my grandfather was laid there has eliminated the rails, and many families are represented there.

In 1912 we rented a farm and moved to it. Within sight of the house--only a few hundred feet, in fact--the owners had set aside a small plot for a family cemetery years before. It contained the graves of probably eighteen or twenty members of the family, a few of whom I could remember.

There have been others, but not of such special interest, except for the latest one. In 1960 my husband and I bought a new home in a new addition of homes. After moving, we discovered an ancient cemetery at the end of the block. It was sadly neglected and overgrown with weeds and brush. We were told it was a slave cemetery, but I was never able to verify that fact. Shortly after we moved there a greedy contractor decided to confiscate it and erect another home on the land. I don't know how he planned to obtain legal title to it. When he moved in and started stacking up the modest gravestones, the nearby citizens discovered what was happening and objected violently. It was not in time to prevent much desecration, but did stop it from being completely destroyed. The stones were left in a pile, where they are to this day.


Editor's note:  In the above essay Audrey mentioned that it had been seventy years since her paternal grandfather was laid to rest. Her paternal grandfather was Samuel S. Smith, who died August 6, 1903; therefore, Grandma Audrey would have written this piece about 1973. 

Now, about that graveyard where Sam Smith was buried: I've searched online for it for years with no luck at all. Today, after retyping Grandma's "About Cemeteries" for posting here, curiosity took hold of me once again. Armed with one new piece of information (the name "Rowland"), I did another Google search. Here's what I found:

It's hard to read the inscriptions, but this is the gravestone of Samuel and Amy Smith. Since Amy is buried here, too, this obviously isn't the original gravestone that eight-year-old Audrey stood "atop the rails" to see, but we can assume she stood right at this spot many times in later years, after Amy's death in 1923. 

The name of the place where Sam and Amy are buried is Nolan Cemetery, located in Crossroads, Stone County, Missouri. Their son (and Audrey's father), Ernest Ray Smith, is buried there, too, as are his brothers, Arba, Omar, and Samuel Junior, as well as Omar's wife, Annie, and Samuel Junior's wife, Frances (herself a Rowland). If you want to view their gravestones, find their names on this list and click on them. Further substantiating Audrey's essay, I found four people with the surname Rowlands buried at Nolan Cemetery, including one Jasper Rowlands, who passed away only three years after Samuel Smith. 

Based on what seems to be a fairly recent photo, Nolan cemetery is still well maintained:

I can't say enough good things about the  Find A Grave website that helped me on today's search and on so many others in the past. The information I found there today is available only because a volunteer named Maria was kind enough to post it on the Find A Grave site just two short months ago. Thank you, Maria!

If any of you readers are close enough--and curious enough--to check out Nolan Cemetery in person, click here to find Crossroads, Missouri (about 145 miles northeast of Springfield) or, better yet, click here for a map to the cemetery, complete with GPS coordinates. And, if you actually do go visit the graves of Sam, Amy, and their sons, as Grandma Audrey liked to do, please write and tell us about your experience there.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Audrey's Children

An Untitled Poem about Audrey Smith Barclay
by Shirley Barclay Rust

Never a mother so loving,
In every little way
Never a mother so humble
And faithful every day.

Helping with our problems
As we grew from day to day
Righting all our daily wrongs
Only helping us grow strong
Loving us beyond where
Duty calls.

Prayers for our repentance
Allowing us our freedoms
Urging us to grow up to be
Loved by one and all.

Many tears she shed for us
Although we didn't know
Rather we were more concerned
That we could go to a picture show.
Happy when we were happy
And sad when we were sad.

Wonder how that Mom of ours
Always seemed to know our faults
Yet loved us in spite of them,
Never doubting our abilities,
Even when we did.

Only yesterday it seems
Loving arms reached out
And gathered me in full embrace,
Never faltering.

All of us are grown up now,
Ladies and gents are we,
And Mother, still our guiding light,
Needs our love to make her day bright.

God in His mercy gave us a
Loving, faithful mother,
Ever ready to show she cared, providing
Nourishment, both physical and spiritual,
Nurturing in every way she knew.

Surely, in His infinite wisdom, God made
Heaven a wonderful place and
Insured for our mom, as well as others,
Yes, God surely made our mother.


The First Four ...

Left to Right:  Harold, Martha, Nina, Paul

The Next Four ...

Left to right: Olan, Glenn, Wayne, Alan

And The Baby:


Friday, July 12, 2013

Two Pals on a Hilltop

by Audrey Smith Barclay

The daily trek through the woods to the high, bare pinnacle of rock overlooking the valley was the highlight of the day for nine-year-old Mike and Butch. The two had been inseparable companions ever since the huge, brown-and-white Collie had appeared at the Andersons' back door one rainy October night two years earlier, shivering with cold and half starved. He was little more than a half-grown puppy, but even then his enormous paws gave evidence of his size when he reached maturity.

Boy and dog grew together, each idolizing the other. Mike was an only child so, to him, the big dog had taken the place of another human being; he took him everywhere he went, confided all his secrets--in short, Butch almost assumed the role of Father Confessor. He was always waiting to escort Mike home from school, waiting with teeth and tongue bared in happy anticipation. The short side trip to "their" rock always made the journey home something to look forward to.

Tousle-haired Mike knew, aside from the beauty of the scene spread below them, there were all sorts of interesting things for a little boy and his dog to see. Sometimes a toad, disturbed from its reverie, hopped across the path before them; often a lizard or a terrapin, perhaps a snake, would be sunning itself on the warm rock.

There was one never-to-be-forgotten day they found the odd-looking snake stretched across the path. When gingerly attacked by Butch in an effort to frighten it away, the odd creature began to shrink in length while at the same time it grew broader and flatter. Mike and Butch watched it, bug-eyed, then backed away and left that one in full possession of their hilltop. They never saw the strange snake again.

The view from the big rock never failed to fascinate Mike. He spent hours lying spread-eagled, chin on folded arms, or sitting cross-legged, with an arm around his beloved pal, gazing across the valley. A highway wound in and out between the few farmhouses and fields and made its way to the hill on the opposite side, where it disappeared among the trees. The dreamy-eyed Mike looked after the few scattered cars as they sped along, wondering what was behind the horizon. Then, Butch, waiting patiently, would gaze wistfully up at the face of his little master as if he were saying, "Come on, Mike, please! Let's go see what's over there." And Mike always answered, "We will, Butch, some day we will!"

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Day Late for the 4th of July Festivities

Well, if I'd been paying attention yesterday, I'd have realized that the 4th of July was the perfect time to remember Audrey and Erna on the 95th anniversary of their wedding. That's right, they tied the knot in Springfield, Missouri on July 4, 1918, ninety-five years ago yesterday.

Here, I'll post their wedding-day photo again to make up for my tardiness:

It appears I also missed an opportunity yesterday to post another favorite photo that was taken on the 4th of July, this one from 1915:

(Remember to click on photos to enlarge them.)

That's Grandma Audrey standing on the wagon with her hand on her hip. A notation on the back of the photo reads: "July 4th, 1915 - Headed for picnic at 'Baptisin' Hole' on Spring River, Stotts City, Mo."

Let's turn that photo over:

Twenty-four people are identified here. Just in case someone is looking for information on any of these folks, I'll transcribe the names here so Internet search engines can find them:

On ground -- Mrs. Van Welsh -- Mrs. Fred Welsh

On seat -- Harve & Minnie Brower, Baby Velma

In tree -- Henry Schillinger

Below him -- Webster Welsh

Second row -- Mr. Schillinger, Audrey Smith, Janie Schillinger, Minnie Schillinger, Lena Welsh

First row -- Erma, Etta, Geneva Brower, Clieve Galloway

Top row -- Abb & Minnie Galloway, Former Dessie Schillinger and husband

On ground in rear -- Fred Welsh, Emery Welsh, Van Welsh

H. Brower's team & wagon

So, I've done a little research today to find out who these people were who planned to picnic at the "Baptisin' Hole" on that long-ago 4th of July. The Browers, of course, were Audrey's family. Minnie and Harve were her mother and stepfather; Velma, Erma, Etta and Geneva were her half-sisters. Audrey was 14, almost 15, in this photo.

Van Welsh was the white-bearded man behind the horses (or were they mules?) in the photo. His full name was Martin V. "Van Buren" Welsh, and he was a Union soldier during the Civil War. According to census records, he would have been 75 years old at the time of the photo. Van's first wife, Lorena, died in 1888. Nine years later he married his second wife, Annie (Anna, pictured standing at left on the ground), who was Harve Brower's widowed mother. I couldn't confirm the family connection of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Welsh, but Webster (shown peeking over the shoulder of the man next to Audrey) and Lena were children of Van and Annie. Webster was 14, born in the same month and year as Audrey. He died only three years and 20 days after this picnic; I don't know why.

I found Absolam H. "Abb" Galloway in a 1905 Joplin, Missouri City Directory. He was a miner, as was Harve Brower, so perhaps they knew each other that way. By the time of the 1915 picnic, Abb was married. He and his wife, another Minnie, had a son named Clieve, and the whole family lived in Stotts City.

The Schillingers were a real puzzle, but I finally tracked them down through young Henry Schillinger (the shadowy figure barely visible in the tree at the far left of the photo). The man identified as "Mr. Schillinger" (whom Audrey just missed poking with her elbow) was Andrew A. Schillinger, a widower. His wife, the former Margaret J. Arter, had died four years earlier. Dessie, Janie, Henry, Minnie -- and a couple of other kids who didn't go to the picnic -- were their children. Dessie's unidentified husband's name was James Allison Jay. Even after finding all these Schillingers online, I still can't figure out their connection to the Browers, the Welshes, and/or the Galloways, nor can I find any other reason for so many Schillingers to be in Stotts City for a 4th of July celebration. All the records I could find, before and after 1915, showed the Schillingers living in Kansas. Nevertheless, there they were in Stotts City on that day, and I'm certain it didn't cross any of their minds then that some old woman in Louisiana would be sticking her nose into their business 98 years later.