Monday, January 16, 2006

Girl's Day Out

Well, sometimes I can just be so durned stoopid.

I decided two days ago to use the morning of this Monday holiday to go out to Ridgeway Cemetery and grab photos of a few graves that I somehow had missed spotting on numerous visits in the past. I made sure to check my camera to be sure the batteries did not need charging, made some idle notes to take along about the folks I was looking for, called my faithful companion Xana and off we went.

It's about twelve miles out to the cemetery, and the drive out there is one of my favorites. Curves, gentle hills and pine trees all the way. We were feeling pretty good about life. Just before we got to the Ridgeway turn, I decided to take a small side trip to Dixon Prairie Cemetery to get a photo of the cemetery to submit for the main cemetery page in the Find a Grave database. We parked, I got set to take my picture, and realized what I had not thought to check. My memory card was resting inside the laptop, back at the house. My extra, insurance memory cards were sitting on my jewelry armoire. My little backup keychain camera was dead as a doornail, apparently needing a new battery. I was without means to take any pictures.

After spitting out a few choice words (gently, so as to not upset Xana, who keeps constant vigilant watch on Mom's moods), I came up with a solution. I drove the extra 4-5 miles to Paige, found a Chevron station and bought a disposable camera to use for the day. I was put out with myself, but pleased that I came up with an alternative approach that saved the trip.

So long as we had gone that far out of the way, I decided to wander a bit further down the road and get a photo of the gate to the Friendship Cemetery. That decision made Xana's day.

In a field just a few yards away from the cemetery were two donkeys. They were a striking sight, as one was all white and the other was mostly black. As I was returning to the highway after making my picture, I pulled off on the side of the road, lowered the window, and snapped a couple of pictures. Xana was intrigued by the weird creatures. She growled and barked at them, which had the effect of getting them curious about her. They ambled over to the fence to take a closer look. Like two kids, they proceeded to put on a show, butting heads and braying loudly. It was well worth the stop and made the whole detour worthwhile.

We got back to our original plans about 15 minutes later. (On the way back, we passed a shop named "Essence of Paige". If you've never been through Paige, let me tell you that I can't think of any reason why I would want to stop and acquire any essence of the place. I guess I'm going to have to make a point of stopping there sometime and learning what exactly passes for "essence of Paige".)

We were alone at Ridgeway, which meant Xana could run freely among the graves. I love that cemetery because it sits off the highway, down at the end of a gravel road. You are too far away from traffic to advertise that you are a solitary woman in a remote place and if somebody does decide to head that way, you have plenty of time to hear them coming and scoot back to the safety of your car. Nobody bothered us and we proceeded to look for our heretofore missing gravesites.

We found everyone we were looking for and then some. As many times as I have walked that cemetery, today I found two more cousins, their husbands, and folks nearby who were probably their in-laws. I found some Dunkin graves that I did not know were out there with the Mobley kin. I visited great-grandaunt Molly Hodge. And I found a grave that caught me off guard.

There is a story in the family of Cage Christian, a Georgia-born boy who married a daughter of great-great-granduncle Hezekiah Mobley. They lived in the McDade area, during the time when McDade was a wild and woolly little burg. The story differs, depending on who is telling it, but basically it involved a group of vigilantes who were running in the area. Some would have it that Cage Christian was one of the vigilantes and got crosswise with his companions. The family story is that he was invited to join the group, declined, and when word got out about some of the group's activities, he was accused of being the snitch.

Whatever the truth may be, one day Cage and his wife Mary Ann were out riding and were confronted by a group of men. When Cage stepped down off his horse, he was shot dead while his wife watched. Mary Ann would never remarry, living out the rest of her life keeping house for her brother Joe and taking care of various orphaned nieces and nephews.

I did not know where Cage Christian was buried. One version I found in a local history account had him buried outside the fence of the McDade cemetery because he was not acceptable for burial inside its boundaries. Until today, I had accepted that story.

Today, I passed by Mary Ann's grave at Ridgeway and just happened to glance inside the iron fence adjoining her grave. On all previous trips to Ridgeway, I am fairly certain that the grave has been unmarked. Today, a relatively new marker had been added for Micaja Jesse Christian. All this time Mary Ann has rested beside her husband and I had no idea he was there. It was a pleasant surprise to see that someone (one of my cousins I'm certain) has chosen to place a memorial for the man who history has probably judged inaccurately as one who lived outside the law.

For a trip that started out with my mentally kicking myself, it became a really good genealogy exercise. Xana was happy with her outing, too. It was time well spent for this holiday morning. All's well that ends well. (As for the pictures, I used up every one of the 27 exposures and dropped the camera off at HEB. Two days from now, I should be in business.)


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