Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Genealogy Do-Over Finds: BARBER and FREDENBURG Cemetery Records and Plat Map

I've had to slow down on my Genealogy Do-Over. Currently, I'm in a one-week break between working late supervising students during 7th grade basketball games and the beginning of my latest five-week round of genealogy classes for the Community Colleges of Spokane. Also, the following week, the 8th grade basketball games begin. There won't be another pause until Spring Break during the first full week of April.

But what I've done is placed a box of miscellaneous genealogy files and documents on my dining room table, and as I have five or 15 minutes between tasks or when I'm waiting for my water to boil for tea, I'll do a little decluttering or filing.

One of the items in the box I've been going through this week was a binder my paternal grandmother, Jeanne (HOLST) ROBBINS, an adoptee, put together of family tree records I sent her in 1997 when I found her biological family. I weeded out duplicate copies of things and filed the original documents I had given her. Within the binder, I found two documents that I realized I had not given her. In fact, she herself had obtained them when she and my grandfather reunited with her biological cousins and aunt and they went to visit the graves of her biological mother, maternal grandmother, and a maternal aunt. These were new documents for me and they gave me a lot of information about their specific burial locations.

Stiles Cemetery Office (Mayfield Township, Lapeer Co., Michigan), plat map, citing the Barber family, lot 443.
Click to enlarge.
Stiles Cemetery Office (Mayfield Township, Lapeer Co., Michigan), plat map.
Click to enlarge.
The lot records list my great-grandmother, Mary Jane (BARBER) DUNLAP, her mother Mary Jane (FREDENBURG) KELLER, and her sister, Clara May (BARBER) REYNOLDS. One grave space belonging to the family, Grave 5, remained unused by 1997.

In the cemetery plat map, I recognize the writing in the left and right margins as belonging to my paternal grandfather, Bob Robbins, Sr. The writing in the right margin is the inscriptions on Jeanne's mother's and grandmother's headstones, as compared with photos I have of said headstones, mailed to me by my cousin.

Besides being elated at discovering documents I did not already have, I realized something. Years ago, I obtained the death certificate of my grandmother's biological father, Howard Merle YORK, which stated he also was buried in Stiles Cemetery. I attempted to get a photograph of his grave through the Find A Grave photo request service, but was told by someone that his grave must be unmarked and that the cemetery records had all been destroyed years ago in an office fire. I'm still looking through all my hand-written research logs to determine who sent me that information. At this point, it matters little, because I have discovered that this is indeed not the case. This misinformation was part of the reason I did not attempt to locate the exact lot location of the Barber women graves, because I thought it had been lost in a fire. I figured since I was in touch with family members who knew where the graves were located, were tending the graves faithfully, and who had sent me photographs of them, this would be adequate for locating them myself if I ever had the opportunity to visit. My next step will be to contact the Stiles cemetery office to see if I can obtain a lot record for my great-grandfather's grave.

It just goes to show that it's good to 1) revisit your folders once in a while to see what "new" things you may discover; 2) question information you get from others, and do a little following-up yourself; and 3) never give up on trying to locate original or substitute records.

What discoveries have you made since you started your Genealogy Do-Over?

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