31 August 2010

Tombstone Tuesday, S.E.: Oakwood Cemetery Trip, Part 2

Oakwood Cemetery does not exist.  At least that is what my TomTom GPS says, we had to punch in the longitude and latitude to get it to work.

The trip down was fairly uneventful.  It was a hot and sunny day, and I got a little sunburned.  We were running a little behind schedule so the sexton Jerry had to cancel meeting us.  I must admit my heart beat just a little faster when we passed the sign announcing "Woodford County."  So many of my ancestors are from there -- the towns of Metamora, Secor, and Washington are continually appearing and reappearing in my research. 

I wouldn't exactly call the cemetery "beautiful."  There is almost no uniformity.  But it is very peaceful and restful.  It is extremely shaded by centuries old oaks, so the grass does not grow very well at all, but the overall feeling is one of comfort.  When we pulled into the cemetery we were greeted by FaG volunteer Jane who was there photographing gravemarkers for the website.  She was only too happy to show us the burial sites for our ancestors that we had driven to see.

We started at the Dutton family plot.  It is marked by a column with the names of eight deceased but is marked on the ground by at least nine graves. 

Dutton family monument in back, individual stones line up to the west facing each other.
 Jane had warned me that many of the markers at the cemetery were broken, missing, and even rubbed smooth.  In the case of the Dutton family plot, two were rubbed smooth, one was broken and missing, one was cracked.

We were able to identify six of the markers on the ground -- Norman J. Dutton (1810-1889), James M. Owen (1846-1883), Ella Dutton Rickets (1854-1887), Henry M. Dutton (1852-1853), Horace S. Dutton (1843-1862) and finally, drum roll please, Roxa Smith (1785-1868)!

Roxa Smith's marker with the Dutton monument in the back.  We believe the stone to the left is not a gravemarker but a cornerstone of some type.
Roxa's gravemarker was probably our biggest surprise of the visit.  A little backstory -- when I learned that the remains of Norman Dutton had been dug up in Kansas and reintered here in Oakwood Cemetery, Metamora, Illinois, I knew immediately there had to be a reason.  And I was correct, this was the location of the gravesite of his wife, my g-g-g-grandmother Nancy (Dutton) Smith (1812-1868), but not in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would also locate her mother, my g-g-g-g-grandmother Roxa (Rich) Smith!  We summize that Nancy must occupy one of the other graves with a smooth stone, or broken and missing stone.  The grave between her husband Norman and her mother Roxa is has the broken missing stone, our best guess that is Nancy because of the placement.

Another necessary comment about the appearance of the above stone.  The first time I saw one like it that Jane sent me I was horrified, I was just sure she was splashing the stone with bleach or hydrogen peroxide!  But she assured me that she felt as strongly as all of us that the stones need to be protected and she would never use anything that would harm them.  She uses shaving cream, smears it on, and then squeegee's off the excess, and when the rains come they wash off the rest.  Made sense to me, shaving cream is especially known for being gentle.  Well it turns out I found out after I got home that the use of shaving cream can also be harmful to the stones.  I didn't know then, now I do.

Anyway, more to come about our surprising and eventful trip to Oakwood Cemetery in part 3.

Copyright © 2010 by Kevin W. Walker

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