Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mysteries of the Past

Pine Creek Cemetery in Floyd

Barb showed up just as I finished bunny chores yesterday morning. Lily was SO happy to see her and romped and yipped until we convinced her to come inside with us. Lily sat and gazed in adoration at Barb while she got acquainted with the cockatiel. Barb has a dog and birds as well and told me about a squirrel she rescued.

Then we plunged into genealogy, comparing notes with laptops humming. Barb has done some amazing work on the County of Floyd in Virginia and has done studies of the census information available as well as transcriptions of many documents about Floyd County. Much of her work has been posted to the Internet through USGenWeb and it's fascinating, and useful, to prowl through the pages!

In spite of how interesting it is to get on the computers and try to figure out questions about our ancestors, it's even more interesting to go out and visit historical sites in the area. A branch of the family has developed land connected with an iron smelting furnace into a campground. Although the standing structure is not associated with the family, county records and family history do reveal that the ancestor that came to Floyd County did work with iron ores there. Barb and I had already investigated that site, so we headed to Pine Creek Cemetery, where many of our ancestors are buried. We had lunch on the crumbling steps of the old church, looking out at the weather beaten tables where the congregation once held dinners and at a platform that might have been used for revivals.

Barb was here for a reunion of the Floyd County Internet news list people (I can't find the link yet!) and they had some very interesting projects, apparently. I'm not sure anyone is going to believe this, but I swear it works. At their meeting someone showed them how to "divine" graves. This works like "witching" water, as people call it here. You take two wires and hold them loosely in your hands and walk across the graves. If the buried person is female the wires cross and if the person was male they spring apart. We tried it at the cemetery and it really does work. I looked at the stones while Barb walked across them and she was right every time, even when I had to get down and peer closely at the stone to determine the name. No way she could have known. I tried it but it didn't work for me. I can't witch water, either, but I know lots of people that can! Lily came along but got too hot in the sun, and settled down by the car to wait for us in the shade.

Our main interest was in an ancestor of Barb's. His wife is buried at Pine Creek but there is no record of where he is buried. Barb has an idea that Daniel, called Daniel Jr. to distinguish him from his father, is buried at Pine Creek as well. We searched for the wife's stone but couldn't find it so we headed back to the hotel to look at some other information Barb had. We found a picture of the stone so we went BACK to Pine Creek, just as the clouds opened up. We got drenched but found the wife's stone. There is a plain fieldstone marked grave beside hers and Barb "witched" it and found that this one is male. We think that Daniel Jr. might be there but really can't prove it unless we can find some other record. The rest of the family that lived in the area is right there.

A stop for a visit with another cousin lasted for quite awhile as we discussed common ancestors, Barb's projects, the house filled with family history where this cousin lives, and the future of all our genealogy projects. Lily stayed in the car while we visited because she and Nola's dog were not nice to each other! Then we headed back to Floyd for a much-needed dinner. Finally we headed home to tend to bunny chores and say our farewells. Lily collapsed after her busy day and I wasn't far behind her in heading for bed!

My main interest in genealogy is the story. It's interesting to know who married who and what children they had, but I'm far more involved in trying to find out about the lives of the people. How they lived, what they did, their troubles and joys. I'm particularly interested in the women of the family and there is much less information about them. Often we don't even have a maiden name for women who married into the family in the early years. Surrounded by story as I am here in these mountains, it surprises me how little we know about some people in our backgrounds. But as time goes on and determined researchers like Barb uncover the mysteries, these people are revealed in all their human strengths and frailty.

No comments: